Tag Archives: zero

First Impression: Project Zero 2 – The Crimson Butterfly (PS2) ~ A Sisterly Bond

Fatal_Frame_II_-_Crimson_Butterfly

Wikipedia entry

Ah Fatal Frame, a series I found quite interesting when I was a little child but fell in love with a few years ago when I was able to get my hands on a collector’s edition of the Wii U entry in the series. It was the 5th entry in the series and I loved it so much, I started to hunt down all the other entries in the series. Last year, I was able to get myself all the European released games on PS2, in a physical copy! While testing them out,  enjoyed myself quite a lot with Fatal Frame 2. So, I kept playing that game. It’s no secret that I enjoyed myself with this game since I gave a spot on my top 10 games I played in 2018. So what are my actual opinions on this game? Well, let’s find out! And as usual, feel free to leave a comment down below with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

PS: The article was originally going to be publish on this Sunday, but because today is my 26th birthday, I decided to publish it today as a birthday special.

A sisterly bond

fatal frame II screenshot 2The story starts out with two sisters running around in the forest playing. Suddenly, the pass a stone and it looks like the duo entered another dimension. The two get terrified that there is no easy way out and even worse, the two split up. Not willing, mind you. One of the two sisters get mesmerized with a crimson butterfly that she keeps following.

So, you need to go look for your sister in a creepy and haunted town while you need to escape ghosts and try to find an exit of the city. The setting for this horror game is excellent. The voice acting in this game is really well done, the voices of the two sisters is excellent. I also loved the performances of the ghosts since they kept me on the edge of my seat in certain battles.

The story is mostly told through notes, cutscenes and the environment.  There are moments you are together with your sister and there are moments she sees that damned butterfly again.  She really likes these red butterflies. Now, the story so far has been quite enjoyable. While sometimes I feel that the story is mostly used to string levels and area’s together, it’s executed extremely well. I really felt that something strange was happening and that there were higher powers at play.

Now, I am quite curious where the story of this game will go. The mysteries are getting unrevealed slowly but I still don’t have any answers. Now, do you need to play the first game before you can understand the story of the 2nd game? Well, not at all. The story is totally independent from the first game, while a lot of story mechanics return in the second game, all the characters are new.

Also, I haven’t beaten the original game myself. Now, you might wonder why I have chosen to play this game on the PS2 and not go for the director cut on the XBOX or Wii. That has two reasons. One, I don’t own an XBOX and two, the physical copy of the Wii game is extremely expensive. Now, when I was finishing up this review, I discovered that the game got released on the Nintendo eShop, so I bought myself a digital copy.

Anyways, we are getting off track here. The story itself is interesting. It’s two fold actually. In one part, it’s about how to escape the village and in another part, it’s about saving your sister. So, I have the impression that this game has multiple endings. But, I have to beat the game to know that for sure!

Spooky Camera

project_zero_2-6Because this is a Fatal Frame game, the Camera Obscura shows itself again. If you have played any other games in the series, you know how this game plays. In this game, you have to explore an area that’s filled with ghosts. Some ghosts aren’t hostile but the most of them are hostile. In order to defeat the ghosts, you have to take pictures of the ghosts. The better they are in frame, the more damage they receive. The damage also depends on the film you use. There is an aspect of survival horror to this game since the amount of film isn’t infinite. The stronger films are really hard to find and quite rare.

Combat in this game is an awkward dance with the ghosts. You have to come close to snap a good picture. But, if they are too close, they can grab you and you get damage. So, you have to move backwards. Now, the camera you use is quite old. So, it needs to recharge after each use. You have audio and visual cues to see when the camera is recharging.

To be honest, I found the combat controls better in the Wii U game I played. In my review of Resident Evil 4, I mentioned that I had difficulty with aiming my gun on the PlayStation 2. The same thing applies here. So, each play session, I have to get used to the controls. It doesn’t take too long, but it makes me miss the Wii U controls. Maybe when I play the Wii version, I won’t have this issue too much.

Now, this game doesn’t have an autosave. Much like Resident Evil 4, you can save at certain locations. In this game, it’s a red lantern on a pedestal. You have a limited amount of save slots, but that doesn’t bother me too much since it helps me to get more points. Side note, there is an improvement over the save system of Resident Evil since there is a small picture accompanying the save file.

Yes, the better the image, the higher the points you get. These points can be used to upgrade your camera. Upgrades like shutter speed or damage output. You can also find upgrades in various, sometimes hidden, locations to get certain things up to a higher level. There is a safer way in earning points as well. If you are able to make a picture of the scripted harmless ghosts, you get some bonus points. So, it’s highly advised to explore around and not go to solve the puzzles straight away.

Oh yes, this game has puzzles. Some of the puzzles require you to analyze a photograph and try to work out where it came from. Other puzzles require you to find a certain key item to open a door or to lift a curse on a door in order to progress.

Like a lot of other survival horror games, this game also suffers from some jump scares. Now, I find the build up to the jump scares pretty good. Most of the jump scares happen a bit off screen when you haven’t encountered a ghost for a while. In the Wii U game, the jump scares were way worse. Also, it’s quite possible to miss some jump scares if you didn’t explore certain areas of the room.

Exploring the city and the buildings is made much easier with a great map system. The map draws itself while you are exploring. The area only adds itself when the area is discovered. Also, when a door is locked, the door isn’t shown in blue but in red. Now, if you unlock a door when solving a puzzle that is somewhere else on the map, I don’t know for sure if the door also changes to blue. Since, to be honest, I haven’t paid attention to that.

There are a few additional things to the combat and gameplay I’m going to keep a secret for this article. The only thing I’ll say about it is that there is a combo system and a few other features. The camera is used in so many different unique and creative ways, it keeps the mechanic from being repetitive.

 Atmosphere in the dark

fatal frame II screenshotThis game is totally worth to wear the title of horror game. The atmosphere of the game is done extremely well. While this game first released on the PS, this game still looks amazing to this day. Some models and textures do show their age, but the lighting and visual design gives an extremely creepy atmosphere. I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat during most of my play sessions. I even went as far as closing the curtains of my room or to play this game at night with a good pair of headphones and in the dark. Only the dim glow of my darkened LCD television to keep me company.

I have played this game without and with my headset on. I found the game better when I played with a headset or with a good sound system. I wouldn’t listen to most of the soundtrack outside of the game but in the game, it helps to build the scary atmosphere so well. Some tracks sound like wind blowing through the room or that something is chasing and/or following you. Together with the amazing sound design of the ghosts, this game is just creepy.

The ghosts don’t sound either human nor other worldly. This is especially creepy because the ghosts moan and speak in Japanese. Well, most of them speak Japanese. Some ghosts also speak English and hearing that suddenly makes it even more creepy. They even managed to make picking up items scary with playing an animation and a creepy sound effect each time when you reach down to pick up an item. You also never know what the item will be since it’s a glowing white orb on the ground. It’s also possible to find some items in various drawers and house hold items. So, explore away!

Now, the bulk of the story is told through the locations you visit. There are some cut scenes where somethings are explained, but the visuals help to tell the story. There are also some moments where you find a stone that tells some additional story to flesh out the story even more. Earlier in this first impression, I talked about how the two sisters entered a cursed village and they are trying to find their way out. In this game you explore various locations. From a graveyard to a scary forest. You also explore various typical Japanese homes to a big shrine. While I was exploring, I really felt I was exploring an abandoned haunted village. The realism and attention for detail in the visual presentation is amazing.

Something I really want to praise this game for is that lighting. The lighting in this game is one of the strongest points. Of course, the game takes place during the night. It’s never light outside. At least, so far. I haven’t finished the game after all. The various candles littered around the village help to sell the atmosphere even more. The flashlight that you can control with one of the joysticks of the PS controller works flawlessly.

So, I think it’s quite clear that the atmosphere of this game is solid. When you want to play a good horror game, I highly recommend this game. The game also provides you with some good challenges. From tricky ghost encounters to clever puzzles. Now, you can run away from the ghosts, but you’ll lose points. And if you don’t get enough points, you might not be able to defeat certain bosses easily. Since, points = upgrades.

The controls is something that some people don’t like about this game. Personally, I got used to them after a while. I already talked about the struggle I had with the aiming of the camera. But, that also helps in the immersion department in a way. Remember, you are playing as a young Japanese girl trapped in a cursed village looking for your sister and a way to escape. Of course, you are scared and you are looking frantically for a way to defend yourself.

I’m almost forgetting to talk about the animation of this game. The animation in this game gets extremely close to the uncanny valley. I’m convinced that it’s in the uncanny valley for some. Especially how certain characters react and express their emotions. For example, how the two sisters like arms when they are witnessing something scary for the first time. They are looking for comfort with each other. It still blows my mind that there was such life like animation on the PlayStation 2.

I could continue to talk about this game for a while longer but most of it will be praising the game. If you are a horror fan, you really owe it to yourself to check out this game. The quality of the Fatal Frame series is up there with the Silent Hill and the original Resident Evil games. I’ll talk a bit more in depth about the game when I write my review. Consider the things I haven’t talked about in this first impression review as nice surprises when you decide to play this game.

With that said, I want to thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing this article. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

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LaterLevels’ QOTM – January 2019 – The Ultimate Game: Themes

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For a couple of years now, LaterLevels is organizing a question of the month. In 2017, you were able to send in a small section to be featured in the article. You were limited to the amount of characters you had for a tweet. In 2018, every month a writer got a challenge to write an article centered around a question asked by LaterLevels. This year, LaterLevels is going “to develop” the best and/or ultimate game. In each month, another part of the game will be created. The idea is that other bloggers write up an article with their thoughts and ideas on that section and submit it to the post of that month. At the end of the month, the best is chosen by the already existing development team and will be invited to join the secret Discord to judge the entries in the following months. If you want to read more about the rules in depth, you can read the post of LaterLevels here. Now that I have explained all that, it’s time for my entry. In January, the setting and theme will be decided without deciding the story and such. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the content of this article and/or the question in the comment section down below.

The challenge and my background

yoyo_logo_512Now, I don’t want to brag but I have various ideas to make a very interesting game. In the past, I actually created some arcade clones with YoYo Game Maker. I’m not going to republish them since I lost the source files and I want to change so much for them to get republished.

alleyway_boxartBut, here is the thing. When I was developing a game, I always started with the mechanics and gameplay. For example, when I wanted to create a Break-Out clone, I actually started out with recreating the Gameboy game Alleyway. Now, I felt myself too limited in level design, so I started to look further. Then, I found an asset pack with different blocks, a ball and various other sprites with a sea theme. So, I totally reskinned the game and I made up a story about a submarine stuck in a big magical coral reef trying to find its way out.

warioware-diy-top-625x352Another example is when I wanted to remake those simple flash and phone games that you need to tap a ball or an object to keep it from the ground. When I started to make that game, I got some small ideas for other mini-games with the sprites in that asset pack and I started to create a sort of WarioWare inspired game.

Now, you might have noticed that I always talk about an asset pack. This is a pack where various sprites, sound effects, music, backgrounds… are provided to game developers. In almost all of my games I created, I used asset packs. I can barely draw a decent stick figure let alone design various level elements. Also, when I created those games; I was 12 years old. So, I didn’t know how copyright and licensing worked. That’s another reason why I’m not going to republish the games.

Anyways, let’s end this story time about my history here and let’s get back to answer LaterLevel’s question. The reason why I’m talking about my hobbyist game development past is the fact I mentioned earlier. I mainly focused on interesting and unique gameplay. The setting and themes would come later. While that is not the best approach, but it was the approach my young teenage mind took. And because LaterLevels didn’t want too many story details, the challenge got even harder.

81i7ndliszl._sx385_I also messed around in RPG Maker. And I always had one or two chapters of the story written before I started to create the world and setting the characters lived in. I had a general idea of the world but when I write, I love to let the readers create the world for themselves instead of possibly boring them with the millionth description of how a fantasy castle town looked like. In addition to that, the fact that I don’t describe a scene gives me liberty to use the setting to my advantage. That way I can bend the world to the story and my needs. But it makes continuity much more challenging.

So, the ultimate video game. What could be a setting and/or a theme of the game? Well, I have a few suggestions without giving too much plot details. Let’s take a look at that.

Themes and settings

First of all, when you are talking about the best game, I think that the theme should be one of variety. A power fantasy in another world would be extremely easy and generic. Most RPG’s use a silent character you can name yourself or has the most generic dialogue that can be used for each RPG main character. To be honest, this is a generalization. There are exceptions of course.

91fbW6yu4TL.jpgA perfect video game needs to grab you and pull you into the story, world and setting. When I was brainstorming for ideas I noticed that most of my favorite story driven games take place in one location. For example, in Corpse Party, you explore one haunted school and the associated buildings. In Another Code: R, you explore the vacation resort where your father works. And as a final example, in the first two Bioshock games you explore Rapture.

swordartonlineSuddenly, various things started to click in my mind. I got my eureka moment. I got it when I remembered the story of Sword Art Online. In that series, people are trapped in an online VR-game. In order to escape, they have to beat the game. The catch is, when they die in the game, they die in real life. In that series, the game takes place in a huge fantasy open world with various dungeons and quests.

Now, what if we take the idea of Sword Art Online and expand it for the best game, but with a huge twist? First of all, we can decide if we create the game in VR or not later. My suggestion is that the best video game takes place in a sort of fantasy open world with castles and towns that provide a lot of quests and things to do.

no game no ligeThe twist is that everything in the world happens with games. Think of the mechanics of the No Game No Life series, where every dispute is settled with a bet who wins a game of for example chess, rock/paper/scissors, poker or even more extreme examples. Now, it would an interesting idea if this idea is implemented into a real game we can play.

Back to the story of Sword Art Online, in order for those who are trapped to escape they have to beat all bosses in a huge tower. Now, what if each floor in this tower is replaced with a challenge in another genre and that you have to beat different challenges in that genre before you can progress.

retro_game_challenge_coverart

Think about the overall story of Retro Game Challenge. In that game, you get sent back to the past and in order for you to return, you have to beat various challenges in retro games. These challenges range from beaten the first three levels of a top down shooter to performing some unique tricks in a sports game.

So, the setting would be a great fantasy open world with one central tower the players have to beat in order to climb the leader boards. On each floor, another mini game or challenge is provided. To avoid people getting frustrated at being stuck on one floor, I think it would be wise to give the player two or three options on the floor. For example, a fighting game challenge, an RPG challenge or a rhythm game challenge.

51vk2fckjhlMaybe it’s an interesting idea to also have separate dimensions where players specialize in a certain genre or style of gameplay. Compare it a bit to the main characters in Kingdom Hearts traveling between various Disney stories to solve issues there.

The theme of the game can be either competition or teamwork. Various guilds can possibly form to aid players to easily beat the certain genres. On the other hand, I totally see certain players compete with each other to be the best player in a certain genre.

Being one of the best players in a certain genre can give advantages in the game. In terms of balance, each genre should have a “contrast genre”. That way we avoid players getting overpowered because they mastered too many genres. For example, the players who master a fast paced genre like rhythm games shouldn’t be able to easily level up their stats in a more slower based genre like grand strategy.

Do you see it now? Just trying to find a setting and or a theme for a game is tricky for me. Like I said earlier, I don’t create worlds too often and I leave them as vague as I can so I can bend them to the will of the gameplay and story. As soon as I got a certain idea, I start thinking about how the world actually works and how the world is balanced. And then we get eerily close to game design and how the game plays.

When I cut out all my gameplay & story suggestions, my idea for the ultimate game’s setting and theme is this. A big open world game with various challenges like dungeons and (side)quests, possibly with different universes. In the center of it all, is a huge tower that serves as a leader board for the solo and or clans that play the game.

Closing statement

And with that, I think it’s a good idea to end this article here. Otherwise I might restart giving my ideas and suggestions on how the game will play. Now, if you want to know if my idea has won or not, you should follow OverThinkerY, since on 31st January 2019, they will reveal the winner on his blog.

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If you want to join in on this challenge, don’t wait. Check out LaterLevels blog for the February challenge.

With that said, I want to thank you so much for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, have a great rest of your day and take care.

Review: Angels Of Death (Switch) ~ Halloween Adventure

Wikipedia entry

Today I want to talk about a game that’s perfect for Halloween night. Since I played and fell in love with the Corpse Party series, I have high expectations when it comes to playing RPG horror themed games. So, what did I think of “Angels of Death”? Did it live up to the fun I had with Corpse Party or did it fall flat on it’s face? That’s what I want to talk about in this review. As usual, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below about the game and/or the content of this article.

“I saw a murder”

Fair warning for everybody who wants to play this game. This game is quite story based and try to avoid reading too about the story to avoid spoiling the whole game. To avoid ruining the game for those who want to play it after reading this article, I kept the spoilers to a minimum and the screenshots of the early game.

That said, in this game you take on the role of Rachael “Ray” Gartner. A 13-year old girl who claims to have seen a murder. She is taken to a hospital for counseling. However, she finds herself waking up in an unfamiliar basement. Now, she has to escape since she heard over a speaker that she is a sacrifice, what ever that might mean.

And that’s everything I’m going to say about the story. The story takes various twists and turns and it’s a wild ride. The writing and pacing is top notch. Personally, I loved the writing in this game. The characters are memorable and quirky. I loved every single one of them.

This game contains a lot of dialogues. If you aren’t into those games, I would recommend that you skip this one. Since none of the dialogues are voice acted. But, after I had finished the first chapter of the game, I watched the first episode of the anime and I have to say, that those voices just played in my head while I was playing the game.

The writing made me laugh and sit on the edge of my seat. It’s a great story to play on Halloween night. It’s a game that takes the horror route without using too much gore. The only sad thing is that this game is only 8 hours long. The game doesn’t have any replay value or multiple endings, so I felt empty after those 8 hours. Empty for more.

This game touches upon a few themes that could be a trigger for some people. From murder, a whole range of cuss words to religion. In my opinion, the game never went into offensive territory but if you are easily triggered about these subjects, keep an open mind if you are playing this game.

“Exploration of the basement”

At it’s core, Angels of Death is a puzzle game. If you have played Corpse Party or a game from the Zero Escape series, you will be right at home playing this game. The goal of each chapter is to escape the floor you are trapped on. In order to do that, you have to solve various puzzles while exploring the basement.

The game is quite linear, so there isn’t much room to explore the basement. I never got stuck in this game and I never needed a walkthrough. This game is quite easy to finish. It does provide some challenge but if you use the save system like I did, you won’t have any problems.

Don’t forget that this game doesn’t automatically save your game. You have to manually save the game. You can do that whenever you want, expect from a few special moments like chase sequences. When these moments happen, the game gives you the chance to save right before they happen. You have 99 save slots, so you won’t run out of slots. And yes, you can save over a slot.

This game has 4 chapters, so 4 puzzles for you to complete. To be honest, you don’t need to play this game for the puzzles. Some of them were too easy and I didn’t even notice that I was solving a puzzle. The flow of this game is a bit too streamlined. Yet, it didn’t pull away from the experience. Besides exploration, there are a few sections that provide some variation in the gameplay. There is even a section where you have to shoot something to clear out a room. These sections were too short.

This is the big issue I had with the game. The game is a lot of fun to play but it’s too easy. The story is amazing and has the right length and pace so more gameplay would have made the story unnecessarily longer. So, I’m a bit mixed on this.

During the various sections, the controls never failed me. I mostly played this game in handheld mode or in docked mode. The controls are easy to understand and quite quick to learn. I never had any issues with them.

In terms of the UI of this game, I think it’s quite good apart from one minor thing. In the “load” menu of the game, I wish there was a bit more info on the save slot. For example, in which room I saved. Oh well, that’s a nitpick.

“Zack’s laugh”

The visual presentation of this game is great. It’s quite clear that this game uses a version of RPG Maker for this game and it uses it quite well. Each map is quite detailed. The visual presentation really added to the atmosphere of the game. The animations as well, I really loved the animations during story segments. They made some characters come to live.

Some parts of this game are hand drawn like the character models. This adds a lot of charm to the game and they reminded me of the anime I still have to finish. My favorite character in this whole game is Ray. I can’t explain why, since that would mean I would spoil the whole game.

Something that adds quite a lot to the game is the soundtrack and the sound effects. The soundtrack of this game consists mostly of techno and orchestra tracks. I’m so glad that I also bought the Steam version so I could add the soundtrack to my library. It’s a joy to listen too.

The sound effects are amazing as well, to such a degree that a lot of people miss the sound effect of Zach’s laugh in some tracks. I have to agree since I always heard his laugh in the track while it wasn’t there. The story had such an impact on me.

My only complaint is that the music tracks are a bit too short. Some are only one minute long and I like them quite a lot. I wish they created an extended version that wasn’t looping the song three times over. Oh well, this again might be a nitpick.

This game has the perfect price in my opinion. You can buy this game for 15€ in the Nintendo EShop. So, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game. I think it’s high time we wrap this article up and go for the conclusion of this review.

Conclusion

The bad:

  • Too short & easy.

The good:

  • Amazing story.
  • Amazing soundtrack.
  • Amazing art & animations.

Final thoughts:

If you enjoy RPG-maker games that give you more of an adventure like Corpse Party or the Crooked Man, this game is for you. If you want to play a short and fun game during Halloween night, I can’t recommend this game enough.

Personally, I loved the writing in this game so much that I want to replay through the whole game while I even know how the game is going to end. I understand that this game isn’t for everybody. With the large amounts of dialogue, the easy puzzles and the short nature of this game, some people can get turned off this game. But, it didn’t stop me from enjoying the game.

I was glad that I had this game on the car trip during my family weekend. It was such a blast to play. My only regret is that I didn’t keep this for Halloween night. If you don’t own a Nintendo Switch, this game is also on Steam. So, go grab it and enjoy it!

Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great (spooky) rest of your day.

Score: 100/100

Gamer’s Thoughts: My Top 10 Games I played in 2017

XOXOIt’s that time of year again, the year is near its end and various websites are looking back at the games released this year. It’s about time that I do the same but in the Jonez’ way of doing things. So, how does this work? Well, if you have read my previous articles where I looked back at the year, you might know this already. Otherwise, here is how it works. I’m a game collector and I often go to garage sales. I honestly prefer buying my games that way instead of buying the newest and latest release. That means I played a lot of older games too. So, in my top 10 games, I played in 2017 are the games I played in 2017, no matter the release date. The biggest rule is that I had to start playing the game in 2017. If I started playing this game in 2016 or earlier, it doesn’t count. The list for this year has been quite a difficult list to put together. I have played so many amazing games, I had to scrap so many games. In any case, enough introduction time. Time to get this article started.

 Place 10: Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle And The Millionaires’ Conspiracy (3DS) (Original release: 2017)

First Impression

layton lady katrielle mystery journeySomething I saw a long time coming was that there would be a new character introduced to continue the Layton series. What I didn’t expect was that it would be Layton’s daughter. While the gameplay takes a bit of a turn, it’s still a Layton game at its core with more and shorter stories.

While it isn’t the first Layton spin-off that was released in the series, it’s one of the first multiplatform games in the series. So, I’m wondering how the rest of the series will continue. Shall we see more Layton games on Nintendo platforms or will Layton shift to the mobile platform? If you would ask me, I think a multiplatform release will work just fine. Since I think that the Layton games should be enjoyed by more people.

It’s an amazing brain teaser. Thanks to the charm of the writing and characters, you can get easily invested in the story. In addition to that, it helps to keep one of my favorite genres alive and that is the adventure visual novel game. The Layton games contain a big story you can delve into, and I love it for that. While it’s not my favorite series in the genre, it comes pretty close. Thank you Level5 for creating this series and I can’t wait to see where you will take it next. Since I heard a new Layton game is under development for the Nintendo Switch.

Place 9: Ever Oasis (3DS) (Original release: 2017)

First Impression

Ever OasisA new IP from Nintendo? Why, yes, please! When I saw the trailer for the first time, I remember that I directly surfed to the website of my local game store to see if I would be able to pre-order the game. Sadly enough, I wasn’t able to do so at that time. When I was able to pre-order the game a few months later, I didn’t think twice.

When I finally got my hands on it, the game didn’t disappoint. I really think that this new IP will be interesting for Nintendo. I honestly hope that they don’t let this game be a one-off thing since this game has a lot of potentials to turn into an amazing new series.

Somehow, I even see a crossover with the Zelda series working perfectly. Since it was a sort of desert-themed Zelda game in my opinion. If they ever make a sequel, I wish that they expand more on the Oasis side of things, I wish there were more interactions with my villagers of my oasis.

But hey, if this is a Fata Morgana or an actual new series by Nintendo, that remains to be seen. Maybe in 2018, we get an HD remake on the Switch for all we know.

Place 8: Etriann Odyssey Untold Stories 2 – The Fafnir Knight (3DS) (Original release: 2014)

First Impression

EO2UI have nominated the Etrian Odyssey games for my top 10 games I played in earlier years. Even while a new entry in the series released here this year in the west, I haven’t played it yet. I do own a copy.

I have to admit that I haven’t beaten an Etrian Odyssey game, but I have to say that I have gotten quite far into this game. The story is very enjoyable and I want to finish it in the near future. Actually, I’m thinking about making one of my goals in 2018, finishing an Etrian Odyssey game. And I have a sneaking suspicion that the game I will finish first will be this one.

I just enjoy creating my own maps while I’m exploring the dungeons and labyrinths this game throws at me. I really feel invested because it’s my own maps helping me further into the dungeon instead of a pre-made map. I always see people doing it in a different way, but I do it my way and that’s the way how I like to play games.

Place 7: Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (Wii U) (Original release: 2015)

First Impression

Tokyo mirage sessionsThis game really surprised me when I first started playing it this summer. While I’m on my summer holidays, I tend to take some time off blogging and work to actually play a lot of games and watch a lot of anime.

Yet, this year, I did write a lot of articles and I played a lot of just one game. I played a lot of Tokyo Mirage Sessions on my Wii U. While I’m nearly half beating the game, my game time is way past that. Since I paused the game when I was eating, went to the bathroom and once or twice when I went to sleep. Apparently, those moments keep adding to the overall game time.

In any case, I really enjoyed this game. If that isn’t clear and you need more proof; if a crossover makes me decide that I need to collect more games from both series, I think the crossover succeeded in its goal.

I really want to see how both series play. While I have a pretty good idea how Fire Emblem plays, since I own a couple of Fire Emblem games, I do want to know how Sin Megami Tensei plays. But, thank you so much Tokyo Mirage Sessions for making my summer that more enjoyable with your game!

Place 6: Corpse Party: Blood Drive (Android) (Original release: 2014, PS Vita version)

First Impression

corpse-party-apkAt this moment, I don’t own a PS Vita. But, there were a few games I wanted to buy a Vita for. Now, there is one game I wanted a Vita for and that is Corpse Party BloodDrive. To my surprise, this game was ported this year to Android and iOS. It also got released not too far from my birthday.

I didn’t know about this until Halloween came around. At this moment, I noticed an image on my store home page that looked a lot like Corpse Party. When I tapped on the icon, I was surprised by a Japanese name of the game and then the English title with English looking screenshots. At first, I thought that it was a port of the original game I have on PC and 3DS.

To my surprise, it was a port of the PS Vita game, BloodDrive. I haven’t bought a game quicker on the Android Play Store than that game. I really want to see how the story of Corpse Party continued after the cliffhanger in “Book Of Shadows”.

At this moment, I’m over halfway done with the game and I really want to finish it. I can’t wait to see how the game continues to twist and turn. But, I’ll soon find out, since I started to play this game again.

Place 5: Project Zero – Maiden of the Blackwater (Fatal Frame 5) (Wii U) (Original release: 2014)

First Impression

project zeroLike I said in my article, I’m not that fond of scary games. This game is one of the first 3D horror games I enjoyed quite a lot. This horror game surprises me since it’s able to give me unlimited ammo to defend myself and it’s still scary. The atmosphere, pacing and world building is all so believable.

One time, I played this game right before I went to sleep. The nightmares I had that night were so bad, I decided I didn’t want to play this game without lights on. Yet, I flick that light switch to off when I’m playing this game. The atmosphere is just a lot better thanks to it.

I’m still thankful to the person who decided to sell their intact collector’s edition in my local game store. This way I was able to pick it up second hand. I admit, I collected some dust on my shelves for like a month, but then I decided that I wanted to play some new games I bought in 2017 and started up this game.

What a great decision! Now that I have a new TV with an HDMI-input, which is bigger than my computer monitor, I get pulled even more into the game. So, beware Maiden of the Blackwater, here I come to take a picture of you. Make sure that I can make a photograph from your good side, okay?

Place 4: Oneshot (Steam Release) (PC) (Original release: 2016)

OneShot_cover_artI discovered this game through a video from one of my favorite YouTubers, NitroRad. When I saw that this game got released on Steam, I decided to buy it and give it a shot myself.

I wasn’t disappointed. It actually broke the 4th wall in some many creative ways. I’m not going to talk about it too much since it will spoil the surprises in the game. But believe me, this game can do some crazy things that blew my mind from time to time.

The game was first a free indie title, that you could one play once. Therefore it got the name “OneShot”. But now that it’s a commercial product, they had to ditch that idea. While they didn’t ditch it 100%, the way how they solved it was amazing.

After I had beaten this game, I really want another game with similar concepts and new puzzles. But, if this game will never come, I’m glad that I was able to experience OneShot and I’m happy to spread the love and recommend this game again. I decided that I’m not going to write a review nor an article about it, since talking or revealing too much will get into spoiler territory way too quickly. Know that the game needs to be played on PC and that you will have to think outside of the box to solve some puzzles. Or if you want to see more, feel free to check out the videos on it made by NitroRad. While he shows off a bit of the start, most of the surprises in this game aren’t spoiled at all.

To save you some time, here is a link to his video.

Place 3: Outlaws (PC) (Original release: 1997)

Review of the game

250px-OutlawsLucasArtsBoxCoverI go to a big garage sale each and every year; well, I picked up this game boxed for like 2€. It was the final game I bought. I caught it in the corner of my eye. Right when I saw the LucasArts logo, I knew I had to have it.

Seriously, this game doesn’t disappoint. Besides the amazing soundtrack, this game has amazing gameplay. When I decide to boot up my retro Windows 98 gaming PC, I almost always take this game and decide to play a few levels.

The love and care put into this game make it worthy of all the praise I’m giving it. I knew that LucasArts was good in creating adventures, but I didn’t know that they would also be able to create enjoyable 3D shooters.

So, thank you LucasArts for creating this underrated and overlooked gem of a game. If you haven’t played this game and you enjoy 3D shooters, you owe it to yourself to play this game. Know that this game is released in 1997 so the graphics will look like the original DooM in a way, but it’s still amazing to play to this day.

If you are unable to get yourself a boxed copy like me, you can find this game on GoG.com for like 5€, so you have no excuse to not give it a try. I honestly find it a way to cheap price for the game.

Place 2: A Hat In Time (PC) (Original release: 2017)

Review of the game

a hat in timeHow could I not? To be honest, deciding the top 3 of this list was the most difficult part for me. While I wish I could put these three games on number one and call it a tie, that solution would be too cheap.

Anyways, I will explain why I place A Hat In Time so high on my favorite games of 2017 list. I usually never play collect-a-ton platformers. Besides Super Mario 64, I haven’t played any. While I have seen the first trailers for this game, I didn’t know it released after I suddenly saw some screenshots on my Twitter feed.

When I realized that the game was released, I bought it and booted it up. I think I explained a lot about the joy I had in the review. I gave the game a 100/100 for a reason. Right on my review page, I explain that when I give a game 100/100, I think the game is perfect in my eyes. While I know the game has problems, they are being fixed and improved to make the game even more smooth.

I have to thank Gears For Breakfast for delivering this game and also for the amount of polish and care they gave to this game. I can’t wait to see the free DLC arrive in the near future to play even more vanilla content.

Runners-up

A few games haven’t made the list. These games I started to play in 2017 as well, but sadly didn’t make the list because of a variety of reasons. So, here we go:

Mario Stickers Charged Football (Wii), Lego Jurrasic Park World (Wii U), Axiom Verge (PC/Wii U), Metroid Samus Returns (3DS), Popolocrois (PSP), Hamtaro (GBC), Spellforce (PC), Pokémon Pinball – Ruby & Sapphire Edition (GBA) amongst others I’m forgetting now.

1st PLACE: The Legend Of Zelda – Breath Of The Wild (Wii U) (Original release: 2017)

First Impression

BreathoftheWildFinalCoverThere was this game this year, I played when I didn’t know what to play. A game that needed time to grow me on me. A game that slowly but surely became one of the best games I played all year. With over 200 hours put into it this year, I can’t lie and say that The Legend Of Zelda is the worst game I played in 2017.

Currently, I’m playing through all the DLC and I have a sneaking suspicion that after that, I’ll still spend a lot of time with this game. Especially when I’m going to buy a Switch next year, I’ll be able to experience this game all over again.

If you didn’t know, the Legend Of Zelda series is one of my favorite gaming series ever made. As shown by the amazing blogging celebration I did in October where I looked through the whole main series history with a lot of other bloggers. In case you missed the hub article, you can find it here.

I can only confirm that this game is worthy of winning all those awards at the gaming awards this year. It’s one of the best open world games made so far and I think we will see a lot of influences from this game gets it way into other games. If you haven’t played Breath Of The Wild, play it. But be aware that it will change your view on various open world games forever.

Goodbye, 2017!

This year has been so special to me. I have experienced a lot of different things. I played one of the lead roles in my theater group, made a lot of new blogger friends, my blog grew an awful lot and already made a lot of plans to make 2018 an amazing year to look forward too.

In terms of gaming, 2017 was a year of both nostalgia and modern games to me. I played a lot of new games and I love how people ask me about which games they should buy for their children at work. It gives such a great feeling to be able to spread the joy of playing games to others.

In 2018, you can expect more articles from me. Like I said in my update article for December 2017, I have a few plans for 2018 and I think you will enjoy them. But, thank you for reading my blog this past year. I had such an enjoyable ride and I am so thankful for all the chances I get to review indie developers their games. It was also flattering to see how one of my quotes made it on a Steam Store page.

Before I ramble on too much, I’m going to close off this article. If you want to talk to me about the past year, your favorite games of 2017 and things of that nature, feel free to leave a comment. Since I do read them all and reply to them all. Thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

First Impression: Project Zero – Maiden Of The Blackwater (Wii U) ~ Snap Those Ghosts

project zero.jpg

Official website

While I know that Halloween is over and that we are extremely close to another holiday, that is supposed to bring happiness and joy to people, that doesn’t stop me from talking about a scary game. I had heard a lot about this game and also a lot about the franchise, Fatal Frame. In fact, this is the 5th entry into the series. Thankfully, you don’t need to know about the previous games in this series to enjoy this game. When I saw in my local game store that I was able to pick up the collectors edition with everything in it for a cheap price, I don’t hesitate. I mean, I’m a game collector after all. In any case, I think it’s time to take a look at this game since this game did something with me. Do I regret buying this game or have I been enjoying it? Let me explain while I invite you to leave a comment in the comment section with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article. 

Scared-y cat

Project-Zero-V-2.jpg

So, I’m not that good with horror games. I get spooked too easily and generally, my play style doesn’t fit the more careful way of planning and strategizing that you need to survive in horror games.

Now, in recent memory, there were a few horror games that actually made me want to play horror games. First, there was this psychological horror game called 999: 9 Hours 9 People 9 Doors then there was this, somewhat over the top, horror visual novel adventure series called Corpse Party. Then I noticed something if I’m able to get invested in the story, I tend to enjoy myself. Also, I tend to enjoy Japanese horror games more than western horror games.

That’s what happened almost right away in Project Zero. The story is pretty well written and takes various twists and turns. Some I had seen coming, but the pacing and execution are great.

You play this game in chapters, called “drops” in this game where you visit a cursed Japanese mountain. You can play as a few different characters, but there are no big differences between them gameplay-wise. The difference is in the story.

In this game, you can choose between English and Japanese voice acting. I honestly tried both and I think they are both great. For my overall gameplay, I tend to choose the English voice acting since I enjoy looking at the cutscenes on my big TV and the subtitles are just a bit too small on there.

So far, I’m at the 5th drop and I have been enjoying the story. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the game has to throw at it. I also like how you can get some backstory with the various notes you find. While some people don’t enjoy reading huge walls of text, in this game there aren’t too many and they aren’t too long to read either.

Snap those ghosts

project zero 2

Something I really like in this game is that this game doesn’t have a limited amount of ways to defend yourself and still stay challenging.

In this game, you solve different cases related to the haunted mountain. While you can explore the mountain, most of the game is somewhat linear. You can do some exploration but not too much.

During your exploration, you can get attacked by different ghosts. Now, you can choose to avoid most of them, but others you will have to “kill”. This you can do by snapping various pictures of them. The better you get the ghost and it’s face into the frame, the more damage you do.

There is also a point system and these points can be crucial to your survival. The better pictures you take and the better combo’s you make, the more points you earn. You can use these points to not only upgrade your camera to do more damage and defeat the boss or the stronger ghosts more easily. You can also use your points to buy various healing and supportive items at the start of a chapter. So, if you need more healing items or supportive items AND you want to upgrade your camera, you better make good pictures of the ghosts.

There is a “risk and reward” system here. If you let the ghost come close, you will get damaged, but you also do more damage. So, you really have to think wisely when you get in to combat.

While you are exploring the area, you can choose if you have your screen mirrored on the Wii U gamepad or if a map is shown. Something I really like during combat is how the game shows a more general view on the TV screen and a more zoomed in view if you look through the Wii U gamepad. You really get the feeling you are snapping pictures of those ghosts using the Wii U gamepad as a camera.

The camera is a game mechanic used to it’s fullest in the game. You will also need to use it to bring items from the ghost world to ours. There are a few other mechanics too, but I leave those for you to discover if you decide to play this game.

Shivers

Project-Zero-Maiden-of-Black-Water-Screenshot-21.jpg

The visual presentation of this game is extremely well done. The game looks amazing on the Wii U. The game really drew me in with its visuals and animations.

While I have seen some clipping in the animations, when it comes to humans picking up objects, there are a few moments where I thought the game could use just a bit more visual polish. Especially the animation of the hair I found lacking. Almost everything on the body is well animated, even down to a shaking hand to simulate shivers in the characters when they are picking up objects. But, the hair mostly stays static, as blobs to the head of the characters.

Also, there are some invisible walls in this game. While I understand that there are some invisible walls to avoid players running off cliffs, sometimes they are used in places I think they weren’t needed. For example, there was one place where you had a room with an altar and a pool in front of it. You were unable to go to the altar since in the middle of the pool, there was an invisible wall.

Those are the only complaints that I have when it comes to the visual presentation of this game. And most of them, don’t really bother me that much. I really think they did a great job when it comes to the visual presentation. It even creeped me out sometimes.

Besides the visual design, the sound design does a lot to creep you out too. In most cases, when a spook happens, some loud noise or sound effect plays. That’s not always the case in this game. This game can play tricks on you with moving dolls or just putting silent ghosts just right around the corner.

The sound design also helps out in the cutscenes and regular gameplay. You get additional sound effects playing through the speakers of the gamepad, making some situations even more creepy.

Overall, I think it’s quite clear with all the praise I’m giving the game, that I’m enjoying this game. But, there is one thing that I think really brings this game down. Sometimes, the controls in combat aren’t as smooth as they are supposed to be.

I had times where my gamepad lagged behind what was happening on the screen or the other way around. Also, the gamepad didn’t always follow my movements when I went from side to side. This caused some damage that could have been avoided. While I write it off as my character packing and being flustered, I can see some gamers being frustrated at this and stop playing the game altogether.

The game has two difficulty levels. You can play this game on easy and on normal. Maybe, you unlock a higher difficulty when you beat this game, but I haven’t done that yet.  In addition to that, I assume that you unlock the costumes also at the end of the game. Since I’m at the 5th drop and not one costume unlocked. Maybe, I’m overlooking something here.

In any case, that’s everything I wanted to say about this game for now. There are a few things I left out in this review since I think it would be more fun for you to discover while you are playing the game for yourself. This game is totally worth playing if you enjoy adventure games and games with a good story. But beware, for spooky moments.

Thank you so much for reading this article and I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to be able to welcome you in another article but until then, take care and have a great rest of your day.

 

My TOP 10 games of 2016 – Part 1: 5 – 1

2016Part 1 (10 – 6)

I’m not going to introduce the second part like I introduced the first part last week. We all know that 2016 flew by. In 2016, a lot of things happened. But in my personal life, it’s was one of the better years. In any case, it’s time to give a little reminder. In this top 10, I list off the best games I played this year. If I started playing the game in an earlier year, it doesn’t count. Also, it doesn’t matter if the game is released in 2016 or 1996. If I started playing it this year, it counts! Also, it doesn’t matter if I have beaten the game fully or not. So, yeah. Let’s dive into my top 5 for this year. Also, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on this article and/or the games and/or your top 10 games of 2016. 

#5: Ace Attorney 6 – Spirit Of Justice (3DS)

ace-attorney-spirit-justice-logo

Link to my first impression

As we enter the top 5, I had the most difficult time choosing the order of the games. I had to make some hard decisions.

The Ace Attorney game we got this year was amazing. It had some amusing throwback moments to earlier games and it has hit me emotionally a couple of times.

It might not be my favorite game in the series, but it’s was a pretty enjoyable ride from beginning to end. One of my biggest let-downs was that the 4th case was way too short in my opinion. But, in exchange, we got 2 “joke” episodes that made me laugh multiple times. Also, I need to remind myself to not play this game on the train to work, since I nearly missed my stop once and one time I started laughing so much, I got strange looks for the whole ride… Yeah.

#4: Pokémon Sun and Moon (3DS)

sun-moon-box-art

Link to my review

Like Ace Attorney 6, the new game in the Pokémon series is amazing. While it’s not the best in the series, in my opinion, it has a lot of throwback moments to earlier Pokémon games.

So, I honestly think it’s a no-brainer that this game should be on my top 10 games I played in 2016-list. Since this game brought back some amazing memories I had playing Pokémon throughout my life. I even met some strangers on the train who were playing Pokémon Sun or Moon as well. I never imagined that that would be possible in the crazy times we live in currently. Pokémon connects people. And thanks to Pokémon Go, a game I wasn’t able to play, the craze for Pokémon grew even more.

I have almost beaten the game and I’m looking forward what the new Pokémon generation will bring. I think they are taking it in a great direction. If only they tweaked the games a little bit for long time players, and it would be perfect in my opinion!

#3: Stella Glow (3DS)

SGCoverRGB

Link to my review

So, in late June, I downloaded the demo for this game on my 3DS. I was deciding which games I was going to buy to play in the upcoming summer. I played the demo and placed it on my wishlist.

That same day, I started talking to one of my friends over at ButtonSmashers. He said he still had a review copy of Stella Glow. So, in exchange for a review on the ButtonSmashers, he sent me the code over mail.

And believe me, this game grew on me really quick. Like I said in my review, the story pulls you in and doesn’t let you go. At least, with me. This game is one that I wish hadn’t passed under my radar. Since that game was already released for 3 months upon that point.

I honestly think I’m going to replay this game next year. The replay value is quite high in this game. I’m going to take a completely different route and try to see things I haven’t experienced yet in this game. I’m quite looking forward to it!

#2: Zero Escape Dilemma (3DS)

zero time dilemma box

Link to my first impression

“Life is simply unfair, is it not?” is one of the quotes I remember from this game. The Zero Escape trilogy got its final game this year. Honestly, I would love a new game in the series since I’m highly addicted to the gameplay.

This game came pretty close being my favorite game of 2016. If you ask me the question, what’s your favorite game released in 2016? I have to answer that this game is my favorite game from 2016. But, I have played one other game that got the number one spot.

So, why is this game on my list? Well, I have played the Zero Escape series from beginning to end. I have played every game, finished every puzzle and the wrap-up of the series is just so heartbreaking. The story is over. Every dot is connected now.

The game almost didn’t see the light of day, but thanks to the support of the fans, this game DID see the light of day. And I’m glad that it did. Everything in this game clicks. It’s almost perfect. Thank you, guys and girls, for this amazing series. I hope you guys and girls keep making games since I would love to see more! Thank you, that’s everything I can say. The series is so good, I hope that the Steam versions of the trilogy will draw a lot of attention. The attention that this series deserves! Seriously, thanks for making this game. I can’t repeat it enough. And honestly, I can’t say it in any other way.

Honorable mentions

With pain in my heart, I have to say that these games didn’t make my list. Some games might come as a surprise to people who know me personally and know the game series I love & adore. So, yeah. Here are the honorable mentions:

  • Yo-Kai Watch (3DS): Interesting mechanics and gameplay, but I haven’t gotten far enough yet in the game.
  • Sphetory (Android): An Android game that took me by surprise. Just read my article about it!
  • Mario Strikers Football Charged (Wii): Just Mario football. But it’s a whole lot of fun!
  • Evoland 2 (PC): Evoland 1 was amazing, so I had to play the sequel. And I don’t regret it!
  • Minecraft Story Mode (Android): I had been putting it off, but when I got it in a sale for my tablet, I gave it a go. And I’m enjoying it a whole lot. Just finished the first episode.
  • SteamWorld Dig (3DS): It reminded me of an Android game I reviewed a long time ago, but this one is miles better.
  • Fire Emblem Awakening (3DS): I just adore the gameplay. If only I was better at it. Also, the micro-transactions nearly ruin the game for me. Since I want all content in my games to be playable.
  • Corpse Party (3DS): It was really close being number 10. The 3DS port is so faithful to the amazing PSP port that introduced me to the series. It creeped me out so much once, I had trouble sleeping one night.
  • Dragon Quest VII (3DS): I have played the first hour of this game, and I enjoyed myself a whole lot. But I haven’t gotten far enough yet.
  • Bravely Second (3DS): The sequel to Bravely Default. One of the RPG’s I love playing on my 3DS. I have to continue playing this game honestly!
  • The Beginners Guide (PC): A game that hit me as a content creator. And it has hit hard. Created by the creator of the Stanley Parable.
  • Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon (3DS): I can’t believe myself I have played 10 different games that trump this game. The new Pokémon Mystery Dungeon game was amazing. But it’s number 11 on my list… Yeah.
  • Kirby Planet Robobot (3DS): While I think that Kirby Triple Deluxe was better, I think that this game is stil worthy to get a spot on the honorable mentions list here!

#1: Bioshock Infinite (PC)

162247_frontLink to my review

Wow, I ended 2015 with playing the first game in the Bioshock series and at the end of 2016, the latest game is my number one game I have been playing in 2016. This series took me by surprise. The story telling, the atmosphere, the setting, the visuals, the gameplay, the soundtrack, the voice acting… it just all clicks for me.

It’s one of the best games I have played this year. Well duh, that’s why it’s number one. At first, I had trouble picking which Bioshock game to put on number one. But the DLC for this game made my decision that much easier. It wraps up the story of this trilogy so nicely, I’m conflicted if they need to continue the Bioshock series. Since it’s finished up so nicely, I think a 4th game would ruin it. But at the other hand, I can’t get enough of the universe. And honestly, the fact that I bought and read the novel and bought merchandise… the fact that I often listen to the soundtrack of this game at work, proves one thing to me. The Bioshock series is sinking it’s (sky)hooks into me. So, if you haven’t played Bioshock; would you kindly give it a go? Give it a chance, you might find one of the best games you have played in a while.

After I had beaten this game, I restarted from Bioshock 1. I have played the three games (and the DLC’s) this year at least two years. That’s a clear reason why this game is my number one game I have played in 2016!

Closing words

So, I’m looking forward to 2017. Since a lot of new challenges await me. But 2016 is coming to an end. I have said multiple times, this year was special to me. But, 2016 was a crazy ride from beginning to end. I have learned so much and experienced so much as well.

I’m disappointed that several events almost ruined the year for me. But, let’s not think about them. Those events aren’t worthy of our attention. I think we can agree that this year has been a crazy ride. Like I said before.

Thank you for all the support I got this year! I seriously helped my blog grow. I love writing for you guys and girls and I hope you will visit my blog again in 2017. So, have an enjoyable rest of 2016 and I hope to see you in 2017! But until then, take care and have a great rest of your year!

My favorite gaming music #17 – Jamming Tunes

video game illustrationMy previous lists

So, this week I have been playing a lot of games. But sadly enough, I haven’t gotten far enough in most of those games in order for me to write about them. But, I got caught in some music tracks and even hummed them while going to work. So, I think it’s time for another article about my favorite gaming music! Remember, in this series, I only talk about the track how it is in the game. I restrict myself that I can only select one track per series in each article.  And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your favorite gaming tracks and/or your opinion on the ones I picked here. I look forward to see your selections. Oh, one quick note before we begin; in this list I only talk about games I have played. In any case, enough stalling! I hope you are ready since here we go!

Phoenix Wright – Ace Attorney (DS) ~ Logic and Trick

Phoenix_Wright_-_Ace_Attorney_Coverart

My review of this game

So, on the 6th of September, we get a new Ace Attorney game. I try to stay away from trailers and promotional material to avoid myself getting spoiled. But from what I have seen, I have been trying to puzzle together what the main focus is going to be in this game.

And believe me or not, this track was playing in my mind. This track plays when you are trying to build up the logic to disprove somebody in court or while investigating.

It’s a really amazing track that fits the mood well. You really feel like you are putting all the pieces together. I’m so glad a variation on this track returns in every game and here is hoping that it returns in the 6th main game in the series, Spirit Of Justice.

Stella Glow (3DS) ~ Battle (Amatsu)

SGCoverRGB

My review of this game

If I wasn’t clear last week in my review; I love the soundtrack to this game. I had truly a hard time picking just one track for this article. So I ended up listing to the whole soundtrack twice in order for me to pick just one track for this article. So, then I decided to pick this track since it introduced one of my favorite characters in the whole game.

I’m talking about Nonoka, she is a shinobi with a cardboard box on her head. You can see her in the middle of the right hand side on the box-art. Her personality and locality to her master is written so well. But not only that, her abilities in battle were a blessing to use.

On top of that, her voice actor (Cristina Valenzuela) did a pretty stellar job of voicing her. It brought the writing to live and made me fall in love with the character even more. And her introduction with this track was just amazing. Seriously, one memorable moment that will stick with me for years to come!

The energy of this track is just fantastic. The first time you hear this track is in battle in an Asian-themed town. It fits the setting extremely well. It makes me excited to win the battle and try to fulfill the special conditions of the battle as well. In all seriousness, go give the full soundtrack a listen, it’s truly worth it in my opinion.

Zero Time Dilemma (3DS) ~ Blue Bird Lamentation 2nd Mix

zero time dilemma box

My first impression of this game

The finale of one of my favorite visual novel series ever made did not disappoint. It’s sad to see the Zero Escape series go. I’m crossing my fingers we will see another game in the series or a new project by the mastermind Kotaro Uchikoshi.

The composer of this track, Shinji Hosoe, did an amazing job composing this track. The moments when it plays in the games is always spot on. It really made me cry in Virtue’s Last Reward. But this remake for Zero Time Dilemma made an even stronger impact on me. Yes, there were waterworks.

When I preparing, and again while writing, for this article I got distracted by all the people who played covers and remixed this song. It such an amazing track to listen in certain moments.

I truly am lost for words to describe this track. It’s one of the tracks I really advise you to play the games and enjoy. It’s really that good!

Bioshock Infinite (PC) ~ Will the circle be unbroken?

BioShockInfinite_Boxart_12012012

My review of this game

I don’t play a lot of shooters. But when a shooter comes around that present an amazing story, I can’t stop myself from giving it a try. The BioShock series took me by surprise. I remember reading a previous about it when I bought PC Gameplay. That was almost 10 years ago. I was around 13 years back then.

I started playing this series in 2015 and I finished the last DLC not too long ago. If I’m really honest, this game might be one of my favorite games I have played in 2016. I’m actually considering to replay the series from start to finish in the near future.

This song is one of the first songs you hear in the game. The scenery is just so strong that when I close my eyes while listing to this song, I’m able to see the scenery of this game. How the game starts.

At first, I thought this was an original written song for the game. But, while writing the review, I discovered that this version is inspired by a song made by Johnny Cash. And it’s just perfect for the setting of this game. I really love how the developers used famous music from the period this game has been set in. The game takes place in late 20th century. But hey, IGN made wrote an amazing article about the music in this game. So, I advise you read that if you want to know more.

Wrapping up

I want to keep this wrapping up short this time. Usually, I talk about some stuff here. But this time, it’s straight to my usual closing sentences. Here they come:

I hope you enjoyed listing and reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing this. So, I hope to be able to welcome you in another article on my blog. So, until then: have a great rest of your day and take care!

First Impression: Zero Escape Dilemma (3DS) ~ Let’s play a game, shall we?

zero time dilemma boxZero Escape Wikia entry

If you didn’t expect this game to get an article this week, you might have missed all my clues on Twitter. I was extremely hyped for this game and it’s finally here! This game has got a rocky development and it was almost canceled. For the people who don’t know this series, let me quickly introduce this game. This game is the 3rd installment in the excellent Zero Escape series on (3)DS and PSVita. It’s a horror visual novel game with escape the room puzzles. These games should be played in order to fully enjoy them. 999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons and 9 Doors was the first one. The second one was Virtue’s Last Reward. Both excellent games. This game is on the 3DS eShop, PSVita and also released on the PC. In any case, enough rambling in this introduction. It’s time to talk about this game and what I think about it. Was it worth the hype & wait or does it stink? Let’s find out. Keep in mind, I’m playing the 3DS version and I don’t own the other versions. Oh, and don’t worry, I selected the screenshots and wrote this article to be as spoiler free as possible. And as usual, feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game and/or the content of this article.

Different game style

The story this time around isn’t about a nonary game like in the previous entries. While it isn’t 100% needed to play the previouzero time dilemmas games, but it’s highly recommend. Since a lot of references and explanations will be very confusing otherwise.

Something that I found really surprising is that this game isn’t linear, at all. You can play sequences out of order. You would think that this would make a confusing story, but thankfully… They thought about that. There is a story mechanic that helps playing this story driven game out of order.

I have played this game for a bit now and I’m nowhere near finished. The current plot points and twists I already saw were mind-blowing. The writing in this game is truly amazing. It pulls me into its world with ease. One time, I was so focused on the story, I almost missed my stop. I had to dash to get outside the train.

I’m really curious how the story will wrap up, since Virtue’s Last Reward ended with a huge cliffhanger. I’m looking forward to that.

The final thing I want to say about the story is that I’m really thankful that some terms and mechanics of the previous games are quickly explained. It helps me when I had forgotten something from the previous games.

In the previous entry, Virtue’s Last Reward there was a nasty saving bug. It was, as far as I know, only present in the 3DS version. It happened in one room and in certain situations. If you saved then, your save would get corrupted and you had to start all over.

Thankfully, Aksys learned its lesson and implemented three save slots in this game. But so far, I haven’t encountered any problems with saving. Also, three save slots make sense since you can play this game out of order.

The music in this game is very good. While it uses a couple of tracks from the previous game, the new tracks are pretty nice to listen too. The music feels similar but is unique too. It fits the scary and tense atmosphere the story is trying to set.

The sound design is pretty well done, I have no complaints there. So far, so good. The only complaint I have is that, on the default settings, the music overpowers the voice acting from time to time. But it’s easily fixed with putting the volume of the music a bit down.

Not so much reading anymore?

zero time dilemma 2In the two previous entries, you could read everything. From time to time, it was more a novel then a game. But not in this game, almost everything is voice acted. The parts that aren’t voice acted are the dialogues inside the puzzle rooms.

I’m not 100% happy with that. Honestly, I’m 90% happy with it, but sometimes I miss the atmospheric writing that detailed how the main character felt or gave more details about the situation.

I have to praise this game for its voice acting. I’m playing this game with the English voice acts and they sound awesome! Sometimes, the emotions of the characters really shine through. I really felt that the voice actors really put a lot of effort into this game and gave it more than their best.

Something I think is the weakest point in this game is some visual issues. In some cutscenes, I felt that the characters were too static. I honestly think, that if Uchikoshi (writer / developer of the series) had more staff and money, it would look a whole lot better.

Also, some textures could have been polished up a bit more. For example, there is an emblem on one of the characters his shirt, and you can barely make it out what it is. Or in another scene, somebody looks at a carpet on the floor. When the camera looks down, I almost felt that they used the fill tool in a paint program. Or in some cutscenes, the hair or eyebrows of some characters are clipping with something. Which is a shame.

All in all, the finer details could have been polished a bit more. While the animations are pretty good, there is barely any animation where two people do something together.

Don’t get me wrong here, visually this game looks stunning on the 3DS. While some people found it a bummer that they dropped 3D support, I don’t mind. Apart from lacking some polish; the escape rooms, characters, cutscenes and environments look crisp and detailed. I also truly love the style they used in this game.

Life is simple unfair, don’t you think?

So, this game is still a puzzle game. The escape rooms are really challenging this zero time dilemma 3time around. In the previous games, I almost never got stuck in a room or on a puzzle. But this time around, some of  the rooms are real brain teasers in my opinion.

This game can be very difficult if you don’t see the solution to the puzzle. I do have to agree with the other reviewers, this game really lacks a hint system. Like the “Easy mode” in Virtue’s Last Reward, where some of your companion characters almost literally explained what you needed to do.

The controls of this game are very good. Apart from some minor issues I had in some rooms with the touch screen, I found that the controls were, like I said earlier, very good. A small piece of advice from me, I feel that the buttons work a bit better when you need to move the camera from point a to point b. When you need to press something finer, use the stylus. That’s the best way to play this game in my eyes.

From what I have seen, this game is a very long game. This is a very good thing, since this game has it’s hooks into to me.

If you have read my blog before, you know that I also like to talk about the UI/menu systems. Since I feel that they are important. The menu system in this game is almost perfect. Something that bugs me is that you can use the d-pad to navigate the general flow chart, but if you switch to the 2nd flow chart (where they display pictures of the event), you suddenly can’t do that anymore.

There was also one time that I had to input a few passwords that were said earlier. I forgot to wrote them down and suddenly I was unable to open the logs. So, I had to restart that segment.

In first impression of this game is pretty good. The game we got is amazing. Yet, the fact that this game was made by a small group shows its signs. I honestly think this game would have looked a lot better when they had a bigger team and a bigger budget. Maybe this game gets some polish with a patch or two. But honestly, I don’t think the game NEEDS it. Since it has a certain charm that I think would get lost.

@Uchikoshi, if you or somebody on your staff reads this… I have a message for you guys and girls. Thank you for creating this game. I bought it on day one and I’m really pleased with it. While there are somethings that could have been improved, the end result is an amazing game. I wish you girls and guys the best. Here is to a 4th game in the series or an equally awesome new project. I really love the series you made! If you don’t make a sequel, I’m hoping that you make a new game and/or series. I’m so looking forward to it.

I wish I could say more, but then I would go into spoiler territory. Also, I haven’t finished the game so my final opinion might change. I’m planning to write a full review when I have beaten this game. So yeah, I think I’ll wrap up this article here. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Thank you for reading and I hope to welcome you in another article. But until then, have a great rest of your day and take care!~

 

Review #005: Virtue’s Last Reward (3DS) ~ But you promised…

Virtues_Last_Reward

Link to the official English site.

You are locked up. You don’t know where you are or what your goal is. It’s time to play a game. No, not with a Saw but with a bunny. Yes, Zero Junior. You thought you could escape in the previous game, 9 hours 9 people 9 doors (For the DS, I’ll review this game one day)? Then think again. This time, you will have some major trouble. The game will go totally different now, and you will have a lot more explained.  Are you ready for an adventure? One that you rather didn’t have, one you regret living for? Okay, enough of that. This game got me extremely excited to play, I even didn’t know this game came to Europe. But when I saw it in my local game store, I bought the game with the little money I had and that night I didn’t sleep. But why? Is this such a good game and if it is, did it deliver? Or  was my sleepless night because of the terrible game I had to play? Well, let’s dive into this game and let’s check if it’s actually worthy to be played.

Zero III.

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This game isn’t your regular game. Oh no, it proves that the 3DS has games that aren’t for kids. This game is for 16 and up and for a good reason, it’s a scary game. Not supernatural but the scenery and the story is pretty creepy.

The game’s story is amazing and is extremely well done. It can be a bit cheesy here and there but I can forgive that. Some reviewers will tell that those points in a story are boring and all that, but those things actually aren’t all that bad, they don’t take you out of the experience.

A big improvement is that you can now jump inside the story. The game has several endings and to unlock the final true ending, you need to have seen most, if not all, other endings. If you are playing with breaks, the story can get confusing when you jump though, so pay attention.

If I talk about the story, I might spoil it for you. But it’s a great story. For the people who follow me on Twitter before I started this blog, you might have noticed that I tweeded this game to some Youtubers who looked for new games on their 3DS.

Even talking when this game takes place in the series in a spoiler. But the new UI in this game is a vast improvement over the last interface. Like I told earlier, this game’s jump manic in the story helps out a lot, so you don’t have to redo parts of the story like in the original. Also, it’s more clear which path you need to take to unlock a new ending, so the danger of running into a same ending twice is gone.

What pissed me off in game, but is an extremely nice touch is that some endings have a story lock. Yes, you need information from another ending. Confused? Well, I was too. But it gets extremely well explained in the game and I advise you to play it for the story alone.

I want to get out!

VLR_Screen_5

The game is a mixture of visual novel and puzzle game. Your goal is to escape a certain room and find more clues. What’s unique in this game is that when you do it without getting hints, you unlock developer content. This makes for a lot of replay value in a visual novel game. Yes, they succeeded into getting replay value in a game that’s extremely story driven. Most visual novel games collect dust after they are finished.

The animation is extremely well done. Each character has their unique expressions and makes the story come more alive then the previous game. Even in 3D, the game is extremely awesome to look at. The location of the game itself is well done. You truly get the feeling of being trapped and wanting to escape.

The puzzles you need to solve aren’t that easy. Most puzzles require you to use that thing up in your head, your brain. The game will challenge you with sliding puzzles, logic puzzles and much more. A great tip is that you need to carefully look around in a room to not miss anything.

No area is repetitive. Each one has unique puzzles related to that place. I even didn’t find any similar puzzles from the previous game. The story and gameplay is also way different, except the escaping parts. In this game, the door to escape is right in front of your face, yet, the “key” isn’t.

The music is, are you ready for this, epic. I can’t find any bad song in the game or any tune I didn’t like. Often, I start a playlist on Youtube and listen to the music while I play games like Minecraft. The music gives the right vibes on the right moment. Surprisingly there are a lot of different tracks and all are of a decent length. Most of the tracks even have one word long names. Which is a nice touch of the developers.

Some parts in the game have even voice acting. This makes the game feel alive. You feel that you grow a bond with the characters and this makes you want to play more.

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Perfect?


This game is extremely close to being perfect to me. The music, animation, story, gameplay… It’s all there. Yet, I found some flaws in this game that really made me wonder. Are they going to address these issues in the sequel?

The first issue is the disappointing save file corruption glitch on the 3DS. Yes, I truly advise you all not to save in the puzzle rooms or your data can get corrupt. I learned it the hard way. The developers have yet to come out with a patch sadly enough.

In my opinion, the sound effects are lacking. Not that they aren’t good, they are pretty well done. But the same is silent without the music and really could use a bit more on the sound department in my opinion.

Also, some puzzles, the one with the liquor especially, are a bit tedious. Changing liquor and changing and more changing, it gets boring extremely quick.

Another small flaw is that the story becomes a bit predictable in the yet to unlock endings if you finished others. Either you already know some information or a similar path is walked on. But it helps with the continuity of the story though.

As a final remark, this game has a flaw it can’t fix. This game’s story will leave you with an empty feeling when it’s done. You don’t want to see “The End” anytime soon. This game is extremely good and the length, well it’s a long game. But when it’s over, you want more. More  escaping…

Conclusion

The good:

+ Epic story.

+ Great soundtrack.

+ Amazing gameplay.

+ Various and many improvements over the original.

+ The new elements in the game really helps the game.

+ Voice acting.

+ Additional content.

The bad: 

– Sounds, could be done a bit more.

– Save file corruption.

Conclusion:

This game is really close of getting a 100 of me. Did I enjoy this game? Of course I did. I was sad when the game was over and I actually plan to replay the game this summer. I might already know what is going to happen and how it will end, but the puzzles and the whole game are so fun to play through.

This game isn’t for everyone though. But once you get into the gameplay, you won’t let this game go easily. It’s such a well done game, I wish I still could play it a bit more. I normally don’t care about additional content like texts of the developers but in this game I did. Can you unlock them all?

Score: 99/100