Rushin’ Through

Rushing Through Games | Game Reviews | Video Games | Gaming | DoublexJump.com

krismii
We play a lot of video games for this blog, and we like playing a lot of video games. Otherwise, this blog wouldn’t exist. However, there are definitely times when we feel that we rush through games more than take our time and just enjoy the games for what they are.

rachmii
Writing game reviews is fun and I love being able to contribute to gamers and devs alike. I enjoy sharing and promoting games we liked and even games we didn’t care for too much. However, playing video games take time and it can be tricky to get their reviews out in a timely manner.

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It’s a downside to doing reviews, I suppose. Obviously, we want the reviews to be timely and relevant, especially with how quickly games come onto the market. It’s a stark difference from when we were kids and could only afford games a couple of times a year. We’d take our time with those games, exploring every world and level, then replay them and old favorites while waiting for new games for Christmas and our birthdays. Now we pre-order games that are coming out months later to take advantage of Amazon Prime savings.

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We’ve noticed lately that we constantly have a backlog of games. There are so many old ones we own that we still have yet to play and then there are the new games that were just released or will be soon that are currently in the news that all gamers are playing right now. We’ve tried to get on a “gaming” schedule before but with real life and Kris’s day job, it’s tough to stick to one.

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Even if a gaming schedule worked, it would also mean trying to shoehorn in gaming during times that we may not feel like it. We wouldn’t really enjoy the games if we felt like we were being forced to play them on a set schedule. I mean, if gaming wasn’t such an expensive hobby, the logical solution would be to quit my day job for more gaming time, haha!

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It would totally be nice to have the ability to play video games all the time again. What got us thinking about this was Octopath Traveler. It’s been such a long time since we’ve gotten excited about a lengthy game. Breath of the Wild was exciting for us and we released a “review” long after everyone else had because we were simply taking our time with it. It’s great to dive into another long story with in-depth storytelling and plot.

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While we’re not planning on taking as long with Octopath as we did with Breath of the Wild, we are definitely trying to savor it. The Nintendo Switch has been fantastic for indie games, especially smaller puzzle ones, but a nice story-driven RPG is perfect for us at this time. We’re curious as to what other people do when they find themselves with a backlog of games they want to play.

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Gaming is not meant to be stressful and we’re enjoying every minute of it. Which is why we’re excited to play more of Octopath Traveler and to seek out even more games we haven’t played yet.

Do you prefer to take your time with games and complete? Or play just enough to get a feel of it for a review? Let us know in the comments below!

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Sims 4 Seasons Expansion Review

Double Jump Kris MiiHello, everyone!

The Sims franchise is a favorite of mine ever since a coworker back from college let me borrow her collection of Sims 2 expansion packs. Sims 2 turned into Sims 3, which I still have installed, before Sims 4 came around. Sims 4 is how I find myself wasting and enjoying time nowadays, especially with the newest expansion pack, Seasons.

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The Sims 4 Seasons expansion pack came out a couple of weeks ago on June 22. Being a Sims expansion pack, I bought it for myself just in time for Camp NaNoWriMo, a monthly writing challenge, and I’ve been playing it as a reward for whenever I reach my word count goal for the day.

The Pets expansion packs always tend to be my favorites, because who doesn’t love virtual dogs and cats? Aside from that, though, Seasons is right up there as it gives so much more variety to the world that you’re playing in. The temperature changes, holidays, the new clothes and accessories for the sims, Seasons was always a coveted expansion pack for the Sims.

The Sims 4 Seasons comes with all of those. The temperature changes bring about new deaths and interactions for the sims, depending on how hot or cold the weather is. A thermostat is a new item for homes and businesses, allowing sims to make the temperature inside the house comfortable… supposedly. I still had my sims automatically dress up in their outdoor winter gear around the house in the colder weather despite the thermostat being set to warm (not to mention a fireplace or two in the house).

Holidays were interesting, especially since you can create your own. A calendar button is included in the interface, allowing the player to see the coming seasons and holidays in the next couple of weeks. Each holiday has “traditions” that you can assign it, actions that your sims can take in order to really celebrate the holiday. For example, Lovefest is the Valentine’s Day equivalent, and traditions can include gifting flowers to someone or going on a date, while Harvestfest’s main tradition is eating a Grand Meal. A sim’s personality traits also effect how they feel about the individual traditions. A romantic sim loves the idea of going on a date during Lovefest, while a loner sim ignores the same tradition. It’s pretty interesting to play around with, creating your own holidays as well as being able to plan events like birthday parties in advance.

The biggest addition to Sims 4 Seasons is the Gardening career. The gardening skill got an overhaul, making plants seasonal, while also adding the Flower Arrangement skill. With the Gardening career, you can either become a botanist or florist. Botanist focuses more on research and the gardening skill, while florist utilizes the flower arrangement skill as well. Gardening is the type of career that allows you to work from home if you wish like the careers from City Living, or you can create your own retail store for your floral arrangements if you have Get to Work.

One of the disappointing aspects of the expansion pack, in my opinion, is that there was no beach world or beach area to allow the sims to swim in the ocean or just hang out, really. Imagine being able to have a 4th of July-based holiday on the beach or just a beach party to go with Seasons. In Sims 3, with its open world, being able to swim in the ocean was a major development, and I feel that Sims 4 is missing out on this.

Still, there are plenty of extra activities, such as rollerskating, ice skating, beekeeping, having snowball and water balloon fights, along with the new holidays and Gardening career to keep you entertained should you choose to purchase the expansion pack. If you’re a big fan of the Sims and have the cash to spare, Seasons is a pretty good expansion to add to your game.

Do you play the Sims 4? Have you gotten the Seasons expansion pack? What do you think of it?

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Game Dev Tycoon [Game Review]

Game Review: Game Dev Tycoon | PC Games | Video Games | Gaming | Steam | DoublexJump.com

Title: Game Dev Tycoon
Developer: Greenheart Games
Publisher: Greenheart Games, Headup Games
Platform:
PC, Mac, Android, IOS
Category:
Economic Simulation
Release Date:
December 10, 2012
How we got the game:
We bought it on Steam

krismii
Game Dev Tycoon is a fun, addicting simulation in which you try to become the best game developer you can be within 35 game years. We first heard of the game from one of our favorite YouTubers, ProJared, and we became obsessed.

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We both have a love of simulation, casual games, though it’s not often we come across a really good one like this one.

gameplay

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Game Dev Tycoon is played by clicking and selecting options from menus. For example, clicking on the screen will bring up options to create a new game, find contract work, find a publishing deal, or look at your game history. It’s very simple in terms of controls and the premise, but every action you make will affect your company, either for better or for worse.

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Every action affects your company, yeah, but a lot is luck. You might think you’re making a great decision and it completely backfires. You start off by yourself in your garage making small games here and there. Once you get enough money, you get your own office. Now you can hire two employees and create games faster.

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Eventually, you can get an even bigger office and hire a full team of six employees aside from yourself. Your employees affect your games as well, depending on their strengths in the design or technology department, as well as their speed and efficiency at research. You can train them to raise their stats, but it will cost money and research points, not to mention their monthly salaries and the rent for your office. With more employees, you can create even bigger games, which may bring in more fans and sales. Researching new topics and assets to your custom game engines — such as dialogue trees, soundtracks, open worlds, mini-games, just to name a small few — will also help drive up those game sales. As long as, you know, the critics like the games.

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You have to manage your time well too because the time in-game moves pretty quickly. You need to sort out who’s going to research what, train their skills and when. Don’t forget to train yourself as well… something I often forgot. I usually did all this in between games too because it’s much better to have everyone working on the game at once. You can assign what aspects of the game you want your employees to work on. Everyone has a meter that fills up a percentage of how much they’re working. Ideally, you want your employees and yourself to be under 100% so they don’t overwork themselves. They do have a tired meter as well. If that goes down their work will slow or stop altogether. You can simply click on them and send them on vacation for a bit.

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There are events happening all the time that can affect your work as well, such as big name video game companies coming out with new consoles, events that have to do with your fans, or market analysis news that tell you what kind of genre or target audience is popular at the moment. There is also “G3,” the game’s equivalent of E3, every year that you can attend. Depending on the size of the booth you can afford, you may get more fans and hype for the next game you’re making. The more hype for a game, the more sales you may generate. Beware, too much hype for a game that ends up being less than stellar may result in you losing fans.

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After 35 years in-game, the game “ends.” You get a list of your stats such as your best selling game, least sold game, most used topic and genre, and more. All of that adds up and you get a score. The points don’t really matter but it’s fun to check out anyway. After that you can either keep playing the game without any “story elements” or you can start a new game and try to beat your score.

graphics-music

krismii
Game Dev Tycoon, being a casual simulator, doesn’t have a huge world or multiple levels to explore. Instead, you have the background of your office, your avatar and employees glued to their computer screens, and statistics and news bubbles around the edges of the game window. The graphics are very clean while being sure that you’re mentally focused on your budding game development company.

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It’s simple and it works. You’re so focused on pointing, clicking, and checking the stats in the top right corner that you barely notice anything else going on – which isn’t much. The colors are bright and fun and the backgrounds for each office are cool to look closely at as your employees get their work done.

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To go along with the chill graphics, the music is relaxing as well. It’s minimal, allowing you to zone into the work you have to do to develop the best games possible. There aren’t too many sound effects, either, but the best one is these little “bubbles” of productivity from your employees. While working on a game, the game earns bubbles of design and technology, depending on the speed and the workers’ strength in those areas, and it is extremely satisfying to see all the little bubbles go flying!

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The music is smooth and relaxing, definitely. Even clicking on options for what to do next is a satisfying sound. The bubbles though were definitely my favorite! Their popping sounds were satisfying to listen to and yeah, to watch them fly across the screen was mesmerizing.
story

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Game Dev Tycoon starts off with your avatar sitting in a little garage-turned-office with a handful of money and big dreams to become a famous — or at least profitable — game developer. With only the ability to make small games with a few randomized topic options, you have to do your best to balance out design and technology to make the best games as possible so you can move up in the video game world.

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The point is to move up in the gaming world and become the best video game company ever. That’s all there is to it. The points and money only add up to give you stats and points at the end for a high score. While you can keep playing the game after it “ends” in 35 in-game years, there’s still a way to lose. Sometimes the market doesn’t go your way and you can go bankrupt. So be careful your business doesn’t go up in flames!

replay-value

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With the random events and beginning topics, Game Dev Tycoon has some great replay ability. The luck of the draw definitely keeps the game interesting, and with its addictive gameplay, you’re always trying to improve your games and overall high score. Year 35 is a good time for the game to “end,” for at that point we found ourselves to be so successful with fans and profits, that the quality of our games didn’t matter as much when it came to sales. At that point, I was ready to jump right into a new game and just keep going!

Rachel Mii Double Jump
The game topics such as virtual pet, mystery games, and more are random when you first start. So there’s never a playthrough that’ll be the same. This is definitely something I’ll play again soon.

Game Dev Tycoon gets…
5 out of 5 lives.

Have you played this game? What did you think? Let us know in the comments! 

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[Review] Harvest Moon: Light of Hope

Double Jump | Video Games | Nintendo Switch | Harvest Moon | Light of Hope | Review | Game Review

Title: Harvest Moon: Light of Hope
Developer: Natsume
Publisher: Natsume
Platform:
PC, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4
Category:
Role-Playing, Simulation
Release Date:
May 29, 2018 for Switch/Playstation 4 in NA; November 14, 2017 for PC
How we got the game:
Bought it for the Switch

krismii
Harvest Moon has been one of my favorite franchises since I was introduced to Friends of Mineral Town for the GameBoy Advance way back when I was in… I dunno, the beginning of high school? It was a long time ago, let’s just say that. I feel as if the older titles in the franchise better capture what Harvest Moon is supposed to be about, and I think that Light of Hope recaptured that.

gameplay

Harvest Moon: Light of Hope operates in a similar way to the majority of the other games in the franchise. As one of the main objectives of the game, you spend much of your time cultivating a farm, growing crops and raising livestock. Fishing and mining are also two activities that you do in order to help improve both your farm and the island itself.

The controls for Light of Hope are, actually, fairly simple. With the Switch controls set up the way I had them, usually in the Switch’s handheld mode, you move your character with the left analog stick and the A button on the right Joy-Con was your main action button.

A cursor — usually a little leaf or a green square if you were by a farming spot — showed you where you could make an action. The green leaf was used basically to indicate who you could talk to, while a green square would indicate what tool you could use. There is no switching tools around in this game. Instead, the game is smart enough to know what tool you need based on what you were facing. If there’s a tree in front of you, you’ll automatically use the ax to cut it down. You’ll swing your hammer if you meet a stone. And if you were facing a spot where you can grow a crop? Just stand there and hit A as your character automatically tills the spot, plants your preferred crop, water the spot, and toss on some fertilizer.

Of course, sometimes this hiccuped a little (yes, I know I patted and brushed my cow already, can you please just automatically milk it now?), such as if you suddenly moved your character and they’re tilling the next spot of grass instead of watering the potatoes, but it works well enough for me.

While you’re improving your farm and completing the story, you’ll also be making friends and wooing potential spouses, as you do in most Harvest Moon games. Talking and giving gifts to people improve your friendships, potentially unlocking further activities or pieces of the story. Many of the NPCs are in charge of shops on the island and you can sell products that you grow on the farm directly to them rather than stuffing them in the shipping bin. Some stores will pay you more for certain goods — such as the restaurant for fish or the flower shop for, well, flowers — than you would receive when shipping them.

All in all, the game play and controls are pretty smooth on the Nintendo Switch.

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Light of Hope’s graphics were rather charming. Full-bodied sprites moved fluidly across the Nintendo Switch screen, and the animated expressions while characters were speaking to each other definitely amused me!

I almost always enjoy the music in Harvest Moon games, and Light of Hope was no exception. The seasonal music is always relaxing, especially in winter. Most of the tunes are updated versions of music from past Harvest Moon games, which just makes me enjoy them all the more.

storyThe protagonist of the game washes ashore a mostly-deserted Beacon Island in the middle of a storm. After being rescued by a couple of the last remaining inhabitants of the island, the protagonist decides to stick around and help draw back citizens to the island by farming and rebuilding the shops.

Beacon Island is home to a majestic lighthouse whose eternal light has vanished, the catalyst as to why many people abandoned the island. The protagonist vows to figure out why the lighthouse went out and to restore it once again.

The story reminds me of a cross between Animal Parade and Sunshine Islands. Restoring the lighthouse’s light comes down to finding the the lighthouse tablets. The game itself pretty much carries you through the story, so there is no literal searching for the tablets. NPCs will guide you through the chapters, giving you hints (or just outright telling you) what items you need in order to proceed. The story can take as little as 10 hours as long as you are able to find and/or save the necessary items you’ll need in order to find the stone tablets.

After the tablets are replaced in the lighthouse and the light is restored, the story ends. The protagonist is now able to continue raising their farm, expanding their house in case they want to marry an eligible candidate, as well as unlock special livestock and crop seeds.

The story itself isn’t much, but the many interactions between the player and the NPCs were cute. The only thing I found odd about the story was at certain parts where NPCs would “wait” in an area for the player to return with specific items to help move the story along, even if it took the player a couple of seasons to find the items.

replay-value

Most Harvest Moon games have plenty of replay value if one considers the different spouses one can woo and the multitude of ways one can arrange their farm. There are three save files per profile on the Switch, so if you’re the type to try to marry every potential spouse, go for it. Light of Hope also has multiple farms on the island as well, allowing you to experiment with different plants and crops.

It’s a charming, relaxing game that has plenty of potential for multiple play-throughs.

Harvest Moon: Light of Hope gets…
4-lives
4 out of 5 lives.

Have you played this game? What did you think? Let us know in the comments! 

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[Review] Batman: The Telltale Series

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Title: Batman: The Telltale Series
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Platform:
PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Category:
Graphic Adventure
Release Date:
Original episode was released August 2016
How we got the game:
Bought it on Steam

krismii
Batman was one of my first loves when I was introduced to the Geek Life. With the comic books and the animated series, Batman turned into one of my favorite superheroes. Seeing the release of the Telltale Series, I was always interested in the point-and-click graphic adventure. After having it downloaded on Steam for… longer than I intended, I finally got around to sitting down and playing it.

gameplay

I’ve never played a Telltale Series game before and, considering all of the titles they have out, I was interested in seeing how they pulled it off. Part action, part graphic adventure, Batman: The Telltale Series was definitely fun with its gameplay.

The game is split evenly between Batman and Bruce Wayne, with the player taking their roles during the game. While the game looks similar to a visual novel, the player’s input in the many critical choices affects the branches of the game’s narrative.

Part of the gameplay involves the player making quick decisions, whether it is during an action sequence or when speaking with NPCs of the world. Case in point were the multiple choice responses peppered in throughout the narrative. When responding to key points in the story to the NPCs, you are given only a few seconds, measured by a bar beneath the response choices. If you failed to respond, it was taken as mere silence, which is also a valid response to these situations. The first few questions I had to answer, I nearly panicked that I couldn’t try to carefully think through and pick the best response. Instead, I had to answer quickly and let the chips fall where they may!

The action sequences generally involve the player reacting quickly to hitting a certain key or button, a mouse-click, or even a combination of keystrokes to perform actions. Successfully performing these actions during a fight scene will fill up a Batman symbol found in the bottom-left corner of the screen — once the symbol is filled, Batman can perform a final move to completely take down the opponent he is facing to move onto the next scene.

During investigative scenes, you check evidence and the surrounding area, using a technique called linking to “link” pieces of evidence together to help piece the story of what went down in the area. I was actually really impressed with this part of the gameplay, finding it intriguing as we moved around as Batman to investigate. Seeing his gadgets do their thing was fun, too!

It’s not combat-heavy and relies more on quick reflexes and thinking, allowing you to manipulate the story and enjoying the narrative you help to weave.

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The graphics aren’t bad at all. The semi-realistic graphics of the people and the settings are pretty good, even if sometimes the faces of the characters can look a little… derpy. I really enjoyed the images of the Gotham, the settings of Wayne Manor, City Hall, and the other scenes. I thought they were well done.

The music was fun as well, the tunes fitting into the story well. Fight and investigative scenes were accurately punched up with the music, keeping you focused and getting you amped up when necessary.
storyThe game begins with Batman investigating a break-in at Gotham City Hall. Aside from mercenaries, he meets Catwoman stealing a drive, which Batman takes before she can escape. He returns to Wayne Manor as Bruce, hosting a campaign party for D.A. Harvey Dent running for mayor against the current, corrupt mayor of Gotham. Among other party guests, the infamous mobster Falcone makes an appearance, who offers Bruce a spot in his crime family in exchange for “help” in getting Harvey elected.

This prologue effectively introduces the major players to episode one.

The story does well going back and forth between the Bruce Wayne and Batman personas, giving equal play time for both “characters.” While Batman is focused on decrypting the drive that Catwoman had attempted to steal, Bruce Wayne is stuck playing politics for Harvey Dent and Falcone. During the investigation, Falcone appears to be the link between the two faces of the titular character.

With this link, accusations against Bruce’s parents come to light, accusations that painted the Waynes not as benevolent benefactors to the city but as one of the biggest crime families of Gotham. While Batman confronts Falcone for his part in stealing and delivering a chemical weapon, Falcone delivers evidence of the Waynes being involved with Falcone and his crime organizations. Episode one ends with Bruce demanding answers from Alfred, his closest confidant and the Wayne family butler and friend.

The story continues with episode two, with Bruce digging up the secrets of his family’s past. The Telltale Series does well playing in Batman’s universe, but the story itself does not tie in with any other existing Batman lore. I’m definitely intrigued by the beginning of this game and am looking forward to continuing the story of this game with the next episodes!

replay-value

Batman: The Telltale Series had great replay value, especially if you want to exhaust all the different important choices you can pick throughout the game. Not only are the episodes themselves different due to the choices, choices in previous episodes can affect the outcome of future episodes.

That, and it’s Batman. What’s not to like?

Batman: The Telltale Series gets…
5-lives
5 out of 5 lives.

Have you played this game? What did you think? Let us know in the comments! 

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Undertale [Game Review]

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Title: Undertale
Developer and Publisher: Toby Fox
Platform:
PC, Playstation 4, future release for Nintendo Switch
Category:
Role-playing
Release Date:
Sept 2015 (PC), August 2017 (PS4), 2018 (Switch)
How I got the game:
I bought it on Steam.

krismii
When this game first came out a couple of years ago, I really wasn’t sure what to think of it. It’s popularity surged, but it wasn’t until we saw a Let’s Play of the game last year that I was actually interested in playing it. I finally got the game on Steam a little while ago and then, lo and behold, the game got announced for the Nintendo Switch this year!

gameplay

Undertale is a role-playing game where you play as a child who has fallen Underground, a dark place filled with Monsters. It’s in a top-down perspective, and you move about the overworld, navigating the land while interacting with other characters and, usually, solving puzzles. Depending on how one solves the objectives of the game determines the kind of ending one will receive.

When encounter enemies, the battle mode will trigger. The battle mode involves controlling your character’s soul, which is represented by a red heart. In each battle, as the heart, you must avoid attacks from the enemy that attack you similar in a bullet hell shooter. Various elements to the battles are introduced further in the game, such as different obstacles to dodge and conditions for controlling the heart.

Players have different options in battle. You can either choose to attack, act (such as talking to, mimicking, or even flirting with an opponent), use an item, or mercy, which allows players to either flee from the battle or spare the opponent if the time is right to do so. Depending on the players actions will sway the battle and, ultimately, the ending of the game. It is possible to beat the game without harming any enemies.

Undertale also employs metafictional elements. When a player replays the game, dialogue and certain sections of the game will be altered depending on the previous play through. How the player interacts with the game’s characters — by slaying, sparing, or befriending them — determines how the end of the play through will go. A player can achieve a True Pacifist run, Neutral runs, or a Genocide run, and subsequent play throughs will be effected by the ending of the previous play through.

graphics-music

Undertale’s graphics are pixel-y and charming, reminding me of older video games from the NES and SNES days. Despite that, every character — whether they were major, minor, or just background — was distinct in its looks, dialogue, and even sound. When characters spoke, their words typed out to distinct sounds, giving the characters voices without voice actors.

The game, being set in a place called the Underground, was filled with dim colors, dark blues, grays, and some red-hot areas. Some spots were a little spooky, or tried to be, but the music was always coupled well with the areas, such as a relaxing waterfall setting or the snowy town at night. I was very impressed with the quality of music and sound effects, especially since the composer was also the developer and publisher.

storyUndertale’s story opens up with a child falling into Mount Ebott, which brings them to the massive Underground that is populated with Monsters. The first character that the player encounters is Flowey, a sentient flower that explains the basic mechanics of the games before attempting to kill the player. The player is then saved by Toriel, a kind, goat-like, maternal monster who teaches the player how to navigate through puzzles and how to end battles without killing.

Once the player leaves Toriel’s home, you explore the vast Underground while meeting many other new characters, such as Sans and Papyrus the skeleton brothers, Undyne the Head of the Royal Guard, and Alphys the royal scientist. The player’s main objective is to get home. Along the way, you learn about how the Monsters came to be Underground.

Long ago, there was a war between humans and Monsters. Humans, with their stronger souls, pushed the Monsters Underground, sealing them with a barrier. Despite their magic, Monsters are not strong enough to break the barrier. However, if the Monsters collect enough human souls, they will grow powerful enough to break the barrier. As the child, you learn that that is what Asgore, the King of the Monsters, intends to do.

And you are the last needed human soul.

As you explore the Underground and meet other characters, your interactions with them will determine the outcome of the adventure. Many Monsters will want your soul for their king, and it is up to the player to either befriend or kill them. When it comes to escaping the Underground, it is up to you on whether or not you want to help the Monsters… or just yourself.

replay-value

With the charming graphics, awesome music, and quirky characters, Undertale is a game that I would boot up multiple times just to visit the characters over and over. Along with the fact that there are different endings with metafictional elements, Undertale has some great replay value.

…Although, because I enjoy the characters so much, I’m not sure if I really want to do a Genocide route! I prefer the happier endings, haha!

Undertale gets…
4-lives
4 out of 5 lives.

Have you played this game? What did you think? Let us know in the comments! 

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Harvest Moon DS: Island of Happiness Review

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Title: Harvest Moon DS: Island of Happiness
Developer: Marvelous Interactive
Publisher: Natsume
Platform:
Nintendo DS
Category:
Simulation
Release Date:
August 2008
How I got the game:
I got it as a gift years ago.

krismii
I’m usually a sucker for the Harvest Moon franchise — they’re my go-to relaxing games. The older games tend to have a basic story and simple goals, and I feel that the newer games are trying a bit too much in having overarching story lines and encompassing goals. Island of Happiness is one of those games that was in between, still simple enough to be relaxing but with a few gimmicks that, in my opinion, were not needed.

gameplay

Island of Happiness is similar to other games in the Harvest Moon franchise in that it’s premise is you, as the main character, starting a ranch from scratch. One of your main objectives is to raise crops and animals as best as you can while also befriending the villagers in the town. Wooing potential spouses and raising a family are also staple aspects of the Harvest Moon games, and Island of Happiness is no exception.

Harvest Moon games tend to give you free range when it comes to customizing your ranch, allowing you to grow whatever crops you want (in season, of course) and raise whatever combination of animals you wish. Want all chickens? Go for it. Want to have your field covered with tomato plants? You can do that. There’s no one telling you what to raise. Selling the crops and animal byproducts is the best way to earn money for your ranch, and some products are more profitable than others, so most take that into account. Products are also used in cooking dishes and gifts to friends and romantic interests as well.

With that said, Island of Happiness was on the Nintendo DS and, as such, Nintendo thought it would be best to utilize the touch screen as much as possible. It was more of an annoyance rather than feeling innovative. You move your character with the stylus on the touch screen while the D-Pad buttons was used to equip tools. This was rectified in the immediate sequel, Sunshine Islands.

Island of Happiness also had a more complicated method of growing your crops. In early Harvest Moon games, the best way to grow crops was to plant them in-season and water them once a day. Weather plays a part in helping crops grow and, unless there is a storm or blizzard, most days granted enough sunlight to help your ranch. Island of Happiness had some hidden mechanic where each type of crop needed a number of water and sun “points” in order to grow as quickly and strongly as possible. Later in the game, it is possible to build a Greenhouse to help control the weather. However, considering all of the possible crops that are in the game, trying to figure out and remember all the needed points was an unnecessary mechanic.

graphics-music

The graphics of Island of Happiness took a little getting used to. When I first saw the 3D models, I wasn’t too sure of them. However, the graphics grew on me, with the areas of the island being vivid and fun to explore, and the villagers all being distinct (with the exception of the minor NPCs).

Music in the Harvest Moon series was always enjoyable to me, even if the tunes do tend to make me sleepy. They’re relaxing and calming as they play in the background while you farm or explore, being perfect in matching the mood of the genre and game play.
storyIsland of Happiness opens up with your character on a boat heading toward a new land. However, the boat gets caught in a bad storm, resulting in your character and a couple of others being shipwrecked on an island. Worry not, though — your fellow island refugees are a small family that has connections and experience with farming and shipping products.

Your character and the family, consisting of a brother and sister, their mother, and their grandfather, decide to stay on the island and work to make it habitable. You agree to be the rancher while the family runs a shipping business, helping to incite trade between your island and the mainland. Your goal is to really build up and clean the island to tempt other people to move in so the island can continue to flourish.

The more people that move in, the more relationships you can develop. Building up friendships can lead to new events and festivals, new areas to explore and, if you wish, romance that can lead to having a family.

replay-value

Island of Happiness, despite some of the gameplay mechanics, is one of my favorite Harvest Moon installments. Developing the island and luring new characters to move in is enough of a challenge so farming doesn’t become so routine. There’s always something to aim for, which is why this is one game that gets plenty of use.

Harvest Moon DS: Island of Happiness gets…
4-lives
4 out of 5 lives.

Have you played this game? What did you think? Let us know in the comments! 

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