Secret of Mana – Why I’m excited about the remake.

In August 1993, the game was released initially as Seiken Densetsu 2 in Japan on the Super Famicom (SNES) but sold outside Japan as Secret of Mana. Now, as of 2017 Square Enix is has decided to remake the beloved series which will be released in North America on February 15, 2018.

Earlier this summer, a Mana collection containing three pillars of the Mana theme; Final Fantasy Adventure, Secret of Mana, and Seiken Densetsu 3.  This was Japanese exclusive for the Nintendo Switch. Now the second game in the series is headed to the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita as well as Steam.

According to Famitsu, this is a full remake with full voice-overs, a new musical arrangement, other new elements like upgraded gameplay and graphics. It will also have local multiplayer on all platforms. All sounds so far so good, right?

Well, with the launch of the SNES Classic launched at the end of this year I’m not too sure. If you were one of the lucky ones, who got these hands of one of these elusive mini consoles you will already have access to the legendary RPG. One of the charming things about the SNES Classic will find that, among other things, the most exciting inclusions was the inclusion of the range of JRPGS. One of the things about the SNES Classic that I love is that its entire library of games has lasted the test of time, so they’re still great today. There are very few games on the consoles roster that I wouldn’t play, which for me was a more enticing prospect than the original NES mini.

So, I’m reminded of how good Secret of Mana is with the SNES mini, but I was struck by how much it could benefit from an update. I’m, personally, not concerned about the new art direction that it’s taking. Chibi style is something that I’ve always had a soft spot for that style, and while there seem to be some odd texture choices, it’s not enough for me to be super concerned.

This is primarily because I’m so excited that there will be a new generation of players who will be able to experience this incredible game with no significant changes to its narrative other than its visual aesthetics. I have a similar feeling of optimism surrounding the remake of final fantasy 7 (although, I’m less pleased with it being episodic, but I digress). So, for now, I’m going to trust that we’re going to get the remake it so richly deserves.

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Animal Crossing : Pocket Camp Review

Animal Crossing has always had the same appeal to me as the Harvest Moon series. It’s like good comfort food; it’s regular, consistent and expected. There are no surprises and satisfies a need that I have of getting lost for a few hours doing meaningful tasks in a world that is not my own. This need for getting the comfort food I’m so used to is the reason why I’m so conflicted about Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp.

camping experience 2

I started with the Animal Crossing series late, as I never had a Nintendo 64 or a GameCube growing up (my family was a Playstation household growing up – bar handhelds). So I missed the original Animal Crossing, and my first fling with the series was with Animal Crossing: New Leaf for the Nintendo DS and it was love at first play. I loved the character style, the size of the map, how you interacted with the characters and the overall flow of the game. It has a Sims or Harvest Moon effect – where you tell yourself you’re only going to play an hour max of it and suddenly it’s 4 am.

So I was equal parts thrilled and concerned when Nintendo announced that they would be releasing a mobile version of Animal Crossing. The one thing that I didn’t want was it to be completely overrun with prompts to hand over my money to get apples from a tree. (You can find more about my thoughts on microtransactions over at Noobist.com http://noobist.com/gaming/microtransactions-questioning-noise/) It turns out that those fears are only half realised.

camp and chill

When you first start out in Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, you’re greeted by the regular faces. You’ll be first greeted by K.K. Slider, and then Isabelle, who’ll get you up and running in your campsite. From then on, everything goes mostly as expected; you’ll be befriending neighbourly animals, collecting fruit, hunting bugs, and customising your campsite & minivan. Most of these events are set up via timers, so you can only do a set amount of things in a certain amount of time. This means that there isn’t as much of a time commitment so its perfect for waiting for a bus or queuing for your shopping but it isn’t so suited for more extended play sessions.

There are things you can do to extend your time should you have extra time to kill. For instance, fishing can be completed in one of two ways. Firstly, is the traditional way where you go from area to area catching fish with a rod. Or you can skip the fishing for a net which catches multiple types of fish at once the catch is (ha!) that it costs leaf tickets. This is where the game begins to get a bit cash happy as this is the games premium currency.

So, for those who unwittingly spent their tickets early on in the game during setup – I’m afraid you’re out of luck. Leaf tickets are a strategy in themselves, a balance of what you want versus what you’re willing to wait for. You can acquire Leaf Tickets in-game at the beginning with relative ease given the stretch goal systems. They give you tickets readily and freely in the beginning just for getting simple tasks done. But the good times don’t last forever I’m afraid.

There become barriers to entry to specific areas like the ore mining camp without payment of some leaf tickets. Or having to pay for trees to regrow, fishing nets, upgrading your bays to purchase more than one piece of furniture at a time. The list gets long and endless, and as a result, loses its sweetness. It forgets that spark that made it go to comfort food, something that you can sit down and relax with to something that is more a convenience snack. Enough to keep you going, but not enough to fill the void.

That’s the best way of summing up what Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is something to play when you’re just casually waiting for a bus or a way to pass a little bit of time. However, trying to get the full-bodied experience of Animal Crossing game will not be found here, or at least not without serious investment.

Fallen London

Fallen London

It’s been a very long time since I’ve played any sort of free point and click/narrative game. I’d say its been as long as my Newgrounds & I Am Bored days. It’s a game thats very hard to explain, but I’ll give it a good go. 
 
First thing to know about Fallen London, and the very first thing that happened to me was that I died. Immediately. My gut reaction to this was “F this then.” But a friend of mine kept encouraging to persist with it, and its a game I fall very much in and out of love with. I ended up coming back from the dead and running around a very beautifully created world. 
 
Which is high praise for a soley text driven narrative. The writing in any game can often dictate involvement and engagement within the game. A game like this has to strike a balance between engagement and not being too text heavy. Which is a balance that 90% of the time the game gets right. 
 
Its a game you play the way you want to, in the missions you get, you choose how you want to play it. Watchful, Shadowy, Dangerous, Persuasive; these are the main points that you gain from completing missions certain ways. There is always choice in Fallen London for how you want to play the game, and at the minute I haven’t gotten myself into too much of a box.  
 

 

Traveling around Fallen London is easy with its intuitive fast travel opens, you will get notified where you can or cannot go in a certain story line or if you just want to go off exploring. There are certain places you can’t go at the very start of the game, as there are certain quests you have to complete, or you need to become a person of note to gain access to these levels.
How you interact with the game is a minamilistic screen and the icons for each task and deck has been revamped lately which gives a needed breath of fresh air to the stylistic challenges games like these face.
 
The games mechanics are fairly simple to explain. You have 20 actions that get refreshed every 10 minutes. There are some micro transactions, but they aren’t essential to playing the game and more importantly they’re not pushed in your face. They’re something there as an option to unlock something called Fates. Fates unlock items or specific story quests or options within a specific story line. You do get some at the start (or at least I did when I first started playing) which I’d advise keeping until you feel you really need it. There is also options in game to earn Fate without the expense. In my playing of the game I have only come across these a rare few times but I guess that is by design.
 
Please keep in mind this isn’t something you’re going to be sitting down and spending hours straight playing, the narrative is engaging and interesting enough for you to play in 10 minute stints and be able to walk away from the game without feeling like you’re missing anything. Its a great compromise for gamers on the move who want a fully engaging RPG like adventure but don’t have the time to sit down. The experience on mobile devices (I can only talk about iPad and iPhone 6) translate very well, and with the new edition of the Fallen London app that is due out this year it will make a very welcome addition to my gaming family.
 
I fully recommend this game if someone wants a casual gaming experience while they’re meant to be doing other things! 
 
 
 

Yoshi’s Wooly World

Without a Doubt Too Excited for this

This is going to be a game journal to tell you what I’ve been playing and how i’m getting on with it. What I like about the game play, design and what I don’t. I won’t be giving any scores or anything like that, this will just be a running update of my thoughts while playing the game and to see if it was worth the €59 I spent with the amiibo plushy! (Which is super cute, although I am sad I didn’t manage to get a blue one!)
 
Full coverage will probably start tomorrow so keep an eye on the blog!
Update 4pm on the 7th:

 

 
I have come to the conclusion that if you don’t like Yoshi’s Woolly World you don’t have a soul. 
 
In all seriousness, the game is beautifully crafted and stunning to play. The only gripe I’d have about it is the fact that I didn’t expect the amount of loading screens. While these aren’t very long, they are enough to take you out of the world in which they are trying to create for you. 
 
Otherwise, the level design I find challenges both the little ones who this product is aimed towards and veteran platformers. It reminds me of the old Kirby games from the SNES how there are multiple ways of progressing through a level and the more skills you master the different ways become available to get to things and explore the levels.
 
 I feel right now after playing up to 1-5 the pacing of the levels are well done. I don’t feel like they’re too long or too short and I don’t feel at the minute that the levels are too repetitive. That may change however, as the case with Super Mario World 3D, it became difficult late game to keep things fresh. I get bored easily.