Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World PC Game Review

Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World is a brand new game by Koei Tecmo Games to celebrate 20 years of the series. Wow has it been that long already? I still remember the first 2 games way back when. And you know what else I remember, a little-known Nintnedo DS offshoot game in the Atelier Series called Atelier Annie: Alchemists of Sera Island which came out about 10 years ago.

Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World
Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World

So why Am I mentioning Atelier Annie? Because, if you’ve ever played it, then you know what to expect from Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists. Both games are unlike any of the rest of the Atelier Games, and instead put you in a role of managing a city and completing missions to advance.

Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Gameplay
Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Gameplay

Nelke has some really negative reviews – at least on Steam, but I purchased Nelke anyways, on a hunch it’d be like Atelier Annie, and you know what, I’m not disappointed. If you liked Annie, you’ll like Nelke. Conversely, if you hated Annie, you’ll hate Nelke, and if you’ve never played either game, well there’s only one way to find out then, and that’s by giving it a go for yourself.

Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Gameplay
Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Gameplay

The reviews on steam are complaining how different Nelke is — and to some — how boring it is… But honestly Atelier Annie was one of my favorites in the series. I loved the humorous story / humorous main character, and yes, I enjoyed the more “Sim Like” gameplay of building a city.

Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Gameplay
Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Gameplay

Nelke is not without flaws however; Unlike Annie, it lacks the humor and charm, and feels a bit dry and dull so far in the story. I’m 4 hours in at this point… which brings to another flaw, in that 4 hours in, I’m still in the tutorial… This game is very very very linear in the tutorial… Like almost everything will be on lockdown… for a long while… expect your first 8+ hours to be linear AF….

Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Review
Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Review

After that though there really is a TON of stuff to do in this game. It is NOT boring at all. You can craft items, gather materials, build new buildings, talk to your villagers, discover new recipes, sell items in your shops, and invest in new routes and tools to use in your adventures. There are simplistic turn based combats and different characters to recruit to your village.

Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Review
Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Review

You have to complete some required, and other optional tasks within a set number of days within the game. This can make it difficult and frustrating, so save often and in multiple save slots to try to minimize time lost if you miss a goal.

The game either runs slow on my laptop, or just is really slow by design, to the point where its a little frustrating. It may just be my laptop though and can probably be improved if I adjust some settings.

Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Review
Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Review

The main complaint a lot of people have is that while exploring you do nothing but watch your characters walk by on the screen. They will converse, gather items, and occasionally run into random enemy encounters. The battles are also slow and tedious. I do agree with these basic gameplay flaws. However, they don’t detract from my overall enjoyment of the other aspects of city building and mission completing and watching my city grow and evolve based on my decisions and choices made in where to invest and what to build next, etc.

The graphics are insanely adorable as always with the Atelier series.

Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Review
Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Review

Unlike a lot of the other games in the Atelier Universe, this one does not have English voice acting. I do like to have the original voice actors, but I also sometimes like to have an English cast too. I was disappointed they didn’t offer both.

I assume replay value is high because each city you build will be pretty unique and you will attract different stores, different npcs, and different quests based on how your city is developing.

Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Review
Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Review

All and all I’d rate the score card like this:

Title: Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists – Ateliers Of The New World –

Platform – (for this review The PC version was used.) It’s also available on PS4 and Nintendo Switch.

Where to Purchase: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FMZZYK1?tag=amz-mkt-chr-us-20&ascsubtag=1ba00-01000-org00-win10-other-nomod-us000-pcomp-feature-scomp-wm-5&ref=aa_scomp

Geeky: 3/5 – Points for bringing back some of the popular characters from this series over the past 20 years.

Sweetie: 5/5 – For the casual gameplay and kawaii art

Overall: 53/70 78% C+ “Good Game For Girls”

Gameplay: 7/10 – I do love the sim aspects, having been a huge fan of Atelier Annie (easily one of my top 3 games in the Atelier universe). But I do agree that the game is slow and the wait for the payoff/reward is pretty steep. The game also doesn’t run great, can’t tell if it’s just my PC though maybe.

Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Review
Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Review

Story: 3/10 – I’m not loving the story, or lack there of. I’m 4 hours in and there’s not much of any story to be found; it does keep hinting at solving a mystery about a fruit from a legendary tree. But compared to other Atelier games the story feels less engaging so far.

Characters: 10/10 – I love seeing popular characters from the Atelier games return all in a brand new game. I also love the new characters that were created just for this game.

Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Review
Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World Review

Voice Acting: 7/10 – The original Japanese voice cast does a great job and sounds super cute, but where’s the dual English voice acting? A bit disappointing especially for a 20th anniversary edition, you’d think they would have put a little more time and effort into the localization on this one. It feels cheap and rushed to not have both to choose from.

Music: 10/10 – Always love the music in the Atelier games, and Nelke doesn’t disappoint here either.

Replay Value: 8/10 – I think replay value will be very high, but I’m not looking forward to dredging through 5+ hours of linear handheld tutorials each time.

Overall: 53/70 78% C+ “Good Game For Girls”

Overall I would recommend this game to anyone who does not mind slower paced casual simulation games, or to anyone who remembers playing Atelier Annie on the DS. I like Atelier Annie a lil bit more because of the humorous story; but Nelke’s story may pick up and become more interesting. I may come in eventually and update my review scores if I find the story to improve as I get further into the game. Gameplay wise though it is almost identical to Atelier Annie, so if that’s your thing, be sure to check Nelke out.

Nelke & The Legendary Alchemists Ateliers Of The New World PC Game Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

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Princess Maker 5 Review

Title: Princess Maker 5

Platform: PC

Release Date: May 2018

Developer: Gainax

Publisher: CFK

Genre: Raising Sim/ Life Sim / Dating Sim

Geeky: 3/5

Sweetie: 5/5

Overall: 61/80 76% C “Good Game for Girls”

Gameplay: 8/10 This is the last Princess Maker game in the series, aside from some online and mobile spin offs that were released later. As such, you can expect that the gameplay is much more advanced than previous Princess Maker games. Princess Maker 5 brings back the adventure system, previously seen in Princess Maker 2, allowing you to fight in simplistic rpg battles and search for treasure. It does not unlock until later in the game.

It is also the first time that you can select a female character to be the parent – Although if you play as a female, you cannot get the ending where the princess marries you (the parent).

Perhaps more importantly, there are many new activities that your daughter can participate in, compared to previous Princess Maker games. I felt that the gameplay more closely resembled Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side (which I reviewed here.)

You select a week’s worth of activities for your daughter. She will attend public school and have club activities but she will also have free time for you to schedule part time jobs or extra lessons to enhance her stats. On the weekends you will take your daughter out to try to reduce her stress or experience special seasonal events.

Princess Maker 5
Princess Maker 5

Like Tokimeki Memorial, you can see which events are happening by reading a paper that lists new events. You can have cube set a reminder on the day of the events so you don’t forget important dates. But the game will not automatically prompt/navigate you to the event so you still have to pay attention and remember when and where to go for the event.

Gameplay feels slow. Especially the first year. It feels repetitive and slow building your stats, and very few random encounters or events. But as I entered my 2nd year, that began to change. Suddenly, classmates/love interests began to invite my daughter out on dates, or suddenly teachers and employers invited my daughter to special events. Now it felt more interesting and exciting.

But still, ultimately, this game is long, and slow, and while this type of gameplay is best enjoyed in small bursts, because of the repetition and monotonous gameplay, it also is a game that doesn’t get interesting until several hours in. I spent over 6 hours in the first year… If like most princess maker games this one goes until the daughter’s 18th birthday, then this game has over 70 hours of gameplay, per playthrough, times 50 endings…. staggering… definitely a highlight of the game — but the gameplay is so monotonous that many people may never reach all 50 endings.

Princess Maker 5
Princess Maker 5

How could I give an 8/10 to a monotonous boring “dull” game? Well because of the added features the game presents, this game is the most realistic child rearing sim, and gives unprecedented freedom and control to the player. Your daughter grows in new ways never present in the previous princess maker games, and she grows more independent with her own hobbies and interests and desires and things become more complicated, it brings back the adventure system, and the new dating/events system seemingly borrowed from Tokimeki Memorial. All of these are an improvement over most of the gameplay features in previous princess maker games.

The game gives you unprecedented freedom to raise any kind of daughter you want, even if you want her to be a cosplaying anime fan who loves going to idol concerts. Seriously, she can become interested in just about anything you can imagine. lol.

Story: 5/10 I think part of the reason the game is so slow is that it has almost no story. You just literally keep clicking and waiting/hoping something changes/happens. Which doesn’t happen for several hours until you’ve been pumping up your stats. The opening movie is not translated or subtitled for the english release on steam. It seems that maybe it may have had at least an interesting introduction. I think from what I can tell, the daughter is a demon maybe. It says it began from bloody events that happened long ago. Seems to hint at a curse, and then from there I haven’t a clue as to what is going on, but you see cube fly away with the girl. The girl also has a special hair clip that lets her communicate with you and allows you to watch the girl while she’s away. Every once in awhile the girl talks about seeing spirits or fairies and other supernatural things. But I’m now about 10 hours into the game and there’s really no overall story, or direction, or plot, it’s basically an open ended sandbox game. Plot isn’t necessary in games like this, but since I play games for their stories, I think that’s why I feel bored while playing this game since it lacks an overarching plot of any kind.

Princess Maker 5
Princess Maker 5

Characters: 10/10 I really do like the characters. They are not strong from a story standpoint, but they feel very real, and their interactions and dialogues with each other are very cute. The independence of your daughter and new complex ways in which she can develop and grow make this the best daughter of all.

Princess Maker 5
Princess Maker 5

Graphics: 7/10 The artwork put me off at first, for years even before this official US release, I would see pictures of this game, compare it to 4 which was my favorite Princess Maker game, and just think YUCK!… But oddly… in the 10 hours I played the game, I now find it cute and charming. I’d played 4 years ago on my nintendo DS, even though I couldn’t read any of it. I loved that art style, and at first found this new art style for 5 to be a huge turn off. But after playing the game, I’ve changed my tune. I suggest if you like me, hate the way Princess Maker 5 looks, just give it a go, it’s a great game, and the artwork is strangely cute once you get used to it!

There’s this little fat boy, which normally would be like a blech, but I dunno there’s something sooo cute about him. He reminds me of the fat lil asian boy from Disney’s “Up” and there’s another little boy that looks like he could be straight outta card captor or some other sugary sweet shojo anime.

Princess Maker 5
Princess Maker 5

The daughter was what I found most unattractive, but watching her study, work, and play, I’ve realized she is the most “real” and endearing of any of the daughters in previous games. I love my little princess.

Music: 3/10 – I really dislike the opening song – it’s awful. blech. But the rest of the music is “OK” I guess. just kinda average to me really.

Voice Acting: 10/10 – the voice acting is very cute 🙂 I’m glad they kept the original Japanese voices in the game.

Replay Value: 10/10 – over 50 different endings and the variety of things to do within this game give it excellent replay value.

Princess Maker 5
Princess Maker 5

Princess Maker 5 Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Viz Media and Rose City Games Partner to Create Video Games

rosecity

vizmedia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

VIZ MEDIA AND ROSE CITY GAMES PARTNER TO LAUNCH A NEW PUBLISHING PROGRAM FOR INDEPENDENT VIDEO GAMES

 

The First Original Game To Be Published Is The World Next Door

Portland, OR, and San Francisco, CA, February 6, 2018 – Rose City Games and VIZ Media announce a partnership to debut original, narrative-driven games. VIZ Media, publisher of popular gaming adaptations for POKÉMON, SPLATOON, THE LEGEND OF ZELDA, HOMESTUCK, MONSTER HUNTER and more, will deepen its robust connection to the gaming world. Rose City Games, a leader in the rapidly-developing indie game scene, will introduce new and diverse voices from the world of indie games to the massive pop culture audience VIZ Media has cultivated since its founding.

The first title to be published by VIZ Media will be the supernatural action/adventure game, The World Next Door, developed by Rose City Games and featuring character designs by illustrator Lord Gris.

“It’s no secret that anime and manga fans love video games,” says Brad Woods, Chief Marketing Officer, VIZ Media. ”We’re excited to be able to bring an entirely new offering to our audience. VIZ Media has always been fan-first, and the team at Rose City is the perfect fit for developing games that our audience will love.”

“We’re very excited to collaborate with VIZ Media and the amazing creators in our indie game communities,” say Will Lewis and Corey Warning, Co-Directors and Co-Founders of Rose City Games. “The ability to pursue multiple original titles as independent developers is huge for us, and this partnership presents the potential to expand the worlds we’re creating beyond games.”

The World Next Door is a narrative-driven game that centers around Jun, a rebellious teen girl trapped in a parallel world inhabited by magical creatures. Inspired by the emotional storytelling and thrilling action of both anime and indie games, players can expect to meet and develop friendships with an eclectic cast of characters while uncovering the mysteries hidden within this world.

The World Next Door is currently in full production with a planned release on PC. VIZ Media is slated to release two more games developed by Rose City Games over the next few years, and is currently accepting publishing inquiries from developers with games at all stages of production. Stay up to date with the game’s production at theworldnextdoor.com and on Twitter at @worldnextdoor.

 

Press Contact:

Sandra Lanz

sandra@rosecitygames.com

Erik Jansen for VIZ Media

erik@medialab-pr.com

Publisher Contact:

Eric Eberhardt

ericeberhardt@viz.com

About VIZ Media, LLC

Established in 1986, VIZ Media is the premier company in the fields of publishing, animation distribution, and global entertainment licensing. Along with its popular digital magazine WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP and blockbuster properties like NARUTO, DRAGON BALL, SAILOR MOON, and POKÉMON, VIZ Media offers an extensive library of titles and original content in a wide variety of book and video formats, as well as through official licensed merchandise. Owned by three of Japan’s largest publishing and entertainment companies, Shueisha Inc., Shogakukan Inc., and Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions, Co., Ltd., VIZ Media is dedicated to bringing the best titles for English-speaking audiences worldwide.

Learn more about VIZ Media and its properties at viz.com.

About Rose City Games

Rose City Games is a full-service game studio partnering with innovative brands to create original, interactive experiences. Based out of Portland, OR, they specialize in the development of new and existing IPs to tell stories through games. Their mission is to make better games, by assembling teams of passionate developers for whom hard work, authenticity, and creativity are a top priority. Founded by indie game community organizers Will Lewis and Corey Warning in 2015, the studio has produced a game jam event for Cartoon Network, helped launch Headmaster for PlayStation VR, and activated the local development scene by organizing the Portland Indie Game Squad.

Learn more about Rose City Games at rosecitygames.com.

Follow Rose City Games on Twitter for updates: twitter.com/rosecitygames

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Viz Media and Rose City Games Partner to Create Video Games was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Heart of Crown Boardgame and PC Videogame Review

Update: 12/21/2017 – The developers of the PC version of Heart of Crown reached out to me via email and wanted to provide support for some of the issues I encountered, as well as to let me know about new features that are underway, such as full screen mode (currently in the beta client), and a tournament that will take place next year to celebrate the international release of Heart of Crown. They also wanted to let me know that there are (text based) chat rooms available on the Discord server (and I’ve adjusted the score for community based on that feedback). Overall, it is encouraging to see an active Dev team who seem to really care about improving the game and connecting with the community. 🙂 I hope they continue to work on polishing up the PC version of the game, but as I said already in my original review, yes the game has issues, but at the price point of $19.99 (at time of this review) it’s a great game and still a lot of fun, and a worthy purchase.


Original Review Below:


I recently picked up both the board game and steam versions of Heart of Crown, a kawaii anime deck building card game. I love the artwork and the theme of the game (multiple princesses vying for the throne). It reminded me a lot of one of my favorite anime (RE:Zero) so I was instantly drawn to this board game when I attended the Pittsburgh Steel City Comic Con 2 weeks ago. (although I actually purchased this one from the large game store, Mr. Nice Guy Games, at the mall nearby the convention center). And then a few days after that, the PC game released on steam, so imagine my excitement having only just heard of Heart of Crown days prior and being hyped by my new kawaii gaming find. As you will learn in this review, I am happy with both purchases, but each has it’s own unique pros and cons. Find out which version of Heart of Crown is right for you in the reviews below.

Gameplay Explanation:

The gameplay is simple, although it can be confusing at first, and both the manual included in the boardgame, as well as the hidden and horribly confusing tutorial in the PC game, make this gameplay seem much more complex than it actually is.

I will try to briefly describe the gameplay, please bear in mind my experience with this title is still limited to just a handful of play sessions.

To understand the gameplay we must first understand the different card types. Largely these consist of one of the following:

Princess Cards – these cards are available for purchase once you reach 16 points. There are 6 different Princesses in the base game (maybe more in various expansions). Each princess has unique abilities, some passive (always in effect) and some that you can activate during your turn. These abilities may give you advantages such as viewing your draw pile, drawing extra cards, forcing opponents to discard a card, or so on.

The objective of the game is to choose a princess whose ability matches your play style and then “back her” by acquiring points to put her on the throne. I’m not in front of either version of the game at the moment, but I believe the amount needed to back a princess is 21. (might be 20 or 25, somewhere in that range).

When this happens, a “coronation ceremony” will occur. At this time, any other players take one final turn, and if able to do so, may also back and crown a princess. If no other players can put a princess on the throne, you win. However, if another player also gets enough points to back and crown a princess the game enters sudden death where the first player to reach 30 points wins.

But how do you get points you ask? That’s where the other cards come in handy.

Territory Cards: these cards grant you coins (think of it as taxing your people for living in your lands). Coins are used to purchase items from the common shared area known as the market place. Note that cards obtained from the market place go to your discard pile. This is rather quirky and different from most other games I’ve played where they would automatically go to your hand or your draw pile. When you reach the end of your draw pile, your discard pile gets shuffled and becomes your new draw pile, allowing you to finally use the cards you have purchased. Coins may also be spent to activate abilities on some cards.

Action cards – these cards have abilities that affect you or other players such as declaring war to lower their points, or forcing them to discard a card, or allowing you to draw more cards, or take a card from the market place.

Character Cards – these cards all feature a different character, such as a duke, maid, etc. who will grant or sometimes subtract from your total points value. After you have backed a princess, you can play these character cards by placing them under your princess card.

There are also 2 special mechanics in this game.

Keeping Cards: 1 is the ability to “keep” up to 3 cards in your hand by placing them over your kingdom cards (territory cards that were used to back your princess) you cannot keep a card greater than the point value of the territory cards holding it. But by keeping a card, it allows you to use that card on a later turn instead of automatically discarding it at the end of your turn when you would normally discard all of your cards.

Chain Cards: The other interesting fact is that you can chain cards together, some cards have a yellow arrow. This means you can play another card. This is most commonly seen on territory cards.

Putting it all Together:

So the basics of gameplay go like this, draw your cards, play territory cards to get coins, then choose cards from the market place that go to your discard pile. As you run out of cards in your draw pile, the discard pile gets shuffled and turned into the new draw pile, and you may get lucky and draw the cards you purchased from market. Once you reach 16 points, choose a princess to back by carefully considering her special abilities. Continue to play territory cards and purchase more cards from the market – you’re likely going to be looking for cards to increase your point total. Be the first person to reach enough points to crown your princess. Other players may challenge you, so be ready to be the first player to reach 30 points and win the game, or win automatically if no one else can crown their princess after one more turn.


 

Score Card:

Board Game Version

Overall Score: 52/80 65% “D” “Average Game for Girls”

Geeky: 1/5 – the anime theme and cute girls are the only “geeky” thing here. There is little to no strategy involved with this game, no customization, no legacy, no story, no complexity, no hidden things to explore, etc. Just a straightforward, simple, cute family friendly game with great artwork.

Sweetie: 5/5 – And that great artwork is enough to score it a 5/5 on the sweetie meter. Combine that with the theme of the game, a game about princesses, and you have one of the cutest games ever.

Breakdown:

Value for What’s Included: 7/10 – You get a lot of cards, with gorgeous high quality art work, a beautiful box to store the game in, and a lengthy detailed full color glossy manual. However, that manual can be confusing and overwhelming to new players. There is no play mat, card sleeves, tokens, figures, or other goodies, but I still think overall, I feel satisfied with what was included at the $40 price point. Note there are expansions you can buy that add new cards and new features as well.

Initial Learning Curve: 5/10 – setting up the first time and learning what to do can be frustrating. But once you jump into your first game, it really isn’t so bad. Therefore, the learning curve difficulty is somewhere in the middle. It may turn off some casual gamers, but is still simple and friendly enough for family game night or to introduce to your non-gamer friends.

Gameplay: 7/10 – it’s simple, short and sweet. Most games take under 20 minutes to complete. There is a nice variety of cards, from abilities, to characters, and plenty of opportunity to interact with other players. However, the game length is quite short and there’s not much complex or exciting / enticing to help enhance replay value. I think this game will be fun once or twice a month, but don’t see it being a “weekly game board night” staple, when other games offer greater replay incentives and more for even the most seasoned and veteran gamers to discover on multiple playthroughs. Still, if you have young kids, or a significant other who is obsessed with “the kawaii life” they will love this cute little anime game. I bought it simply because I love how cute it is, and I’m not disappointed!

Artwork: 10/10 – I love the artwork, for me it really sold me on this game – Picked it up in a board game store I had never visited before, and had not heard of the game, and bought it simply because of the cute anime girls lol.

Interaction With Other Players: 4/10 – I feel like this is solidly in the middle somewhere. There are plenty of action cards and abilities to play against your friends. But it’s not as social as let’s say cards against humanity nor as encouraging of attacks and alliances as say Munchkin,

Fun: 7/10 – It’s short and sweet, it’s cute, it can be confusing, but as soon as you play the first few games it becomes (almost too) simple. I mean let’s take it for what it is, it’s not a legacy game that is meant to be played in multiple sessions like gloomhaven. It’s not a strategy game like catan, it’s just a simple cute card game with anime graphics and a cute concept.

Replay Value: 6/10 – Will I play this again? Absolutely. Does it change, or evolve, offer strategy,  customization, different classes, things that can make each replay different, unique and exciting? Nope. But that doesn’t stop me from wanting to replay it. The artwork is cute, and the small minimum time investment is a big plus. Easy to squeeze a game in here or there whenever the chance arises.

Overall Score: 52/80 65% “D” “Average Game for Girls”


Score Card:

PC Game Version:

Overall: 75/100 75% C+ “Good Game for Girls”

Geeky: 1/5 – In my two hours thus far with the game I have encountered bugs, bugs, and more bugs. Well not bugs per say, more like “What were they thinking?” Poorly designed User Interface, Hidden Tutorials, lack of Fullscreen mode, and many more “WTF” moments that reek of bad design and development decisions.

Sweetie: 5/5 – It’s still cute though and sure to appeal to all fans of anime or kawaii lifestyle culture!

Story: 6/10 The PC version adds some story segments that you can unlock. They are somewhat misleading in calling this a campaign mode as there is no interactivity, it’s more like comics that you can view. It has absolutely no other effect on gameplay. Story is there, and it’s a nice bonus. But a lot more could have been done here.

Characters: 8/10 – The princesses, as always are very cute, and the campaign story mode helps endear the characters to us more.

Gameplay: 7/10 I can’t for the life of me get multiplayer to work. When I purchase a game, I expect it to “just work” – not to have to sit there messing with my firewall and computer settings. I’m not the only one with this issue as you can see on the support forums. And due to the type of game (kawaii) the target audience (children and young adult females) is not tech savvy enough to have to be expected to deal with this. I get errors about open ports, turning things off/on, trying their recommended settings, changing the settings, nothing works.

So although this is a multiplayer game, I’m only able to play it against NPCs. If I were able to get multiplayer to work, there are ranked matches and ongoing leader boards and other awesome features, and of course the benefit of being able to play Heart of Crown if you don’t have anyone to play with in real life.

Without multiplayer working, the gameplay takes a huge hit in my opinion. However, it did teach me how to play the boardgame. And it wasn’t by way the terrible tutorial that I learned this with. The game hides the tutorial from you, it doesn’t make it obvious. In your first play through that thing should pop up and introduce you to the game, and pop up at each step. But apparently their programmers couldn’t even figure this out – also couldn’t figure out how to program it so multiplayer works out of the box (I have over 600 steam games, and this is the only game I have trouble trying to create or join a room in multiplayer).

Anyways I digress, back to that hidden horrible tutorial, no they couldn’t have it auto guide you through (with an option to exit it of course) – no they expect you to just know to click the “help” icon. And you have to remember then to keep clicking the help icon after you complete each step. It’s terrible for new players. The learning curve and directions are 10,000 times worse in the video game than they are in the actual card game.

Once you figure out WTF you are doing, it’s fine. The game rounds go by speedy and snappy. The artificial intelligence AI is no where NEAR challenging – I’ve read other reviews on steam that they can’t beat the computers, and I’ve just thought to myself, WTF is wrong with you. I beat them every time, as someone who is a complete newb to this game. – FYI my first time playing Heart of Crown was actually with the video game as I had not yet gotten to play the board game I had purchased. So no, it’s not just because I had exposure/experience to the game before. — Of course, granted, maybe these reviewers, don’t know / didn’t see the hidden tutorial, because without that, it really is impossible to know WTF to do. As horrible and terrible as that tutorial was, it was in fact useful. It just needs to be implemented and integrated in a much more obvious, in your face, way to help you your first time.

Anyways, once you figure everything out, gameplay is exactly the same as the physical board game, so bonus points there for maintaining the look and feel of the original card game now in a digital, supposedly online multiplayer, format with rankings and a leader board, and music and some semblence of a story – those are all good / nice things, just the way it’s presented is absolute trash and terrible from a new user experience.

Learning Curve: 1/10 – too hard, see comments above about how the user interface and tutorial need some SERIOUS work in future patch updates hopefully.

Artwork: 7/10 – I want to give this a 10/10 I really do – but once again, it’s so poorly presented. There is no full screen mode – or if there is, like everything else in this damn game it’s hidden somewhere and not obvious how to enter full screen. So they have you select different resolutions, but they all look pretty bad honestly, at least the ones that fit my screen nicely. You can rightclick hold over a card to enlarge it to read it and see it clearly but it still doesn’t look as crisp and clean as the actual boardgame artwork. — It is however still very cute and kawaii so gotta give it some points there.

Music: 10/10 – the music is good. I don’t think it’s 10 out of 10 good, but I’m trying to pad my review a bit to more accurately reflect that I do actually enjoy this game.

Interaction With Other Players: 10/10 – no chat room (built into the game), they do have optional discord servers set up. EDIT: Devs reached out to tell me there are (text based) chat options available in the discord servers, and the Devs are in the server too and offer support as well as interact with the community which is a big plus. I do have Discord on my PC (but typically only play on it with a handful of friends), but hearing that the Devs are active on their own servers makes me want to check it out. The impression I get is that the small Dev team seem to really care about this game and listen to feedback and provide support which has changed my mind significantly about the community within the game. And I’m excited about the tournament features and leader boards and ranking. It really enhances this game and makes it competitive and exciting and enhances replay value too – Especially if we can win rare cards or something from this upcoming tournament. 🙂

I’m shy though and don’t like to use voice chat that much with strangers. Anime fans are typically introverts like myself, so it seems like lack of a chat room is a bit of a draw backI’ve also seen others complaining about this in the forums. – See Edit Above.

Then again, I can’t even get multiplayer to work at all period, so for me this is like a 0 out of 10 honestly, but I’m giving it the benefit of a doubt. This part still holds true although the Devs seem to want to help me get it working and to be fair I hadn’t tried using the support system before coming on my blog here and complaining lol. Although I did take a look at the support forums and other people having the issue and trying to trouble shoot based on feedback they were given which didn’t seem to work for me, and I saw other people had refunded the game via steam due to multiplayer issues, so to me this still seems like maybe a poorly designed function. Other “room” based games like Terraria and 100% Orange Juice that use seemingly similar multiplayer features just work right out of the box. I would expect the same from Heart of Crown, or any game I purchase.

Fun: 10/10 – I’m still giving this a 10/10 despite the numerous flaws. I paid $19.99 and I feel extremely satisfied with that purchase, even just playing it against the not very smart NPCs that I easily trounce.

Replay Value: 10/10 – I played my first day with this game over 2 hours. Will play again. If I get multiplayer to work, I’d play every day of my life. Just like the card game, this one does not offer much incentive to make you want to replay it, except it does have rankings and leader boards. There is potential here for a smart dev (they have not shown themselves to be too smart thus far however) to add additional gameplay elements like tournaments, rare cards for rewards for high rank, and so on.

EDIT: Actually the Devs seem really nice and seem to really care about the game, and have told me there will be just such a tournament taking place next year 🙂

It is a new game, just released less than 2 weeks ago, so I’m hoping the devs address some of the massive issues plaguing the PC version of this game right now – but even if they don’t I’ll still play it and enjoy it, bugs and all. The fact it is a PC game, and on a platform like steam, increases my likelihood to play this, because no downtime to set up the play area, and the fact I only have people to play the physical game with on weekends, this means if I want to play more Heart of Crown through the week, the PC version is my go-to. I sincerely hope the devs fix things up and that the community for this game grows. I love Heart of Crown despite my somewhat harsh review. But it has issues that people should be aware of before parting with their money or sitting down to play.

Heart of Crown Boardgame and PC Videogame Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

How DDoS Attacks Impact Gamers

Ever since the infamous DDoS Attack on Sony’s Playstation Network back in 2011, the gaming industry has seen a sharp increase in DDoS Attacks including but not limited to attacks on Warcraft, League of Legends, Xbox, Nintendo, Microsoft, and many more. Game servers need to give special consideration when it comes to implementing DDoS protection.

A DDoS Attack or Distributed Denial of Service Attack, is a strategy which attempts to shut down a network by flooding it with traffic. The traffic often comes from a group of systems which has been infected with a virus or trojan. These attacks typically happen due to the gaming server having outdated, misconfigured, or conflicting security settings which the hackers can then exploit to execute their attacks.

Everyday more than 150 million people around the world play online games; online gaming has soared into a multi-billion dollar industry with players from North America, Asia, Europe, and all around the globe logging in and connecting simultaneously. The game servers are usually tested to withstand a certain threshold of activity, and new servers added or closed as the game ages and audience and traffic changes. However, a gaming server can easily be over taxed by sudden spikes in traffic, making it a juicy target for DDoS attackers.

Often times, single player or competitive teams are also targeted by DDoS attacks when it comes to online gaming tournaments. Some players use these attacks to get an unfair advantage, while others use it as a ransomware attack where in the player must pay money to remove the threat. We even see these types of attacks on Twitch and similar streaming services where a group will flood a user’s twitch stream to interrupt their gameplay and live stream. Since many people are “professional gamers” and earn a livelihood by streaming or competing in gaming tournaments, these attacks cause lost of wages as well as frustration.

Gaming is a prime target for DDoS attacks because so many games require online connectivity, and so many gamers have an emotional connection to their favorite games which increases frustration and havoc when the attack hits. Gaming servers are also easy to disrupt, because you do not need to fully take a server offline to render it unplayable. Attackers can simply disrupt the server to the point where lag renders the controls unresponsive and interferes with gameplay.

In the case of Sony, gamers took the company to court and won a class action lawsuit costing Sony millions of dollars. This proves that Gaming networks are liable and responsible for delivering uninterrupted service and taking appropriate precautions to help mitigate such attacks.

Also, as Sony has proven, it’s not just PC games which come under DDoS attack. Console games and even mobile games are also at risk.

Gaming servers often require special consideration when it comes to implementing security measures to help mitigate these attacks. Since many DDoS bots are becoming more sophisticated and mimicking human player behavior, many gaming companies are forced to decide between stricter security measures which could trigger false positives and block access to the game for many legitimate players, or to lower their defenses and make the game widely accessible to players all over the world, but at the risk of also being accessed by bots and attackers.

There are three basic types of DDoS attacks:

Volumetric Attacks are the most common type of DDoS attack. They work by throttling the bandwidth causing the servers to shut down by flooding them with high volumes of constant traffic.

Protocol Attacks target the infrastructure and resources of a server, such as the firewall and load balancers.

Application Layer Attacks target security vulnerabilities in Apache, Windows, and OpenBSD. These attacks mimic human behavior and perform a slow and steady string of seemingly innocent requests that overtime will cripple the server.

How Can You Protect Your Server from DDoS Attacks?

You can help protect your gaming servers from DDoS attacks by implementing additional security software or services such as those offered by KODDoS. KODDoS protects you from DDoS attacks by detecting and blocking the attack in less than milliseconds ensuring that your servers remain online and without interruption of service. You also have access to a team of DDoS experts 24/7 who work to monitor incoming attacks and implement solutions in real time or on demand giving you around the clock DDoS protection.

KODDoS works to protect against all types of DDoS attacks by using many layers of filtration to mitigate the attacks. They have a large 400Gbps network, which once the traffic hits their network, they apply ACL rules to block malicious traffic at the edge of the network.

The traffic then reaches a scrubbing center and is filtered based on different signatures and predefined traffic patterns. Each packet is analyzed to ensure no malicious traffic reaches the client’s servers. These methods work to protect against layer 3/4 attacks as well as layer 7 attacks which are harder to detect and which target applications and web servers using only a small amount of bandwidth.

They have a full range of DDoS solutions ranging from plans for web hosts, VPS networks, remote servers, or enterprise dedicated servers. With pricing starting at just $39.99 a month.

You can also contact them for a free consultation to help decide which of their services are the best fit for you.

Check them out at https://koddos.net/

How DDoS Attacks Impact Gamers was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Sekai Project Visual Novels Featured in New Humble Bundle

Sekai Project is one of many companies localizing Visual Novels into English. And for the next 2 weeks you can get 17 Sekai Project Visual Novels for $12. That’s less than $1 a game. (or pay less and receive less games) And it supports charity too! Feel good and score some awesome Visual Novels with the new humble bundle.

https://www.humblebundle.com/sekai-project-bundle

Pay just $1 to receive:

Fault Milestone 2
KaraKara
NekoPara Vol 0
Ame no Marginal – Rain Marginal

Beat the average (currently $10.16) to receive:

All of the Above PLUS
NekoPara Vol 1
Idol Magical Girl Chiru Chiru Michiru Part 1
Marcissu 10th Anniversary Anthology Project, Plus Season PASS DLC
Fault Milestone two side:above
Sound of Drop -fall into poison
Highway Blossoms (a Yuri game (girl x girl game))
Japanese School Life

Pay $12 to receive it all:

All of the Above PLUS
NekoPara Vol 2
Wold End Economica – Complete Edition
Idol Magical Girl Chiru Chiru Michiru Part 2
Memory’s Dogma Code:01
Robot Double – Before Crime After Days Xtend Edition
Sunrider: Liberation Day – Captain’s Edition

That’s a whole lot of visual novels for not a big price! I only had 3 of these currently in my collection (and almost all of them wishlisted). I am super excited about this bundle and can’t wait to start playing.

Robot Double sounds incredibly interesting to me from the brief description. It states that unlike traditional Visual Novels, there are no clear cut choices, but instead you control the story purely through your emotions.

If you’re interested in grabbing this bundle for yourself, check out https://www.humblebundle.com/sekai-project-bundle.

Sekai Project Visual Novels Featured in New Humble Bundle was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

ASUS ROG Strix – Asus – ROG GL502VT 15.6″ Laptop – My New Gaming Laptop and My Recent Experience at Best Buy

Please Note: This is not a sponsored post. I am not being compensated by Best Buy to write this. I did receive an email from Best Buy wanting me to complete a survey (for a chance to win a gift card) regarding my recent purchase. But then I thought, the comments I made in the survey, might make for a good Blog Post for my readers here, especially if supplemented with some info about the Laptop itself.

It’s tax refund time. Like most Americans, instead of saving, investing, or putting this money to good use, it’s time to go have FUN! (yes, I know, not smart or responsible of me lol.) My last laptop was purchased at Sam’s Club for around $750 back in 2013. It was just a “mid-range” “budget” laptop. In no way was it a “gaming” laptop, except that I researched and selected a model with a dedicated graphic card and enough RAM to play most games at the time back then on “medium” settings.

Prior to that laptop, I did in fact have an Alienware and it did last 7 or 8 years, compared to 3 to 4 years, being able to play newly released games on medium settings. However, I paid over $2000 for said Alienware. So then it occurred to me, that I could just buy “throw away” laptops, for less than half the cost, and just upgrade (to another “throw away” or “mid-tier” laptop every few years as needed.).

So when I got my tax refund, I set out to find just such a laptop. a mid-tier “throw away after 3 years” “gaming” laptop. My goal was to stay below $800. I was not expecting much in this price range. I was not looking for a “true gaming laptop”, just something that could “play without crashing” on medium settings.

What I got for under $800 is so much more than a “throw away” laptop. It’s actually a legit Gaming Laptop!! Not only can this system play a 2016/2017 AAA gaming title on “medium settings” without crashing; it can even play them on high settings.

I purchased this item as an open box (former store display) from my local Best Buy. Here is the same model available online – and where you can check to see if it’s available as an Open Box either online or at your local Best Buy. http://www.bestbuy.com/site/asus-rog-gl502vt-15-6-laptop-intel-core-i7-12gb-memory-1tb-hard-drive-black/5090905.p?skuId=5090905

I would say, keep an eye on Best Buy’s pricing even if you do purchase this item and after bringing it home. Here’s my little Best Buy story. I purchased the Asus ROG Strix on 3/28/2017. At that time, the price on the “Satisfactory” Open Box model at my local Best Buy store was listed at $806. When I went to checkout, the associate working at Best Buy told me that the price was actually $899 (still before taxes, etc. After taxes it was actually $960 (which yes, was over my expected budget.)

I still thought $899 was a good buy for a $1200 gaming laptop with great reviews all over the internet (some of which reviews I will share with you later in this article). So I didn’t give too much push back on that price and just accepted it as is.

The associate had tried to tell me it was the same computer / same model / everything, but that they had 2 or 3 in the store and had sold the one listed at that price. But my receipt still said “Satisfactory Open Box”, and that’s what the pricing on the website supposedly reflected – for my specific store location even. I felt somewhat jaded but still happy to save $300.

The next day, I was once again reading the reviews about the laptop on Best Buy’s website and I discovered the item was on sale now, and as such, the price on all models, new, or open box, had been lowered.

I called and asked if they would be willing to price match the newer pricing. I was told “yes” but I was still skeptical because they wouldn’t even honor the original supposed price on the website (it was not a website price; it was for my local store “In-store only” price for an open box model available at my store marked as being in the same condition as the one I purchased.)

It is a 45 minute drive to my nearest Best Buy, so after work, I made the journey back to my Best Buy. This was yesterday, on the 29th of March 2017, with hopes that they would in fact honor the new lower pricing. It did take a bit for them to lookup whatever they needed to in their computers, and I could sense some resistance, but overall, both the manager and cashier at customer service were polite and professional. And I walked out of it feeling respected and valued as a customer, and with a refund of $201.69 to match the new lower pricing.

Now today when I view the item, it’s up to $765 instead of $711.

So that’s why I’m saying, keep an eye out for this. I guess their prices change every day??? It’s strange to me, and kinda shady, but you can’t deny the awesome savings you get by shopping at Best Buy.

If you print out the website pricing for your local store, as well as show them your order history on their own website/app on your mobile phone, there’s little they can do to argue (IE they can’t tell you it’s a different model or part number, because it’s right in your order history on your phone, etc).

Overall, I would shop at Best Buy again, especially for Open Box products. I also was in a few months ago and snagged a Sony HDTV open box model for under $120 and have been very happy with that purchase.

One thing I absolutely love about Best Buy is their return policy. They let you take home any product in their store for 15 days, try it out as much as you’d like, and return it for a full refund within 15 days (or 14 days for cellphones). This is amazing when buying a gaming PC, because you can actually make sure your games are going to run the way you expect!

Per Best Buy’s description this model features the following gaming specifications:

Nvidia Geforce 970m Graphics Card

6th Gen Intel® Core™ i7-6700HQ mobile processor

12GB RAM

1TB Hard Drive to store all your games

And best of all, it weighs less than 5 lbs!

I know this laptop is NOT “future proof” — The Nvidia 970m graphics card now ranks at number 11 overall according to http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-graphics-ranking/ — making it well on its way already to becoming a “mid-tier” gaming rig. But for the price I got the open box Asus ROG Strix for, at just $711, it still blows anything else in that price range out of the water.

Nvidia Laptop Graphic Cards April 2017 http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-graphics-ranking/
Nvidia Laptop Graphic Cards April 2017 http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-graphics-ranking/

Here is a look at the Nvidia 970m performance when comparing to the newer Nvidia 10xx cards. This information is from http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/compare.php?cmp%5B%5D=2981&cmp%5B%5D=3595&cmp%5B%5D=3548

Nvidia 970m vs Nvidia 10xx
Nvidia 970m vs Nvidia 10xx Comparison from http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/compare.php?cmp%5B%5D=2981&cmp%5B%5D=3595&cmp%5B%5D=3548

And according to Notebookcheck.net which I always heavily rely on when looking at new laptops, the 970m is still considered to be a “high-end” Graphics card. – So while it is in no way as powerful as the Nvidia 10xx cards, it can still hold its own on nearly any game out there right now. Interestingly enough, the benchmarks on Notebookcheck.net show the 970m performing on nearly equal footing with the Nvidia 1050 Ti.

Nvidia 970m Benchmarks
Nvidia 970m Benchmarks from Notebookcheck.net

Notebookcheck.net also lists the FPS (frames per second) for popular 2016 and 2017 games for the Nvidia 970m in the following chart. This chart shows that Nvidia 970m can play many 2017 games on high or even ultra graphic settings while achieving 40+FPS.

Notice on some games, you’ll want to lower the graphic settings to medium to achieve 40FPS. While on other games, you can play in high or ultra and attain 60+FPS. It’s subjective as to the type of game. Not all games “need” 60FPS.

For example, if you play a lot of First Person Shooters or Action games, especially ones with PVP against other players online, you will want higher Frames Per Second so you can out perform your competition. But, if you mostly play RPGs – which I assume is true for my readers here, 40FPS is a perfectly acceptable frame rate without any lag or choppiness. Anything below 30FPS will be noticeably laggy and possibly unplayable.

Nvidia 970m 2017 Review
Nvidia 970m 2017 Review

We all know that processors are not the main thing to consider when shopping for a Gaming PC. Intel is getting ready to launch their 8th generation of Intel Processors, deemed Coffee Lake later in 2017. This follows up Kaby Lake which was released last year. However, my ASUS ROG Strix has a chip from 2015 called Sky Lake. But according to Networkworld.com, “Intel’s new Kaby Lake processors: No performance gains The new chips are pretty much even with the last generation.”Source: networkworld.com http://www.networkworld.com/article/3155403/computers/intels-new-kaby-lake-processors-no-performance-gains.html

Still my ASUS came with the Intel I7 Quad Core, compared to the similarly priced Dell XPS that I was considering which had less RAM and only an I5 Processor (but a slightly better graphics card): http://www.bestbuy.com/site/dell-inspiron-15-6-laptop-intel-core-i5-8gb-memory-nvidia-geforce-gtx-1050-1tb-8gb-hybrid-hard-drive-black/5709801.p?skuId=5709801 

I actually would have bought this Dell instead of my ASUS, if it had more RAM. That said, the important thing to consider when buying a gaming laptop, is the graphic card. So I would’ve taken the I5 with the Nvidia 1050 over the I7 with the 970m.

I also really love Dell. I have had very positive experiences with their customer service — which began as a negative experience, but was made more than right for me, years ago when one of the first XPS came out, I had the highest level of protection/warranty, and after weeks of frustration, (and venting on blogs/social media), I was contacted by a customer advocate who worked at Dell and was upgraded to a newer iteration of the XPS. (This was probably 10-12 years ago now) But that experience stuck with me and made me very loyal to Dell for a number of years.

For the price point, or for those tech savvy enough to upgrade their own RAM this laptop at just $799 for a brand new (not Open Box like my Asus) gaming laptop is a great buy! I went into Best Buy with the intention that if my Open Box ASUS was already sold out, that I would be bringing this Dell XPS home instead. And both machines have great reviews!

According to this discussion over on Gamespot’s forums, there is absolutely no benefit (for gaming) of buying an Intel I7 over an Intel I5! https://www.gamespot.com/forums/pc-mac-linux-society-1000004/what-are-the-gaming-benefits-of-an-i7-over-an-i5-31603230/

However, the extra processing power is useful for video editing and other things that many games may be interested in (such as for editing youtube Let’s Plays, and so on.)

When it comes to deciding how much RAM you need in a gaming PC, most laptops in the “under $800 range” feature 8GB of RAM (such as the Dell XPS indicated above); and this may very well be enough for your gaming needs, as many popular titles from 2016/2017 list 8GB as the minimum required RAM that a laptop needs.

But my ASUS came with 16GB, and like I said, the RAM ultimately was the Tie-Breaker deal for me when it came to deciding between the Dell or the ASUS laptops.

PCGamer recently did a blog post about “How much RAM do you really need for gaming?”. They say 16GB is the “Sweet Spot” for PC Gaming right now. (Article published February 2017).

We consider 16GB to be a nice sweet spot for a solid gaming system. It should be more than enough to run your games and multitask as needed. You’ll also want at least 16GB if livestreaming is a priority for you. The ability to run and stream a game on one monitor while responding to chat questions, playing music, and doing whatever else in another is definitely the kind of task list that would benefit from an extra bit of RAM headroom.” – Source: PCGamer http://www.pcgamer.com/how-much-ram-do-you-really-need-for-gaming/

Some, but not many, games are also now starting to launch while recommending more than the “standard” 8GB of RAM. For example Quantum Break (recommends 16GB), Batman Arkham Knight (recommends 12GB), and Star Citizen (recommends 16GB). These certainly won’t be the last games to recommend an increased amount of RAM. So if you don’t know how, or just don’t want to, install more RAM yourself later, you may want to consider opting for 16GB now to help “future-proof” your laptop.

Having the laptop now for the past 2 days, and trying some of my own games in high settings, I am very happy with my purchase, especially at just $711 (almost 50% off the retail suggested price of $1159.)

I did a lot of research prior to, and after, purchasing my ASUS ROG Strix 15.6 Inch Gaming Laptop. Here are some interesting reviews. Please note some of these reviews reference different configurations than the one I reference in my own review. It is important to consider all of the above options: Graphics Card, RAM, and Processors when buying a gaming laptop. The most important thing to consider is the Graphics Card.

Asus ROG Strix Reviews

Best Buy’s reviews consistently mention “washed out” colors or “back light bleed” on the screen. In my opinion this is not true. To me, the colors look very vivid, bright, rich, and clear. There also a lot of reviews complaining about lack of an SSD (solid slate drive). I don’t mind waiting a few minutes for my PC to start, so I dunno if I’d really care whether it has an SSD or not. — On the other hand, Bestbuy’s reviews consistantly praise the performance, price, and gaming capabilities of this laptop. It currently has a 4.4 star rating out of more than 300 reviews. http://www.bestbuy.com/site/asus-rog-gl502vt-15-6-laptop-intel-core-i7-12gb-memory-1tb-hard-drive-black/5090905.p?skuId=5090905 

Tech Radar’s review praises the “vibrant” screen (a direct contrast to the above Best Buy complaints), Full HD Gaming Capabilities, and Speakers. Tech Radar says the Asus ROG Strix GL502 “strikes the perfect balance between portability and power”.  http://www.techradar.com/reviews/pc-mac/laptops-portable-pcs/laptops-and-netbooks/asus-rog-strix-gl502-1326519/review

Amazon User Reviews show 3.9 Stars out of over 400 Reviews once again complementing its powerful gaming performance. https://www.amazon.com/15-6-inch-GL502VM-GeForce…

Here is a Youtube User’s Review of the Asus ROG Strix:

PC Authority also praised the Asus Rog Strix, stating that “it’s hard not to recommend a gaming laptop that won’t break your wallet or your back.”  https://www.pcauthority.com.au/Review/431060,review-asus-rog-strix-gl502-gaming-laptop.aspx

Gadget Review has a nice in depth review of the Asus ROG Strix as well. The only things they critized were the “okay” speakers, and large bezels around the screen. (I do agree, it seems as if this laptop could actually fit a 17 inch screen in the amount of plastic used around the actual 15.6 inch one. Reducing this “edge” would make the laptop even more portable and lighter and less bulky. and it does seem like a poor design choice when many other competitors are offering edge to edge screens now.  http://www.gadgetreview.com/asus-rog-strix-gl502vt-gaming-laptop-review

LaptopMag.com Refers to the Asus ROG Strix as a “mini Behemoth” and praises almost every aspect of this laptop in a very detailed review at http://www.laptopmag.com/reviews/laptops/asus-rog-strix-gl502vt-ds74 

Shack News calls the Asus ROG 502 “Premium in Every Sense” http://www.shacknews.com/article/95859/asus-rog-gl502vt-ds71-review-premium-in-every-sense

You can also check out the product information for the GL502VT from Asus’ website here: https://www.asus.com/us/ROG-Republic-Of-Gamers/ROG-GL502VT/ 

Sticky Trigger gives the Asus ROG an 8 out of 10. http://www.stickytrigger.com/tech/review-asus-rog-gl502/ 

ASUS ROG Strix – Asus – ROG GL502VT 15.6″ Laptop – My New Gaming Laptop and My Recent Experience at Best Buy was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Stardew Valley Review

As mentioned in another post here, I spent much of this past weekend playing Stardew Valley on the PC. Stardew Valley is a game that harkens back memories of popular retro games such as Harvest Moon and Rune Factory. The game is fun and relaxing… however, like most games in this genre, the gameplay can get tedious and repetitive at times. Stardew Valley also suffers significant development delays and setbacks, which is not surprising considering the entire game, from the graphics, to music, to programming, was all made by just one person. It doesn’t get anymore “indie” than that. Despite these few small flaws, the game is one of the highest rated Steam games of all time with nearly 50,000 Overwhelmingly Positives since its release in February 2016. If you’re still wondering if Stardew Valley is worth playing, read my Stardew Valley Review below.

Title: Stardew Valley

Developer: ConcernedApe

Publisher: Chucklefish

Platform: PC (also recently released for Xbox One, PS4, and soon to be released for Nintendo Switch)

Genre: Farming Simulation

Where to Buy: PC Version on Steam Here.

Release Date: February 2016

Geeky: 2/5  –  This is a low budget indie game, so you won’t see triple A graphics here. And given the genre and nature of farming simulation games there isn’t much action going on. I also feel the controls and UI are clunky, to the point of detracting from the gameplay (read more about that later in this review). However, given that 1 man made everything in this game, that’s pretty impressive and worth an extra star at least for effort!

Sweetie: 4/5  – Everything about this game exudes charm and cuteness. However, the characters feel impersonal and the story a bit lacking, costing it to lose 1 heart for “sweetie” factor.

Overall: 60/80 75% D- “Average Game for Girls”

Concept: 8/10 It’s hard to believe this game has been out for less than a year; it’s so wildly popular and became an instant fan classic, that even games by fully staffed development teams have not made nearly as successful games or seen as many sales or positive reviews in years worth of time. And day by day new fans come to experience Stardew Valley for their very first time and fall in love, and continue to share their experiences. I was somewhat late to join the party, starting back in maybe July of 2016.

At that time, people were growing restless with lack of progress made on features that had been promised such as multiplayer. Here we are another 6 months later, and there’s still no word on when multiplayer will be added, just simply that it is in the works. The game has received several updates and improvements, including finishing “routes” for “new” characters (The characters were already present, but now you can date more of them).

And that’s important because really… the game of Stardew Valley is like the game of your life. Stardew Valley’s open sandbox environment and multiple choices and decisions that you will make, all shape what will happen. Will you get married? have kids? Choose a life of adventure exploring dungeons, fishing all day, or focus on rebuilding your grandfather’s farm? Or maybe just sit at the tavern, playing games, and wasting your virtual life – the choice is yours.

Although the game starts slow, once it picks up, there will be numerous choices you must make (which you’ll start to notice around maybe Fall of the first year or so)… Things such as deciding if you want to let fruit bats live in the cave near your farm or if you want to use the cave to grow mushrooms. Hopefully by Fall of the first year you’ve had time and resources to upgrade your house or add new buildings that let you craft new recipes and add new gameplay elements such as making pickled vegetables, fruit preserves, wine, cooking meals from your crops in your new kitchen, etc. Characters at times may also ask you questions which may impact the game or change their friendship towards you, such as asking you what types of books you like to read, etc. Lil bit by lil bit you will begin to see how YOUR farm in Stardew Valley differs from that of your friends’ farms. (Or how it will differ for you on subsequent playthroughs).

There are also numerous in-game events held throughout each season such as festivals, cooking contests, dance parties, and more. If you’ve been working on your social skills in the game and making friends, or even romances, these special events will be even more special, having someone to share them with.

You start with little in way of resources to begin the game and with little to do. When I first started playing, it was tedious. It felt like work, like real life. It was made somewhat worse by bad controls and UI… However now, as my first year in Stardew Valley draws to a close, the game has me firmly hooked. I couldn’t believe I stayed up until 1am playing it lastnight, and I want nothing more than to go home and play it again as soon as possible. — Soon you will be able to take Stardew Valley with you everywhere you go with the Nintendo Switch! For many, this means starting all over from scratch though and replaying through these tedious first few hours of gameplay as I seriously doubt it will sync your game saves — though it would be awesome if it did!

Stardew Valley is slow paced, and definitely not for everyone. There is some combat; however, at least on the PC, the combat is simple and basic at best, and involves no strategy, and just mindless clicking. The controls also make any actions, from combat, to fishing, to farming, a real pain at times. However, despite these flaws, Stardew Valley shines because of the charming retro vibe and relaxing gameplay mechanics. It’s one of the best casual games around and guaranteed to make you feel warm and fuzzy. It is just simply a “Feel Good Kind of Game”.

Gameplay: 6/10 If you’ve ever played a Harvest Moon or Rune Factory game then you will be right at home in Stardew Valley. The basics of gameplay include planting, watering, and harvesting crops, conversing with townsfolk, dating/marrying a townsfolk, upgrading/decorating your home, exploring dungeons, collecting and crafting items, and joining in various events. — It was also marketed as an “Online or Multiplayer” farming game (which drew many fans who have long dreamed of an Online Harvest Moon — however, that feature, which arguably is the game’s MAIN feature, is still no where to be seen and with no estimated release date a year later.

I’m critiquing the gameplay for the PC version right now since it’s the only version I have played as of time of review. While the features of the gameplay would get high marks here in terms of the vast amount of things to see, do, choices and consequences, and customization, the score ultimately suffers due to terrible controls and UI. Please note for this review I play on a laptop and do not use a mouse. I am a keyboard only user. As such, there are some things that just DON’T work. Period.

Like for example, I read that to put bait on a fishing pole you left click the bait then right click the fishing pole, but nothing happens when I do this. Luckily, you can fish without bait, but with some tools you aren’t so lucky. I assume that loading the slingshot with stones also works in the same fashion but can’t figure out how to load it with ammunition either which makes it completely useless to me. At the fall grange faire, the controls for fishing were different than fishing on the main map too! In the main map I can use my button shortcode which is C as opposed to mouse clicking, — this for some reason does not work at the fall grange faire and you have to use the mouse (in my case keep in mind, I’m using my laptop’s “touchpad” which you can click/scroll/operate like a mouse.) —

I have read that PS4 controllers will now work in Steam so I may have to try that and hope they are supported in Stardew Valley. I also do have a usb mouse – but given that I play largely from my bed, it makes finding a place to put the mouse a challenge. I am surprised because quite simply, this is a casual game. If I were expecting to smoothly play a triple A title without a mouse, from my bed, well that would be my own fault for having unreasonable expectations… but the truth is, there’s nothing here that should require finesse or skill.

And it’s not just a little bit cumbersome, it’s that things completely don’t work in some cases as illustrated above at worst. At best, I find myself constantly turning away from my target while fighting in the dungeon, or watering an empty square next to the plant I’m trying to water. Or I’ll forget I have an axe equipped and accidentally kill a crop I’m trying to work with (OK so that last one is my fault 🙂 lol).

The gameworld is not that large, but you walk really slow, which makes it seem a bit larger (Please note for this review, I’m critiquing the default map, not the new ones added in after release). You will also find that you get weak from exhaust and/or injuries easily when you first begin playing, and that even adding new weapons, armor, and accessories, doesn’t seem to speed up combat as much as you might hope.

Despite these weaknesses, the gameplay is actually fun and enjoyable with a wide variety of things to do and see. In fact, there’s often not enough in-game hours in a day to do everything. I love rainy days in the game so I can go fishing or explore the dungeons without wasting half a day tending to my crops. I also love that as you continue to do something in game, such as fish or fight monsters, you gain levels of proficiency with different skills and at certain levels, these skills branch off and force you to choose a path, with different pros and cons, which further customizes your experience from that of your friends – and also greatly adds to replay value.

There could be some other features added that would further enhance gameplay, difficulty and challenge, such as making certain foods expire – would also create need to use the preserve machine — or making for example icecream melt after so many in-game hours. As it stands right now you could buy or grow an item in year one, and eat it 5 years later without risk of getting sick, etc. They could even add a temporary debuff “Food Poisoning” that would wear off after so many in game hours.

Story: 6/10 – Well the story is that you write your own story. You decide exactly what you want to do, who you want to be with, and shape your own virtual life. It offers a ton of customization and the story does branch and reveal different routes based on who you date and other decisions you make within the game, but largely, by the end of the first year, the story has felt weak and bare bones at best. The in-game events do help to spice things up however, I suspect that after the first year they will be less exciting since you’ve already seen them. — However, it makes up for this in the amount of customization, freedom, and exploration that these open world sandbox games are best known for. Watching slowly as your farm takes shape and beginning to set a path for yourself and discover how to make your farm uniquely your own is truly the best aspect of this game, and that will become even more of a big selling point once multi-player finally gets implemented so you can visit friends’ farms.

Characters: 6/10 – Well, there’s a lot of them, but none of them are terribly interesting… They will recycle through the same dialog over and over. In the beginning, as to be expected, many of the characters are distrustful of you (You’re a stranger afterall!), and so they do not talk about anything meaningful or overly deep. Getting close to people, just like in real life, takes time. Relationships take work, and Stardew Valley is no exception to that rule… I have yet to see if the characters, or story for that matter, get more interesting past the first year, but with well over 30 hours of real life put into the game, that’s more time than one should be expected to “wait and see” if things improve.

Right now my highest relationship, according to the fortune teller at the fall grange fair, is with Shane, one of the newly added routes in a recent update. He is sorta the Tsundere type. Rough on the outside. He often plays guitar in the tavern. He likes Hot Peppers, Spaghetti, and Pizza for presents, and he is a cold unfeeling jerk lol. At least initially. I think there may be more to him, which is why I was curious to pursue him. I think his route shows the most promise for “character development” if written correctly. It will be nice to see him warm up and hopefully be less of a jerk over time lol.

Other characters seem to pay homage to various Harvest Moon games, there’s a guy named Linus (not dateable) living in a tent who reminds me of Gustafa from Harvest Moon on the Gamecube. There’s Harvey who is a doctor, Demetrius a scientist (who at time of this review is not dateable), Sebastian who is a stereotypical Emo/Goth guy, Alex a fitness nut,  a Magician (I don’t believe he’s dateable either), Clint who is a Blacksmith, and Elderly couple. The tavern workers, a Museum worker, a Carpenter (female), Goth girl, Librarian (female), and a handful of others.

Despite not having much “depth” to the characters (at least after almost a whole year of time passing in game), the characters themselves are charming, and always busy and on the move. They breathe life into the game and keep it feeling active and bustling year round. Not only these human characters, but the animals on your farm, the monsters in the dungeon, and even just little touches like birds and butterflies randomly flying or a squirrel quickly climbing a tree, or a rabbit running through the bushes, they all make the game seem… living. It seems as if every character has a mind of their own and a life of their own. This is a big plus and part of the game’s unique charm.

Graphics: 8/10 – Keep in mind, this is an indie game that wanted to go for a retro-vibe. If you’re not a fan of “outdated” graphics, RPG Maker style games, and Isometric Top-Down view style games, then this is not the game for you. — That said, Stardew Valley is for you if you grew up with the 16 bit Harvest Moon games, don’t mind “indie-retro” games, like to customize the appearance of your character, and like “cute” bright graphics.

Everything about Stardew Valley is exceptionally charming. And there is a lot of work that went into everything from the tile sets used in town or your farm, to the dungeons, character portraits, or animations. As mentioned above, the environment really feels almost like it’s alive somehow, with so many small details and little touches, falling leaves, wind, rain, animals, and background animations that really add to the charm and little extra love that was poured into this game.

I’d like to see maybe a tad more detail on the character sprites, and even more options added for character customization and more interior decorating items, or more various monster designs and not just recolors – but that’s just a wishlist, already, the artwork is pretty great if you’re a fan of pixel style games.

I did take off a few points for the following:

  • It gets pretty hard to see where I’m going at night. I dunno if it’s my monitor settings – and I am well aware you can craft items like torches and etc to brighten things up, but I get pretty lost.
  • Also some items can be hard to see if they’re behind trees, or other tall graphic items, and this too, can at times cause you to feel “stuck”.
  • Lastly, back to the UI again, it is just a lil bit clunky and could use some refinement.

Music: 10/10 – The soundtrack is one of my favorite things about this game. It is infectiously catchy. Not only does it feature great music, but sound effects are skillfully used to further create immersion and once again give rise to a game world that feels bursting with life. Sound effects for weather effects, animals, monsters, and machines and tools all help paint a picture of what life in Stardew Valley is all about.

Replay Value: 10/10 – Despite myself criticizing many things in this game such as terrible controls and user interface, lack of promised features and development setbacks, and a rather barebones story and characters who are dull and cliche, there’s just something indescribable about the gameplay itself. It is just a fun game. It’s not a perfect game… but it is one that I would recommend. I can seriously see myself sinking hundreds, or even thousands, of hours into the game, a single playthrough takes probably a hundred hours or more, and if you want to try a different profession or pick a different husband or wife, you’ll be starting a new farm, as the game autosaves every night which takes the freedom of creating multiple save files from a single playthrough out of your hands.

When I play Stardew Valley, I feel like I’m living a second virtual life, I come to care about my character, her friends and relationships, the farm, the city, and everything that’s going on in the game world. It offers me a challenge with several aspects being only discovered later in the game, and that too keeps the experience feeling fun and fresh and wondering what will happen each time I play.

Stardew Valley is a game that pulls you in with all of its charm — However, it could do with some fine tuning to greatly improve certain gameplay and story aspects.

Would I play it again? Absolutely. Given the sheer amount of things to see and do, it is impossible to accomplish everything on a single playthrough and no two farms are exactly alike.

It is that feeling, that my farm, my village, my animals, my crops, my house, my little virtual family, that they are unique and truly unlike anyone elses’ that is the driving force that makes me want to sit down and invest my precious time and energy into this game. That and the kawaii cute graphics and charming nature of the game that seem to just suck you right in.

And once Multiplayer gets implemented, kiss your real life goodbye, as the 50,000 people who think “Overwhelmingly Positive” things about the game, as well as thousand of new players, will be busy visiting their friends’ farms and experiencing brand new gameplay elements.

Stardew Valley is constantly evolving with new maps, new characters, new skills, new recipes, and new fun!

Overall: 60/80 75% D- “Average Game for Girls”

Stardew Valley Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Casino Simulation Games Let You Build and Manage Your Own Casino

Do you enjoy city-building style games? These games focus on time and resource management to let you simulate the excitement of a real casino. Not only do these games allow you to design the floor plan and upgrade and install new poker tables, roulette wheels, or slot machines, they also may allow you to add a gift shop, restaurant, bar, or other establishment making the game much more in depth than just determining the payout rates for your casino games. Some games even allow you to hire and train your own casino staff such as blackjack dealers, entertainers, janitors, or bouncers. Many people enjoy playing at online casinos for real money, but when you can’t afford to pay to play, these casino management games let you get your gambling fix. These games can also be a great way to learn some new casino tips and strategies to help you win big the next time that real money is on the table.

Here is a quick list of some of the most popular Casino Simulation Games.

Casino Inc. – http://store.steampowered.com/app/361320/ Casino Inc allows you to relive the 1970s in a gangster/mafia ran casino. It blends both mafia style gameplay letting you attack or sabotage your rivals along with featuring casino management mechanics such as mentioned above by letting you design floor plans, place gaming tables and machines, and hire casino staff. Read More about Casino Inc.

Casino RPG – This game combines role-playing, tycoon, city-building and your favorite casino games in an open-world free-to-play MMORPG. You can play this one right in your browser without any downloads. Check it out here.

Casino Chaos – You can get a free demo of the game here or purchase the full version. Each level lets you manage a different casino. The gameplay is simple but addictive. You purchase various upgrades for your casinos and then guide people to help them find their favorite casino games.

Sim City – Many versions of Sim City allow you to build casinos to attract tourists to your town. These casinos feature different themes such as Sci-fi, Roman, or Elegant themes. Each theme will bring in different types of tourists. You can compliment your casinos by building them next to other tourist destinations such as theme parks. You need to be prepared for the incoming visitors by first building ample mass transit and airports as well as hiring some extra police to fight the increasing crime rates that will result by adding the Casino to your cities. Read more about building Casinos in Sim City.

Sims 4 – Many users have created custom content for the Sims 4 which includes special Casino themed items. Check out our list of Sims 4 Casino Themed items here.

Sims 3 – The Lucky Simolean is a special casino that can be purchased in the Sims store to be added to your Sims 3 game. This will allow your sims to play blackjack or slot machines. It is also included in the gold edition of Lucky Palms or can be purchased separately.

Sims 2 – The DS version of Sims 2 allows you to build “Snake-Eyes Casino” in one of the hotel rooms. Inside the casino, there is a Slot Machine which costs 1 simoleon per go, and reaps small rewards. On one side of the casino, there is a table with a dealer behind some Keelhaulin’ cards which can be played. If the player wins Keelhaulin’, there is a moderate to large cash reward. However, if you lose there is no penalty or loss so it’s worth having a go. There’s also another Minigame which will unlock if you play on December 14th of any year in game time. Read more about these games here.

Casino Simulation Games Let You Build and Manage Your Own Casino was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Sims 4 CC (Custom Content) to Create Your Own Casino

We recently did an article about Casino Management Simulation Games in which we mentioned that there’s a lot of custom content for Sims 4 that allows you to create a fun casino for your sims so when you can’t afford to gamble real money at a canadian online casino, but you still want to spin a slot machine or play roulette you can get your gambling fix by re enacting your casino dreams in Sims 4. This article will highlight and provide links to show you where you can get some fun casino themed custom content to add to your game.

One of the things I recommend to help you create a casino in the Sims 4, is the Sims 4 Get Together expansion game. It just happens to be on sale for 50% Off at time of this post as part of their winter sale too. You can grab it for $19.99 for a limited time at https://www.thesims.com/store/… The reason I so highly recommend this is because it adds new items and features such as arcade machines, night clubs, and as the name suggests, it allows for your sims to get together for a fun night “out on the town” which will add new interactions, skills, and discussion topics for your sims.

This lot (BrandonTR’s Casino Hollywood) Can be a nice base to get you started using black, red, and gold colors, and flahsy lighting – however, it’s missing any kind of casino items such as slot machines or card tables. https://www.thesimsresource.com/downloads/details/category/sims4-lots-community/title/casino-hollywood/id/1283565/

brittpinkiesim’s “Casino Stuff” can help solve the problem by providing “decorative” (which means that sadly your Sims still can’t interact with the items) but “decorative” slot machines, card tables, neon signs, dice tables, art, and more. http://brittpinkiesims.tumblr.com/post/136909347735/the-sims-4-casino-stuff-hey-guys-i-know-its

Norianddarksims Vegas Casino pack also adds some more decorative slot machines and game tables. http://mysims4blog.blogspot.com/2015/07/new-vegas-casino-set-by-noiranddarksims.html

There’s premium content you can purchase called “Vintage Glamor” which might also be useful in creating a casino in Sims 4. https://www.thesims.com/news/sims-4-vintage-glamour-release – As a side note, this pack also includes a buttler which your sims can hire so they can get more done each day, which makes it a very useful stuff pack to purchase, even if not using it to create a casino in the game. 🙂

Sadly, at time of this post, there are no mods or custom content that allow your sims to actually play the casino games. The best way for your sims to gamble is to go back and play Sims 3 and purchase the add-on module which includes the Lucky Simolean casino. https://simsvip.com/2012/06/09/sims-3-store-the-lucky-simoleon-set-info-screens/ You can also find a ton of customizeable items and skins with a Casino or Vegas theme.

Here are some videos of said casino in Sims 3 – Lets hope something like this comes soon to the Sims 4!

 

Sims 4 CC (Custom Content) to Create Your Own Casino was originally published on