October 23rd, 2017 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Capture your hearts’ content while being discontent with EA.

Folks, it’s been a long week. I’m tired. Here’s some sh*t that happened this week in case you missed it.

1) Destiny 2 Leviathan raid gets BTFO’d

Merely an hour after it went live, the first ever raid for this MMO-lite game was beaten in an hour. Which would be impressive except for one thing, it was faked. That’s right, the raid was quickly beaten because instead of being good sportsmen and just playing the damn game, everyone had to go and ruin things by using an exploit. The sad part is the exploit isn’t even that hard to pull off. Several videos went up instruction players how to get all the great loot without the hard effort.

2) Pokemon Go does the monster mash.

Everyone’s favorite alternate reality mobile game collectathon is going strong. It’s the getting to the end of October and everyone has Halloween fever. What’s the best part about this holiday? THE CANDY OF COURSE. Every pokemon you catch will earn you a whopping SIX candies. On top of that, there are a handful of other ways to rake in some extra sweets. If that’s not enough for you, the game will be ramping up the scare factor the only way it can. The spooooooky pokemon you know and love will be a lot more common as the 31st draws closer and closer. You’ll have increased chances to catch a Zubat, Golbat, Gastly, Haunter, Gengar, Drowzee, or Hypno. Why not take your pokemon with you while Trick or Treating?

3) Capture footage now even easier on the Switch.

Having a dedicated screenshot button on the Switch was a brilliant idea. Even more brilliant is the new update for the crossover console. Update 4.0 bring an impressive new feature. Pressing and holding the capture button will now automatically lock in and record the last 30 seconds of your gameplay. For many games though, not all of them. They’ve also made it easier to transfer your user data from Switch to Switch which would be nice. Considering Nintendo’s track record for releasing slightly updated versions of their handhelds, I can’t wait to get my hands on a theoretical new switch that will have a longer battery life.

4) Capture footage now even easier on the Xbox One.

The Switch wasn’t the only console with a major update. The Fall 2017 Hardware update for the Xbox one has added a lot of new features. An even further improved Home button was one of the features, while a more streamlined desktop accompanied the changes. You can now add games to your homescreen, instead of just pin, and get a more informative preview of the latest news and community activity about whichever game you choose. But most importantly, if you plug in an external USB 3.0 compatible device, you can now capture gameplay footage up to 60 minutes long.

5) EA adds pay to win elements to Star Wars Battlefront II.

I mean, it’s hard not to have heard this news, it’s everywhere. People played the demo and are pretty concerned that the current “loot crate” craze has poisoned the well and that Battlefront II is the most recent victim. EA has backpedaled on this a little bit, saying that they will make core elements to the game be progression-based, but that has yet to be seen. We are all just hoping that the single player campaign isn’t just some tacked on garbage. We can only hope that after the ruckus this game has caused, everything will turn for the better in the end.

6) EA shuts down Visceral Games.

EA is apparently not happy with f*cking up things yet, so here they are again. Visceral Games, creators most well known for the Dead Space series, was working on a standalone Star Wars game. After some focus testing, EA decided that the project was no longer worthwhile and terminated the company. Nice going, EA. You’re well on your way to re-earning that “worst company” award. I mean, other worse companies deserve it usually, but you manage to really stick your mistakes in everyone’s faces, don’t you, EA?

7) Good news for Mario XCOM fans.

Did you think Mario+Rabbids Kingdom battle was an easy game? If you did, you might have been playing in easy mode. This challenging game is getting even tougher with some newly announced DLC. Dubbed the “Ultra Challenge Pack”, it contains 8 new super hard scenarios to fight your way through. Owners of the season pass already have access and can download it whenever they want. Tread carefully, this DLC isn’t playing around.




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September 20th, 2017 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

The Minions of Videogaming

There’s been more than a dozen games featuring those wascally wabbids and none of them are particularly that great. Just a lot of dopey nonsense aimed at kids. So, what makes this game so special? Well, for starters, Mario. He makes everything better. Secondly, this game as a game is F*CKING SPECTACULAR.

This video was recorded before our review but you can now read it here. And for details on the pixel pack defense, go here.




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September 16th, 2017 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Mari-owo what’s this?

It faced some tenuous rumors and rampant speculation, but Mario+Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is a thing that is real. It combined all your favorites from the Mushroom Kingdom with the eponymous Rabbids of… Rabbid fame. Developed by Ubisoft Paris & Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft this… okay hold on second. This is a MARIO game. A Mario game developed by Ubisoft. Let that sink in. Nintendo didn’t even publish it, Ubisoft did. This Mario game was published by Ubisoft for the Nintendo Switch. Life is certainly stranger than fiction, is it not? Anyway, this game is an isometric tactical RPG with puzzle elements. It is the unlikeliest of combos, with the greatest former plumber in all the land and the videogaming equivalent of The Minions, this game has a lot of nerve crashing its way onto the Nintendo landscape. So, is it any good?

GRAPHICS: 2/2

To start, the graphics aren’t necessarily stunning from a technical perspective, but that hardly matters. Aesthetically speaking, it’s one of the best looking Mario games to date. Biome to biome, block for block, square to square, this game uses an incredible palette of every color in the book and then some. As expected of a Mario game, it’s got incredible design for each and every stage, but it takes it a step above most “standard” Mario games by making what is essentially a blocky, cubic, almost voxel-like world and making it come to life with passion. The rabbids look in top form and all the environments surrounding just ooze with artistic merit and magnanimous glee. That’s a five-dollar word you can add to your collection.

STORY: 2/2

K.I.S.S. = Keep It Simple, Stupid. But seriously, the game’s plot is a great excuse to have a blast. The rabbids have invaded and destroyed the mushroom kingdom because some teenage girl made a visor that can combine two objects into one. It’s pretty easy from that detail alone to see where the plot is going. Big man Bowser himself is absent in this adventure (he’s on vacation) and Bowser Jr is trying to make a name for himself. He kidnaps the visor-empowered to do his bidding and continues to wreck stuff over the course of several worlds. It’s all you need to be driven forward; the plot writes itself. Mario is a guy ready to stop the bad guys and restore the Mushroom Kingdom to its former glory. His new friend Beep-O the talking roving Roomba delivers the exposition for each level, and it’s more than necessary to tell you what you need to be doing. Plus, the gameplay is so fun, you’ll hardly need the plot to drive you forward as you jump to fight after fight.

AUDIO: 2/2

During the battles that unfold, the bloops, bleeps, bangs, bongs, and booms are all in top form. The sound design in this game is satisfying, as all fired shots make the noise they should make. Along with that, the accompanying cacophonies of status effects like honey, ink, push, spring, vamp, and others sound exactly as they should. As for the soundtrack, I didn’t find it all that interesting. The music is primarily comprised of a chamber wind orchestra playing jubilant variations of classic Mario theme songs along with several new compositions. I personally don’t like the style of this ensemble-based music. But, as a former student of the fine arts in music, I can still appreciate the effort put into the songs and can acknowledge that despite not being quite my cup of tea, it serves the game well and is objectively some pretty good stuff.

GAMEPLAY: 2/2

It was described by many as Mario meets XCOM, and this is a considerably astute observation. I have not actually played any tactical games in the vein of this style, so Kingdom Battle was a relatively fresh experience. What could have been a cheap knockoff turns into a surprisingly deep and intricate battle system. It serves both as a great refresher for tactical game fans as well as a great introductory offer for people new to this particular style of game. Not only is it well designed, but it is also astoundingly deep for a Mario sort of game. You play as a squad of 3, with a total 8 characters to bring into your team. Every one of these characters have their own unique skills and play-styles that you will utilize to complete your quests. Fighting enemy rabbids is an absolute blast, especially if you hate the rabbids. It makes the overworld puzzles boring by comparison, but none are dense enough to fully stop the pace of the action that ensues.

FUN: 2/2

The game is fun but is marred by a handful of annoyances. For one, the movement of characters outside of the battles is sluggish and can sometimes lead to a very bad time. This shows up specifically when you enter blue dungeons to collect coins, and the imprecise isometric design doesn’t do it any favors. You may find yourself failing many times to complete these challenges because Beep-O is usually not in quite the right spot to do contextual actions. This could be fixed with a patch and overall, the sections where you can stop to try and collect some coinage are ultimately an optional choice and therefore don’t hurt the fun factor too hard. The main battles are fun and keep you coming back for more, and that’s all you need to continue this well-designed experience with twists and turns every time you feel like you’ve gotten the game down pat. That said, once you do figure out the optimal strategy for certain enemies, some fights can seem “samey”, but this is outweighed by the number of times you are introduced to new mechanics that change the tide of battle. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself on the edge of your seat, despite playing handheld or on your TV.

Mario+Rabbids: Battle Kingdom is a game that, on paper, sounds like absolute bullsh*t. But when you see the game in action, you quickly realize that it’s possibly one of the greatest collaboration ideas available in the gaming market. This unthinkable combo of hijinks sounds like a potential disaster but is actually the perfect storm. Any game that makes the rabbids loveable is quite a feat on its own. Whether or not you’re a fan of Mario, Rabbids, or tactical RPGs, this game is a stunning and simply awesome game to behold, and it has no business being as good as it is. But it’s here and it’s magnificent, and if you are currently a lucky owner of a Nintendo Switch, you have virtually no reason not to play it.

SCORE: 10/10




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September 7th, 2017 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Defending the Pixel Pack Pre-Order Bonus

Lord have mercy on me. I am about to do the unthinkable. Something disgusting, virulent, repugnant, and other five dollar words that mean gross. I’m going to praise some pre-order DLC.

WAIT WAIT WAIT STOP. Okay, I know, “pre-order culture” is a problem and it’s dumb that in many cases companies abuse this system to chop off content that should have been included. But this time it’s different. You know why? Because it’s Nintendo. And Nintendo does what SEGA don’t (okay that doesn’t work at all when you reverse it). But anyway, Mario+Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is out, and it’s good! Review forthcoming but definitely a great experience. You wouldn’t expect it considering that the Rabbids are basically just the video game version of Minions. Yet somehow, this game makes it work.

But it also has some DLC that you get for pre-ordering it anywhere. This is called the PIXEL PACK. It contains 8 guns, one for every playable character in the game. Here’s the thing, these downloadable guns are actually pretty decent. I recall numerous times where games have had pre-order DLC that either gives you a modified gun, a new gun, or a gun skin. In these cases they are usually just a slightly better version of your starting weapon, but sooner than later you’ll chuck it when you need to upgrade.

The pixel pack guns are different. They have character to them for starters. The guns are all blocky and voxel-like so they have a retro look. They have very cool visual effects similar to that Adam Sandler film that no one should mention by name.  They also all make 8-bit sound effects when you fire them and hit enemies, which is fun, because the rest of the guns don’t do that. But the most important thing is that the guns are actually quite a significant upgrade to your starting gear. You’ll find that you actually have a pretty decent time with the first world because the guns are pretty damn good. And fun! It eases you into the game better by giving you a fair advantage for the beginning. By the time you finish World 1, you might be ready to move on. That boost you get, though? I was actually grateful. It still didn’t need to be DLC, but it could have been worse, they could have tried to charge you for the guns and thankfully Nintendo isn’t like that. Well, not yet anyway. Depends on how you feel about the Zelda: BotW season pass really.

I haven’t seen a DLC this useful since the Courier’s Stash from Fallout: New Vegas, with your trusty Vault 13 canteen! So there, I defended a pre-order content that’s useful. Please forward all death threats to hardmodegamerslol@gmail.com. And thanks for reading!




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