June 5th, 2019 by Zeke Gonzalez

Is it worth more than Mario Kart?

Hi I’m Chet Harrison and this is my pawn shop. Okay just kidding this a review page. Anyway, I like karting games but our pal Dale Desimone (Zeke) is an expert on these things and can tell us what we’re really dealing with here. Team Sonic Racing is a multi-platform kart racing game smart enough to release before Crash Team Racing pops up and takes over. Is this any good? YES*

*mainly for couch multi and it being multi-platform. It’s better than Mario Kart anyway. ^_-



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June 1st, 2019 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Kart racing mayhem with slightly less cheating BS.

Mario Kart forever held the crown for mascot kart racing games, with Crash Team Racing and Sonic All-stars Racing trailing behind. Team Sonic Racing doesn’t really do much in the way of innovation. It feels a lot more like they just added a new gameplay mode to a multiplayer game that’s already been out. TSR stays literally grounded without the “transformed” shenanigans, and this time all the SEGA “stars” didn’t get any invites. Sad. But this one is actually worth your time!

Team Sonic Racing Graphics

GRAPHICS: 1/2

  • Rock solid 60FPS in single player mode, but frame drop increases in local multiplayer. Split screen also tends to make the other NPC cars look a bit on the jittery side.
  • Brilliant recreations of classic sonic levels. I think. Sonic has had a lot of games, who knows, maybe some were pulled out of their butts?
  • Everything looks internally consistent, but in terms of overall quality, this game does absolutely nothing special to make it shine.
  • Lighting FX and color palettes are incredibly spastic on the casino circuits, with a couple sections that look half-finished.
  • All that said, the car detail is surprisingly thorough. All cars have mods that change the cosmetic looks of the karts (and performance). But even better, the paint schemes are complex and each individual color comes with 15+ different shaders.
  • TFW I can make Tails drive a faux-Batmobile.
  • Sky Road is an absolutely unapologetic Rainbow Road knockoff.
Team Sonic Racing Story

STORY/IMMERSION: 1/2

  • Once again we have a racing game with a plot that it didn’t need. I can’t tell you what happened, I skipped the cutscenes after watching a few.
  • This game practically encourages skipping the cutscenes, as there’s an option on each race in the campaign to skip all the dialog and go straight to the race. Major props for doing this.
  • What’s really egregious is how the plot is carried out. It’s just a blurred out JPG of the track you’re on with PNGs of Sonic characters saying their lines. It’s like watching a kid wave paper cutouts of the crew while mimicking their voices.
  • The script quality also leads me to believe that this was not only written for children, but was in fact written by a child.
  • The campaign itself has a neat little overworld design with normal races and special challenges to keep things fresh. Albeit the CPU drivers get a bit cheaty towards the middle of things.
  • Also, the challenge races were dumbfoundingly challenging. Me and my friend had to take turns playing the same challenge over and over until we both gave up. The vague instructions and tip section didn’t help.
Team Sonic Racing Audio

AUDIO: 1/2

  • It’s a Sonic OST, of course it’s going to have some absolutely kickass tracks. Music tracks, not race tracks (those are fine too).
  • Try to keep playing this game with “team comms” turned on. Every character has about 8-10 phrases total and will say them early and often. Many times they will actually say the same quip twice in a single race.
  • Oh and every single “quip” is the most cringe thing possible. It’s painful. Just imagine Big the Cat saying literally anything ever.
  • Now, when I went into the Garage in the main menu, I heard a remix of the game’s theme song that I absolutely loved. Little did I know, that it was done by The Qemists, a band I love. And DAMN is it good.
Team Sonic Racing Gameplay

GAMEPLAY: 2/2

  • What’s different about this iteration of SEGA’s mascot kart game? This time around its the team gameplay mechanics, which add a lot of neat twists. Races can consist of up to four 3-person teams. Doing several team actions will lead you to victory.
  • Team actions include driving behind your team’s leader to get a “slingshot” boost, sharing/receiving powerups from your teammates, and skimming real close to a teammate who’s been hit gives them a boost. Basically there are a lot of boosts.
  • This feels less random than some of the other mascot kart games. The powerups aren’t very original but some of the more overpowered ones in other games aren’t present.
  • The only real BS factor is the enemy AI, so far playing against them on normal feels far too challenging, as it seems like the CPU team will just magically get an ultimate boost if you’re ahead for more than 10 seconds. This can be remedied by playing the game with real people.
  • Speaking of real people, that’s the best way to enjoy this game. Local multi supports 4 players. Three of you can be on the same team in a team race or all race with their own teams with CPU support. Or, you can go classic with a good ol’ fashioned singles race.
Team Sonic Racing Fun

FUN: 2/2

  • If you’re interested in popping the game in and playing with your friends, you’re in luck. The multiplayer starts with all 15 characters and 18 of the 21 tracks available right from the get-go. No unnecessary grinding in the campaign.
  • There’s plenty of variety to keep things interesting. I ended up playing this game for somewhere around 6 hours straight. Me and a buddy played a for a while, he left. I played by myself. Then a different buddy arrived and we played again. I did not get bored.
  • This game has the dreaded loot boxes in the form of a gacha machine. Only, you can’t buy them for real money, so no exploitative practices here. SEGA actually has ethical standards apparently.
  • Interestingly enough, it’s very easy to earn enough coins to open tons and tons in one go. I opened 41 consecutive boxes from time all by myself, and another solid 30 when playing with friends.
  • There are SOME upgrades in the loot system, BUT all upgrades come with a downside (sacrificing speeed for handling, etc). The prizes you win in the machine do seem to be based on which character you play with. I got back to back to back to back upgrades for Tails early on.

Team Sonic Racing really surprised me. Given Sonic’s poor track record, the game could have been terrible. Instead, I got a slight nostalgia kick after playing for a couple hours. If you’re a big fan of mascot kart racing games and have some friends around, it’s a solid game for parties and easy to pick up. It’s already well priced at $39.99. With summer on the horizon, it’s possible it will go on sale, many games do after a few weeks. I might say wait for a sale, but if you’re a fan of the series, go for it.

SCORE: 7/10




Wait I just gave Rage 2 a 6/10, does that mean this game is better? Guess Team Sonic Racing is the way to go.

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assassins creed III remastered review
April 22nd, 2019 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Despite what some online comparisons indicate, the remaster is the superior version of the game.

Let’s preface this one differently. I was a big Assassin’s Creed fan but AC3 greatly reduced my love for it. And Unity murdered it. When I played that game all those years ago, I was disappointed on all fronts. I was also setting really high expectations that could not be reached. And I wanted to beat the game before the real life “December 21, 2012” end of the word scenario so I rushed through all of it. Hated the difficulty, the setting was underused, Connor wasn’t a good protagonist, and lots of bugs and grievances with the detection settings for NPCs.

Well, I either completely sucked back then, or Assassin’s Creed III Remastered is a much better experience. This re-release comes with a remaster of Liberation HD (a remaster of a remaster?) as well. This remaster came out March 29, 2019 and either is free with your Assassin’s Creed Odyssey season pass or in the store for $40. The season pass for Odyssey costs $40 so you have almost no reason to not have that marvel of a game and its DLC packs. So, is it worth a revisit after so many years? Or perhaps, for those who haven’t played it, a decent entry?

GRAPHICS: 2/2

There will be a video on this in the near future but this title is the subject to a bit of controversy. If you look for graphical comparisons on Youtube, you will see that some of them imply it to be superior, yet others imply that it is worse. Whether it is misrepresenting the game on purpose or not, this review is from the “Xbox One X” version of the game, so the most graphically powerful console release. I can personally confirm that the release is highly superior in the graphical department. With the exception of a handful of faces, you’re getting better looks across the entire board. You have better color with HDR, lively landscapes, and incredible textures.

STORY: 1/2

You can’t really change an entire story in a remaster, can you? What you CAN do is try to engage your player more this time around. AC3 tells the story of… Haytham Kenway? Yes, the game pulls a reverse Metal Gear Solid 2. A sizeable chunk of the game has you playing as a character who is completely absent from all of the marketing materials. After a while, you do finally get to Connor or Kanien’kehá:ka (don’t try to pronounce it, just give up). The problem with this character is the game gives him a very rich setup due to the events of the first hours of gameplay. Yet at every turn, Connor manages to remain as dull as humanly possible. More on that in audio.

The other issue is that the setting doesn’t really do a good job at expressing the ins and outs of the Revolutionary War. Sure, there’s a lot of text you can read, but in terms of the game on its own, you basically just jump in and out of several world-famous events. Funnier is that it implies that Connor was at the front of all of them. Paul Revere? Connor? Boston Massacre? Connor. Boston Tea Party? Connor. The freaking battle at Chesapeake Bay? Connor.

Really stretching the believability, but then again this series more firmly expresses itself as alternate history. This makes the second time around a lot more enjoyable. Not to mention, I personally was able to focus more on a lot of content I had to pass on because I was so eager to finish.

AUDIO: 1/2

It’s not every day you come across a voice actor who is a direct descendant of American indigenous tribes with a fine understanding of their languages, but here we are. Noah Watts, of the Blackfeet nation, voices our protagonist Connor. He speaks English and… not English. #OnlyTheFacts | Now, as said before, Connor is a dry and wooden protagonist. This is really not the fault of the actor. The dialog given for his character contains little in the way of flair or emotion. He speaks very directly at all times. He comes in two flavors, deliberate and agitated. That’s it. The rest of the cast wasn’t too great either. As for SFX? They’re mediocre. Nothing wrong about them but nothing to grab your attention.

I must make it painstakingly clear though, this game has one of the GREATEST original scores in the entire Assassins Creed franchise. That genuinely made the game a good experience overall. Quite emotional too, making up for some of the acting.

GAMEPLAY: 2/2

So, at the time it came out, AC3 had a bit of a difficult learning curve. A lot of the combat mechanics, controls, and gameplay style of the game change in the transition from the Ezio trilogy to III. However, coming directly off of AC: Odyssey, the game is retroactively easier to come to grips with. If anything, the game feels more limited. No dedicated stealth mode button. Combat is the old style of “counter-attack kills” that were prominent in most of the series. The simplicity of the game in comparison to the new game actually made it feel a bit more streamlined. It was almost arcade-like to play this game after every game we’ve had since.

It also seems as thought a lot of changes streamline the overall experience. Some redundancies were eliminated. Enemy detection appeared to be slower. The ship combat was easier to handle. Every step of the way, quality of life improvements are there, on every front. Oh, and the load times, those are some short load times. Especially for fast traveling and desynchronizing.

FUN: 2/2

The fact that I took my time to play through more of the game is a very big deal. This time around, I bothered to unlock all the fast travel locations in the underground. It was a bit grindy, but manageable. The silly “homestead” missions actually felt like they were worth the time. That is despite the fact that the “convoy” system of the game was an absolute waste of time and needlessly complicated. I did all the district liberations and recruited all 6 support assassins. I did several of the optional naval battles. Not everything could be helped. The almanac pages are still dumb, as are all of the other fetch items the game throws at you. But I must stress that above all else, I had a much, MUCH better time playing this game again. I was supposed to be playing other games, yet I kept coming back to this re-release time and time once more.

Assassin’s Creed III Remastered is a huge improvement on the original iteration. Between the streamlining of gameplay elements, the simplicity, and the visual quality? This is a good remaster that has been released at exactly the right moment. If it has been a while since you last played, give it another shot. If you’ve never played it, also give it a shot. And ignore the real world plot, it’s still crap.

SCORE: 8/10

If I find time, I would like to play the Tyranny of King Washington DLC as well as Liberation, but that will have to wait.



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trials rising garbage
April 18th, 2019 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

Remember when you just won cool gear for your character when you did well? Pepperidge Farm remembers.

Trials Rising is back. It’s the 5th game in a long-standing series of physics-based, motorcycle riding action. Although the new entry itself is rather decent, Ubisoft decided to be Ubisoft and find a way to ruin the fun. They added the basic bitch of microtransactions, loot crates, to the mix, and they don’t gel well. And they are supposted to give you cosmetic upgrades only, but the upgrades are garbage. Rewards are also few and far between, with the majority of upgrades being stickers, the least interesting cosmetic aspect. And then you can get some new gear for your rider and bike but you can also get friggin DUPLICATES. Got the same tires twice? Too bad, you can re-sell the tires for a currency that is totally worthless towards the cost of another crate. It’s shameful at best. Too bad.

But wait, there’s more!

Now, watch this and look at the stunning lack of actual features after opening so many boxes. The customization system in Trials Rising is absolute garbage.

Sadly, one person on our YouTube tried to defend this. You can help by going to the page and upvoting the video.



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April 1st, 2019 by Vega Montanez

Standing Amongst Olympians

Sega has been a player in the video games business for quite a few decades. And yet, they still never really manage to get a strong grip. They almost had a huge run with Sonic, but he was quickly bested by the plumber in the red overalls. Enough with the past, Sega is back and ready to rise to the occasion. 

The 2020 Olympics will be taking place in Tokyo next year. Besides already holding the licenses, Sega is taking this opportunity to try to make waves. First headlines were made with eh announcement of “Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 – The Official Video Game”. Coming to Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch worldwide. Sega has gone on the record calling this new title “A fun-filled sports action game where you create your avatar and compete in olympic events. That’s right, you too can go for the gold from the comfort of your living room!

https://youtu.be/YbC_L7dnWIU
Our original linked video was taken down so here’s some NHK program. -Chet

Next, they announced the release of a brand new Mario & Sonic at the Olympics. It’s been a long 4 years since the last time we’ve seen these athletes on the field. Mario & Sonic at the Olympics 2020 looks much like past iterations but this time will have mini-games for your Joy-Cons. The only real question here is; will this game feature the movie versions of our two cover stars?

For those of us who have become avid mobile gamers Sega’s got something for you too, because mobile gamers count. Mario & Sonic will be attending the Tokyo Olympics on iOS and Android as well. Assuming the game will borrow some Joy-Con features and optimize for touchscreens, this will most likely be super casual. I’m predicting for sure at least one Temple Run style track and field game. Actually, bets are open.

Not excited about the Olympics!? Fine.

Fear not friends who could careless about professional sports or sports simulations. Or emotionless monsters who can’t find the humor in the “world’s fastest hedgehog” racing against the “most hard-headed plumber of all time”. There is some retro based good news. Sega is bringing a new challenger to the mini console revolution. 

The Sega Genesis Mini will be available on September 19th, 2019. Retailing at the great price of $79.99 the mini console will feature 40 classic games including Sonic (of course), Castelvania, and Ecco the Dolphin. For the record, Ecco the Dolphin is the second most exciting part of this for me. What’s the first? Well I’m glad you asked. So far, 10 of the 40 games have been announced and one of those game is, Comix Zone. Need I say more?

The console itself is reportedly about 55% smaller than the original and comes with two usb powered replica three button controllers. Also packed into the box is a USB to Micro-B cable for power and an HDMI cable for graphic fidelity. Because as we all know, it’s not a retro remake unless it’s in HD. 

What are some of the found memories you hope to relive with the Sega Genesis Mini? And for those excited for the olympics, what’s your favorite thing to have Mario beat Sonic at? And for everyone else, sorry you stuck around for that Vanquish sequel reveal. Believe me, you are not alone.

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March 26th, 2019 by Vega Montanez

Back in the 90’s there were two prominent developers of fighting games coming out of Japan. In one corner we had the almighty Capcom, home of Ken, Ryu, and the rest of the Street Fight gang. And in the other corner was SNK. Although there library is extensive, with titles like Metal Slug and Fatal Fury, King of Fighters is likely the most recognized title. That is if you ignore them also being the masterminds behind the Neo Geo. 

In recent years their focus has been on repackaging their glory days in numerous SNK Collections and keeping the King of Fighters series alive. But it seems they are ready for more. And they are coming in blades drawn. After more than a decade, Samurai Shodown is back. 

Samurai Shodown (2019)
SNK

Samuria Shodown is a weapons based 2D fighting game. It’s like the Soul Caliber of 2D fighters. Anyway, the franchise is being rebooted for the modern era. SNK is even choosing to develop the game using Unreal Engine 4. The unexpected reboot is set to take place between the events of the original game and Samurai Shodown V. 

Promising 13 of the original playable characters joined by 3 new challengers, SNK is ready to reenter the world of competitive fighting. Samurai Shodown will release sometime in June 2019 on PS4 and Xbox One. And PC and Switch versions will be coming later this year. Does this release window sound a bit scary? Fear not as skeptics are welcome to try out the new entry sooner. 

Ready? Fight!

Anyone attending PAX East this upcoming weekend in Boston will be able to get their hands on the game. SNK will also be hosting a panel, “Samurai Shodown: Resurrecting a Legend,” on March 30 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. ET featuring producer Yasuyuki Oda, director Nobuyuki Kuroki, and original Samurai Shodown director Yasushi Adachi. 

Are you excited for a brand new Samurai Shodown? I know I am. 

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