31 Posts

Story

Mario and Rabbids existing in the same game? How can this be? Ubisoft found a way. Here is how Ubisoft explains it: A girl sitting in her basement has a device that can merge two objects into one. Using AR, she has an AI (named Beep-0) that helps her out. It should also be noted that she is a big fan of all things Mario.

When the girl leaves her basement, a time traveling (and dimension traveling?) washing machine shows up. Inside of this washing machine are the Rabbids. The Rabbids get out of the washing machine and start causing mayhem. One of the Rabbids picks up the girl’s AR device and starts merging objects. This in turn starts off a chain of events. The Rabbids get pulled back into the washing machine, along with the object merging AR device. The washing machine then travels dimensions to the Mushroom Kingdom, which in turn gets sucked into the washing machine. From there, Mario & Crew + Rabbids travel to a merged dimension that has merged the mushroom kingdom with the Rabbids and objects from the girl’s basement. The Rabbid with the object merging AR device merges with said device. Beep-0 also becomes a physical AI device that floats around and can interact with the environment. What???

Gameplay

Ok, enough about this game’s story shenanigans, how about the gameplay? Mario + Rabbids has two modes of gameplay: a turn-based strategic battle system and a world exploring puzzle solving mode.

Turn-based Strategic Battle System

The main part of the game is the turn-based strategic battle system. You enter each map with three characters and fight various enemies. Each battle field has various objects and levels. These objects and levels affect your offense, defense and sometimes have special abilities. In regards to offense, if you have the high ground on someone, you can get an attack bonus. For defense, the objects provide line of sight blockage. If your attacker has no line of sight, there is zero chance that they can hit you. If the attacker has partial line of sight, there is a fifty percent chance that they will hit you. If there is nothing blocking line of sight, well the character being attacked is quite frankly screwed. Some objects can also affect the characters if they are destroyed. For example: some will bounce characters around the map while some will blind them.

Each battle has a set of stated requirements and a set of secondary requirements. The stated requirements are typically: kill all the enemies or escort a character. The secondary requirements are: how many characters survive and how fast you complete the battle. Based on these secondary requirements, you will get a different trophy. This gives the main battles some replayability in the fact that you may want to get the best trophy.

As mentioned above, you enter each map with three characters. You must always have Mario and a Rabbid as one of your characters. You start off with Mario, Rabbid Luigi and Rabbid Peach as your characters. As you go through the game you will unlock all eight characters. Each character has a specific skill that they are good at. For example: Peach is a healer while Luigi is an expert at long range attacks.

Each character also has a skill tree. As you win battles and open chests you will get skill points that you can spend to enhance and unlock abilities.
Every character has two weapons. You can unlock weapons by beating portions of the game, and then you can buy these weapons with coins. You acquire coins in battle and throughout the world map.

In addition to weapons, each character has two abilities that you can pick from that can affect your characters or your enemies.

There are also different movement modes. Characters can jump off each other (giving a range boost or quick access to a different level in the map), slide into enemies causing damage and sometimes jump on enemies also causing damage.

World Exploring Puzzle Mode

In-between each battle, you will explore this weird world. For the most part it is just sightseeing, but you also can run into some simple puzzles to solve. These puzzles can lead to new areas and treasure. For the most part the puzzles are pretty simple and require you to have an item or move some blocks around. There were a few puzzles that seemed rather difficult, but overall they are not too bad.

Length of Game + Replayability

The game took me about thirty-five hours to beat. This included a good chunk of backtracking. After that amount of time, I have completed ninety-two precent of the battles, found eighty percent of the treasure chests and completed fifty-four percent of the challenges. Overall there is a good amount of gaming.

So how does this all break down?

There are four areas to the map. Each area has eight chapters with one to four battles, one boss battle and one hidden chapter.

Once you beat an area and chapter you can backtrack to them. At this point you can complete challenges which range in difficulty, fight the battles over again to try to meet the secondary requirements and just explore the area.

As you explore the area, you will solve puzzles (as mentioned above), gather coins and unlock chests. Chests can have new weapons, skill points and various game artifacts that do not add anything to the gameplay, but rather unlock things like music, artwork, character design, etc.

There is also a co-op mode that you unlock as you beat areas of the map. I have not had a chance to try this out, but it seems like it could be fun.

Nintendo has announced a Donkey Kong DLC which will be coming out soon and add even more content to the game.

Overall

I really liked this game. The battles are fun, not too long and not too difficult. The world and character design are excellent and really tie the game together. I would recommend this game to anybody that A) has a Nintendo Switch and B) wants a fun turn-based tactical game that is not too complicated.

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is available as physical game cart and as a digital download for the Nintendo Switch.


I originally beat Kingdom Hearts, back in 2002, when it originally came out for the Playstation 2. Having fond memories of the game, I picked up the Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX compilation for the PS4. The version of Kingdom Hearts in this compilation is Kingdom Hearts Final Remix. It adds some new content in addition to updating all the game assets to HD.

So how did it hold up the second time around? Overall, it is not as good as I remember, but it is still fun. Some things are still just as horrible (the space shooter sections of the game), while some things remain awesome (character design).

For those that are not aware of Kingdom Hearts, it takes a lot of Disney characters, some Final Fantasy characters and some new characters and mashes them all into one action-role playing game. On the surface this sounds like a disaster, but Square pulls it off.

The story follows a boy named Sora, who is out to save not only one princess but seven princesses and multiple worlds from the Heartless (the bad guys). The Heartless' end goal is to destroy all worlds through the power of darkness. During Sora's journey he is joined by Goofy, Donald and a handful of other level specific Disney characters.

Each world you are trying to save is essentially a level. The majority of these worlds are mainly straight out of Disney movies. You have Tarzan, Little Mermaid, Peter Pan, A Nightmare Before Christmas, Hercules, Aladdin, Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio, Winnie the Pooh, and a handful of other worlds that are newly created for the game. The design of these worlds has not aged well. All the worlds are walled in, which in turn makes them feel very claustrophobic. Each time I made it to a new world, I was ready to leave it as soon as I could and move on with the story.

Going between worlds is bizarre. Square decided to slap on a space shooter as your method of travel. In addition to the space shooter aspect, they added in a whole system to modify and create your own spacecraft. This portion of the game stands out like a sore thumb. It is just so mind-numbing. Luckily you are only forced to travel like this when it is your first visit to a planet. After that you can skip this portion of the game and just warp to where you want to go.

The final complaint I have about this game is the controls. Some of the controls suck. First off, Square decided to update the camera mode for the Final Remix to match Kingdom Hearts 2 (The original camera mode is still available). This new camera mode gets in the way of battles and platforming more often than not. I should have tried the original camera mode to see if it was any better (sadly I don't recall what was used when I originally played it). The other part of the controls that gets in the way is using items and magic. You can assign three magic spells to hot keys within the game, for the rest of the magic and your items, you must navigate menus in realtime. What this means is you literally need to find a place to hide during any battles if you plan to navigate the menus to cast magic and/or use items. If you do not do that, you risk getting severely hurt or even killed.

So what saves the day for Kingdom Hearts? The art direction, voice acting and story save the game from being painful, to somewhat enjoyable.

Kingdom Hearts nails the art direction. Each world is colorful and nails the theme of the movie that Square is going for. All the Heartless are well designed, and the characters look amazing in HD. The Disney characters are so well designed they look like they came straight out of the cartoons.

The voice acting is top notch too. The Disney characters sound like their movie counterparts (and are sometimes the same voice actors) and the new characters are voiced by the likes of Haley Joel Osmet, Hayden Panettierre and Billy Zane.

Finally the fact that Square manages to cram a bunch of Disney movies, some Final Fantasy characters and some new characters together without the story falling apart is amazing. It is pretty much a standard video game story, but overall it works.

While my recent play through has soured me on the game a little bit due to bad camera controls, realtime menu navigation, claustrophobic levels and a crappy space shooter, the story, art direction and voice acting save the day. I look forward to giving Kingdom Hearts 2 a try and hope they solved some of these problems. If they did not fix the problems, hopefully I can at least enjoy the story.


I have been playing a lot of Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ on my Switch. Is anybody else still playing this? I finally beat it once, but I feel it was the luck of the draw on items rather than my skills. Does anybody have any good play tips?


For those of you not familiar with Blaster Master, it is a game that was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) back in 1988. Blaster Master 0 takes the original game, updates it for today’s hardware, adds in more modern day controls and game conventions and gives it a little more story.

Blaster Master 0 takes place in the future, where humans were forced to move underground at one point, due to an ice age. At the time the game takes place, humans are living back on the surface of the planet. You play a boy named Jason Frudnick. Jason discovers a new type of frog, which he takes home and names Fred. Fred eventually escapes and jumps down a hole into the earth. Jason follows Fred down the hole and makes another discovery in the form of a vehicle called SOPHIA III. Jason gets in SOPHIA III and takes off to find Fred. At this point the gameplay kicks in.

Blaster Master 0's gameplay comes in two forms: A 2D sideview platformer and a 2D overhead dungeon type of game. The sideview portion feels kind of Metroidish, where you are exploring different areas of the map trying to unlock abilities and items. While the overhead view becomes more of a dungeon-like shooter.

As a kid, I really enjoyed Blaster Master on the NES. Over time I have revisited the original game and have found it to be brutal and unforgiving. Some of the things in Blaster Master that make it unforgiving are: you only have one life, with no save or continue, and brutal boss fights. Blaster Master 0 takes away a lot of this difficulty by adding in save states, and making the boss battles easier. I feel Blaster Master 0 is more accessible due to this, but if you are looking for a game as difficult as the original, you will be disappointed.

Despite being easier, I still enjoyed the game as much as the original. The save points definitely made it easier to play the game in batches of time rather than needing to play all night and day to beat the game. The level design, weapons and updated graphics add to its enjoyability.

The story was a little weak, but it seemed to be more in depth than the original. I do not remember the original having much of a story, outside of Jason chasing Fred, so it was nice to see it expanded upon.

Blaster Master 0 is available for both the 3DS and the Switch. I played the Switch version, which makes use of the HD rumble. While the HD rumble is not required for the game, it does add another fun dimension.

Overall, I would recommend this game to anybody that wants a fun 2D platformer/shooter that is not too difficult and can be finished in under ten hours.


Today is the SNES Classic launch day! I was able to get an in stock order off of Thinkgeek at midnight last night, so I should have mine in a few days. Did anybody else get one?


Square Enix recently released a demo of Project Octopath Traveler on the Nintendo Switch. Traveler is a “2D-HD” turn-based RPG developed by Square Enix and Acquire. It currently does not have any firm release date beyond 2018.

So what is “2D-HD”? 2D-HD takes 2D sprites and surrounds them with 2.5D environments and modern special effects. It is a very unique approach. I feel that the environment and special effects look awesome, but the sprites were somewhat disappointing. The sprites seemed to lack detail and looked very blocky (especially on a big TV). Maybe I am spoiled with more modern sprites, but it feels like they could have spent some more time with the artwork here.

The demo comes with two of the eight classes enabled. They are the warrior and the dancer. I put some time in with the warrior and enjoyed the turn-based battle system. It has the standard fare of abilities, defense and attacks, but it also adds in a way to boost your attack. After each turn, you get another dot on your boost meter, which you can use during your next attack. You can chain up to three boosts in one turn, which makes for some strong attacks. Boosts can be combined with your normal attack and your abilities.

Each class has a unique ability that can be performed outside of battle. In the case of the warrior, he can challenge people to a battle. When you challenge another character, you will see their ranking in a five star based scale. One star is easy whereas five is hard. In the demo, most of the time these battles lead to experience and money, but sometimes it will complete a quest. This is an interesting addition to the turn-based RPG, but I found that I was getting bored with challenging people. Maybe if they put it to better use in the full game, it could be fun, but who knows what their grand plan is.

Outside of challenging people, the majority of battles happen randomly while you wander around the world. It is no different that other turn-based RPGs in this aspect.

I found that the warrior’s story was not very strong and kind of boring. He is a fallen warrior that failed to protect somebody from being killed. He then moves to a town under a different name and tries to lead a quiet life until a group of brigands threaten the town and kidnap a boy. At that point you go save the boy and your identity is revealed. I just did not care for the character all that much and found the dialogue to be bland.

I plan on giving the dancer a try to see if her story is more compelling. I want to love this game, but in the end, I felt that it is not the strongest turn-based RPG. They also need to find a new name for this game, I can never remember it.


Is anybody planning on picking up destiny 2 for the pc next month? I may pick it up if CG is going to spin up a team.


Guns 'N' Stories is an early access VR wave shooter set in the old west. It is being developed by MiroWin. The overall story is the tried-and-true scenario of a woman getting kidnapped by a big bad, and you are out to save her.

The first two levels that I played were enjoyable. You start out with one pistol and soon end up with two. You fight wave after wave of bad guys while you are dodging and shooting down bullets. Based on the fact that my pistols turned into high-tech automated weapons during the second level, it looks like MiroWin has a weapon progression plan in the game.

Given that this is a wave shooter, there is not a lot to explore. You pretty much stand in one place and fight the bad guys, but you do get a workout ducking and dodging the incoming fire.

I really enjoyed the narration. It starts out with a boy asking his grandpa about his gun, which in turn has the grandpa telling the story which you are playing. The game is narrated in real time, so the grandpa will start talking about things that change the course of the game. For example, you start out the game with a cup in one hand and a bottle in the other. The boy asks how he fights with a cup, to which the grandpa responds that it is actually a pistol. At that moment the cup changes into a pistol. Overall, the narration was the highlight of the game.

I plan to keep checking out this game to see what the developer adds. They definitely have a fun story surrounding this wave shooter. Hopefully it holds up.

This was reviewed using a download key provided to Cheerful Ghost by MiroWin.

Guns 'N' Stories: Bulletproof VR is available for both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.


http://yachtclubgames.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/specterKnightLogoBlack.png
Specter of Torment is a prequel to the original Shovel Knight: Shovel of Hope game. It follows Specter Knight as he "recruits" each member of The Order of No Quarter. It also dives into Specter Knight's backstory, which I will not reveal here.

The game itself is similar to both Shovel of Hope and Plague of Shadows. It is a 2D platformer that has you fighting boss battles at the end of every level. What is different from Shovel and Plague is Yacht Club Games has gotten rid of the world map. In the previous games you used the world map to travel from level to level (like Super Mario World), but in Specter, you just jump straight to any level via a portal (think Mega Man games). I missed the world map, and I wonder why they did not include it here. I think they were going for the Mega Man feel here, but it just feels like they dropped a feature due to time.

Speaking of time, this game is a lot shorter than both Shovel and Plague. It took me about six hours to beat the game, where Shovel and Plague took me ten and twelve hours, respectively. This is a quick game that you can beat in a day.

Another thing that I felt that Yacht Club Games scaled back on is story. Both Shovel of Torment and Plague of Shadows had great stories and characters. Specter of Torment does not have as grand of a story. This leads me to care less for the characters than in previous games.

The one thing that Yacht Club Games does nail is level design and controls. They are tight. The mechanics of Specter Knight are really cool with his wall scale, the ability to jump off walls, and the ability to do what I will call a "lunge attack" in air. I cannot tell if they reused previous levels from the other games, but it does not really matter, they are still great. I actually finished this game a while back, and then played it again for this review and I still had a lot of fun.

The boss battles in this game range from really easy to moderate difficulty, kind of inline with the previous releases of Shovel Knight games. I found that I could beat all bosses with some ground attacks and in-air lunge attacks. I was not really surprised by this given the difficulty of the boss battles in the previous games.

Secondary items, called Curios, were neat but not really needed to beat the game. The only one that I used all the time was the healing item. The rest were fun to get and try out but were barely needed to solve the puzzles and beat enemies.

Overall I enjoyed this game, and will play it again. The story wasn't quite there for me, but the level design and controls were top notch. Overall, I would rank it as my least favorite in the series, but still fun.

The review for this game came from the Switch version. Specter of Torment is also available on the PC, Wii U, 3DS, PS4, Vita, PS3, Xbox One and Fire TV.

Yacht Club Games provided Cheerful Ghost with a Switch download key for Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove, which Specter of Torment is part of.


http://yachtclubgames.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/plague_of_shadows_title_black_bg.png
Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows is an add-on campaign to Shovel Knight. You play the role of Plague Knight as he goes through the Shovel Knight world collecting ingredients for a potion that will make him powerful. It takes place at the same time as the original Shovel Knight.

Plague of Shadows is an add on that uses all the same levels from the original Shovel Knight, while adding some new areas within those levels. Since it is pretty much the same game, it is Plague Knight's gameplay mechanics and his story that makes it stand apart from the original.

I think you will get the most enjoyment out of the story if you have already finished the original Shovel Knight. It is not a requirement, but there a lot of references, both obvious and not so obvious, that add a lot to the story.

As for gameplay, Plague Knight has a whole different set of weapons, special abilities and movement mechanics from Shovel Knight. His main weapon, a bomb, is highly customizable, allowing for different types of gameplay. I found myself focusing on a few combinations that helped me get through the game.

With the change of movement mechanics, the reuse of the old levels from the original Shovel Knight works. It feels like a new game. I also found that the levels were more difficult with Plague Knight than with Shovel Knight.

My main problem with Plague of Shadows is the same as the original Shovel Knight. The bosses are just too easy. Plague Knight makes the majority of bosses much easier than they were in Shovel Knight.

Overall I enjoyed Plague of Shadows as much as the original Shovel Knight, if not more. The story and platforming are so good that they outweigh the easy boss battles.

I recorded a video of the intro, first level and town. This video is from Hard Mode, where you carry over all unlocked abilities. You can view it here:

https://youtu.be/EPxbRGYixZ8

My original Shovel Knight review is here:

http://cheerfulghost.com/Will_Ball/posts/3294/review-shovel-knight-shovel-of-hope-part-of-shovel-knight-treasure-trove-for-the-switch

Yacht Club Games provided Cheerful Ghost with a download key for Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove for the Nintendo Switch. Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove is also available for the Wii U, 3DS, PS4, Vita, PS3, Xbox One, Mac, Windows, Linux and Fire TV.


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