Without The Sarcasm https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com Insights. Analysis. Answers. Mon, 22 May 2017 22:42:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/wp-content/uploads/cropped-question-mark-512-1-32x32.png Without The Sarcasm https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com 32 32 41351423 Skills & Skill Points | C.A.T.S. Crash Arena Turbo Stars Guide https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/cats-crash-arena-turbo-stars-guide-skills-and-skill-points/ https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/cats-crash-arena-turbo-stars-guide-skills-and-skill-points/#comments Mon, 22 May 2017 22:40:20 +0000 https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=8737 C.A.T.S. - Crash Arena Turbo Stars are small boosts that can have a big effect on the way you play the game. However, they're hidden in a tiny menu and not really ever explained well in the game. Lucky for you, my C.A.T.S. - Crash Arena Turbo Stars Skills guide is here to fill in the missing information.
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Skills in C.A.T.S. – Crash Arena Turbo Stars are small boosts that can have a big effect on the way you play the game. However, they’re hidden in a tiny menu and not really ever explained well in the game. Lucky for you, my C.A.T.S. – Crash Arena Turbo Stars Skills guide is here to fill in the missing information.

Skills in C.A.T.S. – Crash Arena Turbo Stars can be accessed by tapping the little cat head silhouette in the upper right of the screen. Y’know, the one that kinda looks like a cat with sunglasses and a massive unibrow? That one. If you have skill points to spend, there will be a tiny number overlaid on the icon.

Earning and Spending Skill Points

Skills can grant a variety of passive benefits to your battles. More skills unlock as you move up in the Championship. Hitting certain in-game milestones awards you with points, notably moving up in the Championship gives you +1 skill point to spend.

Spending skill points is easy, once you find the menu. However, know that each rank of a skill increases the cost of getting it. My suggestion would be to apply your skill points broadly across many level 1 skills at first, before moving on to ranking up existing skills to level 2. Often times, the first rank of a skill is a bigger increase than going from rank 1 to rank 2.

The ‘Best’ Skills in CATS

The best skills in C.A.T.S. – Crash Arena Turbo Stars is a very subjective thing. It all depends on how you play. Considering the many different ways to make the ‘best’ car from the ‘best’ parts in CATS, your style of play is likely to change over time as well. I suggest being careful about how you invest your skill points. Make sure you’re likely to need whatever that skill is in the future.

Unlocking All Skills

Given that there are so few skill points in CATS, you may be wondering: how do I unlock all the skills in CATS? Well, if you make it to the top of the Championship, you can reset to the bottom again (this is called “prestige” mode). You retain all your Skills and certain other stats, but you reset to the first Championship level and start again.

Over the course of multiple prestiges, it’s possible to unlock all the skills and max them out. But, it’s going to take a while!

That’s all for this guide – Return to the CATS Megaguide Index!

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Boxes & Crowns | C.A.T.S. Crash Arena Turbo Stars Guide https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/cats-crash-arena-turbo-stars-guide-boxes-crowns/ https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/cats-crash-arena-turbo-stars-guide-boxes-crowns/#respond Mon, 22 May 2017 22:40:14 +0000 https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=8733 C.A.T.S. - Crash Arena Turbo Stars, you need to earn an unlock boxes. Duh, right? But do you know what crowns are for and how to earn them? Have you been opening boxes super fast by watching videos? No? Maybe you should read this C.A.T.S. - Crash Arena Turbo Stars Boxes and Crowns guide. Just sayin'....
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If you want more (and better) parts in C.A.T.S. – Crash Arena Turbo Stars, you need to earn an unlock boxes. Duh, right? But do you know what crowns are for and how to earn them? Have you been opening boxes super fast by watching videos? No? Maybe you should read this C.A.T.S. – Crash Arena Turbo Stars Boxes and Crowns guide. Just sayin’….

C.A.T.S. – Crash Arena Turbo Stars: Boxes

Boxes are fundamental to the C.A.T.S. – Crash Arena Turbo Stars gameplay loop. You use parts to build your car, that car fights other cars, and then you earn boxes with new parts to build a better car. So on, into eternity (or until your battery runs out).

There are a few different types of boxes out there. The simplest boxes are awarded from playing in the Quick Fight matchups. Every time you win 3 Quick Fight matches, you get a new box. However, you have a limited number of box slots, and these boxes take time to unlock.

You can skip the timers on the boxes by watching ads. Each ad takes 30 minutes off the opening time of the box. That means that if you’ve got an especially high tolerance for watching ads (and unlimited data on your phone, a charger, etc…) you can open ALL THE BOXES ALL THE TIME CONSTANTLY.

Pro Tip If you have multiple sources of entertainment (ie, a TV or game console, laptop, etc) you can always just let your phone/tablet watch ads. You just have to check in every 30 seconds or so. Even if you just start a new ad every commercial break during a show, you’re still drastically increasing the rate of box opening.

Other boxes are awarded for placement in C.A.T.S. – Crash Arena Turbo Stars Championship or League play or can be bought for gems, but these boxes open immediately and do not require a box slot.

C.A.T.S. – Crash Arena Turbo Stars: Crowns

Crowns in C.A.T.S. – Crash Arena Turbo Stars are kind of a cool concept. You earn a crown for every 5 consecutive wins in Quick Fight mode. These crowns are then stuck on “standard” boxes in your box slots.

These crowns increase the level of an item in the box. Multiple crowns can be applied to the same box. It’s actually possible to get parts that are stronger than your Championship level with crowns.

If you’re wondering why you would want to play Quick Fight matches when your box slots are already full, look no further. Getting a quick 5-win streak in Quick Fight is a good way to “guarantee” at least one better item than you would have normally gotten. It can make the difference between a mediocre box of parts and a truly amazing one.

That’s all for this guide – Return to the CATS Megaguide Index!

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Best Parts & Builds | C.A.T.S. Crash Arena Turbo Stars Guide https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/cats-crash-arena-turbo-stars-guide-best-parts-best-builds/ https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/cats-crash-arena-turbo-stars-guide-best-parts-best-builds/#respond Mon, 22 May 2017 22:40:09 +0000 https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=8732 C.A.T.S. - Crash Arena Turbo Stars, you'll undoubtedly be wondering - "What are the best parts?" or "How do I build a better car that wins more?" That's where this guide comes in. In this C.A.T.S. - Crash Arena Turbo Stars guide, we'll talk about some common car styles, and how to properly equip yourself for maximum destruction.
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Once you’ve mastered the basics of C.A.T.S. – Crash Arena Turbo Stars, you’ll undoubtedly be wondering – “What are the best parts?” or “How do I build a better car that wins more?” That’s where this guide comes in. In this C.A.T.S. – Crash Arena Turbo Stars guide, we’ll talk about some common car styles, and how to properly equip yourself for maximum destruction.

In my mind, most “good” car designs in C.A.T.S. – Crash Arena Turbo Stars boil down into a few major categories. There are hybrid designs that incorporate more than one of these as well. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular categories, what parts are ideal for that category, and how to counter them.

Related Guides Need more parts? Check out our guide to boxes and crowns! Parts not awesome enough? Find out how to win in the Championship and level up your parts!

CATS Parts/Car Guide: Frontal Assault

The C.A.T.S. – Crash Arena Turbo Stars Frontal Assault vehicle is all about getting up close and personal with the front bumper of the enemy car.

  • Best Body: Classic, Sneaky, Pyramid maybe Surfer
  • Best Weapons: Chainsaw, Stinger, Drill
  • Best Utility: Forklift, Boost

The general strategy here is to speed over to your enemy and ram them in the front as best you can. The weapons here are all constant damage, so the longer you stay in contact, the better.

Counter Strategy: A forklift can lift the front of a Frontal Assault car so that it isn’t in contact with your car anymore. Bonus points if you can flip them so that they’re entirely helpless! Boulders can also do crazy flips and get over a low car pretty easily.

CATS Parts/Car Guide: Ranged Fighter

The C.A.T.S. – Crash Arena Turbo Stars Ranged Fighter is designed around… you guessed it… ranged weapons! The trick is to stay away from the enemy long enough that they take enough damage to overcome the slow rate of damage that ranged weapons are often famous for.

  • Best Body: Pretty much anything except the Boulder and Titan, which are both prone to tipping/flipping
  • Best Weapons: Laser, Rocket, Double Rocket
  • Best Utility: Repulse, Forklift, Backpedal

Here, you’re mainly focused on either staying at range or making it so that your enemy’s weapons can’t hit you. The Forklift is a workhorse here! You’ve got to be DOUBLE careful to avoid being flipped/pushed an angle, though, as you really need to have your weapons hitting the target for as long as possible.

Counter Strategy: Forklift is a common one, since especially with the laser it fires so slow that you can often deal enough damage between shots that you can overcome a significant attack or health disadvantage.


The C.A.T.S. – Crash Arena Turbo Stars Blades of Doom build (mwahahaha) really revolves around the Blade weapon. It’s the only weapon that can do damage in a full area around your car – as long as you’re within range, you can deal damage even if you tip or roll!

  • Best Body: Boulder, Pyramid, maybe Titan
  • Best Utility: Booster

The Boulder + the Booster is a level of insane above and beyond. It will flip around the arena, go over most body types, and spin blades of death all the way. The only downside is that it often ends up stuck on its back in a corner of the arena. If you can do enough damage during the initial push, or after the enemy returns to range, you can eke out a lot of wins!

Counter Strategy: The Titan can keep Boulders from ending up behind it, but the Titan often times gets knocked over and unable to fight. Since this build is all about getting close, a Repulse can really ruin its day.

CATS Parts/Car Guide: What are your favorite parts?

Surely there are some winning designs I have yet to test or encounter. What’s your most winning-est car in CATS? How did you design it? Let us know in the comments!

That’s all for this guide – Return to the CATS Megaguide Index!

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Free Gems & Best Gem Uses | C.A.T.S. Crash Arena Turbo Stars Guide https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/cats-crash-arena-turbo-stars-free-gems-guide/ https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/cats-crash-arena-turbo-stars-free-gems-guide/#respond Mon, 22 May 2017 22:40:03 +0000 https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=8731 C.A.T.S. - Crash Arena Turbo Stars. As with all premium currencies in free-to-play games, gems bring up those classic questions: How do you earn more free gems in C.A.T.S. - Crash Arena Turbo Stars? What's the best way to spend gems in C.A.T.S. - Crash Arena Turbo Stars? In this C.A.T.S. - Crash Arena Turbo Stars Gems Guide, we'll dig up the answers!
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Gems are the premium currency in C.A.T.S. – Crash Arena Turbo Stars. As with all premium currencies in free-to-play games, gems bring up those classic questions: How do you earn more free gems in C.A.T.S. – Crash Arena Turbo Stars? What’s the best way to spend gems in C.A.T.S. – Crash Arena Turbo Stars? In this C.A.T.S. – Crash Arena Turbo Stars Gems Guide, we’ll dig up the answers!

CATS Guide: Earning Gems

Gems aren’t too terribly hard to come by in C.A.T.S. – Crash Arena Turbo Stars. The easiest way to get them is by opening boxes. Most of the higher tier boxes will contain at least a few gems. For instance, every day you’ll get a bunch of free gems from the “Sponsor” supplies box.

Gems are also often a reward for high placement in the League and Championships. If you need more details on the League or Championships, click here to jump to that guide!

Since both the League and Championships are on timers, keep an eye on both and make sure that as the timer runs out, you stay near the top of the bracket. That will ensure you maximum possible free gems.

CATS Guide: Spending Gems

Right now there’s really only a couple ways to spend gems. One is on skipping timers to open boxes. Right now, you can watch an ad and take 30 minutes off the timer on boxes, which seems like a much better deal than spending your hard-earned gems. That said, I’ve never been much of a fan of using premium currency to skip wait timers in free-to-play games.

The other thing you can spend gems on is super special boxes. The boxes available in the C.A.T.S. – Crash Arena Turbo Stars gem store can’t be found anywhere else. They typically contain a ton of parts, or a few guaranteed really good ones.

Pro Tip The contents of the box depend on your Championship level, so it’s a good idea to stockpile gems until you’re high enough in the Championship rankings that you’re going to get worthwhile parts. At the low levels, you blow through parts so fast that spending money or your limited free gems is kind of a waste.

That’s all for this guide – Return to the CATS Megaguide Index!

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Battle Guide: Championship, League, and Quick Battle | C.A.T.S. Crash Arena Turbo Stars Guide https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/cats-crash-arena-turbo-stars-guide-battle-guide-championship-league-and-quick-battle/ https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/cats-crash-arena-turbo-stars-guide-battle-guide-championship-league-and-quick-battle/#respond Mon, 22 May 2017 22:39:58 +0000 https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=8730 C.A.T.S. - Crash Arena Turbo Stars. There are also multiple different ranking systems that decide just how good your car is at destroying the competition. It might not be abundantly clear how each of these pieces fits together and what they all mean. What are the rewards from the championship? Why should I go for a high win streak in Quick Battle? What's all this talk about League promotions? In this CATS guide, we'll explain what the major differences are between "Quick Battle," "Championship," and "League" are.
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There are two ways to pit your battle car against another battle car in C.A.T.S. – Crash Arena Turbo Stars. There are also multiple different ranking systems that decide just how good your car is at destroying the competition. It might not be abundantly clear how each of these pieces fits together and what they all mean. What are the rewards from the championship? Why should I go for a high win streak in Quick Battle? What’s all this talk about League promotions? In this CATS guide, we’ll explain what the major differences are between “Quick Battle,” “Championship,” and “League” are.

CATS Guide: Championship

The Championship in CATS could be thought of as the “main quest” in the game. You’re placed in a bracket of up to 15 cars total, and you can fight the other cars one-on-one to earn medals. When the Championship ends, the players with the most medals get promoted to the next rank in the Championship.

There’s another way to get “instant” promotion in a CATS Championship, though, and that’s if you win against every other car in the bracket in a single “Fight” session. Doing this means you basically crushed the competition, and you don’t have to wait around for the Championship to end first.

Once you complete a “Fight” against all the cars in the bracket, you can go back and challenge the ones you lost to in single combat. This can be a good way to test out a new design.

If you can’t beat a particular player’s car, you can always “custom build” a car to fight them. Then you can challenge just that car to a rematch. If you win, you’ll earn another medal and get closer to a promotion when the Championship ends.

Enemy cars can retake their medals by beating your last used car, though! Keep that in mind as the Championship countdown is nearing 0 – your enemies might be gunning for a few extra medals!

So why do you want to compete in the Championship? There are several reasons. One, losing a match in the Championship costs you basically nothing, so it’s a good place to test out new car designs before going out on Quick Battles. Two, getting promoted in the Championship unlocks better parts, which is awesome. Three, getting to the top of the Championship allows you to “prestige” – reset your bracket and play through the game again with some of your stats carrying over.

Basically, winning the Championship is the point of the game, and it’s the primary way you make progress.

CATS Guide: Quick Battle & the League

Quick Battle in CATS puts you in a single match against a randomly chosen enemy car. It’s much like a single fight in the Championship.

Why should you play Quick Battle? Wins in Quick Battle give you boxes, which contain new parts you can equip on your car. Every 5 consecutive wins earns you a Crown. Want to know more about boxes and crowns? Click Here to jump to the CATS Box & Crowns Guide!

Wins in Quick Battle also give you points towards your Rating, which look like little blue cat-head icons. The higher your consecutive win streak in CATS Quick Battle, the more Rating points you will get for a win.

Your Rating determines your League in CATS. Much like the Championship, the League runs for a certain number of days, and the top players in each League are promoted when it ends. Higher leagues give more rewards.

Pro Tip You can also get Rating increases from winning bets – if you have parts you don’t care about, you can always bet them and cross your fingers that you win and get a bit of free Rating score!

If we look at the way C.A.T.S. – Crash Arena Turbo Stars treats Quick Battle, it’s clear that for the best results you want to win as often as possible, and avoid losing as much as possible. You really want to bring a battle-tested car here, and be careful who you fight.

Pro Tip For a small amount of coins, you can skip a battle in Quick Battle. If you look at the match up and aren’t sure if you can win, skip! It’s better to pay and keep your win streak than cheap out and lose it.

That’s all for this guide – Return to the CATS Megaguide Index!

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Mega-Guide Index | CATS: Crash Arena Turbo Stars Guide https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/cats-crash-arena-turbo-stars-guide-instructions-tips-tricks/ https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/cats-crash-arena-turbo-stars-guide-instructions-tips-tricks/#respond Mon, 22 May 2017 22:39:50 +0000 https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=8720 CATS megaguide! Here you'll find links to all of Without the Sarcasm's guides, tips, tricks, FAQs, and more for Crash Arena Turbo Stars.
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Welcome to the CATS megaguide! Here you’ll find links to all of Without the Sarcasm’s guides, tips, tricks, FAQs, and more for Crash Arena Turbo Stars.

C.A.T.S. – Crash Arena Turbo Stars (or just CATS for short) is a mobile game developed by ZeptoLab, makers of Cut The Rope and King of Thieves. It’s available on Google Play and iOS.

CATS is all about building crazy battle cars and smashing them against one another. There are rockets, buzzsaws, lasers, drills, chainsaws – tons of instruments of battle car destruction. There’s a ton of customization outside of just weapons; there’s also various wheels and tires, body shapes, and stickers for that last little splash of awesome.

CATS has a relatively simple premise – build death car, stick cat in car, watch car fight other car – but it can get surprisingly complex. Our guides cover all the important bits you need to know in order to dominate in the arena!

Full Index of Crash Arena Turbo Stars Guides

Battle Guide: Championship, League, and Quick Battle

Free Gems & Best Gem Uses

Best Parts & Builds

Boxes & Crowns

Skills & Skill Points

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Beat Cop Review: Black and Blue https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/beat-cop-review-black-blue/ https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/beat-cop-review-black-blue/#respond Sun, 09 Apr 2017 19:21:46 +0000 https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=8684
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Another of our favorite games from the show floor at PAX South 2017 was Pixel Crow and 11bit studios’ Beat Cop. An 80’s inspired cop drama/mystery? Sign me up! We checked out the pre-alpha build after the con to see how things were progressing, but now that the final version of Beat Cop has been released, let’s return to the crime scene and pass final judgement! Get your cuffs out, it’s Beat Cop review time!

Beat Cop feels like the love child of Police Quest and Papers, Please. There’s a fair amount of running from place to place, dispensing law and/or street justice. The bulk of Beat Cop is running up and down the street, enforcing parking and vehicle maintenance laws. Writing tickets is similar to Papers, Please in that you’re given a short window to examine the situation, and have to make a call about how to enforce the law.

Periodically, though, Beat Cop interrupts you to deal with some exceptional event. How you approach each situation can benefit various factions – police, various criminal organizations, and the people who live on your beat. Will you deliver a questionable “package” for the Italian mobsters, or report it to the cops? Do you let a criminal gang steal car radios, or do you chase them down and return the stolen goods? Each decision affects your standing with each group. Upset the wrong people, and things may end poorly…

There’s various other elements to manage as well. Cash is a constant problem, since you’ve got alimony payments to make. You’ve also got to make sure you eat, lest your ability to sprint after criminals dwindle.

Related Video Don’t have time to read a review between donuts? Check out our video review instead:

Unlike Papers, Please, though, I don’t really feel all that pressured. It’s possible to meet all your goals on every day I’ve played, at least with a bit of practice and foresight.

Decisions also lack a certain weight – in some situations, you’re a bad, corrupt, violent cop no matter what you do. In other situations, the ramifications of your actions are terribly trivial or basically nonexistent.

Papers, Please managed to humanize the people in the game, even as it slowly trained you to dehumanize them in favor of saving yourself. Beat Cop just kind of wants to put some caricatures up and see if you’re interested in giggling at some juvenile humor.

On the subject of tone, Beat Cop‘s tone is… a disaster. I grew up in the 80’s, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard people use the kind of racial slurs that this game throws around on a regular basis. It rarely goes full-on “n-word”, but it comes damn close every few lines of dialog. There’s also a lot of humor that maybe works in a high school locker room, but doesn’t really evoke “80’s” or “police drama.”

The main plot in Beat Cop follows a disgraced detective framed for a murder and theft at a wealthy senator’s home. After being busted down to traffic enforcement, the framing seems like just the tip of the bad luck iceberg.

While this story could be interesting, it’s so sparse and jumbled that it’s hard to follow, let alone remain interested in. Days will pass without any sort of advancement in the plot, then there’s a few lines of conversation about it, and then it’s forgotten again for a few more days of relatively monotonous traffic cop action.

Related Video If you’re stuck on some aspect of Beat Cop and need help, check out our 7 tips video:

Beat Cop also isn’t the greatest at making your objectives clear. There have been multiple occasions where I was given a task and had no idea what I was supposed to do in order to clear it. Compounding this is the rate at which new tasks are given. Sometimes I completely forgot essential elements like where to go or who to talk to. The notebook ought to capture these, but often times the descriptions were lacking.

Oh, and the bugs. My goodness. Sometimes, objectives don’t work properly, or graphical glitches obscure bits of the game. Nothing on the order of game crashes or save file corruption, but there were a lot of frustrating moments where something seemed like it should have worked but just refused to. At times I’ve ragequit over a bug causing me to fail some key part of the day’s mission, which meant I’d have to start the day over.

Beat Cop
Links:Homepage, Store Page
Rating: - Meh
Our Thoughts:

Beat Cop has its fun moments – patrolling the streets and meeting ticket quotas might not sound entertaining, but there’s a certain zen to it. However, Beat Cop is full of missteps, from its odd, juvenile/racist tone to the plethora of bugs that plague it.

Review Policy

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Audio Technica ATH-AG1x Review https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/audio-technica-ath-ag1x-review/ https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/audio-technica-ath-ag1x-review/#respond Wed, 05 Apr 2017 01:37:26 +0000 https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=8686
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Audio Technica has a long and storied history in the realm of audio products. These guys make most gaming headset manufacturers look like newborns by comparison. Founded in the 1960’s in Japan, Audio Technica has been producing high end audio products for longer than there have been personal computers. Their gaming headset line is fairly new, though, having started with the ATH-AG1 in 2013. At SxSW Gaming, we chatted extensively with the Audio Technica team, and they graciously sent us their second generation ATH-AG1x for review.

Audio Technica ATH-AG1x Review: Introduction

The Audio Technica ATH-AG1x is about a year old now, having been announced at CES in 2016 and released in March of the same year. The key differences from the older ATH-AG1 include:

  • Upgraded 53mm drivers – No concrete specs here – just that they’re new and improved, although it seems like the impedance is a bit higher
  • Supercardioid microphone – A mic with this type of response pattern rejects ambient noise and focuses on sound coming from the front
  • Inline volume control and mute – A small control box about 6 inches from the headset gives you a mute switch and volume adjustment knob
  • No USB DAC – The ATH-AG1 included an optional USB sound card, for use with PCs

Meanwhile, many features of the ATH-AG1 are similar or virtually unchanged in the ATX-AG1x, including:

  • 3D Wing Support System – Really a quite unique design – the ATH-AG1x doesn’t have a solid headband. Instead, there’s a rubberized wire frame above your head, and two “wings” that separate in the middle.
  • Gooseneck mic arm – The mic is permanently mounted on the headset, and it swivels up and down within a 100° arc
  • Closed back/open back models – Most gaming headsets are closed back – they have a solid piece on the back side of the ear cup. Audio Technica has another model of this headset (ATH-ADG1x) in an open back style. I tried both at SxSW, and the open back variant sounded “wider” to me – sounds seemed to be coming from further away. The tradeoff is that there’s less sound isolation, so you’ll hear nearby noise, and people nearby will hear your audio as well.

The ATH-AG1x supports PC and PS4 natively, and Xbox One if you’ve got a controller with a 3.5mm port (or adapter).

Audio Technica ATH-AG1x Review: Unboxing & Initial Thoughts

Right after getting the ATH-AG1x out of the package, my first thought was “Wow, this is big, but it’s so light!” It’s only about 10-15% lighter than my HyperX Cloud Revolver, but it’s so much bigger that it feels much lighter by comparison. The cups have to be large in order to accommodate the larger-than-average 52mm drivers, plus Audio Technica’s proprietary “Double Air Damping System.”

The larger cups have their downsides, though. It’s relatively uncomfortable to wear the ATH-AG1x around my neck, as the cups and microphone are constantly getting in my way. Sometimes I need to be listening to what’s going on around me while I’m gaming, so I wear one cup on and one cup off – the ATH-AG1x is tricky to do this with, since the large cups tend to be hard to position on my head. I’d highly suggest going for the open back model if you often need to switch between listening to game audio and ambient sound.

The other attention grabbing element is those 3D wings. At first, it doesn’t seem like they should work – there’s got to be some law of physics that Audio Technica has broken here on the ATH-AG1x. But it does work, and it’s surprisingly comfortable. In fact, this is the first headset I’ve tested that also works for my wife, who has a very small head. Most headsets skew towards being comfortable for larger headed gamers, so it’s refreshing to see a design that scales well from small to large heads. The motion of the 3D wings is also silent, unlike some other self-adjusting headsets I’ve used.

Overall, the comfort level of the ATH-AG1x is quite high. There’s less pressure on the sides of my head wearing them than other headsets typically provide. The pressure on the top of my head is concentrated on the two wings, but the pads do a good job of distributing the force and keeping the overall pressure low.

One thing I will ding the ATH-AG1x on is materials. There’s a lot of plastic here for a $300 headset. Every visible surface on these appears to be plastic, in fact.

Audio Technica ATH-AG1x Review: Audio Quality

Audio quality on the ATH-AG1x is excellent, as you would expect from an Audio Technica set. After some initial volume adjustments, (owing to, I believe, their higher impedence) music came through loud and clear. You’re probably going to want to break out higher quality sound cards and audio sources in order to fully appreciate them, though. My dinky motherboard sound card and the little $5 USB sound card I normally use didn’t really do the ATH-AG1x justice.

Recording with the microphone is crystal clear as well. I played some music out of a speaker near my desk during my test recordings, and the ATH-AG1x did the best job of rejecting ambient noise of all the headsets I had available to test. It’s not perfect, and it does pick up some ambient sound (like my Logitech G-series keyboards/mice) but it definitely reduces the volume of these incidental noises.

Audio Technica ATH-AG1x Review: Final Thoughts

Audio Technica ATH-AG1x
Links:Homepage, Store Page
Rating: - Awesome!
Our Thoughts:

I’m generally pretty impressed with the ATH-AG1x. It combines the Audio Technica obsession with audio with gamer-focused features like an integrated, high quality mic. I would have liked to have seen some higher end touches, like higher quality materials and better accessories for the price. If you absolutely must have the best audio quality in your gaming headset, the ATH-AG1x rises above the rest.

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Has-Been Heroes Review: Too Old For This https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/heroes-review-old/ https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/heroes-review-old/#respond Wed, 29 Mar 2017 22:06:41 +0000 https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=8676
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Has-Been Heroes wowed us at PAX South 2017, walking away with a total of 2 awards from us. A couple more months have passed, and Has-Been Heroes is just about to land on your favorite download services. Did Frozenbyte live up to the hype? Or is Has-Been Heroes too old for this… stuff. Find out now, in my Has-Been Heroes review!

Has-Been Heroes plays like a combination of a tactical RPG and a horde mode survival game like Plants vs Zombies. During battle, wave after wave of skeleton hordes march in from the right side of the screen, and it’s up to your band of three heroes to stop them before they hack you (and a couple of defenseless princesses) to pieces.

The tactical nature of the combat makes it somewhat hard to explain. Enemies have “stamina” which could also be thought of as a form of armor. Each green block of stamina can absorb one hit. Once an enemy’s stamina is gone, subsequent hits deal health damage. Once one attack has breached their stamina, the stamina completely fills again.

Each of your heroes can deal a number of hits per attack, depending on their class. The default knight does one hit, but it does a lot of health damage if it isn’t blocked by stamina. The speedy rogue hits three times, and does moderate damage. The mage hits twice, but is best used to reduce stamina, since he does little to no health damage per hit.

Related Video Want to skip the explanation and just watch the game instead? Here’s our video review:

If you manage to completely deplete the enemy stamina and hit them for health damage on the same attack, you deal health damage but there’s a penalty. What you really want to do is use an attack (or combo of attacks) to knock their stamina to exactly 0. Then, the enemy becomes stunned. The next attack does full damage plus it reduces their max stamina by one.

So, an enemy has 3 stamina. You attack with the rogue, hitting 3 times and knocking stamina to 0. Then you can attack with the knight for massive damage. But if the enemy has 4 stamina, you have to attack with both the knight AND the rogue, leaving just the mage who does just a tiny bit of health damage. But, then the enemy is knocked back and loses a stamina point for the next round. Alternatively, is it better to hit twice with the mage, and then three times with the rogue, dealing more health damage but not lowering their max stamina?

Oh wait, did I mention that there are three lanes, and heroes can only swap lanes when one of them has just attacked? So it might not be possible to optimize – the “best” enemy for your hero to attack might not be the one they can actually hit. You might just have to take whatever first hit makes the most sense, then reorganize your heroes so that the next attack set does better.

The tactical combat takes some getting used to, but it’s a very deep and interesting system that rewards you for thinking ahead. Aside from a few caveats (which I’ll cover later), I really enjoy playing the combat missions in Has-Been Heroes. It’s very satisfying once you get the hang of it.

The rest of the game surrounding Has-Been Heroes’ combat is much less complex by comparison. There’s really just the thinnest of plots connecting everything together, and it has very little to do with the game or your objectives themselves. Upgrading your heroes requires gold, and generally takes the form of either new spells that provide beneficial effects in combat, or new gear that boosts stats in some way or another.

Has-Been Heroes also features a lot of roguelike/roguelike elements. If any hero dies, that’s it, game over, start from the beginning again. As you play (win or lose), more gear and enemies are added to the game, a la Binding of Isaac. Navigating the map between events feels a bit like FTL – careful planning to hit every node possible maximizes your loot potential.

Most of my complaints about Has-Been Heroes stem from its train wreck of a UI.

First off, there are a lot of things that are just 100% unexplained and which I had to learn through trial and error. For instance, Has-Been Heroes helpfully explains that each hero has a different number of hits per attack, but leaves out the fact that the mage is basically useless at dealing damage. When you unlock a new hero, there’s no telling what skills/stats they have until you start a game with them in your party.

All new unlocks are added to the RNG pool but you have to pick them up at least once before the game shows you a description. Grabbing the wrong item with the wrong character can sometimes tank a whole run.

During combat, it can be very difficult to determine where enemies are and who will be attacked next. Enemies crowd and overlap in lanes, and between knockback and the huge damage text, the screen is often filled with unhelpful or misleading information.

Swapping heroes during Has-Been Heroes’ battles is a major pain. You can only swap the last hero to do an attack with someone else, but you can swap as much as you want. This leads to a lot of tedious swapping to get everyone where they belong.

Heroes only stay out for a millisecond after they attack – luckily, the game pauses in this state. Unluckily, it’s very easy to push the wrong button at the wrong time and make a lethal mistake. Even casting spells unpauses, so if you don’t do everything in just the right order, you’ll end up screwing yourself on the next wave of attacks.

Related Video Frustrated by some aspect of Has-Been Heroes? Maybe our 7 tips video will help!

I don’t really have a problem with hard roguelikes, but when what I’m fighting is the UI and the RNG, the difficulty feels arbitrary rather than challenging.

Has-Been Heroes
Links:Homepage, Store Page
Rating: - Good
Our Thoughts:

The core concept of Has-Been Heroes is excellent. I love the theory behind the combat, and I love the exploration. In practice, though, Has-Been Heroes is confusing and fiddly in ways that make it frustrating to play, rather than challenging.

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SxSW Gaming 2017 Con Awards https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/sxsw-gaming-2017-con-awards/ https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/sxsw-gaming-2017-con-awards/#respond Sun, 26 Mar 2017 03:14:33 +0000 https://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=8656
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SxSW Gaming 2017 changed up the formula from previous SxSW Gaming events. This year, entry wasn’t free! There were still a lot of booths occupied by award nominees from all corners of the globe, but there was also a section dedicated specifically to student game developers. All this mixed together to create a different SxSW Gaming experience from what we’re used to. Let’s take a look at the “best of the best” games that we picked from SxSW Gaming 2017!

About the Awards

Whenever WOTS goes to a con, we find games that really speak to us. We try to bring those to your attention by finding our favorites and featuring them. Our categories often change from con to con, depending on what’s popular and what we feel is deserving of recognition. All of the games on this list are ones that you should check out – they’re our hand-picked suggestions after weeks of research and two crazy days on the SxSW Gaming 2017 expo floor.

Together, we decide on a “Best in Show” for a particular category, and then if there’s a particular game one of us wants to highlight, we’ll give that an “Editor’s Choice” award. Our highest honor is the “Shut Up and Take My Money” award, which we give to the game that we have already decided we MUST own.

Best Strategy

Winner: Tooth + Tail

Pocketwatch Games | Home

agent86 Most RTS games are long, drawn out affairs. Tooth + Tail is far more compact and speedy by comparison. I think it stems from the rapid depletion of resources. Since you can’t just turtle forever, you’ve got to think very strategically at every engagement and the players have to break out of their comfortable bases and duke it out earlier rather than later.

EBongo While easy to pick up, Tooth + Tail clearly has a lot of depth to unpack. Resource and even simple territory control is essential, but “micro” aspects of training and rallying units also play a big role in overwhelming your opponent. If you are into strategy games, it has that excellent quality of drawing you in with the basics you can understand and then hooking you with all the possibilities of the different strategies you can build with the tool set.

Best Game Art

Winner: Far From Noise

George Batchelor | Home

agent86 Far From Noise packs a lot of unique artistic elements into a very tight experience. Most of the demo we played was from just one, fixed perspective. Subtle changes in the wind and lighting marked the passage of time, and various woodland creatures stopped in to visit. Despite the simplicity, Far From Noise turned our heads on multiple occasions, until we finally sat down to play it for ourselves.

EBongo We walked past the “game with the deer” at SxSW Gaming 2017 three times and couldn’t figure out what it even was. Something about the juxtaposition of a precarious situation in the middle of a beautiful and serene setting kept drawing us back until we finally got our hands on it. The visuals are beautiful, but the “game as art” concept and the various deep contemplations it provokes made me appreciate it even more. If you enjoy beautiful games that make you think this one is definitely worth checking out.

Best Plot/Lore Concept

Winner: No Truce With the Furies

Zaum Studio | Home

agent86 Probably my favorite part of the modern “western” RPG is trying to talk my way out of an otherwise difficult situation. My favorite runs of games like Fallout: New Vegas and Planescape: Torment are those where I max out my speech and manage to run the game without ever injuring so much as a fly. Taking that classic western RPG format and making the entire game about dialog and story is such an appealing concept to me!

EBongo The demo we saw for No Truce With the Furies was early, and the developer ZA/UM was quick to apologize and excuse its unfinished status. I have no idea why. Certainly there is more development ground to cover, but even in its current state this “hard knocks” police procedural was the weirdest-coolest game we saw at SxSW Gaming 2017. As a game character, I’ve never been more interested to learn why I’m not wearing any clothes. The isometric perspective and diceroll dialogue options give a nostalgic Shadowrun-like feel, but the utter bleakness and semi-psychotic introspections give it added unique flavor all its own.

Editor’s Choice (agent86): Where the Water Tastes Like Wine

Where the Water Tastes Like Wine (or WTWTLW for short) is a story about stories. It’s like if you took the concept of loyalty missions from party-based RPGs and turned them into a game all their own. You collect experiences via FTL or 80 Days style events, which you can then share with people in exchange for bits and pieces of their own personal lore. It’s a fascinating concept that I’m excited to see the end result of.

Editor’s Choice (EBongo): event[0]

One to Watch

Winner: The Hex

Daniel Mullins | Home

agent86 The Hex is funky and unique and so very, very meta. The bit of it we saw appeared to be a pastiche of Sonic the Hedgehog inspired crappy platforming with what looked like negative Steam reviews encroaching on the play area. Apparently each “level” of The Hex is going to be a send-up of a different slice of gamer culture. There’s so much interesting stuff still TBD here, so I’m going to keep a close eye on it as it develops.

EBongo The Hex is so meta, and it knows it. Creating games within the game for each washed up video game cliche already creates some pretty entertaining variety, but peppering each flashback minigame with video game pop culture references cataloging its rise and fall take “meta” to a whole new level. The internet hate machine is not kind to a franchise that “jumps the shark” and The Hex transforms that scalding criticism engine into a lens to perceive how iconic game characters would feel if their rags to riches to rags rollercoaster ride were real. I’m extremely intrigued to see where this goes.

Repeat Offender

Winner: Mages of Mystralia

Borealys Games | Home Steam

agent86 Mages of Mystralia left us with an excellent impression following PAX South. Their open-ended spell crafting system has been a ton of fun to mess with at both events. Talking to Dan Adelman at SxSW Gaming 2017, it’s clear that they’re listening to their beta feedback and trying to polish the game as much as they can before release.

EBongo Mages funded their Kickstarter in less than 24 hours for good reason – because this game concept is awesome. We were already impressed at PAX South earlier this year, but even in the short time since that con it is clear that Borealys has been busy. Player feedback is being woven into the puzzlesauce. The full majesty of this games spell crafting engine is being made more accessible. Hearing this focus on continued refinement on what already looks like a great game makes me very excited about the final product.

Best Best Party/Mayhem/Relationship Ender

Winner: Invisigun Heroes

Sombr Studios | Home Steam

agent86 It seems like the party/mayhem space has a hankering for games where you can’t see yourself or other players. I feel like in the last year I’ve played at least three games in this vein. Invisigun Heroes tweaks the formula further with some crazy abilities. I was basically terrible at it, fumbling my way around the map and eating more than my fair share of high-velocity death. With more practice, I could see some pretty crazy scenarios playing out and some last minute come-from-behind victories being won.

EBongo A lot of party/mayhem games sort of have just one gimmick that is fun, but wears thin fairly quickly. You might expect Invisigun Heroes would tread that path, if you’ve played other “you’re invisible” party/mayhem titles. In fact, I found that “being invisible” was really just a small modifier to Invisigun’s robust mayhem language. Numerous character “classes” exist, each with unique abilities, and environmental power-ups add another level of variety to the mayhem layer cake. The result is a modern reimagination of Bomberman where the invisibility feels perfectly natural. I can’t see why any party game fan wouldn’t love it.

Best Kid Friendly

Winner: Tumbleseed


agent86 Tumbleseed‘s kid friendly exterior hides a relentlessly challenging interior. Honestly, though, a lot of the games I played as a kid were pretty darn hard. I could very easily see all my kids attempting to set high scores on this one.

EBongo One of the cool things about gaming is that good ideas and pure fun appeal to everyone. Tumbleseed is one of those games that is perfectly, simple, fun. The art is cute and accessible, the controls and core concept are simple, but the difficulty ramp and ability choices still make it feel challenging and rewarding. Tumbleseed definitely stood out from the SxSW Gaming 2017 pack as one of the few gems that “everyone” can enjoy.

Best Action

Winner: Ape Out

Gabe Cuzzillo & Devolver Digital | Steam

agent86 Escaped apes versus gun-toting mercenaries. It’s a tale as old as time. Ape Out is another game in the vein of Hotline Miami and Mr. Shifty where the action is frenetic and death is cheap. Smashing through glass walls and going totally ape (hah!) on guards kept me entertained. The slice we saw of it was relatively simple compared to similar games, but then again we couldn’t quite finish the second level in the time we had, so I will reserve judgement. Level 3 could have introduced banana grenades, I’m just sayin’.

EBongo I don’t know much about the backstory of Ape Out. I’m sure there is a justifiable reason for the Ape to bludgeon mass quantities of guards into an artistically bloody pulp. Putting his motives aside is easy, because splattering enemies is hilariously fun. The cymbal crashes and sharp color contrasts make every hit feel satisfying, and even though I failed a lot I always wanted to play “just one more round”. Check out the awesome playable trailer demo if you want a taste of the action.

Best New Concept

Winner: Tumbleseed


agent86 I don’t think I’ve ever played a roguelike quite like Tumbleseed. Heck, I don’t think I’ve ever played a game quite like it. The controls take some getting used to – it’s a bit like the tank controls in games like Katamari Damacy plus some sort of uber-difficult version of Marble Madness stuck on top. I haven’t even touched on half the systems it has going… before this turns into a crazy long Tumbleseed essay, let’s just settle on “it’s unique!” and leave it at that.

EBongo The most delightful new gaming concepts are those that feel natural but utterly unexpected, and Tumbleseed is just that. Tell me that AEIOWU stole your idea for a cute seed rolling roguelike mountain climbing game, and I’ll call you a liar. Its out there, its different, but despite its off the wall concept it feels so intuitive that you quickly internalize that you are a seed that must climb this mountain. There is just no other option.

Editor’s Choice (EBongo): Epitaph

New to SxSW Gaming 2017 was a large student developed gaming section – and Epitaph stood out in that crowd. Wrapping a ton of fighting and strategy elements into one package doesn’t make Epitaph super easy to pick up and dominate – but it does make it a pretty cool and refreshing take on tactical position based strategy. There are a lot of good ideas woven in, and I especially love that a “puzzle mode” is included to slow things down for a new player who isn’t totally ready for real time. The “come back stronger” death mechanic is the cherry on top of a crazy thoughts cupcake. How does it taste? Good… it tastes good.

Best Puzzle Game

Winner: The Pedestrian

Skookum Arts LLC | itch.io Steam

agent86 The Pedestrian takes ordinary, everyday objects and forms them into mind bending puzzles. Having just completed The Witness, I can appreciate a puzzle game that is a bit more… “clear” in its iconography.

EBongo I dig puzzling and platformers, so The Pedestrian was a pleasant SxSW Gaming 2017 surprise. Using simple iconography in the style of a crosswalk sign might sound a little flat – but in fact the puzzles built to some impressive intensity even in the first few minutes. Arranging frames like puzzle pieces reminded me a lot of Framed, but in this case its still on you to pull of the platforming once you have the frames in the right spot. Some Pedestrians were harmed in the making of this award.

Best Co-Op

Winner: Overcooked

Ghost Town Games & Team17 Digital | Home Steam

agent86 I love co-op games because I find playing with my friends towards a common goal way more fun than playing against them. Co-op games often don’t require that much coordination or organization in order to win, though. In many cases, “co-op” just means “well, we made the enemies 20% harder, and more than one person can shoot them at the same time.” Overcooked is one of those rare games where everyone has to come together in order to succeed.

EBongo Having previously heard about Overcooked prior to SxSW Gaming 2017 I expected it to be good. I did not expect it to be this good. agent86ix and I have accomplished some amazing video game feats of skill, but we can not yet say that we have mastered the manufacture of virtual three-ingredient burritos. At least, we can’t say that yet

Best Music/Rhythm

Winner: Metronomicon

Puuba & Kasedo Games | Home Steam

agent86 Metronomicon proves that rhythm and RPG go together like peanut butter and chocolate. RPG battles are often dry affairs, but adding rhythm elements makes them far more interactive and engaging. Meanwhile, rhythm games are often very one-and-done, with not a lot of connective tissue to bind them together. Like Puzzle Quest blended match-3 and RPG, Metronomicon shows us that the right combination of flavors makes all the difference.

EBongo Games were meant to be played while listening to awesome music. Metronomicon lets you listen to awesome music and feel like you are a part of creating it – wielding it as a weapon against your foes. There are classes, ability mechanics, boss fights… tons of good stuff – but there is also music so awesome that you need to own the soundtrack. Did I mention it was awesome?

Best Stealth

Winner: Shadow Tactics

Mimimi Productions & Daedalic Entertainment | Home Steam

agent86 Hardcore stealth really requires a few key elements to get right. A good hardcore stealth game needs to give the player good feedback about safe ways to approach a given enemy encounter. It also needs to be clear and easy to save and load so that you can experiment and undo mistakes. Finally, you’ve got to feel powerful when you’re doing it right. From what I played of Shadow Tactics at SxSW Gaming 2017, it nails all these key elements and a whole lot more.

EBongo Even though I’ve done a lot of “hardcore” gamer things, I never think of myself as a hardcore gamer. At face value, hardcore stealth like any other hardcore genre doesn’t overly appeal to me – but games like Shadow Tactics make me want to be hardcore. A game this good makes me forget that I hate losing, that I hate failing, that I don’t like pressure. It demands great things from me, and I oblige – because every super-sneaky rabbit I pull out of my hat feels amazing.

The “Shut Up and Take My Money” Award for Best in Show Overall

Winner: Shadow Tactics

Mimimi Productions & Daedalic Entertainment | Home Steam

agent86 Hardcore stealth is kind of my jam. I mean, in the past couple of months I’ve played Hitman, Dishonored 2, and Volume. The small slice of Shadow Tactics I got to play at SxSW Gaming 2017 just blew me away, though. I want to play SO BAD. It’s very well executed stealth, with multiple swappable characters, and all kinds of crazy ninja action.

EBongo There is a certain kind of stealth game that I really dig, and Shadow Tactics is that kind of stealth game. You are tough enough to shuriken your way out of a few missed steps, but being a sneaky bastard feels so much more rewarding that it makes you want to replay sequences just to go flawlessly undetected. The control scheme for executing ninja awesomeness feels natural and accessible enough that for a few minutes at a time I can forget that I am not actually a dextrous elite assassin. This is what every stealth game should aspire to be.

Editor’s Choice (EBongo): Overcooked

When you watch someone playing Overcooked it seems so easy. “Just put the tortilla on the plate” you think. “Why are you dropping that meat on the floor” you think. When you play Overcooked it starts out that way, and quickly devolves into a Hell’s Kitchen level panic filled shitshow. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for me its like a Destiny raid where every completed burrito drops Vosik’s shield a little lower. No single task is that hard, but the level of coordination and communication required to do it all well feels very rewarding when you succeed. Now I just need to put together my raid team.

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