Monday, October 5, 2015

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs - The Hunt for VGM October Edition

A new week at SuperPhillip Central must mean one thing-- it's time for SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs, your weekly listen to five of SPC'S most loved VGMs. We're approaching 1,000 VGM volumes, and the ride won't even stop when we get there.

This week we have a wide selection of games to mosey through. We begin with a low seller with a lot of heart, Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. Then we hit the slopes a little early with Snowboard Kids. We rumble in the jungle with Contra IV, take a stroll through the enchanted world of Castlevania: Portait of Ruin, and capture our subjects on film with Pokemon Snap. If you want to check out past VGM volumes, check out the VGM Database.

v976. Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. (3DS) - Agents of S.T.E.A.M.

Heavy metal and some symphonic sweetness? Aw, yeah! Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. may not have had its copies flying off store shelves-- far from it-- but it did feature quite the cast of characters, intense tactical combat, and unique flair. This theme of the game is heard in promotional materials for Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. and its credits.

v977. Snowboard Kids (N64) - Board Shop

Choose one of many funky fresh boards and get to shredding those slopes. Both Snowboard Kids on the Nintendo 64 are intuitive and enjoyable racers. The series returned many years later with SBK: Snowboard Kids on the Nintendo DS. However, it shied away from what made the series so loved by fans.

v978. Contra IV (DS) - Jungle 1

Just like the first Contra, Contra IV's first level is set in the jungle. This time it's Jake "Virt" Kaufman delivering on the musical goods for this game. Yes, Wayforward were the developers behind Contra IV, and they dished out an excellent throwback to the 1988 classic game.

v979. Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (DS) - Invitation of a Crazed Moon

With Halloween fast approaching, let's take SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs to the world of Castlevania, and I'm not talking that faux-Castlevania MercurySteam stuff either that killed the franchise. No, this comes from one of the Metroid-styled Castlevania games, the second on the Nintendo DS.

v980. Pokemon Snap (N64) - Rainbow Cloud

The Rainbow Cloud level is the final of Pokemon Snap, the cult classic Pokemon spin-off for the Nintendo 64. The only Pokemon able to be captured (on film, of course) is Mew. This is all the while this calming and relaxing tune is heard.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Review Round-Up - September 2015

Build your own Mario masterpieces with Super Mario Maker,
SuperPhillip Central's Game of the Month for September.
SuperPhillip Central didn't receive its biggest total month of reviews-- far from it-- but it did have quality over quantity. We kicked off the month with Solatorobo: Red the Hunter, as a retro review that earned a B-. Then the Game of the Month, Super Mario Maker, scored an excellent A. Following that was another Nintendo DS retro review with Tony Hawk's American Sk8land, a much better product than what Activision recently put out with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5. Sk8land ollied into a B. Finally, two Nintendo 3DS reviews capped off the month, LBX: Little Battlers eXperience and Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer. They earned a B and a C respectively.

Solatorobo: Red the Hunter (DS) - B-
Super Mario Maker (Wii U) - A
Tony Hawk's American Sk8land (DS) - B
LBX: Little Battlers eXperience (3DS) - B
Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer (3DS) - C

Not all was happy with Happy Home Designer, but I enjoyed
the customization options enough to give it a mild recommendation.

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes (3DS) The Princess's Tell-All Trailer

The Legend of Zelda series isn't above getting goofy and whimsical at times, as this voiced trailer for the upcoming 10/23/15 release, Tri Force Heroes, shows. Partner up with two friends or total strangers as you solve one of over 25 dungeons together.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Bad Boss Battles in Gaming History - Part Six


  • Star Fox Adventures (GCN)
  • Metroid: Other M (Wii)
  • DmC: Devil may Cry (PS3, 360)
  • Borderlands (PS3, 360)
  • Resident Evil (PS1)

Are you ready for part six of Bad Boss Battles in Gaming History? In a sense, I'm going to be beating these bosses all over again, but instead of with Arwings and Power Beams, I'll be using the might of words to skewer these disappointing, annoying, boring, and/or awful bosses. If you have recommendations for bad boss battles for future installments of this long-running series, SuperPhillip Central would love to have them. First though, let's get you caught up to speed on past entries of the series:

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer (3DS) Review

The other of the Nintendo 3DS reviews I was speaking of yesterday is for Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer, a game that quenches my thirst for the fun customization options of the Animal Crossing series. However, as you'll see with my review, this thirst-quencher is quite shallow.

Home, Sweet, But Repetitive and Shallow Home

One of the my loved aspects of the Animal Crossing series outside of interacting with the various villagers of your town is the customization options allowed to me within the games. I adore updating my appearance through clothing styles, updating my house with the coolest furniture and decorating in smart ways, and keeping my style up to date. When Nintendo announced Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer, a game focused on the customization aspects of the series, I jumped for joy... well, not literally. However, the final product is mired with shallow and repetitive gameplay despite having some glimpses of brilliance inside.

Starting out with Happy Home Designer, the character customization allows you to create your character your way without the traditional way of the series of some traveling cat asking you questions with the answers influencing your appearance. In Happy Home Designer, you get a selection of faces, hair styles, and skin colors (and yes, there's finally something for darker folks out there) to choose from. Like many things in the game, you can design your character your own way.

The internal clock isn't used like a typical Animal Crossing game. Instead, in Happy Home Designer, you go to your desk at the Happy Home Academy to save your data and progress to the next day. Each day you can do just one project, whether it be for the town plaza or for a villager.

Mingle with the townspeople (aka perspective clients)
and admire your handiwork in the town plaza.
Each villager that frequents the town plaza has a particular request for you to fulfill. This is always to get a themed room or house of some sort. For instance, starting out, a villager wants something as simple as something with an exotic series of furniture, while later on, the desires of the villagers get a little more complicated, perhaps a wedding themed house. However, as long as you use the two or three furniture pieces that are listed as must-haves you can go crazy and do whatever you want, sadly. Happy Home Designer does not punish you for otherwise going outside the particular vision your villager in question has.

Eat your heart out, Baskin Robbins.
Town plaza requests are a bit more involved due to having more than one room to worry about for the most part. You start out by choosing from a handful of building designs, and then you enter the building to your designing. There are projects like schools, shops, restaurants, and more to create delightful designs for. Again, though, you can go outside the box with your designs and won't be penalized for it.

Looks like a suitable waiting room for this hospital to me!
Let's open it up to patients, shall we, Isabelle?
This brings the question of what the point is for designing a room properly because it's impossible to fail a design challenge. Isabelle will simply inform you that you need to include a certain piece of furniture to satisfy the brain-dead simple conditions. Really, the only point is to satisfy yourself with a proper design. What you put into Happy Home Designer is what you get out of it. The experience is quite shallow, but the fun comes from designing a cool room to show off to your friends.

Ah, the great outdoors. Customize the house,
place trees and flowers, and just let your imagination run wild!
And you can show off creations not just to your friends but anyone in the online universe. You can upload your house designs to Nintendo's servers either after you've designed a creation or in between design sessions. The option to upload online designs does not appear until a good way through Happy Home Designer. However, viewing designs and getting people to like your own designs is quite fulfilling. It's just sad that the base game doesn't feel as rewarding.

What is rewarding, however, is how simple, easy, and intuitive it is to design homes both outside and indoor with Happy Home Designer's interface. No longer are you stuck pushing and pulling furniture in place like the traditional Animal Crossing games. Instead, you use the stylus to choose furniture, plop it down, and you can move and spin it around with pulls and taps of the stylus. Copying either furniture or patterns on the ground is as simple as holding the L button and tapping the desired item to be copied. You not only design the indoors of homes, but you can customize each villager's lawn with decorations, furniture, and even customize the appearance of their house with a large range of options and features. It's a great interface that I hope is used in future Animal Crossing games. It'd be an absolute travesty if it's not.

It's fulfilling to make a design that is appealing to the eye--
even if the game doesn't care how well you do it.
When you're not designing homes and town plaza projects you're unfortunately doing much. You can return to past creations and visit villagers, but sadly they only have about two lines of repeated dialogue to offer to you. Still, you can admire your work, and even add to it because new furniture options unlock as you take on new villager requests. For instance, that wedding themed house I mentioned earlier gives you a bunch of wedding themed furniture options to utilize. There is no need to purchase furniture yourself this time around. You can also use Play Coins to purchase new lessons in a book, which unlock new things like soundscapes for homes, fossils, fish, bugs, gyroids, and ceiling and window options, for starters.

Getting an early start on next month's Halloween holiday.
Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer is unfortunately shallow in its gameplay. Making a successful project is as simple as including two or three required items, making for a game that can sometimes feel as going through the motions. The only real reasons to make competent designs is to challenge yourself (because the game certainly won't) and impress the worldwide audience via the online sharing function. Overall, I enjoyed my time with Happy Home Designer just because I love the customization options so dearly. However, many will need something more to have a very good time, and it's a shame that Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer doesn't have it.

[SPC Says: C]


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