Sunday, March 17, 2019

Top Ten Green Video Game Characters

Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone. These characters are certainly not going to be pinched for not wearing green today, as SuperPhillip Central is here to count down the top ten video game characters who either wear green or full-blown ARE green with this list. The only major rule being imposed on this list is that each character or series of characters must originate from video games, so, apologies to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles--as much as you're beloved. Take this green-tinted journey with me as I count down some of the most inspired characters in green garb and/or green skin.

10) Jade (Beyond Good & Evil)


We start this countdown of green clad characters with Jade from Beyond Good & Evil, who boasts and impressive resume despite appearing in just one game so far (hopefully soon to be two with the upcoming sequel). Not many video game characters can boast being a photo-journalist, a hero who rescues orphans, and one who exposes the corruption of the government all in the course of one game. What I especially like about Jade is that she's not some piece of eye candy made for the horny 18-35 male demographic--she's an actual person that everyone can relate to and enjoy playing as. She's a strong female character, and it was awesome to see back in the early 2000's, and it's still awesome to see today.

9) Rash and Zitz (Battletoads)


While the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles won't be making an appearance on this list, the characters concocted and created by Rare to serve as rivals to the heroes in a half shell are here (well, except the one that's brown--you don't qualify, Pimple). The Battletoads appeared in their own titular NES game, and as anyone who has played the game will tell you, Battletoads is hard as hell. Is there a level after the Turbo Tunnel? I've seen no evidence that there is, as I've never gotten past it! (Just kidding... about wondering if there are levels after Turbo Tunnel, that is.) The Battletoads series is one that many fans have craved to see a return of, and they got their wish this past E3 with the announcement of a brand new game in the series. Finally, all that teasing and hinting has paid off.

8) Reptile (Mortal Kombat)


Now, a casual onlooker might take one gaze upon Mortal Kombat's Reptile and say, "Okay, this is merely a recolor of Sub-Zero, Scorpion, and so on." Nay, I say! While Reptile started off as a basic palette swap for those characters, Reptile has indeed evolved into his own, even becoming the type of creature he's named after through subsequent sequels. This all culminated with Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance giving Reptile a full reptilian appearance with green talons and snake-like tail. Originally a hidden character in the series, Reptile is now a full fledged mainstay of the roster, appearing in the majority of Mortal Kombat games.

7) Frogger (Frogger)


How can anyone have a list of the top green video game characters without mentioning one of the O.G.s? Frogger, like many long-running video game series and characters, has had several ups and downs. From his arcade origins to the PS2/GameCube/Xbox era reboot that saw the four legged frog turn into a bipedal, fully voiced character, back to his arcade game roots, Frogger is a well known character in gaming. That's of course not to say the character and series are as popular as they once were, but if you make a list of the top arcade titles of the past, Frogger would definitely be up there. The brave little frog that could laughs in the face of danger, triumphantly and courageously crossing traffic-ridden streets, flowing rivers of logs and lilypads, all for his heroic duty of guiding his fellow amphibians home.

6) King K. Rool (Donkey Kong)


The most notorious villain within the Donkey Kong franchise (originating in 1994's Donkey Kong Country, as well as appearing in various spin-offs like Donkey Kong Land, DK King of Swing, and Donkey Kong: Barrel Blast), King K. Rool kommands--er--commands the Kremling army, a roster of reptilian forces that come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Whether he's in the role of a king, a kaptain, a kommander, or even a mad scientist (or is that one of his siblings?), King K. Rool seldom gives up in his plan to destroy the Kongs once and for all. His arrival in the Super Smash Bros. series as a newcomer in the latest game in the series made many fans howl with delight, much like yours truly. A fantastic and long overdue addition for a delightfully entertaining character.

5) Blanka (Street Fighter)


There aren't too many characters in the Street Fighter series that are as beloved as Blanka, who debuted in Street Fighter II. Since that Super Nintendo classic, the human turned mutated beast Blanka has appeared in almost every Street Fighter game since. Always depicted with green skin and orangish-red hair, there's no mistaking Blanka when you see him, and if the appearance wasn't enough of a dead giveaway, his animal-like fighting style, complete with electric-based attacks should hammer the point home. Street Fighter V's third season recently brought Blanka back into the roster after a much derided absence.

4) Master Chief (Halo)


The hero of the Halo franchise, Master Chief is a soldier of few words, but as they say, actions speak much louder than words--as do the high-powered shots that M.C. lets loose from the various weaponry within the Halo franchise. Master Chief always is up for his next mission when duty calls, and whether that's against the Covenant, Flood, or whatever group that stands in his path from his objective. The strong, silent type, this character trait can either be seen as something that makes Master Chief stand out and more bad-ass, or a character without much depth. Whichever the case, there's no denying that Master Chief is lean, mean, and green fighting machine.

3) Yoshi (Yoshi)


With a brand new game hatching on the Nintendo Switch at the end of the month with Yoshi's Crafted World, it's a good time to be Yoshi. The dinosaur debuted in Super Mario World, as a mode of transportation for Mario. Obviously annoyed and frustrated with callously being leaped off from over bottomless pits and chasms, Yoshi went on to star in his own series of games. Starting off with Yoshi's Island and then its followup Yoshi's Story, Yoshi would become a regular member of the Mushroom Kingdom ensemble, also appearing in various Mario spin-offs, from sports titles to party games. This is all the while starring in his own titles, which would lead up to what I consider the game to finally have usurped Yoshi's Island's throne, Yoshi's Woolly World.

2) Link (The Legend of Zelda)


The hero of time, hero of wind, and just plain hero of Hyrule, Link is the legendary character possessing the Triforce of Courage within The Legend of Zelda series. Taking on foes like the beast Ganon, Calamity Ganon, Vaati, Yuga, and more, Link always puts on a brave face whenever Hyrule is in danger. Over 30 years of green tunics will associate such a color with our hero. It wasn't until Breath of the Wild that Link opted for a fashion conscious change of color with a blue tunic. Regardless, coming from one of the longest, most historic and beloved gaming franchises, Link from The Legend of Zelda continues to remain one of the most notable video game characters who adorn the green color.

1) Luigi (Super Mario)


One of the most popular second bananas in gaming, Luigi is often in the shadow of his more celebrated brother Mario--heck, the poor plumber gets such abuse in the Mario & Luigi game, often called "Green Mario", for Petey Piranha's sake! In 2001, his character received a cowardly, scared-y cat trait to distinguish him more from his brother, as seen in Luigi's Mansion. That only makes us want to root for Luigi even harder. Anyone can be brave in the face of danger like Mario, but it takes a true hero to overcome the odds, get courage from inside, and march through one's fear to save the day like Luigi does. Besides, what other video game character can win mini-games in Mario Party by doing absolutely nothing?

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Team Sonic Racing (NSW, PS4, XB1, PC) Customization Trailer

Straight out of the Sonic the Hedgehog panel at South By Southwest in Texas this afternoon is a brand-new trailer for Team Sonic Racing. The six month delay has most certainly improved the game, as this trailer shows. Watch the new footage and check out the robust kart customization features Team Sonic Racing possesses.

Yoshi’s Crafted World (NSW) "Flip Into a New Adventure" Trailer

With less than two weeks until Yoshi's Crafted World's release date, Nintendo has launched a new trailer/commercial for the game. Not only can you run in this game, but you can ALSO jump! Seriously though, the creativity in the levels and art is amazing and astonishing, and SuperPhillip Central will have its review for Yoshi's Crafted World in April, just behind its March 29th release date.

Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom (NSW, PS4, XB1, PC) Review

Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom released on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One not too long ago, with a PC release soon approaching. Recently, the game received a Nintendo Switch demo for all to enjoy, but if you're still on the fence on entering the kingdom, let SuperPhillip Central assist you in your decision with its review.

A game you'll enjoy till kingdom come


In Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom you play as Jin, a boy on a journey to discover why his uncle has turned the citizens of the kingdom into various animals. Upon running into his uncle along the way, Jin, too, is transformed into an animal, specifically a pig. This presents not only the goal of the game--to figure out why Jin's uncle went off the deep as well as restore the kingdom's people back to their human forms--but it also reveals the main gameplay twist within Monster Boy.

Throughout the course of the game, Jin gets the ability to transform into different types of animals. Starting off with the pig, this form can sniff around for hidden doors and areas, ground pound, and sink underwater. Meanwhile, the snake form is small, able to fit inside narrow pathways that any other of Jin's forms cannot access. Then, there's the underwater-swimming frog, which can also use its tongue to latch onto objects, such as pegs to swing and launch itself across gaps. This latter transformation is really when Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom really opens up and truly becomes special.

You'll start off in Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom as the blue-haired boy Jin...
Upon being bestowed every transformation in the game, you can opt to select the animal form you desire by either cycling through them with the shoulder buttons, or better yet, pausing the gameplay by bringing up the transformation select menu, a ring of forms that you can hold the analog stick in the direction of the animal form you want to use.

...That is, until Jin's uncle causes Jin to make a pig of himself.
As you progress in the game, each animal form learns additional abilities to access new areas within the game. This being a Metroid-style adventure and all, the world greatly opens up as Jin transforms into different animal forms and gains new abilities. It's a ton of fun to explore the world, return to previous areas to reach areas that were previously inaccessible to Jin in one of his original forms and be able to discover new upgrades such as new hearts for Jin's maximum health, an increased amount to how many times Jin can use magic moves, to name a couple examples.

In addition to the transformations, Jin can purchase and upgrade his equipment, coming in five types: weapons, armors, boots, bracelets, and shields. Gems found in treasure chests throughout the world of Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom enable the ability to upgrade these, adding helpful benefits like fire-resistance, faster movement in mud and water, doubled discovery of coins, and much more.

Thankfully, rather than overwhelm the player with all of the transformations, equipment, and upgrades all at once, Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom does a super job of slowly introducing these throughout the game's 10-15 hour length. (It took me 17 hours to 100% the game completely.) Of course, when you're at the endgame and find yourself with a plethora of abilities, transformations, moves, magic, and equipment at your disposal, it's easy to be a bit discombobulated as to how to progress--particularly in the game's many optional puzzle rooms for bonus treasures.

Snake? Snake?! SNAAAAAAKE!!! ...Is the second transformation in Monster Boy.
Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom is no slouch, much like the Sega Genesis and Master System games it's modeled after. Notably starting off with the game when you have a small amount of health available to you, the difficulty is quite pronounced. However, upon gaining more abilities and health to Jin, the challenge is lessened considerably. That said, there are still plenty of platforming perils and boss battles that will take a lot of skill to complete, but the plentiful amount of checkpoints in Monster Boy makes it so you'll seldom have to replay a lengthy section of the game over again upon death. The optional health potions--upon which you can have one at a time--can restore your health upon losing all your hearts as well.

Once you gain access to the frog form, the game really starts to shine.
I'd be absolutely remiss if I didn't mention one of the most amazing pieces to Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom aside from the especially enjoyable and entertaining gameplay and enormous and cleverly designed world within the game. I'm of course talking about the positively gorgeous presentation. The hand drawn art is brilliant, and the opening movie harks back to '90s era anime shows with its own specially dubbed English voiced song (delightfully cheesy and charming, much like those aforementioned anime shows of the nineties).

I'm not "lion". Some of these boss battles are pretty tough!
While I'm on the subject of music, Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom features a who's who of Japanese composers delivering some of the catchiest tunes from a game I've heard in quite a while--at least this past year in gaming. A combination of composers like Yuzo Koshiro of ActRaiser and Streets of Rage fame, Motoi Sakuraba who is well known for his work on Star Ocean, various Tales games, and numerous Camelot-developed games; and also Michiru Yamane whose best works come from the Castlevania franchise. Her signature sound is prevalent and unmistakable in several of the game's more Gothic-inspired tracks, such as the haunted mansion area of Monster Boy.

Overall, Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom is a game I wish I played when it originally released, as it would have easily made my Top Ten Games of 2018, bumping off Dragon Ball FighterZ without question. Regardless, if you can get over the old school difficulty curve at the beginning of the game as well as do enough exploring as to not get stuck with a Metroid Prime-like artifact hunt near the end of the game, Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom is an abundant delight that excited and enthused me with its lovely charm, gorgeous hand-drawn visuals, sensational score, challenging gameplay, and massive 2D world to explore.

[SPC Says: A-]

Monday, March 11, 2019

The Alliance Alive HD Remastered (NSW, PS4) Announcement Trailer

Announced for Japan in the past week, The Alliance Alive HD Remastered is officially heading to the West. Originally a Nintendo 3DS game, this remastered version of The Alliance Alive is due out this fall. As someone who was waiting on the 3DS original to drop in price, this seems like I lucked out by not jumping on the game when I had the chance.

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