Monday, August 31, 2015

Gunman Clive HD Collection (Wii U eShop) Review

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs will be posted tomorrow because tonight I have a second review planned to round out this month. First, however, let's return to the world of Hörberg Productions' Gunman Clive with his makeover in HD for the Wii U eShop. Here's my review of Gunman Clive HD Collection.

Two great games given a second time to shine in a higher definition spotlight

Bertil Hörberg and his small studio of Hörberg Productions might not be a household name by any stretch of the imagination, but don't write him off just because of that. Bertil has proven himself to be a highly capable developer with two Nintendo 3DS eShop releases under his belt, Gunman Clive and Gunman Clive 2. Not only were the games well designed, but the entry prices were so low that the games sold above expectations, particularly the original. Now, the games are making the jump from the small screen to big screen with Gunman Clive HD Collection for the Wii U eShop. For a handful of dollars, you get some of the finest run 'n gun games in recent memory, made better with high-definition assets and graphics.

I said reach for the sky, pardner. Not shoot for the sky.
For those who don't own a system of the Nintendo 3DS family or haven't played either Gunman Clive game, the games have a similar type of gameplay to Mega Man titles in their run 'n gun glory. You travel from location to location through linear levels where exploration takes a backseat to the action. Each level is devised of several rooms taking anywhere between 40-80 seconds to complete.

Clive has the ability to pick up special guns which enhance his range, enable homing shots that target enemies, and unleash large bullets that leave big explosions in their wake. Having these special guns equipped helps out a lot during the levels, but the caveat is that with one hit you will lose the bonus.

Both games are brief rides from beginning to end, with Gunman Clive 2 being about double the length of the original. It's still less than an hour to complete the game. However, alternate characters and the pure joy of playing both games increases the amount of time you'll spend with the games exponentially. There are multiple difficulties for players to ease into the game-- with the Easy difficulty giving you a larger health bar to work with, as well as falling into a bottomless pit or a bed of spikes not automatically meaning you fail the level. Although levels lack checkpoints, them being so quick in length means you won't be cursing the folks at Hörberg Productions for dying over and over, which is quite possible to do as both Gunman Clive games can be quite challenging.

Alternate playable characters make for a different experience
when running through a familiar duo of games.
It also helps that both games are excellent for speed-running not only because they're so short, but also because they have such a satisfying flow and brilliant pacing to them. The variety of level hazards, enemies, and interesting level mechanics means you're always experiencing something new, whether it's riding on the back of a raging triceratops as you duck and jump over hazards or going all Donkey Kong Country with a fast-paced mine cart ride. There are odes to other games, such as what I assume inspired part of the gameplay of both games, Mega Man-- especially with Gravity Man level-style walls of gravity and disappearing and reappearing blocks.

There are some major differences between the original Gunman Clive and its sequel. One of these is that the original Gunman Clive uses the same range of tan, orange, and beige colors in its art style for the entire game, while Gunman Clive 2 opens up the amount of colors considerably, making for more variation for the eyes. Additionally, Gunman Clive 2 features several levels that take Clive out of his running and gunning preferences and puts him in control of a ship and a horse in behind-the-back 3D segments. While these remain as fun as they were in the 3DS version of Gunman Clive 2, the lack of any type of 3D means you can't rely on depth perception to avoid obstacles and enemies. It's a small issue, but an issue nonetheless.

The lack of stereoscopic 3D can make these sections a bit tricky.
Not impossible, but tricky.
Gunman Clive HD Collection runs at a steady frame-rate, and the moving sketchbook-like art style looks absolutely fantastic in high-definition. The colors pop on an HD screen, especially Gunman Clive 2's extravagant range of colors when compared to the original. The music of both games is remarkably well done, offering catchy and hum-able melodies that never get grating to the ears. Off-TV play is available for both games, and selecting which of the two games to play is as simple as moving the d-pad from one game to the other on the main menu. You can easily back out from one game's title menu to the game selection menu.

Don't get hit by this T-Rex, Clive, or you'll end up dino-sore!
With an absolute certainty I recommend the Gunman Clive HD Collection, especially if you've never played either game before. The low cost of entry should seal the deal for most potential buyers. If you've played both games to death already, then there is not much to make them worth returning to, even for the $4 price tag and the upgraded visuals. Still, Gunman Clive 1 and 2 are excellent games that have a new opportunity to capture a new audience in Wii U owners.

[SPC Says: B+]

Review copy provided by Hörberg Productions.

Super Mario Maker (Wii U) The Shift Commercial

Shift from the original Super Mario Bros. style to a Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, or New Super Mario Bros. U style in an instant with Super Mario Maker, releasing a week from Friday. Nintendo has gone deep with their advertising for this 30th anniversary product for the Super Mario series. What kind of levels will you make?

Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer (3DS) Introduction Trailer

One of my favorite aspects of Nintendo's Animal Crossing series is the customization. When an entire game is devoted to this one aspect, you can be sure that I have a great interest in it. That's what Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer is all about, and it's set to release in a month's time. Check out this introduction trailer for the game below.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Wind-up Knight 2 (Wii U eShop) Review

An elusive Sunday evening review has been spotted at SuperPhillip Central! This game is a port of a mobile title. It's Wind-up Knight 2, and if you're into temple runner-like games, then get ready to get Medieval on this one! Here's my review.

This knight has might!

For the mobile gaming illiterate, Wind-up Knight 2 originally released on smartphone devices, offering accessible gameplay that suited the touch controls of the hardware just fine. Now, this mobile game has made the move to the Wii U, granting players much more reliable analog controls, off TV play, and the same humor and polish that made the original release on mobile so celebrated. Developer Robot Invader did not just push out an non-optimized, uninspired, unimaginative port onto the Wii U. Instead, it's a fantastic game that should be played by anyone looking for an engaging auto-runner.

In this auto-runner, you have the ability to jump, wall jump, slash your sword, raise your shield to counter falling debris and shots from catapults, and roll along your way through each of the game's 30+ uniquely designed levels. The caveat is that your knight has a gauge on the top left corner of the screen that constantly depletes. If it empties, the knight explodes, resulting in you either restarting the level or beginning from the last checkpoint. Thankfully, you can collect wind-up keys that replenishes lost energy from the gauge.

Every knight's journey starts with one jump.
Each level has four goals to complete to earn crests. Having enough crests means you can open later levels. However, only about a third of the side quests need to be completed to see the ending level of the game. The initial goal of each level is to simply complete it. Here, you can try to go for an "S" ranking by collecting all of the coins in a given level as well as finding a usually well hidden gnome hat. Thankfully, retrying levels from a checkpoint or dying do not ruin your chance of getting an "S" rank. Getting all "S" ranks in the game unlocks a brutal difficulty called Nightmare Mode.

As usual with any beanstalk, I certainly hope there's no giant at the top.
Once a level has been initially completed, three side goals open up. These range from getting through the level without defeating any enemies, avoiding deadly purple coins, and collecting all of the diamonds to dodging acid rain, capturing faeries with your net, and rolling into assorted pins to earn strikes like you were the best Medieval bowler ever born. These side missions are enjoyable to play, as they make you tackle the levels in ways different from how you normally complete them.

Being chased by a giant boulder?
Who do I look like-- Indiana Jones!?
Levels constantly throw new surprises at you, such as ceilings that drop barrels, requiring you to raise your shield to block their run-ruining advances, spikes, trap doors, grass that slows your knight's movements to almost a crawl, ice that is slippery and speeds up movement, mushrooms that bounce your knight high into the air, and switches that open doors. While new surprises are great, sometimes these can feel a bit cheap, as there are some sudden deaths that occur which anyone except someone with perfectly proficient timing wouldn't be able to avoid. However, there are so many checkpoints that most of the time the-- for lack of a better term-- "cheap deaths" don't punish the player too much. 

Heads up, Wind-Up Knight!
There is some honor as a knight for not dying or requiring a checkpoint in a given level. There are also some nice rewards for doing so, outside of particular achievements. You earn coins for completing levels, getting "S' ranks, and other skilled honors. These coins can be spent on new armor combinations for your knight, granting such benefits as making you a coin magnet, being able to get hit one time without dying, and a slew of other bonuses. It's not just for your benefit either, as you can deck out your knight in some truly fashionable duds.

I'm too sexy for my armor. So sexy it hurts!
Each level introduces tips and tricks in the form of a Medieval Twitter-like interface, as well as humorous quips and comments from various users like the oblivious king, the strong-willed princess, and the hamster-loving black knight. These are written so well, and you can tell that like a lot of other aspects of the game, a lot of love was put into these "tweets."

I'm RTing this for Danzig.
Wind-up Knight 2 performs rather admirably in the presentation department, too. Although the visuals are a little bland and sterile, the backgrounds and environments have a fair amount of detail to them, which is quite impressive. The frame-rate of the game stutters a bit at the start of levels, but otherwise it isn't a problem. On the audio front, the music is suitably Medieval, using Renaissance era instruments to great effect. However, I did encounter an audio glitch once during my play-through where an endless grinding noise played over everything, forcing me to exit out of the game to the Wii U home menu and enter back into the game. Fortunately, as stated, this only happened once in my six hours of playing.

A mobile game arriving to a home console could have been an unmitigated disaster, but Robot Invader definitely did a wonderful job bringing Wind-up Knight 2 over to the Wii U. With a wide array of challenging levels, plenty of side missions to stab one's sword into, a surplus of unique armor choices, and a mode where players can compete for the best score via Tournament Mode, Wind-up Knight 2 shows that this knight indeed has might.

[SPC Says: A-]

Review copy provided by Unity Games.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Super Mario Maker (Wii U) Be a player or a Mario Maker UK Trailer

An incredibly exciting and well done trailer for the upcoming 11th of September release Super Mario Maker has been posted on Nintendo of UK's YouTube channel. Check it out and get excited with me!


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