Monday, April 24, 2017

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs - "Blockbusters from Gaming Past and Present" Edition

Welcome to a brand-new week of content here at SuperPhillip Central! Starting things off as we usually tend to do each week is SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs. We have some big milestone games from past and present in which to listen to music selections from, so let's get underway!

We begin with a theme from Bloodborne: The Old Hunters. Next on the playlist is a track from Halo 3. Moving on from there, Warhawk delivers a delightful, heroic main theme. Finally, we wrap things up with themes from Mass Effect 2 and Yakuza 3.

Click on the VGM volume name to hear the piece of video game music highlighted, and check out the VGM Database for past video game themes hand selected by yours truly. Now, let's get on to the music!

v1381. Bloodborne: The Old Hunters (PS4) - Ludwig, The Accursed & Holy Blade

Let's start with something tense and foreboding. It's Ludwig's theme, as heard in Bloodborne's downloadable content, The Old Hunters. We don't normally delve into DLC on SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs, but The Old Hunters brought lots of new tracks with it. This one in particular comes in two parts, each featuring choir, each menacing.

v1382. Halo 3 (360) - Halo. Greatest Journey

From Bloodborne: The Old Hunters we move on to the final mainline Halo installment that original developer Bungie had a hand in, Halo 3. No doubt Bungie didn't want to be stuck as the Halo studio for Microsoft, so they moved on to work on its own IP, Destiny. Halo 3's final chapter has an exciting Warthog run through the collapsing titular structure. It's an adrenaline-pumping section of game and a perfect send-off for Bungie's work on Halo.

v1383. Warhawk (PS3) - The Warhawk

For those who owned a PlayStation 3 and looked on with jealousy as the Xbox 360 got both Halo and Gears of War for multiplayer mayhem, there was Warhawk. It was an early PlayStation 3 that offered expansive multiplayer battles in a wide variety of maps and modes. The main theme of the game, The Warhawk, is a majestic, loud, and proud theme with sufficient pomp and circumstance. It's worthy of the third-person multiplayer shoot-fest that was the remake to a PS1 original.

v1384. Mass Effect 2 (PS3, 360, PC) - Suicide Mission

With Mass Effect: Andromeda recently released, let's take a look back at Mass Effect 2, a game that is generally series fans' favorite of the original Mass Effect trilogy. Suicide Mission begins slow and subtly before building upon itself with backing brass and driving drums. It's about as climactic as you'd expect for a theme entitled "Suicide Mission", wouldn't you say?

v1385. Yakuza 3 (PS3) - Encounter the Dragon

Yakuza 3 stormed onto the PlayStation 3 in 2009 in Japan. Its Western release would come a year later. It was the first Yakuza game to implement trophies for all those achievement hunters out there. Encounter the Dragon is an intense combat theme, perfect for punching and kicking goons into oblivion.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Top Ten Original Game Boy Games

Today is the 28th birthday of Nintendo's handheld wonder, the Game Boy. This monochromatic marvel led the way to what we play currently, and many of its games still hold up. It's amazing to me the progression of tech in portables that has happened since the OG Game Boy. As a kid, I never could have guessed I'd be playing home console-quality games, 3D at that, on a portable device like I can now.

With the Game Boy's 28th anniversary, I wanted to do something special on SuperPhillip Central. Hence this top ten list counting down the best and boldest of original Game Boy software. That means no Game Boy Color titles like Pokemon Gold and Silver or Wario Land II.

10) Kirby's Dream Land 2 

We begin with a game from a series known to be very beginner-friendly in not just its accessibility but its difficulty. While the original Kirby's Dream Land was a game one could beat in a breezy afternoon, Kirby's Dream Land 2 posed a much stiffer challenge. Not only was the game longer than its predecessor, but it was also harder, especially if you wanted to reach the secret portions of levels. Many required you to hold onto a power for an extended period of time throughout a given level, and in Dream Land 2, one hit meant your power would be removed and bounce away, usually disappearing instantly. Then there were the animal buddies that Kirby could team up, each bestowing onto Kirby a helpful ability to get through the more savage portions of Kirby's second handheld adventure.

9) Metroid II: Return of Samus

The original Metroid premiered on the Nintendo Entertainment System and brought to the gaming world one of the first gaming heroines. It also brought a massive map to explore for powers and abilities to access more of the game's map and beat bosses. Metroid II, as the subtitle succinctly says, brought the return of bounty hunter Samus Aran. Her first handheld mission had her seek out and eliminate a deluge of Metroids, located in all extremities of the world map. The map was sectioned off in a way so that when one area was complete, the next would open. The all-monochrome color pallet meant areas were even harder to distinguish from one another, yet those who persevered would find a portable adventure worthy of a followup to the original Metroid.

8) Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins

While Super Mario Land was a sometimes challenging game, it could be beaten in one sitting rather quickly with another skill. On the other hand, its sequel, Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, offered a much larger adventure with the ability to choose which of the six starting areas to tackle from its world map hub a la Super Mario World. Each area had its own theme, enemies, and obstacles to overcome, and all concluded with a boss battle for one of Castle Mario's titular six Golden Coins. The game, as many Mario maniacs know, saw the debut of the portly plumber's rival Wario. Super Mario Land 2 is a bit odd to play nowadays thanks to its off-kilter jumping physics, presenting a much floatier feel to Mario's jumps. It's inconsistent with how Mario plays in most of his other adventures, from Super Mario Bros. and even Super Mario Land directly before it, so there is a learning curve, albeit a slight one.

7) Mega Man V

Prior to Mega Man V, the previous Mega Man games on the Game Boy were retreads with regard to the Robot Masters the Blue (or in this case, Grey) Bomber faced. Mega Man V not only saw its own exclusive collection of Robot Masters, themed after the planets of the Solar System, but also a story that was brand-new too. While the established and classic Mega Man gameplay was present, the ambition and reach of Mega Man V felt considerably larger. This felt like a game made as a huge effort and not just a side game. It posed a solid challenge with some tight platforming and fun levels, and the bosses and new characters were enjoyable as well. If you want to check out any of the five classic Mega Man games on the original Game Boy, Mega Man V is the one to pick.

6) Mole Mania

Mole Mania starred Muddy, a mole who was the father to his missing, mole-napped wife and children. In the game, you control Muddy through various rooms with the goal of pushing a black iron ball to a gate to move forward. Being a mole, Muddy had the ability to dig underground where he could find alternate paths and means to travel around topside where the main gameplay festivities took place. Dig too much, and Muddy wouldn't have means to transport the black ball to its proper ending location. The eight worlds sported multiple interconnected room where hidden items could be found in addition to solving each room's puzzles. If the concept doesn't impress, then maybe the fact that it was designed in part by Shigeru Miyamoto might help. All in all, Mole Mania is an excellent puzzle-adventure game.

5) Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3

Wario wasn't happy enough to just steal Mario's castle in Super Mario Land 2. In Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3, he stole Mario's series from him! Wario Land played much like a traditional Super Mario Bros. platformer with different power-ups in the form of hats for Wario to nab and wear. Where Wario Land strayed a little away from Super Mario Land and its sequel was with a focus on collecting coins and treasure locked away in chests. Depending on how much treasure and coinage you collected during Wario's adventure, his castle would be anywhere between a minuscule hut to a luxurious castle mansion. Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 offered much more longevity than past Mario Land games, not just through treasure and coin accumulation but in all of its secret exits to uncover. Exploration was encouraged and delightful in Wario's first starring platformer role.

4) Pokemon Blue. Red, and Yellow

The games that started a phenomenon and sent shockwaves through not only the gaming world but the world in general, Pokemon Red and Blue (followed by a Pikachu-focused Yellow Version later) brought many a detentions to primary school kids for playing the games during class, catching, battling, and trading Pokemon. I'm still waiting for this fad of 20 years to finally end. Who knows if someday it finally will! But seriously, the initial Pokemon games made even the most ignorant of people know the names "Pokemon" and "Pikachu." Few games can claim to be events or shake up popular culture so much, but Pokemon Red and Blue were and did. The only downside of the original Game Boy games? Many things feel way too slow and archaic compared to the quality of life and gameplay improvements the series has since seen over the years.

3) Tetris

Chances are if you had a Game Boy, then you had Tetris. Nintendo was smart as heck to acquire the rights to this Russian puzzle game as one of the premier titles for its Game Boy. Tetris was and still is the perfect pick-up-and-play game whether it's done in bite-sized gaming sessions or extended ones. There aren't many things as sweet in gaming as clearing four lines of Tetriminos to score big and see your point total skyrocket. Then again, there aren't many things that make you want to slap your forehead as badly as having as incorrectly executing a four line clear, instead placing your "I" Tetrimino on the space adjacent. Curse you, Tetris Gods!!!!

2) Donkey Kong ('94)

Starting up and playing Donkey Kong's Game Boy debut might have made players think they were just playing a monochrome port of the arcade and NES game. After all, the first four stages were the exact same. However, as soon as those are completed, the REAL game that asw Donkey Kong on Game Boy (lovingly known as Donkey Kong '94) reveals itself. Part platformer, part puzzle game, Donkey Kong sported eight worlds divided up between 97 levels, most of which requiring Mario to jump, climb, and maneuver his way through obstacle and enemy-infested playgrounds, all the while finding and carrying a key to a locked door (the exit of the level). Other times and at the end of each world, Mario faced off against Donkey Kong, needing to reach a platform where DK would nab Mario's girl and retreat. The Game Boy Donkey Kong retains its gaming value even 20+ years later because it's so smartly designed and fun to play.

1) The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening

The idea of having a Zelda game as packed with content and as a big a world to explore as the Super Nintendo's A Link to the Past was mind-blowing, but Nintendo did it with one of The Legend of Zelda series' most memorable and enjoyable entries, The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. Taking place on Koholint Island, Link's objective was to find some means to get off the island, and to do that meant waking up the Wind Fish through playing eight magical instruments found in eight different dungeons. The dungeons are usually the most engaging parts of the Zelda series, and they definitely did not disappoint in Link's Awakening, especially Eagle's Tower, one of my personal favorites due to its overarching puzzle. The world was massive for a child like myself and remains wondrous to explore to this day. Perhaps the only flaw to the masterpiece that is Link's Awakening is the limit on how many items you can equip at once, resulting in lots of time bringing up the menu. Regardless, with how well Link's Awakening plays otherwise and how it ends on its melancholy but magical note, the game stands on top of the original Game Boy's software heap.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Localizations, Please! Spring 2017 Edition

Localizations, Please is a series of articles that practically begs publishers to get their games that are trapped in one section of the world (usually Japan) and get them localized for Western gamers. Many games that have been listed on prior editions of Localizations, Please have actually gotten releases in the West, though I'm not so naive to think it was these articles that did that. Still, maybe featuring such desired games on this segment will continue the good fortune!

After you've read the five latest games that I'd like to see localized, mention which you want to reach the West or your portion of the world!

Past installments:

Localizations, Please!
Localizations, Please! Cinco de Mayo Edition
Localizations, Please! Coming in Like a Beggar, Coming Out Like a Lamb Edition
Localizations, Please! Midsummer Day's Dreams Edition
Localizations, Please! New Year, New Begging Edition
Localizations, Please! Nintendo 3DS Edition
Localizations, Please! Nintendo 3DS Edition Part 2
Localizations, Please! Nintendo 3DS Edition Part 3
Localizations, Please! Pre-E3DS 2015 Edition
Localizations, Please! Tokyo Game Show 2014 Edition

Gundam Versus (PS4)

Since Gundam Versus: Full Boost, the Gundam Versus series of games have been developed by Namco-Bandai itself instead of being farmed out to another developer, in this case, Byking. While a great deal of Gundam Versus games have been either stuck in arcades or never localized at all, the newest PlayStation 4 iteration of Gundam Versus looks to be dynamite in every sense of the word. It offers an immensely stable frame-rate, lovely brand-new user interface, solid visuals, and arena-style battles that are explosive, featuring Gundams and mobile suits taking each other on from a variety of series and films. Here's hoping Namco-Bandai brings Gundam Versus' latest offering to the West as this game looks fantastic not just for Gundam fans but for those searching for a fast-paced action fighter.

Seiken Densetsu Collection (NS)

The Seiken Densetsu Collection features three games in one Nintendo Switch cartridge: Final Fantasy Adventure or as it's known in Japan as Seiken Densetsu: Final Fantasy Gaiden (as seen on the Game Boy), the Super Nintendo classic Secret of Mana (Seiken Densetsu 2 in Japan), and the Japanese exclusive Seiken Densetsu 3. The games come with the convenient feature of being able to save anywhere in the games instead of at predetermined points, and there is even a music player to hear the trio of titles' music from the Nintendo Switch's home screen. The developer currently asks that if want this collection to reach the Western world that we should ask Square Enix. Let's show the publisher that we're very interested, gang!

Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology (3DS)

The original Radiant Historia released on the Nintendo DS in Japan in 2010 and later in North America the following year. Europe never got a localized version, which is already reason enough to see the Nintendo 3DS re-release, Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology get localized not just for North America but for Europe this time around. The original game had players moving through time, from the past to the present and back again, as well as through parallel universes to change the course of events throughout the game. All the while combat featured grid and turn-based battles. The cherry on top was a Yoko Shimomura-scored soundtrack that was divine in every sense of the word. Here's hoping that Perfect Chronology doesn't stay in Japan and gets localized for both those of us who have already had the pleasure of playing the Nintendo DS original and those who haven't.

The Alliance Alive (3DS)

The Alliance Alive is from the team behind The Legend of Legacy which was a polarizing game to say the least. With The Alliance Alive, the developers are set out to create a game with the following features: a good balance of story and gameplay, a world where even something as basic as walking around is enjoyable, nine protagonists so players will find at least one that they really resonate with, and a game that goes against genre trends and hearkens back to old school RPG sensibilities, such as a world map. Currently, no localization announcement for The Alliance Alive has been made as the game has a Japanese release in late June.

Minna de Wai Wai! Spelunker (NS)

Minna de Wai Wai! Spelunker is based off of 2015's Spelunker World, a PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita title. The new Nintendo Switch iteration of the series removes the free-to-play elements of that release and focuses primarily on local and online multiplayer with up to four friends/family members/total strangers diving into 2D caverns, performing various platforming feats while trying to overcome the numerous enemies that await inside. It would make sense for Minna de Wai Wai! Spelunker to get localized even if just in digital form because the original Spelunker World already is in English. The accessible and fun-looking gameplay for multiple players seems like it would be a real hit at parties or even if you're just playing alone. I'll keep everyone up to date on whether this colorful spelunking adventure gets announced for release on our side of the world.

Everybody's Golf (PS4) Announcement Trailer

Hot Shots Golf is dead. Long live Everybody's Golf, the name that has been used in Japan (its localized name) and Europe since the beginning! With more customization than ever before and events beyond golfing (but golf is still at the forefront of course). Everybody's Golf reaches North America on August 29 and a day later in Europe.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Micro Machines World Series (PS4, XB1, PC) "Battle Mode Mayhem!" Trailer

As a kid I loved collecting Micro Machines toys, displaying them, building cities with them as the vehicles, and so forth. The games I didn't get a chance to play, but I want to change that with Micro Machines World Series, as it looks like a great place to start. With local couch play that is sorely missing in a lot of retail releases on the PS4, Xbox One, and less on Steam, I look forward to checking the game out when it hits store shelves in June.


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