Monday, September 22, 2014

Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS Trio of North American Commercials

Not one, not two, but three commercials will be running alongside Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS's launch here in North America. A big game deserves a big marketing push, and that's exactly what Nintendo is giving the game. Scope out these three ads below.



Madden NFL: SNES Evolution


Today, the Madden National Football League games are some of the most blisteringly fast, gorgeously rendered and generally most enjoyable sports titles around. One might be mistaken for thinking such a series had its foundations in the noughties, where the explosion in 3d processing power and good quality controllers resulted in an enormous glut of new sports titles, all taking advantage of the various innovations; you’d be wrong though! The Madden NFL series has its roots in the Super Nintendo gaming system, however.

In 1991, John Madden Football (the series dropped its endorser, Madden’s, first name in 1994) was released on the SNES and Sega Genesis; the second iteration of the sports title, but the first truly effective show of what the game could do. The first, MS DOS based, title was lag-ridden, unresponsive and had been beset with development issues from the outset. Madden had refused to put his name to a game that was not a true depiction of his game, which meant coding in the ability to play with eleven players on each team; many systems simply were unable to deliver this number of players.

Alongside this number of team members, Madden and the developers wanted the most realistic, true-to-life depiction of the game as possible. This meant including every rule, strategy, pass and play that Madden could inform the developers of, and as a result the finished product shared more with a betting simulator than a video game, a title that would be more at home at bettingsports.com than Peach’s Castle. Unsurprisingly, however, this realism ultimately paid off.


The Super Nintendo Version garnered enormous praise, receiving a 95% score from Computer and Video Games Magazine, reviewers noting the excellent sound and realism endemic in the title. The developers, under the watch of EA Sports, knew they were on to something, and the follow up title, John Madden Football ’93, was a roaring success. With an all new 2 player mode; detailed, intricate animations; and game play that was smoother and faster than previous titles, Madden was solidified as a heavyweight when it came to console game franchises.

Remember when Pro Evolution Soccer used to only afford gamers the chance to play with fake players? David Bleckhem, Robaldo, Michel Owan? Madden was the same, once upon a time, until 1994, that is. With huge sales figures and a loyal fan base, the NFL was easily persuaded to allow their league’s team licenses to be used in the game, and with this a huge leap in realism occurred, entertaining players and pundits alike.

The Madden series continued on the SNES until 1997, when the final SNES title, Madden NLF 98, was released. The game had still yet to turn stale, however, with EGM rating the title a solid 9 out of 10. The Madden series truly honed its craft on the SNES, and continues to be a premier game to this day!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Mega Man X4 (PS1, SAT, PSN) Retro Review

Cap off your Saturday night with some more Mega Man action! This time around we're going to take a look at one of my favorite entries in the franchise, Mega Man X4! How much do you guys and gals think I like this one? I've never written about my love of Mega Man X4 in such depth as tonight.

Your knowledge on what you are
fighting for may vary.


In Mega Man X4, humans and sentient robots known as Reploids live together. Of course, it's never really in harmony, as that would make for a boring premise. A strong militant army known as the Repliforce wishes to create their own colony after being deemed Mavericks, out of control robots, by their human counterparts. Little does everyone know that a sinister figure lurking in the shadows casts a wide smile, seeing that his plan is coming to fruition. It's X and Zero's desired duty to not just prevent this tense situation from blowing up and out of control, but also to save the world in the process. 

Mega Man X4 comes packed with much more power thanks to the wonders of the compact disc the game is printed on. Not only does this allow for traditional text-based story progression, but it also opts for full motion video cutscenes to display important scenes in all of their still impressive animated glory. The voice acting is a definite step-up from what was available in Mega Man 8, but there's still some chintzy lines and delivery. I'm looking at you,  Zero's "what am I fighting foooooor". 

Outside of cutscenes, Mega Man X4 delivers amazing 2D artistry. It's not at the level of 2D art available today, obviously, but it still pleases the eyes. Sprites animate wonderfully with plenty of different animations to them, levels have an intricate and detailed design to them visually, offering breathtaking vistas and areas, and special effects like explosions delight. 

A definite upgrade in visuals from
what the SNES offered.
On the music side, Mega Man X4 has extremely memorable and catchy themes. Even the worst sounding tracks would be considered the best on other video game scores. 

As for how Mega Man X4 plays, if you've played a game in the series in the past, then you know what to expect. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing depends upon if you've had your fill of Mega Man action. That's because the basic structure of the Mega Man series featuring you tackling eight stages in any order, running through trials and traps, overcoming obstacles, defeating enemies, making your way to the stage's boss, defeating him, receiving their special weapon as a reward, and then moving onto the next remains uncharged. The only difference is an interlude level thrown in midway through that is purely a fight against a story-related character.

Beware the scariest-named Maverick
ever devised-- Split Mushroom!
The bosses in Mega Man X4 take the shape of many animals, such as the always aerial Storm Owl, the brawn over brain Frost Walrus, and the lover of transportation Cyber Peacock. Sure, they don't always have the coolest names to them-- hello, Split Mushroom-- but getting down their patterns, learning when to go on the offensive and when to evade attacks, as well as mastering each fight takes a fair amount of practice. This is especially so if you're just using your standard weapon like X's buster or Zero's saber. 

Hey. Some of my best friends
are Mavericks.
When not wanting to go the path of most resistance, you can take solace in the fact that every boss has a weakness to a specific special weapon. Split Mushroom's Soul Body can easily take out Cyber Peacock, which in turn, Cyber Peacock's Aiming Laser does a number on Storm Owl. The biggest challenge to overcome in this regard is finding out which boss has what weakness. Thankfully, you have the Internet at your fingertips for this information.

While their levels are the same,
their stories differ.
In Mega Man X3, Zero was playable but was extremely limited in where and how he could be utilized. Mega Man X4 ups his usefulness completely by having him as a separate character from X with his own special moves, abilities, dialogue, and cutscenes. The levels that he goes through are designed the exact same way as X's, but this doesn't actually come across as a negative. Instead, it just made me marvel at the level design even more. There's certain sections of levels that Zero can get through more easily than X can, and that makes you appreciate how each level was constructed and tailor-made for both characters.

For the first time in series history,
Zero is 100% playable.
With a new generation came a new leap in technology, and Mega Man X4 held little back in taking advantage of the PlayStation and Sega Saturn's beefier tech. Level concepts and features that would have been impossible on the Super Nintendo flourish on the new hardware, such as Slash Beast's level that takes place on a moving train, Jet Stingray's stage which has X or Zero on a speeder bike, roaring through tunnels and onto the sea, and Split Mushroom's level that has two segments of it that have you running up a spiral staircase. 

The chase is on!
Don't get your circuits wet, X!
Like the Mega Man X games before it, Mega Man X4 comes with its staple of optional collectible items and rewards for thorough explorers. Most levels house one of Dr. Light's hidden capsules, allowing X to equip a new piece of upgraded armor. These can give X more mobility options like a mid-air dash, the ability to charge up his X-Buster, or the benefit of having special weapons not use up energy. Mighty handy, no? Since Zero cannot acquire Dr. Light's upgrades, his campaign can be viewed as a hard mode for Mega Man X4.

The look of a fully upgraded X.
In addition to those helpful finds, each stage possesses one health-increasing Heart Tank. Unlike past Mega Man X games, however, only two Sub Tanks are available in X4. As usual, these serve as a health reserve for you to fill up X's life gauge when the going gets tough. Finally, there's two new tanks to acquire, a Weapon Tank that stores weapon energy, and a special life tank that adds more lives to X or Zero's starting supply of lives when a continue is used. 

X can shoot, dash, wall jump,
and speak 12 foreign languages.
Mega Man X4 isn't a long game, and for those who are familiar with the franchise, you probably already knew that. Mega Man games in general from the classic and X line of titles aren't overly long experiences. However, these games encourage multiple play-throughs, not to unlock anything new, but just because they're so rewarding to play. These are masterful games in their design and gameplay mechanics that multiple plays are a must. Of course, with Mega Man X4 you have the luxury of having two stories to play through, X and Zero's, to help with longevity anyway. 

I don't know. Do you think this ride
armor makes X's butt look fat?
From a purely presentation standpoint, Mega Man X4 impresses. That's no doubt a factor in me liking this game over many others in the franchise. However, X4 also nails the level design, the tightness of the controls, the boss encounters, the story, the localization, and so much more. It's one of the top titles in the Mega Man series as a whole, and it definitely deserves your attention whether you're a newcomer to the game or have already beaten it dozens of times.

[SPC Says: 9.5/10]

Central City Census - September - October 2014

This edition of SuperPhillip Central's Central City Census is way overdue, so I'm going to run it from the rest of this month until the end of October. Before I get into September and October's census subject, here are the results of August's poll!


September and October's Central City Census covers Let's Play videos. Are you a fan of them? Do you even know what they are? That's what this next poll is all about. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Localizations, Please! Tokyo Game Show 2014 Edition

Welcome to Localizations, Please! This reoccurring segment on SuperPhillip Central takes games that, as far as I know (I do as much research as I can muster, but I'm definitely imperfect), have not been confirmed to be coming out in my neck of the woods, North America. If this were baseball, I'd have a good batting average regarding how many games I request for that end up getting localized. Let's hope the same is true, so the games on this special Tokyo Game Show 2014 edition don't stay stuck in Japan!

Dragon Quest Heroes (PS4, PS3)


At Sony's pre-TGS conference, Dragon Quest Heroes was saved for last. It really was awesome to see a Dragon Quest game, of any type, mind you, coming to a PlayStation platform after all of these years. However, Dragon Quest Heroes is not meant to be a mainline game. It doesn't have turn-based battles or anything like that. Instead, it's noted more and emphasized as an action game first and foremost. The game is under development by Omega Force, a development team within Tecmo-Koei who has a history of Musou games under its collective belt. The most recent of which is Nintendo's own Hyrule Warriors.

Dragon Quest Heroes has a nebulous release time of simply 2015 for both the PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation 3. Not only am I personally eager to learn more about this game, but I am eager to learn of localization for the West, such as North America, Europe, and Australia.

Final Fantasy Explorers (3DS)


Well, this title is very familiar... Oh, yeah, I just posted the Tokyo Game Show trailer for it earlier this evening! All coyness aside, Final Fantasy Explorers takes the series into cooperative multiplayer action against monsters and creatures that should be easily identifiable to anyone who calls themselves a fan of the franchise. Take over the role of one of many job classes, battle with friends, and defeat beasts both big and small in this Monster Hunter-influenced game. Impressions from TGS say that Final Fantasy Explorers is most similar to Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles than anything else seen in the series before. This makes Phil a happy boy, and you can probably imagine what would make me even happier-- a localization announcement!

The Great Ace Attorney (3DS)


With a premise that is as intriguing as the series's commonly mysterious court cases, The Great Ace Attorney is a game in the Ace Attorney franchise that takes the series's chronology into the end of the 19th century, decidedly much earlier than fans were expecting! The Great Ace Attorney centers around an ancestor of the usual protagonist for the series, Phoenix Wright. Not only that but Phoenix's ancestor comes across the brilliant detective Sherlock Holmes and even teams up to solve a climactic case. The Great Ace Attorney will thrown in all of the improvements and additions to the series that Dual Destinies debuted, making this one Ace Attorney game that I cannot afford to miss out on!

Fatal Frame V: The Black Haired Shrine Maiden (Wii U)


While The Great Ace Attorney is all but a lock for localization, Fatal Frame V: The Black Haired Shrine Maiden for the Wii U isn't at all. Now, some might surmise that with the release of Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir in the West that Nintendo is interested in getting the Fatal Frame franchise outside of Japan. Then one could argue that since the Wii U is desperate for any type of game right now, a localization of Fatal Frame V would be a smart bet. That said, ever since Nintendo started bankrolling installments, the main games have yet to see a release outside of Japan. From the Nico Nico presentation of the game in mid-July, Fatal Frame V looks to a mightily scary game that would be a terrific addition to the Wii U's lineup and overall library.

PoPoLoCrois Bokujou Monogatari (3DS)


If PoPoLoCrois sounds any bit familiar to you, it's probably because the series has been around for a quite awhile, most recently having a PSP entry. Already from has been shown, the series's aesthetic has been transported over to the 3DS splendidly! PoPoLoCrois Bokujou Monogatari will have traditional command-based RPG action, an enhanced presentation, and a marvelous world to explore. This game has XSeed Games localization written all over it, and I would definitely enjoy the chance to try it out. Maybe next summer if the Japan release comes out soon?

===

There you have it-- five choices for games that I would love to see localized. What about you, dear reader? Which titles with no localization announcement for your location would you like to see/hear/read/etc.? Give me a holler in the comments section!

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