Saturday, July 5, 2008

SuperPhillip RPG: The Crystal Quest Logo

An excellent user on the board formerly known as Wii General on GameFAQs, MARI0, constructed a mock-up logo for my RPG. As you can see by the logo, he's incredibly talented and skilled. That was made in the span of a few hours, and it's amazing how professional it looks. The only thing missing is the "RPG" part of the title. Otherwise, it's really fantastic.




Friday, July 4, 2008

SuperPhillip's Top 100 Favorite Games of All Time

Welcome back to another edition of the Top 100-- a special Fourth of July edition! What makes this edition Fourth of July-ish? Well, actually, nothing. Regardless, the Top 100 rolls on! From this week forward, I'll be slimming down the amount of games to five per week. Why rush a good thing, right?

As always:
The first ninety games are in NO particular order. For someone with OCD, compiling a list of 100 games in order would drive me absolutely crazy. There's a good mix of titles from multiple consoles, developers, and genres. Hope you leave this list with some fuzzy memories and good times.

- Super Mario Bros. (NES)


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Do the Mario!

This seems fitting to follow up the newest 2-D Mario platformer with the one that started it all-- if not elementary. Super Mario Bros. is a game that single-handedly revived the video game market, not only in Japan but where Atari helped kill it in America. This game was simple in design, but the concepts from it are still used to this very day.

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You play as the portly plumber Mario on his adventure to save Princess Peach from the nefarious King Koopa. What follows are eight worlds of four levels each all concluding with an epic showdown with the King of the Koopas himself There were just so many secrets to find, hidden 1-up blocks, secret bonus areas via warp pipe or beanstalk, and special warp zones allowing players to skip worlds. There was even a minus world for those with initiative! Super Mario Bros. may not be my favorite Mario, but it certainly is the one that got me into gaming. I salute you, Mario. Keep ruling gaming.

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- Super Smash Bros. Melee (GCN)

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Nintendo's All-Stars Battle It Out

Finishing up the trifecta of Bros. titles in a row, Super Smash Bros. Melee made every Nintendo fan drool with anticipation when it was revealed at Nintendo's press conference in 2001. Battles were more complex, the amount of characters was staggering, the number of arenas was wide and diverse, and just the amount of content in Melee is staggering. Not only could you unlock new stages and characters (some of them made you go "what the %#$"), but you could earn trophies categorizing the history of Nintendo's greatest mascots.

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This title was released during my early years of high school (sophomore year to be exact), and that was a time where the internet wasn't readily available to me. So seeing the "WARNING NEW CHALLENGER APPROACHING" signal was always such a treat. Which character would I battle next? Oh my, Ganondorf?!! Young Link?! MEWTWO?! It was just a cooler time without being spoiled by the internet, I think.

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- The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (GB, GBC)

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The Legend's In Your Pocket

Goodness. It's yet another Legend of Zelda title on the top 100. Well, it's by no accident or error on my part. It's no secret to anybody that Zelda is one of, if not my favorite video game franchise ever. Each game brings something new to the table, and while the formula may remain the same, the experience definitely doesn't. Regardless, don't be surprised to see more Zelda titles in my top 100.

Narrowing down our focus to Link's Awakening, it was the first handheld Zelda. Its smaller size did not mean a smaller adventure. It was packed with content, items to acquire, dungeons to pillage through, and bosses to battle. The game took place outside of Hyrule, and even though it was entirely a dream the fun I had was very real. Link's Awakening would be the one and only handheld Zelda title developed by Nintendo-- well, unless you count the Game Boy Color remake, Link's Awakening DX, which featured color as well as a new dungeon. I need to try that one out while I'm thinking about it...

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- Sonic Advance (GBA)

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Rolling Around At the Speed of Sound

After countless years of a 2-D Sonic drought, the gods of gaming rained down upon the world with Sonic Advance for the Game Boy Advance. It had everything you loved from the Genesis titles gameplay-wise and created seven zones of pure delight. Instead of collecting a certain amount of rings to access the special zone, you just had to find a cleverly placed spring within a given zone to plunge into the special stage. There you'd guide Sonic on a skyboard of some form or another, collecting rings and dodging mines to grab a Chaos Emerald. The bosses were also stellar-- some of which even familiar to some of the bosses of Sonic 1 and 2-- even with the same music! All in all, Sonic Advance was one of my favorite 2-D Sonics of all time. But could one of its sequels top it?

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- Sonic Advance 2 (GBA)

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Got Places To Go, Gotta Follow My Rainbow

The first two Sonic Advance titles are 2-D Sonic nirvana. This game allowed you to play as not one, not two, not three-- but five characters-- each of which played differently. Sonic could speed through levels, Tails could fly, Knuckles could scale up walls, Cream was a new character to the Sonic universe, and Amy could attack enemies with her hammer. Boss battles mostly consisted of Sonic or whoever chasing after one of Eggman's robotic creations while on the run, collecting rings, and dodging attacks. Fast-paced battles and some nail-biters made this title's boss battles stand out from the others in my opinion. And that was the theme of Sonic Advance 2, it was a much faster game compared to the original. The level design was also much more open and able to be explored.

To reach the special stages, you'd need to acquire 7 gold rings in an act, and then try your luck at the special stage for one of seven Chaos Emeralds. To unlock the final chapter of the story, you'd need to collect all seven emeralds for all four characters (Amy didn't count). Phew. That was a workout! Seriously, if you have a GBA, you have to pick up the first two Sonic Advance games-- heck, pick up all three! You can nab 'em for cheap now.

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Until next week, the Top 100 will be on a nice and well-deserved vacation! See ya!

Mega Man 9 Exclusive Reveal

Mega Man 9 has already become one of my most desired games of the year. I love both the Classic and X series with a feverish passion. I've yearned for the ability to blast bots in new levels and beat new robot masters, and finally my dream has come true. GamesRadar has an exclusive reveal with some snazzy new screens and detailed information about the story, robot masters, and the method behind Mega Man 9's madness.

Click Here

(And Click An Image For A Larger Display)

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Wario Land: Shake It! First Gameplay Vid

Due out September 29th for retail on the Wii, Wario Land: Shake It! is a 2-D platformer with animation done by the fantastic Production I.G. The game looks wonderful. Chock up another purchase for the fall.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Super Smash Bros. Brawl Review

Brawl was just released in Europe a week or two ago, so here's the North American review which still holds up well all the same. Enjoy.

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The Brawl to End Them All

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It feels like an eternity of waiting, countless "official" character rosters, numerous weekday updates on the Smash Bros. Dojo website, and three kick-to-the-stomach delays, but finally Super Smash Bros. Brawl has arrived to North American shores. All your favorite Nintendo all-stars enter the fray for one epic brawl to end them all, but has the wait been worth it? Is it at all possible for this game to live up to its immense hype?

Fighting games often sport many modes of play, and while some spread themselves too thin (I'm looking at you, Soul Calibur III) Super Smash Bros. Brawl does a commendable job of offering quality in each of its myriad modes. While Smash is meant to be multiplayer mayhem first and foremost, lone players will still have plenty to do. Mainstays return to the Smash series and in top form. Classic mode has you playing through 12 rounds. Each round is either a one-on-one affair with varying elements such a gigantic or metallic opponent or team-based. Event mode makes another appearance offering thirty plus themed challenges such as defeating the cast of the original Smash Bros. in one go or taking on two kings, Bowser and King Dedede, as Mario. Rounding out the homecoming of modes is Stadium where Multi-man Brawl calls its kingdom as well as Home-Run Contest where you try to hit a bag of sand as far as possible. Finally, Break the Targets is here though there's unfortunately only five different levels. Characters no longer have their own levels to smash targets through.

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The graphical improvement to Melee is anything but marginal.

What is new and may raise some eyebrows is the Subspace Emissary making up the adventure mode of Brawl for either one or two players. The world of Nintendo's mascots is under attack by dark fiends. To combat this, players go through mascot-themed 2-D levels, taking out baddies along the way with boss battles sprinkled here and there throughout the entire mode filled with gorgeous and oftentimes humorous cutscenes. It's a good concept which borrows from director Masahiro Sakurai's past Kirby titles, but overall the Subspace Emissary is a pretty clunky, humdrum experience. The controls serve well for fighting in the main modes, but platforming with them is a bit floaty and imprecise for my tastes. The mode clocks in at just over six hours, but honestly it feels like it should have been shorter. I had to press myself just to complete it as it can get quite repetitive.

And even if you're tired of playing the single-player modes and lack any buddies nearby to brawl, there's online to play. You get two options of play: With Anyone searches randomly for players from around your area, or you have With Friends which draws on those damned Nintendo friend codes to play with your friends. Lamentably, With Anyone is bare-bones. There's no communication or options to select from whatsoever so you might as well be playing against the AI. Just pick a character, pummel a punching bag in the waiting room standing by for your opponents, and bash the hell out of each other for two minutes. With Friends is cheerfully better as you can select what items will be in play, the time limit, damage ratio, and other quirks. While communication is a non-issue, you can create phrases that can pop up in battle with the push of a button to taunt opponents or express your need to say "lol wut" from across the globe. Online is pretty much lag-free with friends, but with Anyone and with folks further away from you, latency is a huge problem at the time of this review (a month after SSBB's release).

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It's on like Donkey Kong.

While Wi-Fi is a welcomed addition to the Smash Bros. series, local multiplayer is still far more gratifying, and all of the options are available to you to choose from. You can set up match types, create tournaments, and select from special rules like all metal, giant, small, or flaming characters (no not that type of flaming character!). Rotation grants the chance for everyone in the room to play.

The cast of characters and stages in Brawl is astounding. There's enough heroes, villains, and beauties to choose from. Newcomers like Wario and Diddy Kong bring with them their own charm and playing styles while old favorites like Mario and Link are changed just enough to feel fresh. Clones were a big problem with Melee, and thankfully many of the clones returning to Brawl have been changed slightly to seem unique. The stages are some of the best to have ever hit a Smash Bros. game. One will have you traveling around the sunny sites of Delfino Plaza which made this reviewer want to pop in Super Mario Sunshine all over again. Then another takes you to Smashville where Animal Crossing onlookers like Brewster and Gracie spectate your battles. Of course, if you're feeling nostalgic or longing for some old favorites, there's ten stages from Melee which mark their return. In total, there's 41 incredible stages to play through, and honestly I only detest two of those 41.

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A rumble in the jungle. One of my favorite stages.

Brawl will last you a long time as there's a lot of items to collect as well as unlock. Get ready to spend a lot of hours inside the Vault menu. Trophies return from Melee which are quite entertaining for the Nintendo aficionado or random collection junkie to gather. There's over 500 individual trophies, and each trophy is based off a character or item from Nintendo lore. Want to read up about Star Fox's General Pepper? Just select the trophy to read up as well as see his first and last appearance in a game. Some items like stickers have a more beneficial purpose as they can actually boost the stats of your characters in the Subspace Emissary mode. Then there's coins-- the currency of Brawl. Use these in the addicting Coin Launcher minigame to score new trophies and stickers. However, certain trophies, stickers, and other unlockables can't be received so easily. This is where the Challenges menu comes in. Think Xbox 360 achievements that actually give you something for completing a certain task in-game other than a larger e-penor. There's over 100 of these challenges to complete giving players new trophies, stickers, demos, and music, and while some are easy to nail such as beating Classic mode as a given character, some are quite time-consuming. There's nothing more satisfying than seeing an almost complete board of all your completed challenges and prizes.

There's even more inside the Vault. You can arrange trophies to your liking, peruse your sticker collection, flip through your photo album of all taken screenshots in-game (a feature that I can't get enough of), or if you're feeling a little too big for your britches, create your own stages. You can create some pretty cool creations to brawl others on, but it's also very limiting. There's only three backgrounds to choose from, some pieces have too big restriction areas to do anything with, and you can only send levels to other players but you can't play them online with one another. Those gripes aside, this is another mode that I can't seem to get enough of.

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Oh, yes. Someone named Solid Snake and Sonic the Hedgehog is in this game.

So if you haven't guessed it by now, Super Smash Bros. Brawl is brimming with content. I couldn't stop playing for weeks trying to unlock that next trophy, character, song, or stage. But how's the gameplay? Pretty much unchanged formulaic-wise. The basics of hitting your opponent out of or off of a stage still apply. The more you damage your opponent, the further they'll fly when you hit them with a smash. Normal attacks, tilts, smash attacks, and special attacks have all returned with a bang. The biggest change I would surmise is how air dodges are performed. No longer can you dodge in a direction meaning those hoping for the wavedashing meta-game are out of luck. No worries though, you can still school newbies with chain-grabs and spikes. Now while there are four control types to choose from, you'll most likely want to grab your old Gamecube or Wavebird controller to brawl. The button configurations are completely customizable giving you the ability to select a control style that fits you and your playing style.

Great games are easy to learn and hard to master. There's a thick layer of depth buried under the casual-friendly exterior. Super Smash Bros. Brawl succeeds in varying the gameplay while keeping the core foundation intact. New strategies arise from the Final Smashes and change the tactics of battle recognizably.

Items are the meat of the Smash Bros. sandwich (God, did I just write that?). While some players are set in their ways about leaving them off (no items, no lip, no sex ever, Fox only, Final Destination), most will opt to leave them on. It's what makes Smash Bros different from any other fighter sans the Nintendo facade. The newest and most prevalent item is the Smash Ball. When it appears it's a mad dash to bust it open, and when a character does they can unleash upon their unsuspecting foes their Final Smash attack. For example, Kirby's FS sucks his opponents into a pot of stew, dealing damage and possibly propelling them off the stage. On the other hand, Fox calls in his landmaster to blast foes to submission. If Final Smashes aren't your thing, try out the Assist Trophy. Think Poke Ball but instead of summoning a Pokemon, you're calling upon a character from Nintendo past like Samurai Goroh who slices and dices anyone who gets in his way or Little Mac who pummels any nearby opponent.

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Top: Mario unleashed his Mario Finale!
Bottom: Samus drains what is left of her suit for this attack!

Brawl sits pretty as one of the Wii's most graphically impressive games. The amount of detail everywhere is just staggering, and it all runs in 480p and 60 fps-- never showing a slight thought of slowing down. What's even more staggering is the amount of music in Brawl-- over 250 individual tracks. Original songs used in games like Star Fox Assault and F-Zero X, but also remixed versions of old favorites from the likes of Yasunori Mitsuda, Motoi Sakuraba, Yoko Shimomura, and Koji Kondo-- themes you've probably forgotten but when it's played you'll go, "Man, I totally forgot about that song!". Using the My Music feature you can choose the probability of what songs will play in a given stage.

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It's on like Donkey Kong. Did I use that one already?

Ever wanted to see who was the strongest-- Mario vs. Sonic, Snake vs. Samus, Link vs. Zelda? Now you can. As a single-player experience you won't get as many miles out of the multiplayer bliss that is Super Smash Bros. Brawl. It nears perfect, and while extras like the Subspace Emissary drag it down a bit, it's still one of the best games Nintendo has created in a long time. There's an exuberant amount of content that you can just tell Sakurai and his cohorts poured their hearts into this title. I have not been this addicted to a video game for a long time. It's a feeling that I've missed as a gamer, but Brawl seems to have rekindled that raw gaming emotion in me. Perhaps it will do the same for you.

[SuperPhillip Says]

Graphics: Some of the Wii's best. There's plenty of detail to be had. 480p and 60 fps.

Gameplay: The formula remains the same, but new twists like Final Smashes add more to the pot.

Sound: The soundtrack is just incredible. So many familiar tunes by an all-star cast of composers.

Replay Value: This game will last you ages if you want to try to unlock everything normally.

Overall: 9.75/10 - Incredible. The wait was worth it.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Just Over 20 Minutes of Footage From SuperPhillip RPG: The Crystal Quest

I promised this, and thankfully I found the compatible software and hardware to pull it off. The sound is iffy as it recorded from a microphone (I had to go out and buy one for cheap at Circuit City) since my sound card wasn't up to snuff to record straight from it. Regardless, you get a small sound sample of the game. The real game has much clearer and crisper sound and music, so no worries.

What I played through was the opening, and then I explored the beginning town, Mabel, for the duration of the clip. I even caught a few errors while playing that I've seen fixed such as the game being called "No More Tomorrow" instead of what it is now, "The Crystal Quest". Please leave some feedback in the comments section, everyone. Thanks much for your support!


In two weeks, we'll be up to our eyeballs in marvelous E3 coverage!

Sure, it won't beat the early Christmas gift that was the large, thriving E3 that occurred each May, but it's still the number one source to hear about the newest game announcements, updates, and even a surprise or two... thousand... along the way.

Let's take a look back at the highs and lows of past E3 press conferences in anticipation for E3 2008!

E3 2004 - The Unveiling of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

The console war had been decided years prior to 2006. The Gamecube was losing exclusives, games, and third parties left and right. As if to form one final hurrah for the legion of Nintendrones who followed their precious company through all of their highs and lows of the Gamecube's life, Nintendo unveiled one final game for the little purple box, and what followed was something that sent chills to Nintendo fans all over the Nintendom.



E3 2006 - The Wii's Coming Out Party

E3 2006 was the time when Nintendo's secretive little Wii was finally unveiled in-depth to gamers young and old. Oh, how I wish I had known how horribly lazy third party companies were going to be towards the Wii even to this day!



E3 2006 - Sony's Embarrassing E3 Press Conference

Embarrassing is putting it mildly. You have the king and reigning champion of the video game market going into E3 will a lot of momentum. You have them riding the success of the Playstation brand, the PS1, PS2, and in some regard, the PSP. Nothing could go wrong, right? Ehhhhh.... It was almost like watching an empire's tower come crashing to the ground. How to watch for some, entertaining as hell for the rest of us. What we have here is a series of clips cleverly sequenced together for maximum hilarity. Ignore the fanboy babble at the end for an amusing look at how Sony shot themselves in the foot.



E3 2007 - How Sony Got Their Groove Back

After their poor 2006 showing at E3, Sony marched to E3 2007 guns blazing and very much rocked the show. I would go so far as to say that they had the best showing last year, and they really needed to. They had a lot to prove-- they needed to show folks to put some faith into the Playstation 3, and I think they did so splendidly. This video is the closing trailer for their 2007 E3 press conference.



E3 2007 - Jamie Kennedy is A Tool.

Well, we didn't need to see this press conference to realize that, did we? Jamie Kennedy, B-list celebrity and known for whatever the hell movies he's been in, was the drunken emcee for Activision's 2007 E3 press conference. Not a good idea to be heckling the crowd that is watching you with jokes regarding gaming stereotypes. The funniest bit doesn't come from Kennedy, who is funny for all the wrong reasons, it comes from a person in the audience. I won't spoil it. No worries.



Hope you enjoyed this brief look at past E3 press conferences. They aren't the grandest highlights from E3's illustrious past, so I'll be back for some more glimpses into E3's history.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

SuperPhillip RPG Update Day - Frames and Windows


As you're playing SuperPhillip RPG: The Crystal Quest, perhaps you're getting bored of the same old frame and window you've had since the beginning of the game. Don't know what I'm talking about? Well, here take a look!

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The standard frame and window.

You see the red gradient window and the silver frame? Well, that's the default combination. Here's where things get a little more fun. Hidden throughout the game's towns, lands, and dungeons and even purchasable at a special shop are additional windows that can be exchanged for the default colors. Need some examples? Sure thing.

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This one's called Blue Gradient. A simple name, yes?

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Ah... some pleasant paper effect when you use Parchment.

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Does this one remind you of a sandy desert? It should. It's called Desert Dune.

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Just Peachy. Not just the design, but also the name of the window. Sort of familiar.... Where have I seen that before?

Not only are the conversation windows updated, but so are the menu and battle windows!

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This is simply called Bubble Gum. Looks like something for a tween, doesn't it?

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Maybe you like a steel look? Heavy Metal might be right for you.

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Something for fans of a show that I can't stand. Believe It!

I have planned thirty windows in all to choose from. I might use more, but don't think you have to collect them all to complete the game or get something huge for doing so.

Chatbox is now operational.

If you look to the right of the page (and down a bit), you'll see my brand new chatbox ready for anonymous strangers and friends alike to post their thoughts in or to just say "hi".

This is also a post to let folks know that they can easily comment on any of my blog posts by clicking the "Comment" link underneath a given post. Give me your opinion on various posts! Thanks, and see you later on for Tuesday's update!

Monday, June 30, 2008

SuperPhillip's Second Blast Works Level

If you haven't yet played through Level 1-1, please do so (if you can, of course) before playing through this next level. They're to be played in order.

Direct Link Here: http://miiplaza.net/games/blastworks/2355

Level 1-2 takes place above and dangerously close to the Central City skyline. With the CCPD on his trail, SuperPhillip flies closer to the ground in an attempt to shake them, flying over the rooftops as well as through the construction site of a bridge! Can SuperPhillip lose the police force who has for some reason suddenly started pursuing him?

Some comments so far on my level:

Awsome level, I love it!

Posted by Eric F
June 28, 2008 @ 2:48am EDT (-04:00)

Remarkable. You're levels outshine many campaign stages. I loved every minute of this... however, if I may nitpick for a moment, I thought the boss was too easy this time, just a thought... the level otherwise was fantastic.

Posted by MiOdd
June 30, 2008 @ 11:46am EDT (-04:00)

SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs - Retro Round

This Monday I've selected seven videos that are from seven classic titles. These include games from the Game Boy, Super Nintendo, and Sega Genesis. Hope you enjoy this week's videos now including descriptions to further enhance the experience.

Quite simply, it's the theme of Pokemon Kanto region town, Cerulean City. This is the place where your trainer meets up with the water Pokemon gym leader, Misty.



Let's do another Game Boy classic, shall we? This time it's the catchy Athletic theme from Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins. Essentially, this song is the main theme of the game. Enjoy.



It's time for another two-fer. This time our subject is the first Sigma Palace theme from Mega Man X and its remixed version in Mega Man Maverick Hunter X.



Now we have a boss battle theme from the fantastic RPG, Breath of Fire II, Clean Hit. Here's hoping Capcom brings the Breath of Fire series to current gen platforms!



I used to play this game so much as a kid. It's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters, the SNES version. It had a very good soundtrack, too, mind you. Hope you like the Cafeteria track, Raphael's stage.



Tetris Attack is my favorite series of puzzler. I've put more hours into it than I'm willing to be proud of. This theme is actually Lip's Theme which is a recurring theme in various Tetris Attack/Panel de Pon games. For this SNES classic, it's played during training. Enjoy.



Finally, this is an old classic and a favorite of many. It's the theme of the Ice Cap Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog 3.



As always, if you appreciate my videos, please subscribe!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Crosswords DS Review

Here's a DS game that is great to pass time with as well as work that brain of yours. It's the twenty dollar Crosswords DS. Read over my review to see why it deserves to be in your growing DS collection if it isn't already!

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Down, 5 letters: Not just good, but _____ !"


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The Touch Generations line of games-- Brain Age, Big Brain Academy, Flash Focus, Planet Puzzle League, Tetris DS, etc-- have done a great job of introducing casual players into gaming with its wide catalog of non-intimidating games. Not only this, but these games have found a niche with core gamers as well. Crosswords DS is the next entry into the Touch Generations catalog of titles. For $20 bucks is this title worth your money, or are these types of games better suited for your morning paper?

You start Crosswords DS by setting up one of four profiles meaning up to four players can individually track their own progress without sharing the same puzzles. Nifty! Despite its name, Crosswords DS actually has three types of games in it-- the standard crossword puzzles, word searches, and anagram puzzles. The crossword section makes up the meat of the game with the most content and puzzles available. There's four difficulties of puzzles from the beginning easy and normal, and two other difficulties that must be unlocked from play. Easy has 210 puzzles with 15 pages of puzzles. Once the last set of pages has been unlocked, you can play through any puzzle in any order you wish-- just like in any standard puzzle book. The first row of puzzles (there's twenty-one per page-- the 21st puzzle, a themed puzzle, is opened up after all the crosswords on that page have been finished) are relatively small. They're 4x4. As you progress down the numbered puzzles and page, there will be larger puzzles to solve.

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There's more than enough puzzles for your twenty dollars.

Crosswords DS is played open-book style, and depending on which is your dominant hand, you'll be playing either on the left or right screen (you just flip the DS upside-down if you're left-handed, for instance). When starting a puzzle, you point to a square on the puzzle, and you'll receive two clues on the left hand side of the screen, one across clue and one down clue. Hit the square again to be able to begin writing in a letter. Pending what box you check on the bottom right corner of the screen, either across or down, the game will automatically shift right or down so you don't have to move around yourself. However, you can use the directional pad to move around alternatively. I preferred to utilize a combination of both techniques for faster puzzle-solving. Easy assist is required on the easy difficulty, and it can be turned off on normal and hard. This function tells you if you've written down an incorrect letter.

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The word is obviously "identicat".

Thankfully, the letter recognition software used in Crosswords DS is much better than in Brain Age and other earlier titles, so writing down an incorrect letter unintentionally won't be as much of a problem-- though it's still there. My handwriting is by no means perfect, but I've had multiple instances where lowercase is were perceived by the game as lowercase J's and uppercase N's were mistaken for uppercase H's. Regardless, those are the only problems I've encountered regarding writing letters. I just wish that once I've written down a letter the game would swiftly shift over to the next square so I could quickly write down my answer. It's a little slower than I would like, but still, I'm just an impatient person.

If you get stumped during a puzzle, you can ask for a hint. However, there's only a finite number of hints available, and these will penalize your final time. Yep, each puzzle you do is timed, and finish a puzzle and you'll be rewarded with a letter ranking-- 'A' being the best. Crossword are the only puzzles that give out grades from speed. The puzzles aren't overly challenging either, and I've come across instances where the same clues/words are given for different puzzles--even puzzle right next to another. There's also some liberties given to make the puzzles work. Silly clues like "I am ti___ (sleepy)". Regardless, it's a small complaint.

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One of my favorites as a kid were word searches.

The other puzzles, word searches and anagrams, are just as fun. Word searches are split up in three difficulties: small, large, and a difficulty that needs to be unlocked. You have the words located on one side of the screen and the actual word search on the other. Simply draw lines on the hidden words to have them highlighted and marked off. The larger puzzles are a little more challenging as you have to move the camera around to see the entire puzzle, so you don't have the whole puzzle in front of you like you do with the small puzzles. There's five pages of puzzles for each difficulty of twenty puzzles per page. Each puzzle is themed-- animals, cities, sports, and so on.

Rounding out the package are anagrams. These puzzles are divided up into three types: short, medium, and long. As soon as you select a type, you jump right into the puzzle. You're given a group of letters, and it's your goal to try to arrange the letters into as many 3-letter, 4-letter, 5-letter (etc) words as possible. This mode has a seemingly endless number of puzzles, and for each one you solve, the game will keep track of how many anagram puzzles you've completed in the various lengths.

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If you get stuck, the words you've discovered already are listed in alphabetical order.

Another cool feature of this game is that you can save your progress at any time, and then you can dive right into the puzzle where you left off. Only three progress saves can be recorded at one time-- a crossword save, a word search save, and an anagram save. This feature might seem a given, but some titles of the same brevity lack such a feature. It's perfect for the pick-up-and-play aspect that the Touch Generations line of games is known for.

A simple game really needs nothing but a simple interface. There's no neon lights, explosions, or voice clips here. It's just bare bones all around, and it really doesn't need anything more. The only music will play as you navigate the menus or give you a chime as you begin or give up a puzzle. The gameplay is silent save for a sparse sampling of sound effects. This might seem like a negative, but no, it actually works.

Crosswords DS is decidedly not for everyone. Those yearning for action, eye-catching graphics, and an epic adventure will need to look elsewhere. However, those who need something to do while they wait for the bus, train, or to just kill a few minutes before the big ballgame's on will be covered. It's fun to play, and it's great to just pass a few minutes with or even a few hours. And for just twenty bucks you get over 1,000 different puzzles that will last you quite a long time. Greatly recommended for those who love these types of word puzzles.

[SuperPhillip Says]

Graphics: Bare-bones presentation, but for what it is it works all the same.

Gameplay: Take your pick from an abundant array of crosswords, word searches, and anagrams.

Sound: There's only 1-2 music tracks, but interactive sound effects help save the experience from being too boring for some.

Replay Value: Incredibly high. Few will finish the game's 1000+ puzzles unless they have a lot of time on their hands.

Overall: 8.25/10 - Great, but obviously not for everyone. At $20.00, it's a steal!

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