Saturday, September 6, 2008

Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood (DS) - New Vids

Let's continue our Sonic-themed Saturday with some new videos/trailers from the upcoming DS RPG, Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood. The jury's still out on whether or not Sonic is a lost cause-- even with Bioware at the helm. We'll find out at the end of the month.

Direct Links (Each is a different vid)
http://www.gamershell.com/tv/14382.html
http://www.gamershell.com/tv/14384.html
http://www.gamershell.com/tv/14386.html
http://www.gamershell.com/tv/14388.html

Sonic's first ever RPG races onto the DS September 30th in North America.

Sonic Unleashed (Wii Edition) New Screens

That's pretty impressive-looking if I do say so myself. I mean, it isn't the most earth-shattering, but it's pleasing to my eyes at least. Too bad the game will probably be fail unleashed.

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Friday, September 5, 2008

SPC Mailbag - The Premiere Edition

Another week, another new segment it seems. Keeps things fresh, yes? I get asked certain questions more times than others, so for this first edition of the SPC Mailbag I'll be posted frequently asked questions from either my e-mail or message board posts. And to be considered frequently asked, a question needed to be answered more than... never. No, seriously. We're still small, so I'm glad nothing's too complicated to get many questions. Let's get started, shall we?

~ How many reviews have you done total? What's your highest rated review? What's your lowest rated?

I have currently written 97 reviews. I'm closing in on #100 obviously, so I have something small but special planned for that event. I don't quite know which game will be #100, but I'm not going to go out of my way to review a big game just as my 100th review.

There are actually two reviews that were rated 10/10. They are Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

My worst scored game was Ninjabread Man for the Wii. It was a free rental at Blockbuster, I wanted to see how bad it was, etc. ...Should have rented Gigli instead.

~ What was your first ever review?


Ah, you're making me feel old. I'm kidding, of course. ;)
I'll just let the cat out of the bag now since it's already suffocated due to a lack of oxygen. After my 100th review I'll be posting my first ever review to see myself how I've improved as a reviewer... or declined. hehe

~ What's your current favorite platform?

I'm playing a lot more games on my Wii, PSP, and DS than anything else. It's good to root for the underdog in the Wii. What? It's the number one selling console! Sure, but there's a wide variety of ignorant, bitter, and/or uninformed "HD" gamers who just don't get it. They always come up with silly ways to criticize the system. "Games don't sell!" then "Third party games don't sell" then "Only non-games sell!" then "Only games from well-known series sell!", etc. They constantly are proven wrong, but they continue to whine. NeoGAF is the worst. The mods will let Wii trolling fly, but if you dare derail a thread about a PS3 or 360 game, you're banned. Thankfully, I just lurk. ;)

~ When will your Top 100 Games be completed?

That's a tough one. I don't want to finish the list as quickly as possible because there's a lot of good gems that I've never had the time to play such as Goldeneye, Silent Hill 2, Shadow of the Colossus, Okami, Sly Cooper, Zelda: Twilight Princess, God of War 2, etc. This backlog will kill me for sure. Sorry to keep you folks waiting though.

~ Will you ever be returning to Wi-Fi World?

For those unaware, I founded this Nintendo Wi-Fi gaming site in April 2006. Long story short, a year ago I got tired of some of the stereotypical rude internet mindset, closed down the site, and left. This didn't make most of the members to happy. Most are indifferent about me now but some are still upset. Do I care? No, since the ones still are upset are the ones I didn't like to begin with.

Now will I go back, no, I thought about it, but I just want to completely move on. It was fun, but now I have my blog which I love even more. I hope everybody has moved on and is happy too.


===

Also, if anyone has the artistic touch, I'd love to have a logo for my various "bits" such as the VGMs, Top 100 Games, and the SPC Mailbag!

Finally, one of our new readers, Chief, thought up an excellent name for the Poll-- the Central City Census! Such alliteration, such brilliance! Methinks he's known me from Wi-Fi World. ;)

~ If you have a question you'd like to see answered (I imagine the mailbag will be a monthly occurence), feel free to drop a question into the c-box or by e-mailing me on my public e-mail at: superphillip32@hotmail.com

Fun! Fun! Mini Golf for Wiiware announced.

Does the developer Shinen ring any bells? Perhaps you've played one of their games on the Game Boy Advance or Nintendo DS? They're known for their Iridion and Nanostray games. Now they're entering a new genre and a new console with Fun! Fun! Mini Golf (what a pain in the ass game title to type imo) for Wiiware. I wouldn't normally take a look at a Wiiware game since: 1) I don't have room on my Wii to store it, and I'm too lazy to clean my fridge, and 2) Paying for points online is a pain since your credit card info isn't saved (security reasons). Nonetheless, this title has me intrigued. I love mini golf. I love Shinen's games. Two and two go together to make Fooooooore! Did you see what I did there with that golf joke? Ahem.

Here's some initial information of the game from the good folks at Wiiware World!
  • 1-4 Players.
  • Fun! Fun! features Golf courses in America, Europe and Asia.
  • There are 27 different holes to play.
  • We expect to release the game very soon on Wii Ware.
  • We will announce the release date in the next weeks.
  • It will be released in Europe and the US
  • The game runs fully at 60fps (NTSC) or 50fps (PAL).
  • The game does support 16:9 and 4:3 TV screens.
  • Some graphical specs. Fun! Fun! features:
    -HDR Lightning
    -Image Based Lightning
    -Soft Shadows
    -Normal Mapping
    -Environment Mapping
    -Bump Mapping
    -Blooming
Take a gander at these very impressive (for Wiiware at least) screens!

Fun! Fun! Minigolf Screenshot Fun! Fun! Minigolf Screenshot Fun! Fun! Minigolf Screenshot Fun! Fun! Minigolf Screenshot Fun! Fun! Minigolf Screenshot Fun! Fun! Minigolf Screenshot

Click for a larger screen!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

SuperPhillip's Most Anticipated Games of the Holiday Season

Wednesday Update note: It seems this darned Blast Works review doesn't want to be seen. The first time, I posted the blog title as a reminder to post the review. That obviously did not happen and I forgot anyway! This time the review is posted, but apparently only I can see it! I'll tinker with Blogger's settings to see what the heck's up. Thanks for being patient. I'll post a blog entry tomorrow for when the review can be seen by all! Now... onto the main article!
Hello. SuperPhillip here as you probably already know. Tonight I'm listing my most anticipated games of this holiday season for all platforms: Wii, PS3, 360, PC, DS, and PSP. I'll also be sharing some runners-up for each category. Perhaps you'll discover a game here that you didn't know about! Feel free to list your own games that you are looking forward to, folks!

- Nintendo Wii

Most Anticipated: Wario Land: Shake It!



Wario feels that he's partied enough with his WarioWare company, so now he's returning to his platforming roots with an all-new adventure. With beautiful 2D graphics and animation done by the excellent Production I.G. anime team, this game looks great and previews state that it plays even better. Shake the Wii remote to shake an enemy into submission or tilt the remote to control various vehicles to help Wario find his sought-after treasure. This game should be hitting most Wiis at the end of this month.

Runners-Up: Animal Crossing: City Folk, de Blob, Call of Duty: World at War

- Playstation 3

Most Anticipated: LittleBigPlanet


There's nothing I love more than creating my own levels. I have no intention of becoming a game developer or anything of that sort, so games like this where I can really be creative and share my works worldwide with friends and strangers alike is something very compelling to me. In LittleBigPlanet your creativity is your boundary. Create levels down to the finest detail with the interesting physics engine. I very much hope this title sells. THIS is what I look for in the ever-stagnant world of "bloody shooter #666". LittleBigPlanet (all one word) parades onto the PS3 a bit before Halloween.

Runners-Up: Motorstorm: Pacific Rift, Far Cry 2, Bioshock

- Xbox 360
Most Anticipated: Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts



Bear and bird are back, and they look better than ever. The worlds are expansive, but Banjo need not traverse them on foot alone. The main draw of the game is the ability to create your own vehicles from either blueprints to your own imagination. You use a different type of vehicle for a different type of challenge. There will be online races as well as other competitions that Rare is still tight-lipped about. All I know is that Banjo-Kazooie is one of my favorite series period, and I'll be there day one! By the way, if you pre-order the game you'll get a code around the game's launch to download the original B-K for Xbox Live Arcade for free. Did I mention that this is all just for $39.99? 11/11/08 Banjo and Kazooie make their next gen debut.

Runners-Up: Gears of War 2, Saints Row 2, The Last Remnant

- PC
Most Anticipated: Spore

From the creative mind of Will Wright, creator of SimCity and The Sims, comes a brand new venture. Create your own organism, watch it grow from cell to galactic god! The beauty is that you can completely design your creature and interact with it. Have it fight others, inhabit new areas with it, etc. The choices are yours for an experience unlike any other. Spore spawns onto retail shelves next week.

Runners-Up: Grand Theft Auto IV

- Nintendo DS
Most Anticipated: Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia



There's just too much I'm interested in for the DS. It's simply insane! Regardless, my pick is the newest Castlevania, Order of Ecclesia. It's the good old Castlevania action that we've grown to love, and that's a good thing! Keep it simple, Igarashi-- no 3D, no spin-offs-- just simple action-platforming, RPG style leveling up, exploration, great music, and gorgeous 2D graphics. I really loved Dawn of Sorrow as its appearance on my Top 100 games proves. Portrait of Ruin was too segmented to my liking, but it was still up-to-par. We'll see how Order of Ecclesia fares ten days before Halloween.

Runners-Up: Kirby Super Star Ultra, Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood, Chrono Trigger DS, Away: Shuffle Dungeon, Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen, Dragon Ball: Origins

- PSP
Most Anticipated: Star Ocean: The First Departure



Sadly, there's not much for PSP owners this holiday season. Regardless of the quality of releases, a game I've been eyeing for the longest while is Star Ocean: The First Departure-- a remake of the original SNES Star Ocean game that never made it to North American shores. Enix is correcting this by releasing this title October 21st.

Runner-Up: Valhalla Knights 2 (Eh, I felt bad not having a runner-up for the PSP, so I added this RPG that probably won't do well...)

===

Well, there you have it. You might be wondering why certain multi-platform games are on one system and not another. It's just my personal preference of the version that intrigues me the most. I wouldn't give another Call of Duty a chance if not for new Wii controls. We'll see how those work out. Again, I encourage you to post your own list in my comment sections. Don't worry. I DO read them.

Dissidia Final Fantasy (PSP) New Trailer - Kefka's Debut

I don't care who your favorite Final Fantasy villain is. If it's anybody other than Kefka Palazzo from Final Fantasy VI, you're wrong. That's right. YOUR OPINION IS WRONG. The video is just over five minutes long, so please enjoy it. I'll have one more entry tonight with an explanation of yesterday's "update".

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Mario Super Sluggers (Wii) Review

If you recall from last Tuesday, I posted my review of Mario Superstar Baseball for the Gamecube. The score it received was a 7.5. Is the new Wii edition of Mario Super Sluggers baseball better or worse, and if it's better, then by how much?

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Swings for the fences but comes up a bit short.

In 2005, Nintendo let, at that time, Namco take a swing at creating their own sports game featuring the world-renowned characters of the Super Mario franchise. This title was known as Mario Superstar Baseball for the Nintendo Gamecube. Namco didn't necessarily knock that one out of the park, so they, now as Namco-Bandai, are stepping up to the plate once more to see if they're next at-bat can be even better than their previous attempt. Enter into the lineup Mario Super Sluggers for the Nintendo Wii. Bringing improved graphics, motion controls, and an abundance of new tricks up its collective sleeve, Mario Super Sluggers may just have a chance at getting a runner to home.

Mario and company have taking a voyage on a cruise ship to Baseball Island where America's favorite pastime is played all year round. It's here where there's a variety of gimmick-inspired stadiums, baseball-themed minigames, and other secrets take center field. Unfortunately, just as soon as Mario and the gang arrive on the island, daddy's little boy, Bowser Jr. and his minions take march to conquer the entirety of the island. It's up to Mario to recruit as many players as possible in order to have one final game with Bowser Jr.'s team to see who stays and who goes.

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The major player in the Mushroom Kingdom steroid trial, Toad.

The main single-player mode of Sluggers which all of the aforementioned story takes place in is the Challenge Mode which focuses less on the Gamecube version's endless grinding for better players and focuses more on an adventure aspect coated with tutorial missions. Baseball Island is the overworld, and it connects Mario to every stadium on the island. There's five worlds in all where the goal is to solve simple puzzles, challenge other players or complete their scout missions to have them join up you, and kick Bowser Jr.'s yellow tail out of each of the stadiums. The majority of your time will be playing through either battle or scout missions. Battle missions occur when one of Junior's subordinates crosses your path unexpectedly. The baddie will then challenge you to pass his baseball test consisting of performing an assigned task such as batting the ball to the designated side of the field or throw the required pitch across the plate. Scout missions are a variant of battle missions. They occur when you help out The only difference is that once a scout mission is completed that character will happily join you knowing that you've proven yourself to be capable of being a good captain. Sometimes you won't even have to play a scout mission to have a character join your team. Perhaps getting rid of Bowser Jr.'s presence is all you need to have them join your cause.

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It's on like... Diddy Kong?

At the conclusion of each world, you'll face off against a challenge with Bowser Jr.'s team. These will usually be one-inning games where you have to come back from a run or more deficit. Vanquish Bowser's kin in one area, and that area's captain will join you. There's five captains in all: Mario, Peach, Yoshi, Wario, and Donkey Kong. Each captain has their own special ability that they can use on the world map. For instance, Mario is the only one who can enter pipes, Peach can interact with certain objects to bring them back to life or consciousness, Yoshi is the only captain who can ground pound, Wario has the fortune of being able to open treasure chests, and DK possesses the brute strength to climb vines and bash wooden crates and barrels. You always have the ability to enter any stadium at any time, so you'll want to go back and explore a world with a new captain to see if there's anything his or her new abilities can help you out with.


Mario only needs nine players to challenge Bowser Jr. (and then big bad Bowser himself) to a ballgame. This means that you can see the ending of the game in about a half hour or so. However, the real goal of Challenge mode is to recruit every teammate possible by scouring the various stadiums for new free agents. To start off Sluggers, you have in your ranks around 25 starting characters. By playing through the Challenge mode you can raise that number to just over 40, including the ability to play with your Miis. Unlocking everything in the mode the first time took about ten hours-- give or take sixty minutes. Unlike Mario Superstar Baseball, a teammate becomes a star character (which enhances their playing abilities) simply by being on the team that defeats Bowser in Challenge mode. This is much more welcome than the previous game that had you complete eight small goals for each character such as hitting a home run, being part of a triple play, etc.

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Beat Bowser Jr., recruit a new captain.

A possible oversight to the rather short Challenge mode is the lack of online play. It's somewhat understandable why it wasn't included as I can't really recall a third party-developed game for the Wii that has had competitive online of this magnitude-- or at least any game by Namco-Bandai on the Wii that's even had online at all. Mario Strikers Charged was a Western-developed game which explains why online was such a prominent feature in that game. Regardless, it's about time an Eastern third party steps it up in online play for the Wii. In place of online multiplayer, what rounds out the package are ballgames for up to four local players which can have players on the same team, different teams, and so on, and the returning minigames mode for both entirely new games and slightly tweaked old favorites. One game has you base-running around an agitated squid as he slaps his tentacles to the ground as you try to dodge them to collect coins while another has you taking part of a bomb-blasting Home Run Derby.

On the diamond and field itself, Sluggers plays pretty well. The motion controls work for what they are, but they're not as sharp or as inspired as they could have been. You don't hold the Wii remote like as if you were playing Wii Sports' version of baseball. There's no real reason to stand up or have your body perpendicular to the television screen. All you do is pull the remote back a bit and a little to the left and then swing forward and right once the ball comes into the cursor's range. More powerful shots can be pulled off by charging your swing and making direct contact with the ball. Conversely, pitching is handled by simply holding the Wii remote up and back, and then flicking it forward. You can pitch curves, slow balls, fast balls, and change-ups effortlessly. One might be disappointed at the simplicity of the motion controls, but I can almost understand why it was handled this way. In Wii Baseball the player did not have to control base-runners at all or hold the nunchuk. Could you imagine having to uncomfortably hold the nunchuk while you're setting up a real two-handed swing, and THEN worrying about your base-runners?

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Not mentioned in the bulk of the review, star skills return.

What isn't so understandable is the fielding. I do not comprehend how a game that is three years older has better fielding in some regards. Let's be positive first by saying that the problem of tossing the ball to the wrong base is now just a memory. Just hold a direction on the analog stick and flick the Wii remote like you're pitching to throw to the correct base. Now let's have more fun and go to the negative. When the ball is hit to the field, not only does the camera not help give you notice about where the ball is going to fall until it's too late, the game will not show you which character you're going to control in the backfield until... you guessed it, until it's too late. I cannot tell you how many runs I've given away just because I was nowhere near the ball when it dropped where in other games I'd easily be able to catch it. I don't even think Superstar Baseball was this bad in that aspect, but even with that the game still remains enjoyable.

Team chemistry is back where certain characters will play better together if they go after one another in the line-up or if they throw a pass to one another on the field. There's several benefits of having chemistry both old and new such as players who have great chemistry throw to each other must faster than if they don't have chemistry. New bonuses include the ability for the player on deck to be able to toss an error item on the field after the batter makes contact with the ball. These error items can really put a hitch on the defense. Birdo might seem like he/she's about to catch that ball, but by pointing at the screen and firing at your selected area, you can fire a item to try to interfere with the play thus either catching Birdo's butt on fire or stopping him/her from making a play. That'll teach you for confusing a generation of gamers regarding your sex! Alternatively, two chemistry-filled outfielders can team up, use one of them as a leverage to leap up high and catch a home run-seeking ball that would otherwise be out-of-reach.

Mario Sluggers isn't the best-looking Wii game by any means, but at the same time it isn't that bad of a looker either. The characters are well modeled and detailed. The nine stadiums are all designed nicely and the majority of them can be played during day or night which changes the stadium's gimmick. Peach Cruiser, for instance, has tables sometimes blocking the way of outfielders while at night the outfield is home to flopping Cheep-Cheep fish which will temporarily knock out whomever makes contact with them. Audio-wise there's nothing much here to get excited about besides the typical familiar fanfares of past Mario games. It's a pleasing aesthetic package overall.

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Junior's Play Room can only be played during the day.

Super Mario Sluggers is a decent entry into Mario's increasing collection of sports titles. However, the game feels more of a smaller evolution to the series than a big one. Where are the new modes? Where are the more responsive, intricate controls? Where is the online play for a Mario sports game in the year 2008? Where is the enhanced AI and not this comeback stuff that plagues the third and fourth AI levels? Why does Nintendo keeping shelling off their games to an incapable developer like Namco-Bandai? How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll pop? To answer this and all of these other questions, the world may never know...

[SuperPhillip Says]

Story: Bowser Jr. has infiltrated Baseball Island with his minions. It'd be too easy to murder them. Play baseball instead!

Graphics: I was impressed by the visuals truthfully. They were pleasing to me.

Gameplay: Batting and pitching is fine, but fielding can still be a problem.

Sound: The music is rather generic. Not much to hum to this time around.

Replay Value: If you lack interested friends, this game will not go into extra innings for you.

Overall: 7.75/10 - Not bad. However, it's only a .25 difference from the past game. That's not really the improvement I was hoping for. Regardless, the game is a blast with friends and family.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Introducing another new fixture for SuperPhillip Central!


I'm pleased to present to everyone a monthly series of polls. I haven't come up with a cool kick-ass name for it yet. I could go with something like "Poll of the Month", but that seems lame. Then I was thinking a pun like "Poll Position", but I didn't know if that would sound appropriate. Feel free to post name suggestions as well as upcoming questions for me to ask you, the reader.

Nonetheless, September's question is pretty simple. It's just a matter of whether or not you like my blog. I voted the top answer since I'm really proud of this baby, but I do know there's lots of room for improvement. That's where you come in yet again. You can choose one of the four choices on the poll which is located to the right of this entry, dominating the top slot of my sidebar! Why, that greedy, showboating poll! I digress. Pick you choice, and then please leave a comment in this blog entry saying what you like and what you dislike about the blog. Please be respectful. Incendiary comments have no place here (not as if that's been a problem here with you great readers), so thanks for understanding.

At the start of next month, the results of this month's poll will be posted along with a brand new question. Hope you like this new segment of the blog!

P.S. I cannot take credit for the cute picture. I did not create it. I simply used Google and searched under images for "poll". This was the second picture that came up, but it's not exactly the type of poll I'm looking for. That's just a plain ol' pole!

SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs - Celebrating 150 videos!

Today is a special edition of SFV. I began posting videos on Youtube in late May, and from then until late August I've compiled 150 different volumes. It's not as hard or as time-consuming as it sounds. There's a little prep work that goes into it: finding the song if I don't already have it, looking up composer dating, finding pictures or videos to accompany the song, etc. If I wasn't having fun doing it, I'd have stopped a long time ago.

Volume 150 will be the only series of videos posted this time around. Yep, you read right. I said series. What do I mean by that? Read on, dear reader!

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Wow. 150 videos dedicated to my favorite video game themes from the beginning of the industry to the present already! I have to admit-- gaming is my foremost hobby and I love it like nothing else. Music, music composition, and writing are probably my runners-up, so why not combine my hobbies into something I can share with the rest of the world with my limited budget and limited technology? That's what I set out to do with my Youtube series of videos inspired by the very nice SupraDarky-- to combine my love for video games with my love for their soundtracks meshed with my insight and comments. I really hope you have been enjoying my videos. I really don't mind not having an exorbitant amount of hits. As long as I can share my interests with at least a few people from around the country and around the world, I'm pleased!

Now, onto Volume 150! This is a very special entry to my list as it takes three parts to finish. Yep, for the first time, you'll need to click on two other videos to receive the full piece.

This piece comes from a series of five orchestral concerts held in Tokyo, Japan from 1991 to 1996, particularly Orchestral Game Concert 4 in 1994. This event was conducted by a wide range of composers and industry personnel including Kohei Tanaka, Nobuo Kurita, Kousuke Onozaki, Keiichi Oku, Koichi Sugiyama, Yoko Kanno (my favorite composer period), and Toshiyuki Watanabe.

This piece is a fully-realized orchestrated version of the opera scene from one of my favorite RPGs and soundtracks bar-none, Final Fantasy VI. It is called 'The Dream Oath, Maria and Draku".



Part two features Celes' beautiful aria, "Aria De Mezzo Carattere" then followed by part one of "The Wedding". Part two is in PART THREE. Did that make any sense?



The "Grand Finale" is here!

Hope you enjoyed this opera from the Orchestral Game Concert 4 CD. The five concert CDs are extremely rare, so I'll be happy to add more tracks from several more concerts in the meantime.



Direct Linkage:

Direct Link - Volume 150 - PART I
Direct Link - Volume 150 - PART II
Direct Link - Volume 150 - PART III

And finally, another special treat for you. I have compiled videos 1-50 into one continuous playlist for your listening as well as viewing pleasure. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have sharing it!



Direct Link - Playlist Volumes 1-50

My favorites will be back next week for 150 more VGMs!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Kizuma (Wii RPG from Jaleco) - First Screens

I'm digging that pencil filter. It's amazing to me how most Japanese devs "get it" regarding the Wii yet the Western ones are too stupid to do anything intelligent. Go figure.













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