Friday, May 15, 2009

DK King of Swing (GBA) Retro Review

I had planned to put up my Jungle Beat review last week, but that's when I got ill. Then I was going to post it up today, but I'm still not 100%. Instead, let's take a look back at the game that started Donkey Kong's more-versatile and innovative platforming roles with DK King of Swing for the Game Boy Advance. If you can track this game down on Amazon or eBay (not that rare I don't think), you won't be disappointed!

It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing.

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Donkey Kong returns in a brand new game, but it's not what you think it is. DK King of Swing throws the Country formula and gameplay out of the window bringing with it a new control scheme with it. The Kongs are having a competition to see who can grab the most DK medals and be designated as "The King of the Jungle" when suddenly King K. Rool flies in, pilfers all of the medals, and rockets away. Now DK must get them back!

After a brief tutorial with Cranky, you'll launch into the game itself. There are five worlds consisting of DK's jungle, a western themed area, a coral reef, an ice domain, and finally King K. Rool's vessel. There are about four levels in each world. Each level is comprised of vertical rooms which DK will have to climb multiple series of pegs while avoiding enemies, grabbing bananas, and finding hidden bonus barrels. You use the L and R buttons not only to move on solid ground left and right, but you also use them in mid air to control DK's hands. L being his left hand, and R being his right. You use these buttons the most when playing. You'll latch onto pegs and alternate between L and R to climb on the various surfaces the game has to offer. Holding L and R while on the ground performs a jump while holding L and R together while holding onto a peg to execute an attack on an enemy. The A button is used to make DK invincible for a short period of time. This move consumes twenty bananas while healing a heart of DK (in this game DK has three hearts as his health bar) costs ten. When you lose all three hearts, it's game over until you restart on the world map. Now being able to use bananas to heal is a nice touch, but it's easy to abuse by going back to previous levels and stocking up on DK's yellow fix.

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Familiar foes abound in King of Swing.

You'd think alternating between L and R would be shallow, but there's a lot of variety to this game. You can grab onto rocks in certain levels to chuck at climbing Kremlings. Speaking of baddies, numerous Donkey Kong Country foes make a return to DK King of Swing including Kritters, Flitters, Zingers, Neckies, and Lockjaws to name a few. Obstacles such as walls can only be pressed by cranking a switch to allow DK enough time to pass through. DK can ride in barrels to shoot himself past danger. Worlds of ice make grabbing onto and sticking to pegs all the more difficult. The final world will have you dodging spikes, mortar fire, while clinging to conveyor belts that'll push you off if you stay on them too long. Not only are there the levels to complete, but each level has a medal and crystal coconut hidden in them. One is in a bonus barrel which will lead you to a stage where you'll have to collect all of the bananas within the time limit, and the other is hiding somewhere within the level.

Each world concludes with its own boss battle. Some you can simply hold L and R and bash into the boss, but others require a different approach. The Davy Bones boss will desire you to grab onto its tail and ram it into the surrounding spikes around the battlefield. Simply ramming into it won't do you any good.

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This boss requires you to grab its tail
and pull it into the surrounding spikes.

To round out the package, DK King of Swing comes with an alternate party type mode called Jungle Jam. There's a race mode to see who of the four can climb to the top of the area the fastest, an obstacle course, and a battle mode to see who can hit the competition the most within the time limit. These are a necessity for perfectionists to complete. Even after beating the fairly short adventure mode 100%, you'll deal with another mode called Diddy Mode. This is a harder version of the adventure mode. You will only find bananas when you fell an enemy. No more strewn about the levels. Those patient enough to complete this will unlock a very cool character which you'll have to see for yourself to unlock (or check a FAQ).

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Silly monkey, Trix are for kids!

DK King of Swing is a very innovative game that retains the fun of the franchise. Though sometimes frustrating climbing your way to the top of a room only to get knocked down back where you started can be quite annoying, overall the game experience is positive. The story mode may be short, but unlocking everything King of Swing has to offer lengthens the play time. If you're in the mood for an underrated gem, then DK King of Swing should be the top banana for you.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.0/10]

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure (Wii) Review

Treasure Island Revisited

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It's really difficult to recommend great third-party titles to a Wii owner. Mostly due to the fact that most third-party Wii games are crappy, rushed Playstation 2 ports or plain shovelware. And like a treasure chest buried under a desert of third-party mediocrity, you have a title like Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure.

This quest for booty stars a lovable duo of Zack, a chocolate bar-devouring young lad, and his trusty companion, the robotic monkey known as Wiki, who recently joined up with fellow treasure hunters, the Sea Rabbits. High in the sky and itching for some treasure, the crew's plane is attacked by a rival gang of booty-lovers led by the vivacious as well as beautiful Captain Rose. A tutorial mission follows which puts players into Capcom's world of seeking gold. This mission follows their exploits of abandoning the falling plane, safely reaching the ground, and coming across a mysterious treasure. The contents of this chest reveal the gold talking skull of the legendary Captain Barbaros who promises the pair his legendary pirate ship as long as Zack and Wiki retrieve all of his missing parts to make him whole again.

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The plane! The plane!

Zack & Wiki plays as a point and click puzzle game. You guide Zack by pointing and clicking an area on the game screen, and Zack moves toward it. Each level has a treasure chest usually right out in the open, but there's always one or a series of clever obstacles standing in your way of grabbing your goodies. This is where your brainpower and a little ingenuity comes into play. Zack would be in trouble without his cheeky companion, Wiki, as Wiki can be used as a bell to itemize various enemies. Centipedes can be transformed into saws to cut down trees to create a bridge, snakes can be turned into grabbers to reach keys that would otherwise be unreachable, and frogs can made into bombs-- just a few of the examples that enemies can be morphed into. You won't be getting anywhere with that guard out in the open, so why not itemize a frog, put the bomb down a water chute, and have it explode-- knocking out the guard? Don't worry, the real solution wasn't spoiled. There's a wide array of items for Zack to come across and use, and utilizing them at the right time is the difference between completing a stage or needing to redo it all over again.

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Zack will come in contact with many items to assist him.

Now the Wii remote isn't simply used to point Zack around. You'll be utilizing that a lot, too. There's a plethora of various uses for the Wii remote. You'll be pulling the remote towards you and back to saw down trees, you'll be holding the remote upright for it to function it like a lever, and you'll even be playing the remote like a flute in one stage. There's many creative uses for the Wii remote, and while I'd like to say they all work well-- many of them don't. The motion controls are just unresponsive, and it can get quite frustrating waggling the Wii remote around without having any useful output on the screen. Otherwise, using the Wii remote is seldom that large of annoyance, and you won't need precision motion controls at most occasions. The sound and rumble feedback from the controller makes it so sawing logs isn't as boring as watching someone figuratively saw some logs.

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Think you know the solution? Think again.

Many stages follow one simple rule: there's one right way to solve the stage, and there's countless others that are just wrong. Sometimes, doing things the wrong way will just have Zack showing a display of dissatisfaction. Other times, you'll be treated with a game over. A lot of the game is trial and error. Don't be surprised if you think you've got the stage figured out only to find out your way isn't the way the game wants you to solve the puzzle. Additionally and especially in later levels, you'll mess up so bad that you won't even be able to advance without starting the stage all over again. Being forced to do a stage all over again won't be a foreign concept to you as you hammer hours into Zack & Wiki.

Then there's the awesome boss battles-- a part of the game I sincerely enjoyed. These range from outsmarting the village chief to aiming mirrors to shoot and reflect a laser into a gigantic snow lion. These battles will put your mental mettle to the test as there's seldom more than one way to tackle a foe.

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There's no time to chill out; there's treasure to be had!

There's a wide array of themed locales to plunder from grassy jungles to erupting volcanoes. Completing levels unlocks new, tougher challenges. And you're ranked for every little excursion you have via HirameQ-- a pun on a Japanese term. HirameQ is basically how clever you're being in a level. Zack & Wiki lets you know if you're starting to solve the puzzle the right way by awarding you with HirameQ throughout a level. Itemize the right enemy? You'll probably get 1000/1000 HirameQ for that action. Use that item at the right time? You'll get 3000/3000 HirameQ on atop of the 1000 you've already earned. The level sum of all your HirameQ will give you a rank. Replaying levels to get the highest amount possible will give perfectionists the ability to go hog wild.

Not only are their high HirameQ scores to achieve, but after you've completed the game once, you'll receive cryptic clues as to hidden treasures in the stages you've completed. There's also very cool Capcom treasures to find which can be a pain in the rear to discover on your own, but once you do you'll be able to read up on a quick fact about your favorite classic Capcom stars from Mega Man to Arthur from Ghost 'N Goblins.

While you're not bursting your brain vessels in the game's numerous stages, you can chill at the Sea Rabbits' headquarters where you can check your status and game totals, send a flunky out to search for treasures, or purchase hint tickets and extra lives from an angelic puppet.

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Maybe Zack could play for Mario's team?

What I would consider the game's most important treasure is the consistent visual as well as comedic charm that stems from the beginning of the game and goes with you till the very end. There's just so much personality in the characters and in the environments themselves. There's no voice acting, but you will hear grunts and other quick clips. The only downside here is the very annoying "Zaakkuuuuuuuu" cry from Wiki for when you retry a mission or for when Wiki calls Zack early on in the game. The music is fun to listen to, but for some stages that you'll be in for upwards of an hour, it will get repetitive.

Zack & Wiki is the type of niche game that the mainstream gamer will miss out on, and it's unfortunate. That's what happens when you don't market a game. However, for those that do pick up on Zack & Wiki, you will indeed come upon one gaming treasure that many third-parties on Wii can only hope to dig up. There's so much charm here, and so much fun. If you don't find doing over levels all over again and initiating times of trial and error, you'll want to look elsewhere. The rest of us, however, can enjoy this fantastic offering from Capcom. This is one type of booty that I will graciously hit over and over again.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.0/10]

How shitty is this industry? Very shitty.

The following is a rant, so it's not appropriate for all ages. With this warning posted, feel free to read the rant anyway regardless of your age.

Let's face it. This industry sucks horrible lumps of donkey shit. Let's not be fancy with our words regarding this repugnant shithole-- but enough about your average video game forum-goer! Let's look at the culprits, shall we?

The media

I don't give a shit about Manchild Fan-service Part 503. You can shove it up your adolescent-minded assholes, okay? I'm tired of hyping up generic Western game that is about more pixels and less personality. I don't want to play shitty Wii game where I shake the around like *insert some tasteless joke about down's syndrome that most of the gaming population would not flinch about laughing at*. I don't want to fuck Japanese anime girls with horrible voice acting in Japanese RPGs either, and I certainly don't want to play a video game for five minutes and get stuck watching some cringe-worthy piece of shit cut-scene for thirty minutes either, Hideo Kojima.

I don't want to read "is this game overrated" or "we have news about secret game XXX" so your worthless page hits go up while your even more worthless credibility goes down. You're children trapped in matured bodies rubbing cocks with publishers for your next "exclusive" reviews. Give me a break.

NeoGAF

Or the NeoGAF, GAF, or whatever these drama queens love to be called. It's the preemminent video game discussion place, thing, whatever. We are fucked. I don't have experience posting on the site, but I can only imagine how terrific the site is as just a looker. In order to be a great poster there you absolutely must have a horrible sense of wit. How do you come across as this? Why you post animated GIFs instead of something actually providing context or humor to the current topic at hand.

This board loves to be the center of attention, and they love being elitist to anything they feel is beneath them. A popular example is GameFAQs. The only problem is that I didn't find these topics on GameFAQs... Oopsie! I think the real difference between NeoGAF and GameFAQs is that GameFAQs doesn't pretend it's better than GameFAQs. Perhaps condescending douche bags should know better than a site founded on video game walkthroughs and not industry insider info... Fancy fucking that.

Game communities in general (us)

We're at a point where you're no longer a fanboy if you're constantly cutting yourself over the most trivial things. These are fucking video games, remember? Instead, you're a fanboy (which by the way is a fucking insult a pair of inept nine year-olds would shout out at one another) if you don't bitch and moan. These sites are where no news is good news, and bad news generates the most hits. Why else would the repulsive-looking owner of GoNintendo (seriously, his main hobby is being chased back to his castle by townspeople with pitchforks and torches) allow places for discussion to routinely turn into places of mass retardation? It's not just there either. It's EVERYWHERE. Why is this industry considered immature and for children? Have you fucking closed your eyes at the places you constantly visit-- chat rooms, forums, and enthusiast sites? It's because IT IS.

It's been fun posting on SuperPhillip Central for a year, but sometimes this industry just sucks. Delving deeper into the industry over the past year with this blog, I've experienced firsthand just how shitty and undesirable video games and most of their community are. This is just not fun trying to talk rationally only to be coaxed into being irrational by some 15 year old twat with poor hygiene and even worse social skills (look at anyone who posts on a Nintendo fan site, but by God, don't look at their owners).

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs - Yasunori Mitsuda Edition

This week we are showcasing five songs from composer Yasunori Mitsuda's catalog of music. We start with Chrono Cross and Xenogears and conclude with Mario Party and a bit of Bomberman. Enjoy.

V306. Chrono Cross - Scars of Time

From the phenomenal opening of Chrono Cross comes the equally impressive theme that accompanies it, Scars of Time. To this day I still get amazed when the song kicks in, and sometimes I even get goosebumps near the end at the song's conclusion. A really terrific-sounding theme for sure and one of Yasunori Mitsuda's best.



V307. Xenogears - My Village is Number One

A very quaint and cozy village theme for Xenogears' beginning village, My Village is Number One has an appropriately folksy if not whimsical sound to it. You can check out the masterfully arranged "Lahan" version of this track on the Xenogears Creid album.



V308. Graffiti Kingdom - Revolving Disk

Graffiti Kingdom has made an appearance already on my list, but for those unaware of the game, it was an action-RPG where you could draw your own monsters to play as. Graffiti Kingdom was very much a niche, above-average experience. This track is not only fast-paced but quite charming, too.



V309. Mario Party - Engine Room


Engine Room is the theme for Luigi's own board in the original Mario Party. The song is very bouncy and full of Luigi's hilarious charm, perfect for the mustachioed plumber himself.



V310. Bomberman 64: The Second Attack - Battle Royal

This Battle Royal theme comes to us from the oftentimes overlooked Bomberman 64: The Second Attack. It's a perfect song to get your pulse pounding as you scamper along blowing away your opponents to beautiful pieces. Both the normal and "Hurry Up" (time's almost out) versions are included in this volume.



The VGMs should return to their regular day, Monday, next week. Until then, enjoy the rest of your week!

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