Friday, April 29, 2011

SuperPhillip's Favorite Anime Themes - Round Four

We've reached the end of another week here at SuperPhillip Central. To celebrate, let's dig out the favorite anime themes to cap off the week in style. This time around we're listening to music from Samurai Champloo, Fooly Cooly, and Ghost in the Shell.

Volume 16: Battlecry [feat. Shing02] (Samurai Champloo)

Samurai Champloo came from some of the fine folks who worked on the Cowboy Bebop anime. In the case of this one, it was much more upbeat. It took place in feudal Japan where samurais were a dime a dozen. Fortunately, Mugen and Jinn weren't a dime a dozen at all. In fact, they could kick the butt of nearly anyone that got in their way. When a coin toss goes the way of Fuu, a troublesome girl, both Mugen and Jinn (two warriors destined for battle) agree to tag along with her to find the man who smells of sunflowers. It's a basic description for the premise, yes, but it gets the job done. What was unique about this anime was that the music was almost entirely hip-hop.



Volume 17: Advice (FLCL)


Advice is a song performed by the Pillows, a band formed in 1989 in Japan. The group has an expansive discography, and it was from the anime, FLCL (or Fooly Cooly) that I was introduced to them. I've been a fan ever since. The production team behind FLCL asked of the Pillows to provide three past albums as part of the soundtrack for the short six-episode anime. The band agreed, and musical history was made. As for the anime, it seemed this is what anime producers make when they're in a foul mood. Well, hope these guys have more bad days in the future!



Volume 18: Red Green Wild Pokémon Battle (Pokémon)

Pokémon was such a giant hit for me. I played the original games, I collected the cards, I drew comics, and I watched the anime. Pokémon was a phenomenon, and for newer generations it continues to be one. You're never too old to play Pokémon in my opinion. It's such an addicting franchise. Regardless, I got bored with the anime after all the recycled Team Rocket jokes, plotlines, and material, so I skipped out after the Kanto region episodes. This theme from Pokémon Red and Green (or Red and Blue as it is here in the West) is the Wild Pokémon battle theme. Watch Ash has he tries to catch 'em all, gives away his Pokémon, and then tries to catch 'em all all over again.



Volume 19: Zero Signal (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: Solid State Society)


Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: Solid State Society was a one-off movie in the GitS: SAC (what a mouthful) franchise. I personally haven't watched it yet. I'm waiting for adult swim to maybe show it. Nonetheless, this song seriously rocks. It starts off with female vocals followed by a stirring beat. Then comes the hardcore rock which seriously kicks ass. The ending rock arrangement is perfect, and shows that stuff is about to go down if it hasn't already. While the anime itself is confusing to me (I'm a simple superhero after all), I do respect the creators and especially Mrs. Kanno and her great talents.



Volume 20: Heaven's Not Enough (Wolf's Rain)

Coming as the first track from the second Wolf's Rain OST, Heaven's Not Enough is performed by Steve Conte, a performer who Yoko Kanno would use often and many times in her productions. Wolf's Rain has a group of wolves who can shapeshift into human beings in an instant, longing for a mystical land known as paradise. Whether or not they reach their destination is something I'll leave for you to find out. Produced by the same team that came up with Cowboy Bebop, this anime was a departure from the jazz stylings of Bebop. The score was more symphonic in tone and featured some heart-tugging themes including this one.



That's all she wrote for this round of anime themes. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for the next five excellent anime themes to be heard on a date that is to be determined.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mega Man X (SNES, VC) Retro Review

It's been about a month since our last Retro Review, so let's rectify that with a new one. It's for a game that was recently released on the Wii's Virtual Console service. It's Mega Man X, the Super Nintendo classic.

A New Age of Mega Man Has Begun


Since his debut in 1987, the blue bomber, Mega Man has been busting his way into the hearts of gamers ever since. After five sequels the formula was beginning to grow dull. That changed in 1994 when Mega Man X hit North America like a charged-up X-buster shot. With new abilities and the same old formula for success, Mega Man X would become a new franchise all on its own and one of Capcom's most well-known heroes.

The year is 20XX. Dr. Cain has stumbled upon a capsule containing Mega Man X, a reploid designed by the late Dr. Thomas Light in an attempt to create a robot that can think for itself and know from right and wrong. It's just in time, too, as a sinister reploid by the name of Sigma has unleashed eight Mavericks onto the world, and it's up to X and his best friend, Zero, to put an end to them before Sigma's forces put an end to mankind. The story itself is an unobtrusive as possible. As soon as you boot up the game, you're thrown right into the first level, the Central Highway.

Introducing one of the main antagonists of MMX, Vile.

Mega Man X plays similarly to the classic Mega Man series, but it does have its distinct differences. For example, X can scale up walls unlike the original Mega Man. He can upgrade his armor by coming across hidden capsules strewn about the game's eight Maverick levels. These range from halved damage body armor to the ability to hold down a button to charge his X-buster. Additionally, X can obtain heart tanks to increase his health permanently. These are also placed in secret or hard-to-reach locations, one in each of the eight Maverick levels.

Capsules like this one bestow a multitude
of new abilities for X to inherit.

Instead of having bosses with names like Cut Man and Bomb Man, the bosses in Mega Man X are named after animals such as Launch Octopus, Chill Penguin, and Storm Eagle. Each boss can be beaten with X's default buster for a challenge, but the real treat is finding a given boss' weakness. You see, when a boss is defeated, just like the classic series, X inherits their weapon. For instance, Flame Mammoth's weapon unleashes a wave of fire that incinerates foes and just happens to be the weakness of Chill Penguin. The fun of this all is that you get to choose the order you tackle the eight Mavericks. You can make the game as easy or as hard as you want to in your choices.

Sigma's Mavericks aren't going to go down without a fight.

Each level in Mega Man X has its own theme from the forest of Sting Chameleon to the power plant of Spark Mandrill to the tower of Boomer Kuwanger. Each level can last anywhere between five to ten minutes in length. They're littered with varying types of enemies from series mascot Mettaurs to standbys like Sniper Joe. In one level you'll be riding a handcart as it wildly runs down the track whereas in another you'll be leaping across platforms hovering dangerously over a bottomless pit. Each level is well-designed, and there's over a dozen to play, including Sigma's levels where you once again encounter the slain Mavericks you did battle with previously.

Flame Mammoth can slow you down
with oil, and then set it on fire.

Visually, Mega Man X packs a huge wallop. The backgrounds are heavily detailed, sprites are meticulously crafted, and the special effects are impressive. There's sometimes a bit of slowdown and flickering sprites when things get overly-action-packed, but other than that the game runs like a dream. It's otherwise perfect and keeps up with the action nicely. On the audio side of things, the sound effects seldom grow grating, and the music is quite memorable.

Mega Man X is one of the best 16-bit platformers you will find. It has just recently been released on the Wii's Virtual Console, so if you lack the Mega Man X Collection (PS2, GCN) or the Super Nintendo original, you can download it for eight bucks directly from the service. It's definitely worth it as this game permeates the word "classic". X, indeed, marks the spot.

[SuperPhillip Says: 9.5/10]

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Beyond the Labyrinth (3DS) Premiere Screens

A new game from Tri-Ace, makers of Star Ocean and Infinite Undiscovery, has emerged for the Nintendo 3DS, and it looks like a work of art. Notice the beautiful backdrops and ICO-like presentation. Here are a handful of introductory screens to whet your appetite.


This 3D RPG has no release date as of yet, but rest assured, SuperPhillip Central will keep you informed when there is one.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Most Overlooked DS Games - Part Five

We've reached Tuesday and the fifth installment of the Most Overlooked DS Games. This list provides you with information regarding games that were glossed over by the gaming community or sold poorly by consumers. With that in tow, let's get started, but first, check out past installments of this series:


Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride


The second of the Dragon Quest remake trilogy on the Nintendo DS, Hand of the Heavenly Bride is one of my favorite Dragon Quests period. This game is pretty rare nowadays at it sold so badly that only print run was given to it. However and recently, Amazon has restocked the game indicating that there might have been a second printing of the game. Track down a copy while you can as this game is one of the best in the Dragon Quest series.

Golden Sun: Dark Dawn


Camelot returns to the Golden Sun franchise with a new entry exclusively for the DS. It's been years since we've seen the Isaac and the gang, and this time we're playing as their descendants. The new 3D models might not be as charming as the Game Boy Advance installments' 2D sprites, but don't let that deter you from picking up this excellent RPG. A bit on the easy side battle-wise, the puzzles are intuitive, the secrets are many, and the soundtrack is terrific. Look out for Golden Sun: Dark Dawn today.

Radiant Historia


Travel to the past to save the future in this time-traveling RPG with turn-based combat, multiple endings, and a brilliant soundtrack. Radiant Historia is the type of game that Best Buy doesn't carry in its stores, so you can bet that this game is going to get rare soon. The sprites used in this game are simply exquisite, and the story and script are both sublime. If you're looking for an innovative and charming JRPG for your DS, look no further than Radiant Historia.

Okamiden


While I didn't appreciate Okami's second offering as much as most, Okamiden came out to little fanfare. In between the launches of Pokemon Black and White and the Nintendo 3DS, Capcom couldn't have picked a worse time to release this game. It follows the story of Chibiterasu and his partners as they attempt to save Nippon from impending doom. The stylus controls make drawing a breeze unlike the console originals, and Capcom really pushed the DS to its limits graphically with this one. For a Zelda-lite experience on the DS, Okamiden is the game for you.

Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors


This Mature-rated game features an excellent, gripping story in this dark thriller. A college student wakes up to find himself aboard a ferry with numbered doors littered all over the place. He has to play a game of life and death to escape with his soul intact. Solve puzzles to unwind the threads of this mystery and seek out the true ending to obtain the ultimate satisfaction in Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors for the Nintendo DS.

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There goes another edition of Most Overlooked. Do you have any games you'd add to this list? Let me know in the comments section.

Monday, April 25, 2011

SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs - Character Parade Edition

Welcome to a new week on SuperPhillip Central. As always we begin with the favorite VGMs. This week we'll visit with characters such as Mega Man X, Mario, Professor Layton, and Sora from Kingdom Hearts. Nothing to it but to do it!

v706. Mega Man Maverick Hunter X - Opening Stage - Central Highway

Mega Man Maverick Hunter X was a PlayStation Portable remake of the Super Nintendo classic, Mega Man X. There was the ability to play as X nemesis, Vile, new level arrangements, and pretty new visuals to gawk at. The soundtrack was also remixed as evident by the track you're listening to now, Opening Stage - Central Highway. It was great seeing an old 16-bit classic get the remake treatment, and it was an excellent addition to the PSP library. Unfortunately this title was overlooked by many gamers and sold poorly. Thanks, PSP owners. You screwed everyone out of remakes of the sequels!



v707. Mario Party 3 - Chilly Waters

Mario Party 3 was the final game in the trio of Mario Party games for the Nintendo 64. Chilly Waters was the first board in the game full of snowmen, icy traps, and familiar characters from Mario 64. Out of the trio of N64 Mario Party games, Mario Party 3 is the game that I remember the least of. I do know that Waluigi made his first Mario Party appearance in the game, having his own board. He was a playable character, too, alongside Daisy. Out of the Nintendo 64 Mario Parties, though, my favorite happens to be Mario Party 2. The first Mario Party game had too many ridiculous mini-games that required robotic rapid finger movements. You could have the blisters to prove it.



v708. Professor Layton and the Unwound Future - The Professor's Trunk (Minicar)


Professor Layton is a series that features a story where progression is gained through solving simple to complex brain teasers and puzzles. The franchise is still strong having just released its fifth installment in Japan. Of course, the rest of the world has only seen three games. The minicar mini-game had players placing directional tiles to guide the professor's minicar to the goal. The catch is that you only had a limited amount of tiles to work with, and when you throw in the ability to make the car leap, and you have one complex and thoroughly challenging (and fun) mini-game.



v709. Killer7 - Electronical Parade


Nothing like haunting carnival music to get you in the mood to track down and slay Heaven's Smiles. Killer7 was originally planned as one of the Capcom Five, a handful of Gamecube exclusives that would propel the system to new heights. It didn't turn out as planned. Dead Phoenix was canceled, Viewtiful Joe got an upgrade on the PlayStation 2, same with Resident Evil 4, P.N. 03 was a dud, and Killer7 wound up on the PS2 as well. To be fair the Gamecube did get Gotcha Force which almost makes up for it.



v710. Kingdom Hearts II - Dance to the Death


Dance to the Death is the final boss theme of the Beauty and the Beast world in Kingdom Hearts II. The soundtrack was composed by Yoko Shimomura who has an illustrious career. I recently tried my hand at Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, but I was quickly put off by the steep difficulty curve, poor camera and lock-on, and trying to juggle cycling through commands and controlling my guy. As you can read in my review, this is one Kingdom Hearts game you can pass on. As for Kingdom Hearts II, that was a surprisingly great game. Its soundtrack is even better.



That concludes this week's stream of VGMs. Next week there will be five more excellent themes from video games' past. I hope you'll look forward to it.

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