Friday, August 12, 2011

Top Five Reasons to Hate Microsoft

Several weeks ago I posted a list of five reasons to hate on Capcom. Now it's Microsoft's turn to take a licking. Resorting to attaching Xbox sales to laptop sales in last month's NPD and then bragging about it, this company is shameless. The following five reasons list why gamers should quit eating up the ^#%# Microsoft serves them.

5) Paying sixty bucks just to play online

Oh, boy! I get to pay the increased price of sixty bucks (the price of an overpriced HD game) to play online with racist 13 year-olds who get bullied and take it out on random strangers online! Awesome! To be fair you get more features than you do with the free Sony PlayStation Network, but is the inflated price worth it? Yes, you can mute players, cross-chat between games, and do a bunch of other nifty features, but sixty bucks is overcharging and greedily gouging your loyal customers. Micro$oft indeed.

4) Killing Rare

Rare is but one of the many first party studios of Microsoft that was murdered maliciously, scrapped for parts, and shipped away. The good portion of Rare is long gone, leaving behind a legacy of fantastic games such as Banjo-Kazooie, Viva Pinata, Perfect Dark, and Blast Corps. Now they create knock-offs of whatever Nintendo is doing. Miis? Sure, we got avatars. Wii Sports? Sure, we got Kinect Sports for you. The art staff was completely let go as was most of the staff if others didn't simply leave the sinking ship. Face it. If you're a first party of Microsoft, you might want to send in your resume to other companies... and fast.

3) Turning their back on the hardcore

While Nintendo still regularly makes games for their fan base like New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Donkey Kong Country Returns, Kirby's Epic Yarn, Sin and Punishment 2, Punch-Out!, and the upcoming The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Microsoft turned their back on their own fan base when they unveiled the Kinect. What do fans get this year? A rehash of Halo (if the remake of Ocarina of Time on 3DS is a rehash then so is a remake of the original Halo, only fair, manchildren), a sequel to a dudebro shooter in Gears of War 3, and Forza Motorsports 4. Great lineup if you're a 27 year-old who still plays with his G.I. Joes. The focus is clearly on Kinect and its various shovelware, so good work on alienating your so-called fans, Microsoft. Just as long as you get your money.

2) Kinect sucks

This goes in line with number three since after Kinect was introduced, Microsoft's focus on the hardcore was minimized. Nintendo's Wii gets crapped on by manchildren of all ages for having "no games" and "shovelware". Well, what do you call Kinect? You know the difference between the Wii and Microsoft's Kinect? Wii actually has plenty of excellent games for it. With Microsoft's Kinect you get games that seldom actually mimic your movements, the same third party shovelware that plagued the Wii, and overpriced mini-game collections. It was by cashing in on the Wii craze that Microsoft effectively became a brand-new company-- to the chagrin of the so-called "hardcore".

1) Creating shoddy hardware

Spending over one billion dollars to sweep the mess of the red ring of death fiasco under the rug and to only have their fans gladly fork over more cash just to buy more Xbox 360s, Microsoft made without a doubt the single most shoddiest hardware ever to reach the masses. The fans with stupid smiles on their faces didn't care. They happily paid for Microsoft's brash and greedy manufacturing tactics. "Go ahead! Kick us while we're down, Microsoft! We're good for it!" Thank God I don't have an addiction to shooters (which seemingly is all Microsoft ever puts out), or I might have bought a second one myself.

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Microsoft is without a doubt my least favorite of the big three. However, not all is bad. Xbox Live Arcade is second to none with great titles and great deals. In fact, since all Microsoft seemingly does is release shooters for the dudebro crowd, it's a relief to see them support indie developers unlike some companies (cough, Nintendo). I'm sure this list made some of you mad, so let me know your transgressions in the comments section. I'll be deleting the obvious trollbait, so try to show some restraint. We all know the Microsoft console warrior is overflowing with testosterone, so keep it civil. Peace.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

July 2011 NPD Results

With sales at their worst since October 2006, it was not a good month for retail sales in the gaming industry. Let's examine the numbers quickly.

Software:

(Order seems to indicate order of sales.)

1. NCAA Football 12 - Electronic Arts (360, PS3) = ~796K (15% YoY Increase)
2. Cars 2 - Disney Interactive Studios (NDS, Wii, 360, PS3, PC)
3. Call of Duty: Black Ops - Activision Blizzard (360, PS3, NDS, Wii, PC)
4. Lego Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game - Disney Interactive Studios (Wii, NDS, 360, PS3, 3DS, PSP, PC)
5. Just Dance 2 - Ubisoft (Wii)
6. Major League Baseball 2K11 - Take-Two Interactive (360, Wii NDS, PS3, PS2, PSP, PC)
7. Zumba Fitness: Join The Party - Majesco (Wii, 360, Ps3)
8. Fallout: New Vegas - Bethesda Softworks/ZeniMax (360, PS3, PC)
9. New Super Mario Bros DS - Nintendo (NDS)
10. Mortal Kombat 2011 - Warner Brothers Interactive (360, PS3) = 85K

XX. Catherine = 78K
XX. Shadows of the Damned = 14K


Hardware:

Nintendo DS: Best selling platform.
Xbox 360: 277K (-37.5%) [Top selling console, 45% of total 360/PS3/Wii sales.]
Wii: 190K (-25%)
PS3: 148k (-31%) [Comes from statement math.]
Nintendo 3DS: Lower weekly average than last month, meaning at best 114K, but it could be quite a bit lower.

The 3DS + the DS is about flat to the DS total last year.



Nintendo Wii Game LTDs:

-Wii Play (13.04 million)
-Mario Kart Wii (10.64 million)
-New Super Mario Bros. Wii (8.36 million)
-Wii Fit (8.17 million)
-Wii Fit Plus (7.06 million)
-Wii Sports Resort (6.45 million)
-Super Smash Bros. Brawl (5.28 million)
-Just Dance 2 (5.09 million)

You know when a four year old game reaches the top ten that sales are slow. New Super Mario Bros. continues its sales domination. Meanwhile, the DS is the top-selling platform beating out even the 360 which still has to resort to tying sales to laptop purchases in order to get sales. Come back and brag when you sell consoles based on good games, Microsoft. Then I'll actually be impressed. Oh, and quit making shoddy consoles, too, and turning your back on your core fanbase. With all that venom out of the way, a slow month of sales indeed.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Best Levels in Gaming History - Volume Four

We've already reached the fourth installment of Best Levels in Gaming History where we examine a series of five stages that I consider to be some of the best that the world of gaming has to offer. We're going for a more of a Mario approach with three of the levels coming today from Mario titles. If you missed out on past volumes, you can always click on one of the following links to be instantly transported to your intended destination:


World 1-1 - Super Mario Bros. (NES)


The game that may have single-handily revitalized an industry started out modestly. Getting acquainted with the simple physics of the game was easy. Mario could jump and change direction mid-air, something that game designers and programmers of that era had a tough time grasping the concept of. At the start of World 1-1, a lone goomba stood in the way between Mario and a series of item blocks, one of which containing a mushroom power-up. Following that were a series of pipes, one of which took Mario into a hidden area full of cool and crisp coinage. With this shortcut Mario could bypass a could chunk of the level. If Mario opted not to skip out on the fun, he could uncover a hidden 1-up concealed in an invisible item box located between the end of the pipe section and just before the first bottomless pit. A run up a staircase of blocks and a leap of faith made Mario cling against the level's ending, a flagpole. Entering the castle his work was done for the time being. Until World 1-2, that is.

Green Hill Zone - Sonic the Hedgehog (GEN)


As soon as players booted up their copy of Sonic the Hedgehog and passed by the title screen, they were propelled into the Green Hill Zone, filled with art deco loop-de-loops, badniks like ladybugs and mechanized monkeys throwing coconuts, and palm trees. This was all set across a background filled with a majestic and sparkling lake, mountains, and a bright blue sky. If only all of Sonic the Hedgehog's zones were so inviting! The three acts in the zone could be sped through within minutes if the player was really cooking, and the final challenge was Dr. Robotnik. The boss flew from side-to-side in the arena with a ball and chain that moved back and forth, ready to slam into the blue blur. With the aid of two side platforms, Sonic had enough height to strike into the nefarious scientist's first machine, and with enough hits it would be destroyed. The next zone would slow down the pace of the game considerably yet still be enjoyable.

World 8-7 - New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii)


This level is an intense and wild ride as you cross a deadly sea of lava, boarding bone snake platforms as they slither their way along a track. They dip in and out of the lava, so timing your jumps is key unless you want to lose a life. Soon the bone snakes leap off the track directly into the path of lava geysers. It's Mario and the gang's job to leap over these. The final stretch has three bone snake platforms alternating tracks all the way to the goal. This is an exhilarating level that puts the player's reflexes to the test. A secret level, it's definitely one of the more challenging ones in the game.

Tubular - Super Mario World (SNES)


After accessing Star Road and finding your way into the Special World, the second stage, Tubular, awaits Mario and/or Luigi. It's a relatively short level, but pending how you go about it, it could either be really easy or really hard to complete. The beginning of the level starts with the player jumping on yellow pipes while defeating Charging Chucks. Then the real fun begins. The real way to play through this level is to hit the item block, revealing a P-balloon. Hitting this item will fill Mario with air for a limited time, allowing him to float carefully between enemies and over a dangerous and bottomless pit. Getting nicked by the smallest enemy will cause Mario to fall into the pit. Mario must hit item block after item block, getting more and more P-balloons to have enough steam to reach the goal before deflating to normal. The easy way to complete this stage is to have a blue Yoshi, gobble up a koopa troopa, and fly your way over the level. The flying ability of Yoshi will run out just as the player reaches the goal.

Planet Metropolis - Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando (PS2)


The bustling commuter planet where Clank spends his days, Planet Metropolis is where Ratchet obtains the Grind Boots as well as other pertinent items of great use. There's no time for sightseeing, however, as there's a factory to infiltrate with block puzzles to boot. Activating the crane will allow Ratchet to move explosive crates nearby doors to destroy them, allowing the pair to move forward in the level. The other path features heavily-armed robotic drones who will spin around with deadly red lasers and Ratchet and Clank in their sights. One skill point includes destroying everything in the level. With the special move that allows Ratchet to smash his wrench into the ground, obliterating all nearby perishables, this task isn't so tough. A busy level and one of the early ones in Going Commando, Planet Metropolis goes heads and shoulders above the rest in the game.

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Once again we've come to the conclusion of another article here at SuperPhillip Central. If your favorite level hasn't yet been represented, speak up! Let everyone know your favorites in the comments section. Until then, stay tuned for Volume Five of Best Levels in Gaming History!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

SPC Mailbag - August 9th, 2011

It's been a while since I've brought out the old trusty SPC Mailbag. Well, I intend to rectify this by bringing it out today. With three new questions and three new answers, get ready to have your minds blown! Without further ado let's get to answering your hard-thought queries on the gaming world.

Recently IGN wrote an article saying that Mario and Donkey Kong have not evolved in 25 years. Do you agree? Why or why not?

Leave it to a crappy site like IGN to fish for hits with a flame-baiting article such as that one. I will not link to it because I will not give them the hits they so desperately desire. To say that Mario and Donkey Kong haven't evolved at all in twenty-five years is laughable. Mario went into three-dimensions multiple times. His first was in Super Mario 64 where he showed that 3D gameplay could and did work. Then after a bit of a fumble (to some people) with Super Mario Sunshine that introduced F.L.U.D.D. as his companion for some tight and fun platforming action, he went into space for some anti-gravity gameplay on miniature planets in Super Mario Galaxy. Oh, but that must be revolution and not evolution, right? Wrong.

But IGN's article was mainly focusing on the 2D adventures of Mario, so we have to play by their rules. Well, Mario's latest 2D platforming extravaganza, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, introduced four-player multiplayer gameplay, but somehow that isn't evolutionary enough for the hacks at IGN. Apparently the strategy involved when more than one player is on screen at the same time means nothing to them.


With Donkey Kong he went from throwing barrels down ramps for a living to saving the day from krooked kremlings. His journey with the Kong family spanned multiple titles including Donkey Kong Country 1-3, Donkey Kong 64, Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat where the bongo controller was the device used to move DK, no, not evolved at all (sarcasm), DK: King of Swing where DK and Diddy climbed pegs vertically to crush the plans of King K. Rool, and more recently Donkey Kong Country Returns for Wii. I guess that popular saying is true: "You can't spell ignorant without IGN".


The Nintendo 3DS recently dropped in price from around $250 to $170. Did you get one like you were saying you probably would?

Actually, I did. Well, to correct myself, my brother did for me as a combined late/early Christmas/birthday present. I immediately made my Mii which looks something similar to me using the facial recognition software, turned SpotPass and StreetPass on, installed the system update giving me access to the eShop where my Ambassadors message was awaiting me, and downloaded the Pokedex 3D application. Now I'm looking into purchasing some downloadable games as well as a couple of retail releases to fully enjoy my new portable pleasure. Thanks for asking.

While I received a Cosmo Black version,
the Aqua colored 3DS is quite nice, too.

I noticed in your Best Boss Battles in Gaming History Part Two feature that you mentioned that Adult Link could use Deku Nuts to damage Ganon's tail. However, Adult Link cannot hold Deku Nuts. Bad, SuperPhillip! Bad!

Thanks for keeping me honest. I hadn't played Ocarina of Time in quite the while, so my memory was foggy on the final boss encounter. When I had to do the writeup for the confrontation, I used a Youtube video as a refresher into the battle, watching how the encounter unfolded. Unfortunately, the player must have used a glitch to enable him to use Deku Nuts in the battle, and I just plain dumb forgot that Adult Link couldn't possibly use this otherwise seemingly useless item. That's my excuse anyway.


===

Time to seal up the SPC Mailbag for this go around. If you have a question or comment that you can't wait to get off your chest, then send me a comment or e-mail. Perhaps your words will be read by yours truly in an upcoming edition of the SPC Mailbag!

Monday, August 8, 2011

SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs - August Heat Edition

You can cook hot dogs and eggs on the city streets of Central City today. It must be August. That's alright though as you can hang out inside, pop open a cool soda, and listen to some great video game music. This week we have music from Final Fantasy XIII, Super Mario World, and Mega Man 7, for starters.

v761. Final Fantasy XIII - Saber's Edge

We just cannot seem to get away from the Final Fantasy series, but we do go from a great one to one that many fans feel failed in its promise to deliver a captivating experience. With no towns, a far too linear gameplay proposition, and annoying characters, Final Fantasy XIII was a disappointment to the series. The seemingly incomplete MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV is a total disaster, both gameplay and sales-wise. Regardless, Saber's Edge is the boss theme of Lightning's adventure.



v762. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess - Boss: Stallord


The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess debuted first on the Nintendo Wii. For this to work, the game was mirrored so Link was right-handed. The Gamecube version with camera control came out the following December. Which version is superior is a subjective answer, but I prefer the Wii version personally. Stallord, the Twilit Fossil, was summoned in the Arbiter's Grounds to take down Link. However, with his new item, the Spinner, Stallord was the one put back down to extinction once again.



v763. Super Mario World - Morning of Yoster Island

Morning of Yoster Island is a mellow jazz piece coming from the Super Mario World Live album. The soundtrack featured about ten themes from both Super Mario World and Super Mario Bros. 3. Between the two I cannot help but love Super Mario World the best. From the colorful worlds to the longevity to the secret paths and levels, Super Mario World is 2D platforming at its finest.



v764. Star Ocean: The Second Story/Second Evolution - Breezy Afternoon

If you frequent SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs, then you know my love of Motoi Sakuraba's Star Ocean: The Second Story soundtrack. I love its combination of warm synth and smooth melodies. Breezy Afternoon is but one of these. This theme is played as you ride on the transportation of the game. Star Ocean: The Second Story would later be ported to Sony's PSP in the form of Star Ocean: Second Evolution. Which ever version you pick up, you're sure to have an enjoyable action-RPG experience.



v765. Mega Man 7 - Wily Machine 7 Battle

Mega Man 7 was the only classic Mega Man game released in the 16-bit era, Mega Man & Bass spinoff not included. The second to last boss of Mega Man 7 was a skull with legs and spikes on the bottom. The boss would come marching toward Mega Man who would then have to dash underneath its legs, timing it just right as to not get nicked by the spikes. The open left eye of the robot was its weak point where Mega Man could launch a charged shot or two before going into defensive mode. The second phase of battle is to this day considered one of the most difficult bosses in Mega Man series history.



That about wraps it up for this week's installment of my favorite VGMs. Stay cool, my friends.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Kirby Mass Attack - Level One Footage

Kirby Mass Attack, along with games like Dragon Quest Monsters 2 and Professor Layton and the Specter's Flute, appear to be the swan songs of the Nintendo DS, and what a great platform the DS was! Without a doubt it had the best games for a handheld. Scope out this professional player going through the first level of Kirby Mass Attack which is set for a mid-September release.



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