Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sonic Rush (DS) Review

Once again I'm anticipating Sonic Generations by reviewing a past Sonic game. What game am I reviewing this Saturday, you ask? It's none other than the first dual screen adventure for the blue hedgehog in Sonic Rush for Nintendo DS (I've already reviewed the sequel in Sonic Rush Adventure). Do dual screens make for double the fun?

Should You Rush to Pick This Game Up?


While Sonic the Hedgehog's 3D exploits have had varying degrees of success, his 2D adventures have fared far better. He's sped his way onto the Game Boy Advance with the Sonic Advance trilogy, each introducing a new gameplay mechanic. Now Sonic has made the jump to Nintendo's dual screened platform, the Nintendo DS, with Sonic Rush. Is Sonic's first DS venture worth playing, or should you speed on past it to something better?

A new duo of characters from another dimension are introduced in Sonic Rush. They are Blaze the Cat, a silent feline who mostly keeps to herself and Eggman Nega, essentially Dr. Eggman with an inverse color palette. It seems that both Dr. Eggman and Eggman Nega have teamed up to try to take over both dimensions by gathering both the Chaos and Sol Emeralds. At first, the partnership between Sonic the Hedgehog and Blaze the Cat is anything but welcomed. The two actually do battle in the game. But when the chips are down and the fate of both worlds is at stake, the two decide to fight together to take out both sinister scientists before they can put their plan into fruition. It's a story that's only meant to give the player an incentive to run through the seven zones Sonic Rush has to offer, so it's quite unobtrusive.

The seven zones of Sonic Rush feature a variety of locales to explore with split paths, gimmicks, and different enemies to defeat, and the action takes place across both screens. The first zone, Leaf Storm, is made up of loop-de-loops and swinging on vines to scale the insides of trees. Meanwhile, the Water Palace Zone is made up of many underwater sections where Sonic or Blaze must find bubbles to get some extra air to breathe, or else they find themselves gasping or air and thus drowning. Each zone brings new gimmicks to the table. From Mirage Road's sand slides to Dead Line's rocket rides, there's something fresh to keep players on their toes. Regardless, the level design isn't perfect. There's many rooms where the player must clear out all enemies before being able to continue on, and there's a bounty of bottomless pits. These are completely unmarked which leads to a metric ton of cheap deaths.

For those new to the Sonic the Hedgehog series (where have you been?), the game works like this. Sonic or Blaze live by having at least one ring in their possession. Collect one-hundred to earn an extra life. If Sonic or Blaze are hit, their stash of rings fly all over the place, leaving them vulnerable. They can grab as many of these lost rings as they possibly can as if they are damaged when they have zero rings in their collection, the player loses a life and must start back at the beginning of the act or at the last reached checkpoint. Sonic Rush has multiple paths in its acts to explore. Usually reaching the highest path takes the highest amount of skill, but it's worth it as it's generally safer with no worries about falling into an aforementioned bottomless pit.

Sonic controls well in Rush. There's no homing attack to be found in this game, so he'll have to resort to bopping baddies on the noggin to defeat them or boost through them. He can perform tricks while in the air to add to his point total (players are ranked based on their performance at the conclusion of each act), and he can trick out while he grinds on rails as well. Doing tricks adds fuel to his boost gauge which allows the cerulean hog to jet through enemies and speed past obstacles. After the first zone is completed, players can opt to use Blaze. Her levels are completely different from Sonic's making for a unique playing experience. Her moves are essentially the same as Sonic's, just with alternate names.

Each third act in a zone is a boss battle. These are in full 3D and take place on the top screen. Depending on the character you're playing as, either Tails or Cream will cheer you on. The first boss is a serpent who will smash its head down onto the battlefield in an attempt to hit Sonic or Blaze. While the boss has its head exposed and on the platform, your character can leap onto its weak point to injure it. When enough hits are given to a boss (you can see how much damage you've given to a boss via the bottom screen), he'll get desperate and utilize a new strategy. In the first boss's case, he'll move to the end of the platform and roll his head along it, trying to bump Sonic or Blaze off the platform and into the bottomless pit below. Well timed jumps are what the doctor ordered to stray from this fearsome fate.

In order to reach the ultimate showdown with both devious doctors, Sonic the Hedgehog and Blaze the Cat will have to collect all seven Chaos and all seven Sol Emeralds. This unlocks the final fight and scenario against both Eggman and Eggman Nega. How does one collect these fourteen emeralds? It's easy peasy. In each of the first two acts of a given zone, there's certain spinners that can be grabbed by either Sonic. By using the boost powers of both characters, they can swiftly spin around the device and charge up power. Charge it up enough, and you'll find yourself inside the Special Stage going for a Chaos Emerald. Special Stages have Sonic continuously moving forward through a pipeline, collecting rings and dodging mines. Collect enough rings for each checkpoint, and you move onto the next section of the stage. Have enough golden goodness by the conclusion of the Special Stage, and you earn an emerald. Blaze on the other hand, automatically gathers Sol Emeralds upon completion of a given zone.

Controlling your character in the Special Stage is done entirely with the stylus. You slide the stylus to where you want Sonic or Blaze to shift to in an attempt to collect as many rings as possible and to avoid the mines that will make them lose rings. Specific sections of the Special Stage have you tapping a series of spaces on the touch screen in order to earn a ring bonus, but you have a limited time to do so, so get tapping! With each iteration of the Special Stage, the challenge gets progressively more difficult with more intense patterns of rings and mines. There is a way to cheat the system, however. You can pause the action and hold the stylus over the area where you want Sonic or Blaze to go. Then you unpause the game, and your character will be where your stylus was. Case in point, they'll be instantly transported to the side of the screen you want them to be. This makes getting the required ring amount all the more easier.

Sonic Rush uses polygonal sprites in all of its characters. They animate well, and look quite nice. It's always fun seeing Sonic breakdance as he clears an act. The backgrounds are full of noticeable details and are chock full of colors. Having the action on both screens makes for an exciting and exhilarating time. On the sound side of the spectrum, the soundtrack of Sonic Rush is composed by Hideki Naganuma, best known for his work on the Jet Grind Radio games. The music is full of radical beats, catchy themes, and vivacious vocals. It's all supremely superb, and only further enhances the rolling around at the speed of sound experience. The sound effects are what you'd expect from the Sonic the Hedgehog series, so there's no real surprises here.

Sonic Rush is a speedy little game. I mean that in both gameplay and length wise. Most players should breeze through the title within 7-8 hours. The addition of a new playable character is welcomed in this case as I find Blaze the Cat to be an intriguing and fascinating feline. The music is excellent, the levels are mostly fun to play (they'd be perfect if it weren't for the myriad of bottomless pits that players WILL fall into), and the bosses pose a great challenge even if they do have cheap one-hit kill maneuvers. While not Sonic's best 2D outing, Sonic Rush is a game that Sonic fans and the developers can be proud of.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.0/10]

Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games (Wii, 3DS) - London Party Trailer

While the true 2012 Olympics may be months upon months away, that isn't stopping Nintendo and SEGA from releasing Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games in November. I'm willing to bet money that's it is going to be a big seller with long legs. Watch this trailer to see some of the party games featured in the game. Go for gold, Mario and Sonic!



Friday, October 14, 2011

Top Ten Final Boss Themes

Beware as this article contains spoilers!

The final boss, a staple of Japanese game design-- not so much Western. Whether it was Mario taking on Bowser, Sonic engaging Eggman, Mega Man battling Dr. Wily, or Chris Redfield and Sheva combating against Wesker, with almost every final boss comes a memorable piece of music to enjoy the encounter. This special top ten list showcases my favorite final boss themes in the history of video games. As always, share your own personal faves in the comment section-- after you read my list, of course.

10) Last Battle - Xenosaga (PS2)


Yasunori Mitsuda composed this piece, appropriately enough entitled Last Battle. It begins with several strings articulating the accompanying theme alongside a piano. Then comes in a chorus of deep voices, sounding very medieval. The pace picks up, the octave gets raised, and the battle quickens to a feverish rate. The entirety of the Xenosaga soundtrack was performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and they never sounded better. While not one of Yasunori Mitsuda's best compositions, Last Battle certainly is one of the better final boss themes one will find.



9) Final Battle - Banjo-Kazooie (N64, XBLA)


Grant Kirkhope bestows a bounty of beauty upon the ears with Final Battle, the theme heard when fighting the wicked witch, Gruntilda, on top of her castle in Banjo-Kazooie. Kirkhope gets the most out of the Nintendo 64's synth with impressive utilization of instruments and sounds to really create a bold and daring composition. The theme borrows melodic elements of Gruntilda's castle to manifest itself into a fast paced piece, fitting for the final fight with Grunty. Take a listen to the track, and you'll see why it made my list.



8) Last Battle (Opportunity) - Skies of Arcadia (DC)

The team of Yutaka Minobe and Takayuki Maeda combine ideas to unleash this final boss theme from Skies of Arcadia. Depending on how the battle goes, the song changes from its normal version to a more positive or negative outlook (hence the Opportunity moniker in parentheses). Ramirez is already a daunting figure, and this piece only strengthens that position. Vyse and the gang have a tough road ahead of them if they want to achieve victory. At least if you fail in your mission, you can always retry and listen to this brilliant boss theme all over again!



7) One-Winged Angel - Final Fantasy VII (PS1)


Any Final Fantasy fan knows of One-Winged Angel, the boss theme of Safer Sephiroth. Drums and strings pound on as the battlefield is displayed, and Sephiroth's final form hovers into view. Then one's heart starts beating wildly as the chorus chimes in. The reason this piece isn't higher on my list is because it's been used in so many concerts and games that it is starting to get old to me. It's been the go-to theme of concerts, been used in the Final Fantasy VII movie of Advent Children, and heard in both Kingdom Hearts I and II. Despite this, the memories of taking down Safer Sephiroth still hold a warm place in my heart, and make One-Winged Angel number seven on my list of favorite final boss themes.



6) Sigma 2nd - Mega Man X6 (PS1)

Sigma just never gives up, does he? In this final form in Mega Man X6, he places his head inside a giant gold golem that shoots out slimy enemies to slip up X or Zero and unleashes a powerful laser beam from its mouth. The theme itself is a remixed version of Sigma's boss battle song from the original Mega Man X on the Super Nintendo. Way to throw it back to the past, Capcom! There's nothing like rocking out while attempting to avoid all of Sigma's attacks.



5) Grand Cross - Final Fantasy IX (PS1)

Necron comes out of nowhere to battle Zidane's party in a final confrontation that is without a doubt challenging. The theme begins with the moaning of tortured souls-- very conducive to the area where Necron is fought. Suddenly the main melody and beat kick in, moving through the player's mind, and pumping up the adrenaline of even the most calm and tacit player. The track itself is six minutes (approximately) long (at least on the CD version), and repeats itself twice. Once again, Nobuo Uematsu shows his composing prowess as he lends his talents to make an otherwise good boss battle great.



4) Final Bowser Battle - Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)

After three failed attempts to destroy Mario, Bowser goes for broke in Super Mario Galaxy 2. He opens a wormhole of sorts and sends Mario free-falling. Mario must ground pound various spheres to smash them into the ever-inching-closer Bowser. This final part of the fight is easy, so it's unfortunate that players probably won't be able to hear the duration of this backed by choir piece. It's Bowser's Super Mario Galaxy theme amped up sevenfold. It tells the player that the chips are down, and Bowser has gone all out. It's up to Mario and the player to defeat the king of the koopas and save the damsel in distress once more.



3) The Theme of Alexia Type II - Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles (Wii)

While not the final boss of the entire game, Alexia's second form is the final boss of the Code: Veronica (or Game of Oblivion as it is known in-game) chapter of Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles, one of the best light gun shooters on the market today, regardless of console. Alexia transforms into a fluttering and fast dragonfly-like monstrosity that needs to be taken out with a special weapon known as the linear launcher. The opera singer in this piece knows how to hit those high notes, and the catchy orchestral accompaniment only enhances her already astounding voice. Chilling as much as it is powerful, The Theme of Alexia II takes the number three spot on my countdown.



2) [Boss] Solaris Phase 2 - Sonic the Hedgehog (PS3, 360)


Sonic the Hedgehog games generally have outstanding scores to coincide with the action on-screen. This is true with even the worst games in the series. Sonic the Hedgehog's 2006 reboot is one of those titles. Everything from the god-awful mach speed sections to falling through the floor to homing attacking the wrong enemy, Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) was a glitch-filled festering pile of feces. The soundtrack, however, is simply superb. Solaris Phase 2's theme is a symphonic version of the main theme of the game, His World. It is backed by a strong guitar, and it makes the final boss encounter especially epic-- to use an overindulged internet word. Take a listen, and you'll understand why I have this theme listed as number two.



1) Dancing Mad - Final Fantasy VI (SNES)

Nobuo Uematsu successfully completes his hat trick on my top ten with Kefka's theme, Dancing Mad, from Final Fantasy VI, one of the best installments the franchise has to offer. This piece is divided up into four parts. It was extraordinary then, and it's extraordinary now. The theme slowly transitions between movements as the player makes his or her way up the tower of Espers in a four-part battle to save the world in ruin. The last movement is faster-paced and features Kefka's theme. The version I chose to represent this pleasing piece is from an album called Distant Worlds II. It's orchestrated and comes with a haunting choir. It sounds absolutely spectacular, wouldn't you agree?



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What final boss themes do you appreciate the most? Do you share some of your favorites with mine? Let everyone know in the comments section. They are always appreciated.

Sonic Generations (PS3, 360, 3DS) - Boss Trailer

You didn't think Sonic's journey would be all sunshine and roses, did you? No, no. There's bosses standing in his way from the Egg Dragoon to rival battles such as Metal Sonic, Shadow, and Silver (ugh). Watch this under one minute trailer to see these big bads in action as well as get a glimpse of the final boss. Beware of spoilers for those who care.



Thursday, October 13, 2011

September 2011 NPD Results

September flew by with many big titles released including Gears of War 3, Resistance 3, and Dead Island. Let's see how they and the consoles did with our look at the September 2011 NPD results taken from NeoGAF.

5-week tracking month; Reporting Period 8/28/11 through 10/1/11

Software (New physical retail only, across all platforms including PC)
01. Madden NFL 12 (360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP)** Electronic Arts
02. Gears of War 3 (360)** Microsoft (Corp)
03. Dead Island (360, PS3, PC) Deep Silver
04. FIFA Soccer 12 (360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP, 3DS) Electronic Arts
05. NHL 12 (360, PS3) Electronic Arts
06. Deus Ex: Human Revolution (360, PS3, PC)** Square Enix Inc
07. Resistance 3 (PS3) Sony (Corp)
08. Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars (Wii, NDS, 360, 3DS, PS3, PSP, PC) LucasArts
09. Call of Duty: Black Ops (360, PS3, NDS, Wii, PC)** Activision Blizzard
10. Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine (360, PS3, PC) THQ

**(includes CE, GOTY editions, bundles, etc. but not those bundled with hardware)


Hardware
Xbox 360: 438K (PR)
Playstation 3: 364K-374K (Calculations deduced from Sony and MS PR percentages)
Nintendo 3DS: 260K (PR)
Wii: 240K (PR)
Nintendo DS: 145K (PR)

Madden came up as the big winner beating out the two million seller in Gears of War 3. Meanwhile, Call of Duty: Black Ops is simply relentless, not showing any signs of dropping off of the top ten. Dead Island did well lunging its way onto the number four three spot, FIFA showed that while football may be more popular in America, soccer is still a spectacular sport for Americans, and Resistance 3 fought its way onto the number seven spot.

Speaking of hardware, there was no doubt that with the blockbuster release of Gears 3 and its huge momentum that the Xbox 360 would be number one once again. The fifty dollar price cut of the PlayStation 3 proved enough to score second place while the Nintendo 3DS is on the rebound, selling an admirable amount of units. The Wii continues to be on cruise control. Will it have a hot holiday season like it usually does, or are consumers over the system completely? I guess we'll find out when November and December NPD results are posted.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii) Floria Lake and Ancient Cistern Trailers

The marketing blitz for The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword continues with two brand-new trailers. One shows off a pristine lake area of the game while the other showcases a waterlogged dungeon with lily pads, a golden golem boss, and Link whipping it up. Do you plan on getting Skyward Sword, and if so, which version: the MotionPlus bundle or the standalone game?



Ultimate Marvel VS. Capcom 3 (PS3, 360, Vita) Nova and Phoenix Wright Trailers

New challengers approaching! Who do we have this time? Why it's Nova from Marvel's side and Phoenix Wright from Capcom's corner. Take that! Objection! You're out of order! And all that jazz as these two new additions to the roster show off their moves in a grandiose fashion. Check out the two reveal trailers and then let me know what you think about these two new characters.



Rank Up! - Banjo-Kazooie series

Remember when I placed the Banjo-Kazooie series as number ten on my favorite franchises list? Good times. The ultimate bear and bird combo get the Rank Up! treatment. What is Rank Up!, you ask? It's a feature where I take all of the games in a particular franchise and list them from least favorite to most favorite. Early in the wee hours of Central City we order the Banjo-Kazooie games in this fashion. Let's get to it, ladies and gents, but first, what games will we be ordering?

Banjo-Kazooie (N64, XBLA)
Banjo-Tooie (N64, XBLA)

Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge (GBA)

Banjo Pilot (GBA)

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts (360)



Banjo made his first appearance on Nintendo's 64-bit fun machine in the super superb Diddy Kong Racing. He was a heavy class racer who was great with high speeds but had poor acceleration. He soon ditched the life of Mario Andretti and his ilk and moved onto greener pastures and greater adventures. His first major game was Banjo-Kazooie, sharing the name of the game with his female avian partner, Kazooie. The pair worked together to rescue Banjo's beautiful sister, Tooty, from the grizzly grip of Gruntilda, an evil witch who wanted to take Tooty's beauty for herself. Suffice it to say, Banjo and Kazooie persevered and saved Tooty from a fiendish fate. Ol' Grunty just didn't get the hint, and she continued to bother the bear and bird in various sequels and spin-offs. Nonetheless, this series just shows how talented the fine folks at Rareware were.

5) Banjo Pilot (GBA)


Originally planned as a sequel to Diddy Kong Racing only with airplanes exclusively, Rare's shares were bought by Microsoft after being sold off by Nintendo. Microsoft still allowed Rare to develop games for Nintendo's handhelds (It's Mr. Pants, Sabre Wulf, Viva Pinata: Pocket Paradise, Diddy Kong Racing DS) as they didn't have a dog in the portable fight. The game featured familiar locales to fly through and a pack of crazy characters including Banjo, Kazooie, Grunty, Klungo, Mumbo Jumbo, Jolly Roger, and Jinjo. Banjo Pilot used Mode 7 graphics, and it was a technically impressive title for GBA standards. However, there are far better racers on the portable, and Banjo Pilot isn't one of them.

4) Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge (GBA)


When will the wicked witch of Spiral Mountain learn? Not any time soon apparently as she returned to get her revenge with this GBA isometric platformer. The goal of the game was the same as with the N64 adventures-- collect notes and Jiggies (jigsaw pieces that opened up more worlds) while learning new moves to add to Banjo's arsenal. Rare once again proved their prowess visually, and the game itself was an enjoyable albeit relatively short romp. I remember the final fight against Gruntilda being particularly challenging. Nonetheless, in the history of the Banjo-Kazooie franchise, Grunty's Revenge is a mere footnote in the series' short existence.

3) Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts (360)


Perhaps the wrong system to sell a colorful and carefree game on, Banjo-Kazooie returned after a long absence, but in a different genre altogether. There were some platforming elements to be found, but they were mostly relegated to Showdown Town, the game's hub area. Players custom built vehicles whether they be planes, carts, or hovercrafts to complete challenges strewn across the game's handful of worlds. The true entertainment came from the majority of means to complete tasks. Many fans were put off that Nuts & Bolts wasn't a true platformer or didn't appreciate the bold, new art style, but those that did received another stellar entry in the Banjo-Kazooie franchise. And who could resist hearing their favorite themes in all of their orchestrated glory?

2) Banjo-Tooie (N64, XBLA)


Unlike its predecessor, Banjo-Tooie was all about bigger worlds. Banjo and Kazooie could be separate from one another by stepping on and activating a special pad. They could learn moves apart from each other, too. Even Mumbo Jumbo joined in as a playable character, using his magic to manipulate the environment to assist the bear and bird on their quest to seek comeuppance on the then bony hag that was Gruntilda who killed Bottles the mole. Humba Wumba could transform the pair into a myriad of creatures including a rampaging tyrannosaurus rex, a detonator, a bee, a snowball, and even a washing machine! The reason this game is number two on this list despite having larger worlds to traverse is because the focus shifted more towards exploration and less on actual platforming. Regardless, Banjo-Tooie is a remarkable sequel even if Canary Mary is a cheating piece of cuckoo crap.

1) Banjo-Kazooie (N64, XBLA)


The original Banjo-Kazooie is not only the best in the series, but it is the best platformer on the Nintendo 64. Yes, it even beats out the spectacular Super Mario 64. Everything about the game screamed charm. The worlds were filled with more things to do, notes to collect, and Jiggies to nab (ten in each area as opposed to just seven in Super Mario 64). The golden jigsaw pieces were used to fill in incomplete pictures. Once completed, these pictures opened the way to new worlds to explore. From marching around Mumbo's Mountain as an ant to diving down in the the deep, dark, dank depths of Clanker's Cavern to chilling out in Freezeey Peak to getting your inner ghoul on in Mad Monster Mansion, the worlds were interesting and infinitely rewarding to rummage around in. And the final battle with Gruntilda (only after winning her Grunty's Furnace Fun game show challenge, of course) was anything but boring. Banjo-Kazooie is still to this day the epitome of an entertaining and engaging 3D platformer.

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As we wrap up and reflect upon Rank Up! for this go around, what would your ranking of the series be? Would the original Banjo-Kazooie place number one on your own personal list? And what franchise should be the next subject for ranking up? Let any and all answers be posted in the comments section. They are always appreciated, truly.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I (PSN, XBLA, WiiWare) Review

We're counting down the days to the Classic Sonic meets Modern Sonic face-off in Sonic Generations with some reviews of recent hog titles. Did you know that yesterday was the one year anniversary of Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I (at least on WiiWare. Today is the anniversary of the PSN edition, and tomorrow is the XBLA version's birthday)? It just so happens that this game is the subject of today's review. Could Dimps defy all odds and make a good Sonic side-scroller? Check out my review for the answer.

An Honorable Attempt to Cash In On Nostalgia


SEGA went all in when they announced they were making a sequel to Sonic the Hedgehog 3. Many assumed that Sonic & Knuckles served as Sonic the Hedgehog 4, but they were apparently mistaken. Going for an episodic approach, Sonic Team turned to developer Dimps to concoct a 2D side-scrolling adventure featuring everyone's favorite blue hedgehog. Now Dimps have had experience designing games featuring the azure blue blur such as the Sonic Advance trilogy and the pair of Sonic Rush games on the Nintendo DS. Now they truly get their chance to shine with Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I. With being a main entry in the franchise, you know that fans expect nothing but the utmost quality and shine. Does Dimps deliver?

There's no exposition to speak of in Sonic the Hedgehog 4, and that's quite alright. We're going retro here where games spoke for themselves and didn't need no stinking story to get in the way of the fun. The goal is to take down the evil Eggman who is once again plotting to take over the world, imprisoning animals in machine pods, and just making life miserable for the inhabitants of Sonic's world. Sonic, being the always fighting for good type that he is, springs into action and closely follows the nefarious doctor through five zones of fast and frenetic gameplay.

Originality isn't Dimps' strong suit. Every of the five zones in Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I is an archetype of a zone from either the original 1991 classic or Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Splash Hill Zone is Green Hill Zone, Casino Palace Zone is Casino Night Zone, Lost Labyrinth Zone is the Labyrinth Zone, and Mad Gear Zone is the Metropolis Zone. The zones even feature similar enemies and gimmicks throughout each of the zones' three acts. Each zone is divided up between four acts. Three of which are your standard "race through to win and carefully traverse through the levels" while the latter act is a boss battle. Again, these boss battles are ripped straight from their O.G. source. Splash Hill's boss uses the familiar ball and chain to try to slam into Sonic. However, those expecting the exact same game plan from Dr. Eggman will quickly be tripped up as when the diabolical doctor is low on health, he initiates desperation moves. For instance, the first fight with Sonic he'll spin 360 degrees and smash his ball and chain directly into the ground in an attempt to crush the chili dog eating hedgehog.

The zones offer up a fine feeling of familiarity.

Each act in the game introduces a new gameplay gimmick that is usually one-off and never again seen after that act is completed. Act 2 of Splash Hill features vines that Sonic can gain momentum on and swing off of while Act 3 not only is displayed in sunset but it's full of ziplines for Sonic to ride. Casino Palace is full of card platforms that switch from being able to stand on to dropping the player into a bottomless pit below as well as a roller coaster made up of poker cards. Lost Labyrinth has an act that is completely pitch black. Sonic carries a torch throughout the act, lighting the way through the level and setting off fuses to blow away walls obstructing his path. Meanwhile, Mad Gear shows off with a crusher wall that relentlessly pursues the fastest thing alive who must jet through the act 'less he wishes to be smashed like a pancake. The zone also has gears which the blue hedgehog can ride on while avoiding the thrown pincers of those obnoxious praying mantis and starfish enemies Sonic 2 veterans dread from the Metropolis Zone.

Me Sonic. You Jane.

In the realm of Sonic the Hedgehog, rings are his livelihood. As long as Sonic has at least one ring when he gets hit, he'll stay alive. If he takes damage while not having a single golden ring in his possession, the player loses a life and must start back at the beginning of the act or at the last passed checkpoint. Gathering one-hundred of these rings will net Sonic an extra life. Having at least fifty rings at the end of an act (save for the boss act, of course) will enable the hedgehog to enter the Special Stage. These are designed just like Sonic 1's bonus stages except the player actually controls the rotation of the stage as they navigate through a maze of multicolored orbs, all the while avoiding the dreaded goal signs which will immediately end his run for the Chaos Emerald. Collecting all of the Chaos Emeralds, of which there are seven, transforms Sonic into Super Sonic. This omnipotent being can fly through acts, completely invincible save for bottomless pits. Completionists will definitely want to grab them all to say they truly finished off Episode I.

Despite having the past 2D Sonic games to reference on, Dimps did not exactly nail the execution of playing as the speed demon hog. If you're not constantly holding forward, your momentum will die off faster than the lifespan of a fly. This is frustrating when trying to play the game and not having enough oomph to run up a hill or go through a loop-de-loop. Another problem I noticed is that Sonic can somehow slowly walk upside down on curved ceilings. Did the entire developer team at Dimps flunk out on their high school physics class or what? Regardless, a new addition to the game from the 3D Sonic titles is the homing attack. Unlike some purists out there, I welcome this added gameplay perk with open arms. It makes bashing badniks all the more easy, and using it to air dash makes speeding through levels a breeze. In some cases utilizing the air dash is a necessity as without it, players can find themselves falling into pits because they didn't move swiftly enough across falling platforms.

Don't get those quills waterlogged, Sonic!

Compared to what we've seen from fan hacks and fan projects, Sonic the Hedgehog 4's visuals aren't truly as ambitious as they could have been. Don't get me wrong, the game still looks rather swell, and the backgrounds are gorgeous, but there was potential to knock this one out of the park. Dimps failed at doing this. The sound by longtime Sonic Team composer Jun Senoue attempts to go retro, but it comes off as feverishly forced. The music attempts to hark back to the glory Genesis days, but it sounds off. The melodies are nice, but it's the instrumentation that made me go back and wonder what Senoue was smoking when he chose the type of MIDI he did over the capable soundcard of the actual Genesis. Nonetheless and all-in-all, these are minor complaints presentation-wise, and they shouldn't put you off in trying this title out.

Rollin', rollin', rollin', rollin'.

Perhaps if Sonic the Hedgehog 4 dropped the number four from its title I would be more lenient towards the mistakes made by the development team. As is, however, these problems make Sonic the Hedgehog 4 a bad example of a game that tries to capture the legacy of the original Genesis (or Mega Drive for all my non-North American pals) games and falls woefully short. The game is still fun, but the physics are off, the sound and music aren't up to snuff completely, and the zones are just poor imitations of zones from past Sonic ventures. Wait till you can find this title on sale before plopping down your hard-earned cash for this downloadable game. Sonic 4 deserved better. Much better.

[SuperPhillip Says: 6.75/10]

Kirby's Return to Dreamland (Wii) Overview Trailer

The trailer may be in Japanese, but it does an admirable job of showing off the gameplay of the upcoming end-of-the-month title, Kirby's Return to Dreamland for Wii. Just when will that Whispy Woods learn not to mess with Kirby? Regardless, it shows off some bonus content, mini-games, and the four player multi-player action the game has to offer. Suck up your copy of Kirby's Return to Dreamland when it hits North American store shelves on the 24th of this month.



Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Go Vacation (Wii) Launch Trailer

It's finally here-- the ultimate in mini-game collections, Go Vacation for Nintendo Wii! Tour four unique parts of the game's island and participate in one of 100 different events. The game's budget priced at $39.99, so what are you waiting for? No need to book an appointment with your travel agent, just get down to your local video game retailer and pick this bad boy up! Enjoy this launch trailer.



Top Ten Favorite Franchises

We all have them-- series that make us gush with excitement when each installment is announced and is finally released. I've come up with my own personal list of ten favorite franchises of mine to share with fellow SuperPhillip Central readers. Once you've finished up reading my list, write up your own in the comments section. Alongside the series named I've listed five games apiece that are memorable mentions with the year they were released in North America. With that, let's begin.

10) Banjo-Kazooie


Kicking off the countdown is everyone's favorite bear and bird team, Banjo and Kazooie. While they've had the least amount of games of any other series on this list, the games they've gone through together have mostly been nothing short of spectacular. The original Banjo-Kazooie is still one of my favorite 3D platformers of all time, even beating out Super Mario 64. Some didn't like the direction Rare took the series with Nuts & Bolts, but I not only welcomed the vehicle aspect but I loved the overhauled visuals as well.

Memorable Mentions:

Banjo-Kazooie - N64 (1998)
Banjo-Tooie - N64 (2000)
Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge - GBA (2003)
Banjo Pilot - GBA (2005)
Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts - 360 (2008)

9) Sonic the Hedgehog


The blue blur has had it rough over recent years. Sonic Team just can't seem to get it right most of the time. When they have the keys to success, they throw in an asinine gameplay mechanic that sours the entire experience. Let's not even talk about Sonic the Hedgehog (2006). Regardless, with the classic Sonic games (1-3 plus Sonic & Knuckles) as well as the Sonic Advance trilogy, Sonic Rush and Rush Adventure, Sonic Colors (Wii version), and the upcoming Sonic Generations for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Nintendo 3DS, the future is looking bright for the world's most famous hedgehog. Here's hoping his next twenty years have much less turbulence.

Memorable Mentions:

Sonic the Hedgehog - GEN (1991)
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 - GEN (1994)
Sonic & Knuckles - GEN (1994)
Sonic Rush - DS (2005)
Sonic Colors - Wii, DS (2010)

8) Hot Shots Golf



Outclassing the Mario Golf series of games, Hot Shots Golf has it all. I'm absolutely frothing at the mouth for the upcoming augmented reality enhanced Hot Shots Golf 6 for the PlayStation Vita. Besides looking at the future of the franchise, let's look at the past. From its humble roots on the original PlayStation to its two terrific installments on the PlayStation 2 to its pair of portable entries on the PSP that allowed for character customization through equipping new clubs, balls, accessories, and costumes. Whether you're a scratch golfer or set to be Tiger Woods with his A-game, Hot Shots Golf is the ultimate golfing game on the market. No wonder it's so popular in the land of the rising sun!

Memorable Mentions:

Hot Shots Golf - PS1 (1998)
Hot Shots Golf 3 - PS2 (2002)
Hot Shots Golf Fore! - PS2 (2004)
Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds - PS3 (2008)
Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee 2 - PSP (2008)

7) Ratchet & Clank


Ratchet and Clank are a platforming duo that obliterates any opponent that stands in their way. This is all the while dealing with the doofus known as Captain Qwark, foiling the plans of either Megacorp or Dr. Nefarious, and collecting gold, platinum, and titanium bolts tucked away in hidden locations. The fun comes from the splendid level design, upgradable weapons that grow more powerful the more Ratchet uses them, and the humor that Insomniac Games tosses in for good measure. There hasn't been a poor entry to the series yet even with a menagerie of games in the span of a decade. With the multi-player focused All 4 One due out later this month, the future of the franchise seems to be as strong as the lombax's close-ranged wrench.

Memorable Mentions:

Ratchet & Clank - PS2 (2002)
Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando - PS2 (2003)
Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal - PS2 (2004)
Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction - PS3 (2007)
Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time - PS3 (2009)

6) Donkey Kong


It's on like Donkey Kong, or so the saying goes at least. Donkey Kong was part of arcade boom, tossing a barrage of barrels down on an unsuspecting Jumpman whose goal was to traverse a tower of beams to rescue his girlfriend. The mad ape wouldn't become as popular as he is now without being a part of many Mario sports and spin-offs such as Mario Kart, Mario Party, and Mario Tennis, to name a few. He'd grow immensely huge with Rare's Donkey Kong Country trilogy, be put through some design tests with Jungle Beat and the King of Swing games, and eventually go full circle with Mario VS. Donkey Kong. Retro Studios would get their expert hands on the mean monkey and develop the brilliant Donkey Kong Country Returns which rivals all but DKC2. For a bloody good time, there's nothing better than getting funky with the main monkey!

Memorable Mentions:

Donkey Kong - ARC (1981)
Donkey Kong Country - SNES (1994)
Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat - GCN (2005)
DK: King of Swing - GBA (2005)
Donkey Kong Country Returns - Wii (2010)

5) Metroid


If you were a kid growing up in the eighties to early nineties, you probably at one time in your life called the famous bounty hunter "Metroid" instead of her real name, "Samus Aran." You probably also was surprised at finding out that the bad-ass bounty hunter was in actuality a full-blown woman. Regardless, Metroid introduced players to a world that was fully explorable. When new weapons and abilities were learned new passageways previously inaccessible were open for Samus to uncover. Retro Studios would shock the world when they successfully turned Metroid into a first-person shooter/adventure experience with Metroid Prime. While there have been some low points in the franchise (the recent botched story of Other M being one of them), it hasn't sullied the reputation of this glorious series... at least for me, that is.

Memorable Mentions:

Metroid - NES (1986)
Super Metroid - SNES (1994)
Metroid Prime - GCN (2002)
Metroid Fusion - GBA (2002)
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption - Wii (2007)

4) Mario Kart


Even though I declared that Diddy Kong Racing outperformed Mario Kart 64, I still prefer the immensely entertaining Mario Kart series as a whole much more than any other racer whether arcade or simulator. Everything from the colorful and familiar cast of Mushroom Kingdom characters (Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toad, Yoshi, Bowser, Donkey Kong, Wario, Waluigi, Daisy, etc.), the excellent track design, the fast-paced action, the wealth of items, and the awesome local and online multi-player mayhem that is unleashed on players makes Mario Kart head and shoulders above any other racer. While Mario Kart Wii may have leaned more towards item abuse than past installments, the game kept its entertainment value with its sheer amount of content and terrific online.

Memorable Mentions:

Super Mario Kart - SNES (1992)
Mario Kart 64 - N64 (1997)
Mario Kart: Double Dash!! - GCN (2003)
Mario Kart DS - DS (2005)
Mario Kart Wii - Wii (2008)

3) Mega Man


While Capcom may have kicked the blue bomber to the curb in favor of rehashing the same old I.P.s and passing off their legacy franchises to Western developers to ill effects (Devil May Cry and Bionic Commando, anyone?), Mega Man still stands as my third favorite franchise of all time. Whether it's classic Mega Man earning new weapons from defeated Robot Masters to Mega Man X wall jumping and charging his X-buster to annihilate the sinister Sigma, the storied gameplay of this series is unwavering. Capcom may not care for Mega Man anymore (as evident by the cancellation of not one but two Mega Man games and his absence from Marvel VS. Capcom 3), but his fans sure as heck do.

Memorable Mentions:

Mega Man - NES (1987)
Mega Man 2 - NES (1988)
Mega Man X - SNES (1994)
Mega Man Battle Network - GBA (2001)
Mega Man Zero - GBA (2002)

2) Super Mario


"It's a-me, Mario!" Who hasn't attempted to imitate Charles Martinet's Mario voice? Mario has had an illustrious career that keeps going. Where does one even begin? There's the original Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, Yoshi's Island, Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, Super Mario Galaxy, Super Mario Galaxy 2, New Super Mario Bros, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and a plethora of RPG spin-offs. Mario is synonymous with gaming. He is the Mickey Mouse of the gaming world. In fact, he may be even more popular and more of a household name than Disney's round-eared rat. There's no telling what the future holds for Mario, but you can bet that as long as Nintendo is around they will continue to innovate and impress with the portly plumber's action and platform-packed adventures!

Memorable Mentions:

Super Mario Bros. - NES (1985)
Super Mario Bros. 3 - NES (1990)
Super Mario World - SNES (1991)
Super Mario 64 - N64 (1996)
Super Mario Galaxy 2 - Wii (2010)

1) The Legend of Zelda


This is it. The top of the heap. The king of the hill. The cat's meow. Number one, baby. It's none other than The Legend of Zelda. Solving puzzles, riding Epona across a sun-soaked Hyrule Field, earning new items like the bow and arrow, ball and chain, spinner, boomerang, megaton hammer, iron boots, light, fire, or ice arrows, and many more, venturing inside deep and dark dungeons, fending off Moblins, Octoroks, and Gohmas, and beating down big bad bosses is all the M.O. of The Legend of Zelda series. With so many adventures under his belt, Link's journeys seldom fail to exhilarate. Each one brings something new to the table, so calling an entry a rehash is just foolish talk. Where do I even start naming memorable entries in this illustrious and remarkable series? From the introduction of time in Ocarina of Time to the inclusion of masks in Majora's Mask to the open world venturing of the original Zelda to the multi-player mayhem of Four Swords Adventures, there's a Zelda game for everyone which is the reason why this oftentimes heralded franchise takes the number one slot on my list.

Memorable Mentions:

The Legend of Zelda - NES (1987)
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past - SNES (1992)
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening - GB (1993)
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time - N64 (1998)
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess - GCN, Wii (2005)

===

And so my list of favorite franchises is set in stone. Some honorable mentions include Final Fantasy, LittleBigPlanet, Kirby, Animal Crossing, Super Smash Bros., Castlevania, and Grand Theft Auto. Now it's your turn. Feel free to list ten (or less) of your personal favorite series. Let's compare and contrast opinions on the subject in our comments section.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D (3DS) Review

What perfect timing for a review regarding a Resident Evil game, or as it's known in Japan as Biohazard. Seeing as it's the month of Halloween, what better way to commemorate the occasion than with an action-horror title? That's exactly what we have here with Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D.

Evil Takes Up Residence On Nintendo 3DS In Arcade Form.


Ever since Resident Evil 4, there has been an arcade mode known as The Mercenaries where an endless array of enemies flocked to the player's position. The goal was to slay as many of these foes as possible before being overwhelmed and ultimately being killed yourself. The mode was so popular that it popped up once again in the fairly recent Resident Evil 5 with new maps and baddies to blast. Now on the Nintendo 3DS, Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D takes The Mercenaries mode in portable form and as its own game. Is there enough content to justify a stand-alone version?

With the odds against him, Chris Redfield must go all out.

The Mercenaries 3D is all about survival and killing as many enemies as possible within a strict time limit. On each map there's several time bonuses ranging anywhere from a meager thirty second time bonus all the way up 120 seconds. Players can also gain extra time from killing an opponent with a melee attack, but first the enemy must be weakened and put into a dazed condition. Usually shooting someone's leg will be enough to trip a foe into setting them up to annihilate them with one of many melee finishers. Additionally, there's several combo bonuses to collect from treasure chests strewn along the battlefield. These give one-thousand points for every enemy killed while the combo bonus is in play. It's only good for a limited amount of time, so obliterate and obliterate often.

Finishing a foe off with a melee
maneuver scores you extra time.

The main aim of The Mercenaries 3D is to garner a high score. There's many means to do this, but the regular course of action to accomplish this is to keep your combo going. Every time an enemy is defeated a combo begins. After ten seconds the combo ends, so the player must continuously kill Ganados and Majini (from Resident Evil 4 and 5 respectively) to keep their combo. The more enemies that are defeated during the combo means the more points the player or players earn. Skilled players can stretch their combo into the 100 kill range for an exceptional bonus.

Starting out, players begin with a row of tutorial missions to select from. These range from going to and picking up markers in a certain order to destroying a set number of enemies in the time limit. Once a row of missions have been completed with a B rank or better (upon finishing a given mission a rank is assigned based on the player's performance. This is anywhere from the lowest [a D rank] to the highest [which I believe is a triple-S rank].) the next tier of missions is unlocked. There's six tiers of missions, and each tier gets progressively more difficult and challenging to complete. The early missions have but ten or twenty enemies to defeat while other missions have the objective of staying alive while trying to defeat an onslaught of enemies (usually 150 in total). Two specific missions have the goal of surviving fifteen waves of foes. Each wave that the player survives adds valuable time to the clock as whatever time is left in a given mission is turned into points towards the player's final score.

That chainsaw spells impending doom for one HUNK.

Earning high scores is important in The Mercenaries 3D as they unlock in-game content such as new characters (players only start out with three unlocked), new costumes, and new skills. There's eight characters in total to be awarded to the player including Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, Claire Redfield, HUNK, Barry Burton, Jack Krauser, Rebecca Chambers, and Albert Wesker. Each character has their own weapon loadout. For instance, Chris Redfield starts each battle with a handgun, shotgun, and rifle whereas Jill Valentine begins each battle with a machine gun, knife, and shotgun. Through completing each mission with at least an A ranking as one character, the player earns the right to use that character's loadout for any other character in the game. This means HUNK can utilize Krauser's loadout if Krauser finishes all missions with at least an A ranking or pays ten play coins for the helpful ability. Each character also comes with an unlockable costume which is purely for aesthetic purposes and nothing gameplay-wise. Hunk can look like the grim reaper, Wesker can summon the power of the Uroboros, and Ms. Chambers can dress up like a nurse to name a few.

A wide variety of skills can be learned and equipped to a player's persona. Three can be attached to a character at a time, and after successfully completing a given mission, they grow in strength, gain experience, and can level up twice. Leveling up usually gives a bonus benefit to a skill. There's a plethora of skills to unlock from increased handgun handling, the ability to take down bosses more easily, invincibility for a limited amount of time after picking up an item, enhanced melee power, and much more. Some skills even rub off on your cooperative partner.

Yes, you heard right. Players can hop online or play locally with a co-op partner. This exponentially makes the game much more fun and makes earning higher scores a lesser challenge. However, if one partner dies, it's game over. Players should stick together as when one partner gets injured severely, the other can run to their rescue, pat them on the back, and restore them to the land of the living. Nonetheless, they only have a set amount of seconds to save them before they succumb to death. Online play is smooth, and it is relatively free of lag. There's no voice chat which may ruin strategy, but players can press a button and a direction on the d-pad to call out generic orders such as "follow me" and "wait here."

Play alone, or with a friend or total stranger.
The choice is yours.

There's a mega amount of content to play through in The Mercenaries 3D. Completing the game's missions as every character will last people days while leveling up every skill will take a long time to accomplish. Then there's the multitude of medals that can be awarded to skilled players. Think of these as Xbox 360 achievements or PlayStation 3 trophies. They're given to players for completing specific tasks such as getting 100 headshots, playing fifty games with another player, saving your partner from death for the first time, defeating a parasite with a flash grenade, continuing a set amount of times, among more. In all, there's fifty medals to acquire.

The assets of The Mercenaries 3D are made up of content from both Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5. The maps are all from those games such as RE4's village and castle and RE5's mine and African town. The enemies are also borrowed from the pair of excellent games. There's cult members who throw their scythes at players, dynamite-carrying and throwing baddies, chainsaw-wielding Salvadors (in both normal and Super forms) that can kill a player in one fell swoop, Garradors that attack through hearing the player moving or firing their weapon, biohazards like the bat and wasp-like beast, the gatling gun-toting Majini, and the executioner in both black and red iterations. That's but a sampling of the army of darkness players will encounter on the various maps. There's nothing more intense than taking on a brigade of baddies who fearlessly and carelessly fling around their chainsaws as they inch closer and closer to desperate players.

Meet your worst nightmare, Super Salvador.

This arcade version of Resident Evil controls pretty well. Players can turn a complete 180 degrees with the quick turn combination, heal with a press of a button (pending they have a green plant in their inventory), move and fire, zoom in and fire, and select weapons and view the map via the bottom touch screen. There's three differing control options, so players will be able to find the method that fits them best. Nonetheless, it can be jarring attempting to choose between weapons and grenades while trying to keep your character alive in the heat of battle.

One of the grandest problems with the game is the absence of being able to delete game progress. For some reason (the used game market) Capcom opted to disallow this ability, so players who wish to start from scratch and overwrite game data are out of luck unfortunately. In this day and age, that's inexcusable.

Some melee attacks are insta-kills.

Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D runs on Capcom's MT Framework Mobile graphical interface, and boy, do they know how to get the most out of the the hardware they're using! This game looks drop-dead gorgeous and eye-popping. The textures are well-defined, the characters look glorious, and everything runs smoothly and without any hiccups or bugs. The sound borrows heavily from past Resident Evils (mostly four and five) with music and sound effects from those games. A voice over the player's communicator explains the goal of each mission before a round begins. Otherwise what players are left with is a bunch of grunts and yells from the playable characters.

With dozens of hours of content through unlockable characters, costumes, leveling up skills, and collecting the fifty medals the game has as well as earning high scores with each character, Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D will have players fending off Ganados and Majini long into the holidays. With the addition of local and online play either with friends or total strangers, the longevity of the game increases sevenfold. (Solo and Duo mode scores are separate from one another.) Perhaps forty dollars is too much for the game, but if you can find The Mercenaries 3D for thirty clams for less, jump on in. There's enough replay value to last months for anyone who is a fan of achieving high scores, mowing down waves of infected enemies, and lovers of fervent fighting.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.0/10]

Pokemon Rumble Blast (3DS) North American Ads

This YouTube video features both North American Pokemon Rumble Blast advertisements in one neatly edited piece. The commercials show off the game and do a splendid job of informing consumers on what the game is all about. I think this title could be a big seller come its release date on October 24th. Do you plan on getting this game, or do you think it should have been a 3DS download?



Sunday, October 9, 2011

Wii Hardware Review

This is uncharted territory for SuperPhillip Central. We've never witnessed a hardware review, but that's exactly what we're going to do here on this fine Sunday afternoon. Our subject for our very first hardware review is the Nintendo Wii. Without further ado, let's have it up, right here and right now.

You Hate What You Fear Or How I
Learned to Ignore the Haters


The Nintendo Wii is quite the controversial console. From the sect who say it has no games to the ones who argue that Nintendo "abandoned" them or whatever, you're not a "true gamer" if you don't loathe this platform. Whatever side of the fence you're on, it's difficult to argue that the Wii didn't change the face of gaming forever with its intuitive control methods (motion control gaming) and its library of both core and casual software. Even Sony and Microsoft were forced to imitate the Wii to varying degrees of success through the Move and Kinect respectively. Nearly five years after the fact, is the Wii worthy of being in a gamer's collection?

Right away, let's talk about the new control method used for the Wii, the motion controls. At first the Wii was relegated to an overused term in the industry "waggle." You usually shook the Wii remote to replace a button press such as in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess where shaking or flicking the remote made the hero Link swing and slice his sword. The Wii remote then was imprecise, and it couldn't do intricate movements. Regardless, some games made great use of the controller in this form still including Boom Blox, Wii Sports, Mario Kart Wii, and The Godfather: Blackhand Edition (to name a select handful). Then came the Wii MotionPlus peripheral which Nintendo wisely attached to every copy of the ultra-popular Wii Sports Resort, the sequel to the immensely-popular Wii Sports. This attachment allowed for greater range of movement, and it was much more precise. However, many games do not use this peripheral to its full advantage. Some titles that do, though, are Red Steel 2, the already said Wii Sports Resort, and the upcoming blockbuster The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.

The MotionPlus accessory added increased functionality.

I love the combination of the Wii remote and nunchuk attachment. The Wii remote itself has several buttons (1, 2, A, B on the backside, + and -) and a d-pad whereas the nunchuk whose cord plugs into the bottom of the Wii remote possesses the analog stick and the Z and C buttons on its backside. The controller is enjoyed by myself so much because it is super comfortable. You can stretch your arms out instead of being forced to hold your hands together like typical controllers. Being able to rest your hands on your lap is a godsend, and it just feels right. First-person shooters work wonderfully with this setup. You move around with the analog stick, and point the Wii remote at the screen to look around. This setup is ultimately but subjectively superior to dual-analog where you have to slowly move the cursor or iron sights to your intended target on the screen. With the Wii remote (and later the shameless copy, the PlayStation Move), faster precision was never this simple!

There were alternate peripherals aside from the Wii MotionPlus (now you can get the Wii remote with MotionPlus already built-in) such as the Wii Balance Board (for Wii Fit), the Wii Zapper (for Link's Crossbow Training and Resident Evil: The Umbrella and Darkside Chronicles), and the Wii Wheel (for Mario Kart Wii and various other racing games). Nintendo is known for-- and annoyingly so-- making one-off peripherals that are utilized in one or two games and then cast to the wayside. Many of the following peripherals fit this bill. Regardless, besides the Balance Board, the others were just shells for the Wii remote, and didn't really have an effect on gameplay.

Let's go from the controls to the games, shall we? The vocal minority (i.e. entitled gamers) declare that Nintendo turned its collective back on them. This is a ridiculous statement as Nintendo has never been more on top of their game. They brought back long-forgotten franchises, made some of the highest-rated games this gen, and constantly put forth effort in the majority of their titles. The Wii showed that you didn't need a triple-A budget to make fun titles. It's a shame most gamers have forgotten this. Let's list some of the first-party (whether developed internally or published) highlights to clarify this.

- Super Mario Galaxy*
- Super Mario Galaxy 2*
- Donkey Kong Country Returns**
- Kirby's Epic Yarn
- Punch-Out!**
- Excite Truck**
- Excitebots: Trick Racing**
- Sin & Punishment: Star Successor**
- Metroid Prime Trilogy
- Metroid: Other M
- Super Paper Mario
- Mario Strikers: Charged
- Mario Super Sluggers
- Mario Sports Mix
- Super Smash Bros. Brawl
- Mario Kart Wii
- New Super Mario Bros. Wii
- Animal Crossing: City Folk
- Wario Land: Shake It!
- Wii Sports
- Wii Sports Resort
- Wii Fit
- Wii Fit Plus
- Wii Party

*Two of the highest-rated games of this generation.
** I.P.s that were otherwise forgotten before this gen.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii was one of many
terrific Nintendo-developed titles.

Third-parties, on the other hand, normally treated the Wii as the red-headed stepchild, even with the console's unprecedented sales. The reason for this is that after the mindshare failure that was the Gamecube, many third-parties considered the Wii as DOA and felt that the HD consoles would be the best sellers. They were wrong and put all their eggs in the incorrect basket. They quickly tripped over themselves, throwing anything and everything on the console with little regard for budget or quality. There were some games that were a blast regardless of budget or those working on the games being the B or C teams such as Boom Blox, Monster Hunter Tri, Zack & Wiki, Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles (even though a traditional RE in the definitive version of Resident Evil 4 sold over a million copies, let's totally disregard that and make a light gun shooter instead. Smart move, Capcom.), Tatsunoko VS. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars, Sonic Colors, No More Heroes and its sequel, A Boy and His Blob, Bully: Scholarship Edition, Red Steel 2, Rabbids Go Home, and many more. Don't forget those underrated gems that the Wii is greatly known for like The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces, The Munchables, Blast Works, just to name a few.

One of the few big efforts by a third-party on the Wii.

Shifting gears, the Wii's menu infrastructure is made up of channels. There's a 4x3 list of channels with multiple of pages to sift through. Users can download new channels alongside the already available channels which include the Mii Channel (where owners can create avatars of themselves or famous actors, characters, and creatures), the Photo Channel, and the Wii Shop Channel where users can buy Virtual Console games and original WiiWare games via Wii points. The shop interface is fairly basic and could be easier to navigate. The problem with using Wii points is that you can only purchase points in 1,000 point increments, so if you want a game that's 800 points, you have to essentially pay ten dollars and have points in tow. Additionally, there's some downloadable channels including the News, Weather, Nintendo, and Internet Channels.

The Wii itself was smartly (business-wise) made nearly as powerful as the Gamecube (hence the two Gamecubes duct taped together line). At the time, HD wasn't as widespread as it is now, so Nintendo made the Wii weak relatively to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The company already made bank on the Gamecube even though it came last place in the previous generation's console war. Profits were even larger with the wild success of the Wii. However, you couldn't tell most of the time that the Wii is more powerful than the Gamecube as many developers don't take advantage of its power. They put shoddy efforts on the platform. Some games like Metroid Prime 3, Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl show a clear increase in performance from the past gen, though most do not which is unfortunate. The visuals of most Wii games is what I dislike the greatest about the system. So much untapped potential by lazy developers who'd rather bleed money on the HD platforms (how many third-parties are in the red this gen or have gone out of business betting on the wrong horse? I've lost count.) than develop for the Wii. Nonetheless, that's an argument for another day.

Brawl is but one of the games possibly
not possible on the Gamecube.

Whether you like the Wii or not, there's no questioning the sheer dominance the console has had this generation against its competition. Even the greatest hater must concede that point. Those who complain that the Wii has the weakest library ever for a popular console need to keep their irrational hatred in check. It's not healthy. With such sheer blind dislike for the little white box that could, you'd think the Wii ran over their cat or something and then tweeted on Twitter about it, boasting happily. With a library of games in all genres with varying degrees of fun (my personal collection nears 100 with few clunkers), an innovative control method that inspired the competition, and the first-party surefire hits that Nintendo is best known for, the Wii is one of Nintendo's all-time great consoles. With friends and family, the fun is amplified up sevenfold. Wii would definitely like to play.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.0/10]

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