Saturday, December 24, 2011

These Are a Few of My Least Favorite Things...

'Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the house
I was at my computer
Clicking on websites with my mouse
I decided to write up
An article that was about
The things that I detest
Without a shadow of a doubt
From annoying posters
To obnoxious message boards
These are the things I dislike
The amount? Well, how about in hordes?
This isn't your typical Xmas post
It's more negative than most
It's not meant to ruin your holiday
So pardon SuperPhillip, as I am your host.

Memes - These are perfect for people who lack a decent sense of humor so they have to regurgitate ad nauseum jokes that were never funny to begin with. These are people who cannot come up with their own material, so they run to humorless memes. See: GameFAQs, NeoGAF, and any other internet forum. Stop using them, and stop trying to be funny and always failing. Thank you, and Merry Christmas.

Internet forums - Full of trolls, console warriors, and passive-aggressive posters, forums are the underbelly of the Internet. What good are they? You try to have a discussion and it gets derailed by people who are not smart enough to ignore the obvious flame and/or troll bait. I got to the point where I purposefully got myself banned on every forum I visited so I wouldn't have to suffer using such garbage sites. Thank you, and Merry Christmas.

GoNintendo - Ran by a sedentary lumberjack wannabe, this site is a breeding ground for stupid comments, unfunny Internet humor (just see the top right bar on the site), rumors that are usually proven false (there's a reason this POS of a site is banned on NeoGAF), and console warrior posts by the (censors self) man who runs the site. The mods there are tactless 15 year-olds, the prime user base of Nintendo products, so at least that makes sense. Thank you, and Merry Christmas.

NeoGAF - There's a good idea behind not posting on these forums. I lurk, and do nothing more than that. The site is ran by mods who troll and allow certain trolls to have free reign to post whatever they want because they sleep with them or whatever. Then you have morons who continuously shout "BELIEVE" and "BOMBA" in every post, use memes constantly after making fun of GameFAQs for doing the same (hypocrites much?), and have just as many console warriors as other forums. They are hardly the elites they think they are. Yes, they are elitist, but they aren't elite. Thank you, and Merry Christmas.

Michael Pachter - We get it. You're an analyst who gets a six figure salary for being wrong all of the time. Where do I sign up to take your job? I don't get paid to do what I do, and I'm right more than you are. I'll be waiting for my own show, GameTrailers. Thank you, and Merry Christmas.

The VGAs - Thankfully anyone outside the United States did not have this on their cable. Video games are already treated like a red-headed stepchild. Now we have Geoff Keighley (I don't care if it is spelled correctly or not) and his VGAs to make the industry look even more immature and pathetic. Teabagging winners? Giving more time to crappy C-list celebrities than the people who design the games we play? It was an embarrassment of a show, and it will continue to be as long as Spike TV has any say in it. "What would you do to improve it?" I dunno, Geoff. How about not suck? Thank you, and Merry Christmas.

Microsoft's Kinect - This tech had so much potential, yet it's being used for garbage games. I don't care if it's making the 360 (a system which had the highest failure rate ever) sell well, it's tacky tech, and it's a fad like all of those military and space marine shooters. At least the Wii had games aimed for the core. The Kinect does not. Some games like Dance Central are excellent, but most of the other games seldom read your body movements. It's bad enough that Microsoft basically crapped on their loyal (how anyone is loyal to a company is beyond me) fan base. Kinect is just an insult to injury with low software sales to boot. Thank you, and Merry Christmas.

Sony fanboys - Now, not every console warrior is the same, so don't think I'm generalizing. You guys were fine last generation, but being from first to worst changed you guys. You're highly obnoxious, trolling everything you can get your Cheeto dust-covered hands on. The PlayStation 3 has a robust and excellent library. Be happy with that. Who cares that it's third place? Apparently you folks do, and you're fools for doing so. Stop being annoying on message boards, play all of those great games, and quit embarrassing yourselves for once. I beg of you. Thank you, and Merry Christmas.

Nintendo of America's 2011 Wii release schedule - What can you say about several months with little to no (mostly no) games to speak of? Where was Xenoblade to fill in that hole? Yes, it's coming out in April of next year, but the game could have and possibly should have been there to appease those owners of dusty Wii systems. Instead us Americans got games like Wii Play Motion and Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident. Really? Who wants that? Casuals don't even want those games. Thank you, and Merry Christmas.

Entitled gamers - The 3DS Ambassador program was Nintendo's way of giving a treat to early adopters to their newest portable. However, there is a faction of gamers who don't like the 20+ free games given to them and want more. Really now? They expect Nintendo to give them $80 on a gift card or something like that. Ridiculous. You were the people who decided $250 was worth it for the 3DS. You made your bed, shut up and sleep in it. While you're at it, who the (censors self) crap chute do you think you are? You're not any more special than I or anyone else who was an Ambassador. Thank you, and Merry Christmas.

Yahtzee - Not the board game-- that's actually entertaining sometimes. Zero Punctuation's Yahtzee is terrific for reviews of games full of wry British humor that fails to be funny. It's just some bloke randomly ranting and hissing air. I got it-- you hate everything. How edgy. How cool. How unfunny. I don't care if you get hits. So does frightening furry art of Sonic the Hedgehog characters in dirty diapers. It doesn't make you any more interesting, nor does talking really fast like the Micro Machines guy. Seriously. Remember that guy? He was hilarious! Thank you, and Merry Christmas.

Roseanne's final season - So they won the Illinois lottery. That didn't bother me. The fact that the final season was bizarre and unfunny, well, that sort of got me hot and bothered. Almost all of the show's nine seasons were about a lower class Midwest family. That was cool. I sympathized heavily with that. The blue collar humor and fun relationship between Roseanne and Dan Connor were sensational and hilarious. This last season was just... not anything good. Some episodes were humorous, but those were too few and far in between. Can I get a witness? A what-what? Thank you, and Merry Christmas.

===

Ah... that feels ever so much better. It's not often that you get to see your buddy SuperPhillip "vent", so that was pleasant. It's not good to bundle that up inside of you. You'll get diarrhea! What are your favorite and least favorite things? Feel free to rant inside the comments section.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii) Review

Here we are with the Wii's grandest game of the year-- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Unlike Ocarina of Time 3D, I actually completed this game 100%. Not an easy task if I do say so myself. Link returns in his very first journey, so how does it play? Enough jibber-jabber from me. Here is my review of this hotly anticipated Wii exclusive.

Master, there is a 95% chance that this game is something special.


The Legend of Zelda series is one of the most storied franchises in gaming history. This year it is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a bang. It started with the 3DS re-release of Ocarina of Time, continued with a free until February DSiWare download of Four Swords Anniversary Edition, and now comes to a close with The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, a game five years in the making. While Microsoft's Kinect is the latest fad in gaming, Nintendo still wants to wow you with their form of motion control in Wii MotionPlus. Is Skyward Sword the culmination of five years of motion-controlled gaming?

It is the day of the Wing Ceremony on Skyloft, a town nestled above the clouds on a series of floating islands. Link is set to compete in the ceremony celebrating its 25th anniversary. Coincidence? I think not. However, there is only one problem. Link's loftwing, a bird used to travel along the skies, has gone missing. After finding his bird with help of his childhood friend Zelda, the Wing Ceremony begins. Link is victorious and then participates in the ceremony held by Zelda who portrays the goddess wearing an elaborate garb. The two take a peaceful flight alone when all of a sudden a ravaging and dark tornado throws Zelda off of her loftwing and to the mysterious world below the clouds. What follows is Link being awakened by a cryptic spirit Fi who leads him to a magical sword-- the Goddess Sword. Link seems to be destined to save not only Zelda but also the world. Skyward Sword might not feature voice acting (there is the occasional chuckle, laugh, yip, yell, and holler), but the story told is host to a metric ton of touching moments that will tug at your heartstrings, or at the very least give you a warm, fuzzy feeling.

The day of the Wing Ceremony introduces
you to the loftwing's controls.

In Skyward Sword, Link will travel the skies as well as to the unfathomable lands below. However, he can't just fall from wherever. There are special holes in the clouds where Link can fall through to the surface below. As he sets stone tablets in Skyloft's shrine, new areas of the world open up. There are three main areas to the surface: Faron Woods, Eldin Volcano, and Lanayru Desert. Each offer their own ambiance, obstacles, and challenges.

Skyward Sword is not your typical Zelda game. The structure is much different. Yes, you still visit dungeons where you solve puzzles and battle bosses and other enemies, but there is much more to Link's adventure in between dungeons this time around. Collecting makes up a sizable chunk of the game. It is by no means Donkey Kong 64 levels of collecting, but there is a lot to gather. From stone tablets, to items, to keys, to tears, to tadtones, to parts of a song, to mystical flames which power of Link's sword, there is no absence of things to acquire.

Many monsters make Faron Woods their home.

In four instances Link will have to travel to the Silent Realm where he will lose his sword and only have his wits to past the trial laid before him. The goal in these trials to collect all fifteen tears. It is hardly that simple though. Guardians lurk in this realm, and one hit from their blade will make our green clad hero fail the trial. Thankfully, collecting a tear will halt all guardian movement for ninety seconds or until Link gets caught by a searchlight or walks in a translucent water which instantly wakes up the terrorizing guardians. These Silent Realms are pretty much trial and error, and they're decidedly not for everyone. I personally enjoyed them.

When you're not flying high in the sky on Link's loftwing or traversing the surface, you'll be in one of seven different dungeons. The dungeons possess plenty of challenges and puzzles to partake in which will flex your mental muscle. Puzzles put the Wii remote to great use. One of the last puzzles in every dungeon is situating an oddly shaped key by twisting, turning, and otherwise manipulating the Wii remote to fit it inside a hole to open the boss door. Each dungeon has a map that shows you all rooms and treasure locations, keys that unlock doors, hidden treasures, and a special item that is essential for completing the dungeon.

The not-so itsy-bitsy spider's weak point is its underside.

If someone were to ask what the biggest inclusion to Skyward Sword is, it is unquestionably the addition of MotionPlus technology. While the last console Zelda, Twilight Princess, used motion controls, it was pretty much shaking the Wii remote to attack with no technique. This isn't the case with Link's latest adventure. A grand amount of activities and actions sport motion controls. One of the main ones is, of course, flight. You tilt the Wii remote to control Link's loftwing, point it down and then swing upward to have it ascend sharply. You can then opt to point downward to have Link's crimson bird take a nosedive and gain vast amounts of speed. There are other motion control uses aside from roaming around the overworld. When you're walking along a tightrope wire, you hold up the Wii remote in a vertical position and carefully adjust the remote to balance along the wire. You can shake the remote while on the rope to make the rope move, causing enemies and any obstacles on the rope to fall off. Swimming uses motion controls. While they aren't necessarily needed, pointing the remote in the direction you want Link to swim is a cool touch. Additionally, when climbing you can shake the remote to have Link leap up to make his climb a faster one. Just watch out for your stamina gauge. This green circle depletes when running, climbing, and performing spin attacks. If it runs out, you are completely defenseless as you huff, pant, and wait for it to refill.

Then there's all of the items in the game. Skyward Sword possesses an interesting collection of items. These are earned in the game's dungeons, through helping NPCs, or through clearing the trials of the Silent Realm. One of the first items you obtain is the Beetle. When used, the Beetle is controlled by tilting the Wii remote left, right, up, and down in the direction you want the device to move in. When it is upgraded in the story, it can pick up bombs and you can drop them overhead on enemies and destructible boulders. The Clawshot works by pointing the Wii remote at a target, and with a press of a button you cross over a chasm or gap and cling to that target. Link has more than one Clawshot, so he can shoot at another target without ever touching the ground. It's important to note that the Bow, the Gust Bellows, the Slingshot, and the Clawshot do not use IR aiming (the pointer). Instead the remote calculates them in relation to your surroundings. You can pause the game and press down on the Wii remote to recalibrate the controls. This was something that I only needed to perform once or twice throughout my 35 hour adventure, though sometimes my sword slashes did not slash in their intended direction creating some deep-rooted frustration.

The Clawshots will "claw" their way into your hearts.
...I'm here all week, folks.

Another new addition to the series is the ability to upgrade your items and equipment. There is no doubt that if you continuously use your shield that it will weaken over time. Its durability will go down after repeated blocking. Well, you can take your shield to the repair shop at Skyloft's bazaar to have it fixed and/or upgraded. Items, too, can be upgraded. For instance, the small bomb bag can be upgraded to a medium one to hold more bombs, the Bow can be overhauled to have more attack power, and the Beetle can be upgraded to become much faster in the air. Each upgrade requires a donation of rupees, the currency of the Zelda series, and a series of raw materials such as Bird Feathers, Eldin Ore, and Amber Relics. Some of these are found in the wild, in chests, dropped by enemies, etc.

Want to upgrade your wares? This guy has you covered.

Also new to Zelda is the Adventure Pouch. Link can only hold so many bottles (these can hold faeries, potions, and water), shields, medals (these give Link bonuses like finding more rupees, hearts, or treasures in the wild or more health), arrow quivers, seed satchels, and bomb bags in his inventory before he has to place them in safekeeping at the Item Check, also in the bazaar. Link can purchase more pouches at Beedle's shop flying above Skyloft.

Regardless, the most important aspect of motion control in Skyward Sword is that of swordplay. With MotionPlus you receive 1:1 sword movement. This means where you move your Wii remote Link moves his sword. Most enemies cannot be defeated through mere waggling, so get rid of all of those Twilight Princess tactics of yours. You can still lock on to enemies which is extremely helpful. Successful sword strikes are the key to survival in Skyward Sword. If an enemy is guarding to the right, then you should attack from the left with a horizontal slash. If an enemy like a Stalfos has two swords resting on the top right at a ninety degree angle, you should perform a diagonal slash from the bottom right to damage it. Most enemies are taken out with strategic sword slashes like this. Knowing when and where to attack is paramount especially with foes with electrified blades which will hurt Link if they are struck. You can also perform spin attacks by shaking both the Wii remote and nunchuk either vertically for a vertical slash or horizontally for a horizontal slash. Also, by holding the Wii remote up in the air, Link will gather energy and be able to execute a Skyward Strike. This is a beam that can be unleashed on a foe from afar. It doesn't do as much damage as a regular strike, but it is great on baddies that you don't want to get up close and personal with. Lastly, downed enemies can be stabbed to death with a fatal blow, done by jerking down or up both the remote and nunchuk.

Swing the wrong way, and this Stalfos will eventually slice you!

Everyone knows that a good offense is a good defense, and that rings true for this game, too. When an enemy attacks, with proper timing you can initiate a shield bash by thrusting the nunchuk controller forward as soon as a foe attacks. This will stun the baddie, allowing you free reign to assault them.

Moving from dishing out damage to regular enemies like Skulltula, Keese, Chuchus, Moblins, and Stalfos to the one of the most impressive parts of the game, the bosses of Skyward Sword are seriously some of the best the Zelda series has ever seen. Every dungeon but one concludes with a boss battle, and there are multiple ones that take place outside of dungeons as well. The game's main antagonist, a self-proclaimed Demon Lord Ghirahim, is fought three times throughout Link's epic odyssey. Each battle is different from the last, and considering the first boss encounter is with this long-tongued weirdo and he takes off a lot of damage, there's no easy Twilight Princess difficulty here. In the first encounter with Ghirahim you must fool the demon lord by moving your sword around while sitting right in front of the big bad. Meanwhile his hand will follow your blade intently. Soon it stops on one side. That is then your cue to attack from the other side. Another boss has you slashing the claws of a colossal scorpion boss. You must slash in the direction of the claw, so if the claw is opened diagonally, you must slash diagonally. Even after the bosses have been long defeated, near the end game you have the option of participating in a Boss Rush-like mode for rupees and other treasure.

Scaldera is one hot and heated arachnid... thing.

Two of the chief complaints of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess were that: 1) it was too easy, and 2) there were little to no side quests. Both of these have been rectified with Skyward Sword. Not only is the normal game challenging (I had plenty of Game Overs), but after beating the main game you unlock Hero Mode. This mode has enemies that deal double damage, and there are no heart drops unless you acquire and equip a Heart Medal. Furthermore on the side of side quests, there are a myriad of them to take part in and accomplish. From retrieving Beedle's prized and rare bug to finding a lost child, you earn Gratitude Crystals for each task you complete. Most of these come down to fetch quests, but there are plenty to do. You give these crystals to a monster hiding in a house below Skyloft who will give you presents for getting to certain amounts of Gratitude Crystals such as bigger wallets to hold more rupees in and Heart Containers. Speaking of Heart Containers, you can have up to twenty hearts as health in Skyward Sword. Heart Containers are hidden all over the world of the game, won in mini-games like a mine cart race, a pumpkin-shooting mini-game, and much more. Additionally there are Goddess Cubes strewn all under the clouds that when activated by a Skyward Strike make a special treasure chest appear on one of the dozens of islands in the sky. From the extra hard difficulty, to Gratitude Crystals, to Heart Containers, to Goddess Cubes, there is plenty to do in this newest and amazing Zelda adventure.

Speaking of complaints, there is Link's companion Fi. Fi is the spirit of the Goddess Sword who oftentimes speaks in probabilities and percentages. That is all fine and well, but she constantly interrupts the flow of action to tell the player the most meaningless things. Yes, I knew the answer to this puzzle, but thanks for spoiling it for me anyway. Yes, I know my batteries in my Wii remote are running low. And yes, I know I'm low on hearts and should probably seek some out. It's aggravating when you just want to play the darned game, and Fi just keeps yakking it up, telling you things you already know.

Presentation-wise, Skyward Sword has a positively quaint and charming art style. While it does not rival The Wind Waker, it is still masterfully splendid. The sky and the land below are segmented and disjointed which might put off some players (so you cannot walk from Faron Woods to, say, Eldin Volcano), but this was done because of the power limitations of the Wii. The world and interior design of Skyward Sword is incredible. It really feels like a living, breathing world that you won't want to leave. Character animations are fast and fluid, and they look spectacular as well. Familiar sound effects and jingles like opening a treasure chest, collecting a full Heart Container, and solving a particularly daunting puzzle are back and sound better than ever. The majority of Skyward Sword's soundtrack is orchestrated, and it is one of the best video game scores of the year. There's a major amount of tracks to love and listen to, and the majority of them are massively memorable. Zelda has never looked and sounded this good before. Nintendo really went all out.

What Skyward lacks in voice acting
the game makes up for in pure style.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is one electrifying experience. This is one of the ultimate motion control experiences-- not just on Wii, but anywhere. Nintendo took five years of background in motion controls and made a motion-controlled game that few will ever be able to top. While the collecting and unneeded fetch quests are present and prevalent, and Fi can be intolerable, Skyward Sword manages to maintain the series's high standard of excellence and quality. The sky was definitely not the limit for Nintendo as they somehow took this game and threw up past the stratosphere and into outer space.

[SuperPhillip Says: 9.5/10]

===

Want more The Legend of Zelda? Check out one of these exhaustive reviews:

The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (GCN)
The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX (GBC, 3DS VC)
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages/Oracle of Seasons (GBC)
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

Update: The SPC Best of 2011 Awards Announcement


Just an update to the SPC Best of 2011 Awards which begin this Tuesday. I have dropped the Best New Franchise category as the nominees this year were limited to titles I don't deem as... well... good. Instead are three new categories: Best Motion Control Game, Best Platformer, and Best Puzzler. This means more work for me (this awards show is always a lot of work), but I think you'll find it satisfactory. Here's the updated schedule:

Tuesday, December 27th


Best Original Soundtrack
Best Multiplayer
Best Presentation

Wednesday, December 28th

Most Overlooked
Most Unexpected Surprise
Most Disappointing
Best Motion Control Game


Thursday, December 29th

Best Platformer
Best Puzzler

Developer of the Year
Multiplatform Game of the Year

Friday, December 30th

Best PSP Game
Best Nintendo DS Game
Best Nintendo 3DS Game
Best PlayStation 3 Game
Best Wii Game
Best Xbox 360 Game

Saturday, December 31st

System of the Year
Game of the Year 2011


I hope you are looking forward to finding out which games are the best of the best for 2011!

Super Mario 3D Land (3DS) Tips & Tricks Videos


Think you've gotten the most out of Super Mario 3D Land for the Nintendo 3DS? Think again. Nintendo has released a pair of tips and tricks videos that show off some of the secret maneuvers and speed runs possible in Mario's latest portable adventure. Watch and be amazed, and then try out these tricks for yourself if you dare!





Thursday, December 22, 2011

SPC Mailbag - December 22nd, 2011

Christmas is quickly approaching-- just three days away! I think since Santa Claus is digging deep into his toy sack that I should dig deep into my mailbag to grab three letters (e-mails) that would make for an interesting discussion. I wonder what three they will be... No point dragging this on. Let's read some questions!

Final Fantasy XIII-2 sold the least one week amount of copies in Japan for a mainline Final Fantasy game. Do you think the Final Fantasy brand is dying out? What can Square Enix do to remedy this?

Ooh. A Final Fantasy question! How exotic! The problem with the Final Fantasy series is that the brand has been used way too much in the past five years. I mean, how many spin-offs has the series had lately? We've seen two Dissidia games, multiple Crystal Chronicles titles, and Final Fantasy Type-0, to name a few. Perhaps it's brand fatigue that is causing the series to not sell up to the standard the series was known for.

To fix this Square Enix should clean house. They should release everything they've been working on. If the game is bad, cancel it. No use tarnishing the brand even further with another poor game. Then let the series rest for a little while. The people will note an absence in Final Fantasy titles and want more. This is the way to get people interested in the series again. I mean, when Tales of Xillia outsells Final Fantasy XII-2's first week, you know something is gravely wrong.

Who put QTEs in my Final Fantasy?

How does my site become an affiliate with SuperPhillip Central? What do you personally look for when obtaining new affiliates?

Usually all you have to do is ask me via e-mail to see if I want to affiliate. As for what I look for, I tend to affiliate with like-minded sites who have a fair amount of activity and aren't on an extended hiatus for too long. If your last story was in 2009, there's a good chance that I won't affiliate with you or I will take you off the affiliate list. Affiliates are an important part of site relations. The mutual relationship between sites allows for users of both to check out each other's sites, gain readers, and make new friends among one another's sites. Thus is the circle of life.

Didn't you use to have your stories featured on GoNintendo? What happened to that?

Oh, that's a simple question. I got tired of the owner of the site's need to get hits by using sensationalist headlines, false rumors, among other things. Plus the community is god-awful. I'll leave it at that. (I had something much meaner here earlier.)

===

Ah... nothing like holiday season vitriol to end an edition of the SPC Mailbag. Let's close 'er on up and retire to the living room where the stockings are hung by the chimney with care, chocolate chip cookies are carefully nestled on top of the counter, and the Christmas tree is loaded with lovely lights. If you have a question that you would like answered by yours truly, hit me up with an e-mail at superphillip32[at]yahoo[dot]com.

Happy Holidays from Nintendo!

Nintendo is getting into the holiday spirit, and they brought their main mascot Mario to wish everyone a wonderful holiday season. Mario bounces along note blocks across a static winter background while an 8-bit Mario melody plays. Nice touch, Nintendo. Happy holidays to you, too. Let's see if Sony "borrows" this idea, too, with Sackboy! ...Just kidding, Sony faithful. I know you get hot under the collar easily. 'Twas a joke.



Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Go Vacation (Wii) Review

Guess whose Wii was repaired? That's right! Your old pal SuperPhillip's Nintendo Wii is back in his possession, and he's been making up for those lost hours away by playing lots of games on it. Our first review since my Wii hiatus is an overlooked game (at least to the West), Go Vacation by Namco Bandai.

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted.
Vacation, Had to Get Away.


It is official, at least in North America. Old man Winter has returned, and he will no doubt be bearing gifts in the form of ice, sleet, and snow. While it is cold and gray outside, wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to get away to some place like Cancun, Jamaica, or Australia? Well, for the majority of us who work our fingers to the bone and still can't afford an all-inclusive getaway, there's Namco Bandai's Go Vacation on Wii, the perfect way to visit a faraway place without use of frequent flier miles, listening to children scream on an airplane flight, and worrying about what bathing trunks to wear that won't make your butt look too big.

The game starts with you designing your own avatar, either through utilizing your Mii or using one of many of the game's templates. You can select from a limited amount of choices including faces and hairstyles, body type, clothing, shoes, and more. As soon as this part is completed, you are whisked away on a plane to beautiful Kawawii Island and its four individual resorts-- Marine, City, Snow, and Mountain. Of course, you are assigned to first exploring the Marine Resort.

At the Marine Resort you are thrust into the world of Go Vacation with free reign to do anything your little heart desires. Want to ride on a marine bike? Go ahead. How about an ATV to drive along the shoreline? Sure thing! First, the attendant behind the counter at the information center tells you about the Stamp Dash, an activity where you go around the various islands competing in all sorts of sports and challenges, earning a stamp for every activity you try out. There's approximately fifty unique activities to partake in. As you earn stamps, you unlock the ability to venture to other resorts on the island as well as being able to explore at different times of day such as sunset and night. Additionally, you earn the right to own your own villa. We'll get into that more a bit later, however.

Each resort has its own load-out of ways to traverse the land.

With activities and sports in Go Vacation, the developers opted to go for quantity rather than quality. That isn't to say that there is a lot of garbage in this game. Far from it. There is a great amount of variety in the spectrum of sports and activities in the game. There's snow tubing, kayaking, raft riding, horseback riding, whack-a-mole, multiple races to speed through, a wide selection of shooting games, mini golf, scuba diving, skydiving, trick challenges, and whole heck of a lot more. Though some activities and how they control will have you scratching your head in disbelief. For instance, waggle seems to be thrown in for waggle's sake. Skateboarding, snowboarding, skiing, horseback riding, among other activities have you shaking both the Wii remote and nunchuk controller to speed up. You tilt both in the direction you want to move. This is similar to rubbing your stomach and patting your head at the same time. It's something that takes practice to master. One wonders why you couldn't just speed up by shaking both controller parts and using the control stick to move. Then there's activities that only use the Wii remote. You can't have the nunchuk connected to the Wii remote during these moments, and seeing as you need both controllers to move around the various resorts, it gets problematic. Constantly being forced to take off and reconnect the nunchuk gets tiring after multiple times.

Explore Kawawii Island with up to three other friends!

Other controls work much more favorably. In street racing you tilt the Wii remote like in Mario Kart Wii to drive, holding a button down to drift and speed around corners. On ATVs, marine bikes, and off-road vehicles, you hold down the B button the remote to accelerate, turn the remote and nunchuk to steer, hold down B and flick both up to jump, use the control stick to perform tricks, and go in reverse pretty easily. Games like Target Shooting put the pointer to terrific use in having the player point the Wii remote at the screen and fire with the B button to take out multiple colored targets of varying values.

And compete against one another to determine the best player!

Likewise, there are some activities that are purely and entirely broken in controls. Dancing very rarely reads your movements providing much in the way of frustration. Mini golf has you holding down a button and swinging the Wii remote back and forth like a putter. Too bad this, too, isn't read by the game. Surfing is also pretty complicated and offers broken controls as well. Thankfully, you only need to compete in an activity to earn a stamp, and not necessarily complete the activity.

Some activity start out with simple controls. Perhaps the game moves your character automatically a la Wii Sports Tennis. This fact may put some players off, and might make them think that this is all the game has for them-- a dumbed down version of a sport they like. This is certainly the case with Go Vacation's take on tennis as well as beach volleyball. However, after your initial play-through of the sport, you get the option of taking on the sport with analog stick movement.

Though you can't move yourself in the beginner version of beach
volleyball,
you gain that ability after the initial play-through.

In fact, apart from the fifty activities, there are several challenges that go with each activity. For example, let's go back to tennis. After completing the initial "dumbed-down" stage of the sport, you unlock challenges such as completing levels 1-3 of tennis elimination. The goal is to play through and win three games of tennis against a progressively harder computer opponent or opponents in the case of doubles play. There are approximately 100 unique challenges to take part in. Once you finish all of the challenges in a given category, you earn a silver key. Silver keys are used to purchase furniture and design options for your villa which, again, unlocks after earning a small amount of stamps.

Your villa is yours to customize as you see fit. You can't really alter the foundation, adding walls and such, but you can furnish your villa with a wide selection of furniture and furniture styles. With silver keys, you can buy different villa and furniture styles such as tropical and Mediterranean. For furniture there's beds, cabinets, closets, chairs, sofas, televisions, plants, mirrors, and much more. Each player's villa is two stories tall which allows for endless amounts of varying furniture layouts. Call upon your inner interior designer.

Going back to Kawawii Island, the four resorts are quite expansive, offering a variable playground to explore. Sprinkled around each of the resorts are seven treasure chests. Finding these is a true challenge as they are hidden well. Opening one up adds a new clothing option to your collection. Aside from discovering treasure, you zip around the various resorts to talk to NPCs-- getting missions, starting activities, taking photos, having your Miis join your party, among other things. The resorts are littered with people all doing their own thing. If actively driving or moving to location to location is getting you down, you can quickly warp to multiple locations at a resort through the map menu. What's even better is that after you unlock an activity, you can play it from the main menu. There is no need to literally move to the location of the activity at a resort if you don't want to.

Secret treasure unlocks new costumes for your character.

Go Vacation is one graphically stellar game. The sheer scope of the resorts is amazing, and add into the fact that they are heavily populated with tourists and wildlife, and you have a lot of activity going on. Little touches like your feet making footprints in the sand and in the snow make for a more realistic experience even in this cartoon world. The water in the game is pretty incredible as well. All of this and little in the way of slow-down (though there is the occasion bout of it) create a memorable vacation for anyone. Furthermore, the sound is sensational, too, with peppy and infectious original pop tunes (Go Vacation has one of my favorite soundtracks of the year. It truly is that good to me.), the sprinkles of voice acting from passersby, and the roar of vehicle engines. For a Wii game, Go Vacation is certainly ambitious in its presentation.

And we're free... Free-fallin'!

And not just ambitious in its presentation either. Go Vacation is undeniably ambitious in its scope as well. The sheer number of sports and activities and various variations will have you playing for an extended amount of time, long after the credits have rolled. The collectible aspect of gathering silver keys, stamps, treasures, and the ever-elusive and secret gold keys will have players coming back for more and more. Sure, some of the activities may be complete duds, and the controls in some games might have you bewildered at their stupidity, but Go Vacation is an excellent example of what a Wii U version of Wii Sports might have to aspire to. There is a seemingly endless amount of content in Go Vacation, a superb soundtrack (seriously), and a huge, though disconnected, series of resorts to traverse how you want, when you want. For a better-than-usual mini-game collection, plot your destination for Kawawii Island and charter a plane for Go Vacation.

[SuperPhillip Says: 7.25/10]

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Reminder: SuperPhillip Central's Best of 2011 Awards


This is a quick reminder that a week from today is the beginning of a five night event here on SuperPhillip Central. It is a yearly tradition that will mark the fourth installment. It is the Best of Awards. This year, of course, we will be celebrating and looking back at the year that was 2011. What will get the oh-so-honor of being SuperPhillip's Game of the Year? Will your favorite be mentioned? The answers might surprise you...

The festivities begin December 27th during the evening in North American time.

Here's a question. Would you like to see added categories this year such as Best Platforming Game and Best Puzzle Game? If so, give me a holler in the comments section.

Announcing Our Newest Affiliate: Nintendo-Nation


What? Two new affiliates in the span of a week? Have I gone crazy? Have I gone mad? No, I've just gotten friendlier with other sites. Nintendo-Nation is yet another Aussie-run video game website with all the news, reviews, and everything else you could ask for about-- you guessed it-- Nintendo. Fellow SPC reader The Strikester is one of the proprietors of the fine blog. Take a visit and be amazed with the following link.

Top Ten Donkey Kong Games

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of Donkey Kong the arcade game. Who knew that Shigeru Miyamoto and company's love child would grow to become the colossal ape we've all grown to become enamored with? Nintendo might be all about Zelda's anniversary this year, but we at SuperPhillip Central won't forget about the gargantuan gorilla. Let's celebrate with a top ten list of DK's best games!

10) Donkey Kong (Multi)


Let's start things off with the original, shall we? This was the game that ate up quarters in arcades back in the day with players controlling Jumpman (who would go on to have somewhat of a career as Mario...) as he hopped over barrels, scaled ladders, grabbed hammers, and rescued Pauline from Donkey Kong's furry grip. The big ape may have been the titular character, but he took on the role of the villain. Donkey Kong would go on to be ported to home consoles such as the Nintendo Entertainment System, Colecovision, and the Atari 2600, to name a few. The above picture comes from the arcade original.

9) Donkey Konga (GCN)


Rhythm is gonna getcha', and boy, is it infectious! This rhythm game came with something Nintendo absolutely adores-- the peripheral. In this case, the peripheral was a bongo-shaped controller with two bongos connected together. Players chose from one of over twenty covers of classic and pop songs such as "Bingo", "We Will Rock You", "Wild Thing", "Louie, Louie", "Rock This Town", "All the Small Things", and many more. The gameplay consisted of banging the left and right bongos as well as clapping (or hitting the rim of the controller) with the various beats the game presented along a timeline. Score high points by hitting beats in succession without fouling up. With a better song selection than its sequel (and because the third game never left Japan), Donkey Konga nabs the ninth spot.

8) DK: Jungle Climber (DS)


Following the climbing clamber of the Game Boy Advance's DK: King of Swing was DK: Jungle Climber for Nintendo DS. Besides the obvious inclusion of the gameplay taking place on both screens, now both DK and Diddy were together. No longer was health determined by how many banana bunches the player possessed. Instead the game used the health system of the Donkey Kong Country series. If DK or Diddy gets hits, they drop out. If DK or Diddy are alone and they get hit, the player loses a life. With one incredibly difficult final boss battle, multiple hidden levels, mini-games, and secrets to uncover, DK: Jungle Climber is one underrated vertical adventure.

7) Donkey Kong '94 (GB)


Putting Donkey Kong once again as the villain, 1994's version of Donkey Kong for the original Game Boy was an all-new adventure. Mario was back, and he ventured through eight worlds of nearly one hundred levels total to save the day from the hairy, overgrown ape. The first four levels were taken straight from the arcade game of DK's roots. Everything else was entirely fresh. Donkey Kong '94 was more puzzle-oriented with a platforming focus. Mario's objective was to run and jump through labyrinth-like levels, taking a key from one point of a level to the locked door. Too bad there's an armada of enemies awaiting him! Donkey Kong '94 is the ultimate in classic Donkey Kong action. You can now purchase it for less than four dollars on the Nintendo 3DS's eShop.

6) DK: King of Swing (GBA)


A shift in play styles for Donkey Kong. Instead of stealing Mario's girlfriends and rolling and jumping through Kremling-infested levels, DK now climbed and leaped off of pegs. Players controlled DK through pressing and holding the shoulder buttons on the Game Boy Advance. One button controlled his left hand while the other controlled his right. K. Rool returned with an army of Kremlings and other familiar characters like Zingers in this intriguing Clu Clu Land-like game. The cartoon art style lent well to the colorful worlds and setting while the music was delightfully chipper and memorable. Look into DK: King of Swing and you'll be surprised at what an overlooked gem this game really is.

5) Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble (SNES)


My least favorite of the Donkey Kong Country trilogy, the final installment of the Super Nintendo trilogy doesn't even have Donkey Kong in the game. Nonetheless, it sports Dixie Kong and newcomer Kiddie Kong in his only appearance. The overworld maps were fully explorable with secret passages housing Simon Says-like mini-games for Banana Birds. These were key in fully completing the game. It seems that a mechanical tyrant named Kaos is behind the "k"arnage this time around, but savvy players know better... I find DKC3 as the most challenging game of the trilogy which makes for some potentially problematic precision platforming action. Fun times ahead for sure!

4) Donkey Kong Country (SNES)


When Rare got hold of the Donkey Kong license after having worked on a title like Battletoads under the Tradewest moniker, they gave the SNES a graphical beast of a game. All the bells and whistles in the world meant nothing if the gameplay wasn't up to par. Thankfully it was with Donkey Kong being joined by pal Diddy and a cast of crazy, kooky Kongs and villainous Kremlings. The seven unique worlds offered loads of variety such as frenetic factories full of oil drums and flickering lights, icy glaciers with slippery surfaces, and vine-covered valleys infested with vultures. Hidden bonus rooms added to the surplus of secrets Donkey Kong Country had. A true classic in every sense of the word, Donkey Kong Country is a top tier title.

3) Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat (GCN)


Using Donkey Konga's bongo controller as the mandatory means of playing the game, Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat was a unique game. Some called it a gimmick, but these people only looked skin deep at this entertaining romp. Tapping the left bongo to move left, tapping the right bongo to move right, tapping both to jump, and clapping to attack, Donkey Kong had a full arsenal of moves at his disposal. Not only was getting through fruit-themed levels the goal, but doing so with enough bananas was a side challenge. Creating one continuous combo from start to finish in a level was a task that beginners needed not apply. With intense boss battles against rival Kongs, countless hidden goodies to uncover, and high scores to attain, Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat is one of the most original and great games in the grand gorilla's collection. A Wii port in the New Play Control line of software was released utilizing the Wii remote and nunchuk. It's terrific if you don't want to make a sound while playing, and you like bonus content such as a boss rush mode.

2) Donkey Kong Country Returns (Wii)


After Rare was purchased and then subsequently killed off essentially by Microsoft, it seemed like a game in the vein of Donkey Kong Country was doomed to never happen. Then E3 2010 occurred and Retro Studios was listed as the developer. Dreams of that day danced in the heads of many a-gamer. To think it was finally true made many people very happy, myself included. The end result was one of the most impressive Donkey Kong games ever-- much less one of the most impressive Donkey Kong Country games. Filled to the brim with content, challenge, and gorgeous and creative levels, Donkey Kong Country Returns proved that Retro Studios was without a doubt a brilliant developer and an invaluable asset to Nintendo. Taking on Tikis, testing one's reaction time on the mine cart and booster barrel levels, and bashing down bosses were just three of the many wonderful parts of DKC Returns. Donkey Kong was back and almost better than ever...

1) Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest (SNES)


...But not quite better than ever. Even though advanced and ultra-talented treasure hunters can plow through the game in about two hours with a 102% completion. No easy take indeed! What makes Diddy's Kong Quest (for the longest time I thought it was Diddy Kong's Quest) so engaging apart from the brilliant ambiance that oozes from every orifice of the game is the ingenious level design full of hidden secrets, well-placed enemies, traps, and obstacles, and one of the greatest 16-bit soundtracks in gaming history. This is a classic I can return to (hint for part 3 maybe?). The addition of Dixie Kong and her hair-twirling ability made pesky jumps all the more manageable. Both Kongs were lightweight, so that made larger enemies more troublesome to tackle. Even though Donkey Kong doesn't show up until near the end of the game (he was captured by Kaptain K. Rool), this game still is my favorite Donkey Kong game in the franchise's thirty year history.

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That concludes this top ten. You know what comes next. What are your favorite Donkey Kong games? Are you doing anything special to commemorate the main monkey's 30th anniversary? Sound off in the comments section.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance (3DS) New Trailer

The newest chapter of the Kingdom Hearts franchise arrives on 3DS next year with Dream Drop Distance. Get it? 3D? Oh, how Square Enix slays me. Anyway, this non-dubbed version shows off the various story elements the game has including new worlds like The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Pinocchio. There is no word on a Western release, but you can be sure that one will be forthcoming relatively soon.



Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy (3DS) New Trailer

To begin your Monday morning, let us take a look and listen to Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy, an upcoming 3DS game. It comes in three parts: Field, Battle, and Event. No matter the occasion, you will be slashing, poking, and prodding the touch screen in rhythm to Nobuo Uematsu's greatest works from One-Winged Angel (FFVII) to The Decisive Battle (FFVI) to The Man With the Machine Gun (FFVIII). Here's hoping Square Enix is smart enough to make the price of this game competitive. Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy dances onto the 3DS February 16th, 2012 in the land of the rising sun.



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