Friday, March 9, 2012

Rank Up! - Mario Party

Mario Party 9 is the latest in the long-running board game franchise, and it has already partied hearty in Europe among other places. It releases in North America on Sunday, so it seems like the perfect place for Rank Up! Rank Up! is where I take a video game series and list the games from least favorite to most favorite. Before we can begin, however, we must view which Mario Party games we'll be ranking up:

Mario Party (N64)
Mario Party 2 (N64)
Mario Party 3 (N64)
Mario Party 4 (GCN)
Mario Party 5 (GCN)
Mario Party 6 (GCN)
Mario Party 7 (GCN)
Mario Party 8 (Wii)
Mario Party Advance (GBA)
Mario Party DS (DS)


Mario Party is the type of game that can played by everyone. It is notorious for sometimes having it be that the best player doesn't always win. Perhaps that is the draw of the series for many. Plus, who can resist playing as your favorite Mushroom Kingdom denizen and participating in themed boards, themed mini-games, and all-night gaming sessions with one's friends? Certainly not me. Let's start ranking!

10) Mario Party Advance (GBA)


Who loves to party alone? Well, again, certainly not me, and that is what you end up with, a party by your lonesome, in Mario Party Advance. The main mode is called Shroom City where you roll a die and move around a nonlinear city in search of citizens to help out with missions. The actual mini-games themselves are enjoyable enough, but after a few short hours of play you will have seen everything there is to be worth seeing in Mario Party Advance. This is why it starts off our Rank Up! list.

9) Mario Party 7 (GCN)


Introducing new 8-player mini-games which are played by two players sharing one controller and continuing with Mario Party 6's mic mini-games, Mario Party 7 is the weakest of the GameCube Mario Party games. After failing a game because the mic didn't understand what I spoke, I promptly turned it off. Then there's Bowser Time which happens after every five turns. Bowser messes with the board, places his spaces all over, sometimes steals a star from first place, makes players lose 10-20 coins, etc. Don't forget how duel mini-games are treated. You no longer get to choose what each player bets. Instead, a roulette spins for the victor. I didn't even mention how bonus stars are randomly chosen from one of six categories, so good luck with making any resemblance of a strategy to get them this time around. These three annoyances make the game all the more luck-based. No thanks, Mario Party 7. No thanks.

8) Mario Party 8 (Wii)


The Wii's first Mario Party was Mario Party 8, and it smells like a GameCube up-port. Many of the mini-games rely heavily on waggle, something that bothered me greatly about early Wii titles, and the single-player mode (Star Battle) must be played at least twice if you wish to unlock all of the characters. Seeing as this mode is painful to play, this is not acceptable. There's also a flurry of luck-based mini-games such as Cut from the Team which has each player taking turns snipping one of many ropes with a pair of scissors. The catch is that some of these ropes are booby trapped and will send an unfortunate player flying out of the game. While there are some good times to be had with Mario Party 8, it isn't anywhere near the best the series has to offer.

7) Mario Party 4 (GCN)



My problem with Mario Party 4, as fun as it is, is with the Mega and Mini Mushrooms. You can only get through certain sections of the six boards with a specific type of mushroom. This makes some boards a perplexing hassle. As for the mini-games, there's some entertaining ones to be found such as Three Throw where you chuck balls into various moving baskets rewarding different amounts of points, Avalanche! where you snowboard down a mountain, avoiding objects that will halt your progress and get your engulfed by the titular danger, and there's GOOOOOOOAL!! which pits three players against one goalie. The goal (pun intended) is to score ten points within the time limit.

6) Mario Party 5 (GCN)


Mario Party 5 showcased a new item system for the series, capsules. These came in many varieties and had many benefits to them. Some gave you an extra dice roll to work with, some transported you directly to the star, while others made perfectly normal spaces hazardous to land on. I don't have the best memories of this Mario Party, but I remember my brother crying tears of boredom in one of the many dream-themed boards. At least the mini-games are mostly a treat to play with few ones that rely more on luck than skill.

5) Mario Party DS (DS)



Utilizing every little feature of the Nintendo DS, no matter how big or how small, the Mario Party franchise finally received a competent handheld entry. Mario Party DS was just that. It used the mic for mini-games requiring you to blow into the device, it used touch screen controls, and it, of course, used regular old buttons, too. Whether you're scrambling on a soccer field to avoid the balls kicked by a Goomba or participating in a boss battle against a blow-hardy Piranha Plant, Mario Party DS perfectly presented the standard Mario Party formula without much in the way of sacrifice. Up to four players could game on locally off one game cart and up to four DS systems. Now that is something special!

4) Mario Party 3 (N64)


Mario Party 3 is my least favorite of the Nintendo 64 Mario Party trilogy, but it is still an incredibly capable party game. The solo mode is like a mini RPG where you team up with a character and parade around several Duel Boards. The challenger who takes out the other opponent first by taking down their hit points wins. The multiplayer madness of the past Mario Party games is still present, and the mini-games are as marvelous as ever. Chip Shot Challenge harks to Mario Golf where each player chips a shot and hopes it gets as close to the pin as possible, Eye Sore refers to Super Mario 64's Mr. I with the goal of running laps around the one-time Mario enemy to make the foe smaller and smaller until it is defeated, and Awful Tower is a vertical challenge which pits players against a perilous platforming trial of making it to the top of the tower while dodging the attacks of Hammer Bros. Mario Party 3 takes the party to a new level.

3) Mario Party 6 (GCN)


Each Mario Party tries to shake the formula up by presenting a new and fresh concept to the series. Mario Party 6 successfully attempts this by showing off a day and night cycle system. Every three turns the board switches from day to night and vice versa. Boards change drastically. For instance, during the day of Faire Square the cost of a star is always twenty coins, but when night falls over the pleasant town the price can alter anywhere between 5 and 40 coins. Plus you can buy up to five at any visit. Bowser returns with new mini-games where the losers must pay a big price if they falter, and Donkey Kong assists with his brand of beneficial games. The solo mode also helps allow players to easily collect new mini-games without needing to rely on the luck of the draw in multiplayer. Overall, Mario Party 6 is one of the best parties Mario has ever held, but it is not the best.

2) Mario Party (N64)


Let us take things back to a simpler time where there were not as many variables in the luck department. You had simpler boards, one-player mini-games, less spaces to worry about, and a Yasunori Mitsuda-composed soundtrack. Mario Party came out on the Nintendo 64 and took the world by storm. It started the popular series and created its own genre which many attempted to copy but many failed. Each board was named after one of the six characters in the game, and stars were twenty coins each time. Mario Party was also the only game in the series to have four player cooperative games like Running of the Bulb. However, the one glaring fault with Mario Party are the mini-games that require the player to move the analog stick fast and furiously in circles. Not only did this produce painful blisters, but these games were almost impossible to win when playing against even the easiest AI. This oversight aside, the original Mario Party is second best on our list.

1) Mario Party 2 (N64)


The party to outperform all parties, Mario Party 2 is the ultimate fiesta held by the portly plumber. Offering mini-games new and old (taken from the previous installment), there were many new ways to play. There were six themed boards such as Pirate Land, Western Land, and even Bowser Land where the Mushroom Kingdom cast dressed up in different costumes. New to the series was the addition of items. These could be purchased at a shop or won in all-new Item Mini-games. You could win Mushrooms, Golden Mushrooms, Skeleton Keys, and much more to increase your chances of winning. Marvelous mini-games include the returning Platform Peril and Bumper Balls, new ones like Lava Tile Isle, Sky Pilots, Speed Hockey, and Bumper Balloon Cars. If you are looking for the party to end all parties, Mario Party 2 is the one to play.

===

I'm all partied out for now, but rest assured I will be ready to play and review Mario Party 9 for when that time comes. I don't like to rush my reviews, but I will have it out within a week or two of release. Until then, what did you think about this edition of Rank Up? Sound off in the comments section.

Kid Icarus: Uprising (3DS) North American Advertisement

I love a good television commercial for a video game. If you want an example of one, check out Sony's MLB 12: The Show. For another taste of amazing advertising check out this commercial for Kid Icarus: Uprising. Sporting what one would think a Wii U version of the game would look like followed by actual gameplay, this ad is quite striking. Watch it and tell me what you think about it.



Games "Journalism" is a Joke. Here's Why.

EDIT: The entire tale can be viewed in a single post on NeoGAF along with an apology by the Kotaku writer in question.

The SPC faithful know how I feel about games "journalism." The quotes around the journalism part should be a dead giveaway to those who don't. It is a sham. Speaking of shams, we have yet another embarrassing episode from everyone's favorite enthusiast press.

Meme-maker and Internet hotspot (aka proud seamy underbelly of the net) 4chan had a member who forged a Play.com retail marking showing multiple new Vita titles such as a new Monster Hunter, a new Grand Theft Auto, and localizations for Final Fantasy Type-0 and Tales of Innocence R. Great news for Vita fans! The announcement of these games... not the actual forgery. Vita fans were finally happy and finally had some good news.

Vita owners have an excellent launch lineup, but the
future is bleak. These games could have been glorious.

Unfortunately they soon found out that they were lied to. Guess who took the bait?

Oops! You caught us with our pants down! Better retract that!


http://uk.vita.ign.com/articles/122/1220198p1.html
http://www.joystiq.com/2012/03/07/pl...ghts-more-for/
http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/20...ce-city-nights
http://www.gamespot.com/news/grand-t...report-6364921
http://kotaku.com/5891238/new-grand-...headed-to-vita

Yep. IGN, Gamespot, Kotaku (more on these goons later), Eurogamer, Joystiq, etc. (I didn't want to give them clicks, but the evidence is there in the links.) Who needs fact-checking when you can be the first to post something? You see what happens when you rush something? The one review on SuperPhillip Central I quickly threw out the door was Rhythm Heaven Fever for Wii. I said that there was no way to skip mini-games, but you actually can. This was a tip by an anonymous commenter. The difference between myself and actual games "journalists" is that I'm not paid to get things right. And considering out of 295 reviews I have made ONE mistake when the enthusiast press makes several on a GOOD week, that isn't that bad. It's still shameful and I should NOT have allowed that error to happen. I apologize for that, and I will fix that when I am far less lazy (aha!).

Now let me focus on Kotaku who also ran the story. Jason Schreier posted the news after another site got a tip from someone who later revealed the retailer picture of Play was false, yet Mr. Schreier continues to believe it is real and demands proof it is a shop. In fact, right now he is banning people on a message board for bringing it up and calling him out. He even had this to say about NeoGAF, the site who also called him out:

Okay, so I liked that Anderson nailed NeoFAQs like that.

Now while Frank Anderson has a point about NeoGAF (I am a 5 year lurker), Schreier stays classy about the whole thing (the aforementioned comment was sarcasm). Instead of admitting he was wrong (gasp), he remains vigilant, bans people who out him as the low-level "journalist" he is, and refuses to accept facts. You were duped, game industry enthusiast press. Get over it.

Now why do these people without degrees (if Schreier had a degree in journalism, which he might, this would be even more hilarious) get jobs and get paid for such shoddy work? Story first, facts later? C'mon now. We have blogs like SuperPhillip Central, Digitally Downloaded.net, Coffee With Games, 8-Bit Girl, among other affiliates of mine that produce content that is actually respectable (well, maybe not mine) and they get little fame and glory. They actually DO fact-check, and if they are wrong they ADMIT it. This is yet another sorry and sordid tale of the paltry and pathetic enthusiast press. Get over yourself, Schreier, you hack.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

February 2012 NPD Results

Did you know February 2012 is over? I'm serious. No lies. No joke. It ended over a week ago. As such on the early part of each month we get the United States sale results of the previous month. I remember a time when we got clear cut numbers. Now we're lucky to get scraps. Regardless, here are the results for February 2012 as taken from NeoFAQs.

4- week month; January retail reporting period 1/29/12 through 2/25/12

Software
01. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (360, PS3, Wii, PC)** Activision Blizzzard
02. Final Fantasy XIII-2 (PS3, 360)** Square Enix Inc.
03. UFC Undisputed 3 (360, PS3) THQ
04. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (360, PS3, PC) Electronic Arts
05. Just Dance 3 (Wii, 360, PS3) Ubisoft
06. NBA 2K12 (360, PS3, PSP, Wii, PC, PS2) Take 2 Interactive
07. Soul Calibur V (360, PS3)** Namco Bandai Games
08. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (360, PS3, PC)** Bethesda Softworks
09. Twisted Metal 2012 (PS3) Sony - 221K
10. Battlefield 3 (360, PS3, PC)** Electronic Arts

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

Hardware
Xbox 360 - 426K (-20.4%)
PlayStation 3 - 360K (-11%) (PR Math by NeoFAQs)
Nintendo 3DS - 262K
Nintendo Wii - 228K (-50%)
PlayStation Vita - 218K (PR Math by NeoFAQs)
Nintendo DS - 135K

Unfortunately NPD has for the past half year or so combined SKUs, so we don't know how titles with only one SKU (exclusives in layman's terms) fared. I wish I could say I'm surprised that Resident Evil: Revelations didn't chart, but there were literally no advertisements to be found here. There were Operation Raccoon City ads, and that game wasn't coming out until a month or or so later. Tell me how that makes sense. Are third parties doing another self-fulfilling prophecy again?

In other news, Final Fantasy XIII-2 sold less than half the first month sales of Final Fantasy XIII. It is safe to call it a bomb yet? Then we have SoulCalibur V which also did poorly all things considered. On the positive side (which is increasingly hard to find when it comes to sales) Just Dance 3 on Wii remains the best-selling single SKU yet again.

Top Five Leading Ladies

I had a different story to run today, but then I remembered it was International Women's Day. You go, girls! Well, I guess that isn't politically correct nowadays. How about "you go, women?" There we are. This list does not depict the best leading ladies in gaming history; it's more of a my favorite femme fatales list. Which five fabled females will make the cut?

5) Bayonetta (Bayonetta)


A woman with a quartet of guns named parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme (named after Scarborough Fair), Bayonetta is a modern day witch with the looks and legs to match. She was given glasses by the character designer to make her look more "mysterious and intelligent." Whether that actually worked is up to the player. All I know is that if you are the type of player who has grown upset or annoyed with women constantly being portrayed as objects of sex in video games, you will not be happy with Bayonetta. The character and game of the same name almost forces you to see her in various sexual poses, legs spread out, guns loaded (among other things), and libido fully prepped.

4) Princess Peach (Super Princess Peach)


I cannot count how many times Bowser has captured Princess Peach Toadstool, royalty of the Mushroom Kingdom. It is probably up there pretty high. When Mario and Luigi get captured by the king of the Koopas in Super Princess Peach, her Highness gets to take on the role of heroine for once. Joined by a parasol that can speak, Peach packs up her things and heads to Vibe Island and its eight themed worlds in order to stage a rescue of a lifetime. Some critics of the game jabbed Nintendo for hinting that all women are overly emotional. This stems from the fact that you can use one of four powers: Joy, Gloom, Rage, and Calm to assist Peach throughout the game. Have a beanstalk sprout that you need to grow immediately? Cry on it. In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Peach uses her charm and dashing looks in her Final Smash to knock all opponents unconscious while she either uses the opportunity to attack or to heal up. Peach is an amusing character that I really adore despite her fragile exterior and constant bouts as the kidnap-ee.

3) Joanna Dark (Perfect Dark)


After scoring a perfect score at the Carrington Institute's shooting range test she was known as Perfect Dark. Joanna is a smart-mouthed, wit-filled secret agent who was the main contributor to ousting the conspiracy between the DataDyne Corporation and the Skedar alien race. She is excels at hand-to-hand combat and she is a master pilot and skilled driver. She has a gun for every occasion. The 2000 original game is one of my favorites of all time. The 2005 prequel Perfect Dark Zero sports a new Joanna with a new more Americanized attitude. Her trademark red hair is still present, but she sports an American accent and acts like a bratty teen... which she is. The English, more reserved Joanna is what I remember most from the franchise and care to take away from the series. Her flirty nature, master of weaponry, fisticuffs, and vehicles make her the female equivalent of James Bond. Except she probably doesn't have all the STDs Bond has.

2) Samus Aran (Metroid)


A former soldier for the Galactic Federation (as seen in the polarizing Metroid: Other M), Samus Aran left the Federation to become a bounty hunter. After witnessing her parents be destroyed by the Space Pirates and their leader Ridley, a young Samus vowed to seek revenge. Her power suit comes in multiple varieties such as the Varia, Gravity, and Power suits. These suits all sport a hand cannon and can be upgraded with new abilities like the Screw Attack, Ice Beam, Missiles, Double Jump, and many more. Her appearance in the most recent Metroid game, Metroid Other M, has sparked a lot of bickering among fans and critics. Some say Samus Aran was ruined and spout other hyperbole while others applaud the humanizing of the character. I am somewhere in the middle (see, gamers? You don't have to see everything as the best or the worst, black or white). A oftentimes strong, silent type, Samus Aran screw attacks the second spot on my list.

1) Lara Croft (Tomb Raider)


The most significant female lead in gaming, Lara Croft is a household name thanks to one of the few successful games turned to movies crossovers. Played by Angelina Jolie, the name Lara Croft spread into the mainstream subconscious and is now known worldwide. Not many video game characters much more female leads can say that. She is always viewed as pretty, remarkably smart, and amazingly athletic in games and on film. She is English like Joanna Dark, an archaeologist like Indiana Jones, and oftentimes finds herself exploring booby trap-filled tombs (hence the Tomb Raider title of the series). Eat your heart out, Nathan Drake. She is proficient with handguns, can kick all sorts of villainy butt, and always has a clever witticism to boot. Now if there is one leading lady that earns the right to be number one, it's Lara Croft from Tomb Raider.

===

We've reached the end, my friends. Which heroes of the female persuasion do you envy the most? Did I forget your favorite? Let me know in the comments section.

Kid Icarus: Uprising (3DS) New Trailer

A full in-depth trailer for Kid Icarus: Uprising is live on YouTube, and I have it placed neatly on SuperPhillip Central for your viewing pleasure. It shows off multiple bosses, quick wit and dialogue between the numerous characters, and some of the multiplayer goodness the game possesses. Kid Icarus: Uprising uprises and shines on March 23rd.



Come Add Mii!

If your stable of Mii characters and lookalikes is on the empty side, why not add the generic form of SuperPhillip to your arsenal? Just follow these steps to have my Mii magically transported to your 3DS:
  1. Open Mii Maker in the 3DS main menu.
  2. Go to QR Code/Image Options.
  3. Go to Scan QR Code.
  4. Align the following QR code so that it lies within the top screen's frame.
  5. Voila!

While your 3DS is on, why not add my friend code? Just let me know if you add me so I can return the favor.

Phil: 1805-2338-1133

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Top Five Wii Exclusives

The Wii set the world on fire in sales, and it has an exhaustive library of games to choose from. As I did last week and the week before I am going to post a list featuring the exclusives of one of the big three's main consoles. Today it is the Wii's turn to shine. Which games will make the list? There is no need to wait. Just read on right now!

5) Donkey Kong Country Returns


When Rare was purchased by Microsoft it seemed that the Donkey Kong Country series was in jeopardy and was never returning ever again. Then one E3 Nintendo revealed a trailer for Donkey Kong Country Returns, made by none other than Metroid Prime series developer Retro Studios. The game plays just like the Super Nintendo trilogy of DKC games. There were deviously placed obstacles and bonus areas, plenty of tricks and traps to watch for, and clever level design that continuously offered a new gimmick each stage. The game brought with it incredibly mine cart levels, intense rocket barrel sections, and cooperative play for up to two players. Donkey Kong Country Returns simply outclasses two of the three games of the original DKC trilogy; only Diddy's Kong Quest beats it.


4) New Super Mario Bros. Wii

Speaking of cooperative play, New Super Mario Bros. Wii had four player action with Mario, Luigi, and a pair of Toads. The levels were expertly designed featuring motives such as grasslands, jungles, deserts, beaches, icy plateaus, and lava oceans. The Koopalings were back from their extended hiatus and came back in force. The controls were not as tight as previous games in the franchise, but they were serviceable nonetheless. Jumping off the head of your partner to reach an out-of-the-way star coin, entering the secret ninth world of ultra-hard levels, and running from a gigantic Bowser in the final showdown while leaping carefully from moving platform to platform all make for wonderful memories of this marvelous title. New Super Mario Bros. Wii got a metric ton of sales, and they all well deserved as this 2D Mario is one of the best the series has ever seen.


3) The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Let me preface this by saying that if you are "waggling" to play this game... you're doing it wrong. Stop blaming the game because you blow at it. That said, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was named SuperPhillip Central's Game of 2011, and it was a remarkable title. The addition of Wii MotionPlus was used for a plethora of tasks such as controlling the Beetle item, swimming, swinging from vines and ropes, and of course, battling with Link's sword. Enemies were not fodder this time around that could be generally defeated by lazily swinging around the Wii remote like Twilight Princess. No, you needed smart swings to fell them. An enemy who holds two blades horizontally could be taken out with a horizontal shot of your own, aimed right in the middle of the foe's two blades. While the game had some tedious hand-holding as well as extensive padding late in the game, Skyward Sword still ranks as one of my favorite 3D Zelda games. The world is interesting, the characters are lovely, and the music is one of Nintendo's best soundtracks.


2) Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Essentially a love letter to Nintendo fans all over the globe, Super Smash Bros. Brawl is one of the meatiest games I can think of. It had everything and more. There were over 500 trophies to collect, various modes like the all-new Subspace Emissary, Classic, All-Star, Event, Boss Battles, and Stadium, stickers, a myriad of items, 30+ characters with Final Smashes, ultimate moves which are acquired by breaking a Smash Ball, 30+ stages such as Delfino Plaza, Mario Circuit, Mushroomy Kingdom, Smashville, Skyworld, Distant Planet, Port City: Aero Dive, Luigi's Mansion, Lylat Cruise, etc., there was the ability to create stages, and there were over 200 songs to unlock and listen to. Then there's the Challenges which are like achievements except these aren't just for you to brag pathetically to your friends about. You can actually unlock in-game content with them. Super Smash Bros. Brawl trumps Melee in nearly every department, and with bated breath I await Super Smash Bros. 4. Make it happen, Sakurai!


1) Super Mario Galaxy 2

Not only was it SuperPhillip Central's Game of 2010, but it is one of my favorite games of all time. Why? It only has some of the tightest, most responsive controls around and some of the most marvelous level design in 3D platforming existence. The story is pretty much a non-thing with Peach once again being captured by Bowser. Thankfully the game spits you out right into the thick of the gameplay, allowing you to get your feet wet almost immediately. The great galaxies (or levels) the game offers has a wide variety of themes, areas, and trials for Mario or Luigi to triumph over. Some galaxies switch between a fiery motive and an icy one while another reintroduces the portly plumber to his old friend Yoshi from his Super Mario World days. After the initial 120 stars have been recovered, you have just begun. There are 120 green stars to retrieve, placed in precarious locations around the numerous galaxies. Super Mario Galaxy 2 shows that Nintendo is on top of their game when it comes to whimsical game design, and that they are the masters of pumping out compelling software for their systems.


===

I always feel sorry for those who hate on the Wii. Such ignorance means they will never get a chance to enjoy the abundant range of titles the console's library has. Such a waste. As for those who love the system like I do, there is always something new to discover; a niche title that went under the radar that you just came across or a popular game that you just happened to miss. Which Wii exclusives do you deem the greatest? Hit me up with a comment below to start the discussion.

SimCity 5 (PC) First Trailer

As you, the avid reader of SPC, know I do not generally cover PC gaming. When I review a game that is multiplatform and also on PC, I purposefully do not mention PC. Some games are just too important and entertaining to not mention, even if I will never have the competent hardware to play them. SimCity 5, announced at GDC, is one of those games. EA and developer Maxis unveiled the premiere trailer for the city-building title due out on a currently ambiguous date next year. And while there is no gameplay footage in this trailer, it does whet the appetite of fans like myself wanting some SimCity action.



Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Bad Levels in Gaming History - Volume One

In the past I have listed some of my favorite levels in gaming history. Now it's time to take a look at the opposite, some of the poorer attempts at making competent levels. These areas might be convoluted, designed with best intentions but end up being messes, or are repetitive beyond all get out. Volume One has five of these monstrosities for your viewing and reading pleasure.

Eggmanland - Sonic Unleashed (PS3, 360)


There's something to be said about a level that takes nearly thirty minutes even with a pro player going through it. That is the HD version of Eggmanland from Sonic Unleashed, a platforming and perilous hell on the level of past haunts from games like Sonic the Hedgehog (2006). The level switches you between normal Sonic and Werehog Sonic as you jump and maul your way through increasingly more challenging scenarios such as tiptoeing as Werehog Sonic on incredibly thin pipes with a bottomless pit, the cornerstone of recent Sonic games, taunting you from below. It doesn't help that the camera is fixated in a position that is not beneficial to your jumping prowess. Then there's the coaster part as Sonic where you must control a seemingly uncontrollable roller coaster car through a hellish halfpipe as you leap over chasms, dodge spikes, and hope for the best. After this there is a portion as Sonic with square sections of wall with an Eggman-esque mug on them that push out. If you happen to be standing there when they do you end up getting pushed off the level and die. This is very easy to lose precious lives at. The whole level is a life-stealer, and it says something about this incarnation of evil when I start with 99 lives and end in the forties. Not only is the level way too long, but it is unbelievably cheap, too.

The Dam - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES)



Without a doubt one of the most obnoxious water levels in gaming history (they are usually already a pain to begin with) is the dam stage from the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game on the Nintendo Entertainment System. The premise of the level is that you must disarm eight bombs that are placed around a labyrinthine underwater stage before they detonate and destroy the dam and turn you into turtle soup. Electric seaweed lines many of the soggy corridors of this stage, demanding pinpoint precision of the player. Good luck with that with the unwieldy swimming controls. And don't forget the other shocking obstacles in this nightmare of a swimming level. Many gamers never made it past this the second stage of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Blaze Heatnix Stage - Mega Man X6 (PS1)


Now, Mega Man X6 is already a poor Mega Man X game. That much is for certain, but the creme de le crap comes from the Blaze Heatnix Stage where you face off against the same mini-boss (seen in the picture above) about 5-6 times throughout the level. The battleground may be different each time, sometimes you're facing the boss in a vertical chamber with rising purple flames on your tail while another you're battling the boss in a horizontal area with multiple chasms to worry about, but the way to beat this annoyance is always the same. You must shoot out the multiple green weak points of the snakelike robotic baddie to temporarily defeat it. Mega Man X6 is known for some of the lamest level design in series history, so taking the prize as worst level in the game is some stellar feat.

New Pork City - Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)


My problem with Super Smash Bros. Brawl's New Pork City stems from the fact that not only is it way too large, but it is also just a seemingly random pile of platforms put together to form a stage. At least with Super Smash Bros. Melee's largest stage, Temple, the level was designed to resemble something. This is not the case with New Pork City. The many thrown-together platforms and huge negative space means that throwing your opponents out of the arena takes much longer than a normal-sized stage. Now to be fair, I like the aesthetics of New Pork City, but looks alone do not a good Smash Bros. stage make. This is why I have the level turned off when I decide to play on a random stage. Too big and too difficult to get K.O.s on, New Pork City winds up in the Super Smash Bros. Brawl hall of shame.

Planet Wisp (Classic) - Sonic Generations (PS3, 360)


Planet Wisp (Classic) from the recently released Sonic Generations starts out innocently enough as you stroll or speed through a verdant valley with badniks wearing construction hats and armed with pickaxes, but as you enter the actual factory, the second part of the level, things turn crappy fast. Sonic Colors, the game Planet Wisp is picked from, had wisps, beings that for a limited time gave the blue blur powers like the ability to drill through certain floors and the laser which bounced Sonic off walls for as long as the wisp's power held together. The lone wisp power in Planet Wisp (Classic) is spikes. Sonic turns into a spiked ball and can use those sharp quills of his to climb walls and ceilings. The problem is when you get to special and small gears that need Sonic to charge his spike power on them in order to operate/move them through hazardous hallways. This is all the while dodging a barrage of missiles that fly throughout the level. Planet Wisp becomes maddening when you're tasked with moving four different platforms to line them up to lead the azure hedgehog to the goal. It's an annoying second half of the level and one I wish only to my enemies.

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That wraps up Volume One of Bad Levels in Gaming History. To get some better vibes and view some Great Levels in Gaming History, check out one of the following volumes:

Volume One
Volume Two
Volume Three
Volume Four
Volume Five

Which levels in games do you deem as poorly designed or made? Hit me up with a comment discussing this or post whether you agree or not with my choices.

Kid Icarus: Uprising (3DS) New Screens

It is a popular week for new screens here at SuperPhillip Central. Nintendo and Pit join the fray with new screens of the upcoming Kid Icarus: Uprising. The game features both a single-player campaign (part on-rails shooter, part ground combat game) and a robust multiplayer mode. I am sure we will continue to get a steady stream of new media for the game as we await its March 23rd release date.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Halo 4 (360) First Screens

From the Xbox event that was under a non-disclosure agreement before comes the first two beautiful screens from Halo 4, the beginning of a new trilogy. You know what would make this the essential first-person shooter for me? Bots. Lots and lots of bots. ...Don't look at me like that. As for now we have two shots of Master Chief holding a gun and staring at the environment. Yep, that be Halo!

SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs - Marching On Edition

It's a new month, so why not ring March in with five new VGMs? That makes sense to me, and I have a simple mind. On this week's installment of SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs we have music from multiple PlayStation RPGs such as Chrono Cross, Kingdom Hearts II, and Xenogears. But that's not all! Just read and listen on to see the rest!

v56. Chrono Cross (PS1) - Time's Scar


We begin with an incredible track from Chrono Cross, the sequel to the Super Nintendo classic Chrono Trigger. Trigger is not needed to be played to understand the story of Cross. Time's Scar, the opening theme of the game, starts off with a majestic flute being played alongside an acoustic guitar. After we've warmed up, the song gets into the main theme and has swift strings playing and the main melody. It is a Celtic cacophony! I never did manage to get far in Chrono Cross (the game bored me to tears), but I will always appreciate the sensational soundtrack of the game. Bravo, Yasunori Mitsuda. Bravo.

v57. Kingdom Hearts II (PS2) - Working Together



Starting off with pizzicato strings before kicking into overdrive, this battle theme of Twilight Town when playing as Sora, Goofy, and Donald is quite energetic and peppy. I for some reason opted to play Kingdom Hearts II without trying the original game. To this day I have still never touched Kingdom Hearts I even though I have read that it is superior to its sequel. Am I deranged? Am I mad? No, I just haven't had the time to go back in my PS2 library and plop this game into my backwards compatible PlayStation 3 to have a go at it.

v58. Mega Man 2 (NES) - Wood Man Stage


It is commonplace when you mention Mega Man 2's soundtrack to mention Wily Stages 1-2 as your theme of choice. I am bucking this trend with Wood Man's Stage, set deep in a forest with robotic panthers and ostriches. 8-bit music generally gives me a headache even though I grew up on it. Regardless, the Mega Man series is one of the few that I can actually stand. Wood Man's Stage's theme is incredibly catchy, allowing you to shoot up Dr. Wily's creations with ease.

v59. Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil (PS2) - Path of Goddess Claire (Holy Land La-Lakoosha [Outside])


I was first introduced to Klonoa on the Wii with the game of the same name. I then was feverishly searching for any other title featuring the floppy-eared hero. I came upon Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil on the PlayStation 2, and it quenched my thirst for a 2 1/2D platformer. It had plenty of challenge, nice visuals, and a steady difficulty curve. Path of Goddess Claire is a mellow piece that plays alongside you as you delve deep in Lunatea to find the legendary Goddess. Between the two main Klonoa games (not to mention the Game Boy Advance spinoffs) it is a shame the character did not gain more popularity across the world.

v60. Xenogears (PS1) - Flight (Orchestra Version)


We start with a classic RPG from the original PlayStation and we conclude with a classic RPG from the original PlayStation with Xenogears. Xenogears came out around the same time that Gundam Wing aired on American television, so my fascination with giant robotic suits of armor duking it out was satiated greatly. Myth is a recently released orchestral album of several of the most notable themes from Yasunori Mitsuda's Xenogears album. Flight is but one of these poignant themes. I encourage you to listen to the whole album if and when you get the chance; there's some positively good stuff on there.

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We have stumbled upon the conclusion of another edition of SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs. We've heard Time's Scar, Working Together, Wood Man Stage, Path of Goddess Claire, and Flight. Not satisfied yet? Why not take a look (or is it listen?) to past volumes of the VGMs? You can do just that with SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs Database. It's all there for your pure, unbridled listening pleasure.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Fable Heroes (XBLA) First Screens

The first screenshots of the Xbox Live Arcade's Fable Heroes have surfaced. They show a Mario Party-like title with a plentiful amount of mini-games and doll avatars (as seen in past Fable games on shelves in homes). Microsoft has been gearing towards a more casual audience for a year or so now. Nothing wrong with that, but if there is one thing that this game shows it is that Microsoft doesn't need you, the hardcore gamer, anymore. Sorry. They were quick to bury the evidence of knowing you, weren't they?

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