Friday, March 16, 2012

Desired Super Smash Bros. 4 Newcomers


Kid Icarus: Uprising is set to take flight on the Nintendo 3DS a week from today. It only makes sense that the next project for Sora, the developer, is the next Super Smash Bros. which was confirmed to be coming to both the Wii U and 3DS. I think this makes a good time to post some of my most wanted newcomers for the next Smash Bros. game. Note: Masahiro Sakurai, the man behind the Super Smash Bros. series, has just finished work on Kid Icarus: Uprising, so do not expect the next installment of SSB to come any time soon. This is just a wishful thinking post.

Ghirahim (The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword)



The self-proclaimed "Demon King Ghirahim," this primary antagonist from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword has a myriad of moves at his disposal to trip up Link. His sabre and swordplay alone make him a worthy adversary of the hero clad in green. He can summon a series of daggers to be thrown either one after another or all simultaneously. His Final Smash (pending these sensationally powerful moves return from Brawl) could have him sprout the hard-skinned armor that he had in Link and his final fight on the Sealed Grounds. If there is any character that should come from the new installment in The Legend of Zelda franchise, it should be Ghirahim.

King K. Rool (Donkey Kong Country)


The king of the Kremling army, King K. Rool previously stole Donkey Kong's banana hoard, ticking off the main monkey. K. Rool is a villain that many Smash Bros. fans have been rooting to appear in a Smash game as a playable character. He has plenty of attacks to challenge his unlucky and unwitting opponents with such as chucking his crown at foes, performing a belly flop to crush his adversaries, and his Final Smash could have him pulling a Gangplank Galleon and launching a series of colossal cannonballs down on all comers.

Ridley (Metroid)


Ridley is the leader of the Space Pirates, and he was the sole cause of the death of a young Samus Aran's parents. While Ridley and his Metroid Prime form in Meta Ridley have appeared as bosses in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, I think it is about time that a smaller form of the dragon-like creature comes forth as a playable character in the next Smash Bros. game. Like Bowser he could spew fire from his breath, drag his tail along the ground to slice foes, and have an advantage in the skies thanks to his pair of weathered wings. Metroid needs a new face to represent the series apart from Samus, and I believe Ridley would be the perfect candidate.

Krystal (Star Fox)


Fox McCloud's on again, off again love interest and teammate on Star Fox, Krystal first appeared in Rare's last console project for Nintendo, the heavily Zelda-inspired Star Fox Adventures. She comes equipped with a staff, ready for combat, and she could utilize her Arwing (just as long as it is not yet another Landmaster Final Smash) to take out opponents from the air. Perhaps Krystal could have magic powers via her staff to dish out damage with fire, electricity, water, and wind. I'd love to see another female addition to the Smash Bros. lineup and Krystal fits that profile completely.

Samurai Goroh (F-Zero)


Already featured as an Assist Trophy in Brawl, the 3D model for Samurai Goroh, fierce bounty hunting rival of Captain Falcon, is already there, so why not build upon it and have him as a newcomer? He obviously attacks with his samurai blade, thrusting it into the depths of other characters' bodies, but he could also use other Japanese weaponry like a kunai, some shurikens, and sais. His Final Smash would take his Fire Stingray could run over unlucky victims much like Captain Falcon's Final Smash from Brawl. After all, F-Zero needs more representation.

Medusa (Kid Icarus)


Another female addition to the Smash Bros. 4 lineup could be the main villain of Kid Icarus and the upcoming Kid Icarus: Uprising, Medusa. She could temporarily turn foes into stone, toss out a slithering snake or two to deal damage, shoot eye beams from her glaring vision, and her Final Smash could have her growing to extremely large proportions to pound some sense into her opponents. It seems obvious that Nintendo is pushing Uprising beyond their normal marketing measures. Could Kid Icarus become one of their mainline franchises once more? Putting Medusa as a main character in Smash could help that greatly.

Animal Crossing Boy and Girl (Animal Crossing)



Animal Crossing was represented in Brawl with the series's own category of trophies and its own stage in the form of Smashville. Now it is time for the two avatars of Animal Crossing to pair up a la the Ice Climbers and let out all of that stress of owing immense amounts of money to Tom Nook. They already have the tools to do so: bug catching nets, axes, fishing rods, watering cans, shovels to bury Pitfalls, and much more. A decent Final Smash could have a flurry of Animal Crossing characters quickly marching through a given stage, carrying unfortunate victims across the screen and out of bounds to their demise.

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Those are just some of my ideas for interesting newcomers for the next Super Smash Bros. game which is due out in the long, faraway future. Which characters would you like to see make their first appearance as playable fighters in Super Smash Bros. 4? Give me a holler in the comments section.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (PS3, 360, Wii, DS, 3DS, PSV) First Trailer

Do you like the Lego series of games? I feel they exude a splendid type of charm that most games cannot match. The trend seems to continue with Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes for all major platforms. Nothing gets my bat senses tingling more than Danny Elfman's 1989 score playing with some stirring gameplay! Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes shows us its might this summer.



Ridge Racer 3D (3DS) Review

The Vita installment of Ridge Racer recently released this past Tuesday in North America, and the one year anniversary of the Nintendo 3DS on this continent is coming soon. It seems like a perfect moment to review a launch game for the system, Ridge Racer 3D.

See You At the Finish Line


Ridge Racer has been a staple of many system launches. However, over recent years the series has dwindled and declined in popularity and has almost become a joke. With the infamous Sony E3 press conference having Kaz Harai gleaming "RIIIIIIIIDGE RAAAAACER" and the latest entry in the franchise revving up on the PlayStation Vita with only a handful of tracks and loads of downloadable content, what was once a proud series is slowly and steadily losing traction. Then there stands the Nintendo 3DS launch title Ridge Racer 3D. Does an extra dimension add to the fun, or does this installment of Ridge Racer come in last place?

What most players will spend the majority of their time in Ridge Racer 3D is the Grand Prix mode, made up of three difficulties: Beginner, Advanced, and Expert. Players start in the Beginning series of events, doing their best to succeed and complete tasks. For instance, a given Grand Prix is comprised of four races. Each race you must reach the required position and cross the finish line to advance to the next race. While you can advance by just getting second or third in the first three races, the final race is always one where you must cross the finish line in first. By completing a Grand Prix, you open up the next event or set of events. The structure is a branching tree of events that are eventually lead to the final event where you must clear it in order to unlock the next difficulty of Grand Prix races. In total, there are over fifty unique events to take part in. However, the constant goal of getting in the top of the pack can get repetitive quite easily.

Start from the back of the pack
with the aim of getting to the front.

The majority of events have you racing against seven other AI controlled cars. You are stuck at the start at the back of the pack with first place anywhere between a quarter of a lap to a half lap ahead of you. The goal is to get to the front of the pack and reach and finish in one of the qualifying positions. As you race on the different circuits, you get progress reports of how far away you are to the number one racer. The main feat is not really worrying about passing up the other cars but constantly gaining on the first place driver with each section of track, each lap, and each corner.

Speeding around corners and sharp turns in the game is essential in Ridge Racer 3D, and this is performed by accomplishing a drift. You let off the accelerator and then ease onto it again to drift. The premise here is to keep your speed up while sliding around corners and turns. As you drift, your nitrous gauge increases. The faster and more sharper your drift, the more your gauge increases. It can be filled up three portions, allowing you to use one nitrous, double nitrous, or even triple nitrous to soar past the competition.

Drifting feels extraordinarily smooth.

Later events on the more challenging difficulties can be occasionally frustrating as it seems that the CPU rubber-bands you. That is, they speed up inexplicably just to catch up to you or to lose you. It appears that if you are not running the race up to the game's standards and are behind the first place driver further than the game desires you to be, the AI will outrun you no matter what. This can be infuriating.

Effects like smoke, confetti, and leaves sticking
to the 3D screen make for an impressive sight.

Nonetheless, you begin the game with a bunch of slower Category 4 cars. As you move on in the various Grand Prix events, you unlock faster machines (up to Category 1) that allow you to tear up each track at swifter speeds. Each race you complete earns you player points. These are used to purchase new vehicles with individual top speeds, builds, customizable color combinations, and nitrous kits. The faster cars are much looser and tend to slip and slide all over corners and turns which makes for a difficult drive. Mastering your vehicle is key to completing the various events Ridge Racer 3D thrusts in front of you.

Apart from the Grand Prix, there are an abundant array of modes to choose from such as Time Attack (a time trial mode), a race where you compete against seven players who sport the same vehicle model as you do, and a track selection method that bases the game's choices off of how long you wish to play. After each race, you can opt to save a replay of your racing finesse for future enjoyment. If you have StreetPass enabled, you can find other players' ghosts to race against. Unfortunately, there is no online option to be found. I think this is a serious oversight to what could have been a game that players could keep coming back to time and time again. As it is now, you can only do local play.

There are fifteen unique circuits in the game. They range from races through sunset-soaked beaches, airports, rides through underwater tunnels, ancient ruins, atop seaside cliffs, through rugged Arizonian-like red canyons, and through busy and bustling metropolises. Each circuit comes in normal form and reverse form where you race the same track but only in reverse. There are also mirrored courses that unlock much further into the game, effectively adding a lot of tracks to learn the ins and outs of.

The lighting is okay, but the 3DS can do so much better than this.

Ridge Racer 3D is not a graphical showcase of the Nintendo 3DS system's hardware. It looks like a glorified early PSP game at worst and a mid-range PSP game at best. Textures are blurry, the frame-rate dips below 30 fps on numerous occasions, there are a lot of jaggies to be found, there is rampant slowdown when the action gets more intense, and the various vehicles look sickly. Meanwhile on the sound front, each race gives you the opportunity to select from one of dozens of tracks. Most of them come from either the techno or rock side of the musical spectrum, so if you find a favorite song, there is nothing stopping you from playing it ad infinitum. The only problem I have with the game's sound stems from the incredibly obnoxious backseat driver that opens her mouth every three seconds as you race. At first it was nice to race and not be by my lonesome. By the end of my tenure with Ridge Racer 3D, I was wishing ill thoughts to my female driving companion. Thankfully, you can silence the woman by lowering the voice volume in the options, but this is a problem that has plagued previous installments of the franchise. Why is she still here?

Get a face full of track with this first-person viewpoint.

Ridge Racer 3D is not a technical showcase of the Nintendo 3DS, nor does it innovate the series in any way, shape, or form. It, however, does supply an above average amount of single player content for what is now a really low price, and the track design is quite competent and enjoyable to hit the pavement on. The lack of online play is not the best news I can give, but at least this is actually a full-fledged game and not a scam to sell DLC like the Vita edition. If you like an arcade-style racer and don't want to get bombarded with blue shells a la Mario Kart, then Ridge Racer 3D is a truly acceptable alternative.

[SuperPhillip Says: 7.75/10]


The Ratchet & Clank Collection (PS3) First Screens and Box Art


Announced today and known as the Classics HD: The Ratchet & Clank Trilogy in PAL territories, the lombax and robot pair's first trio of adventures (Ratchet & Clank, Going Commando, and Up Your Arsenal) end up in glorious 1080p and stereoscopic 3D on the PlayStation 3 this year. As an added bonus, players will be able to go online and duke it out in battle via 8 player multiplayer in Up Your Arsenal. As an avid fan of the series, this is a definite buy.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Heroes of Ruin (3DS) New Trailer

It is just a 3DS-filled week here on SuperPhillip Central, isn't it? We continue the entertainment with a new customization-centric trailer for Heroes of Ruin, a loot RPG from n-Space and Square Enix. The only thing I do not like about the trailer is the slow motion to hide the slowdown the game has. There is no word on when Heroes of Ruin will storm the Nintendo 3DS with its online multiplayer gameplay.



Localizations, Please! Nintendo 3DS Edition

In the past I have called for several games to get localized here in North America, and some have, and some have not. Today I have five more games that I would like to see come to the Pacific and Atlantic shores of the continent. This go around, we are examining five Nintendo 3DS titles that are stuck outside of my homeland.

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy



With gameplay akin to Elite Beat Agents and Ouendan (for all my Japanese readers-- domo arigato for reading, friends!), Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is like a "best of" the series with all thirteen mainline games being represented with characters, bosses, and of course, songs. There are over fifty themes to be had to begin with, and Square Enix is selling downloadable content in the form of new songs on a semi-weekly basis in Japan. I am a pushover for Final Fantasy music, so if and when this game comes to the West, I will definitely be putting my money and my poor sense of rhythm where my mouth is and picking up a copy.

Bravely Default: Flying Fairy


Bravely Default: Flying Fairy is an RPG for the Nintendo 3DS. Seeing as the system is presently starving for games in that genre, this can only be a good thing. Flying Fairy features incredible visuals that remind me of Square Enix's own Final Fantasy: Four Heroes of Light which appeared on the Nintendo DS, though it is a different developer working on the game. We might know that augmented reality plays a part of the game, but we know nothing about the combat system, nor do we know whether or not the game will arrive in the West. It seems like a shoo in for localization, but Japan can keep the bizarre name.

Monster Hunter Tri G


My first foray into the Monster Hunter series was probably the game that most newbies to the franchise were first introduced to savage beast slaying, Monster Hunter Tri on Wii. The game sold extraordinarily beyond expectations for Nintendo and Capcom, selling better than any previous console Monster Hunter, so a localization seems like destiny. Would the game get added online, something that is crucial for a lot of games these days to succeed? A single player Monster Hunter I do not figure would appeal much to most gamers. Most want to play with their friends, so if the title does sweep our shores, hopefully it will have some marvelous multiplayer.

Fire Emblem: Awakening



Already confirmed to be coming to Europe, Fire Emblem: Awakening sports gorgeous in-game graphics as well as stylistic cutscenes to advance the story of war and attrition. Awakening will be the first Nintendo-developed title to contain DLC. It is also the first game in the series outside of Japan to allow players to create their own character to saunter onto the battlefield and take down enemies with. No release date or plans for localization have been mentioned by Nintendo of America, but it is likely that we will find out about the title's future in North America come E3.

Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle


A launch title for the Nintendo 3DS in Japan, Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle is the fifth installment of this popular puzzle franchise. You can be rest assured that there will be plenty of brain teasers placed within the game card and a mysterious adventure to follow. Instead of hand-drawn characters, Professor Layton, Luke, and the gang are now fully functioning 3D polygonal models. Now, Mask of Miracle released in Japan before the West even got The Last Specter, so it seems apparent that the game will be coming to our side of the world soon. At last year's E3 the game was in playable form and was in English. If that isn't a good sign, I don't know what is.

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These are but a small sampling of the titles left in Japan or out of North America. Which non-localized games would you like to see hit your homeland? They do not have to be 3DS exclusive either. Let me know in the comments section.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Fire Emblem: Awakening (3DS) Overview Trailer

Due out April 19th in Japan, Fire Emblem: Awakening is the newest entry in this strategic RPG series. This overview trailer deals with nearly all of the facets of the game that fans could clamor for. Now all we need is a North American localization as Nintendo of Europe has already confirmed that they will be bringing the game over. Do you have an invested interest in this newest chapter of Fire Emblem?



Fun! Fun! Minigolf TOUCH! (3DSWare) Review

We are close to the 300th review of SuperPhillip Central! Let's do a new but short review. The game itself is short but at five dollars, you get what you pay for. It's Fun! Fun! Minigolf TOUCH! for 3DSWare. Let's see just how "Fun! Fun!" the game truly is.

Skunked It Over Par.


Back on the tail end of 2008, the small German team Shin'en developed and released Fun! Fun! Minigolf to mediocre reviews and middling sales despite the game's incredible visuals for a WiiWare title. Nearly four years later, Shin'en strikes back and returns to the tee with Fun! Fun! Minigolf TOUCH! on the 3DS system's eShop. Unfortunately, the team misfires their shot once again and hits it out-of-bounds.

Starting off with Shin'en's newest downloadable game, you choose from one of three save slots, create a custom golfer from a disappointingly small sample of shirts, pants, and shoes, and you are then whisked off to to main menu. Here you can enter Cup mode where you play through a 9-hole affair in America, the first and only cup unlocked at the beginning of the game. As you earn coins from sinking putts, you can go to the Shop which houses a profusion of products to purchase such as the ability to play as a Mii character (totally disturbing), the opportunity to try out the Asian and European 9-hole courses, the chance to try out the Trick Shot courses, and aesthetic changes like new putters and sound effects for the game.

Despite saying that the game has 81 holes, the majority of them are just the same starting 27 holes remixed with new and different obstacles and hazard placement. The American Cup is the easiest of the three main courses with the European Cup housing the hardest holes.

To say the avatar you play as is
creepy would be an understatement.

Fun! Fun! Minigolf TOUCH! can either be played with touch controls or with the Circle Pad and buttons. I found that trying to aim with the touch screen (performed by touching an outer circle to point your ball where you hope to shoot it) made for an effort in frustration. It is next to impossible to get the line of where the ball will be hit to a satisfactory place as the moving speed is so swift. The Circle Pad is your best bet, allowing greater precision and slower movement. Whether you use touch or a button, a strength gauge (as seen in most arcade golf games) measures how hard you plan on hitting the golf ball. A small white dot then sways from left to right over your ball with the goal being to press the button when the dot is directly on top to hit the golf ball perfectly straight. The analog controls work well enough for the game. I would advise against using the touch screen as it is not always 100% effective.

By far the most annoying feature of Fun! Fun! Minigolf TOUCH!-- and one that plagued the original WiiWare game-- is the out-of-bounds rule. The game has an area on each hole that is designated as in-bounds, so if your ball winds up anywhere outside this zone, your ball is out-of-bounds and you must start again at the tee. This means that if your shot is not perfect, you will be forced to shoot from the tee over and over... and over... and over (and over). This is not how minigolf works. Maybe in Germany this is how people play it (I sincerely doubt that), but all it does is cause the game to be artificially more difficult than it should be. There is nothing more infuriating in this game than hitting the ball less than an inch out of the designated in-bounds area only for your shot to be disqualified as it is barely out of the zone. At least you are not penalized an extra stroke each time you are out-of-bounds. Regardless, you need putting perfection to clear each hole.

The backgrounds are characteristically wonderful--
a staple of Shin'en's technical prowess.

Further damning this otherwise fun! fun! game is that gaining every thing that is to be bought from the in-game store only takes but 3-5 hours of time. That's all. There is also no multiplayer so speak of-- no online, no local, no nothing. Fun! Fun! Minigolf TOUCH! is meant to be a single player experience, and it isn't even a very enticing one at that.

Even for the small studio that they are, the fine folks at Shin'en are masters of taking a platform and pushing all the polygons out of it that they can. Their sweat and know-how with Fun! Fun! Minigolf TOUCH! is no exception. The backgrounds are lively and full of interesting geometry, the lighting is very well done, and the game runs at a silky-smooth frame-rate. The music is appropriate for the game-- a light affair-- and the female voice that sports calls of par, birdie, eagle, bogey, and any other golf score you can muster is pleasant and almost soothing. At least Shin'en got the presentation right with their game.

Line up your shot and hope it stays in-bounds!

Fun! Fun! Minigolf TOUCH! is a game that does not realize its full potential. The lack of any form of multiplayer stings quite a bit, but the small playtime it takes to achieve every task, buy every item in the Shop, and ace every hole and the asinine out-of-bounds rule that makes for an irritating and short-lived experience. As the cheapest 3DSWare game on the eShop service currently, you won't get burned badly if you decide to download this game and dislike it. Perhaps you won't mind the bizarre rules and will have Fun! Fun! For everyone else, I actually recommend Let's Golf 3D. At least that title reminds me of a good game.

[SuperPhillip Says: 4.75/10]

Monday, March 12, 2012

SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs - Party Hearty Edition

Mario Party 9 launched in North America yesterday, and Wii owners across the continent have been sinking their collective teeth into it. The VGMs cannot help but celebrate, too. You know the drill: five themes from video games of the past for your listening enjoyment. We have music from Halo 3, LocoRoco 2, and Mario Party 9, for starters. As Mario would say, "Here we go!"

v61. Halo 3 (360) - The Covenant (One Final Effort)


Martin O'Donnell composes this theme for the last mission of Halo 3. It begins with a soft piano melody and soothing strings before kicking it into a higher gear with percussive elements and a higher tempo. Halo 3 was quite fun playing the campaign mode with three other players on the most challenging difficulty setting. Blowing away grunts, finding secret skulls, and riding around a Warthog through a dusty desert were all some of the pastimes of one Master Chief.

v62. Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy (3DS) - Fighter's Honor (Flying Remix)


Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy soared onto the Nintendo 3DS with little in the way of fanfare. That is a shame, too, as it is significantly better than the HD Ace Combat: Assault Horizon game. This song, Fighter's Honor (Flying Remix), is the best theme from the game. Composed by the man behind the Gods Eater Burst (PSP) soundtrack, the song sports a catchy set of symphonic strings, deep chorus vocals, and bold brass. It is the perfect theme to find your second wind and blast down some Rebel scum.

v63. Mega Man ZX (DS) - Misty Rain


This version of Misty Rain comes from the arranged Mega Man ZX soundtrack. The tune itself is a haunting piece heightened by the eerie female vocals. Then you have an electric guitar providing accompaniment and the piano providing the beginning melody. Mega Man ZX was a new franchise for the Mega Man series. It was like Mega Man Zero except it had a Metroid-like map to venture through. The map system in the game was quite confusing which didn't do the player any favors. Thankfully, Mega Man ZX Advent fixed this problem.

v64. LocoRoco 2 (PSP) - buibui


Full of nonsensical hoots and hollers, buibui is the theme of the BuiBui Fort levels in LocoRoco 2, an overlooked and under-appreciated PlayStation Portable game. Kemmei Adachi and Nobuyuki Shimizu combined their compositional efforts to create this fiesta-inspired song. Though those players who have trekked inside the BuiBui Fort levels know that those challenging propositions are anything but fiestas. Stay tuned for future installments of my VGMs for more LocoRoco goodness.

v65. Mario Party 9 (Wii) - Toad Road


A mellow melody seems perfect for the opening board of the recently released Mario Party 9. The catchy vibraphone-sounding synth is quite catchy as you roll a die and join three other players on this relatively hazard-free board. Mario Party 9 introduces a new formula to this longtime stale series. Now four opponents ride in the same vehicle. This brings up a whole slew of new strategies to try out. With 80 new mini-games and six other boards, the party doesn't stop until you say so.

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We have partied til we can no longer party anymore. While these five themes are finito, I will have five more tunes from video games in the next installment of the VGMs. Tomorrow the first of March will be posted, so please look forward to that. Until then, have a great Monday, all.

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