Saturday, May 26, 2012

SuperPhillip's May 2012 Console Collection (And Other Odditiies)

Last week I shared my handheld collection of video games from the GBA, DS, and 3DS. On this very hot, humid, and muggy Saturday in Central City I have to share my current gen console collection featuring games from my Wii, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 compendium of games. As a bonus, I've also thrown in some Club Nintendo items I have earned as well as some other oddities.

As always, right click and Open in New Window or New Tab to get the huge version of each pic.

Our full Wii collection
Who says the Wii has no games worth playing?
Even MORE Wii games!
HD gaming sure is expensive!
Our relatively small Xbox 360 collection.

The Mario goodness overflows in this picture.
Animal Crossing playing cards and 3DS case shown.
And here's my BFF Filbert.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Mario Tennis Open (3DS) Review

Mario Tennis Open releases in Europe today. Now it is available in every major market. To celebrate, I have my opinion of the game for your reading pleasure. Now, don't just look at the pretty pictures and "witty" captions like I do! The review is worth your time-- honest!

Game, Set, Mario


Tennis is a sport that is popular and known all around the world. Fans love watching their favorite players hit that greenish yellow and white ball back and forth and back and forth in a seemingly endless rally. However, tennis hasn't reached baseball, football, or basketball levels of popularity in the United States. It is a watched sport that many adore here, though, on this side of the world. Mario and his Mushroom Kingdom cohorts are once again stepping onto the court in the first handheld Mario Tennis title since Mario Tennis: Power Tour. While the RPG mode that the portable offerings are most known for has been omitted from this installment, it has been replaced by a series first, online play. Does online and the game's other features make Mario Tennis Open serve up an ace or get unlucky and get a double fault?

There are two main draws to the single-player content of Mario Tennis Open-- Tournament and the Special Games (more on the latter later). Tournament mode is no stranger to veterans of any sort of tennis game. Instead of the traditional three tournaments of past Mario Tennis titles, players must fight through the ranks of four individual, progressively more difficult tourneys. When you beat the final match of the Champions Cup, you unlock not only four more tournaments but you receive a star for the character your completed the Champions Cup with, giving them greater abilities. Tournament mode can be played in Singles or Doubles with a computer-controlled partner, though you can only get a star character through Singles play.

When not being saved from being kidnapped,
Peach enjoys a nice match of tennis with Mario.
For every single-player match you finish, you receive a random outfit part for your Mii. These parts do not unlock for use-- they are only available to buy with coins earned through, and only through unfortunately, Special Games. There are four forms of outfit pieces to purchase including rackets, shirts/shorts, wristbands, and shoes. You can also unlock full costumes like the Mario and Peach costumes for taking care of certain in-game tasks. Each outfit part bestows your Mii with status attributes like better serving power, acceleration, running speed, and spin of the ball, for starters. Experimentation with different parts makes for some enjoyment. Plus, I found that unlocking new pieces for my Mii to wear and customizing my little avatar version of myself to be massively appealing. Your mileage may vary, however.

The courts feature no gimmicks this go around,
but they do look very striking and lovely.
As stated, Special Games are the second main draw of the single-player experience. Unlike the GameCube's (and then later on the horribly controlling Wii port) Mario Power Tennis which had an abundance of mini-games to excel at, Mario Tennis Open only has a pitiful amount of four games to try out. Sure, the majority has four levels to try out, but when the only means of gaining coins is to play through this quartet of Special Games, it gets old fast. And because the quickest way to earn coins is through participating in the Galaxy Rally Special Game, you will get sick of being forced to grind for coins in a fast fashion.

Regardless, the Special Games available are pretty good for the most part. The popular Ring Shot makes its glorious return, but there are three new games to accompany it like Super Mario Tennis. In this game you hit the ball against a wall that shows a side-scrolling 8-bit Super Mario Bros. level. Hitting coins and enemies gives you more time on the clock. The aim of the game is to reach the flagpole before all three of tennis balls have been lost. The aforementioned Galaxy Rally has you rallying shots with a Luma. The goal is to successfully reach a certain number of rallies while avoiding the pits that house a giant black hole which will gobble up your errant balls. You only get three balls to work with, so make them count. Lastly, Ink Showdown has three Piranha Plants firing out tennis balls for you to return. However, there is a character on the other side who wishes to hit them back. If you get the required amount of balls past this character, you win. Making this more challenging is that sometimes a Piranha Plant will shoot out a ball of ink. Not eliminating this threat immediately will cover 75% of the screen with ink. Like I said, coins can only be earned through these four games which is idiotic to me.

Super Mario Tennis might be the best 
Special Game in the (small) bunch.
Coins should also be earned through playing online matches, a new feature to the Mario Tennis series. As it stands, you can play either with friends or against regional strangers. Either way, your options are limited. With strangers, you can play short first-player-to-seven games or 2 game, 1 set matches. Winning nets you a Victory Medal. Unfortunately, there seems to be many sore losers online, even in the exceptionally short tiebreaker games. This means you don't get a Victory Medal (the only way to unlock three Mii costumes) every time someone disconnects. I mean, seriously? You can't stay a minute and take your loss like an adult? Which brings me to another questionable move by Camelot, the rating system. At the conclusion of each online random match, you earn or lose points depending on how you performed. Any system where you can lose points even when you win the match is absolutely asinine. As for other parts of the online, there are online leaderboards to try to reach the top of, but this is a time waster and nothing more.

As for the actual gameplay online, tennis games demand pinpoint accuracy and quick reflexes. When the game lags ever-so-slightly, that throws a wrench into the equation and makes returning high strength, high speed serves a crap shoot. Also, I wish there were two modes for random matches: one for overpowered Mii characters and one for the traditional Mario characters. As it is, most players online go with their Mii which makes the Mario all-stars essentially irrelevant. Thankfully, online play isn't something that really appeals to me. I've always been a local type of player, but keep these flaws in mind if online play excites you. Nintendo has shown that they are open to patches, so it's anyone's guess if such changes to the online could (and should) happen.

Mario Power Tennis featured power shots that some argued ruined the pace of matches. Those have been disposed of and in their place are Chance Shots. Chance Shots occur depending on how the ball is hit by your opponent. If you dive for a ball and hit it with the tip of your racket, generally your opponent will get the opportunity for a devastating smash to drill the ball down your side of the court's throat. There are five types of Chance Shots: red, blue, purple, yellow, and white. Red Chance Shots allow you to strike the ball with a powerful topspin. For power characters, a fully charged red Chance Shot can send their opponent pushed backwards from the sheer force of the shot. Blue Chance Shots defy the laws of physics completely with a crazy horizontally arced slice shot. These curve in such a ridiculous fashion that they can trip up even the most professional player. (They also twirl the player who hits the return around like a tornado.) Meanwhile, purple Chance Shots offer the opportunity to hit a stunning flat shot which has the highest velocity of any other shot. Then there's the yellow Chance Shot which when hit lobs the ball to the back of the court, great for those adversaries who play close to the net. Finally and conversely from lob shots, white Chance Shots deal out a drop shot which falls up close and near the net.

Flat shots dish out the most speed
out of any other type of shot.
Sometimes it feels like you're playing a game of Simon Says with Chance Shots. You run to each highlighted circle on your side of the court and perform the type of shot specified. However, sometimes hitting the Chance Shot specified isn't the best means of play. Occasionally, you will want to trip up your opponent and confuse them completely. For instance, maybe a shot returned by your foe reveals a red Chance Shot advantage near the net, but it might be easier to just slam the ball away from your opponent with a well-placed flat shot. Additionally, when you start a Chance Shot, the aura around your character will brighten, giving your enemy (or enemies) a signal that you are about to try a Chance Shot on them. So Mario Tennis Open can be as close to Simon Says or as far away from that kids game as you'd like.

Mario Tennis Open offers control options for beginning players as well as people more comfortable with the game and series. During play, the touch screen can be used instead of the buttons to choose the various types of color-coded shots with a tap of a finger. Neophytes can also hold the 3DS up vertically to enter the dynamic view where the camera is directly behind the player, their character moves to the ball automatically, and all that is needed is shot input from the player. Dynamic view can be turned off completely via the Options menu in the Clubhouse. While the dynamic view is nice, it is no substitution against a pro player.

The new dynamic view offers 
a shift in perspective.
Mario Tennis Open borrows a lot of assets from the GameCube version of the franchise. Even though you hear Toadsworth's voice as the umpire, Toad is actually the one who sits in the umpire's chair... or cage, depending on the court. The umpire also no longer announces each character's name when they score. It's either "server" or "receiver" now. That just screams lazy. As for the visuals themselves, character animate wonderfully, the ten courts like Mushroom Valley, Wario Dunes, and Mario Stadium are beaming with vibrant color and impressive graphical effects like sunlight shining down on the DK Jungle wood court, and the 3D effect-- while not as pronounced as other 3DS games-- does its job well. Though, you won't be amiss if you turn the system's 3D slider all the way down. The heavily progressive rock-driven music by Motoi Sakuraba is filled with incredibly catchy tunes and some familiar ones as well such as the must-have for a Mario game, the Super Mario Bros. Main Theme, and a duo of songs from the Nintendo 64 version of Mario Tennis, heard in the Star Open tournament matches. Mario Tennis Open doesn't blow the doors off the joint in its presentation, but it is much better than passable.

 Just out of Wario's reach.
Maybe he should stick to his garlic diet.
Even with its less-than-stellar online options and netcode with randoms, its unfortunate omission to include earning coins in other modes aside from the Special Games, and its relatively sparse single-player modes, Mario Tennis Open manages to be another worthy installment in the long-running tennis franchise. It doesn't outdo the Nintendo 64 or GameCube installments, but it does hold its own. Collecting and then purchasing new items for your Mii is quite addicting, playing against friends with one 3DS card between the two, three, or four of you is terrific, hopping online to battle a friend is always invigorating, unlocking new characters via Special Games or through capturing QR codes promises more additional characters to play as in the future (though recolored Yoshis are currently the only offerings available), and the tremendous soundtrack make for a superb game. The inclusion of Chance Shots add some entertaining strategy and variety to the gameplay, and it makes for some stunning and highly satisfying rallies. For those who would spend most of their time through online randoms matches, you might want to hold off on this game. For everyone else, grab a racket, pull on your wristbands, and get ready to spend some time on the court with Mario and friends.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.0/10]

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Killer Soundtracks - My Personal Favorites, Part Three

Music makes the world go 'round, and it is something I feel like a bit of a connoisseur about. Y'know, but without being all snotty and uppity. This makes three weeks in a row that I am sharing my personal favorite soundtracks from unforgettable video games, some more memorable than others. I hope with this part of Killer Soundtracks, like the two that came before it, it will have you listening and enjoying the samples of songs I link to. With that out of the way, let's get ten more soundtracks some time under the sun.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)


Quite possibly one of my most cherished Zelda soundtracks, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for the first time featured a full orchestra for the majority of musical pieces. Hajime Wakai, Shibo Fujii, Mahito Yokota, Takeshi Hama, and Koji Kondo all lent their creative compositional expertise to this stellar soundtrack. Note: the track names are entirely unofficial. We have the familiar classic of File Select on one hand while on the other we have new classics like Romance Theme 1, the Asian flair of Bamboo Isle, a boss theme in Koloktos/Moldarach, the full choir of Final Ghirahim, the overly triumphant theme of the Staff Roll (featuring Ballad of the Goddess and The Legend of Zelda Main Theme), and the beautiful piano-filled Fi's Farewell. While nostalgia tells me that A Link to the Past has the better music, Skyward Sword is still up there as one of the best.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)


Speaking of Mahito Yakota, he lent his abilities to the superb Super Mario Galaxy 2 soundtrack. I actually prefer the sequel's music to the original, but it really is a heated race between the two. I mean, how can you not love fully symphonic pieces like the familiar Throwback Galaxy, Bowser's Galaxy Generator, the increasing tension of Melty Monster Galaxy, the grandiose nature of Final Bowser Battle with full choir, Haunty Halls Galaxy with the returning Ghost House theme from Super Mario World, the super perky Puzzle Plank Galaxy, and the second homage to Super Mario 64, Bowser's Lava Lair?

Jet Force Gemini (N64)


The composers at Rare, as proven last week by their incredibly impressive Perfect Dark soundtrack, are some kinds of sorcerers. How they managed to push the Nintendo 64's sound card is anyone's guess. Seriously, feel free to guess-- I'm all ears. Anyway, the team once more put forth an excellent treat for the ears with Jet Force Gemini's wondrous soundtrack. There's the militant march of Character Select for starters, Rith Essa, S.S. Anubis, Eschebone, Sekhmet, Ichor Military Base, and the ultra tense Boss Battle theme. Jet Force Gemini amazed me way back when it released in 1999 or so and it absolutely floors me now in retrospect.

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (SNES)


Yoko Shimomura (mostly known for her work on the Kingdom Hearst franchise) contributed the lion's share of music for Mario's first foray into the RPG genre, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. It would also be Square's last game on a Nintendo system for an extended period of time. Of course, we all know tracks like Beware the Forest's Mushrooms and Hello, Happy Kingdom (which would get a remix in the Wii's Fortune Street), but what about lesser talked about themes like Fight Against An Armed Boss, The Merry Marry Bell Rings, Going Shopping in Ripple Town, Let's Do the Fooka-Fooka!, and Goodbye, Geno? Those are all tremendous tracks worthy of one's attention. A cute, quaint, and charming soundtrack, Super Mario RPG is near and dear to my heart.

MadWorld (Wii)


From cute, quaint, and charming to brutal, violent, and visceral, MadWorld's music is mostly vocal. It's also quite explicit lyrics-wise, so be forewarned, you younger scamps who visit SuperPhillip Central! The majority of music is hip-hop, rap, and hard rock. You can hear this in songs like Come With It, Survival, You Don't Know Me, the Asian beat of Ain't That Funny, Crazy, Body That which was used in the North American ads for the game, and the credits theme, Get It Up. I generally dislike the types of music MadWorld contains, but something in the game infected my mind like a brain worm.

Kirby's Epic Yarn (Wii)


How do you segue from rap to the gentle, flowing tunes of the adorable Kirby's Epic Yarn? I'm a good writer, but I'm not that good. Regardless, Tomoya Tomita penned and possibly performed the majority of music for this simple-to-beat game. The piano-heavy music really complemented the easygoing nature of Epic Yarn. You have songs like Fountain Gardens, VS. Fangora, Snowy Fields, Lava Landing, Outer Rings, and last but not least, the recital-sounding Patch Castle. Like I said, the music marvelously matches the calm nature and pace of Kirby's Epic Yarn.

Wario Land: Shake It! (Wii)


Now, here's a simple segue. Both Kirby's Epic Yarn and Wario Land: Shake It! were developed by Good-Feel. They're talented people who work at the company, and the quality of their titles is pretty good. While Epic Yarn had more of a piano focus, Shake It! branches out much more to incorporate a wide menagerie of musical instruments. We have the Latin-flavor of Launchpad Labyrinth, the Egyptian-flavor of Whoopsy Desert, the African rhythm of Savannah Valley, the professional piano of Gurgle Gulch and Run-Down Pyramid, the glitzy Glittertown (as inspired by Wario World), and the rocking Windbreak Bay. Wario Land: Shake It! supplies listeners with an abundant array of themes from multiple musical genres in fine fashion.

Mega Man X6 (PS1)


Now, if you have followed SPC for an lengthy period of time, you know my thoughts on Mega Man X6. It wasn't a really good game. In fact, a lot of it was pretty bad. That is except for the music which was sensational. We rocked out to Blaze Heatnix Stage (Magma Area), and even after hearing it loop over and over again while fighting the same mid-boss in different arenas, the song still holds up. Then there's great tracks like Gate's Laboratory 1-2, Commander Yammark Stage (Amazon Area), Shieldner Sheldon Stage (Laser Institute), Infinity Mijinion Stage (Weapon Center), Gate, and Sigma 2nd. I'm not saying such songs make up for a less-than-stellar game, but it did make the experience all the more bearable.

Sonic CD (SCD)


There are two versions of the Sonic CD soundtrack-- the JPN/PAL soundtrack and the U.S. soundtrack. I am in the camp that prefers the latter. I find the JPN/PAL one to be too goofy and not having as many memorable melodies and songs as the U.S. one. It could also have to do with the fact that I grew up on the U.S. soundtrack. We have numerous cool and soothing to hard and rocking songs like Palmtree Panic Zone (Present), Palmtree Panic Zone (Bad Future), Collision Chaos Zone (Good Future), Stardust Speedway Zone (Good Future), Stardust Speedway Zone (Bad Future), Wacky Workbench Zone (Present), and Special Stage. Overall, a nice soundtrack, though I do like Japan's Palmtree Panic Zone (Present) version.

Ys: The Oath in Felghana (PSP)


Ys: The Oath in Felghana was an unexpected surprise and my first encounter with the Ys series, one that I wish to dive into even further after finishing off Felghana. One reason (other than the brilliant action gameplay, of course) is the music, remade and remixed for the PSP. If you didn't like the PSP's music, you could switch to the originals. But why do that when you get wonderful songs like the final boss theme of The Greatest Foe, The Boy's Got Wings, the theme of the clock tower, Sealed Time, dungeons themes like A Searing Struggle, Steeling the Will to Fight, Snare of Darkness, and Be Careful? Combining violin with electric guitar and synth made the PSP version of the Ys: The Oath in Felghana soundtrack amazing to the ears.

===

If you somehow missed a previous part of Killer Soundtracks, you can easily get to them through one of the following links:

Killer Soundtracks - My Personal Favorites, Part One
Killer Soundtracks - My Personal Favorites, Part Two 

As for everyone else, what did you think about Part Three's soundtrack and song selections? Give me a holler in the comments section.

LittleBigPlanet PS Vita (PSV) Box Art and New Trailer


A Behind the Curtain featurette has been posted on the PlayStation's official blog. It has an interview with sources close to the LittleBigPlanet project coming to the Vita. It not only sheds some light on the game, but it also showcases some of the creative and colorful gameplay.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Top Ten Platforming Mascots

My favorite genre in the entire world is the platformer. Whether 2-D or 3-D, it brings me a lot of joy to explore colorful, vibrant worlds and be entertained by the tight and bewildering level design. Platforming games (or run and jumps) are near and dear to my heart. The best ones feature memorable heroes or heroines. This is a top ten list featuring my favorite platform game mascots. Will your favorites make the list?

10) Banjo-Kazooie


Seldom apart from one another, the team of Banjo-Kazooie is one for the ages. Yes, they can sometimes not get along and begin bickering, and Kazooie can say the wrong thing at the wrong team, but you've got to be endeared by their charm. Together they are powerful as Kazooie rests in Banjo's blue backpack and can peck at foes and give extra air time for her partner's jumps. With the help of shaman Mumbo Jumbo, the two can get transformed into a variety of creatures and items like an alligator, a bee, a termite, and even a washing machine. Hope they brought some bleach! The two separated from one another often in Banjo-Tooie in order to access unique areas of each of the game's expansive levels, brimming with secrets and hazards alike. And even though Banjo and Kazooie returned on the Xbox 360 in a fashion that most fans wouldn't have preferred, Nuts & Bolts was still a remarkable game that showed that Rare still had some talent left, despite what critics may say. Sure, they've been gutted a little since, but that's beyond the point!

Notable Titles:

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

9) Klonoa 


Do your ears hang low? Do they wobble to and fro? Can you tie 'em in a knot? Can you tie 'em in a bow? Can you throw 'em over your shoulder like a continental soldier? Do you ears hang low? Well, for Namco's Klonoa, they certainly do. This floppy-eared hero has appeared in a handful of games on a variety of platforms such as the PlayStation 1 and 2, Game Boy Advance, and Wii. Klonoa isn't your typical platformer. You grab enemies and either throw them or use them to gain extra height. Door to Phantomile on the original PlayStation was the world's first introduction to the cat-like character, and when I saw the game in action I immediately fell in love-- with the game, not the furry. Door to Phantomile would be completely remade in 2009 on Nintendo's Wii. It featured new costumes, new challenges, and of course, new graphics.

Notable Titles:

Klonoa: Door to Phantomile (PS1) - 1998
Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil (PS2) - 2001
Klonoa: Empire of Dreams (GBA) - 2001
Klonoa 2: Dream Champ Tournament (GBA) - 2005
Klonoa (Wii) - 2009

8) Wario


For this man, greed is most definitely good. He made his debut in 1992's Game Boy classic Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins where he occupied Mario's castle when the blue-suspendered hero was away on an adventure. Then he commandeered Mario's series by stealing the starring role from the portly plumber, thus resulting in the Wario Land franchise. Wario is very much the antithesis and rival of Mario. While Mario is selfless, ready to help others without thought, and relatively thin compared to his rival, Wario is selfish, only willing to help others if it benefits him, and is a porker. Apparently all that garlic he eats is high in calories... Wario's games are traditional 2-D platformers with tons of exploration to find hidden treasure chest and valuable loot. If you look closely, you can see Wario's pupils turning from their normal round shape into dollar signs! Not only has the character evolved from a one note villain to a humorous antihero, but his games constantly offer something new to the table.

Notable Titles:

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (GB) - 1992
Super Mario Land 3: Wario Land (GB) - 1994
Wario Land II (GBC) - 1999
Wario World (GCN) - 2003
Wario Land: Shake It! (Wii) - 2009

7) Sackboy


Media Molecule shopped around for interest to their LittleBigPlanet concept. Sony took them up on their offer and the rest is history. The world of LittleBigPlanet allows players to create their own 2-D worlds with the assistance of multiple tools. Of course, none of that matters if the gameplay doesn't hold a proverbial candle to it. Thankfully it does, and the avatar that players utilize in each LittleBigPlanet level is none other than the character of made of yarn, Sackboy. Sackboy is fully customizable, allowing those with the desire to to doll it up in various doodads such as wigs, hats, glasses, masks, costumes, shirts, pants, dresses, shoes, and accessories like a captain's hook, for starters. DLC enabled people to purchase costumes from such famous franchises like Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy, and Disney/Pixar's Toy Story. For a character that can only express itself through mime-like actions, Sackboy certainly does resonate really well with people, earning him a spot on this list.

Notable Titles:

LittleBigPlanet (PS3) - 2008
LittleBigPlanet (PSP) - 2009
LittleBigPlanet 2 (PS3) - 2011
LittleBigPlanet (PSV) - 2012

6) Ratchet


From the incredible minds at Insomniac Games comes the best platformer franchise from the Sony camp, the Ratchet & Clank series! Unlike Naughty Dog's Jak series, Ratchet & Clank has never skewed from its intended audience or change themes from its lighthearted fare to something darker a la the transition from Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy to Jak II. The Ratchet & Clank series is known for its trademark humor, action-oriented platforming, the ability to upgrade your various inventive guns through using them routinely, and acquiring hidden special bolts to unlock cool in-game content such as new costumes for Ratchet to wear. The character of Ratchet is primarily precocious and his weapon of choice when not blowing away baddies with one of many firearms is his daunting wrench. That baby certainly packs a wallop! Though All 4 One was a misstep for the franchise, I look forward to the future of Ratchet & Clank as it is a generally consistent (even in the PS2 era when it had multiple consecutive years of releases) and enjoyable series.

Notable Titles:

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

5) Rayman


I consider Rayman to be the French equivalent to Mario, a hero that is astonishingly underrated in most parts of the world. Rayman does not have any limbs to work with. Instead, he has disjointed hands and feet which he uses to punch foes and run wildly through platforming stages of peril and simultaneous bliss respectively. You can thank the brilliant mind of Michel Ancel for the creation of the limbless wonder. It's his character, and his team within Ubisoft have crafted some of the finest and more memorable entries in the platformer genre. Sure, Rayman 2 may be a game that most people are sick of seeing as it is constantly being ported to various devices, but it is still one of the better 3D romps available. The most recent Rayman release, Rayman Origins, brought the French hero back to the spotlight in a sensational and beautiful 2D game. Here's hoping the upcoming Rayman Legends is even more promising when it is most likely unveiled officially come E3.

Notable Titles:

Rayman (PS1, SAT) - 1995
Rayman 2: The Great Escape (PS1, N64, DC) - 1999
Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc (PS2, GCN, XBX) - 2003
Rayman Origins (PS3, 360, Wii) - 2011 
Rayman Origins (PSV, 3DS) - 2012

4) Kirby


Kirby sucks. And blows. But that's why we love him. Created by Super Smash Bros. creator Masahiro Sakurai, Kirby is one cute and charming character. He has the ability to suck up enemies and copy their power. Kirby can quickly become one mean and lean killing machine with powers like Sword, Ice, Fire, Beam, Wheel, Spark, and many, many more. The Kirby universe is full of plenty of memorable characters like Metaknight, King Dedede, and Waddle Dee, for starters. Nintendo is usually very perceptive of allowing their pink puffball to appear in experimental games. Whether they're atypical platforming adventures like Kirby: Canvas Curse or Mass Attack or titles of a completely different genre like Kirby's Block Ball, Pinball Land, and Dream Course, Kirby is a hot commodity and a respectable seller for the big N. His games might be on the easy side of the difficulty spectrum, but that doesn't stop Kirby from appearing on the number four spot on this top ten.

Notable Titles:

Kirby's Dream Land (GB) - 1992
Kirby's Adventure (NES) - 1993
Kirby Super Star (SNES) - 1996
Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards (N64) - 2000
Kirby's Return to Dream Land (Wii) - 2011

3) Donkey Kong


This list is now on like Donkey Kong. Starting out as a villain who abducted Mario's girlfriend Pauline (I can only imagine how relations between the two would have worked out), Donkey Kong was a huge, hairy ape that had a bad attitude. Even if he was the bad guy, DK can find solace in the fact that he was a part of the first true platformer, the arcade hit Donkey Kong, characterized by jumping over barrels and pits. He wouldn't get a true starring role in the platforming genre until a then relatively unknown company named Rare placed him-- and his snazzy new red tie-- in the excellent Donkey Kong Country. The series would span four major games and spawn a spinoff series on the Game Boy in the form of Donkey Kong Land. Though, DK wouldn't star or even be in all of them. Apart from the DKC series, Donkey Kong has had nontraditional platforming jaunts with games like the superb bongo-beating Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat and the climbing platformer of DK: King of Swing (highly underrated game). It is for these reasons that the king of the jungle swings to the number three spot.

Notable Titles:

Donkey Kong (ARC) - 1981
Donkey Kong Country (SNES) - 1994
Donkey Kong 64 (N64) - 1999
Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat (GCN) - 2005
Donkey Kong Country Returns (Wii) - 2010

2) Sonic the Hedgehog


A fierce rival to the number one mascot on this list, Sonic the Hedgehog is occasionally labeled as the blue blur. That is because of his ability to speed through levels at the drop of a hat. His signature blue quills, ability to roll up in a ball, figure-8 pattern legs as he runs, and green eyes are all qualities of the azure hedgehog. Sonic seemingly always has time for a chili dog as he combats the evil Dr. Robotnik/Dr. Eggman and stops yet another one of his out there schemes. Sonic's best buddy is none other than Miles "Tails" Prower, a two-tailed fox with high intellect and the know-how to create some incredible inventions. Sonic in recent years has seen middling reviews save for a couple of gems like Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations. Created by Yuji Naka, who has since left Sonic Team for his own company, the quick feet, sharp 'tude, and free will of Sonic make the character one that fans just can't get enough of. Oh, all that disturbing fan-made furry art!

Notable Titles:

Sonic the Hedgehog (GEN) - 1991
Sonic CD (SCD) - 1993
Sonic Adventure (DC) - 1999
Sonic Colors (Wii) - 2010
Sonic Generations (PS3, 360, 3DS) - 2011

1) Mario


I don't think this should come as any form of surprise at all, quite honestly. The portly plumber which made the platforming genre a household name, selling millions upon millions of hardware and copies, and making Nintendo billions, Mario is definitely the go-to mascot for the platforming genre. He is the brainchild of Shigeru Miyamoto, who I gave a hard time in a previous post (but only out of love), and premiered in a little game called Donkey Kong, where he was known only by the moniker of Jumpman. He only received a his trademark hat and black mustache because the 2-D sprite for Mario had indistinguishable facial features. A mustache made it easy to see where his mouth, eyes, among other features were at. Without Mario, Nintendo would have nowhere near the same amount of success and positive mind share in the market. But I guess that goes without saying.

Notable Titles:

Super Mario Bros. (NES) - 1985
Super Mario World (SNES) - 1991
Super Mario 64 (N64) - 1996
Super Mario Galaxy (Wii) - 2007
Super Mario 3D Land (3DS) - 2011

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This ends our look at my favorite platforming mascots. What do you think about this list? Which are your personal favorites? List yours below.

LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (PS3, 360, PSV) New Trailer

I did not mention the Wii or 3DS versions as those games have been confirmed that they do not have the same open world gameplay as seen in this new trailer for the latest Lego game. I believe those two versions will be more streamlined. Maybe it'll be for the better, but that might be a leap in logic as this trailer for Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes looks sensational.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Most Notable Wii Games: A Video Retrospective

I had an all-around satisfactory experience with my Wii. The only bad parts were: 1) My Wii's disc drive malfunctioned, meaning I needed to get the system replaced, losing all my save data, and 2) Just how pathetic the hardcore gamer became in denouncing the platform. I have sincerely never seen an angrier, more bitter, more despicable, saltier group in gaming than the Wii troll. Period. The hilarity when the Wii routinely outsold their favorite platforms was a sight to behold. Oh, the tears, the hyperbole ("worst console ever") and excuses! But then again, I deplore the hardcore gamer, and the enemy of my enemy is my friend, so I guess that made me root for the Wii.

Regardless of that fun, the real fun came from the bounty of games the system possessed. Nintendo provided their best content since their SNES days (and some have the gall to call their Wii output "unambitious"). We saw a myriad of magnificent games like both Super Mario Galaxies, Wii Sports, Metroid Prime Trilogy, Kirby's Return to Dream Land, Excitebots: Trick Racing, and many more. Third parties provided some content to go alongside Nintendo's efforts, and the ones who put in the most work were rewarded the best. Fancy that. While not my favorite console of all time, the Wii is pretty up there.

Most Overrated Industry Figures

The video game industry is bursting at the seams with creative personalities, some more than others. This generation alone, apart from so many studio closures, has been one of the best of all time, no hyperbole intended. However, there are some figures in the industry who get more praise than they deserve, something that irritates me slightly. Time to bring the fight to them directly with this list of five Most Overrated Industry Figures, a special editorial at SuperPhillip Central. Which five will you most likely disagree with? Let's wait no longer.

Cliff Bleszinski


One of the faces of "bro gaming", something that brought a whole flock of stupid and annoying so-called "fratcore" who play "mature" games like Gears of War and Call of Duty and crap on anything else, Epic Games' Cliff Bleszinski is one of the two main faces of the company alongside president Mark Rein. His company's games generally allow grown adults to fulfill their young juvenile male fantasies of slaying thousands, curb-stomping enemies, and killing people with chainsaws attached to guns. Moreover, his company is going to force Microsoft and Sony to upgrade their next consoles even further with more power. We're already at a point in the industry where most publishers can hardly break even on their big budgeted games, and the cost is only going to go higher if Epic has their way. I understand that Epic's bottom line depends upon high-powered platforms, but if the next Xbox and PlayStation can already run Unreal Engine 4, why do they need more power? Why take more steps to ensure that the video game industry should be even more risk-oriented? Congrats, Cliff, and your horde of man-children fans. Pass the Mountain Dew, bro!

Peter Molyneux


The man of a billion broken promises, Peter Molyneux suffers from what I like to call the Janet Jackson what-have-you-done-for-me-lately syndrome. That is, Mr. Molyneux has been around the industry as a figure for quite awhile, and has done some exemplary work with titles such as Black and White and Theme Park which showcased his talent well. But recent efforts like Fable and The Movies made Molyneux create checks that his mouth simply couldn't cash. Promising features to the press and overhyping his games to adoring fans led to him-- at least in Fable's case-- coming out and having felt the need to publicly apologize to everyone for being slightly more than overenthusiastic in his beginning words for his latest titles. But like I said, what has he done for me lately? We have a Kinect (ugh) based Fable coming and a cancelled Kinect (did I say "ugh" already?) project that looked promising (we all know how far promising goes when talking about Peter Molyneux) in Milo & Kate. Perhaps Peter can redeem himself with Fable: The Journey as long as he keeps expectations firmly steeped in reality.

Hideo Kojima


I'm not going to mince words here-- I hated Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. It had an overabundance of cutscenes which slowed the pace of the game to a crawl. The ratio between actual gameplay (you know, what video games are supposed to be about) and cutscenes was grossly lopsided. It seems Hideo Kojima is more interested in making C-quality movies with cringe-worthy dialogue than actually making video games. This desire by the West and some Japanese developers who wish to emulate the West that video games need to be more like Hollywood is sickening to me. Games are games and movies are movies. If I wanted to watch an awful movie, I'd watch Pauly Shore's Biodome. Frankly, I don't want to watch that, and I don't want to be interrupted constantly by nicely choreographed cutscenes and head-shakingly bad conversations and scenarios. I don't care if you keep crapping your pants, Johnny. Not only is that incredibly stupid, but it is embarrassing to sit through. Who thought this garbage up? I know the answer, and that is one of the reasons why Kojima is on my *crap* list.

Michael Pachter


For someone whose predictions are usually wrong (but a broken clock is even right twice a day) and just reeks of ignorance, he sure does have the video game press by the balls. They eagerly-- especially GameTrailers-- hang on every word the man utters as if it were gospel. I don't see why as I find the man to be totally reprehensible and not worth my time (this part of the article notwithstanding). I'm still waiting on the HD version of the Wii that was supposedly a good idea and due out three years ago (even though it would have segmented the Wii user base severely), I'm waiting for a better apology from him for mocking people complaining about the Team Bondi situation and their horrible working conditions, I'm anticipating Kinect being less than $79 like he said it would be (it came out at $150), I'm still waiting for GTA V to come out by 2010 and then "fixed" to by 2011, and according to Pachter, dedicated handhelds are dead, and if you say that the 3DS's pace is outselling the DS's pace back when it originally launched, you are "spinning." Oh, Pachter, please go away and never come back, but this won't happen because the gaming media is made up of morons who will listen to anything you say as long as it fits their agenda.

Shigeru Miyamoto


Time for the most unpopular choice, Shigeru Miyamoto, another man who suffers from the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately syndrome. Yes, he is known for creating such fabled franchises like Mario, Donkey Kong, Pikmin, and Zelda (but not in that order, of course), but what has he done for me lately? He mostly has a supervisory role at Nintendo, but he still gets most of the credit. No, the real brains behind the operation is Yoshiaki Koizumi who is a rising star at the company, at the helm as director or producer for games like Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2, Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and Super Mario 3D Land. In fact, he's the man behind the idea of the three-day cycle that made The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask so famous and well loved. Then there's Masahiro Sakurai, the figure behind Kirby, Super Smash Bros., and the excellent 3DS game Kid Icarus: Uprising. Now, to be fair, there's talking of a new IP from Mr. Miyamoto in the works, but if it is anything like Steel Diver, then I'm not holding my breath. The man is still a game design genius, but he hasn't done much in recent history to still be idolized like he's God's greatest gift to modern gaming.

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I no doubt struck a nerve with some of you (that wasn't my intention, though), so let me know what you think about this piece. Agree/disagree with my comments? Then share your own below. I look forward to reading your respectful thoughts.

Monday, May 21, 2012

SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs - Rock the Dragon Edition

Are you ready for SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs? If you're not, well, I don't know what to tell you. I'm doing it anyway! On this Monday's fine and stellar edition we have music from such great games like Metroid Prime, Mario Golf, and Blue Dragon. 

v111. Metroid Prime (GCN) - Phendrana Drifts


Quite possibly my favorite area in any Metroid game, Metroid Prime's Phendrana Drifts is an icy, snowy, winter wonderland full of awe-inspiring architecture and perils. You wouldn't expect so much danger when this gentle, flowing song plays. Kenji Yamamoto provides the music for Metroid, and his ambiance-filled tracks make the series all the better for it, wouldn't you say?

v112. Mario Golf (N64) - Boo Classic


The latest in Mario's popular line of sports games, Mario Tennis Open, released yesterday in North America with Japan and PAL releases to follow later within the week. Mario Golf remains one of the best Mario sports entries to this date. Even though it only has six courses to tee off of, the holes are so well-designed that you will keep coming back to the game. Boo Classic is a theme by Motoi Sakuraba, and the course takes place high above a pale white stretch of sand. Move over, Yanni, Sakuraba-san knows how to compose great golf music, too!

v113. Blue Dragon (360) - Mechat Takes Off!


Hironobu Sakaguchi left Square Enix early this millennium to focus on a new studio, Mistwalker. Their first project was the Xbox 360 exclusive Blue Dragon. Akira Toriyama (Dragon Ball) provided character design while the incomparable Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy) penned the music. Mechat Takes Off! is the airship theme of the game. It is a guitar-filled, hope-filled piece that lifts the spirits just like an airship taking off into the skies.

v114. Gundam Battle Assault 2 (PS1) - BGM 1


Gundam Battle Assault 2 is a lesser known PlayStation One game that came out near the end of the system's life. It was a 2D fighting game that combined the universes of various Gundam series like Mobile Suit Gundam, Gundam Wing, and at that time the newest entry in the Gundamverse, G Gundam. The songs for Gundam Battle Assault 2 do not have titles, so I (as well as the YouTube video uploader) had to improvise. BGM 1 is so creative of a title, no?

v115. Dragon Ball: Final Bout (PS1) - Hero of Heroes


Continuing our dragon-inspired edition of the VGMs, the original version of Dragon Ball: Final Bout is a relatively rare PS1 game. My brother and I just so happen to have it in our collection. It's an okay 3D fighter that spans the whole Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, and Dragon Ball GT sagas, but there are much better ones out there. The game would be re-released as Dragon Ball GT: Final Bout later on down the road. I do enjoy the music for the game such as the track I have selected to represent Final Bout, the theme of Super Saiyan Goku 4, the pulse-pounding Hero of Heroes.

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We must bid my VGMs adieu once more. It won't be a long wait for the next edition, however. There we will have music from titles like SimCity 3000, Perfect Dark, and Kingdom Hearts! I hope you look forward to more marvelous music.

007 Legends (PS3, 360) New Trailer

The James Bond movie franchise is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and Activision is also celebrating with their October release of 007 Legends, a game set within six famous Bond movies. The first movie represented is the kooky Moonraker. I am a huge Bond fan, so this game seems like a must-have for me. SuperPhillip Central will additionally be joining the 50th anniversary fun with reviews of several Bond games and various lists.

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