Saturday, July 7, 2012

Announcing Our Newest Affiliate: Nintendo Kingdom!


There are no shortage of places to get news of Nintendo games and consoles. However, many lack the personal touch of Nintendo Kingdom, SuperPhillip Central's newest affiliate. As soon as you enter the site you see a bombardment of beautiful colors and interesting stories to read. I welcome Nintendo Kingdom to the quality-filled affiliate list of 25 strong.

Heroes of Ruin (3DS) Demo Impressions

If you live in Europe and already have Heroes of Ruin, then these impressions most likely won't mean all that much to you. For those outside Europe and/or don't own the game, then sit back, relax, and read the relatively brisk impressions of the demo.

For the uninitiated, Heroes of Ruin is a loot action RPG, a genre that doesn't often get represented on handhelds. Well, n-Space has heard and read the demand, and they have developed this game for starved 3DS owners.

At first, you choose between two classes of characters (the full game will have four available to you). One class is a bipedal lion who utilizes up close sword attacks. The other class is a long range gunner, armed with two firearms to blast at foes. There is some customization to be had. You can set the skin tone, hair style, hair color, and cape color for your character. After this, you are whisked away to the name input screen where you can be xCoolGuyx or Awesome77 all you like.

You then get the choice between starting an offline or online game, or choosing to join someone else's game. Joining a game can be difficult if you try to barge into one that has three out of four spots full as the rooms fill up rather fast. It's best to join a room that's 1/4 full and go from there.

There is only one mission/level/dungeon/etc. in the demo, The Tangled Growth, an introductory area set in a heavily wooded and bushy forest. You interact with NPCs, the forest spirits, as well as to investigate certain quest-related objects using the L button.

Speaking of quests, talking to the aforementioned NPCs will give you quests on top of the main one of vanquishing the boss within the forest dungeon. There were a good handful of side quests to partake in, from destroying three mystical statues guarded by increasingly more aggressive enemies to finding eight wood spirits, strewn all about the level. Completing these not only gives you a neat piece of equipment, but you also earn a high amount of experience points.

Experience is gained through finishing off quests and slaying enemies mercilessly who stand in your way and wish to make your time in The Tangled Growth anything but pleasant. Enemies will also drop money, items, and equipment that can be sold or automatically equipped with a press of a direction of the d-pad. When a level is gained, you can use points to upgrade your stats: attack, health, and energy for magic. In the full version of the game you can have your character progress through a skill tree, learning unique abilities depending on the path they take.

The lion's "mane" source of offense is his sword.
The controls of Heroes of Ruin work relatively well. You attack with the B button. You can just tap it to attack or hold it to perform a charged blow. However, you're quite vulnerable whilst charging. Blocking is accomplished through holding the R button, and you can roll out of harm's way with taps of the R button as well. Special moves can be used with the other face buttons. However, these use parts of your energy meter, located on the bottom right side of the top screen. Your health meter is on the left side, adjacent to your energy meter. Health and energy can be filled with red and blue potions respectively that are found through smashing pots and other environmental objects. The maximum amount you can have for each is fairly high, and considering how plentiful they are, death really doesn't happen all too much in this early dungeon. And if you do die, you just respawn at the last checkpoint (a glowing stone embedded in the ground) you reached.

The environments of The Tangled Growth are remarkably detailed. Flowers bloom, roots cover the ground, and lighting effects such as sunlight breaking through the forest canopy are impressive. The 3D effect is really nice on the eyes, too. From my three runs through the dungeon, each run had a totally different design of where rooms were. Plenty of enemies can fill the screen (the most I saw was six or seven), and even with four players the slowdown was not overly apparent.

"On the count of three we'll draw, partner. ..3."
With four players online the game continues to be enjoyable. Players can pretty much go wherever they want; they don't have to stay together. This makes beating a dungeon hard in the demo, however, because without voice chat (no worries, it's in the final game), you can't tell your fellow adventurers where to go. Considering you all must be together to face the boss, this can be problematic. Online you have players messing about, running in circles, trying to attack one another in vain, and other odd behavior as you begin to impatiently wait to face the boss. Regardless, I can see this being great fun with friends you know from real life or an online community.

It remains to be seen if the full version of Heroes of Ruin will be as interesting as the demo is. There are better loot RPGs available on other platforms, but don't take that as a knock towards Heroes of Ruin. This is an entertaining game built on the limitations of the 3DS hardware, and it will no doubt find a niche with the 3DS user base. RPGs are in scarce supply on the system, so I'm sure those thirsting for a new one to play will make it their personal quest to pick this game up pending there is a competent end-game, plenty of replay value, and no bizarre design choice within the full game. SuperPhillip Central will be keeping an eye for the retail version of Heroes of Ruin when it releases in North America on July 17th.

Come Tweet With Me, Let's Tweet, Let's Tweet Away.


In my efforts to make SuperPhillip Central a more competent website (sort of hard to do that when you're me) I have not only purchased a new domain name and added all of the affiliates to the sidebar, I joined the so-called Twitterverse. Come follow me (but not too close, you stalkers) for updates on SuperPhillip Central such as new articles, interviews (yes, interviews), and reviews! Who needs to F5 this site constantly in desperate need for a new read? Am I the only one that does that? ...Never mind. You can even tweet back with the special widget in the sidebar, just below the two polls! I hope to share the fun of tweeting with all of my readers. Best wishes towards the future,

Friday, July 6, 2012

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (PS3) Two New Character Trailers

Notice something different at SuperPhillip Central? If you used the old link, you probably didn't, but try www.superphillipcentral.com. Cool, huh?

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (what a mouthful!) releases October 23rd in North America, and I will be on it like Parappa the Rapper on a fire hydrant. Two new characters have been announced at EVO, the grandest fighting video game tournament of them all. First, comes Heihachi from the Tekken series. He is followed by Toro Inoue, mascot of Sony of Japan. These two fighters bring the pain with their varying styles of combat as you can see for yourself in the pair of videos below. Will you be getting your fight on with Sony's all-stars come October 23rd?



Spider-Man: The Movie (PS2, GCN, XBX) Retro Review

The Amazing Spider-Man premiered in theaters across North America this past Tuesday, so it seems appropriate for this retro review. Plus, July is Retro Review Month here at SuperPhillip Central. It all fits together so beautifully! We start the celebration of all things retro and all things webhead with this review of Spider-Man: The Movie. Is it good? Is it bad? Is nostalgia a jerk? We'll find out!

Play the Official Game of the Official Movie 
With the Official Spider-Man


The month and year was April 2002, more than a decade ago now. The movie world was all abuzz with the upcoming release of the Spider-Man motion picture directed by Sam Raimi of Evil Dead and Darkman fame. The movie would tell the origins of Spider-Man and the Green Goblin as well as introduce notable characters like Mary Jane Watson, Harry Osborn, Uncle Ben, Aunt May, and J. Jonah Jameson, Peter's boss at the Daily Bugle newspaper. Spider-Man lit up the box office and was a smashing success worldwide. The game that accompanied the release of the movie came out a week or two before the film debuted, but like the movie, my memories of the game don't quite hold up as well as I once thought they would.

Spider-Man: The Movie loosely follows the plot of the big-budget Hollywood film. It takes some creative license, of course, to extend the length of the game to something acceptable by adding in alternate scenarios featuring fabled webhead villains such as Shocker, Vulture, and Scorpion. If you've watched the actual movie, you should be familiar with the story of the game it is based off of. It begins with Peter Parker in his amateur-made Spider-Man costume-- what, with its ski mask and long-sleeved shirt and all-- hunting down his Uncle Ben's murderer, and the game concludes with the final battle against the Green Goblin. In the middle of the game are the aforementioned creative license parts which pad out the game considerably.

Once the game gets into the swing of things,
you'll still end up disappointed.
When I think of Spider-Man I think of sprawling outdoor cityscape playgrounds for the web brain to swing around in. Spider-Man: The Movie does not have an abundance of these scenarios. There are a handful of outdoor levels to partake in, but the majority of the action takes places indoors. Now, when I think of when Spider-Man does have to go indoors, I think of the terrific PlayStation, Nintendo 64, and Dreamcast Spider-Man game which handled indoor and outdoor areas splendidly. Spider-Man: The Movie spins out in this aspect among many others.
Who needs to go to a museum when you
can admire the art in the subway tunnels?
For one, the camera is absolutely terrible in these claustrophobic sections. And moving the camera while walking? Forget about it. For some reason you continue walking in the direction you were moving in when you turn the camera instead of being able to move in a different direction like, say, Super Mario 64 or any capable 3D game, for that matter. It makes movement a tremendous hassle. It's a shame because the actual web-slinging is commendable. You can zip up walls quickly, dangle from ceilings onto foes, and cross large periods of air in a swift pace. You feel in control for the most part.

Just hanging around.
But then comes the unfortunately unresponsive combat controls. Punching, kicking, and shooting web all feel too loose for their own good. Combat feels extraordinarily clunky. Things get even more frustrating when the game throws gobs of goons at you. Cycling between enemies is way too slow, and you seldom get to target the foe you want to. This is impossibly difficult when you're facing ten thugs, two or three of which are using high-powered handguns to blast you with. It'd be fine if you could always rely on your web techniques like spraying webs on your hands to increase your pummeling power, or encasing yourself in a web dome to defend yourself, but you have a limit on how much web you can use before running out and needing to find a blue spider token to refill it. Combat is simply an inexcusable mess.

There are over twenty levels to complete in Spider-Man: The Movie. You'll be taken through the New York City skyline, through subway tunnels, and a burning clock tower along your way to stop part of the webhead's rogues gallery in the game. As you play through each level, you can nab gold spider tokens that unlock combos for Spidey to utilize in battle. Most of these tokens are hidden in or on out of the way areas. There are also plenty of secret areas to find. Discovering these areas give you an end of level point bonus. You can also get points by beating enemies as well as not taking any damage at all in a given level. What do these points do, you ask? Points accumulate over every level, and as you reach certain thresholds, you unlock new in-game content like new costumes, secret CG movies, and even a fun little distraction called Webhead Bowling.

Air combat fares a little bit better than ground combat.
I've said plenty of negative things about the Spider-Man: The Movie game. Regardless, something good I can say about it is that the presentation is rather solid. Publisher Activision and developer Treyarch spared no expense, even getting Tobey Maguire and Willem Dafoe, the actors who play Spider-Man/Peter Parker and Green Goblin/Norman Osborn respectively, to once again assume their roles in the game. Their voice acting, especially Willem Dafoe's, is of a high quality. They don't sound phoned in as you might expect that approach from a big Hollywood actor doing voice work on a video game. From voices to music of Spider-Man: The Movie, the soundtrack is comprised of several riveting symphonic melodies and heroic fanfares. Most of it is forgettable, but it perfectly suits the Spider-Man character. Meanwhile, the visuals of backgrounds, buildings, and indoor areas hold up somewhat well. What doesn't, however, are the character models outside of Spider-Man and a token amount of villains. Faces look extremely muddy and blurred, characters have gloves for hands, and animations are all over the place in quality.

Don't mind me, I'm just your friendly
neighborhood Spider-Man.
Spider-Man: The Movie is a video game that suffers the fate of many licensed movie games before it; it just isn't that good. The combat controls leave loads to be desired, the camera in indoor areas is laughable, and the irritation will just leave many in a simply flustered state. Even the most diehard Spidey fan should make reservations before plopping down any cash to play this game. Better yet, if you want a full Spider-Man experience, play the superior Spider-Man 2 or the PS1, N64, and Dreamcast Spider-Man games. Both options are some of the best the comic book hero has been involved in. My verdict of Spider-Man: The Movie can be summed up with a quote by the lovely Mary Jane Watson, "Face it, tiger, you just missed the jackpot."

[SuperPhillip Says: 4.0/10]

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Virtual Console Wishes: Titles I Want to See (GB/GBC), Part Two

Last Thursday I posted the first of hopefully many articles listing Virtual Console games I would like to see on Nintendo platforms like the Wii, upcoming Wii U, and 3DS. Since there are so many Game Boy and Game Boy Color titles to look into, I just had to make a second list of eight other games I'd love to be able to play on my 3DS. Let's see if you guys agree with any of them.

Super Mario Bros. Deluxe (GBC)


There are just so many times you can play the original Super Mario Bros. Yes, it's a classic, but when the game is released and re-released on every imaginable Nintendo handheld and Virtual Console service, things can become taxing. Super Mario Bros. Deluxe is the ultimate Super Mario Bros. experience. It takes two games: Super Mario Bros. and after the former is beaten, Super Mario Bros. for Super Players (aka Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, aka Super Mario Bros. 2 in Japan) is unlocked. That's 64 unique levels to play through. Add in red coin hunts and Boo races, and you have the meatiest and best version of Super Mario Bros. available.

Pokemon Gold/Silver/Crystal (GBC)


The sequel of the original trio of Pokemon games throws in a hundred or so new Pokemon, a new land to explore, new gym leaders, new trainers, color, and new features into the fray. While I've played Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver, I have never played the originals they were based off of. Shame on me. I don't even remember why I skipped this generation. But like I said in last week's Virtual Console Wishes with Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow, there's the little caveat about trading Pokemon between games. Nintendo isn't known for going all out on their Virtual Console service with bonus features, so I don't know if the trading function would be worked up by the company for the Virtual Console release-- if it ever were to come.

Final Fantasy Legend trilogy (GB)


The Final Fantasy Legend series on the Game Boy is sort of a misnomer. It really isn't a Final Fantasy trilogy of Game Boy titles at all. In fact, it is branded in Japan under the SaGa series. It was just renamed in the West to better market the franchise. The first Final Fantasy Legend game was not only the first RPG on the Game Boy, but it was also then named Squaresoft's first million seller ever. The trilogy of Final Fantasy Legend games are true classics on the platform, and I think the GB originals should have a chance to shine on Nintendo's 3DS Virtual Console service.

Mega Man V (GB)


Mega Man V is quite unlike the five classic Mega Man-themed titles on the Game Boy. Instead of recycling Robot Masters from the NES games, Mega Man V sports all-new planet-themed robots such as Mercury, Neptune, Saturn, and Pluto. Like Mega Man IV before it, players could earn currency to purchase items from Dr. Light's laboratory to help them out. Mega Man V is considered quite rare outside of Japan, so a Virtual Console release would definitely help people like me who don't want to emulate the game illegally and wish to play the game. And just a note: This pics shown above are from the Super Game Boy.

Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble (GBC)


Another game I haven't yet played, Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble continues Nintendo's tradition of making experimental Kirby titles with varying gameplay in each. Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble used accelerometers in the game's cartridge for players to tilt the Game Boy Color in numerous directions to send Kirby rolling through maze-like environments and stages. This would be perfect for the 3DS as the system itself has accelerometers built inside of it. Hidden in each stage is a secret star for players to collect. Only through collecting all of them can the game's secret ending be viewed. A 2001 release, Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble came out when I wasn't into the Kirby franchise (being younger and on limited income certainly didn't help matters), so I'd love a true chance to play the game on a 3DS. Otherwise I'll just have to track down a physical copy.

Pokemon Pinball (GBC)


There is no shortage of pinball games available on the eShop, but how many can say that they star cute and cuddly Pocket Monsters? None of them. I answered that for you. Pokemon Pinball features two boards: red and blue, with different objects to score mad points on for each. The part of the game that separates it from other pinball titles is the fact that you can collect all 151 Pokemon through the process of catching or evolving them. The two minute window for each makes things tense, and I remember the physics not quite being perfect. Regardless, Pokemon Pinball took a pretty large chunk out of my time when I played it on the old Super Game Boy. I would love to return to it on the 3DS.

Mario Golf (GBC)


A tremendous adaptation of one of my favorite golf games period, the Nintendo 64 Mario Golf, the Game Boy Color version of Mario Golf set itself apart from its big brother by having a story mode with RPG elements. As you progress through the game and complete rounds and mini-games, your custom golfer earns experience to boost his or her stats. Outside of the story are tournaments to reach the top of the rankings on, match play rounds to unlock new characters with, and other exciting aspects of this portable golf game. Many hours of your life will be spent enjoying one of the greatest handheld golf titles in history.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Radical Rescue (GB)


Players begin this third and final TMNT on Game Boy game as Michelangelo. His objective to free his shell-napped brothers from the clutches of the sinister Shredder. This 2D platformer requires players to switch between turtles to pass various obstacles as each turtle has his own unique ability. Michelangelo can hover over gaps by using his nunchuks as a helicopter, Leonardo can drill through floors, Donatello can scale walls like a true ninja, and Raphael can enter inside his shell and move through otherwise too narrow spaces. The numerous rooms offer exciting challenges. Speaking of challenge, I remember this game being pretty difficult in later areas. Of the three TMNT Game Boy games, Radical Rescue is the one I'd pick as the best.

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That wraps up my picks for Game Boy and Game Boy Color titles I'm interested in Nintendo putting on their 3DS Virtual Console service. Again, if you missed the first part of this article, check it out here. And check out all my special articles and segments in the SPC Feature Catalog right here. There's literally over a hundred unique articles right at the click of your mouse!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Rank Up! - PlayStation

Happy Fourth of July, America. After digesting two barbequed hot dogs, my hunger may be satiated, but my thirst for blogging today isn't quite quenched. Enter Rank Up! Last month's Central City Census asked what your favorite PlayStation platform was. We got a lot of votes as the PS2 barely squeaked out a victory over the PS3. However, you might be wondering what my personal opinion on Sony's video game machine series is. No? Well, you're going to get it anyway. Rank Up! is where I list a franchise or series of items and list them from least greatest to greatest. The subject of this installment is all about PlayStation. Let's not jump the gun, though. Let's see what I'll be ranking:

PlayStation
PlayStation 2
PlayStation Portable
PlayStation 3
PlayStation Vita


In 1995, a new competitor entered the video game console hardware space to counter the efforts by Sega and Nintendo. After a falling out with Nintendo involving a CD-Rom add-on to the Super Nintendo, Sony decided to develop a console of their own, led by Ken Kutaragi who would be later known as "the father of the PlayStation." After hundreds of millions of consoles sold later, the PlayStation brand is a true juggernaut in the gaming space. Live in your world, play in PlayStation's indeed. Note: The rankings will not be considering backwards compatibility in the ordering of these platforms. 

5) PlayStation Vita


It's obvious that the platform that came out less than a year ago would start us off, and it's not even a bad platform either. The ultimate in power portable, the PlayStation Vita sports a spectacular 5" OLED screen, dual analogs-- a first for a handheld, rear touch support, and Sixaxis technology built directly inside the system. The launch game-wise was one of most impressive launches ever with games like the newest entries in the Uncharted, Hot Shots Golf, Wipeout, and Katamari franchises. My problem with the Vita stems from the idea that the system seems to be on life support (or is that Vita support?). Currently, Sony is not being proactive in selling or even getting games for their fledgling platform while it just lonely lingers on store shelves and in portable purgatory. The Nintendo 3DS had a chance to turn around its successes (or lack thereof) because consumers and fans alike knew that Mario and Pokemon would eventually be coming and it had a dramatic price drop. Sony doesn't have a Mario or Pokemon equivalent, and a price drop seems impossible for the struggling company at this stage. I'm hoping for more support for the system eventually because as it stands, the future isn't looking too bright in an age where smartphones and tablets are slowly killing off the market for dedicated portables.

4) PlayStation Portable


The best-selling competitor to one of Nintendo's handhelds, the PlayStation Portable has sold upwards of 70 millions units. The system had a wide screen, gorgeous display, face buttons, two shoulder buttons, and yes, an analog nub for 3D games. One of my favorite features of the PSP is the ability to shut the system off mid-game, turn it back on, and pick up right where you left off. The lineup of the PSP is truly tremendous, full of engaging games. I'm talking about first and third-party exclusives like Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee 1 & 2, Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, the Monster Hunter series (which skyrocketed the system's success in Japan), Phantasy Star Portable 1 & 2, LocoRoco and its sequels, Dissidia: Final Fantasy, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, Resistance Retribution, Star Ocean: Second Evolution, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Jeanne D'Arc, Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection, LittleBigPlanet, Patapon, Mega Man: Powered Up, and so many more. Nonetheless, even with all of these terrific titles, piracy really killed the system's chances in the West as most software sales were pithy compared to other platforms. It's sad as I have stated that there are so many exquisite titles on the PSP for owners to indulge in that were deserving of loads of sales. They just didn't get them outside of Japan.

3) PlayStation 3


Sony's current console, the PlayStation 3 had an inauspicious launch with a lack of compelling games and a huge price tag. However, things turned around for the system as more games released, the platform's online service evolved to something akin to Xbox Live (but thankfully free), and sales which are now rivaling the Xbox 360. Sony has put out their best first-party efforts with the PS3, with such exotic and fantastic new franchises like Uncharted, LittleBigPlanet, Resistance, inFamous, ModNation Racers, and the upcoming The Last of Us. PSN offers a wealth of downloadable titles, full retail games for downloading, and demos for forthcoming titles. The addition of trophies brought forth many PS3 owner desires to fully explore each game they play, and the bonus of the PS3 being a Bluray player (at the time one of the cheapest on the market) was also a plus. In 2009, a Slim version of the console was released with less technical problems and more storage. And while the PlayStation 3 has been great for gamers, it hasn't been so much for Sony. At the start of the PS3's life Sony was selling the system for over a $200 USD loss per system. This made them bleed money to the point that rumors say that they effectively blew nearly all of the money they made in the PS1 and PS2 eras. 

2) PlayStation


The system that started it all, while Nintendo was making the move to 64 bits and the continued use of cartridges to eliminate long loading times, Sony was busy with a console that read compact discs. Sure, the ability to play audio CDs was a nice bonus, but it was the games that truly set the system apart. It was the original PlayStation, a console that cemented Sony as a major player in console manufacturer arena. The PlayStation was the first, but most certainly not the last home console to sell over 100 million units worldwide. The console was the place to be for third-parties who brought their "A" game to the platform. Such titles like Final Fantasy VII, VIII, IX, and Tactics, Chrono Cross, Xenogears, Vagrant Story, Wild Arms, Mega Man 8, Mega Man X4, X5, and X6, Klonoa: Door to Phantomile, Gran Turismo, Hot Shots Golf, Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, Tomba!, Jet Moto, WipEout, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Resident Evil, Dino Crisis, Ape Escape, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, and The Legend of Dragoon are just some of the fantastic titles one can experience on the very first PlayStation. The controller for the PS1 was so perfect that each successor to the system has-- for better or worse-- used the same archetype and build with minimal upgrades. Many series made their start on PlayStation, and it is such a ground-breaking platform that it is hard to not rank the system highly on this list. Note: The version shown above is the sexy PSOne model, not the original.

1) PlayStation 2


But even the original PlayStation cannot hold a proverbial candle to the king of PlayStation platforms, the PlayStation 2. While the system started off relatively slow in the market, it quickly gained a swift pace and high sales. The fact that it was one of the earliest (and cheapest) DVD players for consumers to purchase definitely had something to do with it. But of course, hardware does nothing without competent software, and the PS2 had that in spades. Many games and series from the PS1 era made the jump to the more powerful PlayStation 2 like Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid, Dragon Quest, Mega Man, Castlevania, Resident Evil, Silent Hill, SoulCalibur, Gran Turismo, Hot Shots Golf, and more, but with the PS2 era came entirely new franchises, some of which are still around to this day. I'm alluding to popular series like Kingdom Hearts, Devil May Cry, Monster Hunter, Ratchet & Clank, Jak and Daxter, Sly Cooper, Katamari Damacy, Singstar, among many, many others. In 2004, four years after the PS2's release, the system received a new Slimline model. It was much smaller, thinner, and quieter than its big brother. To date, the PlayStation 2 has sold more than 150 million units worldwide But if the impact and extraordinary sales status of the PS2 still isn't quite clear to you yet, be floored by this: Even 12 years after the console's launch, the PlayStation 2 is still getting new games. One of the most successful systems in gaming hardware history, the PlayStation 2 is without a doubt the best PlayStation platform currently in existence.

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So now that you know my rankings of the PlayStation platforms, what comments do you have to share with me and your fellow readers? Do you agree with my order? Did you enjoy this edition of Rank Up? Let your voice be heard below.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Top Five Superheroes

The Amazing Spider-Man releases in the United States today. In fact, it had a midnight release with thousands of theaters showing the movie. To celebrate the occasion I am manufacturing this top five list of my favorite superheroes of all time. Obviously, SuperPhillip would be number one, so I'm leaving him off the list to be fair. Regardless, superheroes have ignited our imaginations with their otherworldly powers, intellect, and skills. This list of five individuals or teams of superheroes remain my favorites.

5) Green Lantern


Green Lanterns are characterized by their green and black outfits and, more importantly, the power ring each one possesses. Over many decades there have been many different Green Lanterns. From the very first popularized Lantern, Alan Scott, to the most recent being Kyle Rayner. The power ring grants its wearer as much ability as their willpower and creativity. One can emanate and project giant green fists, force fields, and weights to drop upon foes. Each Green Lantern takes a solemn oath to serve and protect. The most modern one goes something like this:
In brightest day, in blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight
Let those who worship evil's might,
Beware my power, Green Lantern's light!!!
 4) The X-Men


A group of mutants who continually try to help a humanity that loathes them for being different, the X-Men are a team with multiple members of varying powers. Professor Charles Xavier founded a home for mutants at his mansion for studying and having them learn to nurture and ultimately accept their powers. The comic book series introduced plenty of memorable characters such as Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm, Jean Grey, Colossus, Magneto, and Sabertooth, for starters. I think the X-Men series appeals to people outside of the standard "ooh, cool powers" thing because many people can relate to feeling like outcasts and sympathize with the team. Oh, and they do have cool powers, too.

3) Superman


Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound... It's Superman, number three on this list. His home planet of Krypton exploding at its core, Kal-El's parents send a young Superman away from harm. His ship crash lands in a Kansas wheat field where he is discovered and later adopted by a farmer and his loving wife. Given the name Clark Kent, the young boy soon develops superhuman strength. With his maturity he decides to help humanity as Superman. He's seemingly invincible, can melt iron and steel with his heat vision, can put out fires with his ice breath, but his weakness to Kryptonite has almost done him in several times in the past, as Lex Luthor certainly knows all too well. Superman is such an outstanding character and superhero because he still remains relevant despite there being 70+ years since his introduction to the world. That is truly something remarkable.

2) Batman


Batman is such a fascinating superhero to me because he's one of the only superheroes who does not have any superpowers. No heat vision, no power of flight, no breathing underwater. He just uses his detective skills, intellect, and various bat gadgets to save the day. Batman doesn't do this for no good reason either. As a young boy his mother and father were shot in cold blood right in front of his eyes. From then on he vowed to be a protector of the innocent who couldn't save themselves. While Bruce Wayne is an eccentric billionaire extrovert, Batman is quite brooding and introspective. One of the main reasons I adore the character is because of the 1990s Batman: The Animated Series. It also helps that the character's rogues gallery is quite intriguing, featuring villains like The Joker, The Penguin, The Riddler, Two Face, Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, and The Scarecrow.

1) Spider-Man


My personal favorite superhero is a mere teenage boy when he starts out. Misunderstood in high school as a student as well as when he dons his spandex suit, Spider-Man is a character I can relate to. When he is bitten by a radioactive spider, Peter Parker grows from scrawny to buff overnight. He originally uses his newly found powers for personal gain, but when a crook that he let go ironically moves on to murder Peter's precious Uncle Ben, Parker then lives by his uncle's wise words of "with great power comes great responsibility." Who doesn't love the idea of swinging around Manhattan, jetting across the skyline, over busy city streets, and yelling, whooping, and having the time of your life while doing it all? Like Batman, I also adore the rogues gallery of this character with such scoundrels as Doctor Octopus, Green Goblin, Scorpion, Shocker, Mysterio, Vulture, Carnage, and Venom? The sum of these reasons is my answer as to why Spider-Man is the best superhero in my book. He's just incredibly interesting as a character.

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Who is your favorite superhero of all time? Have you gone and seen The Amazing Spider-Man in theaters yet? If so, how did you like it? Let the SPC community know below.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Donkey Kong (GB) Retro Review

I have decided that July is Retro Review Month here at SuperPhillip Central. Seeing that the release schedule for new games has slowed to a crawl and that I have the burning desire to review some games, it only makes sense to do this. We're starting the month off immediately with a review of the Game Boy classic, Donkey Kong, originally released in 1994. 

One of Gaming's Earliest Rivalries Revisited


Donkey Kong is synonymous with gaming, although a little than the popular plumber Mario is. Before the world moved on to Rareware's Donkey Kong Country in 1994, a title bearing the original Donkey Kong's namesake and gameplay was being released in the summer before DKC came out. It was Donkey Kong for the Game Boy (sometimes referred to as Donkey Kong '94 for simplicity's sake). More than just a port of the arcade juggernaut, Donkey Kong on the Game Boy was a massive improvement on the classic formula, and one many players positively went ape for.

A misconception with the Game Boy version of Donkey Kong might be that like the arcade, NES, and other versions of the game on previous systems, the Game Boy iteration is just another port. That could not be any further from the truth. It certainly can seem like it is as the first four levels are plucked straight out of the arcade game. However, after those initial four have been completed, the game opens up considerably to completely new, uncharted territory with loads of new levels, mechanics, and objectives.

After the original four levels are finished, you enter a new form of level for the Donkey Kong series. These have you needing to open a locked door with a key. While the standard Donkey Kong levels have you utilizing your platforming prowess only, these lock-and-key levels emphasize precision jumping as well as mental gymnastics. The whole line of thinking of how you will carry a key from its resting place to the locked door is an interesting dynamic and adds a puzzle element not seen before in a Donkey Kong game (and it most certainly won't be the last time we'd see this either). The key can be thrown to platforms above you, across chasms, and can even defeat certain enemies.

In Donkey Kong, gameplay is literally "key."
Each set of four levels in the game's ten worlds features a new gameplay mechanic for Mario and the player to use as well. Certain blocks can temporarily spawn a ladder or horizontal platform for Mario to climb or run on. Switches can open and shut doors as well as change the direction of moving platforms (from up and down to down and up) and conveyor belts. Sometimes enemies can be used as platforms to reach higher places or to push Mario through narrow gaps that he'd otherwise be unable to pass through. There's also hanging wires that Mario can either use to cross over large pits or to spin off of, reaching taller altitudes. There's no shortage of new objects like springs, vines and enemy-defeating, block-busting hammers, obstacles like strong winds and icy, slippery platforms, and dangers like egg-dropping birds and bottomless pits for Mario to discover and overcome.

Mario with a hammer is a mad man.
Mario himself is quite the acrobat this go around; somewhat a predecessor to Super Mario 64's move set. Mario has the ability to walk on his hands. This feat is absolutely necessary for later Donkey Kong levels where falling barrels can only be stopped by Mario's shoe soles. You can also be running in one direction and quickly flick the d-pad to the other and hence perform a higher-than-normal somersault. Unlike walking on Mario's hands, this technique isn't required for beating the game, though it does have its helpful uses. Mario does have a lot of athletic maneuvers in this game, but his capability to fall from high heights hasn't carried over from Super Mario Bros. 3 or Super Mario World. In fact, doing so results in smacking his body flat against the floor, resulting in death-- or at least one killer concussion. The game also makes things a bit challenging through only allowing Mario one hit before he bites the big one. This makes being cautious and careful paramount to one's performance. Of course, you can't be too cautious and careful either, or you'll allow the timer to reach zero, also resulting in a loss of a life.

Use the backs of these frogs to reach new heights.
Every four levels in Donkey Kong is a tussle with the main monkey himself. How the level is completed varies from each encounter. Some are typical affairs where Mario must navigate his way up a vertical space to reach the same altitude and platform as Pauline, all the while avoiding tricks, traps, and hazards that will put an unsuccessful end to his recovery mission. Others take the fight right to the angry ape by having Mario chuck idle barrels at Donkey Kong that the villain has thrown at Mario carelessly.

Go ape on this ape in these battle levels.
Extra lives are in great surplus in Donkey Kong, so you never feel like you're starving for lives. After a Donkey Kong level has been completed, the four levels you previously played have the times tallied. For every 100 seconds on the clock, you get a 1up (you also earn one life is there is any. By collecting all three unique items in a given lock-and-key level (such as a parasol, for instance), at the conclusion of the level you earn the right to play one of two 1up mini-games. One is a slot machine where the goal is to match or line up three specific icons in a row or to stop the wheels so a Mario face shows up. Depending on how well you do, you gain up to five 1ups. The other mini-game is a roulette wheel which unlike the previous mini-game, this one guarantees you at least one 1up. The roulette spins around a circle, and with a button press, it slowly stops on a 1up, 2up, or the rare 3up space. Then there's some levels that have a 1up placed in oftentimes a precarious location for Mario to nab. With all of these extra life opportunities, don't be surprised if you knock on the maximum cap of 99 near the end of the game.

The Game Boy version of Donkey Kong showcases plenty of catchy 8-bit tunes. It is nothing that will make you heavily desire to listen to the tracks outside of the game, really, but what is presented is serviceable and pleasing. The sound effects can range anywhere from good to grating. The visuals look decent considering the weak hardware the game is being presented on. Characters, enemies, and environments are very much distinguishable from one another, so you never have a problem with seeing where to go. Each level's background has a couple of characteristics which set them apart from others such as skyscraper backdrops and bushes. Overall, Donkey Kong on Game Boy is a pleasant looking and sounding title.

Donkey Kong is an excellent puzzle/platformer worthy of your hard-earned dollars. Whether you get a physical copy (to play on the Super Game Boy, perhaps? Hint, hint) or digitally download the 3DS Virtual Console version for a few dollars or so, the game will prove to you why many consider it to be in top echelon of Game Boy titles and a classic. The game's ten worlds will take you on a journey through forests, pyramids, and glaciers on you and Mario's quest to retrieve Pauline from the guerrilla gorilla's clutches. The game won't last too long-- maybe 4-5 hours for one play-through, but it's one that you will want to return to over and over again as the challenge both mentally and on your fingers is a fair and fun one. Go bananas with this perplexing and puzzling platformer.

[SuperPhillip Says: 9.0/10]

Project X Zone (3DS) New Trailer

Ten minutes of Project X Zone goodness. Can you stand it? If not, then why don't you sit down? Regardless of your body's position, you will no doubt enjoy the enemy juggling and strategic action of this game, due out in Japan on October 11th. Who knows if such a title is feasible for a release outside of Japan. I surely hope so as Project X Zone looks absolutely scrumptious.

SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs - Firework Frenzy Edition

The Fourth of July celebrates the United States' founding as its own entity and country. A typical Fourth consists of barbeques and fireworks, and while this edition of the VGMs has no BBQ food to be found, it does have fireworks of its own. On this week's installment we have music from F-Zero, Conker's Bad Fur Day, and Pikmin.

v141. F-Zero (SNES) - Mute City (Brawl Version)


Be prepared to see a lot of Super Smash Bros. Brawl arrangements and remixes on my favorite VGMs. That game and its flurry of popular Japanese composers did a wonderful job of re-imagining classic Nintendo songs from the company's extensive catalog. Composer Yasufumi Fukuda's Mute City arrangement is but one of these fantastic songs from Brawl which came from the original Super Nintendo F-Zero game. When the theme rocks out at 1:08, one can't help but be impressed and moved by the marvelous guitar riffs being showcased.

v142. The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (DS) - Realm Overworld


The DS entries of the Zelda franchise consist of heavily polarized opinions. Some, like myself, love both, while others hate the touch only controls. Spirit Tracks is criticized by some because of the train transportation around the world map. I happened to enjoy it, and I truly loved the accompanying music that joined you as you traveled along the high speed rails, this song. One of my favorite parts of the game was the dynamic between Link and Zelda, who served a much more important gameplay role than in any other franchise title. Koji Kondo, Asuka Ohta, Toru Minegishi, and Manaka Tominaga penned the soundtrack for this atypical Legend of Zelda game.

v143. Conker's Bad Fur Day (N64) - Windy (Overworld)


A song that sends you back to the roaring 20's with its jaunty jazz, Windy (Overworld) is a perfect example of the compositional geniuses that worked at Rare back in the company's good old days. The actual game was unlike the majority of Rare's 3D platformers as the only main thing to collect within the game was wads of money. Compare that to Donkey Kong 64 and the difference is night and day. Throw in one foul-mouthed squirrel (a complete change from his appearance in Conker's Pocket Tales and Diddy Kong Racing) and a game that hard-to-find, and you have Conker's Bad Fur Day.

v144. Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure (DS) - Banson's Aria


One of the boss encounters of Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure has you taking on a mezzo soprano opera singer aboard his stage. This is the theme that plays during that battle. Henry Hatsworth was a game developed by Dream Rift who would go on to create such intriguing gaming experiences like Monster Tale and the upcoming Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion. They certainly know how to develop some creative 2D platformers.

v145. Pikmin (GCN) - The Forest of Hope


This gentle melody and accompaniment encompasses you in the Forest of Hope, an area which with wildlife, nature, and pieces of Captain Olimar's Dolphin spaceship to collect. Olimar isn't alone, thankfully. He has the help of the local natives of the planet he crash landed on, the Pikmin, coming in three varieties: red, yellow, and blue. Whichever version of the game you get, whether it's the GameCube original or the Wii port, Pikmin is a modern classic.

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I hope all Americans enjoy the Fourth of July, despite half of the country being covered in dangerously hot temperatures for a lengthy series of days. As for everyone else, enjoy the week as you normally would. Until next time, check out the VGM Database for a full listing of songs you might have missed.

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