Friday, September 21, 2012

The 50 Best Nintendo Wii Games - Part One

Generally when I see people say that the Wii's library is one of the worst of any mainstream console, I can only roll my eyes so far to the back of my head before pain sets in. It's just a lazy, thoughtless, misguided statement. Unless one's tastes are severely limited, there is no excuse for such a comment.

The Nintendo DS had its turn for the past five weeks, now the Wii is getting its share of the spotlight as the system is approaching the end of its life as Nintendo's main console. The console has one of the most diverse lineups of software. There's really everything except the Western RPG, I believe -- platformers, action, adventure, shooters, puzzle games, JRPGs, open world games, and so on and so forth for Wii owners to enjoy. So for every vocal minority that says the Wii has few games worth playing, there is a title that appeals to most people, and a library with loads of undiscovered and well known treasures to find. This list of fifty of the greatest Wii games details just that.

Once again, I remind people that only North American releases will be listed here. Sorry, Fatal Frame, Disaster, and Pandora's Tower fans.

Super Mario Galaxy


Super Mario Galaxy is without a doubt one of the greatest platformers of all time, showcasing brilliant ideas and ingenuity in nearly every facet of its design. Taking Mario and friends into outer space, the final frontier, where no plumber has gone before, Super Mario Galaxy utilizes planetoids both large and small to increase the platforming possibilities exponentially. The game also uses a new smart camera that generally focuses on the action in wondrous ways, without the need for the player's interaction like in past 3D Marios like Super Mario 64 and Sunshine. Then there is the fabulous soundtrack, mostly sporting a 50-person orchestra, never before seen in a Mario game before. Super Mario Galaxy isn't one of the top-rated games of all time for no reason. It is absolutely fantastic in every regard. 

Super Smash Bros. Brawl


Not a fighter in the traditional sense, the Super Smash Bros. series focuses on knocking someone out of the ring rather than simply knocking them out. Super Smash Bros. Brawl delivered not only on compelling gameplay (sorry, competitive players), but it also delivered on fan service. Containing characters, stages, and music (the latter being composed and arranged by over 35 unique video game music composers), Super Smash Bros. Brawl is essentially a love letter to fans of Nintendo, with stages from Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Kirby, Pikmin, Kid Icarus, F-Zero, Star Fox, and the list goes on and on. But it's not just for Nintendo fans and nostalgia-lovers solely. No, the fighting mechanics are simple enough for anyone to learn, but they are mighty tough to master. Case in point: Super Smash Bros. Brawl is one of Nintendo's beefiest games, and it possesses enough content, replay value, and action to last you for generations... or until the next Smash Bros. arrives.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii


Mario is back, but this time he's not alone. One of the best selling games of this generation, and rightfully so, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Mario is joined by Luigi and two Toads to rescue the Princess. Of course, you can play the nine worlds (one bonus) of the game alone, but with friends and family, things get all the more hectic, and all the more fun. Star Coins that were once difficult to get alone could be grabbed by a partner doing an amazing suicide leap. But multiplayer alone isn't what makes New Super Mario Bros. Wii so enticing and enchanting. No, the level design in some of the best seen in a 2D Mario. Each level showcases a new concept. From erupting sand geysers to use as platforms to cross bottomless pits to swimming in bubbles that float within dry air, each level brings something new to the table, and makes an already exciting game all the more exciting. New power-ups such as the Ice Flower, Penguin Suit, and one of my favorites, the Propeller Mushroom, liven things up as well. New Super Mario Bros. Wii isn't a ho-hum Mario game. It's an essential Mario game, and one that is essential for fans of the franchise.

Metroid Prime Trilogy


A must-have collection for Metroid fans, Metroid Prime Trilogy is an out-of-print collection of all three Metroid Prime games (Prime 1, Echoes, and the Wii's Corruption) given the Wii treatment with what I consider to be supremely superior controls in comparison to the original two Primes. The pointer aiming is second place only to a keyboard and mouse in accuracy and enjoyability. They alone are worth the price of admission and reliving Metroid Prime 1 and 2 all over again. These two titles almost feel like completely different games, and that is a good thing. Outside of the new controls, an achievement system was implemented, allowing players to earn tokens to obtain artwork, music, and even the Fusion Suit for Metroid Prime, originally only available by linking a Game Boy Advance with Metroid Fusion inserted in it to a GameCube. Additionally, Metroid Prime Trilogy had lessened load times, 16:9 capabilities, updated visual textures, and increased special effects. If you're looking (and can find for a reasonable price) this excellent compilation, do not hesitate to pull the trigger... or whatever you do with Samus' Arm Cannon.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword


With some of the most impressive motion controls ever implemented into a video game, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is one of the most satisfying Wii experiences on the market. The near 1:1 swordplay offered new challenges to the combat. You had to smarten up and be quick on the uptake in each confrontation, especially with enemies that could damage you if you attacked incorrectly. Some claim that the controls don't work and the game is awful for it, but some of these people are the same types who "waggle" their way through everything. Skyward Sword altered the formula for the Zelda series quite a bit. It featured a world of puzzles and exploration that extended outside of dungeons and onto the various overworlds. Following Super Mario Galaxy's lead, Skyward Sword's soundtrack mostly consisted of fully orchestrated themes. I consider Skyward Sword's score to be one of the best the Zelda series has ever seen, and the game itself is tremendous in its own right as well, pending you try to learn the controls and be capable with them.

Xenoblade Chronicles


After almost a two-year wait and an online campaign for the game, Xenoblade Chronicles finally reached North American soil, though with the caveat of being exclusive to Nintendo's online shop and GameStop. Regardless, Xenoblade is what I consider to be one of the best RPGs this generation, Japanese OR Western. The world of the game takes places on the bodies of two deceased titans, and these are enormous giants much like the world Shulk and the gang traverses. Gaur Plains alone spreads out so far and is so expansive that you might think you were playing an offline MMORPG. Coincidentally enough, the creators of Xenoblade Chronicles have in the past compared the world they created to such a game. Introducing a real-time battle system, the ability to earn experience through not only slaying monsters but through completing quests and finding new areas, and the time-saving feature of being able to warp to any previously visited destination, Xenoblade Chronicles rights many wrongs of past RPGs. It's an experience many thought was impossible on the modest in power Wii. Those in a state of discontent with current JRPGs should definitely check out this extremely competent 50+ hour quest.

Wario Land: Shake It!


A platformer from a series that was in hibernation for approximately seven years, Wario Land: Shake It! (known as Wario Land: The Shake Dimension in Europe and simply Wario Land: Shake in Japan) is the series's first console installment. If the gorgeous hand-drawn art style doesn't grab you (it's fantastic even in standard definition), the gameplay certainly will. Each level has Wario plundering it for treasure, found in bags that must be shook, and diamonds placed in hard-to-find/reach areas. The true fun comes in trying to complete the game 100% as just running through the 15 or so levels of the game won't last too long, even if you find all of the treasure chests. Getting 100% involves finishing off all of the game's challenges such as running to the goal within a set amount of time (requiring the player to learn the best route to do so), not getting hit within a level, not entering a body of water, and so forth. Alongside the vivacious visuals is a stellar soundtrack that hits all the right notes and contains an abundance of genres like rock, funk, latin, and new age. Wario Land: Shake It! features a splendid art style and the gameplay to back it up.

Kirby's Return to Dream Land


What I love about the Wii (well, one of the things I love about the Wii) is the renaissance of 2D platformers it brought to systems. Kirby's Return to Dream Land is another of such games that brought back 2D platformers to the spotlight. Like New Super Mario Bros. Wii before it, the latest Kirby game (the second one on Wii) offered four person cooperative multiplayer. Unlike NSMB Wii, however, all players shared a life pool, so one player could drag down the entire team. That notwithstanding, Return to Dream Land is one of more impressive and enjoyable Kirby platforming titles around. The levels and worlds are superb, supporting plenty of secrets, trouble spots, and devious designs. The addition of Kirby's Super Abilities means the pink puffball can unleash even more of his pent-up rage onto his opponents as well as come across portals to another dimension. These sections of the game have Kirby (and friends) being pursued by a purple cloud that if it touches the player, it automatically defeats them. These tense sections break up any monotony of the game, though there is hardly any repetition within the game. And those who claim Kirby's Return to Dream Land is a cakewalk have obviously not played the Extra campaign.

Excite Truck


While not the best in the series to me (a later game on this batch of 50 Nintendo Wii games will take that crown), Excite Truck was a Wii launch arcade racing game with loads of fun. The game wasn't simply content with you winning the race. No, no. You had to score stars while doing so through pulling off various stunts like spins. Acquiring enough stars in a given race allowed you to move forward to the next, but if you wanted that all-coveted S ranking, you'd have to trick out immensely and (generally) win first place. Excite Truck featured terrain that could be transformed through passing across certain icons. If you timed it just right, the track could transform while a competitor was jetting across, sending them rocketing way off course or into the air. Excite Truck was one of the first all-motion control games on the Wii, and it worked remarkably well. Through tilting the Wii remote, you steered your monster truck (you started out with only three, but could unlock many more). You could boost to speed past your opponents, but you could overheat if you held the throttle for too long (going through water or letting the booster rest would allow you to cool down). Excite Truck is a significantly entertaining racer, and I hope, I just hope, Monster Games is working on a Wii U equivalent.

Boom Blox Bash Party


You might be thinking, "SuperPhillip. Dude. All of these games mentioned so far are first or second-party ones. Where are the third-party games?" Well, that's a question many Wii owners throughout the console's life asked. They were greeted with shovelware and C-team efforts most of the time by developers who were caught with their pants down regarding the Wii's success and their heavy investment on the HD consoles. That said, don't worry. There will honestly be plenty of third-party efforts within the 50 best Wii games. Boom Blox Bash Party (and its predecessor Boom Blox, for that matter) is yet another great Wii game. It is a physics-based puzzle game featuring over 400 puzzles where you throw a limited supply of balls at towers to earn points, carefully pull blocks from a teetering tower Jenga-style, and other various activities. Two new environments with their own physics, underwater and outer space, joined the party, and originally there was the ability to download and share created levels (EA has since taken down the servers for the game). Still, what you'll find with Boom Blox's sequels is a party that is quite frankly a blast, alone or with family and friends.

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Speaking of parties, ours has just begun with the Nintendo Wii. Ten more terrific titles for the Wii will be posted next Friday. If you need more of a bash, check out the past five weeks of articles where I listed my favorite Nintendo DS titles:

The 50 Best Nintendo DS Games - Part One
The 50 Best Nintendo DS Games - Part Two
The 50 Best Nintendo DS Games - Part Three
The 50 Best Nintendo DS Games - Part Four
The 50 Best Nintendo DS Games - Part Five 

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

21 Fantastic Gaming Commercials

After looking at 21 terrific gaming commercials, then stopping by for 19 more, we have reached some fantastic gaming commercials. 21 to be exact. These commercials are clever in their marketing, they show off the product well, they have a multitude of game footage, or they're just edited awesomely. Perhaps this look at 21 more gaming ads will tickle your fancy and make you remember a commercial or game you forgot about.

Note: These commercials are all from the States. Feel free to share commercials from outside the U.S. 

Note 2: To save everyone from lots of loading, the actual videos are linked to as opposed to embedded on this site. Click the name of the ad to get to the video. I apologize ahead of time for YouTube comment sections.

World of Warcraft (PC)


Several years ago there was an advertising campaign for World of Warcraft featuring such celebrities as Ozzy Osbourne, Chuck Norris, William Shatner, and the subject of this particular commercial, Mr. T. I could definitely believe that Mr. T can code and create his own mohawk character class, Mr. Condescending Director. While I have no experience with MMORPGs at all, much less World of Warcraft, I pity the foo' who doesn't at least crack a smile through watching this humorous ad.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (3DS)


The legend is reborn. My favorite game of all time in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time gets even better with all-new features and a heavy visual upgrade. This commercial for the game renders several memorable events from Link's seven year quest such as Princess Zelda's tossing of the Ocarina of Time as she and her humble protector Impa make their escape from Hyrule Castle; and the battle between Link and Ganondorf within the villain's castle. The glasses-free 3D is just gravy to the delectable mashed potatoes that is Ocarina of Time 3D.

Super Mario 3D Land (3DS)


As I said in my September 2012 Nintendo 3DS Playtime Results feature, I recently got back into Super Mario 3D Land. Perhaps it was the hunger for more Mario after New Super Mario Bros. 2, but certainly this commercial did the trick as well. It shows off what I perceive to be a teenager jumping and running through a real world Mushroom Kingdom. Pipes and blocks stand within his neighborhood, spiked balls chase after him down a road, and floating platforms rest high above the busy intersections of the city as this young lad leaps across them. It really gives a good sense of what Super Mario 3D Land would be liked if placed in the real world.

New Super Mario Bros. (DS)


When I see someone say that Mario only sells because of nostalgia and that all of his games are the same, I laugh at their willful ignorance. That's like saying Call of Duty, Halo, Medal of Honor, Battlefield, and whatever else you can think of are all the same because they all have guns and shoot people. It's just a lazy and thoughtless argument. However, New Super Mario Bros. does want to hit that nostalgic nerve as this advertisement clearly shows. What else would it be doing as it displays the original Super Mario Bros. and transforms it into the DS game after Mario nabs a mushroom? It is cleverly done and I appreciate it.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)


The final commercial of Nintendo of America's wildly successful "Wii would like to play" ad campaign, Super Smash Bros. Brawl's ad depicts the two Japanese Wii guys infiltrating an electronics store and offering up some Wii goodness in the form of the brawl to end them all. A group surrounds the four players battling one another for supremacy. They should have chosen Meta Knight as I here that dude is top tier! Regardless, I prefer the fan service of Brawl over the competitive spirit of Melee.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (PS2, XBX, PC)


Rockstar Games certainly has a mastery of how to create an effective an uber-cool commercial/trailer. This GTA: Vice City ad just permeates coolness and gives those who lived through the 80s a sharp sense of nostalgia. A Flock of Seagulls' "I Ran (So Far Away)" being played over the ad certainly helps matters. The whole commercial reinforces the idea that gaming can be a truthful way to tell a good story. We just haven't seen that in many games in the past. I think Vice City is one of those games that does it remarkably well.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (PS2)


This game is now also available via the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection which is available on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PlayStation Vita; and also on a botched Nintendo 3DS port called Snake Eater 3D. Regardless, this ad is for the PlayStation 2 original. While it doesn't show much in the way of gameplay, it does show off the types of cutscenes that the Metal Gear Solid series is well-known for, for better or for worse. It is edited well, and the voice over actor does a splendid job giving the already dramatic commercial even more drama.

God of War (PS2)


Clips of the action of God of War set across ancient ruins make for a commercial that titillates PlayStation gamers. The commercial features the female narrator throughout the myriad of God of War mainline games and spinoffs. We are left with the beginning of a clash between Kratos and the current God of War, Ares.  

God of War II (PS2)


A storm is brewing, and it is about to make its presence felt throughout Athens. After usurping Ares as the God of War, Kratos has taken his crown. But Zeus isn't happy with this turn of events and looks to absolutely eviscerate Kratos. This ad displays a heap of action from this excellent sequel, with shots of Kratos digging into the eye of a cyclops and clawing alongside the face of the Colossus of Rhodes. If this doesn't get you interested in God of War II, nothing will.

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (PS3)


This commercial came right before the Kevin Butler series of ads that outwore their welcome long after Sony's marketing team pulled the plug on them (still waiting on saying good riddance to Flo from Progressive). It is the ad for Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. It showcases the type of action-adventure hijinks that Nathan Drake is always somehow finding himself involved in. The funny part obviously comes when Drake's walkie-talkie goes off, prompting him to say "It's for you," and then throwing it at the nearest thug. Then, something that more commercials need to have - actual gameplay footage - is shown in all of its gorgeous glory.

Darksiders II (Wii U, PS3, 360, PC)


From an ad with plenty of gameplay footage to one with zero, this fully CG ad gives a taste of what players can expect when they take control of Death, one of the Four Horsemen, in Darksiders II. From saving a father and her daughter before they are picked off by a demon to entering the depths of Hell, there is plenty of eye candy to view in this ad. It's just a shame that the game sold just over 250,000 units in the States despite reportedly needing two million units to break even. Nah, this industry's current business model isn't broken at all.

Saints Row: The Third (PS3, 360, PC)


I don't know what "In Saints Row Trick" means, much like I don't know what a "Hollaback Girl" is either. Nor do I know how "you don't know you're beautiful. That's what makes you beautiful" is supposed to make any sense at all. I'm just not that hip. Nonetheless, Saints Row: The Third has it all. Sex appeal? Got it. Big explosions? Got it. Humor? Check. Catchy song? Sure thing. Gameplay? You know it. "Out GTAs GTA" comment? You betcha. What all of these pieces of the commercial add up to is an impressive picture in the form of an effective ad.

Resident Evil 5 (PS3, 360, PC)


Though a minority might consider the game to be a severe disappointment, I think most of us can agree that this advertisement for Resident Evil 5 nails the adrenaline-inducing gameplay of the title really well. Yes, it may seem cliche to have an orchestral backing to coincide with the action, but darn it if I said it didn't sell people on the game. The power of advertising at work, people. Live to deal with it, or suffer feeling sore in your nether regions for the rest of time.

Ratchet & Clank series (PS2)


This YouTube video is actually a series of commercials spanning throughout the Ratchet & Clank PS2 titles. They all feature some little punks screwing around with toys that they have no right to be touching. Those are obviously meant for furry lombaxes and not high school dropouts who work at McDonald's. Regardless, this line of ads was incredibly funny and showcased many of the stellar weaponry of the Ratchet & Clank franchise.

Pokemon Snap (N64)


Catching Pokemon on film is a snap in the Nintendo 64 game, but when you're out a safari with a dolt as your expedition guide, things become rather complicated. For instance, these Pokemon in this ad are quite crafty. It's either that or the safari guide is quite stupid. Perhaps it is a combination of the two. I particularly like the pudgy married couple simply looking like they've never seen a camera before. Well, I guess the same can be said for the dopey guide.

Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land (GBA)


A remake of Kirby's Adventure, Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land's U.S. commercial features a take on "Secret Agent Man" but with varying accompaniment and of course lyrics. I think what I like the best about the ad is a two-part affair: 1) The catchy song with clever lyrics, and 2) The cuteness of Kirby being exhibited. It shows off Kirby's numerous abilities like Sword, Ice, Tornado, Spike, among others really well.

Kirby's Return to Dream Land (Wii)


From a nightmare in Dream Land to a return to Dream Land, Kirby's second Wii escapade was a traditional Kirby title, as opposed to Kirby's Epic Yarn. But this time around Kirby didn't have to take the fight against baddies alone as he could be joined by up to three other familiar faces like King Dedede, Meta Knight, and Waddle Dee. Not only does this commercial explain that, but it shows tons of gameplay footage. You'd have to have no heart to not have your heart melt by the adorableness of this game. Hugs for everyone!

Mario Party (N64)


There ain't no party like a Mario Party, and there ain't no party like someone being taken into custody by the cops either - especially when it is Mario. Isn't he too old to be hanging out with a bunch of kids who like they're Hanson (remember them?) rejects anyway? These trivial questions aside, this charming commercial gets Mario taken away by the police as he says "But it's-a me, Mario!" I'm sure he can get a good lawyer with all that Nintendo money coming his way. I know when I saw this commercial in middle school, I believe it was, I wanted the game badly. Then the game's analog stick circling mini-games hurt my thumbs badly.

Mario Party 6 (GCN)


Poor Bowser. All he is trying to do is fit in, and these little rat bastard children keep giving him a hard time. Sure, it's funny and amusing to put hot sauce on his toothbrush and draw on his face, but do you know what that does to a Koopa's self-esteem? In any case, like the original Mario Party commercial, this ad is quite charming, too. It is funny and it shows a good amount of gameplay for Mario Party 6.

Mario Superstar Baseball (GCN)


There were three different U.S. commercials for the GameCube's Mario Superstar Baseball. One features Bowser doing his best to overcome the evil that is the pitching machine. Another shows Mario at the keys of the baseball stadium's organ. And the final one displays a poor unfortunate buttmonkey of the franchise continuing to have his car pelted by baseballs. Alone these commercials are humorous, and together they created an amusing ad campaign for Mario's first trip to the diamond.

Wii Sports Resort (Wii)


Our final ad is a particularly convincing ad regarding Wii Sports Resort and Nintendo's then-new Wii MotionPlus peripheral, what we have here is a splendid showing of how real life human gestures are conveyed rather splendidly by the on-screen Mii characters. Whether you're playing archery, basketball, swordfighting, or one of the other activities within Wii Sports Resort, the commercial successfully shows that your movements will supposedly be tracked well. If Nintendo's marketing department can pull off commercials as persuasive as this for the Wii U, they have nothing to worry about with concern to the casual population that the Wii and DS attracted.

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I hope you have enjoyed this third glimpse at some of my favorite gaming commercials of years past and present. Join me tomorrow where I will be listing the first batch of the 50 best Nintendo Wii games.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (PS3, PSV) TGS 2012 Trailer

The Tokyo Game Show continues to be the site of impressive games. The latest is the newest trailer for PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, Sony's Smash Bros.-style game. It certainly looks like a capable and competent game, and I eagerly await its November release.


Monster Hunter 4 (3DS) TGS 2012 Trailer

The Tokyo Game Show is in full swing, and with it comes new trailers. Monster Hunter 4 has been given such treatment, and the anticipation for the game is at a fever pitch in Japan. This trailer shows off the beautiful landscapes, vistas, and of course monsters the game contains. The hunt will be on in 2013.


September 2012 Nintendo 3DS Playtime Results

While some consider achievements to be a "must-have" feature of any platform, I am more in the camp that cannot do without some form of activity log. The Wii has this in an imperfect form via the Nintendo Channel, but the Nintendo 3DS elevated this idea with detailed time and play records of every 3DS game and application. It has been five months since out last look at what Nintendo 3DS games the SuperPhillip household has been playing. Let's see how much things have changed!

10) Theatrhythm Final Fantasy (16:54)


To start this look at what we've been playing, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy marches to a beat of its own drummer, probably Nobuo Uematsu, and gave me (my brother won't touch rhythm games) a dose of fun nostalgia. Though nostalgia alone doesn't make a good game. No, the entertaining gameplay - yes, even the grinding - makes for an experience that is quite endearing. Mastering a song is such an awesome feeling, and the track selection with five songs being added as DLC on an almost weekly basis is terrific too. When I last left Theatrhythm, I was grinding for a special color of crystal shard to unlock Sephiroth into my collection of Final Fantasy all-stars. Darn these new games and their forcing me to turn my attention to them rather than games I was enjoying immensely!

9) Tales of the Abyss (17:39)


I generally have trouble getting into RPGs because I just don't have the time to fully invest in them to get to the ending. With new games coming out, meaning new games to review, new articles that need to be posted, and now college in session, time is money. Well, money is money, but you know what I mean. Tales of the Abyss might have an abhorrent story (it's great if you have no taste - just kidding, but I don't care for the story and characters), but its battle system is terrific and its towns and dungeons are fun to explore. Let's face it -- most video game stories are poor, so why should a game driven by cliches and anime aesthetics be any different? The fact of the matter is that the gameplay is something that I like, so when I get the time this holiday season, I will definitely go back to this title! I promise!

8) Swapnote (19:12)


Some people have abandoned Swapnote. "It was fun, but it's too limiting." I can't argue with that, but Nintendo still gets me with the new stationery, and several of my friends still use the application (this is the only non-retail item on this list) on a daily basis. Yes, Nintendo needs to implement an honest to goodness real and traditional messaging system, but Swapnote is an entertaining distraction all the while. Fun fact: I have yet to receive a photo of someone's junk yet. I haven't even seen a drawing of a person's junk as of yet. I hope my 3DS friends aren't reading this article... Nonetheless, Swapnote will most likely continue to slowly grow in playtime minute by minute just like the Activity Log itself.

7) Mario Tennis Open (20:49)


The first of three Mario games on this list of ten titles, and one with an average playtime of 2:36, Mario Tennis Open was a disappointing entry to many. I personally find the online system to be absolutely indefensible. Any game where you lose points for winning is absolutely asinine. Regardless, I really dug earning new gear for my Mii, new costumes from satisfying certain conditions within the game, and grinding for coins in the four (only four?!) mini-games. Mario Tennis Open is as arcade-y a tennis game as you can find. Serious tennis enthusiasts need not apply. While I would prefer a more traditional take on tennis for all further entries, this installment of Mario Tennis gave me plenty of enjoyment on the court.

6) Golden Sun: Dark Dawn (25:01)


The only original Nintendo DS game on this list now is Golden Sun: Dark Dawn. I invested a lot of time into this relatively remarkable RPG. I liked revisiting the world of Weyard, seeing old faces, new challenges, the memorable battle system, clever puzzles, and lovely locales. To put things in perspective, Dark Dawn still holds first place for average play time at 3:34. That means for all 25 hours of playtime with the game, I only played the game seven times! Crazy! How did I even do that with the battery life problems of the original 3DS? Seriously.

5) The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (25:33)


Since it's appearance on this list at number one in April of this year, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D has since fallen to fifth. That will definitely happen when one doesn't play it from then until now. And I was doing so well, too. I was on my second playthrough and was about to enter The Bottom of the Well dungeon, a creepy place infested with Keese, Redead, Gilbos, and that disturbing midboss. Nonetheless, I rank Ocarina of Time 3D as my favorite game of all time. I get questioned why I didn't give the game a perfect score then when I originally reviewed it. I must admit that my opinion that the small problems I had with the game and the fact that it was a port affected my review. If I went back and revised it, it would certainly be up there in score (though, 9.5 is nothing to sneeze at) -- ghosting problems notwithstanding.

4) Super Mario 3D Land (27:58)


I just recently got back into a desire to replay Super Mario 3D Land. No doubt New Super Mario Bros. 2 affected my decision and hunger to play this modern classic. I returned to the game and was playing like I had never taken a hiatus. I knew the locations of nearly every Star Medal, I was Tanooki Tailing foes like no other, and I was speed-running levels with relative ease. It was like riding a bike. I might have been rusty at first, but you never forget. Well, perhaps that is a bad analogy as I never learned how to ride a bike. Regardless, I realize that the first eight worlds are just the appetizer to playing the true meal, the special eight worlds where the difficulty jumps quite high.

3) New Super Mario Bros. 2 (36:48)


Speaking of appetizers, time and time again I have mentioned that New Super Mario Bros. 2 was the appetizer to the main course which is New Super Mario Bros. U. I've said it so much that I made a stamp with the exact words written on it. While the lazy argument is to call the game a rehash, an argument that takes as much effort as crapping one's pants during a bout of diarrhea, New Super Mario Bros. 2 shows off anything but lazy ideas with its brilliant level design. Clever Star Coin and hidden exit placement is abundant, requiring the player to explore every nook and cranny of the game's over eighty levels. Constantly are new mechanics being tossed into the level design to surprise and delight players. And before you ask, yes, my older brother and I reached the infamous one million coin threshold, and the reward for it that we both knew we were getting was still disappointing.

2) Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance (41:17)


People have asked me what difficulty I usually select when I try out a game. I can never give them an honest answer because it always depends on the game. For Kingdom Hearts, I knew I wasn't very good at the series's fast and frenetic combat as evident by Birth By Sleep. So I opted to try out Beginner. I had a thumping good time with the game, but my thirst for something more challenging calls on me to try the normal mode, which conveniently my older brother is currently trying to plow his way through. While I beat the game at around 23-25 hours, my brother is having a slower go of things, obviously because of the difficulty increase. I definitely need to try a new data as I never did obtain all of the treasures within the title.

1) Kid Icarus: Uprising (66:35)


And here we are with the number one most played 3DS game out of the 92 titles currently being tracked by our Activity Log. It is none other than Kid Icarus: Uprising. Who knew a game that in April would have the pithy gameplay total of 16:49 would grow up to claim top honors with no contest? Well, probably me because I knew if I could get my brother interested in playing, he'd become hooked. And for a while he was. We both have played a copious amount of hours with the game, running through chapters, completing Treasure Hunt challenges (think achievements but instead of an arbitrary number they give you worthwhile prizes), and duking it out online against humans and AI alike. This is indeed a classic I can return to, and it's one of the more impressive 3DS games on the market today.

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As I stated, it's been a long time since we last looked at what games have been most played on SuperPhillip's 3DS (my friends call me Phil). If you have forgotten (I know I did) the results from the last three occasions of this segment, look no further than these three links:


Comparing and contrasting what games are still there and which ones have been overtaken is quite fun to me!

But what about you? Which 3DS games are your most played? You need not go into detail like I did, but I am interested to know which titles have been inside your 3DS game card slot the longest! Let me know below in the comments section.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Top Ten Most Anticipated Wii U Games

Last Thursday, Wii U fever officially hit and the hype is palpable. Whether it's because it is a new Nintendo console or because the current generation has long outworn its welcome, Wii U pre-orders are selling out across the nation. And that is without the more casual gamer not even being marketed to yet.

Regardless, a lot of information and games were revealed at Thursday's media event for the Wii U. This list encompasses the ten titles I am most excited for with regards to the console's launch window lineup of approximately fifty games promised. The fun of these lists is comparing and contrasting what games differing people are interested in, so after you check out my list, post yours.

10) Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed


It sort of rubs me the wrong way when people say that Sumo Digital, the team behind this kart racer, took the idea of transforming karts from Mario Kart 7 and hate them for it. Even if this were true, what is so wrong with taking a preexisting idea and fine-tuning it to make it better? Nothing, that's what. That's how some of the finest games and gaming ideas come to fruition. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed blazes onto the Wii U with gyro steering, a map on the Wii U GamePad, and the bonus character of Miis, to join the all-star cast of Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Nights, B.D. Joe (Crazy Taxi), Vyse (Skies of Arcadia), Beat (Jet Set Radio), and Gilius Thunderhead (Golden Axe), to name a handful. What is noticeable with the Wii U version that might be able to be worked out before release is the framerate drops present in various demo footage. Even if it isn't, I'll just look into an alternate console version. The original All-Stars Racing was a wonderful kart racer, outpacing Mario Kart Wii by a good margin (no blue shells every lap certainly helped), so that's why I look forward to this title, regardless of the platform.

9) Scribblenauts Unlimited


The Scribblenauts series returns, and this time it sports its fourth entry in the franchise on Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, and PC. The main objective of collecting Starites through completing various tasks is present and accounted for, but this time rather than exploring individual segmented levels, the whole world is one expansive series of connected levels. For the first time in Scribblenauts history, the reason for Maxwell's desire to collect Starites is finally revealed with a narrative. It is also the first time the franchise is hitting a console. From Super Scribblenauts (DS), the adjective system is present, but this time around multiple objects can be combined into one. So if you ever wanted to spawn a horse with skis, now is your chance. The customization doesn't end there either. You can edit objects with the in-game tools to make them different colors or grow them larger or smaller. These objects are able to be saved, with the Wii U iteration allowing for hundreds upon hundreds of objects to be saved, stored, and even shared with friends via online functionality. Super Scribblenauts expanded the possibilities of the series exponentially, and Scribblenauts Unlimited is looking like it is going to do the same.

8) Lego City Undercover 


Lego City Undercover, originally called Lego City Stories, is a Nintendo-published title from TT Games. Expanding on the open city idea of Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, Lego City Undercover borrows several ideas from the aforementioned game. Chase McCain, the protagonist of the game, has a flurry of abilities such as pole-vaulting, wall jumping, using disguises to obtain new powers, and being able to enter vehicles such as automobiles and helicopters to get around Lego City. The Wii U GamePad has been revealed to have one main use outside of the helpful map of the city: it can be used to scan the perimeter for criminals for Chase to... well... chase. Lego City Undercover has the potential to be a big seller for the Wii U's launch. It may not be tied to a specific license this go around, but it has the power and brand of Lego behind it, a sprawling city to explore, and the series's trademark sense of humor.

7) Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate


If you needed any knowledge that Nintendo was serious about taking over the Japanese market, look no further than this launch title for the Wii U in Japan. Known as Monster Hunter 3G HD in Japan, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate will be coming to the West in March of 2013 across both the Wii U and the 3DS. Players can take their character from the 3DS game, import them into the Wii U game, and vice versa to continue building upon them. Unlike the 3DS game, however, the Wii U version of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate will allow for players to take the thrill of the hunt online worldwide. After the agonizing teasing and being led on by Capcom of America employees, it is sensationally nice to know that Monster Hunter is once again coming to the West.

6) Rayman Legends


I must admit that Rayman Legends was once higher up on this list of anticipated games before, but after hearing that "a good portion" of single-player will be an AI Rayman being assisted through levels by Murfy via the Wii U GamePad (see this video for that comment), the bubble of hype sort of burst. Now I'm not going to say that I am completely writing off the game or some typical cliche gamer overreaction, but I am more weary of the game. However, exactly what "a good portion" constitutes is up for interpretation. Anyway, Rayman Legends is a jaw-dropping gorgeous game. It is one of the most impressive looking titles I have seen in an artistic sense. Watching the rhythm levels as Rayman makes careful jumps in time with the music to survive made me especially giddy. I am cautiously optimistic for this game. I just hope Ubisoft didn't overly cater to the novelty of the Wii U GamePad and actually did make a competent 2D platformer.

5) Pikmin 3


Now this is a title that might actually be outside of the Wii U's launch window, but nothing concrete has been said, so I'm sneaking it on this list anyway. Pikmin 3 appears to have obvious development ties to the Wii, perhaps being worked on on Nintendo's previous system before being ported over to the Wii U. Regardless, Pikmin 3 is a nice looking game. It features at least two new Pikmin types: Rock Pikmin and some kind of pink flying Pikmin type that was quietly shown in a developer demo. The Rock Pikmin are much heavier than other Pikmin types, enabling them to smash through glass such as the armor of the boss in the Pikmin 3 E3 2012 demo. Instead of controlling two captains, Pikmin 3 has players controlling four. Curiously, Captain Olimar is nowhere to be found within the demo. Maybe he's just taking a well needed vacation to rest his muscles after his appearance in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Maybe not. I'm just being cute. Nonetheless, I look forward to Pikmin 3, regardless of whether it makes the Wii U launch window or not.

4) ZombiU


Ubisoft goes full circle with their standout Wii U launch game, ZombiU, a title that is a reboot of their very first retail game. Rather than being some good looking, well-conditioned hero like Resident Evil 6 (not saying that that's a bad thing, just offering a contrast), ZombiU casts you into the role of an anonymous survivor, battling the zombie horde within the confines of London, England. Utilizing the Wii U GamePad to aim weapons, unlock doors, and most importantly, insert and remove items from your survivor's bag (this happens in real time, so be sure you're 100% away from zombies during this process), ZombiU is survival-horror personified. If you are bitten by a zombie, your survivor will permanently be (un)dead. You will then switch to a new survivor who will have to find and retrieve the lost bag of loot and weapons from the now undead survivor. It is an interesting premise, but Ubisoft on Nintendo consoles does not have the best reputation of nailing mechanics and games. Will this be a must have game for Wii U owners, or will it be the next Red Steel (I'm sure those interested in ZombiU are sick to death of that comparison)? We won't have to wait long to discover the answer for ourselves.

3) The Wonderful 101


It seems with this game, The Wonderful 101 (formerly the tentatively titled Project P-100), and Bayonetta 2, Nintendo and Platinum Games are becoming quite close with one another. The Wonderful 101 has a band (well, massive band) of superheroes as they duke it out with a colossal alien invasion running amok within an urban metropolis. The game is essentially a quirkier Pikmin (if such a thing can exist). Through using the Wii U GamePad, you can control your collection of heroes and order them into various formations and forms, such as a giant sword or shot-reflecting gelatin. Not only are these forms fantastic for battling baddies and bosses, but they are also great for interacting and solving small environmental puzzles, like activating bridges and climbing up ladders. Hideki Kamiya once again assumes the role of director, and that beyond anything else has me really stoked for The Wonderful 101.

2) Nintendo Land


This is one of those titles that I have turned my opinion of it around on massively. The decision to make Nintendo Land the closing title of Nintendo's E3 2012 press conference made many gamers, Nintendo devotees included, scratching their heads and even spewing hateful bile. I was one that had my head turned in confusion. This was the marquee game? But as the months grew on and the games that Nintendo Land is comprised of have been revealed along with some of their features, I have - dare I say it - anticipation for this game. Much like Wii Sports was essentially a tech demo (a terrific one at that) for the features of the Wii, Nintendo Land is a demo of the features of the Wii U, most notably the Wii U GamePad. Titles like The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest, Metroid Blast (which showcases an awesome Gears of War-esque horde mode) and Mario Chase display the asymmetric gameplay of the Wii U while games like Donkey Kong's Crash Course and Balloon Trip Breeze display some of the features of the Wii U controller itself, like the gyro and touch controls. I am particularly impressed with the cohesive arts and crafts style of all of the games, and I look forward to collecting stamps a la Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort. Apparently others look forward to the entire package as the Deluxe edition of the Wii U with the game included in it has sold out in many places across the nation.

1) New Super Mario Bros. U


One of my favorite genres is without a doubt the platformer, so it seems obvious that New Super Mario Bros. U would take first prize on this list. Taking the standard Mario story and turning it on its head, instead of Bowser capturing the princess in normal fashion, Bowser and the Koopalings chuck Mario and friends out of Peach's castle where the King of the Koopas is holding her hostage, meaning Mario and company must make their way from far away back. I was worried that with two New Super Mario Bros. games being developed and released in the same year that there would be a feeling of sameness, but comparing New Super Mario Bros. 2 and New Super Mario Bros. U is like night and day. The games differ drastically and each offer something distinctive from one another. Mario has never looked so good in 2D before, and the addition of the new art style for backgrounds (glorious, glorious backgrounds), different colored Yoshis with different abilities, alterations to the typical level tropes of recent 2D Mario games, a unified world map, Boost and Challenge modes, and the always enjoyable multiplayer mayhem that I adored in New Super Mario Bros. Wii make New Super Mario Bros. U one of the killer apps for the Wii U's highly tempting and intriguing launch.

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You might notice that I left out games like Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Assassin's Creed III, and probably the greatest omission of all, Bayonetta 2. For the latter, I got my fill of entertainment of the game from the embarrassing reaction of people against the game being a Wii U exclusive. I personally don't care much about it (didn't get into the original), but obviously many people do by the humiliating amount of sheer console zealotry and death threats. As for Black Ops II, I am really interested in how the online will be integrated into the game; it will be a prime example of the Wii U's online infrastructure, and while it's cool being able to play the game solely on the Wii U GamePad, I'm sort of Call of Duty'd out. Finally, Assassin's Creed III is from a series that I have a love and hate relationship with, so I'm on the fence with the third mainline installment. I hope I have explained myself clearly on my reasons for omitting these three titles. It's just that the ten I listed excite me much more.

So there you have ten really good reasons for being enthused about the Wii U's upcoming launch. Perhaps the most appealing aspect to me is, as noted in my Call of Duty: Black Ops II explanation, being able to play many of the games on the Wii U GamePad exclusively while something else is on the TV screen. Then again, another aspect that is exciting is the fact that Nintendo's IPs, which looked glorious on the Wii for the most part, will now be in high-definition for the first time. We'll see if the system and its launch window lineup satisfies and pans out well, or if the console will have a rough go of it when it is released in North America on November 18th.

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