Friday, October 12, 2012

The 50 Best Nintendo Wii Games - Part Four

Over the past several weeks we have looked into and analyzed many Wii games. This fourth week of the best the Wii has to offer (in this writer's opinion, of course) enters into several well known franchises and lesser known franchises. The Wii is an often mocked console, called kiddy, casual, or whatever insult-of-the-day is considered cool by a vocal minority of gamers. This list of fifty terrific Wii titles is meant to show the console's library as quite competent and worthwhile. No, you won't just be seeing Mario and Zelda games on this list. The library is much more exhaustive than that as this list of fifty has proven. We now roll on to part four of The 50 Best Nintendo Wii Games. Which games have you played and enjoyed?

Metroid: Other M


An infamous title to Metroid diehards, but even if its plot, script, and cutscenes are under heavy fire by critics, I overall enjoyed this first game on the list immensely, Metroid: Other M. What I came to enjoy in the end was the brilliant gameplay with all-new never-before-seen melee moves in a Metroid game. The combat system was fast-paced and incredibly intuitive, and the ambiance was as good as ever with some great level design. Unlike past Metroid titles, Other M was a more linear affair, sort of similar in structure to Metroid Fusion. However, rather than be in 2D, Other M allowed Samus to explore in three-dimensional areas, albeit with a fixed position camera. At any time during the game, the Wii remote could be pointed towards the screen, entering the player into a first-person viewpoint where she could aim at enemies more easily and scope out her surroundings. Despite the linearity within the game, Metroid: Other M did open up quite a bit near the end, giving the player a marvelous sense of freedom as they explored the Galactic Federation Bottle Ship. New moves would be given to Samus or accessed with the word of her former commanding officer, allowing her to visit previously inaccessible areas. Missile tanks, energy tanks, and power bomb tanks were hidden all around the innards of the ship, giving the player a reason to explore. Metroid: Other M may have its missteps, but overall it is a quite competent game.

GoldenEye 007


A re-imagining of the 1995 GoldenEye movie as well as one of the Rare's classic and revolutionary FPS of the same name, Eurocom's 2010 effort, GoldenEye 007, transplanted Daniel Craig's likeness and voice over Pierce Brosnan's for the game. The game featured modified levels because of the updated story. What I love about first-person shooters on the Wii is the ability to point and shoot with the Wii remote. It feels much more precise than dual analog, but not quite in the same league as a keyboard and mouse combo. Regardless, if you don't care for the Wii remote/nunchuk combination, you can opt to play the game with the Classic Controller (Pro) or the GameCube controller. The multiplayer is still popular and frequented by many online to this day. Similar to the Call of Duty franchise, XP is gained for kills and performing various tasks, and players level up, allowing them new skills and weaponry. The offline multiplayer is available for up to four players with four different modes to choose from. Online, however, ups the available modes to nine. A PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 version would come out to their respective systems a year later, but good luck finding anyone to play against online; it's a ghost town.

Animal Crossing: City Folk  


The Wii edition of Animal Crossing was called Animal Crossing: City Folk, and it was an all-around wonderful game. You wouldn't think a game where you do chores and live your life virtually would be any fun, but Animal Crossing proves time and time again that this thought is wrong to most people. Catching bugs and fish, watering flowers to prevent them from perishing, paying off your debt to Tom Nook, expanding your house, decorating it with furniture, flooring, and wallpaper, chatting with your fellow villagers, participating in holidays, designing your own clothing, wallpaper, and flooring, and living every City Folk minute as a real life minute are just some of the activities that can be done in your individual randomly-designed village. The "City" in City Folk alludes to the ability to enter the city for various shopping needs. The game was the first online Wii title to be compatible with Nintendo's rarely used Wii Speak peripheral, offering voice chat for friends who visited your village via Wi-Fi. One of the most common criticisms with City Folk was how it was too similar to Wild World, the Nintendo DS entry in the series. Those criticisms were founded, as I feel that City Folk is a half step forward rather than a full step. That said, being able to play Animal Crossing once more on a home console with new features was something that I cherished greatly, and the 3DS installment of the franchise looks to actually reinvent the wheel somewhat with the entire Animal Crossing series.

Klonoa


A remake of the PlayStation 1 classic, Klonoa: Door to Phantomile, the simply titled Klonoa pushed the floppy-eared character's first adventure into new graphical heights on the Nintendo Wii. New to this installment included unlockable costumes such as Klonoa's attire from Lunatea's Veil, as well as much more difficult challenge stages for hardcore fans of the game. As someone who had never played the original Door to Phantomile, this Wii remake was a sensational, albeit relatively easy platforming romp. The game was played in a 2.5D perspective. Klonoa ran along a 2D plain, but the world around him was animated and rendered in full 3D. The game wasn't your typical platformer either. It had its own original mechanic to separate itself from the pack. Klonoa was equipped with a Wind Bullet, allowing him to shoot it out at a foe, and then grab the baddies over his head. He could then toss the foe forward or use it to double jump. The game's story was like the world of Phantomile, bright and bouncy, colorful and whimsical, but look out for that ending that comes out of nowhere! For a budget title that is far from feeling like a budget affair, check out Klonoa on Wii, or if you prefer to go it old-school, track down the PS1 original or download it on the PlayStation Store.

Punch-Out!! 


A new installment of Nintendo's Punch-Out!! series entered the ring in 2009, courtesy of Next Level Games. Right away players were treated with a gorgeous cel-shaded Saturday morning cartoon style that was perfect for the Wii's limited power. The game still looks splendid, showing what a glorious art style can do for a title. The Wii edition of Punch-Out!! brought back all of the cast from the NES and Super Nintendo installments of the series, and also included several new opponents such as Disco Kid and a super secret boss that players went ape for. The mechanics of the game are the same as previous entries. Little Mac, the star of the show, enters numerous boxing matches where he must dodge the choreographed attacks of his opponent and then punch back when the adversary leaves an opening. One might think that Punch-Out!! would not have a lot of replay value in this day and age, but Next Level Games added a lot to the package to make it appealing for long-term playing. After boxing up the ranks in Career Mode, earning the championship belt, Little Mac would enter Title Defense Mode, where the boxers that he previously K.O.'d returned with new tricks, new moves, and new weaknesses. If you haven't yet checked out Punch-Out's Wii debut, the game is only twenty dollars now MSRP, so take a chance and enter the ring.

A Boy and His Blob


This list is full of re-imaginings it seems. From GoldenEye 007 to Klonoa, we're certainly representing the future and the past with this list of ten games. The next re-imagining we're taking a look at is 2009's A Boy and His Blob, modeled after and influenced by original Nintendo Entertainment System title, A Boy and His Blob: Trouble in Bloblonia, in celebration of the game's twentieth anniversary. The end result on Wii was this touching, beautiful, and highly rewarding 2D platforming featuring abundant amounts of puzzles. The titular boy feeds the eponymous blob jelly beans in order to turn his amorphous friend into one of fifteen forms such as a rocket ship or block. Each level gave the player a set amount of forms they could use to get through the many obstacles in the boy and blob's path to the goal. There were 80 individual levels within this remarkable rebirth including 40 traditional stages and 40 challenge stages, unlocked through discovering three treasure chests within a given traditional stage. For those who shy away from any Wii game with motion controls, A Boy and His Blob might be for you, if you can overcome the deliciously adorable art style and themes. Any game with a hug button is indeed a game worth playing. Couple that with the more forgiving gameplay than seen in the NES original and the engaging and endearing art style, and you have the makings of a Wii game that should certainly be in an open-minded gamer's library.

Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games


Mini-game collections are not favored or thought of too fondly by the typical internet gamer. However, there is huge market for them, and Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games is a capable title featuring multiple events both realistic and nontraditional. If you played the original Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games, get those memories out of your head. This 2012 Olympiad romp was nothing short of a good time, unlike the first Nintendo-Sega mascot collaboration. Alongside new events like badminton, soccer, and horse riding (equestrian), there were improved iterations of previous summer events such as sprint races, cycling, and table tennis. To add to the fun were Dream Events where took ordinary Olympic events and threw them into the worlds and locales of Mario and Sonic games and added a twist to the rules. Imagine a hurdle race set in Super Mario Galaxy's Battlerock Galaxy where items were used, or a trampoline competition set in Sonic Adventure 2's Crazy Gadget stage where you could perform as many tricks as you wanted as you fell hundreds of feet to the trampoline. Making this package more enticing were remixed songs from Sega's wonderful set of composers and arrangers as well as unlockable costumes for the player's various Miis. The game is great for local multiplayer fun (Party mode was exceptional) and even solo fun (earning medals and awards was enjoyable). The real Olympics may be over, but Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games can last you long up until we're talking about the Olympics in 2014.

Sin & Punishment: Star Successor


The sequel to the Japan-only Sin & Punishment on Nintendo 64 (until the game was released on the Wii's Virtual Console service for a special promotion), the Wii's Sin & Punishment: Star Successor put players in the shoes of either Isa Jo or Kachi. The game was set on-rails, but the player can move around while the screen scrolls. The action was always hot and heated with bullets, missiles, and lasers flying at you in every which direction (though missiles can be deflected with a sword, which can also be used for strong melee damage). The game also was never shy about throwing a boss at the beginning, middle, or end of a given level. Learning patterns was the key to success. Online leaderboards added to the fun. By destroying enemies and not getting hit, a player's score multiplier would continually rise. Like IGN UK said in their review, "Forget bullet hell - Treasure has created an awesome slice of bullet heaven." And indeed they did. Treasure is known for their work on such cult favorites as Gunstar Heroes, Guardian Heroes, Radiant Silvergun, Wario World, Ikaruaga, Mischief Makers, among many others. Add Sin & Punishment: Star Successor not only to the list of Treasure's... treasures, but also a game that should be in any self-respecting Wii owner's library.

Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn


If you are in any way familiar with Fire Emblem or turn-based tactical RPGs, you should feel right at home with the Wii installment of the long-running series. Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn keeps with it the standard gameplay the series is known and loved for, but introduces new elements as well such as new field units and an elevation advantage between units. What many Fire Emblem fans enjoy about the franchise is its difficulty, something that a lot of Nintendo series cannot say. The games are punishing in that in many of the entries deceased party members stay deceased and can in no way be revived. This can be a real turn-off to more casual players who wish for a more relaxing experience. How many times have Fire Emblem fanatics had to reset a game because one of their units died in battle? Regardless, the upcoming Nintendo 3DS game Fire Emblem: Awakening is the game for them as it not only has the normal difficulty, but it has a mode where party members that perish return after battle. Continuing on with Radiant Dawn, the game was a masterful tactical RPG that demanded of the player strong strategy and foresight in thought. Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn might not be the best the series has to offer, but it is still a welcomed addition to the franchise.

Bully: Scholarship Edition


The original Bully debuted on the PlayStation 2 in 2006. A new version of the game with updated visuals and content was released on the Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii two years later called Bully: Scholarship Edition. We're focusing on the latter version of the game, particularly the one I prefer, the Wii game. The idea behind Bully has players entering Bullworth Academy as the forever rebellious teen Jimmy Hopkins. The game is essentially an open world experience, though not to the degree of a Grand Theft Auto game. You're limited to the campus and the town around it. Through completing missions the story progresses, and through completing optional classes (four new ones were added to the Scholarship Edition) Jimmy learns new helpful skills and abilities. The fun of the Wii version comes from the pointer controls and other Wii remote-exclusive features. The Xbox 360 version of the game was littered with bugs and glitches that ruined the experience for most owners. Regardless, despite the lack of HD, I prefer the Wii version and consider it to be the definitive version of Bully. Here's hoping that we finally see a sequel from Rockstar.

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And with that we have but one more part to The 50 Best Nintendo Wii Games to go. Have your favorite Wii games been mentioned as of yet? Well, there's ten more titles to be listed, so you still have a chance to see your favorites yet! Next week we conclude this special series of five articles naming the most superior Wii games in the system's under-appreciated library. If you somehow missed a previous part of my ongoing series, look no further than these links:

The 50 Best Nintendo Wii Games - Part One
The 50 Best Nintendo Wii Games - Part Two
The 50 Best Nintendo Wii Games - Part Three

Until next week, have a splendid weekend, everybody.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Kart Krashers (DSiWare) Review

We are nearly halfway through the month of October, yet we have no reviews to show for it. That is going to change really soon. And by really soon, I mean now. The first review of the month comes from Big John Games' Kart Krashers for DSiWare (also available on the Nintendo eShop for 3DS). The game released late last month, so let's see if this kart game's kooky enough for my tastes.

Not Even Close to a Kart-astrophe.


The kart genre is no stranger to zany and colorful games. When you think of games with karts, you most likely think of races around wacky circuits a la Mario Kart or Diddy Kong Racing. The newest effort by Big John Games forgoes such a formula and creates its own unique DSiWare entry with Kart Krashers. With a price tag of five bucks, is Kart Krashers a party worth "krashing?"

Kart Krashers starts off by interjecting a loose plot into things to give players a feeling of motivation to engage in the game. It really isn't necessary as the title is worthy of playing on its own merits without the need of a story. All you need to know is there is a Kart Krashing competition that will award the winner with a myriad of money, and one of the participants wants a pony. There you go; the plot in a nutshell. The game introduces new characters at a consistent pace, even allowing you to play as five of them as the story grows, each with their own kart and attributes.

There are ten levels to be played within Kart Krashers, each with three events. Levels are opened up on the world map one at a time, and through collecting enough Golden Wheels, new levels are unlocked for play. Across the Kart Krashing competition, you will speed, bash, and "krash" through malls, Mayan temples, twilight hour cities, junkyards, and even the moon.

As I said, Kart Krashers does not do the typical racing experience that you might expect with a kart game. Instead, Kart Krashers is all about collecting, and to be more specific, collecting stars. Strewn about the various levels and events are multicolored stars, each worth a significant amount of points. As you collect stars, your score multiplier goes up. You need to keep moving in an agile manner or else the multiplier will begin to decrease and fall little by little. You can continue your multiplier by collecting another star, so it is not a lost cause once your multiplier begins descending; You can still get it back. Outside of collecting stars are rings that are worth a substantial amount of points, but they require a bit more skill and driving finesse to reach. There are also enemies that can be defeated that also deal out points.

Each event (three in each of the ten levels) has three Golden Wheels to attain, earned by scoring a set amount of points within a given event. Through gaining four Golden Wheels within a level, the next opens up for you to engage. I seldom found myself having a rough go of getting all three Golden Wheels in most of the events, as there are a generous amount of point opportunities to be found. Sure, an occasional event will trip you up, but for the majority of the game I had little problem. That is not to say the game is immensely easy. Your mileage will vary on how much of a breeze or how much of a challenge you have. Regardless, a level ends when all stars have been collected, time runs out, or your kart loses all of its health.

The levels themselves are pretty much nicely designed. Stars are generally laid out in a smart enough way where there is usually a right racing line to grab them for the most amount of points in the fastest available fashion. Levels have plenty of ramps and paths to drive across, as well as hazards to worry about. The Cityscape level, for instance, is occupied not only by your standard alien menace, but there are also UFOs that will pick you up and knock you aside, taking out part of your kart's health.

Losing health is not much of a problem early on because the hazards are not as plentiful as they are later in the game. And even if your wheels do take some damage, you can drive into a first-aid kit to restore some health. That is not the only type of power-up available in Kart Krashers. There are rockets that allow you to boost across chasms and to speed up steep slopes, there are shields that can temporarily defend you against hazards as well as enabling you to take out enemies and boulders, there are magnets that grab hard-to-reach stars, and there are brushes that increase the reach of your kart, allowing it to collect more items and defeat more enemies more easily.

As for the actual driving mechanics, Kart Krashers offers a relatively tight experience, though you'll seldom want to put the pedal to the metal all the time. Usually I found myself easing on and off the accelerator to be steadier in my driving to collect stars. With the R shoulder button, you can use the handbrake to peel around corners in a single speedy action, something I hardly had to utilize, but it is nice to have for more hardcore players.

Nonetheless, to go along with all the things that are right with Kart Krashers, there are some problems. For one, the physics of the game are not always perfect. You'll come to careen on an edge and no matter how hard you fight to stay on, you will always fall off; no matter if the majority of your kart is on solid ground or not. Then there is the problem with when your kart is upside down or on its side. It is incredibly frustrating trying to flip your car back on its wheels (attempted via pressing the Y button). This is especially aggravating when you are being locked on by missiles and are being attacked and you just flop around like a goldfish out of its fishbowl. One time it took a full fifteen seconds for my kart to actually regain its bearings and get back on its wheels. Unbelievable and immensely irritating.

On the presentation side, Kart Krashers shows that you do not need an overwhelming budget to make a competent and capable looking game. The visuals are quite good, especially for a DSiWare game, though darker areas look a bit muddy. The kart models look pleasing, too, as does the user interface of the game. Sound-wise, things are about as much as you could hope for. The music does not grate on the ears, and it can actually be catchy at times. Good luck hearing it clearly, however, when it is competing with the roar of your kart's engine 100% of the time. However, all is not well with the sound. One particular sound effect when you switch selections on the main menu is cringe-inducing in its badness.

Kart Krashers presents an atypical arcade kart game for any gamer on a budget. It won't last a significant amount of time -- perhaps a few hours to get all Golden Wheels and to obtain every achievement the game has to offer, but it is an entertaining title for the brief amount of time it can be played to full completion. Nonetheless, I can only help but think how online leaderboards for players across the globe or country to compete for the top scores on each level would have helped the longevity of the game. Along with that thought of what might have been, as well as the control issues and physics problems aside, Kart Krashers managed to exceed my expectations greatly. If you're looking for a relatively cheap and really engaging DSiWare game, introduce and acquaint yourself with Big John Games' Kart Krashers.

[SuperPhillip Says: 7.25/10]

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (Wii U, 3DS) NYCC Trailer

Monster hunters around the world, get ready for battle! The long awaited expanded version of Monster Hunter Tri makes its way to the West on Wii U and 3DS. Get both versions to play as your hunter at home or on your daily commute, and hop online with the Wii U game to hunt cooperatively with up to three other players around the world. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is currently scheduled to hit store shelves in March of next year.


Monday, October 8, 2012

SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs - Lucky XIII Edition

For the past two weeks we have looked at two Nintendo titles and listened to their tracks. This week's edition of SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs enters the lands of Pulse and Cocoon with Final Fantasy XIII. The game was listed in my article Sour Games, Sweet Soundtracks from early this year. Just like with our look and listen to The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Kid Icarus: Uprising, we have five tracks to represent Final Fantasy XIII today. Let's get to them!

v211. Final Fantasy XIII (PS3, 360) - Blinded By Light


Masashi Hamauzu composed all of the music to Final Fantasy XIII, and he did a splendid job with the majority of the soundtrack. Blinded By Light is the battle theme of the game, and it is important for an RPG to have a stellar theme for battle as it is generally one of the most heard songs in a game. Even though Final Fantasy XIII players will listen to this track over and over again, its fantastic melody and tempo make for a terrific tune.

v212. Final Fantasy XIII (PS3, 360) - Serah's Theme


We go from a battle theme to a character theme. This is Serah's Theme, the theme for Lightning's sister. Serah would go on to take the starring role in the direct sequel to Final Fantasy XIII, surprisingly called Final Fantasy XIII-2. Where do they come up with these creative titles? Anyhow, Serah's Theme is a gentle vocal track that touches upon the listener's soul. What it lacks in length it makes up for in pure loveliness.

v213. Final Fantasy XIII (PS3, 360) - The Sunleth Waterscape


Essentially a peppy pop version of Serah's Theme, The Sunleth Waterscape welcomes you with its song. Like Serah's song, this theme also is supported by some grand vocals. The piano, strings and fast beat make for a song that can get your head bopping and smile... smiling. The Sunleth Waterscape would make an appearance as the field song for the Final Fantasy XIII section of the brilliant Theatrhythm Final Fantasy (3DS).

v214. Final Fantasy XIII (PS3, 360) - Pulse de Chocobo


Listed as the top Chocobo theme in my Best of Final Fantasy Music special this past summer, Pulse de Chocobo drives you to ride the world of Pulse aboard your feathery Chocobo friend with this jazzy and fast-paced rendition. The piano kicks in alongside the drums, setting the tempo; the brass makes its presence known; and the entire theme enters your head and stays like a welcomed guest. Masashi Hamauzu did Nobuo Uematsu's original Chocobo theme a great service with this track.

v215. Final Fantasy XIII (PS3, 360) - Fighting Fate


I believe the word "epic" is thrown around way too often nowadays. Everything from slam dunks to high fives to farts are considered epic. Then the word loses its luster for when it is supposed to be used like to describe this theme for the various battles with Barthandelus, the main antagonist of Final Fantasy XIII. Fighting Fate has it all -- bold brass, magnanimous drums, a lively choir, powerful chords, and a sweeping series of strings.

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We have reached the end of another edition yet again. For more VGM greatness, check out my VGM database. Every VGM ever listed is recorded there for your listening convenience. Next week we will have a new game being showcased on the good, old-fashioned Favorite VGMs.

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