Saturday, December 1, 2012

Review Round-Up - October-November 2012

The obtuse nature of many of the puzzles
gave Sticker Star an 8.0 out of 10.
Because I had so few reviews for October, I decided to combine the Review Round-Up months of October and November together. Now, we have eight reviews to reexamine, starting with Kart Krashers, a delightful arena-based driving game from Big John Games. Then we continued the downloadable game party with Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword (8.5) and Family Tennis 3D (7.0). The last review of October was Art Academy: Lessons for Everyone, which earned itself an 8.5. Two more digital releases got reviews, Spot It! Mean Machines (7.0) and Johnny Hotshot (5.5). Finally, two big 3DS games were given verdicts: Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask (9.0) and Paper Mario: Sticker Star (8.0). Next month we might see some Wii U reviews among other interesting titles. Please look forward to those!

Kart Krashers (DSiWare) - 7.25
Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword (3DSWare) - 8.5
Family Tennis 3D (3DSWare) - 7.0
Art Academy: Lessons for Everyone (3DS) - 8.5
Spot It! Mean Machines (DSiWare) - 7.0
Johnny Hotshot (3DSWare) - 5.5
Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask (3DS) - 9.0
Paper Mario: Sticker Star (3DS) - 8.0

The biggest mystery was how the Professor 
Layton series continues to amaze.

Central City Census - December 2012

Last month, the results were ruined by Blogger going down and subsequently not even mentioning that their polls were a problem. Well, I said "goodbye, Blogger" and "hello, Polldaddy." Not only do you get a more detailed look at the results, but it is presented in a cleaner way. Without further ado, let's see what the Central City Census's results for November are!

By the end of its life, how many units do you think the Wii U will sell worldwide?


The question posed was SPC reader theories on how well the Wii U will sell in its lifetime. The most popular answers were less than Wii but more than the 360, and more than PS3 but less than 360. I'm sort of stunned that there were so many who voted less than 20 million units. That is astounding. Either we have a lot of people who aren't familiar with history, or we have ten people doing wishful thinking. Regardless, let's look at what December's Census is going to ask.

'Tis the season to be getting gifts from friends, family, and other loved ones. The Central City Census for December simply asks if you plan on receiving a console or handheld as a gift this holiday season, and if so, which one(s). Poll will close at the start of 2013.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Five Characters I Want to See in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed

If you have visited SuperPhillip Central in the past, then you know my admiration for Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing. I gave it the edge over Mario Kart Wii as best kart racer of the seventh generation of home consoles. Now that the game's sequel, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, is out on Wii U, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and eventually PC, Nintendo 3DS, and PlayStation Vita, there have been some exclusions from the roster.

Recently someone on the inside on Sega's official forums posed a challenge to the community. He requested that the community vote for three characters that would be good additions to the current roster. I have done two better and have five characters I'd like to see step into a vehicle, rev their engines, and storm onto the racetrack.

Ristar


Even though Ristar has only appeared in two games, both of which released in the same year, the starman character left a lasting impression on many gamers, myself included. Currently, Ristar is actually in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, but is relegated to waving the starting flag. That's unfortunate. Sure, we can't have Ristar as a playable character, but thank God we have Danica Patrick-- a member of the roster everyone wanted and clamored for-- in the game as a racer instead. Speaking of which, the team had a hard time coming up with a victory pose for Ms. Patrick in the game-- y'know, because she never wins in real life. Hi-oh!

Vectorman


Like a robot but is an orbot (a robot consisting of solely orbs), Vectorman was originally Sega's solution to Donkey Kong Country. Both games used graphical techniques to create a more rendered look. And like Ristar, Vectorman only appeared in two games, though said games would show up in several collections. The orbot is able to transform into various shapes throughout both Sega Genesis games, so it only makes sense for him to make an appearance in a game with Transformed in the title! Sega really needs to give this character another chance. The-announced-then-quickly-cancelled 2003 Vectorman reboot almost brought the orbot back, but Sonic & All-Star Racing Transformed is the perfect opportunity for this orb-being to come out of hiatus.

Billy Hatcher


I absolutely abhor it when a character from a previous installment is taken out of the sequel. It even hurts more so when said character has a track based on his franchise in the game. Do I need to remind people of Waluigi and Mario Kart 7? Well, Billy Hatcher was the latest victim of this behavior. Mr. Hatcher only had one game, but it was a doozy. Not only was it charming and colorful, but it had one of the most infectious themes I've ever heard. Billy was one of my favorite characters in Sumo Digital's first effort, so his removal absolutely astonished me-- and not in a positive way. Perhaps if Alex Kidd can come as a character later on, so can Billy Hatcher. At least that is what I keep telling myself in a futile attempt to no longer have a tear-stained pillow at night.

Ryo Hazuki


Another victim of the Waluigi effect, Mr. Ryo "Do you know any sailors" Hazuki was a much heralded addition to the Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing lineup. Players could either choose to have the Shenmue series's hero ride on a wild hog of a motorcycle or speed around in a forklift. I cannot tell you how many times I have wanted to do the latter in real life. I can't drive 55 in a forklift. I need to go at least 70. Regardless, you can imagine my disappointment when yet another original Sonic & SEGA racing character was omitted from the roster of Sumo Digital's sophomore cartoon racer.

ToeJam & Earl


Time for these two characters to get the funk into Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed as the last time we've seen these two in a new game was back in 2002 with ToeJam & Earl III: Mission to Earth on the original Xbox. We've seen two characters team up in one vehicle before (e.g. Zobio and Zobiko of House of the Dead EX fame), so having ToeJam and Earl driving around should be no problem. How about having the pair drive around in a modded Funkatron that transforms from car to boat to plane? Sounds like a novel (and awesome) idea to me!

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I have selected my five inclusions to the already populated Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed roster. What about you? Personally, I'd love to see Bayonetta somehow become a Nintendo platform exclusive for the sole reason of seeing system warriors make even bigger bastards of themselves.

Nonetheless, which five Sega all-stars that are not yet part of the roster would you love to see added? Let everybody know in the comments section.

Wii U Chat and Nintendo TVii North American Commercial

My biggest problem with the ads Nintendo's marketing firm are creating besides the music is the lack of "the new Wii U  CONSOLE." The ads simply state it is the new Wii U. Consumers are typically morons, so this oversight (how can this be an oversight after the 3DS debacle is beyond me) by Nintendo's marketing team is astounding. Regardless, check out the ad for the Wii U Chat function and the upcoming Nintendo TVii.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

New-stalgia: Donkey Kong Country Returns

It's time for the second edition of New-stalgia. What is New-stalgia? Simply put, games of this segment are modern classics-- titles that will most likely give players in the future much nostalgia as they fondly look back on them. The subject of today's edition of New-stalgia is Donkey Kong Country Returns for the Wii. We're going to monkey around a bit and see what I thought of the game back in 2010 and what I think about it after playing it now. Will my opinion shift for better or for the worse?

What I said then:

"Donkey Kong Country Returns isn't an exact replica of the Super Nintendo trilogy. There's some changes. For instance, in solo play, Diddy rides atop Donkey Kong's back and can hover for a limited amount of time. Another change is that each Kong now gets two hits instead of just one. While playing solo, players will lose Diddy if the team gets hit twice. They'll lose a life if they get hit four times (Donkey's two lives plus Diddy's two lives). More so, continue barrels have been replaced by a tutorial pig who waves a checkpoint flag when DK and Diddy cross his path. Most levels have multiple continue points to make this challenging game feel fairer. Additionally, Donkey Kong and Diddy can now cling and climb on grassy walls and ceilings. Lastly in this game, DK and Diddy can ground pound and blow on flowers to uncover hidden goodies. This is all mapped to waggling the Wii remote."


"[The controls] take getting used to as shaking the Wii remote takes up three different commands. Holding the analog stick left or right while shaking (nunchuk controls are only used in this game) will cause Donkey or Diddy to roll. Holding the stick down while waggling will initiate DK or Diddy to blow, and finally, the ground pound is performed by holding the stick in a neutral position while wildly moving the Wii remote and nunchuk. Again it takes getting used to, but unless you're an incompetent person you'll have it down by the first world's completion."


"Onto the level design which is spectacular. Sometimes these levels require memorization such as the ravishing rocket barrel levels where you steadily press the A button to lift up you rocket barrel to avoid hateful hazards that are a one-hit kill. Or even the mine cart levels where sometimes lucky leaps are the way to pass through them. You'll go crazy in one level where your mine cart falls into a circular rail which rolls down a hill as you leap over the only gap in the rail in a continuous fashion. That's just in the fourth world! Later worlds are full of perilous platforming, hard-to-judge jumps, and rude dudes with attitudes (speaking of the enemies here)."


"Ultimately, this kid-friendly game might be more for the retro crowd who have the patience for the sometimes brutal difficulty of the game. Even so, cooperative play is a suggestion for one more experienced to play with a less experienced player. Although Rambi the Rhino is the only returning ride-able animal in the game, he controls very well and feels like riding a rhino should. Because we all know I ride rhinos in my spare time.

Regardless, the level design is some of the best the series has ever seen, the visuals are vibrant and vivacious, and the music is oftentimes soothing and fitting of the level you're in. Without a doubt, Donkey Kong Country Returns is one of the best 2D platformers in quite some time, rivaling the excellent New Super Mario Bros. Wii. For a hardcore platformer that will take quite a while to complete, you can't go wrong with Donkey Kong Country Returns."

What I say now: 

When I previously played Donkey Kong Country Returns before my first Wii died on me and I sent it in for repairs, I had done a cooperative run with my older brother as well as a single player run through the game. However, I never fully completed the title (i.e. getting a 100% on the game profile). My brother and I went back to DKCR with that goal in mind this time around.


Let's start out with the level design. Unlike the original trilogy on the Super Nintendo, Donkey Kong Country Returns contains very long levels. Thankfully, there are several checkpoints rather than just one like Rare's Donkey Kong Country games. The levels themselves are absolutely astonishing in design-- clever, challenging, and just all-around entertaining. Each level has its own gimmick-- for lack of a better term-- that continually gets expanded upon from the beginning of the level to the end. One of my favorite levels is in the seventh world of the game. It is known as The Switcheroo. By hitting color-coded buttons on the walls, different platforms either jut in or jut out of the background for Donkey Kong and Diddy to traverse on. By the conclusion, you need to plan your jumps carefully as to not booby trap yourself into a bottomless pit.


Mine cart levels are a hallmark of the Donkey Kong Country franchise, and they return in full force. In fact, an entire world is devoted to mine cart levels and the all-new rocket barrel levels. The latter has you pressing the A button to steer a rocket barrel carefully through an obstacle and hazard-laden course. One crash and you're dead. As for the mine cart levels, these take a little memorization to get all of the secrets, but fast reflexes are essentially what will save your life nine times out of ten. There are different types of mine cart levels too. Some have you jump with the mine cart while others have you jumping out of the mine cart each time you press the A button. This kind of variety is most welcomed.


Levels contain plenty of secrets to find. The main collectibles consist of puzzle pieces, which unlock art and assets from the game, and K-O-N-G letters. Unlike the original trilogy, K-O-N-G letters actually serve an important purpose, other than simply giving the player an extra life for collecting them in a given level. Instead, when all of the letters have been gathered in a given world, an extra-difficult bonus level is unlocked. Completing all of these bonus "K" levels unlocks a final trippy level that will then open up Mirror Mode. I'm no Donkey Kong Country Returns professional platformer, so I shied away from that mode, which eliminates Diddy and only gives DK one hit. Yeah, that's more frustration than I could probably deal with.


Perhaps my only gripe with the level design is the lack of the underwater levels that the SNES DKC trilogy was an important part of the games. That said, there is already a brilliant variety of level ideas within Donkey Kong Country Returns as is, so I can't complain TOO much.

As for the controls, I stated in my 2010 review that having to shake the Wii remote to roll, ground pound, and blow took some getting used to, and that any uncertainty of the controls would be eliminated by the first world's end. That isn't necessarily the case. Particularly with rolling, the shaking required to perform the moves don't work 100% of the time, but this is generally when you have to do multiple rolls in succession. That said, there were times where I did die because the game didn't read my remote's waggling. Other than that, the game handles wonderfully, and you feel in control of DK and Diddy. The addition of using Diddy's jet pack might seem like a crutch for players, but it is absolutely essential for certain levels and specific tricky jumps.


The main thing I greatly enjoyed about the Wii was the resurgence of  the 2D platformer. Donkey Kong Country Returns is one of the better types on the system and of the generation, Wiimote waggling troubles aside. The game might not feature Kremlings and might not follow the DKC formula to a T, but it engages, it delights, it challenges, and it encourages players to search through every nook and cranny as they possibly can. It is a terrific complement to the original Donkey Kong trilogy, and it should not be passed up by any Wii owner or self-proclaimed lover of platformers. If you are in the mood for a difficult game, Donkey Kong Country Returns fits the bill and is one heck of a banana-slamma'.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why Nintendo Needs to Continue Doing Its Own Thing

There seems to be a narrative among gamers and the industry regarding the Wii U. It is much more exciting-- and delivers more hits-- to have negative news about the console rather than positive news. This is just an unfortunate part of the industry we live in. However, some have gone so far as to say that Nintendo should have made their console much more powerful to perhaps rival that of Sony's next console and Microsoft's next Xbox, or to somehow conform more to industry standards. I disagree with these assumptions, and here's why.


Nintendo has its own niche in the market, and it can't really enter hardware warfare with Sony and Microsoft because it would lose. Unlike its two competitors, Nintendo does not have a computer division, a smartphone division, a music player division, and so forth. The company lives and dies by gaming. If Sony or Microsoft's gaming division fails, at least those companies can fall back on their other divisions to soften the blow. Nintendo does not have such a luxury, so when I see people wanting Nintendo to match the next PlayStation and Xbox dollar for dollar and spec by spec, I wonder if these people know what would then happen if Nintendo tried this and failed. Plus, do we really need three platforms that are so entirely similar on the market? That is one reason why I like that Nintendo is differentiating itself from its competitors. It might cost them a bit of third-party support in the long run, but it also gives Nintendo an innovative edge over Microsoft and Sony-- one that interests many gamers and non-gamers alike.

The Wii U might not cost an arm and a leg to build, but Nintendo is still losing money on every console shipped and sold. Perhaps this is because of the Wii U GamePad and its features. Perhaps not. Regardless, the system is still a risk for the risk-adverse Nintendo. If they had built a machine as powerful as their competitors' next, the risk would be much greater. Would the people who deride Nintendo as being casual or simply for kids care that the Wii U would be stronger? Probably not. Would Nintendo be in trouble if the hypothetical console did poorly-- more so than if the current Wii U as it is now failed? Yes, probably.

We're in an industry where some games need to sell a couple million copies just to break even. This business model by primarily Western developers and publishers is one that is simply unsustainable. For this reason, that is why I encourage the more modest hardware of Nintendo's Wii U. The cost for making games still went up from the Wii to the Wii U, but it isn't an immense amount like what some studios are saying it is from this past gen to this generation. Yes, I would have liked a beefy system that would be future-proof, but if it affects the future of Nintendo hardware for the negative (such as getting them out of the hardware business completely, no matter how bizarre or impossible a premise that is), I wouldn't want to see it.


And there is a reason why I want Nintendo to continue producing their own hardware. It is no secret that Nintendo builds their systems not for third-parties but for the company's own software. Maybe this is why so many third-parties are having trouble properly porting games to the Wii U. Nonetheless, Nintendo knows its own hardware and how to make the most of it. The company not only innovates its own software, but it also does with its hardware. They made popular the analog stick, rumble, wireless controllers, motion control, and so much more for their platforms. I was personally growing tired of dual analog for shooters, so the implementation of the Wii remote's pointer made for some new fun and accessibility.

If Nintendo were to go third-party (which is something those who dislike the company's hardware want to happen, no matter the cost), it would force the publisher and developer to make games on hardware that is not custom built for them. I surmise that the quality of Nintendo's titles would greatly go down.

Speaking of the quality of Nintendo's titles going down, how about Nintendo's stubborn attitude toward making games for iOS platforms, or as some analyst said, license the company's characters to mobile software studios? Not only would this undermine Nintendo's own hardware, but for the latter suggestion, it would totally cheapen the value of the company's brands and popular IPs. That isn't to say that Nintendo shouldn't develop its own apps like they are doing with Miiverse, but to totally bypass its own hardware for iOS is just a silly statement.


Perhaps some members of the press (well, hell, a lot of members of the press) and gamers are angry because Nintendo isn't playing by the normal rules of the industry (continuing to make enormous leaps of power each generation) and is somehow succeeding despite this. I keep seeing how everything Nintendo does now is a fad and is bound to end soon, as if people were in denial about Nintendo doing well (b-but they don't follow the rules!), as if they were trying to rationalize why the company continues to succeed. The truth of the matter is that Nintendo isn't your typical gaming company. It truly does march to the beat of a different drum, and it continues to bewilder and astonish critics. Maybe Nintendo's conservative nature will come back to haunt them in the long term, but in the short term, Nintendo is poised to do some interesting things in the near future. It is an exciting time to be a gamer, with the eighth generation of gaming consoles officially started. Let's hope that the generation is not just successful for Nintendo, but for all console manufacturers.

Agree or disagree with this editorial? It's okay. No one will bite you for doing so. Let your opinion be read in the comments section.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Paper Mario: Sticker Star (3DS) Review

We are nearing the end of November already. Before we do close out the month, however, I have a new review to share-- Paper Mario: Sticker Star. Does the game follow the series's tradition of clever humor and gameplay? Let's find out together.

I am happy to be stuck with you.


There was much trepidation from fans when the project formerly known as Super Mario RPG 2 was turned into Paper Mario. How would the new paper aesthetic affect the game? How would the elimination of having three party members in battle change the gameplay? It turned out that many of these hesitant fans entered Paper Mario, and it wound up being a game that satisfied them more than the Mario's first RPG outing, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. Nintendo has once again attempted to change the formula for the better by implementing a sticker-based ability system and eliminating experience points and levels from their newest installment in the Paper Mario series, Paper Mario: Sticker Star for the Nintendo 3DS. Is this game one you'll become attached to, or is it stuck in mediocrity?

Once every century the fabled Sticker Star arrives in the Mushroom Kingdom. To celebrate, the denizens commemorate the occasion with the Sticker Fest. All goes well with the festivities at first until Bowser rears his ugly head into things. He touches the Sticker Star, resulting in him generating a plethora of power, once again capturing Princess Peach, and sending the six Royal Stickers flying across the land. Mario must join up with a helpful crown-shaped sticker named Kersti to venture into six lands to retrieve the Royal Stickers to right all of Bowser's wrongdoings. Players ought to get accustomed to Kersti as that is Mario's only fellow traveler in the game, unlike past Paper Mario entries. While the many different personalities brought by the various partners from Paper Mario and The Thousand-Year Door are missed, Kersti serves as a suitable companion. Make no mistake that the typical high-tier humor of the Mario RPGs is still present and accounted for.

Rather than visit lands that are interconnected in one way or another, Paper Mario: Sticker Star's formula is much like traditional 2D Mario games. There are levels to explore such as 1-1, 1-2, 1-3, and so on, each with their own goals (some with hidden exits to secret levels). After Mario and Kersti exit from the central town of the game, Decalburg, you can choose to visit one of four locales, though it is recommended that you go in numerical order as enemies in world 2 and 3 have much higher attack strength and health. As Mario gains more powerful stickers and nabs some special items that increases his HP, he can tackle the mightier foes in his path.

A walk through the Warm Fuzzy Plains.
Stickers are paramount for accessing new areas in the game's various levels and for battle. They are placed all over levels, ready to be peeled from walls. Apart from stickers, Mario will come across rare objects like soda cans, vacuums, bowling balls, baseball bats, batteries, among others that the game simply calls "Things." Along the way, Mario will uncover obstacles in his way or puzzles that must be solved. This is where Things come in. A place on the western side of Decalburg allows Mario to take collected Things and throw them against a wall to transform them into stickers. Then Mario can use the Paperization move (done with the Y button) to paste a Thing sticker into a square depicted by a dotted line. For instance, the oasis level in the desert world has a fierce twister that is causing all sorts of problems. If you paste the vacuum Thing sticker at the appropriate point, it will suck up the twister and allow Mario safe passage to where he previously couldn't reach.

"Mario's biggest fan."
A problem with this process, however, is just how obtuse some of these puzzles can be. Knowing which Thing sticker to use or even where you can even find the required Thing is nebulous at best. A player can tear their hair out trying to double back through levels as they search every nook and cranny for that missing Thing. When you get a Thing that you think may work, it might not even solve the puzzle. This can be immensely frustrating.

Place stickers onto the environment 
with the Paperize ability.
Then there are the battles, more prominently the midboss and regular boss battles. If you don't possess the right Thing sticker for the battle, you are pretty much up a creek without a paddle. Each boss has at least one Thing sticker that they are severely weak to, which will make a seemingly impossibly difficult battle much less taxing. Not only do you need the right sticker, but you also need to use it at the right time. This can be hard to determine. There is a lot of trial and error involved in Sticker Star, and some of it is not welcomed. There are not many feelings while playing the game worse than not having the right set of stickers. Talk about a sticky situation! We complain about Nintendo doing a lot of hand-holding in games such as The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Well, this is a case of not holding the player's hand enough. There has to be some kind of middle ground to be reached, and Nintendo has not been able to reach it recently.

Not even a boot to the face will
wake this Wiggler up.
Battles themselves do not reward experience like they have in previous Paper Mario games. You might think that there is no good reason to do battle then. Well, perish that folly of a thought right now. Battles give Mario much needed coins, which can be used to purchase stronger stickers at shops for his adhesive arsenal. Once a sticker has been used, it is removed from Mario's inventory. Depending on the sticker's size, it takes up a certain amount of space in Mario's sticker book. As the paperized plumber beats bosses and retrieves Royal Stickers, pages get added to his book, so he can hold more stickers.

Spear Guys call the jungle their home.
If you are a veteran of Mario RPGs, then you know what to expect. Paper Mario: Sticker Star has the same turn-based battles where timing is crucial for swift success. For example, tapping the action button right before Mario lands a jump will deal more damage, and will allow him to jump again. Conversely, pressing the action button as an enemy's attack connects (or just before) will have Mario hold up his defenses, taking less damage. It is a proactive battle system that involves the player in each battle instead of being "some passive hit the attack button ten times and plod through the fight affair."

Mario fights for the shell of it.
In battles Mario can spend coins to activate the Battle Spinner. This is like a slot machine where you try to match all three slots with the same picture. Depending on how many slots you match, Mario gets to use that many stickers that turn (e.g. you match two slots, you get two turns in a row), and depending on what pictures you match, a different effect happens. Such an example is matching three coin pictures, causing coins to rain down from the sky, making Mario's wallet a bit fatter. Being allowed to use more stickers can make arduous encounters all of the more manageable.

There's a myriad of sticker types available in Sticker Star-- nearly 100 battle stickers like jumps, hammer attacks, shell shots, flower attacks, mushrooms, and much more. As stated before, Thing stickers can be used in battle with numerous different effects. The boombox grants Mario an attack boost for a handful of turns while the scissors cut up the battlefield, inflicting heavy damage on enemies.

To say there is plenty to accomplish in Paper Mario: Sticker Star would be underestimating the game. My save data took me around twenty hours to practically complete. Side quests include saving all of the bullied Toads, locating Luigi's five hiding spots, finding all HP Up Hearts, collecting every sticker in the game and donating it to the museum, and meeting the requirements of eight flags (think of them as achievements for Sticker Star). There is no shortage of stuff to do long after Bowser has been beaten.

Paper Mario: Sticker Star nails the presentation superbly. This goes from its paper aesthetic to its sensational sound. The colors of the game are crisp and colorful, levels look like interactive and engaging panoramas, and the stereoscopic 3D effect-- while not required-- is some of the best the Nintendo 3DS has seen yet. A great example of this is when Mario uses the Slaphammer sticker. He slaps a foe across the screen and sends it flying towards the player. This really pops out at the player if the 3D effect is on. Meanwhile, the music is without a doubt Paper Mario's most impressive, including tunes from past Mario titles as well as countless lovely new compositions. Sticker Star earns a gold star in this category.

When it's up to saving Peach, 
there's snow time like the present.
While not the most perfect installment to the Paper Mario series, Paper Mario: Sticker Star manages to try something different and pretty much succeed. Some less vague puzzles and means to proceed in the game would have been very much appreciated, especially to those who don't have access to a guide or walkthrough like I did. It might become frustrating, but "stick" with Paper Mario: Sticker Star, and you will discover that there is a lot to like about this game.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.0/10]

Monday, November 26, 2012

SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs - Crystal Clear Edition

As stated last week, this edition of SP's Favorite VGMs will be the final edition where I highlight one particular game. We're going back to normalcy next week. The game we'll be looking at today is Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers, a game with a spectacular soundtrack. The game itself was received with mixed reviews across the board. However, I think most, if not all of us, can agree that the entire score is marvelous.

v246. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers (Wii) - Lett Highlands


A gentle theme for the hero's journey across the verdant plains of Lett Highlands, this song possesses a great acoustic guitar melody and accompanying fiddle. The entire theme is a perfectly peaceful one, which is terrific for scampering between towns in the world of The Crystal Bearers.

v247. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers (Wii) - Alfitaria Capital


The theme to the capital city of Alfitaria, an early stop in The Crystal Bearers, starts out with some funk. That part precedes the main melody which is brought to the listener by the bagpipe. Funk and the bagpipe? What kind of sorcery is this?

v248. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers (Wii) - Catch and Throw


The battle theme of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers, Catch and Throw is quite unlike any other Final Fantasy battle theme. It rocks players with its country roots, its guitar, its piano, its harmonica, its banjo, and its fiddle. Certainly it sounds like something straight out of The Dukes of Hazzard.

v249. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers (Wii) - Selkie Guild


The Selkie tribe's home is aboard a shipyard with the sunset beating down on it. Though the Selkies are nothing but thieves, they do help Layle out during his adventure. This theme, Selkie Guild, has a nice rustic, worldly feel to it.

v250. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers (Wii) - Neighborhood Tinkerer


If you haven't guessed by now, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers' soundtrack is full of wonderful variety. This last theme is fitting for the old oaf it was composed for, Cid's theme, Neighborhood Tinkerer, is a slow, plodding theme that one cannot help but snap one's fingers along with.

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When SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs return next week we'll be going back to the standard formula-- five games in five volumes. I hope to see you around then. Until then, check out my VGMs Database for all my favorite video game songs.

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