Friday, December 14, 2012

Dragon Quest VII (3DS) New Trailer

You know a gaming regret I have? Of course not. I can tell you, however, what it is if you really want to know. One of my gaming regrets is that even though I own five Dragon Quest games in the mainline series, I have never played a single one of them. This must change! In the meantime, check out this all-new trailer for the Nintendo 3DS remake of Dragon Quest VII, originally on the original PlayStation.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Astro Boy: Omega Factor (GBA) Retro Review

I was recently in the market to sell complete copies of some of my Game Boy Advance library, and I came across a certain title I only touched once. Rather than stupidly sell off a game I hadn't fully played, I placed the cartridge into my Nintendo DS Lite's GBA slot, and powered that sucker on. The game that I didn't sell (and am glad I didn't!) is none other than Astro Boy: Omega Factor. Here is my retro review.

The eternal conflict between man and machine 
finds its way onto the Game Boy Advance.


What is essentially the grand-daddy of modern anime, Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy manga and following cartoons have greatly shaped Japanese animation and culture. The character of Astro is a charming and endearing one, and the stories presented can range from lighthearted and cheery to dark and somber. Like any excellent material, the Astro Boy franchise needed a video game to represent itself well, and unlike Sonic Team's PlayStation 2 Astro Boy project, legendary developer Treasure's attempt to bring Astro and the gang into the realm of video games is a successful one. The end result is 2D beat 'em up known as Astro Boy: Omega Factor for the Game Boy Advance.

Astro Boy: Omega Factor's plot is based off of various versions of Astro Boy, such as the 1952 manga, the original 1963 animated program, the 1980s remake, and the 2003 episodic series. There are plots regarding the robotic metropolis in Antarctica, the mysterious land of Mu, the time traveling exploits of the Marine Express, the increasingly dire conflict between humans and robots, and the all-powerful Death Mask.

Astro unleashes a large laser wave on this boss.
Omega Factor's gameplay in typical levels is 90% action-packed beat 'em up and 10% platforming. Of the latter, there is little in the way of complication. In the beat 'em up sections, Astro moves along one of seven linear levels, defeating foes with a variety of attacks such as punches, kicks, laser beams, and machine gun fire. The last two are special attacks which require energy to use. This energy is easily acquired through dishing out damage to enemies. The fighting can become a bit repetitive when you're faced with the same battle strategies time and time again. This is compounded by the fact that the level design is truly nothing to champion. It seems rather sloppily put together.

An observant player will notice that the laser is
a terrific attack for clearing battles.
As Astro meets various non-playable characters, he gets the ability to upgrade one of his stats. He can increase the amount of health he has, the damage and length of his laser attack, the capabilities of his turbo jet, the power of his punches, the longevity of his machine gun special attack, and his sensor abilities. A lot of the NPCs in Astro Boy: Omega Factor are optional, but it's to the player's benefit to find as many as possible to boost Astro's stats and make an already challenging game all the easier. In addition to helping out Astro and the player, all met characters will get an encyclopedia entry in the titular Omega Factor. This gives players in-depth info on all characters of the Astro Boy universe, including where they appeared in the various canon of Osamu Tezuka's workings.

Outside of traditional beat 'em up style brawls and searching for new NPCs, Astro Boy: Omega Factor features horizontal auto-scrolling flight levels where Astro needs to dodge enemy attacks while showcasing his own offense. These levels do quite well in breaking up the monotony of the normal ground levels-- as do the challenging and entertaining boss battles intermixed throughout the game.

These flight levels are interspersed 
throughout Omega Factor.
Astro Boy: Omega Factor is essentially split into two parts. As stated, the game has seven levels. These seven levels are split up into several parts. Once the initial play-through is completed, the story makes it so Astro must go through the levels once more-- this time with different motivations and character appearances. The second time around players can use the stage select feature, not offered in the first go through the game. Between the three difficulties (easy, normal, and hard), all of the NPCs that can be discovered to fill out the in-game encyclopedia, the mass of upgrades for Astro, and the urge to go for higher scores per stage, Astro Boy on the Game Boy Advance possesses a fair deal of replay value and bang for one's buck.

Something about this boss just bugs Astro.
Perhaps the only other criticism I can make about Omega Factor is near the end of the game. Astro needs to revisit various stages to advance the story. However, if a player forgets where he or she met a given character, it can become a serious effort in frustration. I guess I cannot complain too much with the advent of online guides.

One of the most outstanding parts of Astro Boy: Omega Factor are the vibrant visuals. The game is fast-paced and looks the part of a serious graphical contender. Everything from the way the bosses animate to how intricate backgrounds are designed is particularly impressive. The only downside is the occasional bout of slowdown that happens when a lot of enemies or action is on the screen at the same time.

If you think the game is gorgeous now,
just wait until you see it in motion.
Astro Boy: Omega Factor is a piece of the Game Boy Advance library that should not go unplayed. Even if you do not have a firm grasp of the source material, it is a fast and fluid game that will delight you. Treasure has a mastery of these types of action-oriented games, and Astro Boy: Omega Factor can be proudly placed next to such titles as Gunstar Heroes, Radiant Silvergun, and Ikaruga. It is not perfect, but it certainly gets the job done.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.0/10]

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

SPC Soapbox - 12/12/12 Wii U's Third-Party Woes, Enough Pachter & Street Fighter x Mega Man

There might be a certain historical benefit concert for a certain hurricane for a certain coast of a certain North American country going on tonight, but that doesn't mean that the SPC Soapbox isn't worth looking into this evening. On today's edition of the SPC Soapbox: the third-party situation on the Wii U, how I'm tired of talking about Michael Pachter and his wrong predictions, and how celebrating Mega Man's 25th with a glorified fan-game is an absolute joke. These are unabashed rants, a perfect divergence of the love that the Hurricane Sandy concert is presenting this evening.

Wii U's third-party woes

I remember a time when Nintendo was saying that the Wii U was a hardcore gamer's system (perhaps it would also be a virgin or something). What ever happened to that? We arrived at E3 2012 to be ambushed with ports and less-than-spectacular titles that did very little to excite that group of gamer. Come the release window and ports on a new generation are somehow running worse than on 6-7 year-old systems. Of course, developers aren't used to the Wii U yet, but if it's so difficult to work with, and few gamers will probably buy any games on it to begin with, why even bother supporting the system?


I'm looking at the list of upcoming third-party games coming out for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. There's games like Grand Theft Auto V, Crysis 3, Metal Gear Solid: Revengeance, BioShock: Infinite, South Park: Stick of Boom, Army of Two: The Power of Two, Tomb Raider, Dark Souls II, Dead Space 3, and Dead Island: Rip You a New One (I'm making up a lot of these names as I couldn't care less about some of these titles) that are not coming to the Wii U. Some of these studios are saying that they would want to make an experience that only the Wii U could deliver. Where have I heard that before? Oh, right. The Wii. And we all know how wonderful the third-party support for that system was.

Sadly, Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel is not Wii U bound.
(Okay, I couldn't really care less about this one.)
It's already bad on the Wii U. It hasn't even been a month and already Wii U owners have made their first petition to get a game on their system. The subject this time is Dark Souls II. Something tells me that you Wii U-only owners out there better start taking Advanced Petitions 101 classes because you're going to have to get used to doing online petitions for games you are not going to get. It shows how pathetic the third-party situation is on the Wii U already. Nintendo was saying that they were gunning for serious third-party support this time around. What happened? Could they not get Shigeru Miyamoto running around to different studios fast enough to essentially beg for support?

"We're almost to 6,000 out of 100,000 signatures, guys!"
I don't see why anyone would be optimistic in the Wii U getting proper third-party support. You either have to be very naive or you must be really in denial. It's not happening. Case closed. Thankfully, Nintendo consoles can live off the stellar first-party support, which continues to be strong. Just don't give me another New Super Mario Bros. game (though good) for at least five years.

Enough Michael Pachter already. Let's talk about Michael Strahan. What a dude!

I keep seeing a name on a more-than-once-a-weekly basis, and I am quite tired of seeing it. It is none other than Michael Pachter. Why in the blue hell does the game industry care so heavily on what this man has to say? Is it because he says what they want to hear? I know it's cool to hate on Nintendo because they suck, or they're kiddy, or they make games for babies, or they don't have any third-party support (ha-ha, see what I did there? Well, look at the paragraphs above, then!), or whatever the pathetic gamer that breathes through his mouth (heavily, I might add as he is overweight), guzzles Mountain Dew, types furiously with his Doritos chip-stained fingers, and curses at 12-year-olds on Xbox Live says, but for a man to continuously be quoted for every "Nintendo is doomed" comment he utters is absolutely ridiculous. I don't have a vested interest in gaming companies, but even I am sick of hearing and reading what he has to say.

And I know why his comments are continually quoted-- Nintendo fans are routinely gullible (hell, just look at any blatant troll topic on a Nintendo message board and look at all of the posts-- a successive troll attempt is usually committed) and, in their anger, they write up little retorts with their little fingers all coiled up with rage as they intently pound each key to form their argument. However, when will these people learn to stop giving Michael Pachter attention? He's like a troll who knows how to get Nintendo fans mad at him, and like clockwork, he succeeds every time. Just look at a Nintendo fan site like GoNintendo for proof of that concept. You see, as I say that I am ironically also giving attention and getting irked by this dim-witted analyst (well, for a different reason, but you get what I mean). I'll be through talking about him after this opinion piece, so no worries, friends.

He is not a bad looking guy, 
even in his fortune teller garb.
Regardless, for the last time I am going to argue his latest incorrect points once more. Recently Pachter was quoted as saying Nintendo does not look as good stock-wise compared to Sony or Microsoft. 1) Of course not. I don't how the company could when they deal solely in gaming and Sony and Microsoft have many more hands in many more cookie jars (i.e. computers, phones, tablets, TVs, etc.). 2) Tell me when Nintendo goes into junk status like Sony, and I'll give you that point, Pachter.

Perhaps I can understand now why the press gives Pachter so much power. He enforces a narrative that the press has been trying to push for ages now. Let's face it-- the press got the last generation hugely wrong. The Wii won and beat the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. You might not like it; I might not like it. It happened. There are honest to goodness people in the press and industry (such as Michael Pachter) who seem immensely bitter because their predictions failed horribly. I'm still waiting for Pachter to talk about how Vita isn't selling well, how Sony is doomed because of that, and his thoughts on the Kinect dying so suddenly in popularity, but I realize that will not happen. It won't give the man attention from his target audience, Nintendo fans. Well, congrats Michael Pachter. You have once again gotten the attention of the gaming world, and you only had to open your mouth and spew bile once more to do it.

Street Fighter x Mega Man

I'm preaching to the choir here, so forgive me if you already share my opinion on this or are sick of reading about this subject. Mega Man fans have been punched in the gut so many times that they probably will die from internal bleeding very soon. This all started with the cancellation of Mega Man Universe and then-- what was a severe shot to the gut-- the cancellation of Mega Man Legends 3. Yeah, I never cared if Mega Man Volnutt got off that frigid moon anyway. ...Not.


Then comes this past week an interesting 8-bit game to commemorate Mega Man's 25th anniversary this year. Oh, cool. I know Capcom is afraid to release anything that isn't a fighting game (heaven knows they can't even do their own franchises justice anymore-- Resident Evil 6, anyone?), so this seemed like a good option. It was a fighting game starring Mega Man and Street Fighter characters. Wait a second. Haven't I seen this project before? Oh, yeah.. IT WAS A FAN GAME.

When Capcom stated that they essentially couldn't even be bothered to develop their own game for Mega Man's 25th and instead were publishing a fan-game... Well, I nearly vomited out of disgust. Okay, I didn't nearly vomit out of disgust-- that's hyperbole, but I was generally hot and bothered. I mean, seriously? Capcom didn't even make the game. Some being from the Internet did all the work for them. I think that says it all about Capcom's opinion of their former mascot. When they can't even be bothered to make their own content and they go onto highlight a glorified fan-game, you know they no longer give a damn. Well, Capcom, I'm afraid I no longer give a damn.

...The game does look cool, though.

===

Perhaps my rantings sparked something in your mind that you wish to comment on. If not, then you probably don't take this hobby too darn seriously, which is just fine. It means you probably have a fulfilling life. For the 95% of us left, keep your comments clean and enjoy the discussion.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

13 in '13: Most Wanted Games

The majority of the "big" titles for 2012 have been released. While I am not finished with my look at 2012 (remember that the SPC Best of Awards happen every year), I would like to take this chance to gaze foreward and highlight my most anticipated titles of 2013. Much like my list of twelve most wanted games of 2012, this list will be comprised of 13 games for 2013. It is based off of games that are planned for next year, most of which have a concrete release date. From realistic shooters to cartoony platformers, my list of thirteen most anticipated games features a grand range of genres, content, and characters.

Grand Theft Auto V (Multi)


Let's start off with what is most likely to be the biggest game of 2013: Grand Theft Auto V. For the first time in the series, players will take control of three different main characters in the story. In fact, when a player switches from one character to another, the two main characters not being controlled by the player will go on with their daily lives. Outside of the story, which is sure to be captivating, is the ability to participate in all sorts of activities such as yoga, golf, base-jumping, gym excursions, and even scuba diving. However, what excites me most about GTA V is how Rockstar is calling the world of the game their biggest to date, larger than the worlds of GTA IV, Red Dead Redemption, and San Andreas combined. I loved Los Santos in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, so being able to revisit it in altered and much grander form gives me a warm tingly feeling all throughout my body. 

The Last of Us (PS3)


A third-person action game with multiple elements of stealth involved, The Last of Us is the latest from Naughty Dog, one of my favorite Western game development studios. Players control Joel, who is accompanied by a computer-controlled girl named Ellie. The Last of Us excites me because of the different ways and strategies players can go about using to survive and progress through the game. Enemies will behave in a number of ways depending on what strategy the player uses. Alongside gunplay, there is melee combat to be had in the game. The E3 2012 demonstration certainly turned some heads-- mine included-- so the May release of The Last of Us cannot come soon enough.

God of War: Ascension (PS3)


The seventh installment of the God of War franchise, God of War: Ascension, will be a prequel to the series. The game will star Kratos and feature an entirely revamped combat system. For instance, Kratos can pick up weapons found on the ground, as well as switch weapons while in the middle of a combo. Also, for the first time in franchise history, God of War: Ascension will have a multiplayer component to it that will offer battles for up to eight players to participate in. The new direction the God of War series is embarking in is one that should delight players. I know it intrigues me deeply as I was growing weary of the once fresh formula.

BioShock Infinite (Multi) 


Leave it to gamers to make mountains out of molehills. The latest "controversy" regards the cover art of BioShock Infinite. This isn't to be an apologist for the publisher of the game, but give me a break, gamers. Whine about stuff that actually matters before publishers and studios just ignore you altogether. Anyway, the concept of the game enthuses me highly-- a city suspended in the air. It only makes sense, I imagine, as the BioShock series has already explored a city submerged in water. Regardless, BioShock Infinite is shaping up to become a hot seller when it releases next year-- what, with its take on first-person shooting action, RPG elements, high-powered weaponry, and blockbuster production values.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (Multi)


Thank the gaming gods that this next game on my list was not canceled and was saved by Platinum Games. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance's name might be silly, but the gameplay is anything but. In the game, Metal Gear Solid 2 and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots's Raiden character gets top billing in his cyborg form. Armed with a deadly katana, Raiden can slice and dice enemies and obstacles with high accuracy, even entering a bullet time-esque mode where he can cut foes to shreds with the pinpoint precision of a surgeon. Don't worry, though, stealth fans, MGS: Revengeance will also feature moments of stealth and reconnaissance for you as well. Players can take control of cyborg Raiden when the game releases in February 2013.

Anarchy Reigns (PS3, 360)


I was one of many Wii owners who enjoyed MadWorld, an M-rated monochrome brawler that players could paint the town red (with opponents' blood) in. The primary cast of that game have been transferred over to Anarchy Reigns, available in the first dozen days of 2013 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The game will feature a single-player aspect as well as a multiplayer one with modes like Death Match, Tag Team, and Battle Royale, to name a few. For a budget price of only thirty dollars, Anarchy Reigns looks and sounds like a compelling impulse buy.

Aliens: Colonial Marines (Multi)


The popular Aliens movie series once again gets the video game treatment. This time around it is with Gearbox Software's Aliens: Colonial Marines. The game is based heavily on the original Aliens, even showcasing characters from it. Players utilize a myriad of weapons from the movie to slay the hordes of monstrous scum that await in ambush. Killing enemies earns experience points that can be used to upgrade weaponry and learn new skills. In addition to the solo campaign, there is a multiplayer piece to the game. Shown so far are competitive deathmatch and objective-based modes. I, for one, am excited to see how the Wii U version will pan out, particularly how the GamePad will be utilized (and if it will be utilized in a smart way).

Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time (PS3, PSV)


I had a great sense of trepidation when I heard/read that Sucker Punch, the original developer of the Sly Cooper series, would not be on-board as the major party behind Sly's first original adventure on the PlayStation 3. After playing the demo of the upcoming Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, courtesy of the Ratchet & Clank Collection, my worries seem unwarranted. The gameplay features all of the tightrope walking, stealth-based fun, and elegant platforming fans have grown to expect and love of the Sly Cooper franchise. New to this installment of the series is the ability for Sly to take on different costumes. The one in the demo allowed the wily raccoon to fire arrows as if he were Robin Hood. Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time is scheduled to hit the PS3 in early February.

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3) 


I must admit that for this game, one of the sole reasons I am interested in it is Studio Ghibli, the creators of such fine animated films like the Academy Award-winning Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle. Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch looks like an interactive cartoon thanks much to the animation studio's stellar abilities. I don't think I have seen a better looking art style in quite a while. (Actually, the next game on this list will rival Ni no Kuni, but that's a topic for a different day.) Another reason I am so enthralled by this game is because it gives off a very old-school Super Nintendo RPG-era feel. As someone who grew up on that system, that is mighty fine praise from me.

Rayman Legends (Wii U)


Another game with a gorgeous art style is Rayman Legends, due out Feb. 26 of next year in North America. If you have played last year's Rayman Origins, a game that debuted on a multitude of platforms, then Rayman Legends should be strikingly similar at first. You run, jump, and slap your way through brilliantly designed in structure and aesthetics levels. What the Wii U GamePad brings to the table are levels where you help an AI player move through levels, using the GamePad's touch screen to tickle enemies, move platforms, and other helpful and innovative assisting ways. These Murfy levels have taken the place of the "moskito" affairs in Origins. As stated, platforming, as well as multiplayer fans can look forward to Rayman Legends in late February.

Pikmin 3 (Wii U) 


One of the only Wii U games given a second quarter of 2013 release time frame, Pikmin 3 officially brings Shigeru Miyamoto's charming creatures to the world of HD for the first time. In this iteration of the Pikmin franchise, players cordon off tasks to up to four different Pikmin leaders, as opposed to the two in the second Pikmin game. New Pikmin types also join the fray, including the hard-hitting Rock Pikmin and the mysterious Pink Pikmin. Players can use either the Wii U GamePad or the Wii Remote and Nunchuk combo to control the game.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS)


Probably my most anticipated Nintendo 3DS title of 2013 in an already packed year for the system is Animal Crossing: New Leaf. As my old Animal Crossing Journal showed, I have a certain admiration for the franchise. However, this entry in the series brings a lot that is new to the table to change things up, unlike a certain Wii game (*cough* City Folk *cough*). This time around players will become the mayors of their towns, able to put landmarks like fountains, lampposts, bushes, and benches wherever they please. The customization of the game has never been greater either. I feverishly await Animal Crossing: New Leaf, whether in retail or digital form.

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon (3DS) 


Fans of the original Luigi's Mansion have waited over a decade for a sequel to transpire. Now, Nintendo and Next Level Games (Mario Strikers: Charged, Punch-Out!! for Wii) have teamed up together to create a haunting 3DS-exclusive adventure starring everyone's favorite plumber, Luigi! Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon is set to produce some scares, some thrills, and some chills with its multiple mansions and ghost-busting action. The aforementioned multiple mansions each have their own theme to make things even more interesting. While no concrete date has been given for this game as of yet, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon is set for a release in the first half of 2013.

===

No doubt my list of most anticipated 2013 games does not match your own. That's all right. You're allowed to have a different opinion as much as I am. That said, why not post your own list of thirteen titles that make you quiver with excitement in the comments section?

Monday, December 10, 2012

SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs - Sonic's Wild Crystal Curse Ends With You Edition

It's the start of a new week here at SuperPhillip Central, so that means it must be time for SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs. That is exactly what I have for you on this fine December day. On today's installment of the good ol' VGMs, I have music from Sonic R, Wild ARMS, and The World Ends With You, for starters. Now let the music pour out of your speakers or into your headphones!

v256. Sonic R (SCD) - Can You Feel the Sunshine?


Sure, Euro-pop and Sonic the Hedgehog might not be the first combination that enters your mind for a Sonic racing game, but it somehow works. You have cheesy lyrics and a sunny set of songs which mix together to make the Sonic R soundtrack. Can You Feel the Sunshine? plays during the very first race of the game.

v257. Wild ARMS (PS1) - Funeral Procession


Nothing like following up an uptempo, perky song with a funeral theme! The Aldehyde king has been killed, and this theme plays during his funeral procession. I love the solemn nature of the song with backing vocals. Then the theme gets even more emotional at this juncture. Michiko Naruke certainly struts her stuff with this exquisite composition. Additionally, the wallpaper you see before you was created by Deviantart user ZakkVanBurace.

v258. Kirby Canvas Curse (DS) - Tiny Town


The second level of the terrific Kirby Canvas Curse, Tiny Town has a theme that is a remix that should be familiar to fans of Kirby's Dream Land. It's a remix of the music that plays during the Bubbly Clouds level. Kirby Canvas Curse remains one of my favorite Kirby games, and it isn't even a traditional one either.

v259. The World Ends With You (DS) - Someday


The World Ends With You soundtrack is full of vocal themes for hanging around Shibuya and defeating enemies in battle. Someday is just one of many of these aforementioned themes. The World Ends With You found its way onto iOS platforms, so even more players were able to experience this excellent game.

v260. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles (GCN) - Magi is Everything


I really dig the Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles soundtrack as it features many earthen sounds. There's no electric guitar for battle themes here, people. No, it's just music from the earth. Magi is Everything plays during Moschet Manor, a level that has players searching for Tonberries to destroy before the owner of the manor shows himself. I find that Crystal Chronicles is a severely underrated gem in the GameCube library.

===

Next Monday is Mega Man's 25th anniversary. While Capcom is celebrating with a fan-made game (if that doesn't tell you what Capcom thinks of Mega Man, nothing will), SuperPhillip Central will be celebrating with a VGM edition full of Mega Man's marvelous music. See you then!

Don't forget to check out SuperPhillip's VGM Database.

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