Friday, March 15, 2013

400th Review! Metroid Prime (Wii) Retro Review

After nearly five years of service, SuperPhillip Central has reached its 400th review. We couldn't help but celebrate with what is rightfully considered one of the greatest games of all time, Metroid Prime. Here is our review.

The Girl With the Golden Touch


Metroid is a legendary franchise and one that has created many imitators. However, few have ever reached the levels of greatness that Metroid as a series has obtained. While many Metroid fans find the greatest height of the franchise being the Super Nintendo's excellent Super Metroid, others find the first fully 3D Metroid game, Metroid Prime, as the best Samus Aran has to offer. This reviewer sides with the latter argument. Metroid Prime isn't just the best Samus Aran has to offer, it's simply one of the best games in modern gaming history.

Metroid Prime begins with Samus Aran investigating a Space Pirate frigate in the quiet of space. The crew had been decimated by the experiments being manufactured on board. Inside the ship she uncovers a grotesque Parasite Queen, one such experiment gone awry. After defeating it, she comes across a genetically altered version of her nemesis, Ridley, who quickly retreats and heads for the nearby planet of Tallon IV. As Samus retreats from the then-self-destructing frigate, she makes chase in her Gunship of the new Meta Ridley creature. Little does Samus know that there's more to Tallon IV than meets the eye.

Samus is on the scene.
If you are unfamiliar with how the Metroid series works, let me enlighten you. The Metroid series is built on exploring areas and uncovering new abilities through power-ups. By finding new power-ups and gaining those new abilities, you are able to access previously unreachable areas, thus being able to explore more and more of each series's games. That's generally the crux of how Metroid works. Metroid Prime gives players for the first time a fully 3D world to explore instead of the typical side-scrolling 2D action the series is most known for.

The world is incredibly well put together. Tallon IV is a living, breathing world full of things to see, do, and discover. You really feel like you are on a mysterious planet-- a bold new world. Tallon IV is split up between multiple areas: you have the Tallon Overworld; the footprint of the Chozo tribe, the Chozo Ruins; the underworld of Tallon IV where molten magma and blazing beasts call their home, the Magmoor Caverns; the eerily tranquil and icy areas of the Phendrana Drifts; and the radioactive quarries of the Phazon Mines. Each area is connected by elevator from one area to another, and each area has multiple elevators. With all of these areas you might think that getting lost is easy. Thankfully, it's not too terribly bad, despite the addition of a new dimension. Metroid Prime has its own fully rotatable map with every room and hallway having its own name. Uncovering map stations allows you to reveal the lay of the land. Rooms in blue are not yet entered while orange rooms are. Meanwhile, save stations allow you to obviously save your game, and are routinely placed in convenient locations around Tallon IV.

Tallon Overworld is the main hub 
of Metroid Prime.
Samus Aran has a lot of her abilities from past games such as the Morph Ball that allows her to curl up into a ball to squeeze through narrow passages, the Space Jump that allows her to perform a double jump, and the Power Bomb that grants her the ability to blow up certain walls that would otherwise be impenetrable.

I'm getting cold just looking at this screen!
In addition to new abilities, Samus can gain new beams. From icy shots of arctic cold with the Ice Beam to the intense heat of the Plasma Beam, these can be cycled through by holding the + button on the Wii Remote and then holding the pointer over the desired beam to select it. Outside of beams, an important part of exploration comes through obtaining different visors for Samus to utilize. For instance, the Thermal Visor allows Samus to obtain heat signatures within pitch black rooms while the X-Ray Visor grants Samus the ability to see through walls and uncover hidden goodies. Without these visors, journeying through the perilous Tallon IV would be next to impossible.

A big part of discovering the back story to Metroid Prime is done through the Scan Visor, which allows Samus to scan objects, items, and enemies. Nearly everything in the game can be scanned. These scanned items go into Samus's log book where players can read up on the history of Tallon IV, the Chozo, various enemies, Space Pirate data entries, and much more at any time. Players can honestly go through the game without knowing much of anything regarding what is happening if they don't bother to read the various scan information around Tallon IV.

Discovery is indeed an important part of the Metroid franchise, and it is remarkably well done in Metroid Prime. As new upgrades are acquired, new areas are able to be entered, opening up new sights and sounds for Samus to see and hear. Hidden in the game are an immense amount of helpful expansions. These increase the amount of missiles, power bombs, and health Samus can hold. In order to obtain that often heralded 100% completion percentage, not only do all of the expansions need to be found and received, but all of the pages in Samus's log book must be filled through scanning the necessary objects and enemies.

Perhaps something that will turn off some players is the copious amounts of returning to previously explored areas. You will be backtracking a lot in Metroid Prime, and while that is an accepted part of the genre, some players may get tired of trekking through old haunts just to reach one new room. That said, Metroid Prime limits needless backtracking to a great degree, and it's one of the better examples of the genre archetype to be had. One other issue that relates to backtracking is a quest that needs to be done at the end of the game. That is, twelve Chozo Artifacts must be found before you can reach the final area of the game. Their locations are given in cryptic hints, and they require returning to past areas to find them. Again, this is something that might drain the enthusiasm of some players.

Tallon IV's so dangerous that even the 
plants are trying to kill you.
The planet of Tallon IV is full of interesting (and dangerous) creatures. Each can be scanned to get details about the proper way to dispose of them. This is no truer than with Metroid Prime's colossal bosses. Each has their own patterns and ways to defeat them, from gigantic rock monsters to Phazon-powered omega-level Space Pirates. The boss battles themselves are entertaining, and some are downright challenging too. Generally each boss is the last thing in the way of Samus acquiring a brand-new power-up or even better, a brand-new suit.

Stop, rock, and roll.
While we're on the subject of combat, the Wii Remote and Nunchuk are the tools of your trade to eliminate the threat to Tallon IV. By pointing at the edges of the television screen, you move the camera around (i.e. Samus's viewpoint). In correlation with the analog stick, this is how you move around. Aiming is done by locking on to foes (though locking on isn't necessary, it's quite the help) and pointing carefully with the Wii Remote. While this method of control is not as entirely accurate as a keyboard and mouse combo, it is better in precision (and much more fun in this reviewer's opinion) than dual analogs. As for every other control input (curling into Samus's Morph Ball, firing missiles, and so on), everything makes sense as to how it is performed and situated on both the Wii Remote and Nunchuk.

Show this baddie who's boss.
Metroid Prime still astonishes with its graphics. Little touches like steam fogging up Samus's visor and rain droplets tinkling down her armor make for impressive sights. Then there are the big touches like the gorgeous environments (Phendrana Drifts is one of the most beautiful places in a Nintendo game) and the well designed enemies and bosses that make for some sensational sights (and fights). The music is a series of remixed Metroid classic themes and entirely new compositions. It is a mix of music that makes for a marvelous soundtrack. It perfectly fits with the feeling of being on an alien planet.

The Arnold Schwarzenegger of Space Pirates.
It is simply amazing how well Nintendo and Retro Studios have managed to transplant the gameplay of the Metroid series from its 2D roots and place them into 3D so splendidly. The level of polish and attention to detail is just enormous, and you can tell that Metroid Prime was crafted as a labor of love between developer Retro Studios and publisher Nintendo. Although it has a first-person perspective and there is plenty of shooting, those looking for Nintendo's answer to Halo are better suited to look elsewhere as Metroid Prime is Metroid through and through with all of its backtracking and exploring. With the addition of Wii Remote controls, the best version of this game can now only be found on the Nintendo Wii.

[SPC Says: 9.75/10]

Top Ten PlayStation Franchises

While Nintendo's first party studios are held to an almost impossible standard, Sony does not get enough credit for their own first party studios. They're quite awesome, too. Sony's stable of series have significantly improved over the past generation, offering content that you cannot find anywhere else but PlayStation. This top ten list features what I consider to be the ten best Sony franchises. You will most likely disagree with the order, but I hope we can all agree that these ten series deserve to be on this list. From Kratos to Nathan Drake, Jak and Daxter to Ratchet & Clank, and Wipeout to Gran Turismo, PlayStation fans have had an embarrassment of riches in the form of these franchises.

10) Jak and Daxter


Before developer Naughty Dog was telling the tales of Nathan Drake and the last human survivors in a metropolitan setting, they worked on various mascot platformers. We are almost all familiar with Crash Bandicoot, but Naughty Dog also worked on Jak and Daxter. The original Jak and Daxter was no doubt modeled after so-called collect-a-thon platformers such as Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie, but it still had its own identity. The sequel brought with it a new Jak with a new, more "mature" attitude (a small but infamous episode in PlayStation history). While the game was a drastic departure from what made the original J&D so great, Jak II and its subsequent sequels still their own level of fun.

9) Killzone


With the success of Halo on the Xbox, Sony desired their own first-person shooter series that would be exclusive to the PlayStation. Thus, the birth of Killzone occurred. The first Killzone appeared on the PlayStation 2, and it was riddled with problems. However, Sony took the series to the PlayStation 3 and offered a jaw-dropping E3 trailer of a build of the sequel, Killzone 2. Unfortunately, that build was not representative of the final game at all. That said, Killzone presents players with a fantastic amount of shooting gameplay that PlayStation owners seemingly cannot get enough of. If you don't believe me, look at the hype for the Vita's Killzone: Mercenary and the PlayStation 4's Killzone: Shadow Fall. See what I mean, now?

8) Sly Cooper


The PlayStation 2 was the birthplace of three new 3D platforming franchises. I've covered the first with Jak and Daxter, and the second is Sucker Punch's Sly Cooper. Sly is a master thief who uses his virtuoso stealing abilities to reclaim the lost pages of his ancestry's fabled book. This crafty raccoon has a wide range of platforming skills: sneaking across edges, climbing up poles, tip-toeing across power lines, and so much more. Though there are only four games in the franchise, each one has its own personality which makes for a platforming brand that is tremendous fun. Just try out the first game in the series, Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus to see what the admiration is all about.

7) Wipeout


Though it does not reach F-Zero levels, Wipeout is still a fantastic futuristic racer that pits players to duke it out across tracks that twist, turn, fork, and spin. Which way is up? Which way is down? Did I remember to go to the bathroom before the race? I don't know the answer to any of these questions! Unlike F-Zero, however, Wipeout sports weapon combat, online play, and most recently, gorgeous high-definition visuals. It's a futuristic racing franchise that PlayStation fans can call their own, and it is surely a marvelous one. I just hope you don't suffer from motion sickness...

6) Hot Shots


The Hot Shots series is one that is the pinnacle of golf games. It is one that beginners to absolute experts and everyone in between can enjoy. Each game has its own set of colorful courses, a kooky cast of characters, superb visuals, and sim-like nature to it that makes for that must-play got-to-do-one-more-course feeling in players. Whether it's online tournaments, beating the CPU in a match play round, or getting that ever-elusive course record the Hot Shots series is a great time on the links. Hot Shots as a series has even expanded to tennis, offering the same arcade feeling with that ever addicting gameplay. It is for these reasons that the Hot Shots franchise makes this list.

5) Gran Turismo


The ultimate driving simulator, Gran Turismo is one of Sony's most heralded series. Yes, it isn't very newbie-friendly, but once players have come to terms with the ins and outs of each game possesses, they will find an immensely rewarding franchise. Gran Turismo allows car, driving, and racing enthusiasts alike to get behind the wheel of their favorite wheeled beasts and take their machines to the most exotic racing locations the world has ever seen. It's this dream turned virtual reality and the myriad amounts of detail and nuances that make the Gran Turismo series so loved. That is why it is number five on this list.

4) Uncharted


Protagonist Nathan Drake is marketed as an everyman character, but I don't know many everymen who have kill counts that stretch in the hundreds (beating out a lot of serial killers, mind you), superhero levels of upper body strength, and most importantly, almost always sporting a half tuck. Regardless, Drake's a likable fellow, and the series he represents, Uncharted, is essentially one part interactive Indiana Jones and one part Tomb Raider. Both parts equal some wonderful treasure hunting, platforming, and cover-based shooting with some sensational set pieces thrown in for good measure. The stories are always written in a magnificent manner, and above all, the Uncharted series consistently delivers excellence.

3) LittleBigPlanet


I love customization in games, and LittleBigPlanet is the beacon of that. Though some criticize Sackboy's floaty jumps, I look past that and still enjoy the platforming. What I love most, however, is the ability to create anything and everything. Basically anything you see in the games' campaigns can be made in LittleBigPlanet's highly intricate level creators. Make objects, make enemies, make whatever you want. You don't even have to make a platformer, for goodness sake. The level of what you can craft with LittleBigPlanet's tools is nothing short of amazing, and I have lost many night's sleep tinkering and tailoring custom designs to share with the community at large. LittleBigPlanet as a series is truly something special.

2) Ratchet & Clank


While Ratchet & Clank have seen much better days (a duo of relative stinker entries in the franchise known as All 4 One and Full Frontal Assault/Q-Force soil the series a little), the good far outweighs the bad with the Ratchet & Clank franchise. The fun of upgrading powerful and highly creative weaponry through repeated use, following along the off-the-wall intergalactic journeys of our protagonists, laughing at all the humorous jokes the series has to offer, and enjoying the terrific combo of action and platforming makes for a platforming series that is one of this writer's favorites. Here's hoping Ratchet & Clank's future games are more similar to their original adventures and less of something in the failed experiment category.

1) God of War


God of War: Ascension is the latest entry in the series that essentially started its own copious amount of imitators. While many have tried to take the crown, none of have usurped the king, God of War. And sitting on top of all of the corpses who wanted his crown is Kratos, the anti-hero protagonist of the series. There really is no bad game in the series, and that is pretty impressive seeing how many entries in the franchise there are. Although there have been small alterations made to each game, the design is pretty much still the same, which turns off some players. However, when you have something that really works well, why risk ruining it? Some also say the series is only popular because of its ultra-violence. I find the series to be full of brilliant games that just happen to be ultra-violent. Regardless, God of War as a brand continues to kick butt, take names, and be at the top of the heap when it comes to action games.

===

There ends the week here at SuperPhillip Central. Stay tuned next week for even more content. Until then, what PlayStation series are your favorites? Let the world know in the comments below.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

LEGO City Undercover (Wii U) March Trailer

As LEGO City Undercover's March 18 release date draws ever closer, a new trailer for the month of March has been uploaded by Nintendo on their YouTube channel. It shows off more of the game's wonderful sense of humor and gameplay that anyone can enjoy.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (Wii U, PS3, 360, 3DS, Vita, PC) Review

We're in a reviewing kind of mood here at SuperPhillip Central. Next up is one of the better kart racing experiences out there, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. It's a game full of lovable SEGA characters and blazing fast speeds. Here is our review. Oh, and yes, we did the "by land, by air, by sea" joke with our Mario Kart 7 review already.

Where we're going we don't need roads...


Sonic is no stranger to racing games. His platforming existence is built on speed, for heaven's sake. Regardless, Sonic has had multiple run-ins with the racing genre. There's been Sonic R, Sonic Drift, Sonic Riders, and without a doubt the best of the bunch, Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing, one of the better kart racers out there. Now, developer Sumo Digital is back with a follow-up to that game with Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. Does this sequel create a transformation that evolves the kart racing genre, or does it wipe out on a tight corner?

There are two main modes of play to progress in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed: World Tour and Grand Prix. The latter is your typical four race ordeal where the player with the most points at the end is deemed the winner and gets his or her own place on the podium. World Tour is much more involved. It is a series of "worlds" that contain several event types. By clearing events you earn stars. You earn more stars for clearing an event on a higher challenge level (e.g. clearing easy difficulty events gives you one star, while clearing hard difficulty events gets you three stars). Clearing events allows you access to more events, and you can use stars to open up paths to even more events and to unlock new characters.

By land...
There are a myriad of event types available from simple three lap races to drift challenges, boost challenges, versus events where you must beat a series of AI opponents in a timed race, battle races where you must defeat all opponents with offensive items, ring races where you are in a race against the clock to fly through every ring of a particular track, and much more. The variety keeps things from getting boring, and what's awesome about World Tour is that you don't have to try to overcome it alone. Up to three other players can join you (four other players for the Wii U version), and only one of you needs to clear the event to have all of you pass it.

By air...
While not quite everybody is Super Sonic racing (many characters from the original Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing are confusingly absent from the sequel), the cast of SEGA all-stars is one that represents a multitude of classic SEGA series. There are obviously a great selection of Sonic series representatives such as the Blue Blur himself, Tails, Knuckles, Amy, Shadow, and Dr. Eggman, but there are also characters from lesser known franchises like Gilius from Golden Axe, Joe Musashi from Shinobi, Ulala and Pudding from Space Channel 5, B.D. Joe from Crazy Taxi, and Vyse from fan-favorite Skies of Arcadia. Perhaps my only gripe in the roster is the dubious inclusions of Danica Patrick and Disney's Wreck-It Ralph. Did we really need these two additions to leave out loved classic characters like Ryo Hazuki and Billy Hatcher?

By sea...
Regardless, each character has his or her own stats, and by using them enough, they gain enough experience to earn new levels. Each level earned gives that all-star a new mod for their kart, whether it be speed, acceleration, handling, boost, or what have you. You can only select one mod per event, so it's imperative to select a mod that will be beneficial to the track that you're about to race on.

While we're on the subject of tracks, even when a SEGA series is not represented by a character on the racing roster, it can still be represented with its own track. For example, The House of the Dead's track is known as Graveyard Gig, a ride through a zombie-filled mansion; there is an After Burner track that takes place on a couple of aircraft carriers; and there is even a Burning Rangers track that occurs in an underwater base of sorts. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed contains twenty tracks in total, four of which are returning tracks from the original Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing.

The "transformed" part of Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed refers to how karts can change forms to suit the driver's need. Blue rings transform karts into boats or flight vehicles, so when there is no road left to drive on and there's nothing but water ahead, your kart will transform into a boat. The "transformed" part also refers to how the tracks change as the races progress. One instance of this is the aforementioned Panzer Dragoon track, Dragon Canyon. The first lap all takes place on roads, but the second lap has the road about a fourth of the way through submerged with water, altering not only what vehicle the racers use but the path to the finish line as well. The third lap is almost totally a sky affair, having you bob and weave through canyon walls and dangling cocoons. Not every track goes through a transformation each lap, but the majority of them do.

Super Monkey Ball's course is full of places
to fall off and paths to take.
However, not all is perfect with the track design (but make no mistake that the track design is really really good). For one, it can be quite difficult to see where you are supposed to drive and see upcoming turns. There's just so much going on on some tracks that seeing which direction you need to turn is problematic, resulting in slamming into a wall and losing several positions in a race.

Meanwhile, Adder's Lair from Golden Axe will
have you in kart, boat, and plane all in one race.
Another issue is that the game is quite glitchy. I have flown through walls, flown through ceilings, fallen off tracks and have the game take ten seconds to return me to my previous place on the track, and so forth.

Finally, an issue I have comes with the items. In the predecessor to this game, items were given a SEGA theme. In this game, items are much more generic in theme. They're still balanced, mind you, but they have no identity. There are ice shots that temporarily freeze foes, a twister that when it hits an opponent it reverses their controls, a firework that acts like Mario Kart's green shell, bouncing off walls, a swarm of bees that when unleashed, covers the track with huge hornets, along with other items. Additionally, all-star moves return, allowing those behind the pack to gain some places with ultra-helpful and character-specific abilities.  Finally and fortunately, I can happily say that there is no blue shell equivalent in this game. Hallelujah, said kart racing fans around the world.

All the features in the world mean little if the actual racing is no fun. Thankfully, this is not an issue in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (unlike the glitches). Karts handle tightly, and the controls feel great and fluid. You hold a shoulder button to perform a drift around turns and corners, and the more you drift the better your boost when you ease off the button. It's a drifting mechanic that feels as great as the controls in general do. In addition to drifting, you can gain a boost by performing tricks via flicking the right stick mid-jump and landing cleanly. Not only can you race hard, but you can race with style. Very nice.

Drift around turns and corners to keep your 
speed up and to gain an all-important boost.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is an immensely colorful game, but sometimes that is a detriment to racing. As stated, it can be hard to see where you need to turn, especially with the lack of guide arrows on many of the tracks. That said, most of the game's races run smoothly, and online isn't that shabby either. The music features an abundance of familiar arrangements of classic SEGA franchise tunes, all done by composer Richard Jacques, a name many SEGA fans should know and adore. All in all, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed has a splendid presentation and grand production values.

Many folks have been suggesting that Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed beats out every Mario Kart game on the market. That's a pretty bold statement considering All-Stars Racing Transformed doesn't even beat out its predecessor, Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing. That said, Sonic and SEGA's latest kart racing affair is one that is an absolute delight, especially in multiplayer, only hindered by glitches and a lack of being able to tell where to go on a given track, leading to copious amounts of frustration. Whether you prefer to speed as Sonic, jet through the air as NiGHTs, pump up the jam with Jet Set Radio's Beat, or do whatever else as one of the other characters of the game, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is one of the better kart racers this generation. You, too, can be Super Sonic racing with this excellent, but flawed, game.

[SPC Says: 8.25/10]

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Amazing Spider-Man: Ultimate Edition (Wii U) Review

Our next review is for The Amazing Spider-Man: Ultimate Edition for the Wii U. The game is available currently at Toys 'R' Us for the low entry price of $29.99. Once you've let this review sink in, perhaps you'll be heading out to pick up the game for that price point. Otherwise, you can get the game for $39.99, a price that more late ports should be priced at, or perhaps not buy the game at all. Your choice.

With great power comes a Wii U port that's a bit late.


Nintendo fans have had a love/hate relationship with third-parties. Up until the Nintendo 64, Nintendo home consoles were bastions for great third-party support. Now, third-parties have a nasty habit of releasing test games, half-hearted efforts, and late ports to Nintendo systems, much to the chagrin of Nintendo console owners. The Amazing Spider-Man: Ultimate Edition is the latter of these types of titles, which are no stranger to the Wii U. Already we have seen many late ports in the form of Mass Effect 3, Madden, Darksiders II, and Batman: Arkham City - Armored Edition. That said, despite the original versions that came out late June in North America, The Amazing Spider-Man: Ultimate Edition is still a worthwhile game for those like me who have not played the game in any form yet. After this review I hope you'll see why, true believers.

The Amazing Spider-Man video game is an epilogue to the feature film that released last summer, so if you are like me and haven't seen the movie, then you will be spoiled on what happened in the video game. The only difference is that while I didn't mind, you might, so there is that cautionary warning to give out. The story of the game is one that will keep players playing to see how everything ends, and it does a great job developing the characters.

Just realize that our relationship, Felicia, is
a platonic superhero/criminal one.
The game is open world, and as Spider-Man you can freely swing around Manhattan, either following along with the story (i.e. entering indoor levels to progress the game's plot) or doing a series of side missions, which there are many in the game to do. While many are similar to one another (e.g. dropping off escaped mental institution patients at the police station compared to dropping off infected civilians to a local makeshift hospital), there is plenty to do in Manhattan. Whether you're saving a denizen from a group of thugs, stopping up to three speeding getaway cars, or participating in "Xtreme" challenges like races and photo shoots, if you're looking for superfluous content in your Spider-Man games, you have it in The Amazing Spider-Man.

The best part about being Spider-Man is doing everything a Spider-Man can. This includes my favorite ability, web-slinging. The web-slinging in The Amazing Spider-Man is fast, fluid, and feels excellent. It's much more beginner friendly than, say, what was available in Spider-Man 2 (PS2, GCN, XBX), but it still requires a bit of finesse to master. There are an abundance of buildings to swing from, and proficient web-slingers will trek across town effortlessly. I cannot help but agree when Spider-Man yells, "Whoo-hoo! I'm loving this!"

Web-slinging is as awesome as ever in
The Amazing Spider-Man.
In addition to traditional web-slinging, what makes The Amazing Spider-Man's version of the ability so great is how it works with a new mechanic, the web rush. When you hold down the R button, you enter web rush mode, a first-person mode that sees the world through the webhead's eyes, where everything slows down to a crawl-- enemies, the environment, etc. You can aim at glowing Spider-Man silhouettes and let go of the R button to automatically speed towards them. This is essential for reaching spots with perfect precision, particularly indoor areas.

The web rush is an invaluable ability for Spidey to have.
Web rush isn't just limited to getting around town or anywhere else for that matter. It has various indoor uses that can save a superhero spider's rear end. (Is there a scientific name for that?) Web rush allows you to hang from ceilings, perches, walls, and whatnot and sneak up on unaware foes. You can then perform what the game calls a stealth takedown to grab the enemy and wrap them up in Spidey's web. Oh, what tangled webs we weave when first we practice mad stealth skills. Web rush is also paramount to combat. You can target enemies to sling right into them to start assaults, as well as pick up objects to chuck at baddies, too.

These cross species hunters don't 
really care for Spider-Men.
Combat is heavily reminiscent and no doubt inspired by the Batman: Arkham games. Why not borrow from something that works well? In the case of The Amazing Spider-Man, it makes for combat that feels wonderful. Spider-Man can effortlessly flow into punches, kicks, and combos as he battles hordes of foes. When his Spider Sense goes all tingly and white lines dance above his head, you can press the evade button to have Spider-Man counter an enemy's attack. By racking up combos you get more experience.

Spider-man is one of the few superheroes that 
can breakdance while he fights.
Experience is given out for virtually everything-- completing missions in both story and side varieties, finding hidden objects in levels such as magazines and audio journals (getting 100% items found in every level is yet another optional task that aspiring completionists can try out as beaten levels can be returned to), beating up baddies, and a plethora of other ways. Earned experience and tech upgrades can be used to purchase new abilities and options. Spidey can take less damage from physical attacks, gunfire, and acid, for instance. He can learn new web tricks, offensive moves, and other helpful bonuses.

One might wonder what the purpose of an almost year-old port of The Amazing Spider-Man is. Not only is the Wii U version $39.99 MSRP, which is a price that all old ports, regardless of quality should be priced at maximum, but this version of the game features all of the downloadable content from the other versions already on the disc. This means you can play as Rhino in special challenges or Stan Lee to your heart's content. By far my favorite feature of this ultimate edition of the game is off-TV play, that is, playing the game solely on the Wii U GamePad. Otherwise, the GamePad is used as a map for getting around Manhattan and for getting phone calls.

Use the Wii U GamePad as a map, or use it
as the screen to play the entire game on.
Regardless of these bonuses for the ultimate edition, there are some technical issues that are plain to see. In fact, it's pretty easy to call this Wii U port non-optimized for the system or at most a quick and dirty one. For one, there is a fair amount of screen tearing. While this is obvious to see, you pretty much get used to it. Graphical aficiandos will most likely be unable to cope with this. Also, the frame-rate becomes unstable when there is an immense amount of action going on. This is most blatant during deadlock side missions where there is a lot of enemies around and gunfire going on. Additionally, twice I fell under Manhattan, and instead of seeing what I expected to find, sewers, I found a huge void. Luckily, I could web-sling out of my vacuous prison without needing to restart, or worse, reset the game. Lastly, the final technical issue that happens occurs in Miiverse. Occasionally, when trying to post screenshots, the poster's Wii U will hang up and freeze in the process of posting. Hopefully a lot of these problems will be addressed with via patches, or at least the Miiverse issue. Then again, knowing third-parties and Nintendo home consoles, when there is a limited amount of effort that can be done, that is usually what a third-party will do.

Play as Rhino as part of the bonus content.
Despite all of the technical issues with the Wii U version of The Amazing Spider-Man, I still found myself having a great deal of fun with the game. No, it is not a marvel of technology, and no, it does not run the smoothest. That said, web-slinging around Manhattan is absolutely entertaining, the side missions, though sometimes repetitive, offer a multitude of extra content, and the story will keep players invested. As stated through a multitude of means, The Amazing Spider-Man: Ultimate Edition is indeed an imperfect port, but I would be hard-pressed to say it isn't an enjoyable ride. Rather than be a-"meh"-zing, this Wii U port is worth looking into, especially if you missed out the first time around when the original game released.

[SPC Says: 7.5/10]

Monday, March 11, 2013

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

Another game coming to Nintendo platforms next week is Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, offering online play and HD visuals for Wii U owners and handheld play for Nintendo 3DS owners. Both will be cross compatible, so you can take your 3DS character and play him or her on Wii U and vice versa. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is due out March 19.

LEGO City Undercover (Wii U) Two More Commercials

The marketing blitz has begun for LEGO City Undercover. It seems to be the perfect city for a tourist with lots of different vehicles to test drive, as shown by the first commercial. The second TV spot goes into the various disguise protagonist Chase McCain can try on. LEGO City Undercover arrives on Wii U on March 18.



Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity (3DS) North American Commercial

"Dude", here comes the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity North American commercial. Beyond this campy commercial, lies an interesting discovery-- a Pokemon Pikachu 3DS XL. Could that be coming to North America? It would be so cruel if it was in the ad and wasn't on its way to our shores. That said, the demo of this game really turned me onto getting and reviewing the latest in the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series. The game comes out the same day as Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, but it will be available for five dollars less. Both release March 24.

SPC's Favorite VGMs - Spring Break 2013 Edition

SuperPhillip Central is back for a week's worth of new content. Starting that off is our Spring Break 2013 edition of the Favorite VGMs. This week is terrific for taking a vacation to the coast, but if you can't leave your troubles behind and go somewhere, why not get away with these five stellar tracks from video games? We have music from Nintendo Land, Final Fantasy III, and Skies of Arcadia. There. All better now?

v331. Nintendo Land (Wii U) - Main Theme


The game that won SuperPhillip Central's Best Wii U Game of 2012 award due to its clever mini-games and absolutely awesome multiplayer, Nintendo Land also comes with an incredible soundtrack. While most of it is remixes, the main theme is one of the original tracks the game possesses. While the Wii U is currently struggling, those interested in the console should have a great old time with Nintendo Land.

v332. Mario Party 2 (N64) - In the Pipe


Mario Party 2 might be our favorite entry in the series. 1) It had a fun collection of mini-games, 2) the boards were enjoyable to play on, and 3) there were no blister-inducing mini-games like its predecessor had. In the Pipe is a peppy tune that plays as Mario Party 2 owners choose their characters and board.

v333. Final Fantasy III (DS) - Crystal Tower

If you are looking for an old-school in design and difficulty game for your Nintendo DS (or your backwards compatible Nintendo 3DS), then Final Fantasy III is a grand game for you to look into. The game had previously never been released in the West, and this DS version (the game is also available on iOS platforms) featured new 3D graphics and a remastered soundtrack. Crystal Tower is an epic sounding theme perfect for the final dungeon it plays in.

v334. Skies of Arcadia (DC, GCN) - Kingdom of Ixa'taka


Full of tribal percussion and pan flute toots, Skies of Arcadia's Kingdom of Ixa'taka plays during the village of the same name. The village is suspended above the treetops and in the jungle canopy. Skies of Arcadia recently made a return in the spotlight in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. Not only did the game have a track representative, but it also had Vyse as a playable character. Expect a review of Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed on Wednesday.

v335. Elebits (Wii) - The Smile of You


A really catchy and perky song to cap the fun and quirky near launch game for Wii, Elebits, The Smile of You is a bouncy and bright vocal theme played during the credits of the game. On the other side of the Atlantic, Elebits is known as Eledees, as "bits" in the U.K. is a word for a certain under region of the male body. You know which one. I'm not spelling it out any further. We're a family site here... sort of.

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That wraps up our Spring Break 2013 edition of SPC's Favorite VGMs. Until next week, why not scope out the VGM Database for every VGM ever listed? As for now, the VGMs will see you later!

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