Friday, April 4, 2014

Gotta Twist Facts: How Sonic the Hedgehog and His Fans Are Being Short-Changed

What do you think of when you think of the Sonic the Hedgehog fan base? Do you think of gamers who are suffering from battered wife syndrome? Do you wonder how there could even be a fan base since most modern Sonic games aren't very compelling or good? Perhaps you think of all of the disturbing art and stories the fan base comes up with? While the Sonic the Hedgehog series has been anything but consistent, I don't believe it's fair to always bring up fan art and fan fiction made by the few to represent the many Sonic the Hedgehog fans there are on this earth. By constantly associating the franchise's fans with a great minority, it does a disservice to the Sonic the Hedgehog series and the majority of its young and old fans. A certain article written recently stuck in my craw and inspired this piece.

This is what a lot of the fan base
draws. (Created by CPC.)
The truth of the matter is that every fan base has its share of weirdos. For instance, Mario has fan art of princesses Peach and Daisy in soiled diapers. Star Fox's Krystal has been sexualized in many forms. Even Kingdom Hearts gets its share of craziness and disturbing "artistry" and that series involves minors, for Pete's sake! The point here is that every conceivable series that is relatively or immensely popular has a group of fans on the outskirts that act truly bizarre.

It just seems that the Sonic the Hedgehog fan base gets proverbially crapped on more than it deserves. It seems that the oddities of a certain extremely minor portion of the community gets represented as the entire fan base. It's sort of a running joke now that "all Sonic fans are disturbing individuals" when that is absolutely bogus.

Perhaps some of this stems from Sonic being involved in more than his fair share of poorly received and reviewed games. It makes the character an easy target, but it also paints the fan base in a less than favorable light for continuing to support the series despite its subjective lack of quality.

This is what outsiders (wrongly) focus
on when talking about Sonic's fans.
You even get some people who like to play revisionist history and pretend that the Genesis Sonic the Hedgehog games were never good to begin with. While a person is entitled to not like the classic Sonic the Hedgehog releases, it's hard to argue that one could not feel in control playing as Sonic; or that the level design didn't support segments of sensational speed and other times pockets of pure platforming action; or that the art design was superb. All of the mechanics, design, and gameplay add up to something that is still impressive to this day.

It's okay to dislike Sonic the Hedgehog in his current form. However, even then he's starred in some well received and some might debate, truly fantastic games. (I know the staff here certainly would!) I'm alluding to titles like Sonic Colors, Sonic Generations, and both Sonic & All-Stars kart racing games.

To completely deride a fan base on the basis of a huge minority of creepy fans. In truth, Sonic is still a series that is a million-seller for most titles released. The azure hedgehog is still relevant and has been for over two decades now. To paint all of those millions of players, a fair amount being children who probably have never heard the term "fan art", with the same "that fan base is made up of freaks" brush is absolutely disingenuous. The sad part is that most who do such things probably already know they are being disingenuous and simply do not care.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Bad Boss Battles in Gaming History - Part Three

WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THE FOLLOWING GAMES:

  • BioShock
  • Dead Rising
  • Sonic Generations
  • PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale
  • Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon

What's worse than a bad boss battle? How about five bad boss battles? Last November we began a new segment on SuperPhillip Central, Bad Boss Battles in Gaming History. Now, it's several months later and we have a new installment to share. The rationale for our choices of awful boss encounters can be because of one or many of the following issues: they're forgettable, they're boring, they're tedious, they're in the game for no reason, they're counter-intuitive, or they're just plain not fun. After you've read our latest picks, feel free to throw in some agreement/disagreement and ideas for bosses to consider for part four.

Also, feel free to check out our two previous entries.

Part One
Part Two

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Review Round-Up - March 2014

Baby Mario, along with players like us,
dropped into the world of the Yoshis.
Now it's time for the REAL Review Round-Up for March 2014. We started off retro with the original, the classic, The Legend of Zelda. Its old school difficulty and sometimes obtuse design put Phil off a little bit, but the game still opened up a dungeon treasure chest and acquired a 7.0 score. Tappingo on the 3DS eShop, a game with a resemblance to Picross, also solved its way to the same score. Just realize that we're not saying Tappingo is as good as The Legend of Zelda. It's a fool's errand to compare games from totally different genres. We're rating these games based on competition in their own genres. 

Speaking of going retro, Nintendo gave us a nostalgic twinge with NES Remix, scoring an 8.0. Also on the Wii U eShop was F1 Race Stars: Powered Up Edition. Unfortunately, most kart racers speed past this disappointing (and aggravating) cartoon racer. Next up we revisited Yoshi, but this time we took a vacation at his brand-new digs with Yoshi's New Island, a game that hatched an 8.0 score. 

Three more platformers rounded out our productive month: Klonoa: Door to Phantomile (8.5), Crash Bandicoot (7.0, reviewed by Bean), and DuckTales Remastered (9.0). Overall, it was a fun month of games to review. It was a varied selection of titles, and we hope you enjoyed taking a look at them with us. April is all about the PlayStation Vita (with some other non-Vita games thrown in for good measure). Please look forward to this month of reviews!


Scrooge McDuck's back from an extended hiatus,
and his adventure was worth its weight in gold!

Central City Census - April 2014

We hope you enjoyed our two April Fools' posts on Tuesday. From really bad VGMs we tried to pass off as great, to a made-up Review Round-Up, linking to some ridiculous videos, we really had fun coming up with this year's jokes. Let's take a look at the Central City Census results from last month, shall we?


We asked you how many Xbox 360 systems you went through last generation. It's an issue that continues to really stick in our collective craw, as Microsoft shamelessly built a time bomb of a system with little regard for consumers.

Anyway, the winning percentage of voters this poll actually never owned an Xbox 360. Unfortunately, the next highest group of voters went through four or more systems! No! No! No! That's not how you teach a company not to poop all over you! That's sort of enabling them and saying, "It's okay you were completely negligent-- here's more of my money!" Let's see what this month's census asks.

The eighth generation technically began with the release of the Nintendo 3DS. Console-wise the Wii U initiated the generation. Soon, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One followed, with the PlayStation Vita releasing a little after the 3DS. This Central City Census for April 2014 is wondering about your current gen game collections. Which eighth generation platform do you own the most games for (retail and digital)?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Review Round-Up - March 2014

Sales don't lie.
Battlefield 4 is great.
March was an astounding month for reviews here at SuperPhillip Central. We may have only touched upon seven games in these past 31 days, but the ones we did get to talk about are rather special and rather large titles! We started the month off with the conclusion of Final Fantasy Lightning's trilogy with Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, which we gave a 7.0. We then turned our attention to Kojima Productions's latest with Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Heroes. Some may call it a glorified demo, but we stand by our 8.0 score. A game that positively surprised us was Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Director's Cut, specifically the Wii U version. That game nabbed an impressive 9.0. 

Next up was Dark Souls II, which as our review stated, "a frustrating game of artificial difficulty under the guise of a "mature" game." The game received a disappointing 2.0, which also had the game-breaking glitches to note. Following that was a game that was quite the opposite-- glitch-free-- Battlefield 4. Don't listen to the whiny gamers that plague our industry; the press got this one right, and we agreed with the quality of the game being terrific. We scored the game an 8.5. After all, we've yet to be unable to find a match or get kicked out of a match. We've never played this game either.

From there we reviewed Serran Kagura Blast, a game that we called "a fantasy for otaku nerds who can't get real breasts to look at, so this is the next "best" thing." Suffice to say, we didn't care for the game, "awarding" it with a super low 1.0. Finally, we were on our way to review Capcom's Mega Man Legends 2, but we cancelled the review a somewhat far along in the process of writing. We blame the fans for this. So as you can see, SuperPhillip Central kicked some serious butt this past month.


Dark Souls II is great if you
are a glutton for its punishment.

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs - A Day Like Any Other Edition

We here at SuperPhillip Central LOVE video game music. We've been creating a library of sorts, featuring the best music to come from our beloved hobby. Today we have five new themes of sensational quality to add to our ever-expanding list. Such franchises represented are Resident Evil, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Cruis'n. Enjoy!

v596. The Adventures of Rad Gravity (NES) - Title Screen


There are few NES games with title themes that get our toes tapping and leaves an impression on us. There's Mega Man 2, for instance, and its iconic theme. One supremely underrated title screen theme comes from The Adventures of Rad Gravity, a truly unappreciated gem in the NES's library. Take a listen and see what you've been missing.

v597. Resident Evil: Director's Cut: Dualshock (PS1) - Mansion Basement


It was rumored that the composer of this version of the original Resident Evil was deaf. If he can create music full of such glamorous ambiance, imagine his composing ability if he could hear! The theme presents the player with an intense feeling of dread, perfect for Resident Evil.

v598. Cruis'n USA (N64) - Cruis'n USA


We would do anything to be able to dance to this music at a rave. It seems absolutely perfect for such an occasion. Showcasing the Nintendo 64's true-to-life sound capabilities, Cruis'n USA's titular theme was way ahead of its time without any doubt.

v599. Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood (DS) - Nocturne


While Cruis'n USA showed off the power of the Nintendo 64's sound card, Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood, created by the brilliant, never-failing Bioware, pushes the Nintendo DS' sound card to its fullest capabilities. Nocturne is a superb take on Sonic the Hedgehog 3's final boss theme. If you aren't shaken up by this version, then nothing will ever faze you.

v600. Crazy Bus (GEN) - Title Screen


Perhaps this is too sophisticated of a pick for many, but we definitely are enamored with the avant garde direction the maker of Crazy Bus went with the music. While it's not to the level of The Adventures of Rad Gravity, we do find Crazy Bus to have a memorable and entertaining title screen theme all the same.

Monday, March 31, 2014

DuckTales Remastered (Wii U, PS3, 360, PC) Review

We close out what has become a month of platformers with DuckTales Remastered, a remake of the classic NES DuckTales. Phil gives us his verdict on Scrooge McDuck's long-awaited return to gaming.

A Retro Quack Attack


While Capcom is obviously well known for such popular classic franchises such as Street Fighter, Mega Man, and Strider, back in the NES era the company was proficient in creating excellent Disney licensed games, whether based off films or television cartoons. It certainly would be quicker to name the games that weren't so great rather than the ones that were. DuckTales was one of these truly great games that fans of the NES can still find immense enjoyment out of. Now, Capcom and WayForward have teamed up to craft an HD remake for not only those who wax nostalgic for the NES original, but also for a whole new generation of gamers. It all adds up to DuckTales Remastered. Is this remake all that it is "quacked" up to be?

The NES DuckTales didn't provide any semblance of a story. There was no explanation for Scrooge McDuck venturing to five seemingly picked-out-of-a-hat locations to find five treasures. DuckTales Remastered creates a story that explains all of this, and even goes the distance in clearing up questions formed by players of the original game. Ever wanted to know how in the heck Scrooge McDuck and companions could breathe on the surface of the moon, or why a certain pair of villains teamed up at the end of the game? You'll most likely be happy with the explanations the developers have come up with.

"But first I'm gonna dive into my pile o' money!"
DuckTales Remastered isn't just the five original levels of the NES game. To further add some longevity to the game and to iron out story elements, there are two brand-new areas within the game. The first serves as an introductory level, bringing players up to speed with the basics of how Scrooge McDuck controls. The second replaces Scrooge McDuck's return trip from the original DuckTales to Transylvania for the final showdown of the game. Instead, the level takes place in Mount Vesuvius, and it feels just as well made as every other level in DuckTales Remastered.

It's certainly (and literally) a jungle out there.
As for the returning levels, these have been altered slightly. These are welcomed changes that make levels play out much better than the NES original. In said original, one could simply stumble into a boss's lair without doing any thorough exploring of a typical level. In DuckTales Remastered, there's a various goal in each level that Disney's billionaire duck needs to take care of before moving onto the boss. For instance, in the Amazon, Scrooge must acquire eight ancient coins to lead him and Launchpad to the temple where the treasure rests. Meanwhile, in Transylvania's haunted castle, Scrooge needs to rescue Huey, Dewey, and Louie from their captors.

Alongside completing these mandatory tasks, players can stumble upon treasure and riches just like in the original DuckTales game. This added encouragement to explore levels is much appreciated, and it makes for a longer game that never at all feels like simple padding. Every jewel and treasure collected adds up to a tally once Scrooge returns to the hub, his office. The money earned isn't just for show; it's an in-game currency as well, used to purchase character profiles, concept art, and music. Unlocking all goodies will take a few play-throughs to complete, and with the game's multiple difficulty levels, replaying this relatively short game remains fun.

Look high, low, and everywhere in
between for treasure!
Scrooge McDuck retains all of his nimble platforming and offensive tricks, the most notable being his trademark pogo routine,. This allows him to continuously bounce up and down, off the heads of enemies, and even on spikes. For classic purists, there's an option to keep the old school pogo controls (i.e. holding the d-pad down as the pogo button is pressed). However, harder difficulties require this control setup. Also with his cane, Scrooge can swing and hit rocks, blocks, and open treasures. In the Transylvania level he can even smack the iron ball attached to a mummy's ankle to have it plow into the enemy, defeating him.

"Thanks for the assistance
in practicing me pogo technique!"
If there's one issue that many will find with DuckTales Remastered, it's that the game constantly interrupts the gameplay for story sequences. These generally happen when Scrooge comes across a dead end or comes across an item necessary for progression. These can be skipped, though, and they are highly entertaining, as the dialogue is full of funny banter between characters, and true to the cartoon and its characters. It's simply that the need to pause the game and skip the cinematic for replays of the game can get tiring to some. It didn't bother me per se, but it's something to be wary of for prospective players.

These guys wouldn't even make
it in the peewee leagues.
As if the game itself wasn't wonderful, the visuals of DuckTales Remastered are nothing short of sensational, too. The formerly 8-bit sprites of the NES game have been updated with an incredible level of detail in animations and now look absolutely true to the cartoon. Levels have 3D foregrounds while the backgrounds are a 2D delight. Playing the game, I felt like I was controlling a genuinely faithful recreation of Scrooge McDuck in a highly animated and alive cartoon world.

And with a tip of his hat, the
enemy explodes at Scrooge's will.
...Okay, maybe the robo duck did that.
What further helped me grasp the dedication to the legitimacy of the cartoon is the return of the original cast, reprising their roles and sounding like they had never been on a two decade-long hiatus. The music has been recreated with new instruments and sounds really well done, but if you do get misty eyed for the original 8-bit themes, you can unlock them once you've beaten the game. All of this adds up to a game that represents the classic DuckTales cartoon in fantastic form.

The boss battles feature some creativity
that is very much appreciated!
WayForward's team has gone beyond the call of duty to make DuckTales Remastered a faithful tribute to not just the NES classic, but also to the Disney cartoon. The gameplay remains relatively unchanged, but the altered in addition to the brand-new levels gives new twists to a game that's familiar for many twenty-somethings on up. If you're new to the game, Remastered also shines in that regard. It's not nostalgia that makes DuckTales Remastered great. It's the tried and true gameplay, characters, and mechanics that keep Remastered from feeling dated. All in all, DuckTales Remastered is a game that will make most players go "Whoo-hoo!"

[SPC Says: 9.0/10]

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Fan-Made Mario Games You Should Have Played

The following is a post written by a friend.

If you enjoy exploring new worlds with Mario, you'll love the wide selection of Mario Games at JeuxJeuxJeux.fr. You can ground-pound your way through familiar and new enemies in all sorts of Mario World challenges. The adventures feature Mario's favorite pals, including Luigi, Yoshi, and Princess Peach. Put your retro gaming skills to the test, and try to conquer the infamous Bowser! Every Mario game features exciting side-scrolling or 3D action with addictive Nintendo gameplay.


Have you ever wanted to face Goombas and Piranha Plants in never-before-seen levels? Super Mario Star Scramble 2 features an entirely new platform world. Stuck on a colorful island, you must collect coins and special stars before time expires. This 8-bit Mario game pits you against flying Goombas, dangerous Koopa Troopas, and other foes. You can jump onto bricks and search for cloud platforms to reach new heights. Each level features a hidden coin, which you can collect for bonus points. Bounce on trampolines, bash Mystery Blocks, and guide Mario through tricky platforms to win!


Brave fighters will enjoy the fist-to-fist battles in Mario Combat. This unique fighting game sends Mario into the bowels of Bowser's lair. You will face grave dangers in every section within the antagonist's home. One punch can send you flying to your doom in fiery lava! To avoid an untimely death, Mario must punch through every evil Koopa Troopa. Throw fists quickly to perform combos and knock out the tiny minions. The intense battle will escalate as you wall-jump and fight on moving platforms. When you reach the final stage, Bowser will be ready for the ultimate duel. Dodge his flaming blasts, and deliver a deadly uppercut to defeat Mario's mortal enemy!

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