Saturday, September 20, 2014

Mega Man X4 (PS1, SAT, PSN) Retro Review

Cap off your Saturday night with some more Mega Man action! This time around we're going to take a look at one of my favorite entries in the franchise, Mega Man X4! How much do you guys and gals think I like this one? I've never written about my love of Mega Man X4 in such depth as tonight.

Your knowledge on what you are
fighting for may vary.


In Mega Man X4, humans and sentient robots known as Reploids live together. Of course, it's never really in harmony, as that would make for a boring premise. A strong militant army known as the Repliforce wishes to create their own colony after being deemed Mavericks, out of control robots, by their human counterparts. Little does everyone know that a sinister figure lurking in the shadows casts a wide smile, seeing that his plan is coming to fruition. It's X and Zero's desired duty to not just prevent this tense situation from blowing up and out of control, but also to save the world in the process. 

Mega Man X4 comes packed with much more power thanks to the wonders of the compact disc the game is printed on. Not only does this allow for traditional text-based story progression, but it also opts for full motion video cutscenes to display important scenes in all of their still impressive animated glory. The voice acting is a definite step-up from what was available in Mega Man 8, but there's still some chintzy lines and delivery. I'm looking at you,  Zero's "what am I fighting foooooor". 

Outside of cutscenes, Mega Man X4 delivers amazing 2D artistry. It's not at the level of 2D art available today, obviously, but it still pleases the eyes. Sprites animate wonderfully with plenty of different animations to them, levels have an intricate and detailed design to them visually, offering breathtaking vistas and areas, and special effects like explosions delight. 

A definite upgrade in visuals from
what the SNES offered.
On the music side, Mega Man X4 has extremely memorable and catchy themes. Even the worst sounding tracks would be considered the best on other video game scores. 

As for how Mega Man X4 plays, if you've played a game in the series in the past, then you know what to expect. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing depends upon if you've had your fill of Mega Man action. That's because the basic structure of the Mega Man series featuring you tackling eight stages in any order, running through trials and traps, overcoming obstacles, defeating enemies, making your way to the stage's boss, defeating him, receiving their special weapon as a reward, and then moving onto the next remains uncharged. The only difference is an interlude level thrown in midway through that is purely a fight against a story-related character.

Beware the scariest-named Maverick
ever devised-- Split Mushroom!
The bosses in Mega Man X4 take the shape of many animals, such as the always aerial Storm Owl, the brawn over brain Frost Walrus, and the lover of transportation Cyber Peacock. Sure, they don't always have the coolest names to them-- hello, Split Mushroom-- but getting down their patterns, learning when to go on the offensive and when to evade attacks, as well as mastering each fight takes a fair amount of practice. This is especially so if you're just using your standard weapon like X's buster or Zero's saber. 

Hey. Some of my best friends
are Mavericks.
When not wanting to go the path of most resistance, you can take solace in the fact that every boss has a weakness to a specific special weapon. Split Mushroom's Soul Body can easily take out Cyber Peacock, which in turn, Cyber Peacock's Aiming Laser does a number on Storm Owl. The biggest challenge to overcome in this regard is finding out which boss has what weakness. Thankfully, you have the Internet at your fingertips for this information.

While their levels are the same,
their stories differ.
In Mega Man X3, Zero was playable but was extremely limited in where and how he could be utilized. Mega Man X4 ups his usefulness completely by having him as a separate character from X with his own special moves, abilities, dialogue, and cutscenes. The levels that he goes through are designed the exact same way as X's, but this doesn't actually come across as a negative. Instead, it just made me marvel at the level design even more. There's certain sections of levels that Zero can get through more easily than X can, and that makes you appreciate how each level was constructed and tailor-made for both characters.

For the first time in series history,
Zero is 100% playable.
With a new generation came a new leap in technology, and Mega Man X4 held little back in taking advantage of the PlayStation and Sega Saturn's beefier tech. Level concepts and features that would have been impossible on the Super Nintendo flourish on the new hardware, such as Slash Beast's level that takes place on a moving train, Jet Stingray's stage which has X or Zero on a speeder bike, roaring through tunnels and onto the sea, and Split Mushroom's level that has two segments of it that have you running up a spiral staircase. 

The chase is on!
Don't get your circuits wet, X!
Like the Mega Man X games before it, Mega Man X4 comes with its staple of optional collectible items and rewards for thorough explorers. Most levels house one of Dr. Light's hidden capsules, allowing X to equip a new piece of upgraded armor. These can give X more mobility options like a mid-air dash, the ability to charge up his X-Buster, or the benefit of having special weapons not use up energy. Mighty handy, no? Since Zero cannot acquire Dr. Light's upgrades, his campaign can be viewed as a hard mode for Mega Man X4.

The look of a fully upgraded X.
In addition to those helpful finds, each stage possesses one health-increasing Heart Tank. Unlike past Mega Man X games, however, only two Sub Tanks are available in X4. As usual, these serve as a health reserve for you to fill up X's life gauge when the going gets tough. Finally, there's two new tanks to acquire, a Weapon Tank that stores weapon energy, and a special life tank that adds more lives to X or Zero's starting supply of lives when a continue is used. 

X can shoot, dash, wall jump,
and speak 12 foreign languages.
Mega Man X4 isn't a long game, and for those who are familiar with the franchise, you probably already knew that. Mega Man games in general from the classic and X line of titles aren't overly long experiences. However, these games encourage multiple play-throughs, not to unlock anything new, but just because they're so rewarding to play. These are masterful games in their design and gameplay mechanics that multiple plays are a must. Of course, with Mega Man X4 you have the luxury of having two stories to play through, X and Zero's, to help with longevity anyway. 

I don't know. Do you think this ride
armor makes X's butt look fat?
From a purely presentation standpoint, Mega Man X4 impresses. That's no doubt a factor in me liking this game over many others in the franchise. However, X4 also nails the level design, the tightness of the controls, the boss encounters, the story, the localization, and so much more. It's one of the top titles in the Mega Man series as a whole, and it definitely deserves your attention whether you're a newcomer to the game or have already beaten it dozens of times.

[SPC Says: 9.5/10]

Central City Census - September - October 2014

This edition of SuperPhillip Central's Central City Census is way overdue, so I'm going to run it from the rest of this month until the end of October. Before I get into September and October's census subject, here are the results of August's poll!


September and October's Central City Census covers Let's Play videos. Are you a fan of them? Do you even know what they are? That's what this next poll is all about. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Localizations, Please! Tokyo Game Show 2014 Edition

Welcome to Localizations, Please! This reoccurring segment on SuperPhillip Central takes games that, as far as I know (I do as much research as I can muster, but I'm definitely imperfect), have not been confirmed to be coming out in my neck of the woods, North America. If this were baseball, I'd have a good batting average regarding how many games I request for that end up getting localized. Let's hope the same is true, so the games on this special Tokyo Game Show 2014 edition don't stay stuck in Japan!

Dragon Quest Heroes (PS4, PS3)


At Sony's pre-TGS conference, Dragon Quest Heroes was saved for last. It really was awesome to see a Dragon Quest game, of any type, mind you, coming to a PlayStation platform after all of these years. However, Dragon Quest Heroes is not meant to be a mainline game. It doesn't have turn-based battles or anything like that. Instead, it's noted more and emphasized as an action game first and foremost. The game is under development by Omega Force, a development team within Tecmo-Koei who has a history of Musou games under its collective belt. The most recent of which is Nintendo's own Hyrule Warriors.

Dragon Quest Heroes has a nebulous release time of simply 2015 for both the PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation 3. Not only am I personally eager to learn more about this game, but I am eager to learn of localization for the West, such as North America, Europe, and Australia.

Final Fantasy Explorers (3DS)


Well, this title is very familiar... Oh, yeah, I just posted the Tokyo Game Show trailer for it earlier this evening! All coyness aside, Final Fantasy Explorers takes the series into cooperative multiplayer action against monsters and creatures that should be easily identifiable to anyone who calls themselves a fan of the franchise. Take over the role of one of many job classes, battle with friends, and defeat beasts both big and small in this Monster Hunter-influenced game. Impressions from TGS say that Final Fantasy Explorers is most similar to Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles than anything else seen in the series before. This makes Phil a happy boy, and you can probably imagine what would make me even happier-- a localization announcement!

The Great Ace Attorney (3DS)


With a premise that is as intriguing as the series's commonly mysterious court cases, The Great Ace Attorney is a game in the Ace Attorney franchise that takes the series's chronology into the end of the 19th century, decidedly much earlier than fans were expecting! The Great Ace Attorney centers around an ancestor of the usual protagonist for the series, Phoenix Wright. Not only that but Phoenix's ancestor comes across the brilliant detective Sherlock Holmes and even teams up to solve a climactic case. The Great Ace Attorney will thrown in all of the improvements and additions to the series that Dual Destinies debuted, making this one Ace Attorney game that I cannot afford to miss out on!

Fatal Frame V: The Black Haired Shrine Maiden (Wii U)


While The Great Ace Attorney is all but a lock for localization, Fatal Frame V: The Black Haired Shrine Maiden for the Wii U isn't at all. Now, some might surmise that with the release of Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir in the West that Nintendo is interested in getting the Fatal Frame franchise outside of Japan. Then one could argue that since the Wii U is desperate for any type of game right now, a localization of Fatal Frame V would be a smart bet. That said, ever since Nintendo started bankrolling installments, the main games have yet to see a release outside of Japan. From the Nico Nico presentation of the game in mid-July, Fatal Frame V looks to a mightily scary game that would be a terrific addition to the Wii U's lineup and overall library.

PoPoLoCrois Bokujou Monogatari (3DS)


If PoPoLoCrois sounds any bit familiar to you, it's probably because the series has been around for a quite awhile, most recently having a PSP entry. Already from has been shown, the series's aesthetic has been transported over to the 3DS splendidly! PoPoLoCrois Bokujou Monogatari will have traditional command-based RPG action, an enhanced presentation, and a marvelous world to explore. This game has XSeed Games localization written all over it, and I would definitely enjoy the chance to try it out. Maybe next summer if the Japan release comes out soon?

===

There you have it-- five choices for games that I would love to see localized. What about you, dear reader? Which titles with no localization announcement for your location would you like to see/hear/read/etc.? Give me a holler in the comments section!

Final Fantasy Explorers (3DS) Tokyo Game Show 2014 Trailer

One of the games that has yet to be announced for the West is Final Fantasy Explorers, a game that is somewhat of a mix between Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles and Monster Hunter. Check out this trailer made specially for this year's Tokyo Game Show. There might even be some cameo costumes in there thrown in for good measure!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Final Fantasy Type-0 HD (PS4, XONE) Tokyo Game Show 2014 Trailer

Formerly a Japanese exclusive for the PlayStation Portable, Westerners will get a chance to try out Final Fantasy Type-0 with this much improved high definition version on both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Mark your calendars, as March 17, 2015 for North America and March 20, 2015 for Europe are the game's current release dates. Those who purchase Type-0 will find a nice addition to go along with, a playable demo of Final Fantasy XV!

Final Fantasy XV (PS4, XONE) Tokyo Game Show 2014 Trailer

After over a year in hibernation, Final Fantasy XV sees a brand-new trailer just in time for this year's Tokyo Game Show. Witness the phenomenal visuals and seemingly open-world setting of the game with this impressive and captivating trailer.

Bayonetta 2 (Wii U) Nintendo Cosplay Trailer

By now, you should know that Bayonetta 2 would not exist without Nintendo. Nintendo's reach doesn't just go as far as funding the game, the development team at Platinum Games opted to include various Nintendo-themed costumes for the femme fatale as an ode to the big N and for some fan-service. Check out this trailer to see costumes based off of Link, Samus Aran, and Princess Peach, for starters.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure (Wii U, 3DS) Review

Have you been feeling empty as of late? Perhaps it's the lack of a new review... No? Well, can you pretend that was the reason so I can feel better about myself? Here's my review of Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure.

I expected an awesome game.
I have been "DC-eived"! 


Coming off my first real introduction to the 5th Cell's Scribblenauts series with Unlimited at the Wii U's launch, I was ecstatic when word of a sequel was heading to the platform. The good news did not end there. The sequel would have the DC license attached to it, offering over 2,000 superheroes and villains from DC Comics' illustrious history, such as Batman, Superman, The Flash, Wonder Woman, The Joker, The Riddler, Darkseid, The Cheetah, and many more. Unfortunately, with a game series that already has thousands of unique objects to bring into protagonist Maxwell's world, the addition of DC Comics characters is nothing more than a novelty than anything else.

Scribblenauts Unmasked takes Maxwell, the owner of a coveted and powerful notebook, and his sister Lily on an adventure through the pages of DC Comics' various franchises. A doppelganger of Maxwell teams up with supervillains of all shapes and sizes to cause havoc. It's a cheerful tale that does its best to stay cutesy. Nonetheless, superhero personalities like Superman and Batman, built from decades upon decades of comics and inner monologues, end up lost in the generic and all too wordy text dialogue of Unmasked. There's little to distinguish characters from one another personality-wise.

It'd be a dog-gone shame if the Joker
and Harley got away.
The main mechanic of the Scribblenauts series is present within Unmasked. You try to solve the problems of various NPCs by writing words into Maxwell's magical notebook to have them appear in the world around him. For instance, for a group of superheroes in need of defense, Maxwell can summon a fortress to satiate their need. Later Scribblenauts games introduced the ability to add descriptive adjectives to words, so adding the word "flying" to an NPC can make it float around a level just like Superman.

Isn't that the dream of every superhero?
The dozen or so stages in the game feature one main story-related mission across various locales such as Gotham City, Metropolis, and even undersea in Aquaman's kingdom of Atlantis. Upon successful completion of these missions, a Starite is given to Maxwell. These missions have multiple parts to them, but not only are they overly wordy, but failure before reaching a checkpoint means you have to restart from the beginning, being forced to watch the opening story sequence in the process. Furthermore, a lot of these story-related missions involve combat, which is, as many Scribblenauts fans know, incredibly basic and not rewarding whatsoever.

"This is Captain Maxwell of QNBC reporting
no accidents for your evening commute home."
The random missions in Scribblenauts Unmasked are the key to unlocking new areas. As you complete the various missions, you earn points that go towards reputation. The points are divvied up in a needlessly confusing batch of three types. There's one for the Batman stages, the Superman-themed stages, and one for the Justice League stages.

When you have a series that has had more than a few sequels already, it's always nice to see some effort put into changing up the formula. It's actually quite admirable on the part of the designers, who could have easily went with an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" type mentality. However, even those with the best of intentions can create something less than desirable.

Hey Flash, didn't your mother ever tell
you not to run with scissors?!
At the start of each stage, Scribblenauts Unlimited randomly picks out a batch of different missions for you to try to complete. There's a feeling of newness and uniqueness each time you enter a level. However, many of these missions either stray too far into simplicity or too far into being overly obtuse. It's no problem to write the word "parent" in Maxwell's notebook to give an orphan someone to console him. It's much less obvious to guess what word Mr. Mxyzptlk is thinking of.

Many times in stages I would automatically fail a random challenge just because something totally beyond my control would happen, such as an AI interacting with an object that, without my having clairvoyant powers, I couldn't even try to know what I was supposed to do before it made me fail the mission.

Wonder Woman's wonderful home of Themyscira.
The Object Editor of Scribblenauts Unlimited has evolved to a much improved form with Unmasked's Hero Creator. You can take pieces from one of the thousands of heroes and villains available, mix and match, colorize, scale, and assemble your dream creation. Of course, this takes some dedication to craft something worthy of the DC Comics name. Otherwise, you can stick to just downloading others' creations via the simple-to-use online sharing feature Scribblenauts Unmasked possesses.

...Have we met before?
Scribblenauts Unmasked utilizes some cute and pleasant 2D art. The Wii U version can easily handle a myriad of notebook creations on screen simultaneously. Areas in the game feature a wonderful amount of parallax layers to create a sense of depth. This is readily apparent when playing the Nintendo 3DS version. The music of Unmasked brings with it some catchy tunes, and the voice over work that bookends the game's story is well done.

For those seeking a starting point to the Scribblenauts series, there's far worse entries to jump into than Unmasked. However, for those who want the pinnacle of the series, Unmasked is also not the game you're looking for. Sure, the novelty of summoning DC Comics heroes and villains is interesting at first, but it's an interest that quickly fades. Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure just has too many faults to recommend as a must-play game, such as its flawed reputation system to unlock stages and its randomized missions being more often a bust than a boom.

[SPC Says: 6.5/10]

Monday, September 15, 2014

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs - #VGMGate Edition

I think it's time to bring up something important regarding gaming. It's an issue that's been permeating to a boiling point, and now it's time to take some action.

Yes, there was no edition of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs last week. Where did it go? Who is responsible? What is the excuse for this lack of preparedness? That is what #VGMGate is all about.

While I try to uncover the answers for this amazing controversy, I urge you to listen to this week's VGM picks. We have music from Xenoblade Chronicles, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, and Mario Kart Wii, to kick things off.

v701. Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii) - Hometown


Yoko Shimomura delivers a mellow symphonic treat with the Hometown theme of the first area within Xenoblade Chronicles. There's no doubt still a line of hype that leads to Shulk's inclusion in the new pair of Super Smash Bros. games, so it seems reasonable to include a theme from the game he comes from. Let's not forget about the sequel that will hopefully be releasing on Wii U in 2015!

v702. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (PS3, 360) - City of Revelry


One of the greatest parts of the less-than-awesome final chapter in the so-called Lightning Trilogy, aside from the great graphics is the stellar soundtrack. We've previously listened to Savior of Souls, one of the battle themes heard within Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. Now, we listen to City of Revelry, a terrific track featuring a very sexy saxophone!

v703. Mario Kart Wii (Wii) - Coconut Mall


One of my favorite Mario Kart tracks of all time is Mario Kart Wii's Coconut Mall. It's an absolute blast to speed through the halls and lobbies of an Isle Delfino-inspired shopping mall, pulling off tricks off of fountains and steps, and racing through the home stretch parking lot. Coconut Mall would return in Mario Kart 7 with some nice alterations. Regardless of which version you race on, you're guaranteed a fun and enjoyable ride!

v704. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (SNES) - Fight Against an Armed Boss


Yoko Shimomura does double duty on this week's installment of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs. The composer known for her work on Kingdom Hearts did the music for Super Mario RPG way back on the Super Nintendo. This theme plays when you battle a boss that holds one of the legendary seven stars. It's a catchy little number that uses the Smithy theme as a motif throughout.

v705. Phantasy Star Universe (360, PS2) - Save This World


While Phantasy Star Universe on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 2 was a decidedly disappointing entry in the franchise, the music was one bright spot in an otherwise dull and repetitive game. Save This World is the main vocal theme of the game, and it's a combination of symphonic sounds and grooving rock. Hey, SEGA, how about that Phantasy Star Online 2 localization for the West, huh?

Hyrule Warriors (Wii U) North American TV Commercial

The historic Legend of Zelda franchise meets the long-running Dynasty Warriors series with this intriguing and quite frankly, awesome-looking game, Hyrule Warriors for the Wii U. I absolutely love commercials like this, pure gameplay or at least pure in-game footage. Hyrule Warriors hits store shelves on September 26 for North American gamers.

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