Thursday, January 8, 2015

2014 Nintendo 3DS Play Time Results

For some time now I have been sharing my play time for numerous games on the Nintendo 3DS thanks to the awesome Activity Log application of the system. I've been posting on and off again for four years with regard to my play time on various 3DS games and apps. However, I've never posted results for an entire year. Well, this is about to change with a glimpse into the Nintendo 3DS games that saw either myself or Bean spending the most time on for 2014.

10) Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call (18:44)


While other games interrupted my time with the latest in the Theatrhythm series, what I did get to experience with Curtain Call was mighty entertaining and engaging. With over 200 songs, half of which I didn't even get to play due to my relatively small play time with the game, I know that when I do eventually come back to Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call, I'll have a blast and enough to occupy my enjoyment for a long time. Plus, you can't just leave a good portion of the characters locked up from use, right?

9) Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy (20:02)


Sometimes I get very antsy when playing games in the Professor Layton series. When I get stuck on a particularly tricky puzzle, I just want to look at the answer and continue the story. However, with Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy, released early last year, I decided against doing that. I took the game slowly, using what little brainpower I had to solve the game's many brain teasers in fashion that was less about rushing and more about letting each sink in. It made this Layton game a very rewarding experience for me and a mighty enjoyable one, too.

8) Yoshi's New Island (20:53)


This year Nintendo is giving us a brand-new console Yoshi 2D platformer, but last year we saw Yoshi's New Island on the Nintendo 3DS. While the music suffers from either being the same melody with various versions or an obnoxious cacophony of kazoos, the gameplay manages to be quite nice. The story levels are adequate, but the real challenge comes from the unlockable bonus levels, one for each world. Whether you're using Poochy as a moving platform to avoid a spike-filled death or setting off switches in a swift and life-saving fashion, these levels are some of the hardest yet fair levels in a Yoshi platformer.

7) Disney Magical World (24:18)


I received an invitation to the wonderful world of Disney with Disney Magical World, a game that is part inspired by Animal Crossing and part dungeon crawler. The fun was in interacting with the various Disney characters like Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Aladdin, Cinderella, and more, assisting them with their various problems. These problems could be as simple as fetching an item for someone, growing crops, entering one of the game's many dungeons, and more. Disney Magical World managed to hold my attention for a long time, and had it not been for other releases, I'd probably still be playing it.

6) Fantasy Life (26:20)


There is so much to do in Level 5's Fantasy Life. While the main story is bogged down by an immense amount of text and exposition, the real fun comes from choosing from one of twelve Lifes (or job classes essentially), completing objectives to earn points that allow you to eventually master it. You can change your Life at any point, so you're not stuck with your first choice. Many hours were lost after the words "just one more thing", as Fantasy Life can be quite addicting, collecting treasure, defeating massive monsters, and performing duties related to your Life. It's 2015 and I'm knee-deep in the adventure still. Expect a review later this month!

5) Tomodachi Life (30:03)


Speaking of lives, Tomodachi Life is a critical and sales success story of Nintendo. Using Miis as the main characters, you interact with them in various different ways. Sometimes you just need to feed them food. Others you need to play Cupid and meddle with their love lives. The collection aspect of Tomodachi Life was what really drew me into playing the game so much. Whether it was new outfits, new room types, or new prizes, the game kept me engaged despite the occasional menial tasks involved.

4) The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (39:59)


My favorite game of all time was played by Bean in both regular and Master Quest modes. This was before he got my hand-me-down original black 3DS to call his own. It had been a long time since Bean played a 3D Zelda game, and while he was somewhat familiar with Ocarina of Time, the new challenges and alterations of the Master Quest proved to shake things up considerably. Now that I think about it, I never tried the Master Quest for myself, despite loving this 3DS incarnation so much.

3) Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS (44:52)


With news that this first-ever handheld edition of Super Smash Bros. was causing some 3DS owners problems with their Circle Pads, I had a bit of trepidation going balls-to-the-wall serious with the game. However, with nearly every trophy collected and nearly 45 hours of play time to my and the game's name, I think it's safe to say that I got over my worry of breaking my 3DS's Circle Pad. Oh, and the 44:52 is from my Nintendo 3DS XL. My brother got a lot of Smash Bros. action on his own 3DS, too!

2) Mario Golf: World Tour (51:41)


Hot Shots Golf Fore, the N64 Mario Golf, and We Love Golf! were usurped in the "my favorite arcade golf game" department last year with the release of Mario Golf: World Tour. Offering an abundance of modes, charming characters, interesting courses both realistic and fantasy, and numerous collectibles for one's Mii, World Tour is a game that I spent so much time on. Whether it was the online tournaments which awarded players for simply participating, the offline challenge mode, or the Mii-centric Castle Tour, Mario Golf's latest brought the goods.

1) Animal Crossing: New Leaf (66:12)


The game that was played most in not only 2014 but the year prior as well, Animal Crossing: New Leaf is a gift that keeps on giving. While my adventures in Central are over for the time being, Bean enjoyed the game further. Of course, I won't play New Leaf again for fear that my favorite villagers have left and that the town is in utter chaos now, but I realize this is just my OCD talking. Still, I can't help but feel in some silly way that I have let down my various villagers by being absent for over a year now!

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If you're interested in a previous play time post, check out these links!


Puzzles & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition (3DS) Debut Trailer

Well, here's something unexpected! What do you get when you take the Super Mario Bros. series, the top-selling dedicated gaming system in Japan, and one of the biggest selling games in the country? You get Puzzles & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition. Due out in late April for Japan, this puzzle/RPG game gets a Mario coat of paint. Better yet, a Western localization has been confirmed!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Remembering the Fallen: Forgotten Platforming Stars

With the news of Microsoft dumping the trademark of an oft-forgotten platforming mascot, I took it upon myself to ponder other platforming mascots who may have once been popular and are now all but forgotten. Whether this be by fans, publishers, developers, or the industry as a whole, these platforming stars were active at one time, but now, for one reason or another, are on an extended, perhaps permanent hiatus.

Banjo and Kazooie


The original Banjo-Kazooie is one of my favorite games of all time. It took the formula that Super Mario 64 laid out, an incredibly influential title without question, and made a better game out of it. Of course, Nintendo did do the hard work by making a 3D platformer actually play well! Regardless, since Microsoft acquired Rare, the developer behind the Banjo games, we've seen HD versions of Banjo's original Nintendo 64 adventures, and we've also seen a title that was drastically different from what fans were expecting, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. While the game was mechanically sound and enjoyable to play, it wasn't the platformer that Banjo fans were clamoring for, and now we're left with bated breath wondering if the bear and bird will ever return to the spotlight.

Klonoa


Namco's Klonoa debuted on the original PlayStation with Door to Phantomile. Several sequels in the form of one PS2 entry and two Game Boy Advance titles later and Klonoa would wind up back at square one with a remake of his original adventure. This time the game was on the Wii, what seemed to be a haven for platformers of all kinds. Unfortunately, abysmal sales of the game on all corners of the world have put the floppy-eared feline in retirement. It's a shame, too, because Klonoa's trademark mechanic of grabbing enemies and using them for a double jump is one that is wholly original and beyond compare, just like the lovable character himself.

Billy Hatcher 


While I didn't overly love Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg on the Nintendo GameCube, I did find it to be massively charming and an innovative title from Sonic the Hedgehog creator Yuji Naka. The game wasn't as well polished as I would have liked, but it did offer some clever new ideas. Since his debut, the boy in the chicken suit has yet to appear in a sequel or a re-release of his game on digital storefronts outside of Europe. Billy has, however, appeared in various Sega games like Sega Superstars, Sonic Riders and its sequel Zero Gravity, and Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing. Although in the latter's sequel he didn't appear at all, further adding to Mr. Hatcher's status as a forgotten former platformer star.

(Voodoo) Vince


Voodoo Vince was one of those games that was published by Microsoft back when they were known for more than just making Halo and Forza games. No, indeed Microsoft's game studios went after multiple markets at one time through their own in-house developed games, and Voodoo Vince was their go at a platformer for the original Xbox. The titular character Vince using an endearing form of masochism to inflict damage to himself, and in the process, defeat enemies in various wacky ways. Voodoo Vince is a series that many would love to see Microsoft go back to in order to add some much needed diversity to the Xbox brand, which nowadays doesn't tend to stray far from shooters and racers.

Ty the Tasmanian Tiger


The fact that this character actually received a game recently-- albeit in the cramped iOS space-- and he's still absolutely forgotten says a lot about this former platforming star. Ty the Tasmanian Tiger was a colorful character whose original game appeared on the PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, and Xbox back in 2002. Two other sequels would be made, but after that, Ty hung up his boomerang and went back to the outback for hiatus. An iOS game to celebrate his tenth anniversary came out for iOS devices, but no hype around the announcement took place. In fact, most don't even know such a game exists! Despite adhering close to the formula Mario games laid, Ty the Tasmanian Tiger was a unique series due to its setting, a fictional Australian island. Throw in some clever level design and you can see why some hold nostalgia to this early 2000's mascot from EA.

Starfy


For the longest time the Starfy series was for some reason or another absent from Western release. It was only until the fifth game in the series that Starfy crossed over the pond to the West with The Legendary Starfy for the Nintendo DS. The game was very reminiscent of Kirby in its easy difficulty, but there was enough to distinguish the two series apart. Unfortunately, Starfy has since hidden himself away into the dankest corners of the sea, awaiting Nintendo to give him the OK to be in a new-- hopefully also localized-- installment.

Ristar


From one star(fish?) to another, Ristar is a sad tale of a platforming star's game releasing too close to the end of its current platform's life and the beginning of a new one. In this case it was the Sega Genesis fading away in order for the company and fans to focus on the Saturn. Ristar starred the titular character as he used his elongated arms to stretch out, grab onto poles and enemies, and venture through levels. Although Ristar has been re-released in many formats (digital releases, Sega game collections, etc.), the hero of the stars has not had a new game. Seeing as Sega is so complacent with making inferior Sonic the Hedgehog games nowadays, it seems like Ristar will stay in the history books as a mere footnote in Sega's past.

Plok

A character with a game that was so interesting that Nintendo's own fabled game designer Shigeru Miyamoto had expressed interest in working on it. This is Plok, a 2D platformer released on the Super Nintendo. Plok used a clever mechanic in that he could launch any one of his limbs at foes, as well as use them to solve environment puzzles. The latter of these occasionally required Plok to be without a certain limb for a certain period of time. From the game's colorful worlds to well designed levels, Plok is a cult classic on the Super Nintendo and stars a character that wouldn't ever see another game in a starring role. It's a huge shame, as Plok showed so much promise as a character and as a series.

Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee HD (Vita) Review

It's time for SuperPhillip Central's first review of 2015. I don't have much knowledge on the Oddworld franchise, so entering Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee HD was my own kind of odyssey, a journey into the unknown. Here's my review of the PlayStation Vita version of Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee HD.

Some odd quirks hold back this return to Oddworld.

The Oddworld series was once a PlayStation exclusive-- at least for the first duo of games. However, when Microsoft entered the home console market, they had a dearth of exclusive content available to them initially. Thus, Microsoft did what would be a vintage move for them and paid for multiple exclusives to bolster the launch lineup of the Xbox. One of these such exclusives was Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee, a game that added even more variety to the system's library. Now it's more than a dozen years later and Munch's Oddysee returns, this time on the PlayStation Vita in high definition form. Is this "oddysee" one worth going on?

Munch's Oddysee was the third Oddworld game when it released back in 2001. It essentially took what made the 2D games so beloved (puzzle solving, maze exploration, among many other things) and translated them into a 3D format. However, upon doing this there were some issues that have sadly not been fixed with this HD version. Instead, the developer Just Add Water decided to keep the game true to the Xbox original, whether that's a good thing or not. Be certain though that this installment of Oddworld is less of a platforming adventure and more one of the puzzle variety.

First of all, controlling Abe isn't the easiest. The controls aren't as tight as I would have liked them to be, and it's quite apparent when moving him around. For instance, trying to run with great precision is nigh impossible due to the erratic turning of the character. It's hard to dash and collect a line of Spooce-shrubs because just moving the analog stick slightly makes Abe alter his direction. Jumping is also rather clunky, making it very annoying at times to move with any kind of precision and oftentimes resulting in having to make multiple attempts for what is essentially an easy jump.

The main problem with why the controls don't work or feel well is because every action is mapped to one button. Trying to pick up Abe's friends when all Abe wanted to do instead was keep jumping up and down like a total fool added to my frustration with the game.

My issue with controlling Munch is different. While Abe can move fast, Munch moves all too slow, making having to backtrack a pain in the rear end due to how long it takes. Heaven forbid you forget to collect something at the start of an area and have to slowly march your way all the way back!

Regardless, having two main protagonists is a cool concept, obviously done before, but it's put to good use in Munch's Oddysee. At the beginning of the game, Abe and Munch are at different locations and completely separate from one another, but eventually the two meet up and players can switch between the duo on the fly to solve puzzles both big and small.

As being someone whose first experience with Munch's Oddysee is on the Vita, the upgraded visuals to HD look rather nice, but many outdoor areas experience poor draw distance. Sligs aren't your only enemy in Munch's Oddysee HD-- the draw distance that makes many areas look foggy is.

It's also hard to get into the game due to the minimal use of music in levels. Instead of having something to listen to music-wise to make the slow, plodding pace of Munch's Oddysee more exciting, the dullness is accentuated by a lack of engaging music. What's heard instead is ambient noise and the occasional voice clip. Speaking of the voice work, the majority of voices are either garbled intentionally or so high pitched that it sounds more like obnoxious squawking than something that is actually charming.

With erratic movement controls for Abe and gameplay that runs more on the repetitive side than the engaging side, you might think that I didn't enjoy Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee HD at all. However, that's not entirely true. The puzzle and level design is top notch, the game's world contains plenty of charm, and I found myself continuously wanting to see what new gameplay concepts would be introduced into the fold next. While it's unfortunate that Just Add Water decided to go with a straight-up unaltered version of Munch's Oddysee instead of fixing issues that plagued the original and now this rebirth of the title, too, there's still fun to be had with Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee HD.

[SPC Says: 6.0/10]

Review copy provided by Oddworld Inhabitants 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs - The Final First Edition of 2015 Edition

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs rides into the new year with a new edition! This first edition of 2015 contains music from games like Final Fantasy XIII-2, Persona 3, and Halo 2. There's also some retro goodness for your ears to enjoy, including music from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the NES and Sonic the Hedgehog on the Genesis (or Mega Drive, for my PAL pals!).

If you're unfamiliar with what this segment is all about, SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs is where I share my favorite video game music from a myriad of titles, systems, eras, and generations. Catch up on past editions with my VGM Database! Just be forewarned that there's a lot of VGMs on that database to sift through! With that out of the way, let's get to the new additions to my list of favorite VGMs!

v786. Final Fantasy XIII-2 (PS3, 360) - Heart of Chaos


Heart of Chaos is a tense theme punctuated by a glorious choir. Final Fantasy XIII-2 saw Lightning take the backseat in the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy and saw Serah take the starring role. The game itself featured more varied environments and design (i.e. corridor dungeons were out and expansive areas were in). While I prefer the original Final Fantasy XIII's soundtrack, XIII-2's isn't weak by any stretch of the imagination.

v787. Persona 3 (PS2) - The Battle for Everyone's Soul


The Persona series is one I'm very unfamiliar with, as I've never played an entry in the series. Persona 4 Golden seems like a great entry point, but I've yet to pick up the game for my Vita. The Battle for Everyone's Soul is the final boss theme to Persona 3, and it is suitable for a final encounter, don't you think?

v788. Halo 2 (XBX) - Earth City


Where are you in the Halo vs. Halo 2 camp? I'm a big fan of Halo: Combat Evolved over Halo 2, but at the same time, I realize how instrumental both games were in putting Microsoft's Xbox on the map. Halo: Combat Evolved was a runaway success that gave the Xbox a fighting chance in the console market while Halo 2 cemented the system's status as a contender.

v789. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES) - Boss Theme


Sure, you can cheese your way through the Rocksteady fight by being Donatello and using the wimpy bo trick, or you can be a real turtle and kick that rhinoceros' butt through legitimate means. Just kidding. I wasn't good enough to beat Rocksteady the real way either. The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the NES is a very hard game, and any means to help the player cheat their way through is fair game in my book!

v790. Sonic the Hedgehog (GEN) - Star Light Zone


After the claustrophobic and aquatic nightmare that was the Labyrinth Zone (I'm one of the few who actually enjoyed that zone), it was liberating for Sonic the Hedgehog and players to embark on the much faster paced and multiple pathway-possessing Star Light Zone. The open setting and lovely platforming challenges in addition to this catchy theme make for a zone that is one of my favorites from the Genesis trilogy.

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