Saturday, December 5, 2015

New Hot Shots Golf (PS4) PSX 2015 Trailer

Given an English trailer, New Hot Shots Golf is a tentative title for a big new game in the series. With the ability to zoom around courses on golf carts, putt and drive like a pro, and much more, this Hot Shots Golf game looks to be mighty interesting!

Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom (PS4) First Trailer

A big surprise RPG was revealed at the PlayStation Experience today. It's the sequel to the PS3 cult classic Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch! Check out the glorious anime-esque visuals with this HD trailer of this new sequel.

Final Fantasy VII Remake (PS4) PSX 2015 Trailer

Cloud and friends return in a big way with this trailer of Final Fantasy VII's glorious remake showcasing some gameplay and early Midgar action. This is a lot further along than I was expecting, and I'm thrilled to be surprised by that.

Uncharted 4: A Thief's End (PS4) PSX 2015 Trailer

Experience the Uncharted 4: A Thief's End cinematic trailer for PSX, the PlayStation Experience 2015. Here, fortune seeker Nathan Drake gets reunited with his older brother, who he has not seen for seemingly ages. Uncharted 4 casts off next year.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Drill Dozer (GBA) Retro Review

Yesterday we took a look at a Game Boy Advance launch game. Today, we take a look at a Game Boy Advance game that released at the end of its life, Drill Dozer. Including a rumble feature right in the game cartridge, this atypical 2D platformer is definitely worth a look. Learn why with my review.

Drill, Jill baby, drill!


In 2004, the Nintendo DS launched in most territories. That gave the Game Boy Advance, Nintendo's previous handheld, a brief four years on the market to itself. That meant that many games released after the DS's launch were overlooked, especially Drill Dozer, a game released more than a year after the DS and one developed by Game Freak, the developer behind the Pokemon games. This also meant that many overlooked Drill Dozer when it launched on the Game Boy Advance. It's my duty, then, here today, to explain why it was such a shame that Drill Dozer slipped through the cracks into obscurity on the GBA and in gaming in general.

Drill Dozer stars Jill, who has been made the temporary boss of a gang of bandits known as the Red Dozers after her father, Doug, was incapacitated by the rival Skullkers gang. The gang also stole a Red Diamond, a gift that was given to Jill by her dead mother. It's up to Jill and the Red Dozers to get the diamond back, and along the way they meet an eccentric cast of characters, multiple other diamonds, and multiple areas of drilling fun.

It'll take more than a robot with a scorpion tail to stop Jill.
Drill Dozer is an atypical 2D platformer. While it utilizes the basic jumping of a traditional platformer, the foundation of the gameplay comes from the machine Jill rides around in, the titular Drill Dozer. With the L and R buttons, you can turn on the drill, utilizing Jill's drill in a myriad of ways. Each level has Jill starting with a relatively weak drill that can't be used for too long at one time. As you come across new gears found in drill boxes, you can not only drill longer, but your drill can shift gears. Doing this can make the drill bore through more powerful objects that it otherwise wouldn't be able to drill through. The drill can also be used to defend against enemy bullets.

Jill's Drill Dozer isn't the best jumper,
but it gets the job done.
A lot of platforming and traversal is done using Jill's drill as well. The R button drills forward while the L button drills backwards. Utilizing these in tandem is just one way Drill Dozer tasks players with getting through the game. In one level, Metal City, there are wall cleaners that once drilled into with one shoulder button, you use the opposite shoulder button to be launched high into the air. Special yellow jelly blocks are also an interact-able object that Jill needs to use her drill on to progress in the game.

Jill can shift gears up to three times once both
red gears in a level have been acquired.
Like the wall cleaners of Metal City, drilling into the jelly blocks with one shoulder button and then using the opposite button shoots Jill's Drill Dozer backwards, at a slightly higher arc. There are plenty of instances where Jill must use multiple jelly blocks one after the other to reach a higher platform within the game. Shifting into second or third gear while drilled into a jelly block makes it so Jill is launched farther horizontally, great for getting across pits and chasms.

Outside of typical levels on land, there are a duo of levels that have Jill taking to the sky and the sunken depths. Here, the principles of drilling are a bit of different. In water, using the drill moves Jill forward through the water in the direction she is facing. What's more difficult is Drill Dozer's way of handling flight. Drilling raises Jill upwards, and it's important to shift gears when possible to keep rising up. Additionally, you can hold the L and R buttons together to remain stationary and hover horizontally. The controls are a bit tricky to get a handle on, and the boss of the flight level demands proficient precision and handling of the flight controls, making for a very frustrating first few goes at the boss.

On some occasions. Jill will have to defeat all
enemies in order to move on.
Of course, it's not just environmental objects that Jill's drill needs to be used on to get through Drill Dozer's over fifteen levels. There are a number of different enemies and bosses that the drill is to be used on to beat these crafty foes. One boss in the Kuru Ruins requires Jill to drill the boss' arm, and when the arm moves over the boss' head, Jill needs to disconnect from the arm and land on the head to do damage to the boss.

This boss left itself open to an attack in its torso.
Drill Dozer consists of usually two levels per area of the game with six areas total. Levels are generally lengthy affairs, which may seem counter-intuitive for a handheld game, but the luxury here is that you can save and continue or save and quit at any time. This allows you to continue from the current room you last saved at. Drill Dozer also asks if you'd like to save your game data after each level has been completed, so there's no worry about forgetting to save in one of the game's three save files.

Aside from being able to save, between levels you can check Jill's Drill Dozer's equipment, buy upgrades at the shop, and check out treasures collected. The shop upgrades consist of more health energy for Jill's machine, stronger drills to bore through things like titanium boxes, and maps that unlock secret levels within the game. These levels are the most challenging of Drill Dozer, requiring you to have keen knowledge and ability with how to use Jill's drill to its greatest potential. There are a profusion of challenging platforming sections that will test even the greatest Drill Dozer expert.

In each level there are treasure chests to be found. Most of these cannot be reached before the game is completed, as the drill required to reach the areas they are located in do not unlock until after Drill Dozer is initially beaten. There are over thirty treasures to collect, and through nabbing them, your bandit ranking increases. Starting off as a lowly thief, you can reach milestones like safecracker and more with the more treasure you grab your mitts on.

Two tanks? Talk about an unfair fight!
Drill Dozer's cartridge is a bit bigger than every other Game Boy Advance game pak. That's because it houses a rumble device that lets loose each time Jill drills into something. This effect might seem gimmicky, but it adds some strength and power to Jill's drilling. It feels quite nice. Not too strong, but not too weak as for the player who feels the rumble to not notice it.

The presentation of Drill Dozer is quite pleasant. This late release GBA game features beautiful 2D backgrounds and character sprites. The backgrounds are dripping with detail, while the sprites are articulated well. The music is capable enough, but for the most part, there's only about one or two songs that have stuck with me after playing.

Overall, Drill Dozer is an innovative platformer that had the misfortune of releasing after the Nintendo DS launch, making it overlooked by many who had moved on to Nintendo's dual screened system. That's quite the shame, as Drill Dozer is more than competent as a platformer and deserves attention. The game is a taste of Game Freak when they're not busy building Pokemon games, and it's a very delicious taste, for sure.

[SPC Says: B]

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Konami Krazy Racers (GBA, Wii U VC) Retro Review

SuperPhillip Central's first review of the month is one that happens early this month instead of midway through like November. It's of the retro variety, and it's for a fun genre that I really enjoy, the kart racer. It's Konami Krazy Racers, and I thank goodness that the developers didn't call the game Konami Krazy Kart for acronym reasons.

So krazy of a kart racer that Konami needed to spell it with a "K"


Kart racers are my preferred racing experience. I love the arcade nature of it with goofy characters, crazy power-ups and items, and fantastical tracks to race on. I missed out on a notable kart racer at the Game Boy Advance's launch back in 2001, Konami Krazy Racers. Not only is it a competent kart racer, but it is also a nice look back at when Konami was still running on a cylinders as a gaming company and not the loathed-by-many one it is today.

As the title suggests, Konami Krazy Racers features an assortment of characters from Konami's various franchises. For instance, there is Goemon from the Legend of the Mystical Ninja franchise, Gray Fox from Metal Gear Solid, Dracula from Castlevania, and even Power Pro-kun from the MLB Power Pros series. The total number of characters in the game is 12 with four of those being unlockable through acquiring hidden diamonds on three of the races, and one unlocked through time trials on two of the game's tracks. Each character has its own attributes such as top speed, acceleration, and weight to consider when choosing a character that fits best with a given player's play style.

Go, go Goemon!
Along with the Konami characters that are featured in the game, the tracks also have a Konami theme too. There are tracks that take place in Dracula's Magma Castle, tracks that are full of Metal Gear Solid cardboard boxes to dodge, an MLB Power Pros-based track that has players driving around a large baseball diamond, and much more. The tracks consist of many twists and turns, jumps, hazards, and obstacles to avoid if you want to claim the first place prize.

Take flight with these oncoming jump pads.
Konami Krazy Racers plays really similarly to the original Super Mario Kart as well as the Game Boy Advance's own Mario Kart: Super Circuit. Mode 7 graphics are used to simulate three-dimensional racing, and this looks really good for an early GBA title, sporting a draw distance that allows you to prepare for oncoming obstacles, hazards and turns, as well as neat effects like reflections of racers and items on reflective surfaces of track.

The reflection of racers on the track is a nice touch.
The controls are also quite similar to the games that inspired Konami Krazy Racers with a button to accelerate, brake and reverse, bunny hop to leap over small chasms and to help with turning, as well as an item button. Controls are tight and feel excellently done. You never really feel that you're about to lose control, or at least when you make a driving error, it's your own mistake and not that of the game's.

Seventh place? This racer better make a squeeze play!
Any kooky kart racing game needs a steady supply of items to keep itself feeling interesting and fresh. Konami Krazy Racers has these, such as blue missiles that fire thrice in the direction the user is facing, a barrier that protects the user against items used by others, and a scooper drill that drills a hole in the ground, making anyone who passes over it fall into it. These item archetypes are again similar to what is found in Mario Kart, but if the kart isn't broke, why fix it?

There are four cups of four tracks each in Konami Krazy Racers. Progression is done by competing in a cup, getting first place, and then unlocking and passing a license test in order to unlock more cups and races. License tests consist of a variety of up to four challenges that need to be cleared in order to pass the test. Players start at the C class, and through completing tests after finishing up cups, they move on to B class, A class, and S class tests respectively. Such trials include beating the time of a given track, winning a one-on-one race with an AI opponent, or the occasional odd race-the-track backwards to beat a time while avoiding the other seven racers driving the opposite direction.

Dracula's castle can be viewed in the distance, set against a full moon.
There aren't multiple difficulties of races that need to be completed in Konami Krazy Racers like there are in the Mario Kart series. Instead, players can just pick the difficulty they'd like and stick with it throughout the game. This makes the process of clearing cups and passing license tests a short one. Sure, there are four hidden characters to unlock as touched on before, and there is a battle mode that pits players against three AI opponents, something that Mario Kart: Super Circuit lacks. However, doing everything there is in Konami Krazy Racers is not a long process, so unless you wish to just do races for the joy of it, there isn't much to the game to keep you playing for a lengthy time.

Konami Krazy Racers is a successful kart racer because it's a blast to play, doesn't suffer from too much in the way of a rubber-band AI, and has a colorful assortment to fun tracks to race on. The excitement might end prematurely, but if you're a fan of kooky kart racers, then Konami Krazy Racers is a solid one to go krazy over.

[SPC Says: B-]

Best sports games for your Nintendo systems

Although Nintendo may be more well known for its fantasy platform games, it has some great sporting titles too. So if it's a little too cold outdoors for a game of football or golf, why not try some of these fun sporting simulations on Nintendo platforms?

Football


Those looking to emulate their soccer favourites could do a lot worse than play the highly-addictive FIFA 15 football simulator.

The game for 3DS featured hundreds of clubs and thousands of players with supposed 'emotional intelligence' that provided many hours of entertainment, but it was the improved touchscreen controls for shooting and passing that really marked this game out as one of the best.

Golf


Although we may think of the 3DS as being better suited to frenetic action games, the Mario Golf: World Tour game delivered the most fun version of golf currently out there. With access to an impressive range of courses and the ability to train in the Castle Club, it made top level golf look relatively easy.

One criticism was that the game could have included more levels, but those looking for extensive real-life golfing action should follow the Ryder Cup and PGA Championship news at bookies.com and get some golfing tips to try on their return to the Mushroom Kingdom.

Tennis


If there's one game that's seemingly designed for the 3DS, it has to be tennis. And the Mario Tennis Open game certainly delivered more than its fair share of high-octane sporting fun with many different shots to choose from and a good range of characters with their related playing styles.

The game featured a variety of different courts with clay, grass and sand, as well as the chaotic black hole option providing more than a little drama to the standard game of tennis.

American Football


Although Nintendo may be renowned for pushing their technology to the limit, they may have taken on a little too much with their Madden NFL Football game. Although the game offered a pleasingly familiar representation of the sport through the 3DS' controls, most American football fans may have felt a little short-changed when it came to the stats offered by the game.

Despite such shortcomings, Madden NFL Football provided an easily playable and enjoyably immersive take on this most brutal and chaotic of sports.

Fishing


And finally, whilst many may question whether the world needs a fishing game on their Nintendo 3DS, the Reel Fishing 3D Paradise game provided dozens of fish to catch in a variety of different terrain that all went to show just how versatile this little gaming device could be.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Localizations, Please! Nintendo 3DS Edition Part 2

The first of December is here, and to bring in the new month is Localizations, Please, a segment on SuperPhillip Central where we take a look at games that I'd like to see brought over to the West as soon as possible. This edition is a special one that once again delves into the unlocalized Nintendo 3DS titles that Westerners like me are still waiting for an announcement that they're coming over. 

While posting this articles have no bearing on whether a game is localized or not, it's quite gratifying to have most of the titles from past Localizations, Please segments announced for localizations and released in the West. Don't believe me? Check out the past editions with games that had localization announcements:


...Now, on to the begging for localization announcements!

Monster Hunter X (3DS)


The first game on this Nintendo 3DS-centric list is from a mega hit of a franchise in Japan that has slowly been taking over a strong niche in the West. It was announced today that the title sold over 1.5 millions units its first two days released. If that doesn't send signals to Capcom to get this title, Monster Hunter X, out to the West, then I don't know what will. Monster Hunter X is more action-intensive than past games, focusing on flashy moves and fast combat. This is in comparison to the slower, more plodding pace of the original games. Here's hoping that if Capcom decides to bring over X to the West we won't have to wait for the Monster Hunter X Ultimate version of the game, if such a thing ever exists, of course.

Disney Magical World 2 (3DS)


If you enjoy the Animal Crossing series and love life simulation games, then you may have already played Disney Magical World 2's predecessor also on the Nintendo 3DS. The game had players living in a Disney kingdom, running a cafe, doing chores for fellow characters, building furniture and clothing, gathering ingredients, and even entering fantasy Disney worlds for some good old fashioned dungeon crawling. The original game was a great success in Japan, and its sequel recently released early last month. Disney Magical World 2 sees a return to the gameplay foundations laid by the original, offering new worlds to explore and new characters to meet, such as the casts of Pinocchio, Peter Pan, The Little Mermaid, and a more modern favorite of many Disney fans, Frozen. It seems like a perfect fit for the West, a game that continues to spark nostalgic memories for Disney fans young and old. 

Picross 3D 2 (3DS)


The first Picross 3D on the Nintendo DS took the winning Picross formula and gave it a 3D upgrade, having players spin the camera around, poking cubes to create a 3D object according to the numbers on each side of the shape. It seemed a sequel would be obvious to do for the Nintendo 3DS, and while it took a few years into the system's life to get one, we finally have one... at least in Japan. Combining the traditional gameplay of Picross with 3D shapes, Picross 3D 2 is a game that I'd love to see cross over the Pacific. With Pokemon Picross in Nintendo of America and Europe's focus currently, with the game releasing as free-to-start this Thursday, it's my hope that after the dust has settled on that game, Nintendo turns its focus on releasing Picross 3D 2 to the West.

Rhythm Tengoku: The Best Plus (3DS)


Packed to the brim with 100 musical and rhythm-based mini-games, Rhythm Tengoku is better known to the West as the Rhythm Heaven series. This best of version features 30 brand new mini-games as well as 70 mini-games from the previous three Rhythm Tengoku games, Rhythm Tengoku (Japan only), Rhythm Heaven (Nintendo DS), and Rhythm Heaven Fever (Wii). Utilizing two control methods for players to choose from, a stylus-exclusive one or a button-focused one, Rhythm Tengoku: The Best Plus awaits a localization from Nintendo. It was disappointing that one wasn't announced for localization during the latest Nintendo Direct that occurred last month, but patience is a virtue. Thus, we shouldn't mind waiting. I mean, after all, Dragon Quest fans like myself had to wait over two years just to get word of the 3DS remake of Dragon Quest VII reaching the West!

Style Savvy 3 (3DS)


This final game on this Nintendo 3DS focused edition of Localizations, Please is unlike most that SuperPhillip Central has had in the past. Not only is the game already available in Japan, but it's also able to be purchased in PAL territories like Europe and Oceania, though the title is known as New Style Boutique 2 instead of North America's Style Savvy moniker. Regardless, you might scoff at the idea of a fashion simulator, but the previous 3DS release, Style Savvy: Trendsetters saw a lot of play time on my 3DS. It was addicting, had loads of customization options, and was just all around a well put together game. The third game in the series has yet to be announced for North American release, and it seems like it'd be silly to not have it release in every territory, especially as the English translation is already done obviously. The Style Savvy fans in North America (there are dozens of us. DOZENS!) wait eagerly for some kind of word from Nintendo of America on this title.

Review Round-Up - November 2015

While not the best rated game in November, The Legend of
Zelda: Tri Force Heroes entertained regardless.
SuperPhillip Central was quite the harsh reviewer this past month. Well, at least harsher than usual. The highest grade received was a B- and that was given to two games, PictoParty and Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden. Alongside those two reviews was Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3, getting SPC's lowest grade in November, a D. Then, Word Party delivered some good old fashioned fun with a C. Finally, The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes satisfied for the most part with a C+, and Typoman made a few design faux pas to get its C- score.

PictoParty (Wii U eShop) - B-
Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 (PS3, 360) - D
Word Party (Wii U eShop) - C
Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden (3DS) - B-
The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes (3DS) - C+
Typoman (Wii U eShop) - C-

There were a good amount of turkeys review-wise this month,
but Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden was not one of them.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Typoman (Wii U eShop) Review

Time for the final review of November with just minutes to go! This time we're taking a look at an innovative Nindie release, Typoman for the Wii U eShop. Get out your thesaurus because we're goin' in hard on this game!

A competent gaem with soem unfortunate flaws


Although Nintendo's Wii U is not jumping off store shelves or selling admirable numbers, the indie community has found a bit of a niche on its hardware and online marketplace. Nintendo's own Nindie campaign has brought a lot of lesser known developers into creating innovative and well made games to the Wii U eShop. If the name Typoman rings a bell, then you might have heard or read of it during Nintendo's Nindie campaign. After all, it was one of the games that gives a discount if you played the Nindie demo of it over the summer. That said, now that the game is out, is Typoman worth investing time in?

Typoman begins with a truck dumping its haul of letters off a cliff side. In the pile of letters rolls out a letter "O" which the player quickly is able to take control of. Soon, after rolling some distance, a body is given to the letter, allowing it to hop around like a coil spring. Lastly, some legs enter into the fray, creating the titular character for the player to be able to jump, grab, and throw.

The world of Typoman is a bleak one, but somehow still there is breathtaking beauty to be discovered in the dark and dreary world of the game. There is an industrial feel to the look and feel of Typoman, and the developer certainly nailed the presentation out of the park with their effort.

The game itself is a 2D puzzle platformer, and the main mechanic of the game is using letters in the environment to form words to make progress in the game. For instance, pushing the letters "O" and "N" to spell the word "ON" activates a platform (labeled "PLATFORM" coincidentally enough) that Typoman can ride to reach a higher area and thus progress in the level.

This platform is a bit turned on....
No, I meant literally.
Typoman possesses a myriad of increasingly more complex puzzles, and if for some reason you find yourself stumped, you can opt to utilize the Wii U GamePad, touching the question mark icon to get a nebulous riddle which houses the word you need to create somewhere. The GamePad is also used for rearranging letters that you push together as Typoman on the TV screen. An example of such a feat occurs early on within the game, you have the letters "W", "N", "O" and "D", and you need to unscramble them to spell "DOWN" to bring a ladder downward for Typoman to climb.

Use your brain to get through Typoman...
While the puzzle part of Typoman is incredibly well done and clever in almost every regard, that is but half of the game's equation. The other half is mired with clunky controls, no momentum in moving Typoman around, making jumps much more difficult than they should be, and an overabundance of undesired cheap deaths. If only the platforming were as carefully crafted as the puzzles and level design, then something truly special would Typoman be. As it is, you have a puzzler that is punctuated by poor platforming and a lot of unwanted aggravation that's challenging for all the wrong reasons.

...and your finger-fu to get through the platforming parts.
Thankfully, Typoman's checkpoints distribution is in each player's favor. There are a grand amount of checkpoint locations happening after every section of a given level. While sometimes you'll have to redo some tedious letter shifting, pushing, and pulling when you return to life, most of the time things aren't so rough.

The game's total play time depends on your skill level, how often you get stuck on a particular puzzle or platforming challenge, and whether or not you decide to marvel at the visuals or not. That said, even if you struggle, Typoman is a short experience, as there are seemingly no extras to be found. It's also one that is only friendly to those who are keen on the English language in order to solve its many puzzles.

Therefore, Typoman is a bit hard to recommend with full enthusiasm. I love the premise and the central word-building mechanic of the game. However, the poor platforming and short play time, particularly for the price, makes Typoman a game that isn't the bets... er... best. Sorry. Typo.

[SPC Says: C-]

Review copy provided by Headup Games.

The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes (3DS) Review

We reach the end of the month here at SuperPhillip Central with the first of two reviews. This first one is for a series that needs no introduction, The Legend of Zelda. However, this time around the series returns to rare multiplayer form with The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes. Does it dress for success? Let's find out.

A game that may Tri your patience


One of my favorite video game franchises of all time is The Legend of Zelda. While not every game has rewritten how we play games today or have even been worthy of the Zelda name, the majority generally shine as brightly as the much coveted Triforce. With The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes, Nintendo takes the Zelda franchise into a more bite-sized adventure with segmented levels, a multiplayer focus, and a wacky premise. While there is fun to be had in this game, Tri Force Heroes has a number of annoyances that keep it from being great.

Tri Force Heroes sports a goofy story that replaces an end of the world scenario and a great evil with a princess who has been forced to wear a cursed outfit. It's up to a trio of Links to band together and explore the Drablands in order to break the curse placed on the princess. Everything from the dialogue to the characters are made with maximum goofiness, so this might be a put off to more staunch Legend of Zelda fans. To me, it was just a breath of fresh air and a neat alternate take on the more lighthearted elements of the franchise.

If you're looking for a serious Zelda title,
you're looking up the wrong dress.
Outfits and fashion are an immensely important piece to The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes. Through earning rupees and materials in levels, you can head to Madam Couture's fashion palace to purchase and make new attire for your Link. Each outfit has its own special benefit to it, such as the Big Bomb Outfit which transforms all bombs used by that player into large bombs with a bigger than usual blast radius. There is also the Cacto Clothes that damage any foe that walks into the wearer of the outfit, the godsend in ice levels, the Cozy Parka, that negates any slipping on ice, and the Goron Garb, which allows Link to avoid damage from fire and lava. There are over thirty unique outfits to collect in all, which can be selected before entering a level.

The red and blue Link doppels can only take damage in
their form by falling into a hole or a pit of lava.
The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes is a multiplayer game at heart, though like Four Swords and Four Swords Adventures, there is a single player portion to the game as well. However, unlike the two games mentioned, Tri Force Heroes is much more shoehorned into the picture. Four Swords and its GameCube sequel saw Links with AI that would smartly follow the player. In Tri Force Heroes, while there are but three Links to control, you can only control and move one at a time. This means you'll be using the touch screen to switch between all three, leaving one behind in some instances, and having to smartly utilize each Link.

Controlling three Links can be a tedious prospect, and it usually is.
Unfortunately, on some levels, even with the ability for the non-controlled Links to be impervious to damage, they can still fall into holes or into lava, causing a loss of a heart. In one instance involving balance beams late in the game, having to switch between Links and control them is equal to trying to rub your stomach and pat your head at the same time. This is especially noticeable when having to do anything that involves the totem ability, where the Links pick one another up, sitting on each others' shoulders to form a human totem. Having to move the Link on the bottom of the totem in a more intense sequence of the game, switch to the Link at the top to use an item, for instance, and do this without taking damage is nigh impossible. It's not challenging for the right reasons. It just makes for a frustrating experience, and one where going solo sometimes is not a benefit to the player.

The Fire Gloves even make the Super Mario Bros.
fireball sound effect when used.
Thus, multiplayer is available for both local and online play. Sadly, you can't play locally with just two players. You need a third no matter what, whether each player has their own copy of the game or not for download play. Online is the meat and potatoes of The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes experience, and it is a generally enjoyable experience depending on who you get paired up with. However, you'll find that a game that features an abundance of puzzles without proper voice chat is an effort in frustration, especially if you're playing with randoms.

These guards may be well armored, but can
they handle the wrath of a trio of Links?
You get eight icons on the touch screen to utilize for "communication" between players. There are icons for telling a player to use an item, to tell other players to form a totem, one to throw a player, and so forth. While these are helpful in most occasions, when the puzzles in Tri Force Heroes become more complicated, they quickly lose their usefulness. A boss fight went on much longer than it had any right to have because the lines of communication were so basic and the fight was a bit more complex. Instead of being able to just say, "Let's form a totem with the Boomerang player at the top who will then throw his item into the boss's eye", it was an awkward battle of spamming the totem and item icons, hoping that we as a team would finally being able to combine our otherwise futile efforts and defeat the boss.

Reach new heights with the addition of the totem ability.
There are eight total areas in the Drablands, and each houses a different locale and hazards. You start off with just one area unlocked, but after finishing it, you open up three more. From there, another world opens up, soon revealing the entire eight areas of the Drablands. Each of the eight areas in Tri Force Heroes possesses four levels of four rooms each. It takes the efforts of teamwork to make it past each room. Each level also contains three items for each Link to acquire. Things like the Boomerang, the Bow, the Gripshot, the Gust Jar, and many more.

Stop. Hammer time.
After the Guardian of an area has been beaten, always in the fourth level of an area, you can boost your play time and earn rarer materials through completing one of three challenges in each level. These challenges range from completing a level with fewer hearts, beating a level without a sword, and popping all of the balloons within a level. Every level you clear, you get a choice of opening one of three treasure chests for a material. One of the three chests holds a rare material while the other two hold standard materials. As said earlier in the review, all of these materials are used to create new outfits.

Get to this level's goal within the time limit
in this challenging challenge.
It is important to mention that the levels in Tri Force Heroes are unevenly designed. Difficulty spikes can occur quite often, making a seemingly enjoyable and easy run through a level end in tragedy and wasted time for all players when you burn through your supply of hearts and faeries (which serve as lives for your team) in one room.

Furthermore, I cannot begin to illustrate how many times players have disconnected on me during play. Sometimes it's because it's too frustrating for them, or there's too much lag, a problem that isn't much of an issue for the most part. Other times it's while playing challenges, and when the roulette doesn't give them the selection they want, they wuss out and disconnect. Additionally, if you have a team of randoms that is really working well together, the fun doesn't last, as for each area of the Drablands you want to play, you have to back out, disconnect, and choose the area you want to play. Incredibly irritating.

Three Links are indeed better than one...
at least in this game's case.
When regarding the presentation, The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes borrows a lot of assets from A Link Between Worlds, also available on the Nintendo 3DS. The visuals hold up well and it's particularly lovely to see the game in full 3D with level geometry standing out. The music is a marvelous mixture of real life instruments and synth, complementing each other wonderfully to create a surplus of melodic magic.

There is no "I" in team, but there is in "Link".
Although nowhere near the level of magnificence that The Legend of Zelda series routinely reaches, Tri Force Heroes does get bonus points for innovating on the formula, trying something different, and making for a mostly satisfying multiplayer experience. If the single player wasn't so unremarkable, the communication options weren't so disappointing, and the online was tweaked a little bit in how players link up to one another, The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes would be an easy recommendation. As the game stands, this multiplayer Legend of Zelda game is just above average, a disappointing phrase to type for a series with such a heralded and honored history.

[SPC Says: C+]

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs - Cyber VGM Day Edition

Welcome to a special Cyber Monday edition of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs. I recommend taking a break from your online shopping pursuits and mellowing out with this fine assortment of five brand-new VGMs. There's music for everyone here, stuff from Star Fox, Parasite Eve, Sonic Heroes, and even some goodies from the Xbox 360 exclusive Beautiful Katamari and the PS1 classic Xenogears. Though if you think spoiling the final boss of a 15+ year-old game is irresponsible, you may have a problem with this edition!

To check out more VGM goodness, look no further than SuperPhillip Central's VGM Database.

v1016. Star Fox (SNES) - Asteroid Stage


Star Fox, report in. Time to fly your Arwings through the myriad of hazardous asteroids of all shapes and sizes. Perhaps if you're a skilled ace pilot you can find the means to travel to the mysterious Black Hole level from this stage. It's no easy task, so keep calm and steady your ships! With Star Fox Zero releasing early next year, it felt like a good time to hearken back to the Super Nintendo original with this theme.

v1017. Parasite Eve (PS1) - Out of Phase


A catchy theme that plays an ostinato throughout most of its duration, Parasite Eve's Out of Phase is a composition from the incomparable Yoko Shimomura, better known for her work on the Kingdom Hearts franchise and the upcoming Final Fantasy XV. Parasite Eve deserved better as a franchise than to end on a sour note with the PSP's The 3rd Birthday.

v1018. Sonic Heroes (PS2, GCN, XBX) - Frog Forest


Time for a mellow rock theme with Frog Forest from Sonic Heroes, a game that tried a lot of new things, most specifically its three character team approach. Depending on who you talk to, the outcome of Sonic Heroes and its quality remain debatable. However, one point that can't be argued by SuperPhillip Central's standards is the excellently done soundtrack, a mainstay in the Sonic the Hedgehog series for the most part.

v1019. Beautiful Katamari (360) - Guru Guru Gravity


Time to get grooving with the tubular rhythm of Guru Guru Gravity, a lively track from Beautiful Katamari, the Xbox brand's lone Katamari Damacy title. If you're like SuperPhillip Central, you might agree that the Katamari Damacy series got milked for all it was worth, removing a lot of the innovation in future games. Still, we can't help but enjoy immensely wacky franchises like this one.

v1020. Xenogears (PS1) - Awakening


The final boss theme of Xenogears, Awakening is a tense thrill ride from beginning to end. Released in a limited capacity, Xenogears ended up outselling Squaresoft's expectations, making it one of the more valuable PlayStation games from the company. Regardless of the gameplay, what makes Xenogears truly shine in SuperPhillip Central's book is the soundtrack, composed by the phenomenal Yasunori Mitsuda.

Mighty No. 9 (Multi) Bring It! Trailer

Mighty No. 9 releases in February, after a handful of delays. This Keiji Inafune led game has had a lot of controversy to it. That said, let's hope the final product is as enticing as this suitably cheesy trailer makes it look.

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