Thursday, October 6, 2016

Top Five Publishers With the Greatest All-Star Arsenals

A publisher can live or die off the strength of its franchises and characters. Sure, I might be getting a bit too dramatic here, but really, the most fondly thought of and popular publishers in the gaming industry possess the greatest arsenal of memorable characters. This special top five list details what SuperPhillip Central thinks are the five publishers with the greatest lineup of all-star characters and franchises. This takes into account sales, longevity of the characters, relevance, and a lot more. After you've checked out SuperPhillip Central's list, which publishers in the gaming industry do you think have the greatest all-star arsenal?

5) Microsoft


The youngest publisher when it comes to the video game industry on this list, Microsoft has been able to build a pretty reputable brand of iconic characters. Sure, a lot of it is thanks to Microsoft's purchase of Rare back in 2001, taking on the characters like Banjo-Kazooie, Conker, Joanna Dark of Perfect Dark fame, the Battletoads, and many more. However, Microsoft itself has been able to construct some notable characters on its own, such as one of the biggest faces, if not THE biggest face, on the FPS scene, Halo's Master Chief. Then, there are characters like the C.O.G. forces from Gears of War, Marcus Fenix and the crew, as well as having franchises like Crackdown, Forza, and much more. Microsoft's IP may not resonate as strongly as the other publishers' line of franchises and characters, but to say the publisher has no pull with gamers is a faux pas.

4) Sega 


If this was back in the 1990s, a golden era of gaming, then Sega would be higher on this list. However, really, the only character from the embarrassment of riches that Sega had that is still relevant and commonly used today is Sonic the Hedgehog, and his games haven't been the most enviable to have. I mean, when a social media account that posts daily memes as "humor" is what's talked about most lately considering Sonic the Hedgehog, then things aren't looking too hot. Still, it's nice to think of Sega's history of characters, but since most aren't around anymore, I don't feel that Sega should be as high on this list as other publishers. Though, I can very much see the opposite end of the argument. Regardless, today, Sega has franchises like Phantasy Star Online still going strong, Hitsune Miku that has grown into a cultural sensation in Japan, and numerous popular PC series going on to this day. While not as relevant as it once was, Sega still has franchises that are a force to be reckoned with.

3) Sony

Don't mind some of these third-party characters. They just wanted to share the spotlight.
Sony and its PlayStation brand have a massive amount of iconic franchises to their credit. However, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale showed that PlayStation's brand of all-stars aren't as massive in popularity as the other publishers on this list. Still, for every Evil Cole that was a part of the lineup, PlayStation has characters like Uncharted's Nathan Drake, God of War's Kratos, Twisted Metal's Sweet Tooth, Ratchet and Clank, Sly Cooper, Jak and Daxter, LittleBigPlanet's Sackboy, and many more. Sure, not all of these are a part of franchises that sell extraordinarily amounts, but the variety of characters is quite amazing and astounding. A big part of this is Sony as a publisher's reliance on cultivating new IP and not over-reiterating on the same franchises again and again like many publishers on this list. That's darn impressive and commendable. Thus, Sony has earned its position on this list undoubtedly.

2) Capcom


Between Mega Man, the cast of the Street Fighter series, the cast of the Resident Evil series, Dead Rising's Frank West, Phoenix Wright, Breath of Fire's Ryu and Nina, Darkstalkers, Strider, and many more, Capcom is absolutely loaded with modern and classic characters associated with some very popular franchises. The Marvel vs. Capcom series showed that Capcom has got the goods character-wise in regard to video games that Marvel has when it comes to characters comic book and film-wise. While not all of Capcom's franchises are still as relevant as they used to be, the ones that still are remain some of the most popular and worthwhile from a third-party publisher, much more any publisher. It is for these reasons that Capcom has ended up at the number two spot on this list.

1) Nintendo


Really, who else could it be? Not only has Nintendo has several decades as a video game company to build its illustrious library of IP, but it helps when Mario is in the same league as Mickey Mouse in familiarity. Heck, Mario even made it onto the international stage this past summer, appearing in Tokyo, Japan's Olympic preview event in front of millions upon millions of people. Then, there's all of the endearing franchises and characters that continue to entertain gamers the world over, such as the aforementioned Mario, Link, Zelda and Ganondorf from The Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong, Pikachu from Pokemon, Kirby, Animal Crossing, Fire Emblem, and new franchises like the Splatoon that somehow resonated with millions despite being on a poor-selling system. Nintendo remains relevant in the gaming scene thanks to its collection of worthwhile characters and franchises, and it's the only company who could somehow keep a console afloat for most of its life off the back of its own franchises.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

It WAS Sometimes Worthwhile: The Games That Best Used the Wii U GamePad

As the Wii U enters its final holiday season, it seems apropos to look back on the system. Nintendo really tried to sell consumers the idea that the Wii U GamePad was something innovative and special. However, the sales of the Wii U system speak for itself. Most people either weren't interested in what the GamePad offered, or they still thought the GamePad was an add-on to the Wii. Still, despite Nintendo sometimes showing that it was even oblivious to how to show off the Wii U GamePad as a useful controller, the company did manage to make it seem worthwhile. Not only that, but a good amount of third-party developers managed to do the same!

With this article, my intention is to show off some of the games that actually used the Wii U GamePad well. Perhaps you could call them the best Wii U games that used the GamePad. Now, I'm neglecting to mention games that just had off-TV play available to them or something as simple as a means to select from an inventory or use the screen as a map, though there are some games that are on this list that slip past that caveat. Regardless, after you've read this article, answer the SuperPhillip Central community this: What Wii U games do you think best used the Wii U GamePad?

Super Mario Maker


I wonder if this game had been released closer to the Wii U's launch rather than near the end of the console's life if the Wii U would have been a better success. Of course, all I can do is think as there's no way to determine such a thing 100%, as there are too many variables to consider. Regardless, Super Mario Maker seemed like the game the Wii U was made for, allowing players to tap and insert various elements like blocks, pipes, enemies, and more into their own levels. The interface was immensely accessible to users of all ages, and the amount of cool stuff you could create was really only limited to your imagination. Okay, okay. Only limited to your imagination and what was actually possible in the maker part of Super Mario Maker! The community is still very much active, and while a Nintendo 3DS version is releasing in December, its lack of online level sharing already makes it an inferior version.

Nintendo Land


This game didn't get much fanfare as the final game revealed at the Wii U's coming out part several E3s ago. Heck, even the confetti that was supposed to go off at the end of the segment for the game didn't work. Still, Nintendo Land was the technical showcase of all the possibilities the Wii U GamePad could do, and it sold the concept of asymmetric multiplayer rather well. Whether having one player use the GamePad screen as not only a map but their own personal screen to hide and run away from their pursuers in Mario Chase to using both analog sticks to control Booker and Copper as they try to capture the candy thieves in Animal Crossing: Sweet Day, the variety of uses for the Wii U GamePad in the multiplayer games as well as the several solo experiences made the potential of the controller really exciting. Too bad the potential didn't really culminate as Wii U owners had desired.

Rayman Legends


The story of Rayman Legends's development is a sore story for Wii U owners. The game was delayed and was ported to other systems due to the less than stellar sales of another Ubisoft game, ZombiU. Not only did this delay anger Wii U owners, but the sales may have suffered too because of it. Many Wii U owners had other games to play by the time Rayman Legends came out, so maybe a timed exclusive would have worked better. Regardless, Rayman Legends used the Wii U GamePad with great gusto, having players touch, pull, and tinker with the environment in special Murfy levels. While players interacted with the environment, either an AI character (in solo mode) or players with Wii Remotes in multiplayer could navigate it thanks to the Wii U GamePad player's help. I remember being so excited and surprised at how well Legends looked in the live demo at an E3 Ubisoft press conference leading up to the Wii U launch. My excitement continued all throughout playing the game.

ZombiU


I mentioned this Wii U launch title in my description of Rayman Legends. This game bombed on the Wii U, though it wasn't due to its quality-- more to do with its subject matter that quite clashed with the traditional Nintendo demographic-- hopefully that is a fair assessment on my part. Regardless, ZombiU was a survival horror game of the most literal sense. It was about survival in the zombie apocalypse in present day London. As a survivor, you only had your wits about you and a bug-out bag containing limited room for items found in the wild. One bite from a zombie meant that your survivor was... well, no longer surviving!


From there, you took control of a new survivor with all of your old tools gone-- though you could find your last survivor in zombified form to take back your goodies. The Wii U GamePad was used to organize your bug-out bag, take out and put in items and objects. However, this played out in real-time, so while you sifted through your backpack, a zombie could come along and attack you. Thus, looking back and forth at both screens was required to be assured your survivor wouldn't turn into zombie chow out of nowhere. Ubisoft remastered ZombiU onto the PS4 and Xbox One, but not only did it bomb there, too, but it was an inferior game due to the lack of the Wii U GamePad's available options.

Splatoon


A lot of us in the gaming community ate our crow when a new IP from Nintendo, on the Wii U of all systems, found massive amounts of success. That new IP and game was Splatoon, a team-based third-person shooter where the goal wasn't to score kills, but instead, the super-creative and innovative goal of spewing your team's colored paint to cover the most ground before time runs out. Not only could you spray, but as a squid kid you could enter into squid form and travel inside the paint coated on the ground for some really clever arena traversal. The Wii U GamePad was a necessary part of Splatoon, allowing players to make note of how much of the map was covered by both their team and the opposing team's side, as well as allowing them to jump instantly towards another teammate. Whether the next game is called Splat2n or whatever, Nintendo gamers and third-person shooter fans wanting a different take on the genre wait with bated breath for the NX and a probable sequel!

Star Fox Zero


This game might be a controversial pick, as Star Fox Zero's reviews were mixed at best. This was mainly due to the controls and how the Wii U GamePad was utilized in-game. The television screen showed Fox McCloud's piloted vehicle in a third-person mode, while the Wii U GamePad screen showed a first-person view. With a mechanic that could only be done with a second screen, players could move the Wii U GamePad around to aim at enemy ships not only directly in front of Fox's Arwing, for instance, but they could aim at enemies to the side-- ones that would otherwise be completely off-screen in the third-person view. Now, there's no question that this control setup took some getting used to, but when (or maybe IF is the better word to use) that setup clicked, high scores could easily be obtained and you really felt like you were in control of Fox McCloud's space and land combat movement. It's a shame that the barrier of entry was so high, as I truly do believe that Star Fox Zero is a great game.

Star Fox Guard


The title that was bundled with Star Fox Zero, Star Fox Guard, saw you playing as Slippy Toad, using the Wii U GamePad to switch between various monitors. The different monitors had different viewpoints, and this allowed players to fend off enemy robots coming to cause trouble. Through smart management of switching between monitors and attacking, players could successfully complete each of Star Fox Guard's missions. For its relatively low entry price, Star Fox Guard possessed a good deal of variety and play time for players to enjoy. Outside of being bundled with the physical version of Star Fox Zero, those desiring the game but not wanting the entire package can download Guard from the Nintendo eShop.

Affordable Space Adventures


Indies continue to show that they shouldn't be ignored or seem inferior just because of their available budget or size. This is especially true for the folks at KnapNok Games, the creators of the Nintendo eShop exclusive, Affordable Space Adventures. This 2D adventure game had players controlling a spaceship, utilizing the Wii U GamePad to perform various systems within the ship. This included tasks like changing the landing gears of the ship, altering the thrust level, and more-- all done by touching icons on the Wii U GamePad's screen. The goal of the game was to navigate through levels, starting from the entrance and heading to each level's exit, all the while managing the spaceship's functions and systems. All in all, Affordable Space Adventures uses the Wii U GamePad in a sensationally clever way that few other indie games on the system can compete with.

New Super Mario Bros. U


To me and a lot of other Nintendo system owners, it didn't seem like a smart idea to release two New Super Mario Bros. series games in the same year, much less the same three month period. However, that didn't stop Nintendo from doing so, albeit on different systems. Thus, a launch game for the Wii U, New Super Mario Bros. U didn't have the same "wow" factor as it possibly could have had. Regardless, playing the game solo doesn't show off the Wii U GamePad in any effective way. Sure, you can play directly on the Wii U GamePad screen with off-TV play, but that's a feature so many Wii U games have. Hardly notable on such a list like this. Regardless, it was multiplayer where the Wii U GamePad really shined. Here, the player holding the controller could tap on the screen as the other player(s) went through the level normally. In doing so, differently colored platforms would appear for the other player(s) to jump on. In tandem with each other and with great communication, some really awesome platforming feats could be possible... or you could be like me and try to screw over your friends by placing blocks to impede their progress. I'm such a good friend, I sarcastically say!

Pikmin 3


Pikmin 3 was a pet project from Shigeru Miyamoto, who I think takes more crap from Nintendo gamers than he deserves lately. That's another topic for another day, however. Pikmin 3 utilized multiple control methods, and the best ones used the Wii U GamePad as a map for the various levels in the game. With the controller, players could assign one of the three main protagonists and their own legion of Pikmin to various areas on the map. This meant you could do lots of multitasking to split up chores between the three characters and their assigned Pikmin. It was especially fun seeing how well I could assign my "squadrons" to complete levels in as few days as possible. Pikmin 3 wasn't the most exciting use of the Wii U GamePad, but it sure as heck was one of the more effective ones for gameplay purposes.

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse

*The actual Wii U GamePad is not made of clay.
A direct sequel to the gameplay style that the Nintendo DS game Kirby Canvas Curse possessed, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse was a shoo-in for a game on the Wii U to use the Wii U GamePad. Rainbow Curse had you drawing lines with a magical rainbow paintbrush to guide Kirby through colorful and challenging levels. A tap of Kirby would allow the pink puffball to gain speed and slam into enemies safely. Now, sure, having to use the Wii U GamePad for the entire game meant that there wasn't really much of a point in making the game HD, as your attention always had to be focused on the SD Wii U GamePad screen, but Kirby and the Rainbow Curse's entertainment value far outweighs the compromise. The game also has one of my favorite Wii U soundtracks, but again, that's another topic for another day!

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director's Cut


Originally announced as a Wii U exclusive, Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director's Cut was later announced that it was coming to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, which was nice. Why keep an enhanced and much improved version of the game on one system? However, despite being on more platforms, many-- included the developers-- feel that the Wii U version of this Director's Cut is the ultimate version of the game due to the features added thanks to the help of the Wii U GamePad. Obviously you can play the entire game on the Wii U GamePad itself, but things like using the GamePad's screen as a radar, map, and infolog, as well as using the touch-based interface of the GamePad screen to hack different terminals, cameras, and other technology, and being able to view your inventory with the quickness and convenience of just looking down at the GamePad screen. Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director's Cut was an astounding game made even better thanks to the Wii U GamePad.

Wii Party U


I know what you might be thinking-- aren't there enough party games on the Wii U? Sure, but why not? Out of all them, though, besides Nintendo Land, I feel Wii Party U best utilized the Wii U GamePad in a variety of humorous, amusing, and engaging ways. Now, there were mini-games in Wii Party U that sported a similar asymmetric gameplay like Nintendo Land, where one player used the GamePad while the other three used Wii Remotes, but there were some other notable uses as well. The hysterics that could be brought on by Name That Face, where the Wii U GamePad player gets a description of a face to make, takes a photo, and then the other players try to guess what the player's face was trying to convey via multiple choice was incredible and led to many nights of laughter with my friends. Then, there was a Pictionary-styled game, as well as tabletop offerings in the form of baseball, foosball, and more. These tabletop games were played solely on the Wii U GamePad with two players seated on each side to control the game. Wii Party U was an entertaining party game that sadly, many Wii U owners passed on.

Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon (3DS) New Trailer

A new trailer was posted this morning for next month's Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon. This particular trailer shows off the first evolution of the three starters, as you can see in the video image, as well as information about how you store Pokémon in these games. Lastly, Ash-Greninja was revealed, as was the announcement of a demo coming soon to the Nintendo 3DS eShop.

Monday, October 3, 2016

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs - Happy Rosh Hashanah Edition

It's the Jewish new year today, and I'm glad I could catch it before the day's end. The Jewish calendar is more than a few thousand years ahead of the standard Roman calendar that we generally use. And it's around more than four thousand digits ahead of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs VGM volume total.

Regardless, as is customary on Mondays, the Favorite VGMs are here to deliver great video game music to all readers of SuperPhillip Central. This week, the critically mixed Star Fox Zero leads off with its version of Corneria. Then, Mario Kart 7 races onto the scene. Star Ocean: The Second Story is one of my favorite video game soundtracks of all time, so this week I'm showing off a world map theme for the game. Next, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars delivers a titillating tune. Finally, Me & My Katamari busts out a ten minute-long funk-a-licious song.

As always, click on the VGM volume name to reach the YouTube video featuring that song. And if you want to listen to past VGM volumes featured on SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs, look no further than the always-updated VGM Database. Now, let's get on to the music!

v1236. Star Fox Zero (Wii U) - Corneria: Galactic Hub of Peace


The first mission of Star Fox Zero takes players into familiar territory, the home world of the forces to face off against the evil Andross, Corneria! While Star Fox Zero's incarnation of Corneria's theme is wholly original and doesn't have the same memorability as what was heard in Star Fox and Star Fox 64, you do get a wonderful and riveting orchestral piece all the same. Expect to hear more from Star Fox Zero not only this week, but in future editions of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs.

v1237. Mario Kart 7 (3DS) - Toad Circuit


Last week, the final review of September 2016 was posted, a Review Redux of Mario Kart 7. Now, we take a listen to the song of the first circuit in the game, Toad Circuit, a simple track with easy, long curves and a wide track size. It's a perfect introductory course featuring a theme that also plays during the Mario Circuit track.

v1238. Star Ocean: The Second Story (PS1) / Second Evolution (PSP) - Field of Expel


I think the statute of limitations on spoilers for Star Ocean: The Second Story and its PSP port is over. Therefore, I can say that this theme, Field of Expel, plays as the world map theme of the first planet our heroes travel across. Motoi Sakuraba has yet to create a soundtrack that I love as much as his work on the Star Ocean: The Second Story score. The warm synth, memorable melodies, and robust rhythms make for a soundtrack that I do find to be Sakuraba-san's best work.

v1239. Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars (Wii) - Yatterman's Workshop


One of my favorite fighters from last generation just so happened to be a Wii exclusive of all things. It's Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars, which is by no means a stranger to SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs. The game's music gets you prepped and primed for the engaging 2-on-2 battles between Capcom's best and the Tatsunoko anime company's greatest warriors. Even though online is no longer available, you should still own a copy if you're a fighting game fan and Wii owner.

v1240. Me & My Katamari (PSP) - Katamari on the Funk


Ready to get funky? Well, how about getting funky with a ten minute-long song! That's exactly how SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs is ending this edition. This catchy vocal theme never outwears its welcome, bringing the funk to you and the colorful and wacky world of Katamari Damacy.

Latest South Park Title Delayed to 2017

Phil's note: The following was written on behalf of  Mario Sparks.


Fans of the latest round of South Park video games are going to be disappointed this holiday season. The newest game, South Park: The Fractured But Whole, was initially planned for to be released on December 6, 2016. Sadly, Ubisoft has announced that the game has been delayed to the first quarter of 2017, according to a report from IGN.

The irreverent TV show's most recent game, The Stick of Truth, surprised everyone with how good it really was. The title was a remarkably robust role-playing game packed with humor and brimming with gameplay that would please even the most crankiest of RPG lovers. It earned near-universal acclaim and was called "a funny and faithful adaptation" of the series by Game Informer. This was largely thanks to its crisp graphics that perfectly recreated the look of the show combined by fun gameplay and raunchy gags.

Stick of Truth recalled everything you might have loved about the old turn-based combat of Final Fantasy games and other classic RPGs combined with the trademark gut-busting jokes you expect from Trey Parker and Matt Stone. The game's plot spun off of three 2013 episodes from the series, specifically 7, 8, and 9 from Season 17. What followed was a brilliant send-up of time-honored fantasy tropes that was at the same time both faithful and hysterical.

Now, South Park is looking to do it again with their latest game, this time skewering the superhero genre. The game will include some of the more well-known alter-egos of the boys, including The Coon and Professor Chaos. Earlier this month, the game showed off a whopping 20 minutes of gameplay on VG24/7 that detailed how character creation and the new battle system will work. Unlike the turn-based combat of Stick of Truth, Fractured But Whole will feature grid-based combat similar to strategy games like Final Fantasy Tactics. The game will also apparently give you the option to change your class throughout the story. The early look is definitely promising, which is only going to make it that much harder to wait until next year.

While it's going to be a bit of a longer wait for fans, there are still some options to keep you busy in the meantime. You can always go back and replay the previous game to get you excited, but there are also more casual options for gamers that don't have a lot of time on their hands. A licensed South Park slot reel is one of many franchises detailed among the sites outlined on Casino Source. The game apparently incorporates many of your favorite characters and sound bites from the series, and it actually gets introduced with yet another unique death of the ever unfortunate Kenny.

There's every indication that South Park: The Fractured But Whole is set to live up to the high bar initially set by the Stick of Truth back in 2014. While it's a bit frustrating that we won't be playing the game in December, you can bet that the wait will be worth it.

Review Round-Up - September 2016

Wait a minute. What year is this?! It doesn't matter when you have the all-new Review Redux!
October is here, as is autumn! Before we delve deeper into this month featuring Halloween at its tail end, let's look back at the month that was September 2016 for a Review Round-Up!

Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas kicked things off with its console version, scoring an A- for its wonderful effort. Then, the 700th review of SuperPhillip Central, concluding the Summer of 700 promotion, was in the form of an all-new type of review, the Review Redux. Super Mario 3D Land was the first of this type of review, earning a fantastic A. A pair of racers then proceeded to follow Mario with Bears Can't Drift!? (C-) and Riptide GP: Renegade (B-). Mekorama delivered isometric puzzling fun with the ability to create levels, so it got a great B grade! Did I mention that game is totally free to download and play? Finally, another Review Redux arrived, capping off this past month's reviews, with a return look at Mario Kart 7 (B+).

October is going to excite with its review output. Such games that might be featured include Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, Paper Mario: Color Splash, Dragon Quest Builders, and some scary titles perfect for Halloween!

Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas (PS4, XB1) - A-
Super Mario 3D Land (3DS) Review Redux - A
Bears Can't Drift!? (PS4, Steam) - C-
Riptide GP: Renegade (iOS, Android) - B-
Mekorama (iOS, Android) - B
Mario Kart 7 (3DS) Review Redux - B+

The Review Redux also took us by land, sea, and air with a return look at Mario Kart 7!

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