Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Monster Hunter: World (PS4, XB1, PC) TGS 2017 Trailer

With the Tokyo Game Show this week, new trailers are popping up all over the place. Perhaps the most interesting for Japan (where the series is king) is Monster Hunter: World, completely redefining the gameplay experience from past Monster Hunter games. A release date of January 26, 2018 was announced as well for worldwide release on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One with a PC version to launch afterwards with no announced date yet.

Monday, September 18, 2017

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs - "Mario Kart" Edition

Welcome to the beginning of a new week here at SuperPhillip Central. Generally, on Mondays, we start the week with an edition of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs. That tradition continues with this Mario Kart-themed edition, spotlighting five themes from five individual entries in Nintendo's long, lasting arcade racing series.

Jetting off the starting marker with a well-timed button press before Lakitu's count goes down to 1, we flip and fly with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Following that, with dive and glide with Mario Kart 7. Then, we keep the lead in tow with Mario Kart: Double Dash!! and Mario Kart 64, before crossing over the finish line in record time with Super Mario Kart.

Click on the big and bold VGM volume name to hear that song via YouTube video, and remember: the VGM Database has every song ever featured in this weekly ongoing series of articles. Now, let's get on to the music!

v1471. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (NS) - Lunar Colony

Let's boost out of the starting line with the most recent Mario Kart outing on there, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, an updated port of the Wii U original. Deluxe came jam-packed with all of the content of the original Wii U release, such as its roster, tracks (including all of the initial DLC now on the game itself), and modes. Well, the latter isn't exactly true. In fact, one of the fresh aspects of Deluxe was the revamped Battle Mode, taking place in actual arenas rather than retro-fitted tracks lifted from Grand Prix mode. Lunar Colony, with its chill guitar and electronic accompaniment, is one of such arena featured in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe's new and improved Battle Mode.

v1472. Mario Kart 7 (3DS) - Wuhu Loop

Returning from Wii Sports Resort, Wuhu Island gets representation in Mario Kart 7 three times: twice in the Grand Prix modes as two different tracks and once in Battle Mode as one of the arenas. The first of these Grand Prix tracks takes place in the Flower Cup, and it's a three-stage race as opposed to a three-lap one. It's a glorious and satisfying trip around Wuhu Island, hence the racetrack's name, Wuhu Loop! Race through the heart of Wuhu Town, cross the historic red suspension bridge, race alongside the ocean on a cliff side path, and meander around the island in this wonderful race.

v1473. Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (GCN) - Peach Beach & Daisy Cruiser

Mario Kart: Double Dash!! ended up being a nostalgic favorite for me, which is weird because I spent more time playing Mario Kart 64, its console predecessor. Regardless, the bright and bouncy visuals, "two characters per kart" racing mechanic, memorable tracks (at least for me), and endless nights of enjoyable multiplayer made for a Mario Kart entry I really liked. This theme, VGM volume 1473, plays during two tracks within Double Dash!!, one in the early tropical beach track Peach Beach, and the other aboard the Daisy Cruiser. Both of these venues are great for soaking in some sun while ruining others' racing vacations via banana peels, shells, and lightning bolts.

v1474. Mario Kart 64 (N64) - Rainbow Road

I talked about how Double Dash!! was a more nostalgic for me as opposed to the Mario Kart entry I played much more, Mario Kart 64. However, thinking back, there was so much to dislike about 64, from the insane rubber-band AI to the handling of the karts themselves. One thing that Mario Kart 64 beats the pants off most games in the series is without question the astounding music. Through all the themes, there isn't a loser in the bunch, and all fans of the soundtrack like myself can thank game composer Kenta Nagata for that.

v1475. Super Mario Kart (SNES) - Mario Circuit

We head to the finish line with SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs in style here with the original Mario Kart experience, Super Mario Kart from the SNES. Mario Circuit is the very first Mushroom Cup race, and it eases players into Super Mario Kart with gentle curves and minimal obstructions so they can get a grip on the game's controls.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Rank Up - Animal Crossing (Ranking the Series' Entries)

Yesterday was the 15th anniversary of when Animal Crossing debuted on the Nintendo GameCube in North America. Commemorating the occasion is this all-new edition of Rank Up, where SuperPhillip Centrals ranks the Animal Crossing series' six games from worst to first.

The 2002 release was based off the Japan-only Nintendo 64 game, Animal Forest. That game would see a port to the GameCube in Japan, and this version would be the rest of the gaming world's first taste of the series. Believe you me that one taste was all most players needed to get seriously enraptured with the franchise.

Doing otherwise mundane chores in real life doesn't sound like much fun in a video game, but when the package is surrounded by humorously written characters, an abundance of charm, and so much content that you could play for two years and still not see everything, one can't help but be enticed. As the games are mostly set to the internal clock of each system they're on, everything happens in real time, such as holidays and meetups with other characters.

However, while mentioning the traditional gameplay of the Animal Crossing series, this ranking of Animal Crossing games also includes the two recent 2015 spin-off titles which play quite differently. Additionally, small applications like those seen on the Nintendo 3DS eShop will not be included in this Rank Up.

Before we begin, these are the games I'll be ranking:

Animal Crossing (GCN) - 2002
Animal Crossing: Wild World (DS) - 2005
Animal Crossing: City Folk (Wii) - 2008
Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS) - 2013
Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer (3DS) - 2015
Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival (Wii U) - 2015

After you check out my order of games, which Animal Crossing entry is your favorite -- that is, if you're partial to the series at all!

6) Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival (Wii U)

We begin SuperPhillip Central's ranking of the Animal Crossing series with a spin-off title that was insulting to say the least. Made to throw a bone (albeit an extremely bitter one) for starved Wii U gamers looking for something to play during the final major holiday season of the console, Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival was ND Cube's attempt at bringing the world of furry and friendly villagers into the realm of board games. Sounds like a fun premise at first, almost Mario Party-ish, but then you get to the realization that the game practically played itself with little-to-no interaction from players. Worse off, was the overabundance of Animal Crossing-related amiibo that still haunt store shelves to day -- many of which are sold buy-one-get-one or even buy-one-get-two!

5) Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer (3DS)

While this particular game in the Animal Crossing series was indeed a spin-off like the Wii U's amiibo Festival, Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer offered a lot more for players to enjoy. Of course, this wasn't your typical Animal Crossing game as it merely took one of the most loved aspects of the AC experience, home decoration, and made an entire game out of it. Unfortunately, if you weren't serious about making beautiful designs, you could just cheese through the game as there was no grade system to determine if you succeeded or failed a customer's design. For those that love the customization experience in the Animal Crossing series, Happy Home Designer extended upon that aspect to grant players amazing possibilities with their imaginations.

4) Animal Crossing: City Folk (Wii)

The Wii was a really good time for Nintendo, but many fans and gamers at the time thought that the company was seeking out the casual market more than those who are more involved in gaming as a hobby. This got to a breaking point at E3 2008 where the whole Wii Music showing occurred, and the scraps given to Nintendo fans was the announcement that a new Animal Crossing would be the major "hardcore" game for Wii owners for that holiday season. With that background info, Animal Crossing: City Folk wasn't a poor experience at all. However, in comparison to the entries released before it, City Folk did little to innovative or feel like a wholly new experience. If anything, Animal Crossing: City Folk would basically be a console version of the Nintendo DS's Wild World if not for the new city section implemented into the Wii game.

3) Animal Crossing (GCN)

As stated earlier, this was the game that started a new franchise for Nintendo and a new addiction for countless players, Animal Crossing, and this edition of Rank Up was made to celebrate the series' 15th anniversary. A remade version of the Nintendo 64 Japan-only original, Animal Crossing on the GameCube is a game that brings me great nostalgia. This was the first time I took care of tasks for villagers, paid off my loan to Tom Nook, found fossils for the museum, caught bugs and fish to add to my collection, added new trinkets and pieces of furniture for my humble abode, and participated in the special holidays that could be found each and every month. Giving gifts on Toy Day, playing pranks on villagers on Halloween, counting down the New Year with my virtual friends, and just sinking hundreds upon hundreds of hours into Animal Crossing all year round are some of countless memories I attach to the original Animal Crossing.

2) Animal Crossing: Wild World (DS)

Twas the holiday season of 2005 here in North America when Animal Crossing moved from a console experience to a portable one with Animal Crossing: Wild World for the Nintendo DS. The game blew many people's minds to see the vast gaming experience of daily activities and happenings throughout their village that occurred on a big piece of gaming hardware like the GameCube and now see it shrunk down to fit the Nintendo DS. The largest innovation to Wild World was the addition of online play, allowing players to wirelessly connect over the Internet, visit one another's towns, trade items, chat together (in text form only), and just have a wondrous time playing together. A lot of great friendships were made playing this game online -- building our collections of furniture, clothing, and gear -- but now that the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection no longer is functional, these memories of playing Nintendo DS with some faraway friends are impossible to recreate in Wild World.

1) Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS)

...But they weren't impossible for them to return in what I consider the greatest Animal Crossing game, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, the most recent traditional entry in the series. This time around, online is taken care of by the Nintendo Network, offering a more robust lineup of options than ever before. However, the neatest change is when the first player on a given copy of New Leaf enters into the town and finds themselves the mayor. This opens up a whole slew of avenues, such as building public works projects like adding new monuments and areas of interest to your town (like benches, fountains, statues, and even windmills) and ordinances to help out in presenting helpful laws for your town such as things to make your village wealthier or ways from keeping weeds out of the town's grassy fields. Animal Crossing: New Leaf opened up so much to the player, and it wasn't quite done, as last year, a special "Welcome Amiibo" batch of content offered even more addicting activities to do in the happy go lucky world of Animal Crossing. There are plenty of reasons why the SuperPhillip Central household played this game for over 500 hours combined (and I might be underestimating that), but the main reason is that Animal Crossing: New Leaf is just a special package full of fun and charm.

Layton's Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy (3DS) New Trailer

A big Nintendo 3DS game that released only yesterday is, of course, Metroid: Samus Returns. Here's hoping the Nintendo 3DS titles launching afterwards in the coming months don't get looked over. One of which is the latest chapter in the Professor Layton saga, this time focusing on his daughter, Katrielle, who nabs the starring role. It seems all of the puzzles, charming characters and story quirks, and the amazing production values the Layton series is known for will be just fine following Katrielle Layton's lead. SuperPhillip Central will be solving some mysteries with Layton's Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires' Conspiracy when it launches early next month on the Nintendo 3DS.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS) Accolades Trailer

Months after its announcement at E3 2017, Nintendo and MercurySteam's Metroid: Samus Returns is now available on Nintendo 3DS. A re-imagined take of Metroid II: Return of Samus, this 3DS release brings so much freshness to the table that it's pretty much dissimilar to the original source material. SuperPhillip Central plans to cover Metroid: Samus Returns before this month wraps up with an in-depth review by yours truly!

The Most Disappointing Video Game Sequels - Part Three

There are plenty of bad feelings in this world that are far worse than stuff in the gaming world -- stubbing your toe, rear-ending the driver in front of you with your car, texting a sexual message to your mom or dad instead of your girlfriend or boyfriend, etc. In the gaming world, there are some bad feelings as well. For one, being excited and greatly anticipating the sequel to one of your favorite games only for it to simply and completely suck. It especially hurts if it's a game that has been long in development.

That's what The Most Disappointing Video Game Sequels series of articles talks about, and now we've arrived at Part Three! To read up on the twelve sequels discussed in past entries, look no further than these links:

Part One
Part Two

Duke Nukem Forever (Multi)

Let's make one thing perfectly clear here: I'm here to bash on the worst video game sequels and chew bubblegum, and guess what -- I'm all outta bubblegum. We begin this edition of The Most Disappointing Video Game Sequels with perhaps the most disappointing video game sequel of them all, if purely for how long in development this starting game on this edition was, and just how horrible it ended up being.

That game is none other than Duke Nukem Forever, a game that was in development for over 15 years, rightfully earning its one-time moniker as complete and utter vaporware. And what did the 15 years of on and off again development bring players with the final product? Why, awful loading times, repugnant visuals, lackluster controls that made players think Duke was perpetually wandering around in a pool of feces, humor that was so awful that it makes my jokes here on SuperPhillip Central sound like winners in comparison, and design that may have worked fine in a world when the game originally started development but not when in modern-day. Duke Nukem Forever is a game that will always be one of the most disappointing sequels in gaming history... and probably forever, ironically enough.

Assassin's Creed: Unity (Multi)

When you end up having to create a formal apology to both fans and consumers about the quality of one of your biggest releases of the year, you know you've messed up somewhere along the way. But that's exactly what publisher Ubisoft needed to do after the horrific launch of Assassin's Creed: Unity, chiming in a new generation of Assassin's Creed games on new hardware. The most egregious of these launch problems was the almost disturbing graphical bugs and glitches, turning many character models into the stuff nightmares are made of.

While the gameplay was worthwhile in Unity, it didn't do enough to distinguish itself from past games, leaving a "been there, done that" feel to players. Despite the gameplay lacking a significance of new gameplay types, Unity was still worse in the gameplay department thanks to controls that didn't have enough time in the proverbial oven, granting an unsatisfying feeling in controlling Arno Victor Dorian, the main character of the solo campaign. Thus, with all of these problematic troubles with the game, Assassin's Creed: Unity just might be the most disappointing sequel within the whole Assassin's Creed franchise.

Street Fighter V (PS4, PC)

Street Fighter V appeared on both the PlayStation 4 as a home console-exclusive as well as PC. The main selling point: the intricate battle mechanics, combos, and in-your-face fighting antics were all present and accounted for at launch. However, what wasn't, and was something that doomed the game right out of the gate, was Street Fighter V's lack of substantial content, especially for solo players. This was so obvious of a fault that Capcom's Yoshinoro Ono even admitted that the company didn't release a complete game to put on the market. Combined with server issues at release, and Capcom and Street Fighter V had some serious problems to solve with the game.

Unfortunately, the problems didn't end there for Capcom and Street Fighter V either. Subsequent DLC such as stages, characters, and costumes were deemed too expensive for the market, showing off another one of Capcom's own inadequacies with the game and reading the current market. These overarching issues from Street Fighter V have led to certain gamers and the press anticipating Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite to be a bit more hesitant in jumping in on next week's launch for the crossover fighter. Nonetheless, there's nobody else to blame for this hesitation than Capcom itself.

Resident Evil 6 (Multi)

We go from one major tentpole Capcom release to another with a cornerstone in the survival horror genre of video games, the Resident Evil series. Nonetheless, Resident Evil 6 was an entry that tried to do too much, and in doing so, almost ruined the series altogether because of it. While skin-deep aspects of the game like the story and visuals were highly regarded by critics, everything else went off the deep end.

Resident Evil 6 consisted of four major campaigns, each featuring a prolific member of the Resident Evil mythos (well, except newcomer Jake Muller, of course, but he did have a tie to series villain Albert Wesker). Each campaign offered a different type of experience, whether the total action of Chris Redfield's, the best survival horror experience in the game with Leon S. Kennedy's, and the greatest combination of action and survival horror with Ada Wong's campaign.

The biggest issue with the game -- which obviously didn't bother too many perspective purchasers since Resident Evil 6 would go on to sell upwards of 9 million copies worldwide -- was that it pretty much planted itself firmly far away from the series' survival horror roots. This became such as a pronounced issue among critics and players that the next installment of the series, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, would return Resident Evil back into its original survival horror identity without question.

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts (360)

Our next game takes us back to the last generation of game consoles, particularly the Xbox 360 in this instance. Unlike most of the games featured in this segment, the disappointment players experienced from Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts had nothing to do with it being a bad game, a glitch-fest, or the game lacking any semblance of content. In fact, Nuts & Bolts had none of those problem. No, instead of Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts being a bad game, it was just a bad Banjo game.

The Banjo-Kazooie series has always been about 3D platforming with a heavy focus on exploration rather than pure running and jumping like, say, Super Mario 64. The original Banjo-Kazooie remains one of my favorite games of all time, and it was a game that sparked the imagination of millions of players who grew up with the game. Hence, the heavy support towards the Banjo-Kazooie-like Yooka-Laylee when it was being Kickstarted.

With the Xbox 360, players yearned to see several Rare IP get iterations on the Xbox 360. However, with Banjo-Kazooie, this was more of a monkey's paw wish. Sure, we got a new Banjo-Kazooie, but its gameplay style had nothing at all to do with why fans fell in love with the bear and bird duo. What was once a series focused on running, jumping, and exploring complicated environments turned into an Xbox 360 game featuring creating vehicles, solving challenges, and traveling through sparse worlds with little to do in them (except the hub world of Showdown Town, that is). Again, while Nuts & Bolts turned out to be a fun and great game, the arrival of Banjo-Kazooie on the Xbox 360 was sullied by the game not being what fans were expecting at all.

Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash (Wii U)

The Mario Tennis series had already seen a decline in quality. The Nintendo 3DS entry used a dismissed Simon Says-like chance shot mechanic. This forced players to move to where the ball was landing on their side of the court and hit the ball with a specific shot to inflict maximum velocity on the ball towards your opponent's half of the court. While I didn't mind this as much as other critics, I still yearned for a Mario Tennis game anywhere as awesome as the Nintendo 64 original, the Game Boy Color and then Advance entries, and the GameCube iteration of the series.

Instead, what Wii U owners got was Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash which delivered traditional tennis as well as the returning chance shot mode of the 3DS's Mario Tennis Open. The gameplay was one of the Mario Tennis franchise's best; it was everything else that failed to impress. The most striking aspect was just how content-barren the game was, featuring only one stadium with differing court types, limited modes, limited characters, and just a limited amount of replayability and longevity. Ultra Smash was released near the end of the Wii U's life cycle, which made it apparent that this was just a game to throw a bone to starved Wii U owners. Out of bounds, Nintendo. Out of bounds.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Splatoon 2 (NS) Review

We're nearly halfway through the month here at SuperPhillip Central without a new review. That changes this evening with a game I've been waiting to go in-depth with for a while now, Splatoon 2. Now that I've seen everything the sequel to the smash Wii U hit has to offer, it's time for my Splatoon 2 review!

Improve Your Splatitude

Despite the company's perceived problem with creating new games that don't feature one of their cornerstone characters, like Mario, Link, Pikachu, or Kirby, Nintendo has pushed out a lot of new franchises in the past decade or so from the Wii on. Recently, one of their biggest successes with a brand-new IP is Splatoon, which managed to become a highly successful new series despite being on the failure of a system, the Wii U. This was after a notable number of gamers and the press preemptively called the unique third-person shooter dead in the water.

Now, after the Wii U comes a success story for Nintendo, the Switch. Leading up to the release of Nintendo's next big multiplayer-focused game for the system, Splatoon 2, many found themselves concerned that there wasn't enough new in the previews and footage shown for the game to call it a sequel rather than just an expansion. However, as you'll see with this review, there's enough new here to differentiate it from just being a token expansion to the Wii U original.

Welcome to the freshest spot in Splatoon 2, Inkopolis.
I say this, despite Splatoon 2 pretty much feeling and playing like the original in many ways. Aside from new tactics available to you, Splatoon 2 still contains its focus on splattering the environment with paint rather than other players. KO's are definitely present in the game, but they're not the focus in the Splatoon series unlike in much more traditional third-person shooters. In fact, no mode in Splatoon 2 requires splatting other opponents. Instead, each mode has an objective to it that has nothing to do with the obliteration of other players. Though, it is helpful to splat foes to get them out of your way and send them back to their spawn point.

The roller weapon is great for spreading ink quickly across large
patches of ground; no so great for long-range skirmishes.
Before delving into the major modes, let's talk gameplay. Splatoon 2 is a shooter based on mobility and teamwork (each mode has two teams of four players each battling one another), among other aspects of play. The mobility comes in from just how many options you have available to you to get across each map and arena. This is thanks to your ability to switch between kid and squid mode at any time. Kid mode offers the offensive capabilities, shooting out colorful ink with one of your selected weapons. With over a dozen weapon types which offer differing advantages and disadvantages, rates of fire, attack strengths, ink storage, and secondary and special attacks, it's important to find your footing and choose the weapon that best fits your play style and what you're most comfortable with using -- or you can just switch between weapons at your leisure, just getting a feel for each depending on the mode.

Likewise, as a squid, you can drop down between grates, ride through similarly colored ink to gain speed and also replenish the ink in your usable tank, and even climb up walls to higher points by utilizing ink sprayed on them. Of course, as I said, kid and squid modes can be switched between any time and with ease, allowing skirmishes and battles for turf all the more complex and exciting. For instance, just splat down some ink, dive into it in squid form to speed around your foe, pop out of the ink as a kid, and then blow them away! That said, only your team's ink is something you can swim and move through without issues. Otherwise you'll trudge through enemy ink, making you an easy target as you move much more slowly, can't enter squid form, and take small amounts of damage in the process.

With the game's multiplayer modes, Splatoon 2 contains four of them to enjoy. The most basic and the only one available in multiplayer battles at first is Turf War, the main and most prominent mode of the Splatoon 2 experience. In this mode, each of the two teams try to spread as much of their colored ink across the given map -- though walls don't count, they benefit players by allowing them to climb up them in squid form. At the end of the three minutes of play, the squid squad with the most coverage of the map in their own ink wins. What I like about this mode is that a team rarely is out of the fight, unless each teammate goes off and does their own thing (which is popular to do because "lol teamwork" and "lol being able to use voice chat in random matches thanks to Mother Nintendo"). Comebacks are always possible. Just one death of a teammate at the wrong time can have the other side mount an amazing offensive, taking the most important part of each map, the middle, in the process. if not into your own team's territory. There's no worse feeling in a Turf War than having most of the map under your ink's cover most of the map, only for your teammates to get splatted and sent back to the team's spawn point, giving free reign to the opposition to cover as much map as possible with their ink in the last thirty seconds of the match.

Color up as much of the map with your team's ink to win Turf War.
The other three modes are locked behind Splatoon 2's ranking system, which is understandable for newbies but less enticing to Splatoon veterans who just want to play something different aside from Turf War. Everyone begins at level one when they first play multiplayer. As you participate in matches, win, and the like, you earn points that eventually allow you to go up another rank. The good thing about Splatoon 2 is that just finishing a match awards you with experience points as well as money. To have access to the ranked modes in Splatoon 2, you need to reach Rank 10, which takes about 1-3 hours of playtime to do depending on your skill level and persistence.

Besides the Random Battle's Turf War, Splatoon 2 features the Ranked Battles' Splat Zones, Tower Control, and Rainmaker. Splat Zones has both teams starting at 100 seconds on maps with a zone to cover in your team's own ink. As you control the splat zone, the timer ticks down towards zero, but you can lose control at a moment's notice. Splat Zones is pretty much king of the hill with a Splatoon 2 twist, but it's also my favorite of the three Ranked Battle Modes included in the game. Tower Control's goal is to ride a tower that sits in the middle of the map to begin with into the enemy team's section of the map. The tower only moves forward while the top is covered in ink, and the opposition wants that tower in YOUR end of the map as well. Thus, a vicious game of tug-of-war tower-style with teams raining down ink on the tower and opponents is all but ensured. Last but not least, Rainmaker has both teams vying for the titular weapon of this mode, a beast of a cannon that can blow away foes with ease. The objective of this mode is to take the Rainmaker and transport it to the enemy base. Though for that player carrying the Rainmaker, they have an octopus-sized target on their backs. All three modes are definite winners, but it would have been nice to see a new mode that wasn't featured in the Wii U game.

This player is certainly making it rain with the Rainmaker.
Thank goodness that Inkling was present for arm day as that weapon looks heavy!
So, there's a lot similar to Splatoon, but what makes Splatoon 2 stand out from its predecessor? One thing is the upfront content available to you from the get-go. Instead of bare-bones, drip-fed content (such as a limited selection of maps, weapons, and modes), a significant amount of stuff is available right from the start. It only gets better each week with new additions to the multiplayer like maps from the original Splatoon (with specific touches to make these maps feel fresher) and all-new maps as well.

Splatoon had an original single-player campaign to teach the basics of the game to players, and Splatoon 2's is a lot of fun, too, and does the same thing. Five worlds featuring multiple levels and one boss each, alongside each level featuring some main mechanic or obstacle to get a hold of or come to grips with, hidden collectibles, and challenges. The campaign also includes added replayability by allowing players to come back to previously cleared levels with different weapons, which changes how each level is played completely. Each weapon you complete a level with is documented on the menu screen. If you're really ambitious, you can use your favorite weapon and beat all the Splatoon 2 campaign's levels with it to unlock it in multiplayer mode. Overall, though, regardless of having totally new levels, sights, and bosses to partake in, Splatoon 2's campaign doesn't wholly feel like an astonishingly fresh foot forward.

One of five bosses within Splatoon 2's solo campaign. This one packs quite a wallop!
Speaking of the multiplayer modes of Splatoon 2 that I already went through, there's one more to talk about, but this one isn't competitive at all. It's Salmon Run, and it pits up to four players against wave after wave of Octoling forces, some lackey foes and some really dangerous bosses. The latter drop gold eggs when defeated, requiring players to take them back to a storage unit to satisfy the quota required to move on to the next wave. Between each wave, players switch between four randomly assigned weapons, keeping everyone from getting too comfortable. Splatted teammates can be revived by blasting them with ink, but it's all to easy to be overrun with enemies in the process so observant and alert players are required here. It's like playing many games on the Wii U that used both the TV and GamePad screens; it's hard to focus on both at the same time.

During the hours in which you can actually play Salmon Run, the mode is a blast.
While Salmon Run is a fantastic new mode, it suffers from an annoying setback: it can only be played during certain hours of the day. That's fine for everyone without a schedule, but that's not the majority of people in the world, Nintendo. Why not just have this mode open for everyone at any time of the day, or do you think you know what we want and how our busy our lives are better than we do?

The annoyances with Splatoon 2 don't end there, unfortunately. Nintendo's online app for voice chat is the most asinine, insultingly stupid thing to come from Nintendo in a long lineup for idiotic "solutions" to problems. Somehow Nintendo's online system regressed from the Wii U. How do you even do that without purposefully, intentionally, maliciously doing so? Voice chat is limited to friends, if you can even play with them, as rooms usually fill up before you can join a friend. "Hope you don't mind waiting 3+ minutes to have a chance again to play a match with me!" It's all these systematic and quite frankly, obnoxious design decisions from Nintendo that turned me a bit off of otherwise enjoying my Splatoon 2 experience.

Whether inking or splatting, Splatoon 2 offers a healthy and heaping dose of sloppy and satisfying fun. It has a sizable amount of content, including something I didn't yet even mention like being able to customize your Inkling in clothing and gear that affects not just your style but bonuses to him or her. Some of these include being able to move quicker through enemy ink, have better defense against bombs, swim faster through ink, and fast jumping to a teammate. However, with all the praise and admiration I give to the game, Splatoon 2 is far from excellent, whether it's the poor online functionality that severely prohibited my enjoyment of the multiplayer to the inane limited hours of Salmon Run. While Splatoon 2 is a game I wanted to love, all of its current boneheaded design decisions make it a game that I can only like. However, better to swim steadily with some faults than to flounder and sink altogether, right?

[SPC Says: B]

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (NS) Nintendo Direct Trailer

Despite having a vested interest in this next game, the Nintendo Direct segment featuring Xenoblade Chronicles 2 kept dragging on and on. Nevertheless, the game is shaping up to be a massive and enthralling RPG adventure for Nintendo Switch owners. Plus, the December 1 release date certainly helped in reigniting the hype of Xenoblade Chronicles X even after the drawn out Nintendo Direct segment of the game.

Fire Emblem Warriors (NS) Gameplay Trailer

After today's Nintendo Direct, the company revealed a new gameplay trailer for Fire Emblem Warriors, specifically for the Nintendo Switch version. (The New Nintendo 3DS version launches the same day, October 20.) During the actual Direct itself, Lyn was revealed to be a new character for the game. Will you be leading the charge into battle with Fire Emblem Warriors?

Project Octopath Traveler (Working Title) (NS) Nintendo Direct Trailer

This Nintendo Switch exclusive from Square Enix is due out for a worldwide release sometime next year. That game is Project Octopath Traveler, from the team behind Bravely Default. It's certainly possesses a gorgeous visual style that combines old school sprites with impressive environments and special effects. It's a style that balances and blends both old and new together in a beautiful way.

Mario Party: The Top 100 (3DS) Announcement Trailer

Today's Nintendo Direct ended almost fifteen minutes ago, so let's recap the showing with some of the trailers that were included. Let's begin with Mario Party: The Top 100 for the Nintendo 3DS. I would have imagined that the Nintendo Switch would have been a better platform for this game due to its easy multiplayer setup. Regardless, with local download play with just one game and multiple 3DS systems, Mario Party: The Top 100 should be a riot regardless.

Monday, September 11, 2017

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs - "X Marks the Spot Twice This Week" Edition

Last week saw an article on SuperPhillip Central showcasing six more underrated games with underrated soundtracks. Two of the games featured on that list are a part of that article, so check it out here.

Nevertheless, as the title of this edition of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs hints, two games with X's at the end of their titles get featured this week. These are Xenoblade Chronicles X and F-Zero X to begin with. (Sorry this time around, Mega Man X fans!) Then we go on a bit of a rampage in Platinum Games' Anarchy Reigns.

And while X does mark the spot twice this week, so do arranged albums. F-Zero X's selected song comes from the Guitar Arrange album for the game while Mega Man Battle Network 3 has an entry from the Rockman.EXE 15th Anniversary Arrange Best Track album. Last but not least, Road Rash is pure, unfiltered chiptune awesomeness in music form.

To remind you, just click on each VGM title to hear the song spotlighted via YouTube video. Meanwhile, the VGM Database has all past 1465 VGM volumes spread out for more than five years of SPC's nine-year history. For now, however, let's get on to the music!

v1466. Xenoblade Chronicles X (Wii U) - Re:Arr X

Monolith Soft, the developer behind Xenoblade Chronicles X, does not only create games for Nintendo systems exclusively now, but the studio also helps out on the tech and development side for other Nintendo projects. A notable case here is the Nintendo Switch launch title and Wii U game, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Hiroyuki Sawano mostly sticks to anime in which he composes scores for, but this time around he lent his talents to the Xenoblade Chronicles X soundtrack with varying degrees of success. This revival of Theme X from the game's soundtrack is one of my favorites in the entire game.

v1467. F-Zero X (N64) - Grand Prix Ending (Guitar Arrange Version)

Alongside 1998's release of F-Zero X in Japan, members of the sound team for the game got together and put out a Guitar Arrange album, a Japan exclusive. It featured most of the major tracks in F-Zero X with real instruments as opposed to synth waves and the like. I've featured a handful of F-Zero X Guitar Arrange since the beginning of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs, and for good reason, as there is absolutely no dud on the album.

v1468. Anarchy Reigns (PS3, 360) - Kill 'Em All

Known as Max Anarchy in other parts of the world, I'd like to use the North American name of the game, as I live on the continent. Anyway, Anarchy Reigns was a spiritual successor to the Nintendo Wii's MadWorld, even featuring several characters from that game. Instead of black, white, and red being the only colors of the game as seen in MadWorld, Anarchy Reigns consists of a larger and wider color palette, though you can tell it's a seventh generation game due to how brown and dark the overall visual appearance is. The music in Anarchy Reigns is a mix of hip-hop, rock, and rap, just like MadWorld before it.

v1469. Mega Man Battle Network 3 (GBA) - Final Transmission (15th Anniversary Arrange Best Track Ver.)

I talked about F-Zero X's Guitar Arrange Album, but recently, the Mega Man Battle Network received a special 15th anniversary album of arranged tunes from all games in the series. Rather than all being rock like F-Zero X's arranged album, this Battle Network one is much more varied. It's nice to hear the wonderful tunes of the Mega Man Battle Network series with much better clarity and more importantly, less painful chiptune music than what the Game Boy Advance could only offer at best.

v1470. Road Rash (GEN) - Pacific Coast

I'm just trying to go for a ride on the Pacific Coast, officer. So what if I took this chain and whacked a few dozen competing riders off of their bikes and probably caused immeasurable damage and harm? Road Rash is a series that needs to come back in some form. Heck, I even loved the 3D incarnations. Regardless, there's no question that the original Road Rash is one that most Genesis owners have fond memories of, and that's also due to the appealing music. Gotta love the distinctive sound of Sega Genesis chiptune music!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Monster Hunter Stories (3DS) Launch Trailer

Monster Hunter Stories stomps on to the Nintendo 3DS today, presenting a different kind of Monster Hunter game, and RPG. With a colorful veneer, turn-based battles, and stylish characters, Monster Hunter Stories seems like it might be a wonderful spin-off for the MH franchise.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Sequels, Please! - Games That Need Another Entry (Back to School Edition)

Sequels in media are a common practice, and in the world of video games it's no different. However, rather than just focus mostly on story, video games need far more than an interesting tale to get people to purchase the next game in a franchise. I'm talking things like new features, improved gameplay, a new gameplay hook, an evolution or even a revolution in the series' basic design, and so forth. There are good reasons why many mainline Mario games are so vastly different from past installments to the upcoming Super Mario Odyssey on Switch (save for the presentation of the New Super Mario Bros. series). They may be sequels, but they do so much to change how each entry plays and possess some kind of unique hook that distinguish them from one another

Then, there are games like the ones on this list that either stopped receiving sequels or haven't received a sequel period. That's what "Sequels, Please!" is all about, this reoccurring article series on SuperPhillip Central. Seven more games I desire to see sequels for turn up on this edition's list.

When you've seen my latest selections, let me know if you agree/disagree, or simply which games you can't wait to get sequels for!

World of Final Fantasy (PS4, Vita)

Many Final Fantasy games released these past few years, and many were disappointing for one reason or another: the game was incomplete, the execution was off, what have you. One game that reminded me of the good old days of the Final Fantasy series (from the Super Nintendo to early PS2 days) in an extremely wonderful way was World of Final Fantasy. The game was a whimsical take on the formula with a dash of monster-collecting thrown in for good measure. We didn't have edgy heroes, boy band rejects, or anything of the like -- it was pure, distilled Final Fantasy goodness that had one thing the series has been missing for a long time now, charm. Thankfully, it was more than just whimsy and looks that were appealing to me. There was the robust combat with which monsters you used and which level of stacking (a unique feature within the game) was the way to go about devising a strategy. Exploration offered plenty of opportunities for discovery as well. All in all, World of Final Fantasy was divine, and I hope Square Enix has another chibi style adventure in development.

LittleBigPlanet 3 (PS4, PS3)

The concept of LittleBigPlanet was a mind-blowing one: one part platforming adventure, another part creator studio of level-making capabilities (yeah, yeah, PC gamers, you already could do that years ago -- don't rain on our parade!), LittleBigPlanet was a series that engaged players, charmed the pants off players, and allowed them to create pretty much anything they wanted. Further sequels would add more complication to the creation tools (though quite helpful for innovating designs) and more gadgets to play around with, but by the third game, LittleBigPlanet as a series was running on fumes. It didn't help that other side entries on PlayStation's portable offerings quickly turned a refreshing series into a "please, no more. We've had enough" type of affair. On top of all that, LittleBigPlanet 3 released with some downright frustrating bugs and glitches, including save file wipes. However, once the game received a fair share of patches, LittleBigPlanet 3 offered the most potential for budding creators and happy gadders alike.

Ape Escape (PS1, PS2, PSP)

I want to continue our PlayStation theme here with a series that debuted on Sony's original console. However, unlike Crash Bandicoot, PaRappa the Rapper, and Hot Shots Golf (now Everybody's Golf) that released recently on the PlayStation 4, Ape Escape has been out of action for its mainline adventures since the PlayStation Portable, and that game was merely a handheld version of the original Ape Escape. My argument here is that Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy lit up the charts and received positive feedback from both players and critics alike, so it would be very nice to see some other classic PS1-era franchises see returns in the present day aim to do the same -- PlayStation franchises from yesteryear tickling longtime PS fans' nostalgia bones. Obviously, Ape Escape was never the unofficial mascot of the first PlayStation like Crash Bandicoot was so it wouldn't be as well known, but aren't we due for another game to go bananas over, Sony Computer Entertainment?

Ridge Racer (Multi)

We often take for granted how much we loved a franchise when it's finally gone. For generations, a new PlayStation system launch meant a new Ridge Racer, and we'd get replies of "but of course it's a launch title!" Regrettably, that's no longer the case because of two stinkers released back-to-back within the series: the Need for Speed: Underground wannabe Ridge Racer: Unbounded and the small on content, big on DLC PlayStation Vita launch title, simply known as Ridge Racer. Both games were the catalyst of the Ridge Racer franchise's fall from grace. Gaming fans miss you, Ridge Racer. We just want to see Kaz Hirai come up on stage and proudly bestow us with one more rally cry of "RIIIIIIIIDGE RACER"! We joked about it back then (but it was just one piece of the pie that was Sony's entire E3 press conference), but now we're sorry. Namco, do something. What I wouldn't do to take those turns like a pro with a exquisite drift in a new Ridge Racer game.

Red Steel 2 (Wii)

Being a launch title for the Wii, and I believe one of the first Wii games revealed, at least with screenshots, was Ubisoft's Red Steel. Unfortunately, the end result was nowhere near as appealing as the touched up screenshots used or the working motion controls shown via trailer. Red Steel was a travesty that sold over a million copies, but it turned many off of the Red Steel name instantly because they were burned by broken Ubisoft promises and the emptiness in their wallets where the $50 + tax for the game should have remained. However, the game's sequel, Red Steel 2, simply revamped its formula completely thanks to the help of Nintendo's new peripheral, Wii MotionPlus. You could charge into battle, aiming and shooting enemies down in your sights, pull out your blade to block attacks and sever foes in your way, or do a combination of both for one stylistic, cel-shaded Western adventure. Sadly, the toll was taken on Red Steel 2 by virtue of being a sequel to a game that pulled the wool over the eyes of Wii owners the world 'round. As foolish as this hope of mine might be, I'd love to see a pronounced evolution of the base gameplay and foundation featured in Red Steel 2.

Viewtiful Joe (PS2, GCN)

Capcom loves to kill its franchises after one entry doesn't perform to its usually unrealistic sales goals. Well, first they dissolved the company behind the game, Clover Studios and then Viewtiful Joe became such a franchise despite packing a lot of action, humor, novel gameplay, superhero combat, and 2.5D side-scrolling greatness. Through using Joe's FX gauge, our viewtiful hero could perform actions like slowing down time to gives his punches and kicks more power, assault enemies in a massive, fiery fury with Mach Speed, or zoom in for greater oomph in attacks. These abilities could be used in combination with one another, though the FX gauge would de-plenish much more quickly. The FX moves also assisted Joe with environmental puzzles in the game. Despite looking friendly to all players, Viewtiful Joe and its one mainline sequel as well as parts of its Nintendo DS entry were tough to get through. Unless, of course, you were a baby and needed to play Kids Mode. (Or just because you wanted to enjoy the game regardless!) Maybe enough time has passed for Capcom to bring back Viewtiful Joe from its vault with a newline entry. I know just the platform for it!

Pilotwings (SNES, N64, 3DS)

Along with the speedy, futuristic racer F-Zero, Pilotwings was one of the first Super Nintendo games using Mode 7 technology. At the time it was astonishing to look at and wonder how Nintendo could do that on the SNES. Now? Well, the visuals are dated, but the tricks that Nintendo used for the effect are still rather clever, especially when you consider what the team had to work with. The series would continue on Nintendo's next home console, the 64, serving as the series' first foray into real 3D. A launch title for the N64, the amount of freedom available in Pilotwings 64 was incredible for many a new Nintendo 64 owner. The most recent Pilotwings entry, Pilotwings Resort, launched with the Nintendo 3DS, and it featured a staple in the Wii area, the fictional Wuhu Island as its playground. Despite launching on the Nintendo 3DS, which still has games coming to it, that launch was several years ago, so it would excite fellow flyers and rocket belt wearers with a new Switch edition of the franchise. Just place in some new ways to play in the form of different vehicles and suits, even more ridiculous challenges and destinations, and I'm set!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Underrated Games With Even More Underrated Soundtracks - Part Six

Fresh off the heels of yesterday's SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs, we have a new edition of Underrated Games With Even More Underrated Soundtracks -- part six, if you're playing along at home! The title sort of gives away what these articles are about, but for background purposes, I love listening to and sharing music of all kinds, and yes, that includes video game music. I also have a passion for spreading the word on underrated games, as evident by the dozens of Most Overlooked articles posted on SuperPhillip Central over the years.

Join me for part six, which includes games like Yooka-Laylee, Xenoblade Chronicles X, and Anarchy Reigns. To check out past parts of this ongoing article series, here are some convenient links for you!

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five

Yooka-Laylee (Multi)

The first game I'm going to talk about on this edition is Yooka-Laylee, which was a dream come true for me, a critic who lists Banjo-Kazooie as one of his favorite games of all time. After all, Yooka-Laylee was crafted by many of the minds behind the aforementioned Rare classic. Yep, a good deal of the staff from Banjo left Rare to create their own studio, Playtonic Games, and they even got the Banjo-Kazooie series' composer, Grant Kirkhope, to accentuate the game world with terrific tunes. On a game standpoint, I didn't have the expectation or even the hope that Yooka and Laylee's first outing would be better than Banjo and Kazooie's freshman adventure like many fans desired, so thankfully, I had kept my expectations in check so the numerous faults in Yooka-Laylee wouldn't sour me on the whole package. Issues included: launch problems like a rough to control camera, bugs, and glitches were only toppings to the game's actual design, such as very annoying segments in the game, horrid mini-games, and some questionable boss battles. BUT quite honestly, there is some terrific platforming challenges here, most of the worlds are enjoyable to explore, and moving Yooka around feels pleasant. I can't be overly disappointed in this foundation that is set by the Playtonic crew.

Xenoblade Chronicles X (Wii U)

By virtue of simply being on the Wii U -- a console that didn't inspire a lot of confidence in the market, hence its lackluster sales -- Xenoblade Chronicles X launched the final major year of Wii U software releases. Many had either moved on from the Wii U (well, those 14 million or so who bought one) or already sold the system after feeling intense buyer's remorse. While the original Xenoblade featured a more classical, fantasy-like soundtrack to it, featuring music from Yoko Shimomura and ACE+, Xenoblade Chronicles X went with a much more sci-fi escapade and a soundtrack to back the adventure. Hiroyuki Sawano, known for his impressive catalog of anime soundtracks, composed the music for the game. The camps of players of Xenoblade Chronicles X that loved the soundtrack and hated the soundtrack are both vocal, but as one who enjoyed the game, I say Sawano did a fantastic job, even if some really bad, cheesy tunes were a part of the soundtrack.

Anarchy Reigns (PS3, 360)

After the failure of MadWorld to ignite the gaming world on fire on the Wii, a spiritual successor featuring many of the characters from the Wii exclusive came to existence, the multiplatform Anarchy Reigns. This was an early work in Platinum Games' enviable library of titles, a time where Platinum Games did excellent on average with fan and critic acclaim, but their games didn't sell anywhere near what they deserved (at least in my belief). Anarchy Reigns suffered from this same issue, though the game didn't have nearly as much gaming world fanfare as Bayonetta, Vanquish, Metal Gear Rising, and so forth. A beat 'em up brawler where things in the environment like stop signs, tires, and even more vicious means to inflict violence could be used as weapons or at least accessories to murder. The soundtrack followed MadWorld's style, going with a hip-hop, rap, and rock styled song selection, fitting for taking it to anyone who stands in your way. Just don't cut yourself on the edge.

Jet Force Gemini (N64)

Remnants of Rare already appeared on this list, so how about a game from the actual developer Rare itself? That's why I'm bringing in my absolute favorite Nintendo 64 soundtrack from an incredibly underrated third-person shooter, Jet Force Gemini. The music came with something as close to a sci-fi epic with its bombastic, intense soundtrack than anything else on the Nintendo 64. The team of Robin Beanland, Graeme Norgate, and Alistair Lindsay definitely made the alien worlds of Jet Force Gemini all the more tense, mysterious, foreign, and escalating in stakes with their complementary compositions. Jet Force Gemini launched in September, unfortunately in the shadow of the upcoming Donkey Kong 64. As history has shown, Donkey Kong 64 is a complicated collect-a-thon and Jet Force Gemini needed more attention. YOU BLEW IT, NINTENDO 64 OWNERS!

Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam (3DS)

Many Mario RPG fans routinely show disappointment over the games moving on from a surplus of RPG-originated characters to a far more limited range of just Mario's friends and foes from the Mushroom Kingdom. This became a problem in the Paper Mario series, but early last year it also infected the Mario & Luigi series with Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam. The game's a fun adventure with its still fun, still engaging means of exploring maps, context-sensitive turn-based battles, and of course, the main point behind these articles, its music, penned by Yoko Shimomura, who I brought up briefly when talking about Xenoblade Chronicles' soundtrack. The playful nature of the Mushroom Kingdom world reveals itself through the composer's jaunty themes, while also bringing some dread into the air during key moments of the game. Yoko Shimomura's Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam soundtrack made it almost worth it to find all of those darn Toads!

Ittle Dew 2 (Multi)

We finish this edition up with an indie game! We don't see too much of those on this segment due to there being such a vast amount of indie games to play and little time to do so. I have to very much pick and choose what I play due to my own self-imposed deadline of having a certain amount of games reviewed each month. Now, that that boring stuff is out of the way... let's talk Ittle Dew 2! This is a game in the spirit of the overhead 2D Zeldas, but it absolutely does not take itself seriously at any time. Of course, the Zelda series often brings levity and humor in the form of outrageous, bizarre, and memorable side characters, but Ittle Dew 2 is on another level and does this even when you least expect it, such a signpost of all things. The music of Ittle Dew 2 has some really catchy melodies and rhythms to them that stick with you long after you've turned off your PS4, Xbox One, PC, or (soon-to-be) Switch. Many indies fail to have that effect on me, but Ittle Dew 2 definitely pulled through.


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