Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Super Mario Maker 2 (NSW) A Legendary Update

After the arrival of online multiplayer with friends and the promise of new course features, Nintendo has revealed both fresh new course tools and a release date for these tools with this trailer for Super Mario Maker 2's second major update. Including new course elements such as enemies like Spike and Pokey, dash panels for Super Mario 3D World, and a certain hero of Hyrule that changes the game up considerably, Super Mario Maker 2 ought to spur the creative spirit even more in players when the update releases December 5th.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

One & Done: Games Without Sequels - Part Three

After a year's absence, "One & Done" is back, talking about those games that didn't receive sequels of any kind--whether spiritual or straight-out sequels. There could be multiple reasons for this: a game just didn't sell well, isn't marketable anymore, or the creator/development team simply wanted to move on to something else. We have games from a variety of eras on this edition of "One & Done", so sit back, get comfortable, and prepare yourself for a trip down memory lane.

For a look at SPC's previous two editions of "One & Done", check out part one and part two.

Tearaway (PS4, Vita)

Media Molecule became well known for a plethora of PlayStation fans for its work on the LittleBigPlanet series and have gone on to work on an even more ambitious creative gaming suite with Dreams. However, in between these two projects came a game that didn't receive as much buzz by virtue of being on the PlayStation Vita. That game was Tearaway, a charming 3D platformer that utilized the Vita hardware in glorious and ingenious ways. From using the rear touch screen to raise up platforms from below to utilizing the camera to take a picture, thus using the image to colorize a papercraft creature in need of color, Tearaway remains one of the best games to feature the Vita's various knickknacks and tools. A PlayStation 4 version would release--Tearaway Unfolded--adding new content and retooling the controls to work with the PS4's DualShock. Here's hoping that some day Sony brings back Tearaway in some shape or form.

The Bouncer (PS2)

Squaresoft's first game for the PlayStation 2 was little more than a title to get its proverbial feet wet with development on the system, and while the end result, The Bouncer, was gorgeous game for its time, it left a lot to be desired. The main point of contention critics and players of this 3D brawler was that the game was ridiculously short. In fact, the generous helping of cutscenes fattened the length of the game up tremendously, and without those, you were left with a quick romp for a full priced game. Still, The Bouncer was something of a project that I would have loved to have seen expanded upon, fleshed out more, and made into a fuller experience. This obviously did not happen as Square's attention understandably turned to its Final Fantasy games, its cash cow of sorts. That said, there's always a part of me that wonders what could and would have been had The Bouncer been more than a mere tech demo under the guise of a full game.

Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. (3DS)

If one were to give an elevator pitch to Intelligent Systems' Code Name: S.T.E.A.M., it could be given as such: "Historic and storybook figures like Abraham Lincoln and the Lion from the Wizard of Oz take on an alien threat in a game with Valkyria Chronicles-like combat." Of course, if one were to give such a pitch, hopefully the person they were giving the pitch to wasn't drinking a cup of coffee, as they would be sure to spit it out in surprise. It's quite an odd premise, but Intelligent Systems managed to make it work with tactical gameplay, focusing on a steam mechanic that is exhausted as players move and attack enemies. Efficiently managing their steam to an effective degree is all the difference between a mission's success and a total failure. Battles were unpredictable and kept players on their toes with their stiff challenge, making for one "One & Done" game that makes this strategy RPG fan lament that we won't be seeing a sequel any time soon.

Dewy's Adventure (Wii)

We conclude this edition of "One & Done" with a trio of Wii titles beginning with Konami's Dewy's Adventure, a delightful fixed camera 3D platformer with a unique control scheme. In Dewy's Adventure, players held the Wii Remote NES controller-style and tilted it forward, backward, leftward and rightward to move the water droplet protagonist through eight worlds of unique challenges and perils. Dewy himself could take on new forms by being frozen or being exposed to heat to solve puzzles and take down enemies that were otherwise invincible in his normal dewdrop form. Dewy's Adventure entered and exited the gaming sphere like morning dew, only to have what little hype it had evaporate into nothingness as many looked past the game. While Konami's other all-new Wii-centered exclusive, Elebits, managed to find enough success for a sequel--though on the Nintendo DS--Dewy's Adventure, unfortunately, did not.

Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure (Wii)

Despite struggling with the motion controls (and sometimes to the point of utter frustration) in this next game on this list, Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure brought with it a charming art style, set of characters, and gorgeous, colorful art style that suited the weak Wii hardware quite well. The game itself was a puzzle adventure game where players needed to find and use tools correctly in order to complete each level, and some of these tools required the use of the Wii Remote's motion and gyro control functionality. Most of the time these worked well, but when they didn't--woo boy! Regardless, part of why I'm devoting three spaces on this edition of "One & Done" to Wii games is because I'm nostalgic for that era of experimental gaming--damning to hell the poorly implemented motion controls that plagued the system notwithstanding. It was an era where we saw some really "out there" ideas and games put forth by big publishers--something in this HD era that is mostly left for indies nowadays (though still appreciated).

We Love Golf! (Wii)

Speaking of Capcom and loosely tied with Zack & Wiki is We Love Golf! Nintendo didn't develop a Mario Golf game for the Wii/DS generation, so instead, its usual golf game partner Camelot turned to Capcom to create We Love Golf! While the assortment of golfers were vanilla and generic as all get out, one could unlock Capcom-inspired costumes from such series like Street Fighter, Resident Evil, Phoenix Wright, and yes, Zack & Wiki. The actual golfing was inspired, and while players didn't swing the Wii Remote like an actual club, a swing motion was required to drive, putt, and otherwise hit the ball through the game's eight 18-hole courses and three unique par 3 courses. I spent so much time with We Love Golf!, and it's a shame that the series didn't continue, though sales show the obvious reason why it didn't. At least we'll always have Mario Golf to look forward to with Camelot and Nintendo.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Review Round-Up - November 2019

If SuperPhillip Central reaching its 900th review didn't shock you,
perhaps the quality of Capcom's Resident Evil 2 remake will!
November was the month featuring Thanksgiving for most Americans, and for SuperPhillip Central, the month was like a turkey review-wise--stuffed! Check out the four reviews posted this past month with a brand new, revamped Review Round-Up!

We first took on the Last Resort hotel in Luigi's Mansion 3, a remarkable third entry in the series and one of my favorite games of the year. It used its Poltergust G-00 to suck up an A grade. Next, SuperPhillip Central went questing with an unlikely duo--a cat and a dog--in Cat Quest II, getting a C+.

Moving forward, we then went to different, though familiar territory (or should I say terror-tory?) with Resident Evil 2, SuperPhillip Central's 900th overall review! The game got an excellent A grade. Finally, we took to the mean streets of River City with River City Girls, kicking butt and earning a C+ for its troubles.

Check out every review ever posted on SuperPhillip Central with the SPC Review Archive!

Luigi's Mansion 3 (NSW) - A

Thankfully, as noted endlessly within this review, Luigi's Mansion 3 is also just amazing to play. Each floor I played, each boss I encountered, and each secret I discovered brought me so much joy. Luigi's Mansion 3 is just a pleasure to play, and the hotel setting is a wonderful compromise between the connected mansion of the 2001 original and the more disjointed mission-based structure of its Nintendo 3DS sequel, Dark Moon. I foresee plenty of my future gaming time being devoted to tackling those last achievements in the game, despite my needing to cover other, more pressing titles coming out. Alas, I think you're most definitely worth it, Luigi's Mansion 3. Like a friendly ghost, I won't mind you "haunting" me for a little while longer since you're one of the best games of the year.

Cat Quest II (NSW, PS4, XB1, PC) - C+

Cat Quest II is a game that certainly doesn't outstay its welcome, as I feel any further padding would just add to the occasional tedium and repetition I felt while playing the game at times. For this reason, for me, the game was best to play in bursts rather than an extended period of time (other than my first gaming session with it). Filled with charming personality, clever humor, a colorful world, satisfyingly simple and accessible combat, and enough cat and dog puns to last you till you wait for the inevitable third installment, Cat Quest II is far from purr-fect but by no means a cat-astrophe either.

Resident Evil 2 (PS4, XB1, PC) - A

Resident Evil VII had brought the Resident Evil franchise back to its former glory days, and now with Resident Evil 2, the series has ushered in a brand-new golden age. Resident Evil 2 is a sensational remake in every sense of the word. Capcom didn't rest on its laurels by just upgrading its graphics and gameplay--it totally reworked the game to modern game standards, and the end product is without question one of the best games released this year. Resident Evil 2 isn't just good--it's scary good.

River City Girls (PS4, XB1, NSW, PC) - C+

I would say that between the gorgeous sprites and detailed backgrounds, the mostly amusing combat, the fun enough script, and plentiful bonus content that River City Girls is indeed worth its $30 price tag. While I won't find myself continuing to return to this type of beat-em-up as much as say, a more linear, focused type like Double Dragon or even a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game, I did like my time with River City Girls regardless. The humor's hit and miss, the game can grow a bit repetitive, but as a whole, the River City Girls kick butt.
November isn't known for being a particularly scary month (having to spend time with your family aside),
but for SuperPhillip Central, our highlighted games this past month were of the creepy variety!

Friday, November 29, 2019

River City Girls (PS4, XB1, NSW, PC) Review

I hope those who celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday enjoyed their bounty. Now, allow SuperPhillip Central to provide you a weekend bounty of content starting with this review, its first after SPC's big, historic 900th review. We turn to a game from Arc System Works and Wayforward that released earlier this fall, River City Girls. Let's get our fists and feet ready to fly with the SPC review!

High school girls in a low stakes beat-em-up adventure

High school misfits Kyoko and Misako are ditching class, but this time for good reason--they're on the hunt for their supposedly missing boyfriends in River City Girls by Arc System Works and Wayforward. With beautiful 2D sprite-work, engaging beat-em-up combat, and a somewhat funny script, River City Girls makes for a goofy spin-off to the River City Ransom series, much like Double Dragon Neon was to the Double Dragon series.

River City Girls tells its tale through various means, whether it's manga-inspired, hand-drawn cut-scenes, anime-inspired cutscenes, or simply through character portraits. Every piece of major dialogue is spoken, though some voice acting is better than others, and that "some is better than others" goes for the game's humor as well. More times than I'd like to admit, I found myself letting out a loud sigh or rolling my eyes at certain jokes, and part of that is just how obnoxious pretty much every character in the game is (especially the voices of the main heroines at times).

Misako is the snarky one while Kyoko is a tad ditsy.
Following the River City Ransom series' structure, Kyoko and Misako find themselves moving around a nonlinear set of scrolling screens, taking out enemies of all types and sizes, completing quests for characters, and unlocking new sections of the city to explore. 

Around town, a multitude of shops feature food and items that not only heal our heroines when consumed, but when they're used for the first time, they give a permanent stat increase. Both characters can also equip various accessories that can help out in a pinch, such as equipment that takes out specific types of enemies more efficiently, equipment that increases the likelihood of enemies dropping more money upon their defeat, among many others. Other shops include dojos that teach Kyoko and Misako new moves to use in battle, some of which require regenerating SP to use, and many of which require certain character level milestones to use at all.

Looks like Kyoko is going to have to save up her allowance if she wants to buy more than one game,
and by "save up her allowance", I mean beat the crap out of more enemies and take their money.
Combat is enjoyable in River City Girls, offering a myriad of means to dispatch foes, whether with bare fists and kicks in both light or strong forms, special moves learned in the dojo and from characters leveling up, or by picking up various weapons littered about the game--from yo-yos to baseball bats, benches to trash cans, and guitars to baseballs. Enemies don't simply stand there and take a beating--they of course dish back damage as well. When a foe is getting set to attack, it's a wise idea to get out of harm's way, or better yet, block. 

Well, those enemies that just got launched into the air certainly aren't grounded yet!
With proper timing right when an enemy makes contact with the player, a block can stun that enemy, opening them up to a tried and true offensive assault. Enemies can also be grabbed, thrown into other enemies (weapons can also be tossed at enemies), and kicked and stomped while they're lying on the ground helpless. In certain scenarios, enemies can be recruited with the press of a button once they plead for their lives.

This enemy might be begging for mercy, but Misako is going to act like
a high school football coach to a poorly performing player and bench him instead.
Despite battles being fun, River City Girls falls into the trap that many games of its genre do--it can become quite repetitive. This in part due to the countless times that the game requires you to backtrack through areas to complete quests, but another part is that as the game rolls on, enemies take quite a beating before they're finally defeated. This adds to some tediousness with the combat. '

However, boss battles do break up the small amount of monotony that players can possibly, occasionally face with River City Girls, and these battles feature bosses with set patterns, life bars that make them change up their patterns as they lose portions of their health, and unfortunately, some unwanted jumps in difficulty. That said, these bosses are generally enjoyable, such as one that is a master of the dark arts, who is satisfying to beat down while avoiding his magic There's also another that performs a Guitar Hero-like attack on the stage, which features five different tracks that scroll harmful notes down them that our heroines much jump to evade. 

Bosses offer a reprieve to the occasionally repetitive flow of River City Girls.
River City Girls isn't too long of a game, maybe clocking in at around five hours. That said, after the initial run through the game is complete, there's various options to choose from there, such as a New Game+ option where your items, character moves and levels, and such carry over to this second run of the game. Additionally, there are two unlockable characters to play as, a Hard mode to go through, and a mode that any beat-em-up worth its cost desperately needs, co-op for two local players, where friendly fire can be turned on or off. Further, there are side quests to complete in the game, 25 hidden statues sprinkled throughout River City to destroy and 25 cats to collect, and 100% completion to reach, so there is plenty of extra content that Arc System Works and Wayforward collectively mustered up into this $30 package.

And I would say that between the gorgeous sprites and detailed backgrounds, the mostly amusing combat, the fun enough script, and plentiful bonus content that River City Girls is indeed worth its $30 price tag. While I won't find myself continuing to return to this type of beat-em-up as much as say, a more linear, focused type like Double Dragon or even a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game, I did like my time with River City Girls regardless. The humor's hit and miss, the game can grow a bit repetitive, but as a whole, the River City Girls kick butt.

[SPC Says: C+]

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 (PS4, XB1, NSW, PC) Release Date Trailer

Just in case you'd like me to cut to the chase and give you the release date without you having to watch the trailer, One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 will launch on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC on March 27, 2020. Now that you know that important piece of information, take a look at this action-packed trailer for the game to help hype you up even more than you might be already!