Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Double-Dipped 2: More Games I've Purchased More Than Once Over the Years

Care for seconds? Exactly two months ago, I debuted a new article series right here on SuperPhillip Central: Double-Dipped! Here, I go into some detail about video games I've bought at least twice and tell you a little about my history with the games. With a second edition happening this morning, you could say that I'm double-dipping on the Double-Dipped series of articles! How meta!

I have six more games that I've done the (dis)honorable duty of buying more than once, but if you need to catch up on the first entry of Double-Dipped, look no further than this link. Now, with that out of the way, let's get to episode two!

Resident Evil 4 (GCN, PS2, Wii, PS4)

Let's start with a game that is my most bought game of all time! It's none other than one of my favorites I've ever played, despite its dark subject matter (I prefer more sunshine and rainbow fare, personally). Regardless, it's Resident Evil 4, and being one of my top ten games of all time, I'd be amiss if I didn't mention this bad boy on this article series. It's not just the fourth mainline installment in the Resident Evil series, but it's also a game I've purchased FOUR times!

You may ask, "Phil, what is your malfunction? Why buy the same game four times, even if it's one of your favorites ever?" The answer is this: each release I bought introduced something worthwhile to pick up a new version. The first time I bought the game was in 2005 and that was because, duh, the game was brand-new. The PlayStation 2 port that later released added new content in the form of a Ada's Assignment (thankfully Shinji Mikami's head is still intact with the rest of his body). Then, the Wii version--my favorite of the bunch--added motion control aiming and various gesture-based movement for quick-time events. Finally, the PlayStation 4 entry brought my favorite survival-horror game into HD with trophy support. Although Resident Evil 4 isn't the scariest of entries, seeing how many times I've purchased and played the game across all platforms is truly terrifying--even to me!


We go from repeated trips to the unfriendly Spanish countryside to a hellish version of Mars with DOOM's 2016 outing. The first time I played DOOM was on the PlayStation 4, and I absolutely had a blast with the game--ripping and tearing with both delight and glee, as well as uncovering each level's myriad secrets. The multiplayer, too, was a joy to play, focusing on deathmatches either solo or with teams. Then, DOOM surprisingly got announced for the Switch, and all my ripping and tearing could be brought along with me on the go. Sure, the visuals were caked with a Vaseline-like sheen, but it was otherwise DOOM in all its glorious, gore-filled splendor.

As much as I adored DOOM 2016 and bought the game twice, I doubt I'll do the same with the Nintendo Switch port of DOOM Eternal, for the simple fact that I am not in love with the multiplayer of Eternal as much as I was with the original DOOM. While I appreciate the new approach with two demons against one Doomslayer in Eternal, I'm just not thrilled with playing through that again. Plus, I just prefer the original campaign of DOOM to its sequel--though both game campaigns are great.

Saints Row: The Third (PS3, NSW, PS4)

Resident Evil 4 was a quadruple dip, but here's a game that is close to rivaling it--and it's not even a particularly favorite game of mine. It's just one that I enjoy playing through now and again, and like RE4, each version I buy introduces enough newness that it's overall worth it. I'm referring to Saints Row: The Third. Whether it's the original game, in which I earned every trophy in the PlayStation 3 version, or enjoying the game either docked or in the manner that sold me on the Nintendo Switch version: portable play, I saw myself returning to the gang-riddled streets of Steelport more times than I expected! The latest version of the game is a remastered one, and on the PlayStation 4 it's rather well done. In some aspects, it's more of a remake than a remaster, with its amazingly detailed environments and characters when compared to the original.

Super Bomberman R (NSW, PS4)

Bombs away! A launch title for the Nintendo Switch, Super Bomberman R was an enjoyable but overall disappointing return of Bomberman. The gameplay was smooth enough, but issues with the camera and a lack of content made for some buyer's remorse from this reviewer / blogger. However, the game would receive a steady flow of free DLC and an abundance of patches that would properly upgrade the game to tiptop shape. The camera was fixed, the AI in battle mode was made less frustrating and cheap, and the amount of content in both single player and multiplayer was boosted considerably. After having sold off Super Bomberman R's Switch version, I was now having seller's remorse! Thus, I picked up the game on the PlayStation 4, and further thus, my history of being a double-dipper continued with yet another game. What a blast!

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (Wii U, NSW)

Much like Captain Toad and his confidante Toadette, I was certainly ready for adventure. But no, not just once--twice, in fact! The Wii U original Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker brought the diorama-style bonus stage concept from Super Mario 3D World and turned it into a full fledged game, perfect for sessions both lengthy and bite-sized! Of course, Treasure Tracker was much more fleshed out, featuring copious amounts of tricks, twists, obstacles, enemies, and puzzles to solve in its miniature diorama levels. The main goal of collecting each level's Power Star was as clear as one of these prized trinkets shining in the night sky, but side goals and optional collectibles made for some fun replay value as well. The Nintendo Switch version brought with it a trio of new levels--and since launch, even more via paid DLC--but my main reason for picking up the game again was for the same reason I got a lot of Wii U games turned Switch ports: because I prefer to play on the Nintendo Switch hardware!

Hot Shots Tennis (PS2, PS4)

Wow! We're already at the final game on this second installment of Double-Dipped! Let's make it count, shall we! Hot Shots Tennis originally launched on the PlayStation 2 back in the day, and on the PlayStation 4, it launched as a digital title through emulation. Unfortunately, Sony opted not to continue this practice and cut it off really early in the PS4's life--closing the door for other titles to potentially be ported and emulated. Still, it was Hot Shots Tennis in a higher resolution and with trophy support, and the game had its original's tried and true gameplay. It was ultimately a winner in my book, and one that I routinely return to in order to get a match in here and there. It's also mighty challenging against the AI, as one failed serve or backhand could result in the game giving YOU the backhand--right across your unsuspecting face! Hot Shots Tennis is one of the rare games in which the second time around I had to get it digitally as opposed to my preferred method as both a collector and lover of all things retail, physically.


That wraps up this second edition of Double-Dipped! Which games have you bought more than once, whether on the same platform or not? Let me know in the comments section below!

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Star Wars Episode I: Racer (PS4, NSW) Review

We move on to SuperPhillip Central's second review of July. We've already gotten tricky in an urban setting, but now we're going to speed through the stars and planets aboard podracers with Star Wars Episode I: Racer, particularly the newly released port from Aspyr Media. Is this port worthy of exclaiming "Now THIS is podracing!"? Let's find out with the SuperPhillip Central review.

Go, Podracer. Go, Podracer. Go, Podracer, Gooooooo~!

Originally released in May of 1999, Star Wars Episode I: Racer takes players behind the cockpit of a high-speed, high-flying podracer just like in the famous high-stakes scene from the first Star Wars prequel, The Phantom Menace. This newly released version comes from Aspyr as well as an "if it ain't broken, don't fix it" type feeling to it. The tried and true podracing action is present and accounted for, but if you're looking for a sizable upgrade and update to the 1999 original, you won't find it here.

Star Wars Episode I: Racer features four grand prix events that takes players through a gamut of races--over 20 across a handful of planets. Because races take place on similar planets, don't be surprised to come across familiar, recycled parts of track. This doesn't happen too often, but it is noticeable as well as understandable. Races can last upwards of seven minutes long, and they feature an abundance of alternate paths and shortcuts that are both fun and rewarding to find. As races are completed by coming in the required position, you unlock new podracers to play as along with their vehicles. I personally found sticking with Anakin Skywalker as my favorite, but the list of unlockables is rather lengthy, including a special mirror mode that opens up after completing all 20+ races in the game.

Speeding through the canyons of Tatooine is a great way to unwind after a rough day at the office.
Piloting your podracer is simple enough, though I did notice that there was some obscurities in the controls. While the menu does show you the button layout and controls for each action on the PlayStation 4 or Nintendo Switch controller, it fails to fully explain certain concepts. For instance, boosting is said to be performed by--on the PS4 controller at least--pressing the X button. Fine enough, but what the game fails to tell you is that first you must hold the analog stick forward long enough to charge enough energy to then hit the X button to perform a boost. Of course, you can't boost forever, as holding down the button too long will result in your machine overheating, and then catching fire.

But there is also something to be said for chilling out in the mountains as well.
I mentioned that controlling your podracer is easy, but this gets thrown out when it concerns various tracks' anti-gravity segments. These have you piloting your machine through tunnels at a high speed while your vehicle flies through the air. It's way too easy to brush up against an obstruction like an asteroid, resulting in your machine crashing in a fiery blaze and costing you valuable time. Fortunately, these sections are used sparingly throughout the game and are limited to just one planet's series of tracks. It's just that when that planet showed up during a grand prix, you can bet I grimaced a bit.

Anti-gravity... the bane of my Star Wars Episode I: Racer existence!
Back to the subject of the game not explaining boosting well, there's also another part of Star Wars Episode I: Racer that isn't overly clear. This regards purchasing parts and picking them up from the junkyard. There's no mention of how purchasing mini droids will clean up old parts bought from from the junkyard or how the whole setup works. It's something that I had to go to an outside source--in this case, GameFAQs, to discover for myself. A mild complaint if there was ever, especially since the Internet is so easily accessible, but still a complaint nonetheless.

When it concerns this port, Aspyr didn't put too much extra TLC into it, aside from boosting the frame-rate and resolution to a mild amount. It's a better looker compared to the Nintendo 64 original, but at the same time, the graphical push also reveals some of the newfound ugliness of the environments as well. Thankfully, you'll be flying through them a little too fast to notice that much. That said, what is unavoidable is looking at the graphical nastiness that are the batch of racers, seen before and after each race. These monstrosities are rather repugnant to look at, and are Star Wars Episode I: Racer at its worst when it comes to visuals. The pre-race cutscenes that introduce each planet the race takes place on possess a low frame-rate, almost quaint in how sluggish these scenes are.

Split-screen is present for local multiplayer mayhem.
Sound-wise, Star Wars Episode I: Racer features plenty of music from John Williams' excellent score from The Phantom Menace, though the original developers lay a little too heavily on Duel of the Fates. Yeah, the theme is a brilliant and tense one, especially with that ostinato, but there's a bit of an over reliance on it. Though you DO get a wholly symphonic version as well as a symphonic + vocal version to enjoy, alongside a myriad of other themes from the first prequel film. The voicework is well done, whether it's Jake Lloyd as young Anakin Skywalker or pre-race commentator and "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" vet Greg Proops' planet introductions. Overall, the sound is rather superb in Star Wars Episode I: Racer.

What you see (and what you hear) is pretty much what you get with Aspyr's take on Star Wars Episode I: Racer. Sizable upgrades and major updates are not the main attraction here, as there aren't really any to speak of. Instead, you get the basic podracing package on more desirable hardware in a higher definition and a better frame-rate. More importantly, however, the game runs as wonderfully as it has ever run--or in this case, raced, and it's still worthy of a play to this day.

[SPC Says: B]

Aspyr Media provided a code for the purpose of this review.

Paper Mario: The Origami King (NSW) North American Commercial

A TV spot with more paper puns than you can fold creases at, Nintendo shared its North American commercial for its upcoming game Paper Mario: The Origami King. The game launches exclusively on the Nintendo Switch on July 17th! Are you planning on picking up this visually pleasing game?

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Urban Trial Tricky (NSW) Review

It's the Fourth of July, a celebration for the United States, and SuperPhillip Central has some fireworks tonight of its own with a new game review. It's Urban Trial Tricky, specifically the Nintendo Switch version, and here is my review.

A biking game that sticks its landings more than it bails

Imagine a game that crosses the careful, precision, bike-based platforming of Ubisoft's Trials series and mixes it with the score attack style of the Tony Hawk series. That, in a nutshell, is what you get with Tate Multimedia's Urban Trial Tricky. Unlike either series mentioned, however, Urban Trial Tricky doesn't demand nearly as much from the player's skill. That's not to say that the game won't test your skills or be a walk in the park--or in this case, a bike ride in the city.

Urban Trial Tricky features three types of events in its campaign. These are Timed, Tricks, and Competition. Timed are essentially events where you race to the goal, trying to beat a target time. Performing the occasional specified trick will shave some precious seconds off your total time. Tricks events are Tony Hawk-style affairs where you try to beat a high score within the time limit. Finally, Competition events see your rider having to perform trick after specified trick before time runs out. Sprinkled among these events are tutorials that show you how to perform everything from easy-to-hard air and land tricks.

It's a bird, it's a plane... it's a Hot Superman!
Each of the levels and events in Urban Trial Tricky possesses myriad extra challenges to complete apart from just getting the requisite amount of stars needed to unlock the next level or series of events. These extra challenges range from reaching certain point thresholds, making to the end of a Timed level without crashing, collecting all of the snacks in a given level, or beating the developer's amount of stunts performed in a given Competition event. These extra challenges add to the longevity of the game and are worth pursuing to maximize your time with Urban Trial Tricky.

Completing events in Urban Trial Tricky awards up to five stars depending on how well you perform in them. You also obtain cash for clearing challenges as well as collecting bags of money floating throughout environments. This cash money can be used to buy new bikes, new color combinations for your rider and bike, different exhaust trails, and new tricks. There's no worry about spending cash on the wrong things, as by clearing every challenge and collecting every bag of money, you'll have exactly enough of the green stuff to purchase everything in the game.

Performing a Hot Screw trick? "Nailed" it!
To play Urban Trial Tricky is an enjoyable experience for the most part. It's like a more casual Trials game just with Tony Hawk-style tricks added in. Balancing on your bike, for instance, is very easy to do, so the main cause of concern is nailing tricks without bailing or messing up. Tricks come in the form of air or land, with the latter having you perform wheelies (having your bike's front tire in the air) or stoppies (having your bike's back tire in the air). Tricks are easy to memorize the buttons, as it's not about the direction you hold the analog stick, but instead, it's the order of buttons you press--with a maximum of three buttons needed to be pressed in a sequence for the most difficult of tricks to nail. When it concerns Competition events, the button combination necessary to perform the requested trick is clearly shown on the screen. Otherwise, you can just pause the game and quickly enter the trick list to see all of various stunts at your rider's disposal.

To score high in Tricks-based events, you'll need to keep a combo going. The more unique tricks you pull off in your current combo, the higher your multiplier will go and the more time you'll get to continue pulling off new tricks in said combo. When the combo meter runs out, your combo ends and you'll be rewarded with all of your well deserved points. If you bail or otherwise fail to cleanly land, your combo will abruptly end, rewarding you will a small fraction of the large amount of points you'd otherwise earn if you ended the combo cleanly. So, it's a nice risk and reward here, and sometimes it's good to just end a combo early and safely to get a plethora of points.

That's one heck of a combo! Be sure to stick the landing!
I liken Urban Trial Tricky to a more kid-friendly, newcomer-friendly version of Ubisoft's Trials series. I didn't find the game to be particularly challenging, save for a few events that required repeated tries to complete, and it's also not a particularly long game either. I managed to unlock everything and clear all events and extra challenges within about five hours, possibly a little more. That notwithstanding, I found my experience with the game to be a positive one more than it was a frustrating one. Frustration was one of the last things Urban Trial Tricky was for me.

When it regards presentation, Urban Trial Tricky brings with it a colorful, suitably cheery art style, though obviously nothing that really taxes the Nintendo Switch hardware. The lone character model is a bit crude-looking in appearance, but he animates rather well, especially when performing all of the various tricks and stunts within the game. The level environments sports great visual variety and the abundance of unique billboards, signs, and extras showcases just that. On the sound side of Urban Trial Tricky, the music is dynamic, pumping up with a high combo is executed, and on the opposite side of the spectrum, slows down with a record scratch when your rider crashes, bails, or otherwise loses a combo. The voice work is varied, but you'll no doubt come across the same samples of lines enough that they'll get grating on the ears, particularly one line that closely mirrors Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas' "All you had to do was follow the damn train, CJ!" Yes, really.

Urban Trial Tricky boasts a bounty of color in its aesthetic. 
Urban Trial Tricky won't send veteran players of games similar to it through too rigorous of paces, but for everyone else, what Tate Multimedia has made here is a pleasant and overall engaging stunt-based bike game for the masses. Between its lovely cartoon art style, generally polished and smooth controls, and straightforward gameplay, there's a lot to like about Urban Trial Tricky--enough to like that I am pleased to recommend it, despite its apparent length issues.

[SPC Says: B-]

Tate Multimedia provided a code for the purpose of this review.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Review Round-Up - June 2020

A clear copy of the Paper Mario formula with Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling
didn't bug me when the end result was so satisfying!
Hope everyone is staying safe and if you can, staying inside... perhaps while playing some video games? Regardless, it's time for the Review Round-Up, where you and I join forces to look at the games that I reviewed for the previous month. In this case, we'll be talking about June 2020! Let's get to it, gang!

We kicked things off with the boys of summer with Super Mega Baseball 3, which knocked it out of the park in Metalhead's third series outing with a B+. Then, the Saints marched in to aim for the spotlight again with an impressive remaster, suitably titled Saints Row: The Third - Remastered. It, too, received a B+. From there, Nintendo and ND Cube's Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Games presented fun fare for gamers of all ages and skill levels, winning a B+ grade as a prize. Finally, SPC's Game of the Month is Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling, delighting with its excellent take on the Paper Mario formula, and excelling at it as well. So much so that I couldn't help but give the game a highly recommended A- grade.

To conclude this month's Review Round-Up, here are excerpts from each game review from June 2020, and a final reminder to check out the SPC Review Archive for every game review ever posted on SuperPhillip Central.

Super Mega Baseball 3 (PS4, XB1, NSW, PC) - B+
The Super Mega Baseball series is known for both its entertaining and accessible gameplay, and now Super Mega Baseball 3 further hammers this point home like a long, powerful drive over the center field wall. It makes even finagling with team budgets, lineups, and free agency--stuff that I found difficult to wrap my head around in more sim-like games--to be incredibly approachable and dare I say, fun. While the high cost of entry robs the game from being a complete grand slam, as it might be a barrier of entry for some prospective players, the welcoming gameplay and robust lineup of modes gives Super Mega Baseball 3 the walk-off home run all the same.
Saints Row: The Third - Remastered (PS4, XB1, PC) - B+
Saints Row: The Third - Remastered may not have evolved too much in the gameplay department, but what it has done is more than market itself well as a remaster, looking phenomenal at times. Much of the humor is dated and beyond juvenile, but there is some good stuff that gave me a giggle here and there. If you're sick of Steelport and the Saints' adventures therein, this remaster is not going to do anything to sweeten your opinion on the fictional city, but for those who want to jump in for a first, second, or--like me--a third time, then Saints Row: The Third - Remastered is a great game and excellent effort.
Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics (NSW) - B+
Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics is one of those games that I see myself coming back to for the near and also distant future. It's perfect to bring out for parties, family get-togethers, and any not-so-special occasion as well, such as when you're bored and looking to play a quick game of Four-In-A-Row or Dominoes to kill some time. Though online is a ridiculously rough spot, Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics is an otherwise highly competent and well put-together collection of gaming classics. Not all of the 51 games are winners, but the majority of the games brought and continue to bring loads of fun to the SuperPhillip household. I managed to accumulate armfuls of favorites. You certainly will, too.
Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling (PS4, NSW, XB1, PC) - A-
Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling takes the ball that Nintendo and the Paper Mario series dropped and absolutely runs with it to amazing levels. The game is polished well, full of fun secrets to discover in its colorful worlds, complete with a superb script (though one that occasionally drags on during some scenes), and features a sublime take on Paper Mario's heralded battle system. It's easy to dismiss Bug Fables as a mere clone, but the game does so much differently and dare I say sometimes better than its clear inspiration that it's hard to even care. On "paper", Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling is a great game inspired by a Nintendo classic. In execution... well, it's still a great game inspired by a Nintendo classic!
What better way to stay in and enjoy some gaming than with a collection of 51 worldwide classics?
That's exactly what the sequel to 2005's Clubhouse Games gave Switch owners.