Saturday, June 22, 2019

Best Summer Video Game Levels: Book A Trip to These Exotic Summer Vacation Video Game Destinations

It's the first full day of summer, and SuperPhillip Central wishes you a peaceful and relaxing season. What better way to enjoy this time of year than to book a trip to one of the following exciting video game destinations perfect for summertime. Forget the hassle of planning some extravagant vacation, the long lines at the airport terminal, the annoying plane passenger in front of you who insists on reclining his seat all the way back, and all that other nonsense. Let the most prominent video game travel booking business on the 'net*--SuperPhillip Central's Virtual Vacations--entice you to take a digital trip to some truly terrific locales in some excellent games instead!

*Your frequent flyer mileage may vary.

Isle Delfino - Super Mario Sunshine (GCN)


Let's begin our glimpse at some prime summer hotspots with one of the quintessential summer getaways--one that gaming's most famous mascot has ventured to at least once. It's the tropical Isle Delfino from the Nintendo GameCube's Super Mario Sunshine. Go hopping around Bianco Hills, get your feet wet in the pristine waters of Gelato Beach, spend the day having fun in the sun at the Pinna Park amusement park, and return back to home base at the glorious sunny shores of Delfino Plaza at the end of the day. How do you speak summer? We at SPC Virtual Vacations speak it "Super Mario Sunshine's Isle Delfino."

Bubblaine - Super Mario Odyssey (NSW)


Perhaps you're wanting something more modern out of your summer vacation? While Isle Delfino is a fantastic choice, it's awfully dated. How about another selection from the world of Mario, this time from Super Mario Odyssey on the Nintendo Switch? Welcome to Bubblaine in the Seaside Kingdom, where every dive underwater will have you belching on your way up due to the carbonated water that flows from Bubblaine's central soda fountain. Don't be embarrassed--it's your summer vacation, so burp and belch all you'd like! In Bubblaine you can scale a massive lighthouse, go exploring in the bubbling deep, catch a ride on a duo of Dorries, or play catch with the local beach-dwelling puppy dog. Who's a good boy? Yes, you're a good boy, doggy!

Dolphin Shoals - Mario Kart 8 (NSW, Wii U)


Perhaps the slow, plodding pace of rest and relaxation on a summer vacation doesn't fulfill your sense of thrill. Instead, maybe your idea of a satisfying and exciting vacation is speeding through an almost wholly submerged racetrack as you jet along the waters accompanied by aquatic friends. That's what Mario Kart 8's Dolphin Shoals delivers in spades... well, perhaps we should say "delivers in dolphins and other deep sea delights", as there are no spades to actually speak of. Regardless of semantics, wind through underwater passageways, ride on the back of the gigantic Unagi eel, speed along the cliffs overlooking an ocean twister, and do it all under the warmth of a tropical sun.

Eventide Island - The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (NSW, Wii U)


If you're like us at SPC Virtual Vacations, you don't like your vacation simply handed to you on a silver platter. And even if you did, you'd want that silver platter to degrade after several uses anyway! The point here is that why be given a vacation when you can make a memorable adventure for yourself while marooned on the glorious shores of Eventide Island! This very special destination from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild features all the resources one would and could possibly need to live on the island, and--if for some ridiculous reason you'd ever want to--escape. From its picturesque plateau of palm trees to its extra friendly humongous Hinox that loves to go "clubbing" with guests, Eventide Island is an impressive and innovative area of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It will make any vacationer not only have to play by its unique set of rules, but also overcome them in a truly unique challenge to the game.

Besaid Island - Final Fantasy X (PS2)


Sure, you can go to Isle Delfino or some other fancy tropical shmopical island, but SPC Virtual Vacations knows you by now! You're a person of taste and culture. You're one to go down lesser traveled roads. You're one to thumb up your nose to the mainstream, and what better way to do than that go to a lesser frequented summer getaway, where the water is always warm, the people are seldom unkind, and the island's Blitzball team is the worst in the league. It's Besaid Island, and this locale from Final Fantasy X is home to a bounty of beauty in every inch of this small luxurious island.

Costa del Sol - Final Fantasy VII (PS1)


Then again, maybe Besaid Island is too... folksy for your tastes. Why share an island when you can own an inn? That's exactly what you can do in Final Fantasy VII's Costa del Sol, and with the remake of the game coming in March of next year (though the first episode will most likely be limited to Midgar), it's a nice idea to book your trip to the "House of Sun" seaside summer town before it becomes overrun with other tourists seeking a similar hit of nostalgia.

Destiny Islands - Kingdom Hearts series


Let's now plan for a trip that's just as wholesome and nostalgic as it is beautiful and scenic. It's the Destiny Islands from the Kingdom Hearts series, seen various times throughout Sora's saga. It's where our adventure begins and it's where some incredibly important events in the Kingdom Hearts franchise take place. Feel free to do battle with local islander Riku, but fair warning--he's a bit of a brooding fellow at first until he's comfortable with you. Also, maybe don't go near that cave in the center of the island. Just trust me on this one.

Emerald Coast - Sonic Adventure (DC)


Nothing says Sonic Adventure like fast speeds along with some more methodical platforming sections. The game's Emerald Coast boasted a tremendous first impression for players, and it will definitely make a splendid spot to spend some of your summertime in. Bounce from spring to spring along the wooden docks as you speed from beach to beach, and what's that there? Oh, it's just a happy little whale playfully giving chase to anyone who approaches its dock, just like Sonic the Hedgehog, for instance. Emerald Coast is a rockin' azure blue world that made for a memorable locale for owners of the Dreamcast at the system's 1999 launch, and it will make for a great destination to soak up some sun while speeding along the coast as well.

Treasure Trove Cove - Banjo-Kazooie (N64, XBLA)


With the surprise E3 2019 announcement of the bear and bird pair of Banjo and Kazooie arriving in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate this fall, if you're anything like me, you're chomping at the bit (beak?) to dig in to the bounty of sands on the beach of Banjo-Kazooie's Treasure Trove Cove. This second world in the Nintendo 64 classic has plenty to delight cove-goers including a large sandcastle with a friendly face inside, a lighthouse sitting at the very top of the cove, a wrecked pirate ship that one can explore, sprawling beaches where there are definitely NOT any angry crabs roaming them, nor are they ready to snap at any vacationer willing to approach them, and there's CERTAINLY no fear of swimming in the ocean waters as there are NO sharks to speak of.

Crash Cove - Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled (PS4, XB1, NSW)


From one cove to another, if you somehow aren't gifted with the ability to breathe underwater as you participate in an exhilarating race, then we at SPC Virtual Vacations do not recommend booking a trip to Mario Kart 8's Dolphin Shoals. But, if you'd still like the scenic sights of the sea without having to enter into it (unless you're a poor driver, of course), then we offer a suitable supplement summertime location for you: Crash Team Racing's Crash Cove, the opening racetrack of the game. The recently remade and released Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled for PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch, offers a view of this bountiful beach in high-definition beauty for the very first time, allowing racers to speed along the shoreline of the island cove with the sunset shining brightly on the sand and seas. While not an optimal place to perfect one's power-slide, Crash Cove does offer a breezy course to get some practice in before going to the big leagues in CTR.

Planet Pokitaru - Ratchet & Clank (PS4)


Who needs just one area when you can have a whole planet to enjoy? Come to beautiful Planet Pokitaru for a tropical locale where you can get away from it all. Okay, sure, you might not be able to get away from the spiked fish that love to harass tourists, nor the slime creatures that overrun the nearby plant, but you cannot deny that Planet Pokitaru is a picturesque place nevertheless! Seen in both the original Ratchet & Clank and made even more fabulous and fantastic in the 2016 remake, Pokitaru is all sun, all fun, and some danger--but who doesn't like a little danger in their lives, am I right?

Kanaloa Beach Golf Resort - Everybody's Golf (PS4)


Are you a bit of an outdoors-man or outdoors-woman? These three final locales on SuperPhillip Central's picks for spectacular summer vacation video game destinations offer plenty of activities to enjoy your time spent outside. Tee up and go golfing on the prestigious Kanaloa Beach Golf Resort from the Everybody's Golf franchise's PlayStation 4 debut. This resort is set under a breathtaking sunset and surrounded by a generous helping of ocean, perfect for getting some fishing in between rounds. When you're not golfing or fishing, it's just as fun to go joyriding around the resort's premises via golf cart. Just don't tell the resort staff that SPC Virtual Vacations put that idea in your head... Whether on the fairways, greens, or if you're like us, the bunkers or out of bounds, you'll find something to love at the Kanaloa Beach Golf Resort in Everybody's Golf.

Splash Beach - Kirby's Extra Epic Yarn (3DS)


At first, all seems quiet at Splash Beach from Kirby's Epic Yarn and its Nintendo 3DS port. Nighttime has already fallen on the serene sands and waters of the beach, but with enough exploring and examinations into the skies, you can reveal the sun--simultaneously revealing a hustling and bustling beach! Looks are indeed deceiving at Splash Beach, so take a dive in the now sun-soaked seas of the beach (you might even be asked to make a... wait for it... "splash") or save your skin and beat the heat under the shade of one of many beach umbrellas also serving as platforms for any "jumpy" beach-goers out there.

Lake Orangatanga - Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble (SNES)


We've reached the last place on SuperPhillip Central's list of summer vacay stops, and unlike most of the hot spots on this list, this particular pick will take us camping. After all, you needn't have tropical sights and sounds to think of summertime! Sometimes all you need is the great outdoors, and boy, will you get it with Donkey Kong Country 3's Lake Orangatanga. Some camps are home to arts and crafts. BO-RING. This lake is home to Kongs and Kremlings instead! There are also cold tundras to the northeast to slip and slide around in, as well as massive barns full of barrels--including one particularly big barrel who has a bit of a belching problem. For a camp experience that will have you make some wonderful memories without having to worry about sunburns and mosquitoes, look no further than spending your summer at Camp Lake Orangatanga and do it Donkey Kong Country-style!

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That's all from SuperPhillip Central Virtual Vacations! Whether you're actually going on a real vacation this summer or just planning on having a good ol' stay-cation with some awesome games, have a great summer, everyone!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Saints Row: The Third - The Full Package (NSW) Review

Saints Row: The Third - The Full Package launched a little bit ago on the Nintendo Switch, giving Nintendo players a taste of the Saints Row series for the first time. A Nintendo 3DS game was in development early in the system's life, but that game never did live to see the light of day. Now, after all this time, Saints Row is on a Nintendo platform, and here's the SuperPhillip Central review of the third installment's Switch version.

The Saints go marching in onto the Nintendo Switch.


Up until Saints Row: The Third, the Saints Row series and Rockstar's own Grand Theft Auto games took a slightly serious approach to the open world, crime story formula. With the third installment of Saints Row, developer Volition opted to diverge from the serious route, going with a decidedly zanier and more ridiculous approach. No longer was the series rooted in reality--quite the opposite, in fact. Now, Saints Row: The Third reaches the Nintendo Switch with all of its previous separate DLC included right on the cartridge with Saints Row: The Third - The Full Package. You get everything you could ever want out of Saints Row's third entry, including some added problems.

You play as the fully customizable leader of the Saints gang, who since Saints Row 2, are now a gang of fame, literal celebrities in crime. They have their own comic book, their own series of clothing stores, and even a sports drink! The city of Steelport is the new setting for Saints Row: The Third, and every gang in the area wants to dominate it for themselves--from a highly computer-literate gang of Goths to a gang of steroid-crazed Luchadores. 

When the Third Street Saints go marching in, you know things are about to go down.
Starting out in Saints Row: The Third, the Saints are at a disadvantage. Streets are full of unfriendly faces, and the Saints' claim to Steelport is limited at best--and that's putting it nicely. Through completing missions--both story-related and optional--as well as purchasing properties with hard-earned money, the Saints slowly can stake claim in more of Steelport. It's pretty cool to chart the Saints' progress of claiming Steelport, with the gang just having a meager crib to work with at first, and then by the end of the game being able to control all of the bustling metropolis. 

Whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?
Apparently start a shootout with Steelport's finest!
Saints Row: The Third - The Full Package comes packed with content, as its secondary subtitle alludes. In the base game alone, there is plenty of activities to participate in and enjoy. There's, of course, the story-related missions, but there's also the immense lineup of side activities. I'm talking about activities where you destroy as much as possible on foot or in a friggin' tank, escorting a capable AI partner to their various drug deals, assassination missions, vehicle thefts, running into traffic to commit insurance fraud, destroying gang operations, finding money pallets, blow-up dolls, and drugs scatted around Steelport, and even an activity where you carefully drive around in a convertible with a very hungry tiger in the passenger seat. 

That laser beam is a bit too close for the leader of the Saints' liking.
Additionally, the DLC missions that come included in The Full Package feature three different side stories, such as following the trail of a cloned, hulking Johnny Gat, starring in a movie shoot with real life dangers, and participating in a murder-friendly game show where you perform dangerous tasks like rolling a giant ball of yarn while causing as much destruction as possible and blazing through the sky as you pass through rings and murder costumed mascots for money. 

Yes, those are zombies. (I told you this third installment got quite a bit zany.)
The Full Package on the Nintendo Switch offers two more modes for players as well--the game's version of a Horde mode ("cleverly" called Whored Mode), where you try to survive as many waves of enemies as possible, in addition to co-operative play for the campaign. The latter is available for online or local play, which requires each player to have their own Switch (unfortunately, there's no split-screen option to speak of). 

This luchador just got dunked on.
Saints Row: The Third - The Full Package received a "Day One" patch (I put that in quotation marks because the patch was delayed to a week after release), which made a buggy and near broken Nintendo Switch version of the game much more playable. I'm pleased with the overall quality of the game post-patch. The frame-rate is passable, but it can very much fluctuates in a noticeable manner at times--particularly when the action picks up and the screen is overloaded with enemies and explosions. The video capture function of the Switch for Saints Row: The Third is pretty useless as well, because it takes the footage of the game and turns it into a slide show frame-rate-wise. It's honestly much worse than what you have in the actual game.

Steelport has seen nicer nights, as evident by the billboard
 on the right not fully loading in until you approach it closely.
The controls of Saints Row: The Third work well enough save for one issue I've picked up on. Trying to sprint by holding down the R button doesn't always work. It seems eight times out of ten your character will actually starting running, but the other two times nothing will happen. It's pretty frustrating when you're at dangerously low health and the game won't register that you're hitting the sprint button. Other than that, vehicles take some getting used to and don't have the tightness of control that I would like--but that was an issue with the original Saints Row: The Third and not a new issue with this Switch version.

G...Gah. I-I'm sorry I called you "Baldy McSteroids."
In many ways, Saints Row: The Third is a product of its name, quite dated. This isn't just relegated to some design, presentation, or control-related features either. Perhaps now that I'm older and wiser, I find some of the humor and content in the game just reprehensible and juvenile when back when the original game released I found it amusing and entertaining. There are just flat out many moments in this Nintendo Switch run of Saints Row: The Third that I was just embarrassed and sometimes simply uncomfortable to be playing through them. 

And yes, those are guys in gimp gear pulling carriages in this chase sequence.
...No further comment.
That aside, as long as you know that Saints Row: The Third is very dated in many gameplay ways as well as some cultural aspects, you'll find that it's a really enjoyable GTA clone. It's one that's not afraid of having fun and not taking itself so seriously. (Though, again, some moments shine brighter than others.) With Saints Row: The Third - The Full Package, Nintendo Switch owners have a game that can fill that open world city-based void in the system's library--just so they also know that the level of polish and presentation isn't exactly of the highest caliber. Still, for the amount of off-the-wall fun one can get out of Saints Row's debut on a Nintendo system, The Full Package is worth taking to the streets of Steelport for, warts and all.

[SPC Says: B-]

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (Multi) Launch Trailer

The loving moniker of "IGAvania" has returned, and so has the style of game with today's release of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. Nintendo Switch owners will have to wait another week before getting their hands on the game, but for everyone else, it's time to crack a whip and get to slaying some demons!

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Complete Edition (NSW) E3 2019 Reveal Trailer

There are still some more trailers from E3 2019 to sink SuperPhillip Central's teeth into the week after the big event. One of the amazing ports coming to the Nintendo Switch is that of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Complete Edition, fully realized on Nintendo's hybrid console. How will it run on the Switch? Will there need to be some serious downgrades to get The Witcher 3 running competently on the system? We'll find out later this year when The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - Complete Edition's open world traversal arrives on the Nintendo Switch.

Monday, June 17, 2019

All-Star Franchises, Underrated Entries - Part Thirteen

If you've been around SuperPhillip Central for a little while (it's still okay if you haven't, so no harm done), then you know that I like talking about underrated and overlooked games. I've done various series on the subject. However, most of the time, the games mentioned in these articles are from wholly new or overlooked franchises themselves.

There are also a multitude of series that I can think of that have one, two, or a handful of games in it that aren't viewed as highly as the others, whether just or not.

These ideas are where the concept of All-Star Franchises, Underrated Entries comes from, and since our 12th edition, I've come up with six more underrated entries to big-time franchises, some bigger than others. If you'd like to see past parts of this long-running series, check them out here:




Final Fantasy - World of Final Fantasy (PS4, XB1, NSW, PC, Vita)


Our first game on this edition of All-Star Franchises, Underrated Entries comes from a franchise that is quite storied and a long-lasting one, Final Fantasy. With Final Fantasy VII Remake officially pinned down for a March 2020 release, I figured it'd be an opportune time to talk about a Final Fantasy game that is on the opposite side of the popularity spectrum. That's not to say World of Final Fantasy and its enhanced Maxima version are bemoaned by franchise fans, but it also doesn't mean that World of Final Fantasy is considered anything more than a cult classic at best. The ability to capture and do battle with familiar Final Fantasy monsters, return to several memorable locations with Final Fantasy favorite heroes and heroines, all joined by a captivating game made World of Final Fantasy quite a treasure to behold. World of Final Fantasy is a family-friendly, sensational love letter to fans of Final Fantasy.

Valkyria Chronicles - Valkyria Chronicles 4 (PS4, XB1, NSW, PC)


SEGA seems to have a tremendous skill in sending out many of its games to just falter in a crowded release period. For a franchise that seldom saw sensational sales like Valkyria Chronicles, it was a death sentence for the game's fourth mainline installment to release in the busy pre-holiday season that it did. Offering a refined update to the tried and true tactical RPG action that the series is known for, Valkyria Chronicles 4 failed to become a darling on the sales charts, despite its great quality. It's an obvious shame, as now the Valkyria Chronicles series may be like a rusty old tank now, doomed to spend who knows how long in a hangar in SEGA's arsenal of retired franchises.

Trials - Trials Rising (PS4, XB1, NSW, PC)


You can teach an old franchise new tricks, and that's exactly what the developers at Ubisoft did with Trials Rising. Now, I'll get this out of the way that Trials Rising is far from the optimal game in the series--what, with its loot boxes, progression, and disordered level select menu, but it says something about the game where I could easily overlook those issues because of just how much fun I was having with Trials Rising. Between fully customizing the look of my rider, finding the best lines and paths to take in tracks to get those elusive Diamond medals, and simply enjoying competing against the AI or other human players made for a fantastic Trials offering. The collection of tracks and courses in Trials Rising is the best the series has yet to see, and despite the serious issues (including some nasty glitches) with the game, Trials Rising made me smile more than it got me frustrated.

Killzone - Killzone: Shadow Fall (PS4)


A previous edition of All-Star Franchises, Underrated Entries had Killzone: Mercenary from the PlayStation Vita in it. While I don't dare argue that the PlayStation 4 launch title Killzone: Shadow Fall holds a candle to it, I don't dare argue that the game is a poor first-person shooter either. In fact, it's quite good and amazed me with its quality. Between the open-ended level design, the high-octane action, and the highly enjoyable multiplayer, Killzone: Shadow Fall managed to be a game that I couldn't help but want to play through again and again--even going as far as to play through the whole campaign without dying and earning the trophy for this achievement. (Brag session over.) While Guerrilla Games has gone on to bigger and better projects such as Horizon: Zero Dawn, I still maintain that the developer's work on Killzone and Killzone: Shadow Fall is truly terrific.

Hot Shots Golf / Everybody's Golf - Everybody's Golf (PS4)


Everybody's Golf VR recently launched on PlayStation VR, so why not take to the tee with the first Everybody's Golf outing on the PlayStation 4 with--well--Everybody's Golf! Anime avatars playing realistic golf on one of five courses doesn't have a worldwide appeal, but for those that did play a round or two...hundred of Everybody's Golf found an exceptionally well built golf game. Well, I should clarify that it was exceptionally well built with its mechanics and course design. The progression system was an entirely different story, forcing players to play rounds on the same courses over and over again before unlocking new courses to enjoy. Said courses could be traversed entirely, allowing for some fun exploration, as well as some unique mini-games such as fishing. Everybody's Golf isn't the best entry in the golfing series formerly known in North America as Hot Shots Golf, but it surely maintains its high level of quality.

Katamari Damacy - Me & My Katamari (PSP)


Long before the Switch received a remaster of the original Katamari Damacy, the series turned portable with Me & My Katamari on the PSP. This iteration of the game brought the same roll-'em-up gameplay to owners of Sony's handheld, but it also brought a less than satisfactory problem to PSP players--hand cramps. The lack of a second analog nub on the PSP meant that instead of using two sticks to move The Prince's Katamari ball around, players had to use the analog nub in conjunction with the uncomfortable face buttons. This was decidedly a necessary evil to get the game to control with any semblance of competence on the platform, but it ended up making many players of Me & My Katamari dissatisfied. Still, if you can play through the discomfort of the awkward control setup, Me & My Katamari is still the well designed Katamari Damacy gameplay fans have come to expect from the franchise.