Saturday, September 27, 2008

Blast Works: Build, Trade, Destroy (Wii) Review

Folks, we have reached the apocalypse. The U.S. economy is in a horrible condition, and now? Now, my Blast Works review has finally been posted! Excuse me now. I'm going to set off these fireworks I've been saving for this occasion. Have a great night, all, and see you tomorrow!


Think It. Dream It. Build It.

Oh, how I long to insert quarters into an arcade machine just to test my lack of mettle in Defender or some other game of its kin! The shoot-em-up genre (or shmup for short) hasn't seen much action within the past two console cycles. In fact, they've been mostly relegated to the handhelds. That hasn't stopped developer Budcat Creations from developing a Wii-exclusive installment of the genre. Enter Blast Works: Build, Trade, Destroy-- a game which tips its metaphorical hat to Kenta Cho's Tuniki Fighters. Is Blast Works a title that Wii owners will want to build and trade with, or is it one that they'd want to more than likely destroy?

Each level ends with a boss battle with multiple parts to wear down.

There's really not much to the main modes-- the Arcade and Campaign modes of Blast Works. The campaign mode throws you directly into aerial battle with no story or nonsense like that. It is split up within five parts each with three levels. Each level (some tend to drag on a bit more than others) culminates with a cleverly-designed boss. It's your standard side-scrolling arcade shooting fare where you dodge enemy fire whilst retaliating with shots of your own. Given the premise, you'd think it was just some plain old shooter you've seen before-- maybe even less interesting, and you'd be right. However, the savior of the gameplay is that fact that when an enemy is incapacitated, your ship can fly into them and they'll become part of your vessel until you die, or the piece is shot off. Pretty much every enemy and the sum of their parts can be caught by your ship. Furthermore, if the ship had a cannon that intermittently fired off a round, the cannon would still be active to give you a greater offense. There's two catches to this: 1) As stated before, the pieces can easily come off whether an opposing force runs into them to knock them off or does enough damage to them, and 2) The pieces that attach to your ship stay on as is. This means your ship doesn't transform itself into a larger being as it accumulates items-- the parts merely stick to the ship however you caught them, so timing is crucial. You wouldn't want to catch an enemy with a flamethrower on the back of your ship since all of the enemy's armada attack from the right.

Enemies will take a moderate amount of fire in order to be destroyed. However, that isn't the case with your ship. For you, it's one shot, one kill. You'll lose a life if your core gets damaged. Nonetheless, you can earn an extra life for every 10,000 points you earn by defeating enemies or holding onto an exorbitant amount of debris-- becoming an offensive planet of enemy ships and weapons. The parts that can attach to your ship can be used as a shield as well. They won't hold up under repeated enemy fire, but they will take the brunt of the damage. If things become too crowded on the screen-- which they will, you can hold a button to draw in all of your attached appendages. This is perfect for when there's a lot of bullets firing in your direction, and you can't tell where your ship's core unit is.

Use your own foes as temporary shields from enemy fire.

The single-player Arcade and Campaign modes will only hold your attention for so long-- even with three difficulty levels and four classic games to unlock such as Kenta Cho's own Tuniki Fighters. The real treasure and value in Blast Works is the incredibly detailed and exhaustive Editor mode. Not only can you rearrange pre-existing levels and models, but you can create your own from scratch or edit a template to get your creative side jonesing for more. It's not just ships you can create-- it's full-fledged levels, bosses, bullet patterns, background and foreground objects, or just say "enough with polygons" and create pixel art like Mario, Mega Man, and Sonic. With enough time and effort you can honestly create your own game. Unfortunately, the developers didn't make the process as simple as it could have been. It's really not user or newbie-friendly. There's needless clicking and dragging, thinking three-dimensionally when creating a ship or object with little assistance, dealing with making parts and joining them together properly to make a cohesive unit, there's no way to copy a shape from one part to another, et cetera. Don't let that dishearten you though. With enough knowledge and learning, you'll be making sensational ships and shapes in no time. The real fun is knowing that your levels are really only limited to your imagination. You can change the horizon, ground, and sky colors, add mountains in the background, add an ocean to battle in, alter the scrolling speed and direction of your level, and not have to worry about not having enough room as there's plenty of space to make an engaging and lengthy enough level.

The editor is pretty convoluted if you don't seek help.

Even if you lack the creative touch or you're not feeling that wonderful sense of inspiration, Blast Works may still be worth the asking price. Players either share their designs with friends via WiiConnect24, or-- and this is the best part-- they can head to Blast Works Depot online, sign up for no cost at all, and download a variety of uploaded ships, levels, and other content straight to their Wiis. These creations are uploaded by Blast Works fans all around the world to share their masterpieces (and rapes of polygons) with other players. These aren't limited to ships that look like wangs either. There's some really cool and inventive ideas and creations there from the original to video game-themed levels and sprites for use in your own levels. Of course, there's some really cool and inventive wangs, too, but that subject is for another day.

Instead, we'll talk about the framework of Blast Works itself. It runs rather well on the Wii. There's no terribly dreadful technical hiccups, framerate issues, or anything like that. However, some folks, including myself, have had the game freeze on them in the Editor mode. This could be a problem with our Wiis (make your two year-old jokes now about our Wiis having a problem), or it could have to do with the game itself. Who knows? It's not an issue that presented itself too terribly often though for most people. The presentation of the game is rather simple, too. Every model in the game is made up of polygons,. Each part that make up the models are one color each, so there's not a lot of detail to work with unless you're making pixel art or using a lot of shapes in a creation. The soundtrack is made up of techno music from a third party. None of it is too memorable, but to be fair, techno isn't my forte.

Make a Mario sprite, or heck, why not make a Mega Man stage!

For being $20 new, Blast Works is one load of a deal. The already-put-together single-player campaign and arcade modes are nothing fancy, but the real prize lies with the editor. If you find yourself as the imaginative type with a creative flair, you'll get your money's worth and most likely the original asking price money's worth ($40), too. Those without such qualities can still find a lot to enjoy, but perhaps they won't enjoy the title as much. If you aren't creative and you lack a great internet connection to download created and shared goodies, you might want to steer clear of this one.

[SuperPhillip Says]

Graphics: Very simple, and I imagine that's to keep the look and feel of Kenta Cho's Tuniki Fighters and to make creating your own ideas simpler.

Gameplay: An below-average shooter by itself, but being able to latch onto enemies and debris for a shield makes it very cool.

Sound: Nothing out of the ordinary here. If you're into indie techno, you'll be pleased.

Replay Value: Like making your own levels and ships? Awesome. Don't? You may want to rent this then.

Overall: 8.5/10

Friday, September 26, 2008

100th Review Celebration Extended!

Good news and bad news. The good news is that the 100th review celebration is being extended a week. The bad news is that the 100th review has been delayed to next Friday. Why?

1) I want to post some more classic reviews next week leading up to #100.

2) I did not want to rush out a review without playing the multiplayer and online modes.

However, there's more good news here. I finally figured out the problem with the Blast Works review (#99), and I'll be posting it later tonight or Saturday! Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition Review

If all goes according to plan, the 100th review will be posted tomorrow night. It won't be an epic-scale game as I don't have any I'm playing, and I think that that would be cliche anyway. Nonetheless, here is an epic-scale game for sure-- Resident Evil 4 on the Wii.


Definitely Definitive.

Since its original release in the early part of 2005, Resident Evil 4 has reached a total of four different platforms. Originally a Gamecube exclusive, RE 4 was ported with added goodies onto the PS2 and a year later ported to the PC. Now it has been ported to the Nintendo Wii with the PS2's bonuses and the Wii's trademark waggle controls. This rendition of Resident Evil 4 is easily the best, and quite possibly is the one of the best games of all time. Read more to see why.

The debonair Leon S. Kennedy has arrived with a
fistful of boomstick. Wait, wrong hero.

Those new to the Resident Evil series won't be missing out on too much by leaping right into the fourth edition of the franchise. Capcom successfully reinvented the series by doing away with the clunky tank controls (those who've played previous RE games will know what I'm referring to and if not, don't worry about it), fixed camera views, and prerendered backgrounds. RE 4 places the player in the role of government agent Leon Kennedy as he transports to rural Europe to find the whereabouts of the president's daughter, Ashley, who has apparently been abducted by some kind of religious cult. The camera as previously stated is no longer fixed and changes angles as you move around the landscapes and rooms of the game. Instead, the camera stays over the shoulder of Leon so the action is much more up-close and personal.

The Ganados isn't the name of a new reality
show-- it's the name of these zombie-like beings.

Game flow is rather simple. You move from one area or room to another all the while blasting through Ganados-- zombie-like humans, solving puzzles to advance, finding hidden treasure to sell to a mysterious traveling shopkeeper, buying and upgrading your weapons such as shotguns, magnums, and rifles to name a few, and trying to survive the game's many challenges. Occasionally you'll come across action sequences such as waving the Wii remote furiously to run from a rolling boulder-- Indiana Jones-style. These action sequences also occur in cutscenes too, so you never want to put down your controller when playing or you just might die! You can blast enemies at specific body parts to slow them down. Headshots are always good and can make a Ganado's head blow off in a violent mess of crimson. Additionally if an enemy is too close you can draw out your knife and hack them, press the A button to perform a kick while they're stunned, and knock them away from you to buy yourself more time or create some distance.

Quick! Waggle that Wii remote!!

Now you can use the classic controller to play RE 4, but the main draw is playing with the Wii remote and nunchuk control scheme. It'd be like buying a surround sound system and only using one of the five speakers! The control stick moves Leon around, and while holding Z you can run to or from other places in a flash.. er.. a dash. Holding the C button draws out Leon's knife which is great for slashing barrels, nearby enemies, or practicing your mugging routine. You can choose to press A while holding the knife to slash or by waving the remote like a knife. Pressing A is much more manageable than waggling the remote. It's also much easier from my and other gamers' experience. Holding the B button on the Wii remote will stop Leon in his tracks as he draws out whatever gun you're holding. You aim with the pointer on the remote and fire with the A button. The - button brings up the menu where you can look through your inventory, items, key items, and treasures held, as well as notes from the various characters in the game. Lastly, the + button is used when you have Ashley on your side to either make her hold her position or follow Leon.

Remember, kiddies. Rocket launchers are not toys.

Speaking of Ashley, the president's daughter will join your side at various points throughout the fifteen hour main story mode. Now don't think "Oh, God, not another tag-a-long brain-dead NPC that I have to baby-sit!!!" Ashley isn't like that too much at all. She will push down those who try to pursue her, she'll duck out of your line of fire if she's standing in front of you, and Ashley will also cower behind her knight in shining armor, and she will hide in boxes while Leon takes on the surrounding enemies. If Ashley gets picked up by a Ganado, it's your duty to shoot her captor before she gets taken out of the area. If she gets captured or dies, Leon's mission has been compromised and it's game over. Numerous puzzles will involve you and Ashley working together to proceed in the game. These are welcome and never feel tacked on. There's one particular moment in the game where you'll have to shoot at faraway enemies while Ashley attempts to raise up two platforms that are submerged in the water. This is while enemies are pursuing you as well as the isolated Ashley.

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Ashley creeps behind Leon, always an arm's length away.

There are three main areas in Resident Evil 4-- the village, the castle, and the island. Each have its own flavor and ambience to them. You'll be amazed by the amount of variety RE 4 has to offer in its single player alone. There's nothing more terrifying than hearing the buzz of a chainsaw in the background knowing that that noise is coming for you. Boss fights are placed at various times throughout the game as well from the monstrous fish Del Lago to the giant titan of El Gigante-- the battles are intense and a blast to play through. Resident Evil 4 like past Resident Evils encourage multiple playthroughs as you'll unlock new weapons and costumes to play the game through with.

To round out the package is a set of unlockable modes, the first being called The Mercenaries where you'll play as one of five mercs trying to score the most points in each of the levels. Assignment Ada and Seperate Ways are side-missions that take place through the locales of the main game helping to flesh out the holes in the story. The PS2 extras were not simply ported to the Wii either. They were graphically re-done using the Gamecube's graphics. All this added with a thirty dollar price tag, too.

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Aiming is a breeze with the new Wii remote controls.

Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition is only thirty dollars, and if you missed out on any of the versions you owe it to yourself to play through this excellent game. No game in a long time has ever had me excitedly hold my controller with a stupid grin on my face while playing. It's simply that good, and if you've only played the Gamecube version you're STILL missing out. I own the GCN and PS2 versions, and I am still enamored with Resident Evil 4. It is indeed one of the best games of all time, and I'd put it high on a top ten list of my favorite games of all time easily. Pick this bad boy up if you have a Wii and $30 lying around. You won't regret it at all!

[SuperPhillip Says]

Story: The president's daughter has been abducted by a group called the Los Illuminados. The Los Illuminados... isn't that redundant like the El Gigante? Eh... never mind.

Graphics: Blows away most Wii games easily. Sad that more games aren't looking like this on the Wii.

Gameplay: Run, stop, shoot, slash, pick up items, complete puzzles, etc. It's all there, and it's all perfect.

Sound: Ominous music, sound effects, and great voice work. The only beef is that most of the Ganados' yelling is repeated a lot.

Replay Value: Play through this game once and it will probably take you 15 hours. Now play through the various side-story missions, conquer The Mercanaries mode, and unlock all there is to this beauty.

Overall: 10/10

Dear Nintendo Fans: Quit Your %#$%in'

A great article/blog entry that tells the majority of Nintendo fanboys (look on GameFAQs, NeoGAF, and so on) to grow up and shut up. Finally, there's a champion of my people!

I highly recommend this article.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Wii) Review

We're in the middle of the week, and here's another great-scoring game as the parade of the highest-scoring games continues leading up to review 100.


The femme fatale returns for one high-impact finale.

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The original Metroid Prime released onto the Nintendo Gamecube in the fall of 2002. With it, it brought skeptics to their knees in defeat as they played the masterpiece concocted by Texas-based Retro Studios. Metroid Prime 2: Echoes came out two years later and while not as engrossing and captivating as the original Prime, it was still quite a competent game. Metroid Prime proved that Metroid could work in the third-dimension, and now six years later, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption proves that first-person shooter controls can work and function well on the Nintendo Wii.

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This epic game begins within the confines of Samus' cockpit.

The game begins with zero suit Samus (Oh my God, SPOILER: Samus is a woman!) rests in a cryogenic state aboard her trusted gunship as it floats in the emptiness of space. You're immediately given control of Samus inside the cockpit where you are able to interact with the controls with the aim to input the correct access code to dock on the Galactic Federation's home ship, the G.F.S. Olympus. You're given little room to explore on this tutorial mission, but it's all for the best so the player is able to become accustomed to the controls. After passing through a security checkpoint, you're able to later to enter the briefing room where Admiral Dane awaits you. He's a typical experienced veteran very reminiscent of the corporal from Halo. Space Pirates have successful implanted viruses in a variety of the Federation's Aurora Unit's-- think supercomputers. Before the briefing can conclude, an attack on the G.F.S. Olympus is made, and it's up to Samus Aran and the three other bounty hunters aboard the ship, the armor-clad Ghor, the ice-boarding Rundas, and the shape-shifting Gandrayda to stop the Space Pirate onslaught. Samus must now get back to her ship but before she can do that she (as in you) must venture through the under siege Olympus, taking out Space Pirate thugs and protecting various Galactic Federation (G.F.) soldiers.

The main query many gamers had with Metroid Prime 3: Corruption was whether or not the controls would lend to themselves well enough to the gameplay. I can confidently say they are amazing. It'll be hard to go back to dual-analog controls after playing an hour of Metroid Prime 3. The control option of Advanced Mode is recommended as it offers the highest sensitivity, and puts all the other options to shame. Unlike Red Steel whose bounding box (the area at which the game picks up the Wii remote in order to turn) took up the entire screen, MP3's bounding box is smaller allowing fast maneuvers and aiming. Aiming is quick and responsive, and aiming the remote towards an edge of the bounding box allows Samus to turn around to take a glimpse of her surroundings. B allows Samus to jump, and unlike previous Prime's Samus has almost all of her normal abilities save for a few. Samus can use the double jump immediately. The C button on the nunchuk enables the feminine bounty hunter to enter the always handy morph ball mode. By holding the minus button down and pointing the Wii remote at a sector of the screen enables Samus to equip one of three visors (two of which need to be found). Finally, the directional pad is used to unleash missiles onto various locks and unfortunate foes.

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Lock-on, and let loose on your foes!

The finale of the G.F.S. Olympus concludes with an epic boss battle with an impressive Berserker Lord. He chucks a G.F. soldier through a command center window and to the floor below. Many of the boss battles and even enemies require certain strategies in defeating them. The scan visor works well in assisting players on the various weak spots of bosses and baddies alike. One boss will have you shooting at its joints, then while it's huddled to the floor you use the nunchuk to toss a grapple onto his chest, pulling the armor of its protected chest, and then firing away at its exposed weak point. The boss battles are numerous, and most of them are all expertly crafted. A fantastic highlight of the first two hours of gameplay is on planet Norion where you're in a free-fall fight facing off against the diabolical leader of the Space Pirates, Meta-Ridley. Samus must avoid Ridley's attacks while trying to take down her foe before she crashes like a broken egg to the ground several meters below.

The first hours of Metroid Prime 3 feel very much like Halo. However, as you touch down for the first time on planet Bryyo, you realize that this IS first and foremost a Metroid game. Exploration is key, and sure, you'll be intercepted by bosses and Space Pirate battles, but there's a profusion of hidden passages to discover, pickups (100 of them) from missile expansions to energy tanks to gather, and new armor upgrades to equip Samus with. Favorites return like the spider ball and grapple beam which allows Samus not only to swing across certain chasms but also pull the shields directly out of the hands of her enemies. Like Super Metroid, all of the beams and missile power-ups stack on one another, so there's no need to switch between enhancements like in past Metroid games.

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Samus' all-new P.E.D. suit.

After Norion, Samus will find herself equipped an entirely new suit-- the P.E.D. (Phazon Enhancement Device) which will allow her to sacrifice the energy in one of her energy tanks and enter Hyper Mode. This increases her reflexes and heightens her shots with deadly Phazon energy. Use the mode too long, and Samus will become corrupted. Stay corrupted enough to let your meter fill, and it's game over for you and Ms. Aran. The game can become quite easy if the player continually spams Hyper Mode to take out foes, but thankfully Retro has included two other difficulty levels in the form of Veteran (for seasoned Metroid adventurers) and the deadly Hyper difficulty.

Not one to wish to stay out of the spotlight for yet another Metroid title, Samus' gunship plays a more vital role in this sequel. Samus can dock it at one of the various locations on the five main areas of the game. She can also use it to lift heavy objects in one area, and place them in another to unblock her path. Ship missile expansions can be used when in the ship command visor to lock onto an enemy and unleash a flurry of missiles from the gunship itself. Very cool addition, though I never found a real reason to do so.

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The enemies are masterfully designed...

The atmosphere of the Metroid games continues to astound me. It's honestly all in the immersive details from scanning the foliage of Bryyo to learn if it prefers light or dark to discovering why those gears on Elysia stopped functioning. Even the graphical details are something to marvel at, and my hat's off to Retro Studios for creating yet another living, breathing universe to explore. The music is top-notch and provides subtle ambiance when you're journeying through an ancient sky world to the wonderful music of fighting alongside G.F. soldiers. Did I mention that the voice acting (yes, there IS voice acting) is expertly and professionally done? This game's atmosphere had me at hello.

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...As are the gorgeous environments.

Additionally, something gamers may also notice are these colorful icons which pop up when a new creature or lore is scanned or a boss is defeated. These can be used to purchase items in the Extras menu such as tracks from the game's atmospheric soundtrack, concept art, and even a screenshot tool which you can use to send photos of the game to people on your Wii friends list. You can also send friend vouchers to those on your Wii list to give them tokens otherwise unavailable to them.

My first playthrough on the normal setting clocked in at about fourteen hours with all pickups attained. Then there's the Veteran and Hyper Mode difficulties to play through as well as purchasing everything in the Extras menu. There isn't any form of multiplayer, but by the same token Metroid was never intended to be a multiplayer experience. Metroid Prime Hunters could have been a new IP with guns for instance, but Metroid-- a fan favorite-- was chosen instead. The lack of multiplayer (even though it was abysmal in Echoes) may disappoint some fans unfortunately, but I was abundantly pleased that it wasn't there all the same.

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Grab on, and hold on tight!

Metroid Prime is a series that continues to innovate. Though the trilogy has come to a satisfying conclusion, the games will continue to inspire a legacy of gamers both young and old, new and experienced. Metroid Prime proved that Metroid can work in 3-D, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes proved that maybe dark and light worlds aren't good for EVERY Nintendo franchise, and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption has now proven that FPS-styled games can and do work (wonderfully) on the Wii. The graphics are beautiful and atmospheric, the music and sound design are fantastic, the story is tied up well, and there's enough gameplay to keep any gamer satisfied. Metroid Prime 3 is THE reason to purchase a Wii if you haven't done so already. A great game for a system of mostly lackluster releases.

Overall: 9.5/10

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Super Mario Galaxy (Wii) Review

This week we are steering clear from the negative and accentuating the positive. All this week I'll be posting the best of the best games I've reviewed leading up to the 100th review this Friday. Let's start with my pick for best game of this current generation.


Out of This World

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The Nintendo and Mario faithful have constantly been clamoring for a worthy successor to the platforming revolution that was Super Mario 64. Super Mario Sunshine, while good, was a drastic departure from what made Mario 64 so fantastic. Not only did you have a goofy story with questionable voice acting, but you also had the not-so-welcomed addition of F.L.U.D.D, making some platforming challenges largely easier. Many would have just had an entire game of bonus levels (those sections where Mario platformed in a linear fashion without F.L.U.D.D.'s assistance. Well, Mario faithful, consider Mario's newest effort not only that wish come true, but I would go as far to say that this is that Mario 64 successor you've been salivating for.

Let's get the weakest link out of the way first-- the story. Although if you're playing a Mario platformer for its story, you probably turn to Final Fantasy for fashion tips. Every century a mystical comet flies over the Mushroom Kingdom, releasing a myriad of colorful star bits which the Toads would gather up, bring them to the castle, and create Power Stars from them. You probably know the rest from here. Peach sends Mario a letter inviting him to the Star Festival, Bowser and friends interrupt the festivities, and Peach gets kidnapped yet again while Mario gets propelled into the emptiness of space. A cute and cuddly star being known as Luma wakes Mario up on a spherical planetoid, you learn the basics of the game, and meet up with a mysterious entity in Rosalina, the ruler of Super Mario Galaxy's hub world, the observatory. It's this observatory where all the galaxies-- the levels of the game-- are accessed from. However, only one dome is open to you at the beginning of the game. Each dome has four to six galaxies available, and by obtaining more Power Stars, you can reach further away galaxies. Almost every dome concludes with a boss stage. By beating down the boss which occupies the stage, you'll uncover a Grand Star-- six in all. These Grand Stars light up darkened areas of the Comet Observatory, allowing you to enter even more domes with even more galaxies.

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Bowser's back, and he's causing trouble yet again.

There's fifteen main galaxies-- i.e. ones with at least five stars in them, and worry not, dear reader. There's plenty of variety, challenges to complete, stars to snatch, and bosses to battle. There's far more contrasting locales than Super Mario Sunshine offered. The first two galaxies, Good Egg and Honeyhive are pretty much your tutorial levels filled with simple platforming elements and few actual challenges. However, straight off the bat both levels feel contrastingly different to one another. Good Egg is full of spherical planets such as a giant capsule, small meteorites, and other planetoids. Every planet in Super Mario Galaxy has its own gravity. There's a lot to play around in with Super Mario Galaxy. Just don't think you can jump off every platform freely and all willy-nilly. Some sections have black holes that will suck Mario up if he missteps, costing him an extra life. On the other galaxy, Honeyhive, you'll come across a kingdom of friendly bees under attack by savage beetles. While Good Egg was segmented in its construction, Honeyhive isn't as split up. There's a main overworld area where Mario can experiment with a new power up, there's a swing to play on, and Mario can bring back a personal favorite maneuver of mine, the wall jump. Now that's just the first two galaxies. There's thirteen others as well including a blistering volcano, a floating battleship, a garden full of gusty winds, and a sweltering desert, to run off a quick amount.

Each star challenge you come across is vastly different from the last. You'll seldom start in the same location in a given galaxy's challenge. This may put off some gamers more complacent with Super Mario 64's style of exploration to uncover a star they didn't even know existed yet, but this most linear approach feels a lot more like a typical Mario game. There's not as much journeying, but this is made up by the sheer amount of content and platforming action Super Mario Galaxy provides players. One challenge you'll lure a Bullet Bill into a locked cage, releasing a star, while with another you'll be skating on lava (more on that later) to reach a star. There's not only the stars set in stone for you to find either. You'll uncover secret stars if you look hard enough. The level design present is some of the finest in this industry... seriously. You'll just open your mouth in awe in most levels.

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One of my personal favorite galaxies, Gusty Garden Galaxy.

Then there's the challenge galaxies. These are usually one star only galaxies, and these will test your mettle for sure. One galaxy will have you riding the back of a manta ray where correct tilts of the Wii remote will be the decision in whether you complete the race or fall to your doom. Another will have you holding the Wii remote straight up vertical, using it like a lever to roll the ball Mario stands atop of to the goal. There's also a galaxy where you'll use the pointer on the Wii remote to guide a bubble Mario's inside of to safety among a hazardous obstacle course. Then there's your traditional levels with normal platforming escapades.

Once you reach a certain point in Super Mario Galaxy you'll be able to uncover comets that hover over certain galaxies-- each coming in a different color. Some have you challenge a shadowy doppelganger of yourself to a footrace, another will have you do a speed run of a star, a daredevil run of a boss or level (one-hit and you're gone), or a faster-moving version of a challenge.

Don't forget those boss battles either. While most are on the easy side, they're all well-crafted and fun to face off against. One of my favorites being the battle with Megaleg to acquire the second Grand Star. It's a very cool concept only hampered by how short it is. Why couldn't you have used the rule of threes with this boss, too?! Other encounters will have you chucking Koopa shells at an old hag in the form of a Magikoopa, ground pounding the back of an overgrown beetle, and swinging Boo Bombs into the face of a rocky menace named Bouldergeist. There's not just returning bosses either, you'll come across many familiar enemies that took a vacation on Super Mario Sunshine (though you will find Cataquacks are back). There's Magikoopas, Koopa Troopas, Goombas, Cheep Cheeps, Bullet Bills, Pokeys, Chain Chomps, and Piranha Plants to name some for you.

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Megaleg goes boom.

In addition to the galaxies, enemies, and bosses are the staple of most Mario games-- the power-ups. And there's plenty of them, too. The first you'll probably uncover is Bee Mario which does the impossible to guess task of transforming Mario into a bee who can cling to walls covered in honey and climb them like... well... a bee. Additionally, Bee Mario can hover for a limited amount of time in the air to reach higher up platforms that normal Mario might have difficulty accessing. Then there's Boo Mario which turns Mario into one of those spooky specters. Boo Mario can float in the air as well as pass through bars with a shake of the Wii remote. Oh, and you'll also turn on a lot of the other Boos sexually, too. Seriously. Unfortunately this power-up isn't used as much as I would have liked. Regardless, there's also the Ice Flower which allows Mario to temporarily run on water, wall-jump between waterfalls, and skate on lava with ease. The Fire Flower comes alive into the 3-D era of Mario games giving Mario the ability to shoot out fireballs (shake the Wii remote) to incinerate enemies and light torches to solve simple puzzles. Finally, there's Spring Mario which can be a pain to control, but it helps to reach extra high places that a normal bounce wouldn't be able to reach.

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The setting might have changed, but the goal of collecting stars stays the same.

But what else about the Wii remote? So many games on the Wii have already been butchered or made less entertaining due to poor motion control implementation. Thankfully, Super Mario Galaxy's motion controls not only work, but they're needed, too. Try grabbing onto a pull star effortlessly with just a standard controller. You'll shake the Wii remote to perform a number of functions such as initiating a spin attack to knock a foe into dizziness or flipping a switch to change the flow of gravity. You'll shake the remote to catch shells thrown at you and then shake the remote to toss them back at an enemy. Launch stars are the vessels that shoot you on a guided path to each of your destinations. Jump up into one and shake to be launched.

You'll definitely come across the multicolor concoctions known as Star Bits, too. By pointing at the screen with the Wii remote, you can gather them swiftly. Not only does fifty earn you a 1-Up, but you'll need them to feed to hungry Lumas so they'll transform into new planets for you to trek on and galaxies for you to enter. Coins are still around, so don't worry. However, these serve more as health for Mario now than the annoying collect 100 to earn a star-- there's seldom 100 coins in a galaxy to collect anyway. Seeing as Mario only gets three hits until he's KO'd, you're going to need them.

Regardless, even if you die there's a plethora of 1-Ups placed throughout Super Mario Galaxy-- pretty much too many 1-Ups. Playing through the game twice, I never even came close to reaching a Game Over screen. Maybe if there were less 1-Ups so methodically placed everywhere and so easily earned by gathering Star Bits, this wouldn't be a problem. That isn't to say though that you won't die a lot. There's some galaxies that can be quite the handful.

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Familiar foes abound in the many galaxies of Mario.

After reaching 60 stars you'll be able to face off in a final confrontation with the boss of the game. Yep. Only 60. Half of the 120 stars available. This means that some gamers can just beat the game, and then forget about completing it to 100% as most casual gamers most likely will which is a disappointment. Fortunately, there is an awesome bonus for completing the game with all 120 stars which I shall not spoil, but long time Mario fans will know it's worth it.

Super Mario Galaxy is technically the most impressive Wii game. Graphically there's tons of "next-gen" effects incorporated. There's impressive lighting effects, terrific draw distance, and beautiful backgrounds, detailed models, and it all runs at a solid 60 FPS. Also, the soundtrack is almost fully orchestrated, and it simply sounds superb. You could seriously consider Galaxy to be a contender for a first-gen 360 which is either a great compliment to the developers or a mean insult to the Wii itself.

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Bee Mario is one of many new forms Mario can take in Mario Galaxy.

After eleven years Super Mario Galaxy very much is the true successor to Super Mario 64. In fact, I'd say it's the 3-D incarnation of Super Mario Bros. 3-- armed with airships and all. Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario 64 were revolutionary for their time. Super Mario Bros. 2 and Super Mario Sunshine tried something different, were still great games, but still have their share of haters. Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario Galaxy took what made the originals (SMB and 64) and made them even better. Playing a Galaxy level is like playing a level of Super Mario Bros. 3. There's still some exploration, but not as much as 64. It's much more linear than 64, but simultaneously it feels much better than 64. I haven't had this much fun with a video game for the longest time. It just has so much charm and fun going for it. You know you got a Wii for Super Mario Galaxy. You know you want a good game. Pick up Super Mario Galaxy now. Do it. Thank me later.

[SuperPhillip Says]

Story: During the Star Festival, Bowser's armada assaults the party, captures Peach and her castle, and whisks her away into the far reaches of space.

Graphics: The Wii's best, and even on a weaker system it looks great.

Gameplay: Almost perfect. There's some camera issues, but otherwise it's sharp and everything you wanted out of Super Mario Sunshine.

Sound: Phenomenal orchestrated music full of familiar themes and brilliant new ones as well. Voice acting is limited.

Replay Value: 120 stars my first run was 15 hours. Then there's an unlockable that will make you want to replay the game all over again.

Overall: 9.75/10 - Game of the year? Maybe a contender for best game of all time.

Very Cool Wario Land: Shake It! (Wii) Youtube Video

Is anyone picking this baby up in the near future? I can't decide between this and de Blob! Aw, heck, I'll just try to get both! Here's a very creative marketing ploy for Wario Land: Shake It! I was truly impressed.

Monday, September 22, 2008

SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs - Hey, Now. Mega Man 9 Came Out Today. Why Am I Not Playing That? Why Does My Backlog Laugh at Me Like That?


It's Monday yet again. Why does it keep coming back? How does it do that? What evil sorcery is at work here? But I digress. There's probably too many videos on the homepage, so either click on one of the direct links or simply click on this blog entry title to get the five newest VGMs by themselves. If not, then there's even more sorcery at work here! And with that out of the way, let's get right into it!


We go from an underrated Zelda game (see volume 160) to an underrated game in general. It's DK: King of Swing for the Game Boy Advance. Find a copy on Amazon, download a ROM, I don't care-- just play this wonderful game (then buy it for yourself).

I ripped this track myself for your listening pleasure. I hope you like it. It's played first during the level, Necky's Canyon.

This twofer is from the Saturn and PC versions of Sonic 3D Blast. No matter how you slice it though, the game wasn't that good. However, the Saturn and PC soundtracks were. What I have to share this volume are the two themes of the very first zone in the game, Green Grove. This is the mellow act I followed by the very awesome act II theme.

This next song is morphinominal! It comes from the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers The Movie video game for the Super Nintendo. It plays during the third level, where you fight putties while snowboarding down a snowy slope and eventually on the chilly waters of a river. It was a fun beat 'em up for the time.

Super Mario RPG was released onto the Wii Virtual Console on Labor Day, and Europe received it a week or two earlier than that. Let's celebrate with a track from the soundtrack! "Hello, Happy Kingdom" is the theme of the Mushroom Kingdom composed by Kingdom Hearts composer, Yoko Shimomura-- my second favorite Yoko behind Yoko Kanno.

this twofer comes from a series that's yet to premier on my list of favorites. Well, no longer as we have a theme from Kirby's Adventure. First is the original NES track followed by the remix for Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

Direct Linkage

Direct Link - Necky's Canyon
Direct Link - Green Grove Zone
Direct Link - Frozen Mountains
Direct Link - Hello, Happy Kingdom
Direct Link - Butter Building

I hope you enjoyed this edition of my favorite VGMs! As always, we'll see you next week, and if you want to skip ahead to future installments/vids, feel free to check out my channel!