Saturday, November 8, 2008

Bond Has Infiltrated SuperPhillip Central...

...And he just tried to snap my neck for no reason at all!! I'm sorry, George Lazenby, that you were only in one Bond film, but that doesn't mean you can attempt to kill me because of it! Anyway, 007: Quantum of Solace hits North American theaters this Friday (let's not talk about the video game, okay?) To celebrate, I have a special entry for today. As those who've been following SuperPhillip Central for awhile now, you know that music is a great passion of mine as my favorite VGMs and such show. For today, I'd like to count down my top five Bond themes of all time-- y'know, opening themes like Live and Let Die and the like. Perhaps you and I share some favorites.

5. Goldfinger

Shirley Bassey delivers her first of three fantastic vocal performances with Goldfinger, filled with powerful brass flares, perfect for the film's namesake villain.

4. A View to A Kill

Duran Duran performs this very 80s theme. I mean, what other time would proudly use synth so prominently? Regardless, it's an awesome credit sequence both in visuals and sound. When the chorus kicks in, you know you're listening to a great song.

3. Tomorrow Never Dies

Sheryl Crow displays her very impressive vocal skills with steamy lyrics, a sultry voice, dynamic range, and a commanding chorus. Couple her brilliant voice with a wonderful guitar and orchestra, and you have one formidable song.

2. You Know My Name

Chris Cornell kicks this song into high gear with his rough and stylistic vocals. When the opening guitar starts up, it becomes apparent that this isn't your ordinary Bond theme for your ordinary Bond. No, it's a brand new style for a brand new Bond. Did I mention the visuals that accompany the song kick ass?

1. The Man With the Golden Gun

This theme and You Know My Name were neck-and-neck until the very end. I think both 1 and 2 on this list are interchangeable. I like them both pretty much the same for different reasons. Lulu from To Sir With Love fame sings this theme, a very catchy, efficacious, villainous-sounding piece.

Honorable mentions include: Live and Let Die, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, and The World is Not Enough.

Dishonorable mentions include: Die Another Day (which I can happily tolerate now... and almost like) and the Quantum of Solace theme. Horrible singing... Just horrible... Everything else is nice though in the song.

Turnabout Text Trouble: B-K: Nuts & Bolts

Remember this past week when I posted a story regarding how the small text in Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts would not be addressed as it'd be "too costly"? Well, it appears that this issue will in fact be resolved for us SDTV owners. Here's the official blog post from the Banjo blog via Microsoft PR:
“It has come to our attention that people are experiencing subtitle [dialogue text] readability issues with Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts on Standard Definition TVs. We would like to assure you that contrary to earlier reports, we are aware of the issue and currently working on a title update to be released within the next 30 days that will fix it for those with Standard Definition TVs. We’re committed to ensuring all fans of the franchise are able to have the best experience possible with Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts.”
Ah, you know they're serious when Microsoft PR steps in. Good news for the majority of the gaming world!

Sonic Unleashed (PS3, 360, Wii, PS2): New Trailers

Apparently, Sega Japan has delayed the release of the 360 and PS3 versions of Sonic Unleashed to spring of next year. The reason? To polish the quality of the game. The Wii version is still planned to come out this month in Japan. Now one can take this of two ways: 1) the Wii version is polished well enough since it was made by a different developer, or 2) the HD versions matter more than the Wii version, so who cares how polished the unimportant Wii version is? We'll find out which assumption is correct later on, I imagine. There's no word if the Japanese delay will affect the West, and by that, I mean whether or not the Western release dates will be affected and not whether or not the American economy will be worsened further by this important news.

PS3, 360 - "Holoska" Trailer

This trailer shows off yet another new level, the icy tundra of Holoska. In Soviet Holoska, overused jokes like this one are still funny!

In Soviet Holoska, direct link clicks YOU! Dammit! I did one anyway!

Wii, PS2 - "Adabat" Trailer

Am I becoming complacent? I honestly think that the graphics in this version are pleasing. They're not orgasmic like the HD versions, but that's to be expected. Of course, a game that would be created from the ground up for the Wii like Black Knight (the Sonic game, not the Martin Lawrence "comedy") and Secret Rings would look much better than one ported from the PS2.

Direct Like Here For Us Complacent Ilk

Nonetheless, I'm certainly hyped for Sonic Unleashed for both versions, HD and SD. I've only been absolutely burned by one 3D Sonic, the 2006 travesty. I enjoyed Sonic Heroes, and I liked Shadow the Hedgehog's game, too. Will Sonic Unleashed get the tough-luck (critic-wise) hedgehog his groove back, or is this yet another chapter in the fabled Sonic Cycle?

Friday, November 7, 2008

10 LittleBigPlanet Levels You Have To Play

This is not my list as I've yet to sink my sack(boy) into the world of online levels, so this comes from GamesRadar. I'm just going to post some of the most intriguing and creative picks from the list, but be sure to check the rest out as they're all works of genius. I hope my levels become that entertaining when I put my level design hat atop my head later on!

For those who don't own LittleBigPlanet, at least you can see what you're missing out on. ...Hm? That doesn't make you feel better? Oh. Well... have you seen my Wii Music review yet? There you go. All better, right?

Arc Rise Fantasia (Wii) Screens

For those first seeing this title, this is an upcoming Wii RPG courtesy of Marvelous Interactive. Arc Rise Fantasia is due out some time next year in Japan.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Pokémon Election

Fellow Friend, World 1-1's October Reviews

It was an all Wiiware month of reviews for World 1-1 full of positively reviewed games. Which one do you think scored the best? I will divulge that the lowest review got an 8.5 whereas the highest received a 9.5. Did you guess correctly?

October World 1-1 Reviews

Mega Man 9

Art Style: ORBIENT

World of Goo

As for SuperPhillip Central, I'm not too big on downloadable games since there's too many retail ones to worry about! However, I will be reviewing Mega Man 9 this month, so look forward to that. If you haven't checked out our affiliates including World 1-1, whatchu waiting for?

Ouch. Bad news for people planning to play the new Banjo on an SDTV...

About the hard-to-read text in-game via George K. from Rare:

Originally Posted by MicVlaD:
George (from Rare) already posted in this thread that they're looking into the text issue for the retail version, so there's a chance the size will be increased in the final game
Unfortunately, this is an issue that doesn't look like it will get changed. I don't want to bore you with the technical side of things (I really don't understand it all myself), but the long and the short of it is that the text you see in the demo will be the same as that which you find in the retail version of the game.

I'm sorry that we weren't able to address this issue as nothing would please us more than turning all your complaints into gleeful responses, but it's simply something that's too expensive in terms of time, resources and money to alter.

Please don't kill me. This *doesn't* mean we don't care about or respect the community. This *does* mean that, when all's said and done, we're only human.

Direct Link to Post

Ouch. That's definitely going to bring the review score down. What a severe oversight. This game is supposed to appeal to casuals (whatever the hell those are), yet even a big gamer like me doesn't play on an HDTV. I find it hard to believe that the majority of the Wii crowd plays on HDTVs either... Seems like developers still don't get it, and that's just truly insulting. How dense can you possibly be to overlook something like that? It's as if no one in Q&A played the game on anything smaller than a 20 inch screen...

Gears of War 2 (X360) - Pics of All Maps

You can view the full, detailed, official thread here. Slow connections may want to skip it, however. Will you be there Friday for Emergence Day?

Deadly Creatures (Wii) - Hunt or Be Hunted Trailer

Deadly Creatures becomes increasingly larger and larger on my radar. This trailer shows some of the more visceral moments of the game. Some perhaps may even be considered disturbing to some, so beware! After de Blob's success, I hope Deadly Creatures does well for THQ also.

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts (X360) U.S. Ad

Color me surprised. Microsoft is actually promoting a game from Rare! What we have here is the thirty-second commercial for the upcoming Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. It really conveys what the game's all about in that short amount of time. Some folks have been put off by the recent demo, but my opinion wasn't as bleak.

Monday, November 3, 2008

SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs - They Are Not U.S. Citizens, So They Cannot Vote Edition

Tomorrow is the American presidential election, and not only are U.S. citizens excited-- so are many of the world's denizens. After all, we don't need another Bush to muck up the world even further, right? Unfortunately for my favorite VGMs, they are unavailable to vote as they are not legal U.S. citizens. It's all right however as they thought it was Clinton versus Dole this time around. I gotta keep my favorite VGMs up to date on world news.... Nonetheless, let's see what's up for your listening pleasure this week!


I don't know what it is about this song. It's infectious. You have the rough vocals of a Japanese woman trying her best to rape the English language, and you have a pretty good beat to it. It's "Birthday Cake" from Jet Set Radio Future for the original Xbox-- also available for B/C on the Xbox 360.

This track comes from Mega Man: Network Transmission for the Gamecube. It was quite the difficult game, but if you persevered, you'd be rewarded with a great time. This track takes place in Colorman's Stage-- the Game Center.

It always made me curious why the creators shied away from using Clownman as the name for any of the jester-looking Navis. Well, at least they didn't use the American dub's name of Wackoman. Seriously... Wackoman? Is this a Navi or Michael Jackson?

One of my greatest gaming regrets was never owning a Dreamcast. Unfortunately and fortunately (if that makes any sense), SEGA dropped out of the console business instead deciding to be a third party developer. This allowed Sonic Adventure 2 to hit a Nintendo system-- something that probably was the first or second sign of the gaming apocalypse. I really enjoyed SA2 a lot. It was imperfect, but it was nowhere near the current abomination of the Sonic name in Sonic 2006.

This song sets the tone for the fast-paced City Escape level. Cheesy to some, awesome to others. I get a smile on my face while listening to it-- or at least a happy feeling.

We go from one famed mascot to another with Mario and Super Mario Galaxy. I'm saying it now. It's one of my top ten games of all time. There you go. It's near-perfect. And the soundtrack? Just one of the best period. Great melodies backed by an incredible orchestra. Here's "Battlerock". It's not a stretch, but it's the main theme of the Battlerock Galaxy.

This track comes from the very charming and fun, albeit easy, Super Princess Peach for the Nintendo DS. I've taken the liberty of posting both versions as for every area in the game, there's two different songs that eventually play. These songs play throughout the second world, Hoo's Wood. Hoo's Wood... Certainly not mine since it's much longer. *rimshot* Yeah, I wish.

Direct Linkage:

Direct Link - Birthday Cake
Direct Link - Colorman's Stage
Direct Link- City Escape
Direct Link - Battlerock
Direct Link - Hoo's Wood 1 & 2

If you aren't old enough to vote, then exercise your right to listen to check out my Youtube channel as it's there that you can find all of my past and future volumes! Until next week, we bid you adieu!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Wii Music (Wii) Review

Our first review this lovely November is a controversial title of the most controversial nature! It's controversial because it has the hardcore gamer upset! Oh no! Let's see how bad this game, Wii Music, really is.

B-But I'm a hardcore gamer! I'm not supposed to like this!

At E3 2006, in the grand stage of the Kodak Theater, Shigeru Miyamoto opened up Nintendo's press conference, conducting an imaginary orchestra. However, instead of a traditional conductor's baton, he wielded a Wii remote. This was the very first display of the final of Nintendo's big four casual titles, Wii Music. Fast forward three years later and at the same theater that Wii Music was introduced to the world, it would be demonstrated for the very first time.... and boy, was it a horrible showing. This left a very bad taste in the mouths of gamers, and rightfully so. What was shown was essentially four folks, Miyamoto included, shaking and gesturing with the Wii remote in a random fashion while MIDI music played. That's it? It took three years to develop that? By that time, many wrote the game off completely. "It's trash. It's shovelware. Nintendo has abandoned us." Now while some chose to completely ignore any new videos and presentations or decided that the new information was garbage no matter what, others watched later clips, becoming increasingly intrigued by the demonstrations after the botched E3 conference. Now that the game is out, the verdict will be in. Will Wii Music be music to your ears, or will it kill the very fabric of gaming as we know it?!

Arsenio Hall leads the death of gaming.

Let's throw some myths out the window immediately, shall we? Wii Music should not be compared to Rock Band or Guitar Hero at all. Those two series focus on appropriate button presses or strikes at the right time, and you're scored based off your performance. Wii Music is much different in its approach. It's more about jamming alone or with friends and creating music-- either completely utilizing improvisational tricks off a given melody or giving a well-known piece of music your own flavor. At no point during jamming does the game say "you suck, game over, end yourself" like most gamers are accustomed to. It's up to your own ear whether or not you were good or not. Your performance does not judge you: you judge your performance. The second myth I'd like to dispel comes from the ill-conceived E3 2008 demonstration. It seemed to many, myself included, that all you did to play a song was randomly waggle, and the song automatically played. This is not so. However, you can waggle all you want if that's how you want to play. It's your opportunity to understand Wii Music, waggle it away like so many reviewers if you wish, or you can actually try to play some actual music.

To further elaborate on that point, Wii Music boots up and introduces you to the muppet-like maestro, Sebastian Tute, who serves as the guide into the magical and musical world of Wii Music. He immediately introduces the four main ways of playing the various instruments. For things like piano or drums, you use both the Wii remote and nunchuk to strike notes or beats. There's also alternations on that. For instance, holding the analog stick when playing the piano unleashes a pleasing glissando-- a great flourish for the end of pieces or musical phrases. The second form of control is guitar. You hold the nunchuk up like the neck of a guitar and strum with the Wii remote. This is the only posture that didn't work 100% correctly. Sometimes when strumming, I'd play more than one note at a time. I corrected this by striking down gently as if I were playing the piano. It was cheating, but my performance was much greater for it, all right? The third control method is that of the violin. Same thing as the guitar, but instead of gesturing like you're holding the Wii remote and nunchuk as if you're playing in a band with Sebastian Bach, you hold the controls like you're playing in an orchestra for Johann Sebastian Bach. That is, you hold the nunchuk out from your body and on the same height as your neck, and you use the Wii remote to bow left and right to play. Finally, the trumpet-style control only needs the Wii remote to play. You hold it up to your face like you're playing the actual instrument, and use the 1 and 2 buttons to play notes. Don't worry, you don't have to blow unless you're fantasizing about something else. Holding the Wii remote at a high and low angle determines the volume of your playing.

There are ten venues for your music to take center stage on.

After playing Tute's tutorial to introduce players to Wii Music, it's off to the Jam Session mode where the majority of one's time will be invested into. At the very start there's but a few songs to play with the one used in the majority of Sebastian's lessons being Twinkle Twinkle Little Star-- obviously used since it's a piece that everyone should know. After all, Mozart composed 12 variations of said song, so he must have known something we don't, right? The track selection at first is minimal, but by playing more lessons, creating songs, jamming, and such, more tunes will be unlocked-- up to an admirable fifty songs. These songs range from public domain, folk songs, pop tunes, and even some Nintendo tracks, too. It's the same thing with instruments, too. There are a modest sampling to choose from at first, but as you progress, more unlock including mix-tables, NES sound effects, mouth harp, and more to spice up your musical creations.

To play a jam session, you first choose the song, performance venue-- which there are ten after all is said and done, and lastly, the part of the song you want to play. There's melody, harmony, chords, bass, and two percussion parts-- a total of six musicians in all at a time which three other real-life players can join you as (great fun, by the way). You can add and remove parts, choose the tempo of the song, change instruments, and so forth. Then comes the actual performance. Contrary to popular belief, there's some creative freedom involved here. Now, you can opt to have the musical-flow guide on the screen which is a simplified sheet of music with no pitch values, just when the notes come in. You can follow that to get the feel of the piece, or you can just improvise the entire piece, adding or removing notes here and there as you play to perform an entirely different sounding melody than given. You have no means of setting the pitch of each note you play, but each improvised note is set so you won't be off-key.

Choose a part. Hey... that writing? Totally Danish.

After the song ends, you can select to watch a replay of your performance, change instruments, or record a video. By changing instruments, you can actually select a different part to play which will combine with your previous play session to create a brand new performance. You can do this for all six parts, so you playing the melody on acoustic guitar, then playing harmony of harmonica, then playing chords on banjo, followed by playing percussion on drums, and finally playing rapper for bass will all add up to a very unique performance by you to watch. At the tale end, you can record your hard work into a music video, make a cover for your new album by placing your Miis along a jacket, changing the frame and background, and then allowing friends both close and nearby to watch your videos. The Nintendo Wi-Fi connection which uses your Wii friend code allows you to share your work with other musicians worldwide. A really cool thing to do is something called overdubbing. You can add your own performances to a video sent by a friend, and send it back. You can keep exchanging the video with each others' new performances to create an entirely new video. It's very cool, and it's as if you're virtually playing with a faraway friend. What I would have liked to see in Wii Music though is the ability to jam live with folks online. This would have added even more replay value to the package.

With enough creativity and knowledge of the basics of music, you can create some very impressive variations of the fifty tracks in the game. It's really rewarding after putting an hour or two into a song to have it come out as your own pleasantly-sounding creation. It's honestly hilarious and very entertaining to put your Miis into the game, too-- especially if you have rather humorous ones. There's nothing like the Captain Falcon Five rocking out with their version of F-Zero's Mute City or the cast of Family Guy presenting their tribute to La Bamba with diabolical baby Stewie smacking the tambourine against his side.

The final touch of a jam session is concocting a jacket cover for
your new music video.

Those who insist that all you do in Wii Music is to waggle at random will most likely assert that everyone's result will sound poor. This isn't so. Wii Music is an interesting specimen because it really requires the player to have a good ear. Without that, a person is most likely to just swing their arms around without understanding melody or rhythm. Even with knowledge of that, if the same person lacks a good sense of rhythm, it will make their playing suffer greatly. In that regard, Wii Music is actually quite complex for a casual title. It may be too difficult for some players to fully explore and play something that they can be proud of if they lack a sense of good melody and rhythm. However, that's not too much of a problem since the tutorials are quite helpful, teaching the player the basics all the way to learning various musical styles like rock, pop, and classical-- each with their own rhythm and beat patterns on a given song.

To cap off Wii Music is a collection of three mini-games. Wii Maestro has you conducting an orchestra by waving the Wii remote to determine the tempo of a given piece. Wave to a crawl, and the symphony will play to a crawl. Wave like Jim Carrey on acid, and the symphony will play like Jim Carrey on acid (see: really fast). The goal is to have as steady a performance as possible. Secondly, there's Handbell Harmony which is the closest thing you'll get to something like Rock Band in Wii Music. Each of the four musicians holds two handbells each of a different color. When a colored bell cycles over the yellow line, the player with that handbell must shake the hand that holds the bell. Both of these mini-games are scored out of 100 points, and both only have five songs to play which seems like a blown opportunity to me. FInally, there's Pitch Perfect which test your tone recognition through eight individual levels with a series of ten questions each. These questions range from which Mii is playing the highest pitch to finding the pair of Miis playing the same pitch to arranging three Miis out of six that will play the given three-part harmony. These games reward new instruments as well as new songs, so not only are they fun to play but they reward the player.

If anything sucks about Wii Maestro,
it's that damn Gamespot logo.

Sound is the most important part in a music game, obviously, and it could definitely be better in Wii Music. I'm fine with using MIDI for playback on instruments, but there should have been a higher quality used. Pianos, acoustic guitars, flutes, clarinets, strings, and percussion sound adequate, but rock guitars, brass, and others sound "absolutely dreadful" as another music critic who would be a nobody without a certain "absolutely dreadful" show would say. Sound is to melody as graphics are to harmony. The graphics are pretty good actually. The animations of the various Miis are brilliant as seen by the numerous camera views during music videos. Not only will the Miis on your Wii console be able to appear on stage or in the main menu, but they'll also hang around at the various venues, in the crowd, walking by in the distance, and bopping their heads up and down. Yes, Ganondorf and Zelda CAN coexist as they sit on a bench together listening to Turkey in the Straw.

You can time all your bandmates
to leap into the air simultaneously.
"It's not the crack making us do this-- it's the heroin!"

It's very baffling to me the reviews of Wii Music. I mean, I knew game journalism was doing poorly, but I didn't know it was this pathetic. I don't know who to blame more: the mainstream review sites or the horde of hardcore gamers which they are forced to cater to. You can see this in various Wii news stories in the comment sections on sites where the Wii is hardly covered at all. "Wii has no games", "Wii sux", "Wii is for my grandma", etc. Those are the type of gamers your review sites cater to, and we wonder why game journalism isn't taken seriously by anyone. It was never a question about reviewers not getting Wii Music. It was a question about them not ever wanting to get Wii Music. Many people made up their mind about Wii Music at E3 2008. No matter any good news or interesting demos that popped up after. "Hey, this looks pretty good..." Then you have the hardcore gamer who doesn't want to eat crow saying as they hold their hands over their ears, "lalala! I cannot hear you!" Perhaps they were just looking for a reason to damn Nintendo for ever allowing casuals to enter their hobby. It's sort of like the older child thinking his parents won't give any love to him anymore because of the new baby. It's selfish and irrational regardless as that isn't the case of hardcore games dying out. It's just a really pathetic thing that those who latch onto Wii Music being bad, a waggle-fest, and whatnot are the ones who Gamespot, IGN, and so forth cater to. Then again, I'm probably a Nintendo apologist for actually liking Wii Music...

Wii Music is a brilliant experience which some will like and some will not. Hopefully those who don't like it actually gave the game a chance unlike so many others-- unprofessional and "professional" alike. In fact, there actually is a goal to be achieved in Wii Music: to successfully rethink what a video game can be. If that's not good enough for you, another goal is playing a performance that you can have fun doing and be proud of. My time creating a version of a song was like a time trial. When you're going for a great time in a time trial, you want to perform as well as possible. If you fudge up a turn by taking it too wide or hitting the inside corner, you retry your run. Same with Wii Music. If you don't play a part as well as you had hoped, you retry your run. Like any musical instrument, if you have no skill with it, it'll be a noisemaker. Same with Wii Music. For those that are interested in music-- both professionals, students (such as myself), and the casual listener-- there's enough content and entertainment here for you to come join the band. Even if you have a feigning interest, give the game a cheap rental, keep an open mind, try it out, and perhaps you, too, will be making musical masterpieces of your own with Wii Music.

[SuperPhillip Says]

Graphics: Good use of bloom during venues, and the Mii animations are off the charts.

Gameplay: Non-stop waggling randomly that is the end of gaming as we know it.

Sound: The MIDI quality leaves a lot to be desired. Some instruments sound better than others.

Replay Value: If the core concept is intriguing to you, you'll get a lot more out of Wii Music than those who do not feel the same.

Overall: 8.5/10 - I've been infected by the Wii Music virus. Delete program. Reboot. Reboot.