Friday, January 9, 2009

SuperPhillip: The Game - A Platforming Adventure Come to Life

LittleBigPlanet was SuperPhillip Central's Game of the Year 2008. Perhaps you love this gem, too! I've enjoyed the game enough that I've decided to create a series of levels-- a "game" if you will-- using LittleBigPlanet's expansive creation tools.

Just some quick history: my user name is based off the character I created in second grade as part of some creative project in school. Not the other way around. Since then, I've created multiple versions and mythos of the character. SuperPhillip: The Game will be a yearlong project of mine. I've completed an RPG featuring my character, so this isn't too big of a stretch to do.

The game will have six worlds of three levels each. Each third level will conclude with a boss battle featuring one of the many villains of the SuperPhillip universe. Each level has five prize bubbles that will unlock that level's challenge world-- a shorter, more challenging level-- sometimes a race, sometimes a survival challenge, sometimes a high score affair.

Level 0-1 The Warehouse

This level is the first of many, and it serves as the tutorial level. The information provided from SuperPhillip's friend, Dan, may seem elementary, but I'm making it so the game takes it that LittleBigPlanet doesn't even exist and that SuperPhillip: The Game is all the player has to learn these things. As it is its own game, I'm including everything that a retail game would have-- a coherent story, a tutorial to assist players, and loads of collectibles.

The Warehouse does not have anything to kill the player. I didn't want the tutorial level to have anything like that, but rest assured every other level definitely will. There are checkpoints in case for whatever you reason you get stuck (which you shouldn't since there's a way out of everything).

Unlike every other level, this one has six prize bubbles. The others will have five. They're usually well-hidden or hard to reach. It is a tutorial level, but there are definitely secrets to be found!

Please let me know what you think of the level. Remember that this level is the first of eighteen, so it is easy. It wouldn't be good design to make it tough or easy to die at the very first level.

1-1 Central City

Central City is the first story level of SuperPhillip: The Game! It's actually a two part level which I wasn't really planning, but I ran out of space-- not thermometer-wise but room-wise. There was nowhere left to build to the east. That was a blessing though because it allowed me to add so much detail to make the city come to life. Now this definitely filled the thermometer.

As with 0-1: The Warehouse, there are five hidden prize bubbles to collect. This earns you the sticker needed to reach the key. If you're just rushing through the level, you're not really doing it right. I've built my levels (excluding challenge levels) to encourage exploration. I hope you will look around.

If you own a PS3 and a copy of LittleBigPlanet, please try out my levels. You can find them under the name "SuperPhillip"!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

LittleBigPlanet (PS3) - Review

This is the first review of the new year, so why not start big (well... LittleBig)? Let's start with the game I crowned Game of the Year 2008: LittleBigPlanet. SPOILERS: It receives a great score. Let's gad on into the review, shall we?

ATTN: All Happy Gadders!!!

The platforming genre as a whole has declined since its hey day in the SNES/Genesis and PS1/N64 days. Nowadays it's a rare occurence for a platformer to get a lot of publicity much more viewed as the biggest holiday title for a console. That is exactly the case with LittleBigPlanet for the Playstation 3. However, this title's big selling point isn't exactly the running and jumping 2D fans of the genre crave. Oh, that type of exhilaration is inside the atmosphere of LittleBigPlanet, but it's the in-depth level creator that's generating most of the buzz. How does this selling point fare, and does the game stay true on its promises?

Inside LittleBigPlanet's little big package is a story mode filled with over forty Media Molecule made levels. These follow a simply story through an incredibly competent series of progressively more difficult levels. Additionally, there are bonus levels to unlock, too, which feature much shorter stages either racing to a goal to achieve as high a score as possible or trying to survive a small mini-game level as long as your Sackboy can persevere. The levels show a superb amount of brilliance-- especially later on-- that will definitely lend some inspiration to even the most creatively-inept players; more so to those who've dreamed of designing games since drawing level maps inside their notebook during elementary school history class.

These Mm-manufactured levels demand to be replayed as well. One is the loneliest number after all. Certain areas are only reachable with 1-to-3 other friends. You can play locally or hop online with a party of friends, a souffle of strangers, or somewhere in-between. Meanwhile, completionists will simply be addicted to finding and collecting all of the hidden goodies, prize bubbles, throughout the game's many levels. These prize bubbles give everyone in the player's party a special gift such as a costume piece for their Sackpeople or a material to be used in the game's level creator.

Make your world as charming or as revolting
as you like. It's your world after all.

Starting off in the story mode, the platforming action isn't all that complicated. Neither are the controls for that matter. Sackboy can run, grab and/or pull certain objects, and place stickers to activate events such as doors opening or a surprising surprise of prizes of the bubble variety. As the story progresses, the levels and their challenges become harder-- but not impossible-- to survive. It's one hit one kill for Sackboy. If Sackboy perishes and becomes a squashed Sackaccordion, a burnt pile of burlap, or an electrified mess, he'll be transported to the last checkpoint reached. If all lives are used up, he'll have to restart the level. Thankfully, each checkpoint refills his and your supply of lives, and most checkpoints are placed in logical locations-- usually right before and after a tricky section.

Predominantly, LittleBigPlanet is a 2D platformer. However, there are elements of 3D as Sackboy can transfer between three planes within the Z-axis. Usually the game will automatically transfer you if necessary-- say, you're going to leaping into the air from the lower first plane up to a higher second plane. Most of the time this is very welcomed, but the occasional slip-up can occur. Some players may also be put off by the floaty controls of Sackboy himself as they may be used to more tight controlling found in games like Mario and Mega Man. However, it's really nothing that can't be gotten used to at all.

I don't think this is what it meant when it said "high five".

The true selling point of LittleBigPlanet, however, is the ridiculously robust customization the game offers. Not only can you place stickers and decorations within your pod (your hub where you can select levels and view other options), but you can outfit your Sackboy as you see fit. At the beginning of your LBP experience, your closet of costumes will be rather scarce, but by playing through story mode you'll earn a whole wonderful wealth to your wardrobe. There's also already several downloadable costumes ranging from absolutely free to absolutely not. Of course, if you're not in the Style Network mood, you can just randomize the outfit for something of the hilariously tacky nature.

The biggest factor of customization is being able to design a truly comprehensive and detailed level. You start out with a gigantic blank template where any of your creations can fit inside. This is not be limited to just levels either. Perhaps you just made an awesome rocket that you want to save for another time. You can use the Capture Tool to copy your creation to use at any time via your Pop-It menu. You can even send to your friends or place it in a prize bubble for friends far and wide to collect within a given level of yours. Seeing that big blank space of level canvas can be overwhelming though. No worries as the game comes with a exhaustive list of tutorials telling you how to make objects swing, hang, spin, and speed off. You can create your own enemies, give them a movement pattern to follow such as following or ignoring the player, and setting their weak point as vulnerable or invulnerable. Combined with a variety of complex bits and bobs you can create some menacingly monstrous creations. There really is no limit to what you can do. If you can think it, there's probably a way to do it. It just takes creativity, a little patience, and a bit of feedback.

You can really shoot for the moon with
creature creation in this game.

Anything that you see throughout LittleBigPlanet's story mode can be replicated and made in any of your levels. Additionally, the various prize bubbles sprinkled and hidden in the game's already made levels provide you with more materials for building walls, platforms, and objects with, stickers to color in your levels, and various machines, bits, and bobs that were used in the story mode to be used in your own levels-- just in case you lack that engineer's touch. After putting the finishing touches on your marvelous masterpiece, you can publish it for the entire world to see, play, and be jealous of.

If level design isn't your forte, you can always check out the abundance of level creations within the community itself. The community is quite strong and has some extremely awe-inspiring levels. Sure, most are garbage, but you can sort those out easily via the game's search system. You can find the most favorited, the busiest, and/or the newest levels. There are truly some that even outdo Media Molecule's own creations. Some of these levels redefine what you can do with LittleBigPlanet's level creation system.

The levels become increasingly more difficult
during the story mode.
We're in the final world in this shot.

The world of LittleBigPlanet itself is extremely charming and a joy to watch in motion. Various lighting aspects allow levels to shine with the warm glow of sunset or the cold gaze of darkness. The soundtrack is compromised of lesser known licensed tracks as well as music composed specifically for the game. There's a sizable enough list of music for any type of level. Meanwhile, online still has problems, unfortunately. Lag in games with a party of 3 or 4 can get rather severe, the game's servers can act very finicky at times not allowing you to hop online, levels can take multiple attempts before it finally gets published, there's some glitches via creating levels, and there's an extreme amount of trophy levels. Even with those problems, online is still an enjoyable experience the majority of the time.

LittleBigPlanet most definitely isn't for everyone. It takes a good amount of work to create a worthwhile level, and most out there might not want to play this game to "work". However, there's enough content from fellow owners in the form of levels and objects to make a purchase justifiable. The story mode is fleshed out well, and playing with friends can be a hilarious and seldom frustrating experience. For those of us who doodled game ideas and maps inside our notebooks during school, this is the game for us. It's the most fun I've had with a game since Super Mario Galaxy (and we didn't even get to sleep together that night). For everyone else, it's a competent platforming escapade in a genre that needs as much support as possible. If it's fun you're looking for, LittleBigPlanet will sack it to you.

[SuperPhillip Says]

Gameplay: The floaty controls may take a little getting used to, but it doesn't ruin the experience of the game by any stretch of the imagination. The levels are expertly designed and fun to play over and over again.

Replay Value: Just playing through the story mode will take six hours, and that is without finding all of the hidden extras. I don't think I need to explain the time someone can spend creating levels, do I?

Presentation: LittleBigPlanet is polished, pleasing, and technically impressive on nearly all levels. The only hiccups in framerate occur online. As for the sound, the soundtrack is varied to give any discerning ear at least one track they'll enjoy.

Overall: 9.75/10

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Affiliate Update - Charge Shot!!! Pierces SPC's Affiliation Armor

SuperPhillip Central!!! has a brand new affiliate in the form of Charge Shot!!! named after the famed blue bomber himself. Don't be quick to pass it off as a Mega Man site though as it's really just in name only. Charge Shot!!! is a gaming blog for reviews, editorials, articles, and other odds and ends, and it's definitely worth a slot in your favorites folder. (just don't replace it with SuperPhillip Central, am I right?)

On the other end of the affiliation spectrum, I had to remove GamePartisan from the list. They haven't had anything posted since this past fall even with staffers such as myself sending reviews to be posted, and my e-mail to the site owner fell on deaf ears (or would that be blind eyes then?). Here's hoping they bounce back since GP has a lot of promise and untapped potential!

But for now, here's to SPC's new friendship with Charge Shot!!!...!

New Play Control! Mario Power Tennis (Wii) - Japanese Trailer

The first two titles from Nintendo's New Play Control! label, dedicated to remaking Gamecube classics with Wii controls and several minor alterations, will be hitting North American shores in March. The two titles for our side of the world are Pikmin and Mario Power Tennis. Some say that rereleasing Gamecube games with waggle (they generally use the term waggle since it's pretty much used disparagingly) is lazy of Nintendo. When a company releases more quality Wii games alone in the first 18 months (Smash Bros, Galaxy, Metroid, Mario Kart, Endless Ocean, BWii, Excite Truck, Mario Strikers, etc.) than they did for basically 3 years of the Gamecube's life, that is anything but lazy. But then again, acknowledging that would not allow these people to whine... which they do best... well, they're best at being overly and obnoxiously vocal at the very least.

I don't see myself picking up Pikmin again until I know how the controls on that game will work. I'm definitely double-dipping with Mario Power Tennis though just because this is essentially a much more in-depth version of Wii Tennis. I'd kill for new characters and courts though... Shia Lebeouf? You heard me. Watch your talentless ass.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

SPC Mailbag - 2009's First Opening

Welcome to this January 2009 edition of the SPC Mailbag. It's been a month or so since we've viewed some reader questions, so why not open the bag right up for 2009? This installment's questions regarding my definition of what a hardcore gamer is, the lack of new reviews on the site, and finally Christmas presents. Without further ado, let me start answering!

"Casual" and "hardcore" are terms thrown a lot by people since Wii became popular. What do you believe makes a "hardcore gamer" "hardcore"?

It's a touchy subject on message boards. Some people believe hardcore games are the HD ones-- stuff like Gears of War, Halo, and such. Unfortunately, it's these types of games I associate with the same crowd who watches Manswers on Spike TV. To me, a hardcore gamer is very simple-- it's someone whose biggest hobby is most likely gaming. It could be someone who plays a lot (even Tetris, for instance, as it doesn't have to be multiple games or consoles), perhaps frequently scours the net chatting up with other enthusiasts and researching new information.

The mindset of some that one console or genre is more hardcore than another is elitist which is odd considering they're being elitist in an industry that is still looked down upon. Fortunately, the "anti-hardcore" console, the Wii, seems to be opening up some of those "games are for children" people's minds.

There's a lack of new reviews since November. Have you stopped doing them?

I have to be honest that I've incredibly lazy about writing reviews. I just don't have the same desire I had than when I started. It's just draining after 100+ reviews. We'll have to see how things go. Nonetheless, if reviews aren't as prevalent, I'll just ramp up other article production to make up the slack. Again, we'll see. I do have several games ready to be reviewed, so game-wise I'm covered. Drive-wise? That's another story.

What did you get for Christmas?

Hope you and yours had a terrific Christmas or whichever holiday you and your loved ones traditionally celebrate. I'll just be general about it. I received new games for PS3, Wii, and DS, new preppy clothes from American Eagle, a leather jacket, a PS3 bluetooth headset, and various gift cards ranging from Best Buy to McDonald's.


The SPC Mailbag will be opening back up in February. If you have any questions you'd like addressed whether site-related, game-related, or whatever weird, perverse thoughts run through your mind, hit me up with an e-mail at

Perhaps your question will be answered (or made fun of).

Monday, January 5, 2009

SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs - Ringing in the New Year Edition

After a holiday break, the Favorite VGMs are back and ready to rock. This week we have songs from Sonic Unleashed, Game of the Year winner: LittleBigPlanet, and Handheld Game of the Year: Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia. Here's to keeping the music flowing through all of 2009!


This track comes from the newly-released Sonic Unleashed for all consoles. During the day, it's business as usual for Sonic the Hedgehog, but when night falls, he turns into the werehog. I dare Sonic Team to make a console game without a gimmick attached to it. No, I double werehog dare Sonic Team to make a console game without a gimmick attached to it. Regardless, the quality of each soundtrack is something that I would like to remain the same!

Showdown Town is the hub world of Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. Fans of the series' music will definitely pick up on the Jinjo Village theme interspersed throughout the piece. It was a Banjo-Kazooie fan's dream come true hearing the soundtrack played with a full-blown orchestra.

This is one of the few picks on my favorites that isn't an original track made for a game. The Go! Team made this track for their 2004 album Thunder, Lightning, Strike. Get It Together was used in the majority of trailers for LittleBigPlanet, thus the song was identified as the game's main theme, albeit licensed.

This song comes from the newest traditional Castlevania, Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia for the Nintendo DS. "Azure Wanderings" is a mellow piece for one of the two underwater levels. Shanoa, the lead character of the game, is also an entrant in the Wii fighter, Castlevania Judgment.

From the 007: Quantum of Solace video game, it's "When Nobody Loves You". The video game uses a different opening theme than the movie. This one is more fast-paced and is performed much better than "Another Way To Die", at least in my opinion. Which do you prefer?

Direct Linkage:
Mazuri ~ Savannah Citadel Day
Showdown Town
Get It Together
Azure Wanderings
When Nobody Loves You

That does it for the first segment of SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs for 2009. Stay tuned for some interesting updates for this first full week of 2009!