Friday, January 23, 2009

Dragon Ball: Origins (DS) Review

Let's cap off this week of SuperPhillip Central with a brand-new review! They said it couldn't be done, but it can be done! I never dreamed that I would climb over the moon in ecstasy, but nevertheless it's there that I'm shortly about to be. Cause I've got a brand-new review! Cause I've got a brand-new review! I've got a brand-new review to make my way, and with a brand-new review it's a brand-new day. Anyway, here is a review for Dragon Ball Origins for the Nintendo DS.

A delightful Dragon Ball game

Long before there were Vegeta, Frieza, Cell, Majin Buu, power-up sessions that lasted whole episodes, mass grunting, yelling, and looks of constipation, countless internet memes that those lacking a knack for comedy still use, and a slew of high-flying, visceral fighting, there was a story about a naive little country boy named Goku. Seeing the monsoon of Dragon Ball Z games that have represented the popular series in interactive form, Namco-Bandai and Atari have joined forces to bring Goku's earliest adventures to the forefront with Dragon Ball Origins for the Nintendo DS. Not liking the original source material, does Origins have enough to entice even the non-Dragon Ball fan?

The juggernaut franchise all started when an unworldly boy by the name of Goku meets up with a bossy, demanding jail-bait named Bulma. This green-haired girl is in search of the seven fabled Dragon Balls which, when gathered, allows the assembler to call upon the behemoth dragon Shenron. This genie covered in green scales will grant one wish to the lucky holder of the balls (shut up). Bulma observes that Goku has one of the Dragon Balls in his possession, but he's hesitant to give it away as it's the only thing left of his late grandfather. With some female persuasion, Goku and Bulma team up to find and snatch up the other missing balls (shut up). Dragon Ball Origins' story stretches from the beginning of the series concluding with the very first World Martial Arts Tournament, so there's plenty of content available. Of course, liberties are taken with the source material to create more missions and set up the story better for game-form. However, none of these liberties ruin the experience or alter significant events whatsoever. The story itself is told through real time cutscenes with limited spoken dialogue-- usually just for important sentences and text for everything else. Origins is a very funny game, much like the show. I was laughing pretty hard during various scenes. One in particular, which I won't spoil for you, involves a very clever use of the gap between the DS' two screens.

A lot of the humor is based off of
Goku's naivete of the world.

Borrowing a page from The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, the entire game can be played solely with the stylus. Slide the stylus around the screen in the direction that you want Goku to move, tap enemies to attack, and tap Goku to perform various special attacks. Each attack costs Ki which is represented by a yellow bar at the bottom left-hand corner of the screen. When it's depleted, Goku won't be able to attack until the bar automatically refills after a few moments of waiting. This element in gameplay, while annoying at times, is crucial for the balance of the game. Otherwise, Goku could just unleash his most devastating attacks with no limitations, breezing past any enemy. Alternatively, you can play using both the stylus and analog controls in tandem. I found this much easier to control Goku, alternating between movement and attack almost effortlessly.

The level is displayed on both of the DS' screens.

Goku has two means of offense in Dragon Ball Origins, and you'll need both if you want to advance through the game: the Power Pole and his bare fists. As Goku progresses through the story, he learns numerous new moves and abilities for both weapons in his arsenal. These moves utilize more complex drawing with the stylus to activate them. For instance, Goku can cross large chasms by extending his Power Pole into a boulder on the opposite side to cross. This is done by holding the stylus on Goku and drawing a line from him to the boulder. There's a myriad of other moves such as spinning the Power Pole to fan away poisonous gas, giving a monster push to a wooden crate to send it soaring to the other side of a chasm, and yes, the good ol' standby, the Kamehameha wave is present and accounted for. There are some snags with controlling Goku though. When Goku is behind an enemy, it's neigh impossible to tap Goku to power up. Instead, the game registers your tap as a quick and weak punch/kick to the enemy. Additionally, pushing blocks is sometimes more problematic than it should be, and this is with trying to use the stylus or the analog pad to attempt to have Goku push.

Goku unveiling his love for The Matrix.

As for the design itself, controls are really the only thing Dragon Ball Origins has in common with Phantom Hourglass. There is no overworld map connecting every area together. Instead each area is split up by chapters and episodes. Origins has eight chapters total. Each chapter deals with a different plot element. For example, while chapter three is based on the gang's meet-up with the desert bandit, Yamcha, chapter four deals with Ox King and Fire Mountain. There's four episodes to each chapter. To clarify what I mean with an example, in 2-3, Goku chases after the bad guy, and in 2-4, he explores the bad guy's lair. Each episode is set up in a different area with different goals in mind.

The game is played in an isometric view with Goku needing to explore various closed-in environments. Level progression is essentially all about getting from the beginning of the level to the end all the while dealing with enemies, optionally collecting treasure and other goodies, solving simple puzzles, and then beating down a boss (if there is one). In most levels, Goku will be accompanied by Bulma who has her own health bar. If either Goku or Bulma's health hits 0, it's game over. However, Bulma isn't some helpless gal. She's equipped a weapon to fend off her pursuers, but she can't always do it alone. Occasionally, Goku will have to clear a way for Bulma since she can't leap across narrow chasms like her nimble friend can, so that means Goku will have to do whatever it takes to make a passage for her like moving a block between two walkways for Bulma to cross.

Goku lets loose on this prehistoric foe.

The main story took me about eight or nine hours to complete. However, there's far more to do once the main game is finished. Once 8-4 is beaten, a whole slew of episodes are unlocked. These are aftermath scenarios showcasing what the various cast of the game did shortly after the World Tournament. Some of these are rather lame though since they force you to replay through the same dungeon over again with little to no changes, and if you've gone through the original dungeon 2-3 times like me, this gets tedious to do. Furthermore, there's several treasure chests hidden throughout most of Origins' levels. These give Goku and Bulma increased health and Ki as well as unlocking cool collectibles known as figures. These figures, 200 in all, can be collected by clearing a level in fast enough fashion to earn an S-rank, from treasures as stated, and from the main menu shop's lottery. In the figures menu, you can view each collected figure up-close, zoom in and out, pan, rotate, and play that 3D figure's animation. I was addicted to collecting all of these since the 3D models are just fantastic.

The models are some of the DS' best.
They're truly remarkable.

That's not all that is aesthetically fantastic either. Sure, the characters are amazing to look at-- showcasing some of the best 3D I've seen on the DS, but the animations are beyond terrific as well. These can be marveled at via the figures menu. The environments themselves are rather good, but I'd love to see more variety in the upcoming sequel. Seriously, there's basically only two levels of height throughout the entire game? The music blends with the game suitably. Unfortunately, North American Origins owners won't get to hear the Dragon Ball theme for some reason. Regardless, every other track is present, my favorite being the outside overworld theme.

Dragon Ball Origins is a wonderful action-adventure game dipping into the lesser-explored territory of the Dragon Ball universe-- at least in gaming. Even those in my camp who don't really consider themselves fans of the show or manga need not brush this game away. It's an entertaining and refreshing take on the genre with enough humor to put a smile on the face of any person-- fan or foe of Dragon Ball. If you're a fan of Dragon Ball, then there's no question that you should pick this title up, and if you're into action-adventure games akin to Zelda, then you may find this game to be the origins of something good. Most importantly, you won't even need to wish for Shenron to destroy the creators of this game.

[SuperPhillip Says]

Gameplay: Somewhat similar to a dungeon-crawler. Playing with the stylus can sometimes lead to frustration, but the fun moments far outweigh the frustration.

Replay Value: Approximately eight hours to beat the main story mode. It took me around 22 hours to finish all there was to do-- opening all treasure chests, S-ranking all episodes, and collecting all 200 figures.

Presentation: Some of the best 3D the DS has seen. The game doesn't come off as big-budget, but it's definitely not a low-effort project. A lot of the things in Dragon Ball Origins "wowed" me.

Overall: 8.5/10

The House of the Dead: Overkill (Wii) New Trailer

I find it funny how some people see a review by a lesser-known place they go "whoa. 3 out of 10? I may not get this after all..." But when the same type of place does a review they go "whoa. 9 out of 10? I'll wait for a more credible place. k thx" Am I confusing trolls for rational people again?

Regardless, here's a brand-new, totally awesome, radical trailer for the new light-gun shooter (can't get too many of those, can you?) for Wii, The House of the Dead: Overkill. It's a very wacky, retro, and hilarious trailer. Just be sure you don't try any of that stuff in real life, people, unless there's zombies around. Stay tuned for a review next month!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Footage of SuperPhillip: The Game!

This is a magnificent treat for those who don't have a PS3 or LittleBigPlanet which I can sympathize since it's a big investment. At the very least you can see it for yourself now instead of just seeing pictures. For details on what SuperPhillip: The Game is, check out this entry from earlier this month.

I can't tell you how happy I am that SheepLord recorded footage of my LittleBigPlanet levels. It's just fantastic and incredibly nice of him to do on his free time. I was worried when I saw the first video because I thought my level fell apart somehow, but that's actually his personal introduction of the level. Very cool, but I needed to change my underwear afterward anyway! I've skimmed the videos since I've playtested each level ad nauseum. SheepLord even pointed out the locations of hidden areas and prize bubbles.

Level 0-1: The Warehouse - Direct Link

Mayor Jennings has set aside a soon-to-be defunct warehouse as SuperPhillip's training grounds. He won't be alone though. His good friend (and one of the few people who know his real identity) Dan, has hacked into various terminals and monitors to give SP helpful information. This level is the tutorial level. It's mostly designed with the idea that SuperPhillip: The Game is its own package-- otherwise such elementary things such as jumping and transfering between the game's three layers of depth wouldn't be broached.

Level 1-1: Central City (part 1) - Direct Link

No more messing about. The training is over. This is the real thing now! SuperPhillip starts off traversing across various rooftops before taking a zipline down to the streets below. There, he sees several clamoring citizens hovered around a display of televisions. What is so shocking that has them shivering with horror?

And if you'd like to actually play my levels, search for SuperPhillip.
SheepLord may have time to record my challenge levels, so stay tuned, faithful readers!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New LittleBigPlanet (PS3) Weekly DLC Returning January 26th

Some incredibly awesome new goodies are going to be hitting the Playstation Store beginning January 26th as reported by LittleBigPlanetoid. Speaking of which, I definitely have to resume work on the next level in SuperPhillip: The Game. Fun stuff. Fun to make, and less frustration (I'm looking in your general direction, RPG Maker 2003).

January 26th

Chinese New Year Costumes - available for 10 days only.

January 29th

* God of War mini pack
* Kratos costume
* Groundhog Day costume - available for 1 week only

February 5th

Valentines Day mini pack - available for 2 weeks only

February 12th

* Ape Escape Costume
* Toro Costume

February TBA

WipEout Costume Kit

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Marble Saga: Kororinpa (Wii) Teaser Trailer

The original Kororinpa was a fun but short ball-rolling game akin to Marble Madness or the more modern Super Monkey Ball series. Marble Saga doubles the amount of levels, adds Balance Board support with levels exclusively with the peripheral in mind, allows players to play as their Miis, and features a rather robust level creator where levels can be sent to and from friends. March 17 is the release date, but for now all we have is a teaser trailer.

Monday, January 19, 2009

SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs - A Series of Series Celebration

Counting down to 300 videos, I'd like to shake things up. From here until the 300th video (perhaps more if this goes over well, every ten videos will be music from the same series. If you have a series you'd like represented, hit me up with a comment. First up is Sonic the Hedgehog, and what better place to start than from the very beginning with a song every Sonic fan knows and loves-- the Green Hill Zone.

The beautiful image in the video was by ~Professor-J of DeviantArt.

From Sonic the Hedgehog 2, it's one of the final zones in the game and also one of the most difficult, it's the Metropolis Zone. I hope those praying mantis bots are out of work by now!

It makes sense to go in order, so let's take a listen to Sonic the Hedgehog 3's Hydrocity Zone Act 2, a wildly different sounding theme from Act 1. Hold your breath and grab some rings as we dive in.

I remember playing this zone as a kid and setting down the controller just so I could listen to the music. It's still quite catchy, too. It's both acts of the Flying Battery Zone from Sonic & Knuckles.

This comes from Sonic CD's North American soundtrack which I prefer to the Japanese one. Collision Chaos - Good Future features an electric guitar with some very sweet riffs thoughout the duration of this rather short track.

Direct Linkage:

Green Hill Zone

Metropolis Zone
Hydrocity Zone Act 2
Flying Battery Zone Acts 1 & 2
Collision Chaos Good Future

That wraps up this edition of SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs. If you like what you hear or if you have a comment you'd like me to read, then hit me up either in the comment section of this entry or type a message in the C-box located on the right side of the page. As for Sonic, we'll see him again next time-- in 3D-- on SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs!