Friday, April 3, 2009

Central City Census - April

I've decided to move my planned reviews for the end of the week of March 30th to next week, so expect two portable games being reviewed. In the meantime, let's take a look at the results from March's poll!

A tad less than half have received or purchased 2-3 games while 4-5 and More than 10 were second and third respectively. As for those who haven't had a new game yet, no worries. There's far more important things to pay for than games!

Moving onto April's census.

The Nintendo DSi hits North American shelves this upcoming week. It comes with a built-in camera, added functionality, a sleeker design, a Wii Channel style menu, and loads of other bells and whistles. Let's make this question simple this month. Are you planning on getting a Nintendo DSi?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Review Round-Up - March

MadWorld carved into the Wii's library this past month.

There were a lot of new reviews for March. I hope you enjoyed all of them, too. As you may or may not know, I'm slowly bringing all of my old reviews written before SPC came to be in blog-form. Hence these italicized older reviews. We started off with the surprisingly stellar NASCAR Kart Racing and ended with the surprisingly ruined Marble Saga Kororinpa. I hope you are looking forward to April and a whole new month of reviews!

All scores are out of 10.

5 = Average
Italicized = old review

NASCAR Kart Racing (Wii) - 7.25
Sonic and the Secret Rings (Wii) - 7.0
Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop (Wii) - 8.0
Kororinpa: Marble Mania (Wii) - 6.5
Me & My Katamari (PSP) - 6.5
Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles (Wii) - 8.0
Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir (DS) - 4.5
Deadly Creatures (Wii) - 6.5
Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and the Damned (360) - 9.25
Animal Crossing: City Folk (Wii) - 8.5
Professor Layton and the Curious Village (DS) - 8.25
MadWorld (Wii) - 8.5
Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters (PSP) - 8.0
New Play Control! Mario Power Tennis (Wii) - 3.5
Marble Saga: Kororinpa (Wii) - 4.5

What was your favorite review this month?

SuperPhillip here, and I'm back!

All right, gang. We have a bit of trouble. Our good friend, Filbert, has run into a little money problem. It seems he invested a lot of bells into the turnip market. Unfortunately, the market is very poor right now and it's facing a government bailout. I felt sorry for him and purchased ownership of the blog back from him. No worries, however. Filbert says "hi", "bucko", and "huh huh huh" to all of you. Let's reminisce about the day that was when Filbert the squirrel ran the site.

Things will be back to normal today with a brand new review! I hope you look forward to it, and I hope you're not too disappointed that I have returned.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Filbert reads his mail!

welcome to the first ever installment of filbert reads his mail, bucko! huh huh huh. this is where filbert reads his mail from his many friends! i don't want to waste any more time! let's get to reading some letters, bucko!

Dear Filbert,

I wasn't expecting a letter from you,
so imagine my surprise when I not
only got a letter but a gift, too! How
did you know I always wanted a
green bed? It will look great in my
house! Don't be a stranger now.


dear gaston, no problemo! i am glad that you like your new gift. i found it in the recycling bin and thought of you. hope to play tiddlywinks with you again soon.

Listen, you pompous fucker. What kind of bitter fucking fanboy are you to give Gears of War 2 a low score? Go back to playing with your faggot Pokemon and your queer MySims, you cunt.

oh my! filbert doesn't understand most of these words in this letter! these must be words that people smarter than filbert use. this letter must be for superphillip, i guess. i don't know why it was left inside my mailbag, bucko. i will make sure he gets it! huh huh huh.

Dear Filbsy,

Hello again, dearest. This is your mother
writing to you! huh huh HUH. I just wanted
to say how proud I am of my little boy. You
make my heart cry tears of happiness...
and cherry soda! Mmm... I made myself
thirsty for some cherry soda. Talk to you
later, my little man!

Love, Mommy

:O a letter from filbert's mom! i promised myself i wouldn't cry, bucko! don't let them see you cry, filbert. don't let them see you cry! with that, i will close up the mailbag until next time! catch you later today, bucko! huh huh *sniff-sniff*

Filbert's first review, bucko!

huh huh huh! filbert wrote this review all by himself today! so proud! i'm like a superhero already! the reviewer-- a happy-go-lucky squirrel by day, a reviewing things squirrel by night! ohhhhhhh.... that is so cool! <3

you get 50 points every time you talk to filbert or something.
i don't understand these crazy games!

did you also know that the things they make filbert say aren't true to the real thing at all, bucko? it's true! they make me out to be a goofball! can you believe that? also, every animal you talk to sometimes says the exact same thing as before or even the exact same thing that someone else already said, bucko! that is not cool! that is uncool! those people are not cool, bucko! write to them with a pen whose ink smells like donkey breath! that will show them! huh huh huh.

as for pasta, i really enjoy spaghetti and meatballs in a sour cream sauce, bucko! it really puts the hair on a man's chest! at least that's what angus told me, and he's very hairy! huh huh huh. sometimes i go to angus' house and enter in on him while he's watching his soap operas. i did not know he was so deep! you couldn't tell at all by reading his letters, bucko! oh no no no! huh huh huh.

they also don't show my real life activities and hobbies! i don't stand outside walking around town all day! only when i have too much cough medicine, but not everyday, bucko! i like to crochet, ballroom dance, play laser golf, cook chicken casserole, practice tuning my fish (tuna fish, get it? huh huh huh!), and reading my fan mail. it's a lifetime dedication, bucko!

OH NO! how did filbert post this? i'm so sorry!
i'm new to this internet! how embarrassing!

in conclusion... oh i sound like some college professor! huh huh huh. you should not support the lie that is animal crossing for the nintendo. it does not give a true representation of what it is like to live with your good friend filbert! you have to reset the game until you get filbert in town, and that could take years! years, i tell you, bucko! erase your social calendar because that would take forever! i said years, bucko, but i changed my mind. it will take forever! do you know how many strawberry quiche you could make in that time? i don't know. write back to filbert on that, bucko.

[Filbert Says: hi there, bucko! how are you doing today? you're looking live and livelier today. *yawn* you're tiring me out with your pizzazz! /10]

Filbert is here! Huh huh huh!

when superphillip is away, everyone's favorite squirrel, Filbert, will be here to play! hooray! i am taking over this site from now on, bucko. superphillip sold the site to me for 500 bells! wow! what a swell guy! he's like a coconut covered in taco salad! mmmmmm! huh huh huh! i hope everyone is excited for the new changes i have in store for the newly titled FILBERT'S WORLD!!!! whoo! yay! huh huh huh! i have my first review and a trip to the mailbox to see what letters are waiting for me to read. you stay where you are and shake with excitement like you have bugs down your shorts for Filbert's updates, bucko!

if you want to get to know me, check out my profile, bucko!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Marble Saga: Kororinpa (Wii) Review

I really liked Kororinpa: Marble Mania. It didn't set my world on fire, but it was a very enjoyable experience regardless. Now we have Marble Saga: Kororinpa, one of my most anticipated Wii games. It's only thirty dollars, too. Why? Because that's how it rolls. Here's my review of Marble Saga: Kororinpa.

Get Ready to Lose Your Marbles.

An object rolling through multiple perilous mazes, attempting to reach the goal in each one, isn't a new concept at all. Of course, they've been around long before the days of Marble Madness with those wooden labyrinth toys you'd tilt to get all of the iron balls into the goal. Wii owners especially have already seen an abundance of these types of games with Super Monkey Ball, Mercury Meltdown, the marble game from Wii Fit, and a little known title called Kororinpa: Marble Mania, now one of the rarest titles in the Wii's library. The game was fun but flawed. Controlling your marble through the many Kororinpa or levels the game threw at you was very intuitive and easy enough to do. The only problem was that you essentially only got one level per dollar of the $40 price tag. Rising to criticism, Hudson has released the sequel, Marble Saga: Kororinpa, with 150 unique levels and an editor to boot, but is this package all that it should have been?

The main course of Marble Saga is a story mode featuring an extremely simple and superfluous tale revolving around an ant named Anthony. He needs the Golden Sunflower to save his land, but the catch is that the treasure is sealed up inside the Stump Temple. Traveling from area to area, level to level, it's your job to collect Stump Pieces as you roll through dozens of levels. This is what you'll be playing through to unlock most of the content inside Marble Saga. Thought-provoking narrative this ain't, but it does the job all the same.

Spider-Marble does whatever a spider can.

There are several themed areas you and Anthony must travel through from sandy dunes to the ocean blue. Each area has ten main levels to conquer. These can be tackled in any order once you've unlocked the latter five levels of an area. Once the eleventh level, a slightly more difficult challenge level, is completed, you open up the next area on the world map to explore. It's not as simple as going from point A to point B. It's about going from point A to point B while collecting all of the orange crystals to unlock the goal. This isn't that elementary of a task either as the levels in Marble Saga aren't as simple as rolling down a straight line. No, no. Quite the contrary. The early areas will have more railings to protect your marble from falling off, small hills and curves to roll through, and small challenges. Slick floors, pinball bumpers, cannons that shoot you across the level, tubes, marble ball-obliterating hazards like spiked balls, and much more aim to cost you a good time. Thankfully, most levels have multiple checkpoints. Annoyingly, you get a three second penalty each time you fall... which you will do a lot. There's also a green crystal hidden in a dastardly location in each level, most of which are either hard-to-find and/or hard-to-reach, that unlock new marbles with varying stats from a hard-to-slow-down baseball to a flatulent panda of ultimate win.

Let your marble experience a mosh-pit firsthand
by getting between two of those bad boys.

Unlike the original Kororinpa, Marble Saga gives the player the choice between two control schemes for the story mode, both of which are Wii remote only. There are a few dozen levels which support Nintendo's balance board peripheral. Those without the accessory can still play the levels, but the mazes really were made for the balance board in mind. Heading back to Wii remote controls, you can play with the Wii remote vertically or horizontally. The question is if you'll want to even bother playing horizontally as it's pretty poor-- especially for moments where you have to turn to the level to its side. What I mean is that in Kororinpa you aren't controlling the marble. You're tilting the level to make your marble move. The majority of levels require the player to twist the Wii remote in order to turn the level over so the marble can cross a platform perpendicular to the one it's already on.

Those with vertigo should not play Marble Saga: Kororinpa.

This is where part of the trouble with Marble Saga rears its ugly head. Holding the remote flat levels out the maze completely, but many levels force you to twist your wrist every which way but Subway to manipulate the movement of your marble. Oftentimes, you'll need to twist the remote completely upside-down. Now this would all be fine and dandy like the controls of the original Kororinpa expect in Marble Saga, for some unexplained reason the way you hold the Wii remote doesn't necessarily match how the maze is currently titled causing not only confusion but great frustrating. Add into this that nearly all of the marbles are a pain to maneuver in this sequel. Why keep a good thing-- the original's fantastic physics-- when you can ruin them to be borderline broken on most levels? Let me ask Hudson some time. In the original twisting the Wii remote slightly would slightly tilt the maze, slowly moving your marble. This isn't the case in Marble Saga. Tilting a little bit will do nothing, or your marble will move so sluggishly that doesn't have any momentum whatsoever. Tilt the Wii remote enough so it actually moves, and now it's too fast to stop before teetering off the edge of the maze. To further cause frustration is the camera which is always facing one angle. Moving the maze can sometimes result in not being able to see your marble as it's rolling or having your marble fall over the edge on a horizontal straightaway due to an odd angle, altering your depth perception.

If constantly failing the story mode mazes gets you down, you can always check out the robust level creator. If you can think it, you can most likely build it, and then send it to your friends via WiiConnect24. Unfortunately, the "quirky" design choices don't end with the gameplay. Almost every worthwhile construction piece must be made by combining multiple materials. Where are these materials found? Why, in story mode, of course! Look forward to playing through the same levels over and over again just to grind for materials needed to build cool doodads and gadgets. The chore of collecting materials will probably be worth it to some as you can make some really intriguing levels for your friends to tackle. Additionally, Hudson will be continually supporting online with new mazes of their own.

This little piggy rolled all the way home.

For all my issues with the controls, Marble Saga's presentation isn't too shabby. A comparison of backgrounds from the original to backgrounds of Marble Saga are like night and day. Marble Saga has much more detailed backgrounds filled with things to make it look busy and full of life without being distracting. The music can get stuck in your head as it's quite catchy while other times songs can be completely forgettable.

It's somewhat baffling to me the decisions made by third parties on the Wii. It's as if the Wii makes them do incredibly foolish things. In Hudson's case it's totally taking the perfect physics and feel of Kororinpa and mutilating them horribly to a shallow shell of their former selves. Regardless of my abundant disappointment with this sequel, for $30 you may find that you don't care either way. For me, it made the game much more difficult to control and enjoy. Marble Saga: Kororinpa rolls off the edge and plunges into the bottomless abyss below.

[SuperPhillip Says: 4.5/10]

Monday, March 30, 2009

New Play Control! Mario Power Tennis (Wii) Review

Nintendo's New Play Control! series seems like a great idea. For those who have played the Gamecube originals, it's a whole new experience, sometimes for the better, for their old favorites. For those who never played them, it's a $30 new game! I entered my local Blockbuster the other day and picked up the NPC version of Mario Power Tennis. I sort of knew how well Pikmin translated to the Wii (and affiliate World 1-1 confirms my suspicions), so I was curious as to the quality of Mario's last new home console tennis game. Hmmm.... I wonder how soon I will give it away in my review...

Fault? No. Double Fault.

Let's face it. Although the Nintendo Gamecube had a fantastic library for the Nintendo faithful, it was pretty much a failure in capturing the majority of the video game market. Now that the Wii has been the breakout hit that it is, Nintendo has opted to let millions of new gamers and those gamers who skipped the Gamecube experience several of the system's best with brand new motion control. Nintendo's label for this series of games is New Play Control with Pikmin and Mario Power Tennis as the first two titles for North American audiences. The latter hasn't turned out so well.

The original Mario Power Tennis released in November of 2004 in North America, and it was a very enjoyable arcade-style tennis title with plenty of fun for newbies yet plenty of strategy and depth for more advanced players. New Play Control! Mario Power Tennis captures neither of these positive qualities. It all has to do with the motion controls that have been implemented, and with the main selling point of these Wii-makes (hurt me for that pun later) being the motion controls, it's rather ironic that Power Tennis suffers because of the phoned-in controls.

Pete Sampras has nothing on Mario save for
that secret about the plumber and the tranny.

Firstly, the motions used for volleying the ball to the opponent's court are completely unintuitive and are inaccurate half the time. To perform a drop shot, where the ball falls just behind the net on the opponent's court, you need to slash the Wii remote directly downward in a completely vertical motion. In the real world, hitting the ball like that would make it land a foot in front of you, costing you the serve. Conversely, moving the remote upward will initiate a high-flying lob shot which also doesn't feel satisfying whatsoever. It doesn't help that regular shots require you to do a cross-body swing that usually registers somehow as a lob or drop shot, and you have one frustrating experience.

But wait-- there's more! A lot of the gameplay from the original Mario Power Tennis has been dumbed down for the New Play Control! version. No longer can you aim where you want to hit the ball via holding the control stick in the direction you want the ball to fall. instead, the location of your shot on the opponent's court lies with the timing of your swing. Seeing as the gestures don't register correctly most of the time, it's essentially about luck. Who needs to hit the ball in that wide open area that your opponent couldn't possibly reach when you can just inadvertently pass it right back to him? Furthermore, charge shots are automatic now. All you need to do is be in position, and your character will power up. There's no need to worry about being in the right place or not as you'll know immediately by whether or not your character gains a glowing aura.

The courts are vibrant and varied.

Other than the new controls added that are detrimental to the experience, the rest of the content from the Gamecube is the same. There's multiple tournaments to enter which the player can save their progress after each round and multiple mini-games usually revolving around one or two elements of tennis play. Unfortunately, nearly all of the available mini-games focus on precision which makes those bothersome motion controls a little difficult to master these games-- much less play them. The cast of color characters from the Mushroom Kingdom are all present and accounted for from Mario to Bowser, Peach to Daisy, and Luigi to Boo. Four characters can be unlocked as well as multiple new courts based off the Super Mario Sunshine and Luigi's Mansion games of the Gamecube era. Each of these have different themes and gimmicks to them from none to ghosts blocking your shots.

Regardless of what anyone says of the Playstation 2 era of graphics, Mario Power Tennis certainly looks bright, vibrant, and alluring to the eyes. There has been a slight bump to the visuals from the transition to Wii. There's nary an instance of the game slowing down or stuttering even in the more busy courts and mini-games. Character models are animated superbly and are full of life. It's just a shame the fate of the controls isn't as fortunate.

Playing against hard opponents with less than
reliable controls is an effort in frustration.

It's disappointing that a series of remakes selling off the idea of new controls suffers from them as badly as New Play Control! Mario Power Tennis has. Those wanting to play Mario Power Tennis for the first time should just find a used Gamecube copy from eBay or Amazon as the Wii version is just an abomination. The completely clumsily implementation of the Wii's motion controls for this game when every Wii owner in North America already owns a superior tennis game from Wii Sports is just pitiful. Stick with Wii Sports Tennis or wait for the upcoming Grand Slam Tennis from EA Sports this June.

[SuperPhillip Says: 3.5/10]

SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs - Donkey Kong Edition

Last week we bid adieu to The Legend of Zelda series for the time being. This week we go from the majestic kingdom of Hyrule to the lush green jungles of DK Isle with music from Donkey Kong's illustrious career.

V281. Donkey Kong - Theme

This theme right here is the oldest song ever included in my favorite VGMs. It's an extremely simple yet infectious theme that anyone growing up with and enjoying the game, Donkey Kong, couldn't get out of their head. Needless to say, our next series of music comes from the Donkey Kong franchise!

V282. Donkey Kong Country - Aquatic Ambiance

Aquatic Ambiance serves as the theme for Donkey Kong Country's underwater levels. It's an extremely atmospheric and soothing piece of music, and the most mind-blowing part is that it was all done on the Super Nintendo's sound chip! I was amazed then, but now knowing how ahead of its time the DKC soundtrack was, it's just astonishing. Then again, Rare almost always has magnificent soundtracks for their games.

V283. Donkey Kong Country - Fear Factory

This is the second track I'm using in our Donkey Kong series from the original Donkey Kong Country. It only plays in a couple of levels in the fifth world-- it's Fear Factory. Curse those teasing oil drums! How dare you taunt me!

V284. Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest - Flight of the Zinger

The Zinger is the bee-like enemy in the first two Donkey Kong Country games. They come in yellow (vulnerable to barrels) and red (invincible) varieties. This theme is yet another atmospheric track that really kicks in with a fast-paced piano theme. Another great track to one of my favorite soundtracks period in Donkey Kong Country 2.

V285. Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest - Stickerbrush Symphony

This is one of the most popular tracks from the Donkey Kong Country 2 soundtrack and for good reason. It's an atmospheric, tranquil techno trance. It puts you into a false sense of security for sure as every level this song is featured in is lined with deadly thorns!

That wraps things up for this week. Next week we'll continue monkeying around with Donkey Kong and the gang as we make our way to the 300th volume of SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Announcing SPC's Newest Affiliate-- NintendoEverything

I guess NintendoEverything doesn't really need an introduction. I imagine those into Nintendo mostly know about it. As for everyone else, it is a fabulous site to catch-up on your Nintendo news at any time. Daily content, active forums, and a friendly staff make NintendoEverything a fantastic site to get your Nintendo fix on.

Additionally, I was away for most of this weekend in la-la land. You need to get off at Exit 301 and make a left at the traffic light where the Denny's is to reach it apparently. Regardless, two updates have been posted. It's like Christmas but instead of one gift, you all get two! Or if you want to be pessimistic, it's like me missing out on an alimony payment one month and giving two the next. Regardless, here you are:

MadWorld (Wii) Review
Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters (PSP) Review

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!