Saturday, April 25, 2009

Animal Crossing Journal - Central: Where All Roads Lead Home

Hey, everyone. Long time no see for my Animal Crossing journal. I wanted to have a worthwhile update, and here's one right now. I have constructed an elaborate road network within the town boundaries of Central. It took about four hours to complete across two days. Not only that, but I designed a welcome sign for any guests that enter my time. Approximately twenty different designs were used, so I needed three characters to reach my desired outcome. Here's the end result.

The bus stop looks surprisingly urban now.

Now the bus has a path it can follow.

Central's flag is the letter "C" resembling a globe.

Here's the full design template for the welcome sign.

This pic is right outside Philly's home.
(This is S.Phil in the picture.)

Intersections and curves were a bit tricky to create.

Don't drive too fast as this road ends here!

Roads are a new concept for Central's villagers. Walking on a set path is a foreign concept to them, but rest assured they're trying their best to learn!

You're supposed to look both ways
before you cross the street, Iggly!

You're doing it wrong, Pierce.
You're just doing it wrong.

Eh... maybe they'll never learn. The only problem with placing pieces of road on the ground is that they can be picked up easily if a player isn't paying attention. Since the designs are spread across three people, I have to load the right character each time a piece is picked up. So if you enter my town, please don't start running near or on top of a pattern! Until next time, the journal is closed!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Excitebots: Trick Racing (Wii) Review

Here we are with the sequel to Excite Truck. I don't usually crank out a review this fast, but you know when I play a game twenty hours over four days, there's something addicting here.

I'm so excited! I'm so excited! ...I'm... so... scared!

Way back when the Wii hit North American shores, a cult classic launched with the system, too. Sure, it was greatly eclipsed in interest by a brand new Zelda game, but Excite Truck was one fantastic arcade racer deserving of respect. This time around, developer Monster Games (NASCAR: Dirt of Daytona, Test Drive: Eve of Destruction) has ditched the bulky four-wheelers with bots resembling something out of Transformers Beast Wars. The end result is Excitebots: Trick Racing for the Nintendo Wii, and it's one heck of a ride.

Racing is just half of the equation in Excitebots. Hence, Trick Racing. Sure, getting first place is optimal, but you have to do it in style. You don't win races solely by crossing the finish line in first place. With Excitebots the goal is to earn as many stars as possible, and they're readily available by performing a plethora of tasks. In the single-player mode, you start out with the School Cup, a set of four races which can be chosen at will. Clear all the tracks in a given cup to unlock the next which features another set of new races to complete. Each track has a minimum amount of stars needed in order to advance, but to unlock the two bonus difficulties you'll need to shoot for far more stars in each track than the bare necessities.

Each race has you competing with five other bots.

So how do you save up stars? Essentially-- anything and everything. In Excite Truck there were much fewer ways to generate stars to your total: wreck other vehicles by plowing into them, performing aerial spins, running through a swath of trees, and drifting, for example. In Excitebots, there's so many more avenues when it comes to accumulating stars. There's several mini-games that play out directly within each race. You can knock a soccer ball into a giant net as you make a turn, slam into a set of bowling pins, smack a football through the goalpost for a field goal, timing your swing in order to hit a home run, and many more. Any game where you can fish, chuck a cream pie into a clown's face, and bang a tambourine in time to "Shave and A Haircut Two Bits" while you race is in an entirely different dimension of awesomely nuts. There's no shortage of times where you'll grin from ear to ear-- perhaps even unknowingly-- as you play through the game alone or with friends.

Partly a reason for that is the much larger amount of personality put into the game. No longer are you careening through curves with massive monster trucks. Instead, you're controlling a bot-- each of which is based on an animal or insect. Each bot has different racing stats and multiple forms. You just drive over an item to temporarily change forms. Your bot can rise up on two legs, marching through dense forests without any fear or smashing with a forceful kick any rival that dares stay in your way. In this form your bot can grind along rails as long as it maintains its balance. Alternatively if the air is more your thing, your bot can glide through the air, collecting butterflies-- five stars per insect-- as your bot slowly floats back to the ground. Of course, you can't just mess about trying to collect stars either as crossing the finish line first awards 50 bonus stars to your total-- usually the amount between an "S" and an "A" ranking. Apart from the Excite modes, there's also several rather challenging mini-games and an entertaining racing take on poker to round out the single-player package.

Trick = earning stars
Racing = placing first

Tracks are really well-designed, and they span locales from cactus-covered Mexico and ice-infested Finland to Fiji, Guatemala, Canada, among others. One track you'll be speeding over stone walls in China while the next you'll be soaring towards an ancient Scotland castle. There's always one great racing line in order to rack up the most stars, and the fun part is tracking that line down for yourself. There's multiple routes, hidden shortcuts, and out-of-the-way areas that may take longer to go through, but they also reward a multitude of stars. Passing through golden icons will not only unveil mini-games or item boxes, but they may also alter the terrain. A hill could rise giving you access to a high pole shortcut you would otherwise not be able to reach. There's so much exploration in each track that you'll want to keep playing through them over and over until you find the right racing line to take, trying to run through it flawlessly.

Soccer... Bowling... If Egypt has shuffleboard,
then I've found a place for my parents to retire!

Even if you don't achieve your prized "S" rank in a race, each and every race that is finished puts your collected amount of stars into a bank of sorts. Not only can these stars be used to purchase new player icons and trophies, but they can also be spent on new bots and paint jobs. Something that's irksome is that when you buy a paint job such as blue, it's only unlocked for the bot you bought it for instead of for everyone. This means having to invest in colors for everyone. Not only that, but after you race with a given bot for a set number of races, you'll earn a special paint job for that bot. Actually, you'll earn the right to buy that special paint job. Either that or get twenty-five "S" ranks with that bot. Case in point, it's a very lame way of padding the length of the game for someone who wants to purchase a cool paint job for their favorite bots.

Thankfully, you don't have to earn stars exclusively in single-player mode. Excitebots allows for up to six players to race online. You can race with friends or against total strangers. Matches with strangers run smoothly and without a hint of messiness. Players start the session by selecting any of their unlocked bots, select a track to race on, and then bet stars-- anywhere from 0 to 2,500. The race selected is randomly chosen. Meanwhile, if anyone enters the game while the match is still being played, they'll be able to watch the race to its conclusion, and then join in. Depending on the player's place, they'll win a multiple of zero to five times their bet, up to 12,500 plus stars earned while racing. It's a much easier way of breaking the bank, but it's only good for online. Those without an internet connection to their Wii won't be able to gain currency anywhere near as fast. Another blow to offline Excitebots enthusiats is that the local multiplayer is for some reason limited to two player split-screen without any AI. For those without online, that there could be a deal-breaker.

All those nights at the local bar have
finally come to fruition for the frog bot!

Like Excite Truck, Excitebots uses the Wii remote to steer held horizontally as if you were playing the old Nintendo Entertainment System. It worked well with Truck, and it pleases me to say that it works even better with Excitebots. The steering is much tighter, and you hardly ever feel that you're not in control of your bot. The 2 button is used as the gas, and the 1 button is used for braking. The d-pad when pushed uses your bot's boost in order to speed up as long as the button is held down. However, if the boost meter stays full for a second or two, your bot will overheat, making it slow down considerably until it rejuvenates. Either let off the boost to allow your bot the time to recover or drive into a pool of water. Boost management is just part of the strategy involved when racing in Excitebots.

There's plenty of context-sensitive parts of races where you'll have to perform a gesture or repeated movement with the Wii remote in order to nail the trick. Each bot comes with a tail that can grab onto the plethora of poles found throughout the game's twenty tracks. When you start spinning from the pole, you'll get a small Wii remote prompt that shows when you thrust the Wii remote forward. Nail the motion correctly, and you'll get jutted forward with an immense boost of speed. Thrust too soon, and your bot will start flying towards the ground out of control. You'll then have to carefully turn your bot with the Wii remote so it lands on its wheels and recovers. The only real definition of waggle that Excitebots features is when you crash and need to respawn. There's also red bars that are used in almost, if not, every track in the game. These require you to match your movements with the Wii remote prompt on the screen. In this case, you roll the Wii remote (buttons facing the ceiling) like you're turning a crank, faster and faster, until you automatically boost forward. While these can interrupt the frantic nature of races, they have a great benefit which is an easy ten stars each time they're utilized.

Poker Race nets stars by making hands.
This mode is also available online.

A common complaint with Excite Truck was that the music was horrible. At least with that game it supported custom soundtracks, so if you didn't like the music you wouldn't have to listen to it. In Excitebots, you do. There's no custom soundtrack support. While Truck's music was rather grating, the music in Excitebots is much more relaxed, light-hearted with no "butt rock" included. Composed in part by Metroid series composer, Kenji Yamamoto, the soundtrack's mileage will vary with most listeners. As for the visuals, Excitebots is quite the looker. The color palette is colorful and vibrant, and the draw distance is impressive as you can see individual trees as far to the horizon with no pop-up. Everything chugs along well, too, with no slow-down of any kind.

Excitebots: Trick Racing blew by my expectations. It's a game that came out of nowhere, had little buzz, and is one of the best arcade racers currently on the market this generation. The speed is fast, the action is high, and the absurdity of it all is absolutely abundant. If you've ever wanted to knock one out of the park, kick a field goal, catch a shark, and hit a bullseye all the while putting the pedal to the metal, then Excitebots: Trick Racing isn't just right for you, it's right for every Wii owner.

[SuperPhillip Says: 9.25/10]

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Excitebots review tomorrow night.

Just a heads-up that tomorrow I'll have prepared my review for Excitebots: Trick Racing However, that's not all this is for. I would like YOUR Wii friend codes and Excitebots friend codes. Why both? You can send replays and challenges to folks on your Wii console list. If they beat your challenge, they get a number of stars-- however many you bet them they can't beat your time. As for the Excitebots code, we can race online without bets.

S.Phil - 2793 6971 3725

Wii code - 6272 2957 6185 8250

Leave a comment if you'd like me to register either of your codes or both.

Beautiful Katamari (360) Review

For the past two weeks, SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs have covered the Katamari Damacy franchise. Let's bring out a classic review featuring the Prince of All Cosmos in what he does best-- roll up stuff. It's Beautiful Katamari for the Xbox 360.

Roll Without the Changes

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When it was original released back in 2004, Katamari Damacy for the Playstation 2 rolled critics over with its fresh gameplay and quirky charm. Two sequels later and now we have Namco-Bandai offering up another game in the Katamari platter with a taste of Beautiful Katamari-- and on the 360 no less. Does this newest installment in the Katamari Damacy series still innovate, or is this a title that should roll up some new ideas?

Everything begins when the King of All Cosmos, his wife, and their pint-sized Prince are enjoying a vacation. The King of All Cosmos serves a wicked tennis shot that causes a black hole to instantly develop and begin sucking all of the universe into it. Now an entirely new universe must be created, and Prince and his katamari are the only ones who can help. Hm... This story sounds a little too familiar.

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"We think our tennis swing is very impressive.
You can clap for us anytime now."

Let's just toss the story aside as its only purpose is to give the player a reason to roll everything they possibly can, and that's essentially the gist of the Katamari Damacy series. You're placed into a level, and your goal is to make your katamari (the ball you roll things up with) as large as the King's standards in order for him to build a planet out of. Though you usually have a time limit, so dilly-dallying isn't the best option. You wouldn't like the King of All Cosmos when he's angry, now would you? Regardless, you can't just roll up anything and everything immediately. Your katamari will be a set size, and by rolling up smaller objects like matches and coins, your katamari will eventually grow to be able to grab even larger objects-- rats, chairs, people, boats, etc-- an eclectic mix. There's twelve levels in Beautiful Katamari, but most of them retread old territory or give you a grander perspective of Beautiful's gaming world.

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You start small when you're just beginning...

At the end of each session you're scored on how well you performed and how large you got your katamari. The higher, the better. Players will want to score 100 pts. or more in order to unlock Eternal mode which allows you to explore a level at your leisure, finding new objects and other items without the hassle of a time limit. Even after the levels have been finished, there's other cousins just like Prince and presents revealing accessories for Prince and his friends to dress themselves in to find-- and some of these are in pretty fiendish locations. There's also a time attack mode which gives you the chance to show off how quickly you can reach a target size and then post your score on the online leaderboard. Katamari fans will most likely dig this inclusion while others will probably pass on it.

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But now you're approaching the big time, baby!

That's not the conclusion of Beautiful Katamari's online options either. What do you expect-- it's not on Xbox 360 for nothin'! This game allows you to create or join a fully interactive lobby where you can mingle with up to three other players, draw colorful lines in the sand, roll balls around, and interact while you wait for a game to begin. There's five stages to choose from, and they all have the same goal-- collect the most of a certain item to win. The stages vary in size as well as the time allowed. The House is my favorite of the five stages as it's the smallest, and all the items needed are right in the center of the arena, so it's a mad dash to pick them all up. After all have been gathered, it's a battle to bash into the other players to nab their collection of goodies.

Beautiful Katamari's gameplay is solely revolved around the two analog sticks of the 360 controller. You use both at the same time to move around, roll left, roll right, back up, an so on. Click both sticks in for your character to jump over the katamari, performing a 180, giving you a helpful quick turn-- it's easy to do. What isn't really easy to do, however, is the dash. You have to jostle the left and right analog sticks alternately to boost. I found this hard to do, and I would be hitting the analog sticks correctly with no action on the screen. Thankfully though, there's not too much of a use for it even when being under the gun with time. Another troublesome part of the game is the camera. When you're behind a wall or something, the camera turns it invisible so you can see what you're doing. However, when you're a large katamari in a small space, it gets quite difficult to know what's going on. This doesn't help that you'll constantly bump into everything possible.

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Players are awarded cookies for participating.
These do nothing beside earn one an achievement.

Even though the game has some of the most simplistic graphics around on the 360-- I mean, the Wii could easily pull it off if you catch my drift. The game is available in HD, but the models, textures, and areas are so basic that there's really no point. At least audio-wise the title is pretty sharp. An important part in the fanbase's love of the franchise is not just its fun gameplay, but the music that accompanies it. Beautiful Katamari's soundtrack is no exception. While there are some annoying songs (DANKETSU, I am looking straight into your soul right now), most of it lends itself well to the quirkiness of Katamari.

Even with all its faults, it's still an incredibly addictive title with a lot of charm. You'll start the size of a paper clip, and before you know it, that same level you're rolling up entire continents. That was such a cool feeling the first time I experienced it, and what waited after that was just plain awesome. For Katamari veterans, you know you'll pick this title up. For everyone else, you may desire to try before you buy. There's a lot to do in this game, getting 100 points in all levels, gathering all of the cousins and presents, playing online with a few friends, completing your item collection (all 2000 plus items), and nailing some achievements, too. Beautiful Katamari may not bring a myriad of new things to the franchise, but it doesn't fail to please... at least not yet. Though another sequel that changes nothing would push it. *wink wink*

[SuperPhillip Says: 7.0/10]

Grand Slam Tennis (Wii) MotionPlus Demonstration

Whoa, it's-- oh, wait. That's not Peter Moore at all. My mistake. The producer for the anticipated Wii version of Grand Slam Tennis (mid-June release) shows us the capabilities of the Wii remote equipped with MotionPlus. For some reason, this build he's playing has a gap between his swings and the character's swing on-screen. This was not present on hands-on segments with IGN and X-Play, so it doesn't seem to be a problem to worry about. Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee 2 (PSP) Review

Although this game came out this past summer-- a few months shy from a year ago, I finally got around to sitting down and playing through Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee 2 for the PSP. Blame it on the backlog. Was all the wait worth it? Let's see with this new review.

Are these shots still hot on a handheld?

The Hot Shots Golf franchise has always been Sony's go-to franchise for an accessible game of golf with a cast of characters full of spunk and comedic allure. There have been five main installments of the series since its inception on the original Playstation. To date, there has been a Hot Shots Golf game on each and every one of Sony's gaming platforms. The last console version was the Playstation 3's Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds, and while the visual and online quality was certainly bigger and better, the content was a little on the skimpy side. The sequel to the first PSP title, Open Tee, the aptly-named Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee 2 is set to take the original's content and drive it 380 yards. Is this sequel one you'll demand a gimme for, or is Open Tee 2's mediocrity just par for the course?

What Open Tee 2 tee'ers will most likely spend the most time playing is the Challenge mode, where the goal is to complete tournaments and matches as they rise their way to higher rankings. Each ranking has three challenges to choose from. These can be 9 or 18 hole tournaments or match play competitions. The tournaments have you competing against yourself basically-- trying to achieve the best score possible all the while attempting to beat 19 other faceless AI golfers' scores. Match play has you taking on a computer opponent in a 9 hole match. The player who gets the least amount of strokes on a hole, wins that hole. Win the most holes in nine or have a lead of three holes, and you win. Complete enough of these challenges to unlock the opportunity to face a new character in match play rules. Beat that character, and you advance to the next ranking. Each ranking is harder than the last to build a nice and progressive difficulty. New stipulations like Rough +2 rear their head in during specific challenges to bring up some added demand of your skill.

Your caddy will not be on the course
with you like in past games. Because you smell.

You not only play the various challenges to rank up either. Each one you complete, you earn a pick at a card. If you win a tournament by more than two strokes or beat a match play opponent by three holes, you earn a choice of two cards. These are new attire for your cast of golfing wonders to wear, and there's three types just like the three challenge types-- head, body, and accessory. You can mix and match any of the three to create your own custom chipping and driving fashionista. As you play more and more with a golfer, their loyalty to you will rise, indicated by a gauge shaped like a heart. Each time the heart fills, that golfer gets a bonus ability like being able to hit more complex shots, another wardrobe space, and many more. Golfers and items can be earned from completing normal challenges, but a multitude are found resting on the various holes in the game. Your caddy will notify you when you're near something hidden, and you'll see a shining gold circle as to where the secret item is. Some of these require a certain character or outfit to unlock.

Outfit any golfer with thousands of item combinations.

By the time you're through scouring through each course, you'll have twenty characters total and an abundance of accessories, clothing, and head pieces in your arsenal. Just like there's all ten characters representing the original Open Tee, six retro courses from Open Tee are also available making an impressive twelve in all. Compare this to the paltry six in a high-powered Playstation 3's episode of the series. Speaking of courses, there's plenty of eye-catching works of art in the form of holes and spectacular views. Each course is designed masterfully with strategically placed bunkers, hazards, and greens that dare the player to drive their shots towards them. There's a theme to each course from an autumn forest and a Central Park-like course to a dusty desert and a park filled with prehistoric creatures. Case in point if you want course variety, Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee 2 has it.

Don't let the game's cartoon characters and silly demeanor fool you. As veterans of the series known, there's enough depth in Hot Shots Golf to rival Tiger. There's an almost overwhelming amount of things to factor in before making a shot. There's the wind speed, wind direction, weather conditions like snow and rain, the lie of the ball, the elevation of your intended target, what club/type of shot to use, bunkers, water hazards, and enough others to make even Phil Mickelson's head spin. Even if you correctly factor in all of the above, you still have to hit the ball correctly. Open Tee 2 sticks with the tried and true three click shot system. One hit of the button starts the swing gauge, a second button press establishes the power of the shot, and the third sets the impact. Botch the impact, and your shot could have a mind of its own. It's all about timing, and expert characters don't have as wide of a margin of error as the beginning stable of available golfers. You can also hold down a direction on the d-pad to assign the spin of your ball. For example, holding down while swinging gives the ball backspin-- a high floaty shot that can clear tall trees and objects alike with ease-- whereas holding up will deliver topspin which is low-flying shot that cuts through wind like a sword through cheese. Feel free to use that simile in public, mind you.

Hitting a shot just right requires timing and concentration.

Driving and approach shots are just part of the golfing equation. The best driver has nothing if the short game is lacking. It's another can of metaphoric worms when it comes to putting. There's the speed of the green to read, the slope, and how much club to give to ponder over. The primary grouping of golf courses feature easy-enough-to-read greens, but late courses are home to some of the most diabolical greens imaginable. These are the types of greens where for the average player a two-putter is a godsend. The initial difficulty and learning curve of putting can be very daunting to a starting player. For a game filled with welcoming characters and charisma, the struggle with proper and persistent putting will unfortunately drive many players away. The game is not for the weak-of-heart, so if you're not up to a challenge, you may want to rent first.

No shoop, just whoop.

Open Tee 2 is a pretty impressive display. Characters are animated very well, and courses have an adequate amount of texture work and stuff going on in them that they don't come across as bland or overly static. There are some load times to deal with as well as freezing between menus. These are short inconveniences that don't truly detract from the game in any substantial way. The music is rather good and lends well to the golfing experience without being distracting or grating. In fact, the soundtrack is rather hummable, so don't feel bad if you're nodding your head to a tune or two. Voice work for each character can be hit or miss. Mostly miss with the caddies who spout the same handful of sentences pending the situation-- especially the fat doofus who resembles an older Elroy Jetson. He loves to exude the same old "We're finished" line every time I miss a fifty foot part. I'm sorry I failed you, Elroy, like you failed your father.

You can use the record feature to save any
of your best, worst, most laughable holes.

What doesn't fail though is the multiplayer options of Open Tee 2. The biggest new feature for aspiring golfers is the online Wi-Fi mode where players can partake in custom tournaments and other events with players from around the world. As you gain experience and get better in your pastime, you'll rank up, so beginners won't have to take on the golfing elite immediately. There's also local Ad-hoc multiplayer where everyone needs their own PSP and copy of the game to play.

Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee 2 retains much that was good about the original Open Tee and makes it even greater with more options, content, and entertainment. There really is no huge reason to opt for Open Tee as the sequel has all the content from the game plus online play. Newcomers to the franchise might be put off by the disguised difficulty of the game, but those that stick with it and persevere will find one of the best portable golfing trips period.

[SuperPhillip Says: 9.0/10]

Banjo-Tooie (XBLA) Trailer

Bear and bird's second ever adventure hits the Xbox Live Arcade April 29th for 1200 Microsoft points. Stop n' Swap will finally be realized between Banjo-Kazooie and Tooie with this downloadable title. Check out the new trailer for this game.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Excite Truck (Wii) Review

Excite Truck was and still is an under-appreciated gem in the Wii's launch lineup. Almost three years later, we have an interesting twist on the game with Excitebots: Trick Racing which has released today, replacing monster trucks for Beast Wars-inspired vehicles. To commemorate the occasion, here's a review of the first Wii Excite game with Excite Truck!

CAUTION: Exciting Times Ahead

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I purchased a Wii at launch somehow easily and with it I got a total of six games with it. One of my favorites from the bunch is the exciting racer, Excite Truck. Excite Truck pits you against five other off-roaders as you thrash your way across various terrain to the finish line.

You hold the Wii remote sideways like an NES controller. Tilting the remote to the left veers your roader to the left. Conversely tilting it to the right sure enough makes your truck drive to the right. It takes a little bit of getting used to, but a half hour of gameplay later you'll have it. Holding down the control pad will activate a turbo. When held too long your truck will overheat and greatly slow down. Cool your engine off by driving through water or simply letting the wind cool it down. The 2 button is used for accelerating whereas the 1 button allows you to brake and/or go in reverse. Finally the B button in back, when in the air, allows you to shake the remote and perform mid-air spins-- an advanced technique.

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Players can steer in mid-air to land more precisely.

If the following control explanation seems too overwhelming, don't worry. You are required to participate in the training tutorials which may or may not annoy those who would rather jump into races and cups themselves. However, once you complete the first set of the tutorial you'll unlock the Excite Race (each series of races is four or five tracks long) and Challenge (consisting of gate challenge, ring challenge, and crush challenge) modes.

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The graphics aren't too shabby either.

Excite Race is the main mode of Excite Truck. You start off by selecting one of three trucks each with different attributes (there's a plethora of unlockable trucks and color alternatives to be had as well). Then you choose a race. You'll begin racing in the rocky recesses and canyons of Mexico to flying high in the low-gravity expanses of space! Not only will have to worry about your five other rivals to get to the goal first, but you'll also want to score stars while driving around the various rugged racetracks' terrains. How do you do this, you ask? By performing stunts, tricks, and objectives. You'll score stars by doing any one of the following feats-- scoring big air after a large jump (Air), sliding your vehicle around a turn (Drift), edging dangerously close through patches of trees (Tree Run), spinning your ride in mid-air (Air Spin), manipulating the terrain to toss your rivals (Truck Throw), making consecutive jumps (Jump Combo), colliding with another truck (Truck Smash), wiping out and crashing (Nice Crash), and passing through mid-air rings (Rings). The longer you do a task or the more you do, the more stars you'll earn. Obviously you can't just sit back earning stars-- you have to speed up to get first place for the maximum star reward. At the end of each race your star total will be calculated and you'll be awarded with a letter grade from S (best) to D (worst). You'll need to get B's on all the cups races to unlock the next series of races, and you'll be required to get S's on all races to unlock alternate paint jobs, new modes, and new trucks.

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Perform tricks to earn stars. The more stars, the merrier.

The races take place in various locales from the dusty deserts of Mexico to flying over the Great Wall of China to driving along the rolling hills of Scotland. Your racing will take you all around the globe. During races you'll come across exclamation point icons which when you pass over them will alter the terrain of the track right before your eyes. This is where the Truck Throw task comes in. What was once an uphill climb is now a valley with a pond in the middle to splash and blast past.

Aesthetically, Excite Truck is quite nice to look at. The terrain changes are a very nice touch to the gameplay. Musically you'll hear a lot of Japanese butt rock that's sometimes a headache to listen to, but other times it-- actually it's pretty annoying. Also, getting all S ranks just to unlock a harder mode that forces you to get all S ranks followed by another unlocked mode that makes you get S ranks on the races you just got S's on but only mirrored versions is an annoyance and is artificially lengthening the gameplay experience in this reviewer's opinion. Lastly versus mode is only 2-player splitscreen without any computer-controlled opponents to be found. Rather lame indeed.

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Hm... I think that was the nickname of his ex-girlfriend.

Overall, Excite Truck is a very entertaining, exciting (sorry to use that word), adrenaline-pumping game. Sure, sometimes managing tricks while trying to stay in first place can be a little frustrating, but the effort usually pays off. Anyone with a Wii and enjoys the occasional racer will simply fall in love with this game. I know I did.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.0/10]
- Simply put, exciting.

Monday, April 20, 2009

SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs - They See Me Rollin' Edition

This edition is pretty special as we've reached the 300th video. Man, does time fly! Next week we'll be having a special installment celebrating the occasion, bu for now let's wrap things up with the Katamari Damacy franchise!

V296. Me & My Katamari - Katamaresort

Let's get away from the original Katamari Damacy and take a look at Me & My Katamari for the PSP. The game didn't translate as well as the player needed to use the d-pad and the face buttons instead of two analog sticks. Katamaresort is a terrific summer-sounding song that is accentuated by the guitar. A great track indeed!

V297. We Love Katamari - Everlasting Love

"I can sing a song for you and me. I can make a song for all who we love."

Everlasting Love has a rocking and infectious beat to it. It's beyond catchy to me, and I hope you enjoy it, too.

V298. Beautiful Katamari - Guru Guru Gravity

This track comes from the most recent Katamari game, Beautiful Katamari for the Xbox 360. Guru Guru Gravity has a mechanical sound to it which put me off at first until I got to the extremely catchy chorus. What do you think? Do you like the song, too?

V299. We Love Katamari - Shine! Mr Sunshine

Shine! Mr. Sunshine starts out with a retro version of the Katamari Damacy theme before kicking in with Shigeru Matsuzaki at around thirty seconds. Then the first verse arrives followed by yet another glorious chorus. This song is such an inspirational and moving one just from the sound of it solely.

V300. We Love Katamari - Katamari on the Funk

Wow. 300 videos. Someone has too much time on their hands... Yep, all of you folks who have watched every single one of my videos has too much time on their hands! No, no. I'm kidding. It's me with a lot of time! I appreciate your support, and I hope you'll subscribe and stick with me! I love having your insight!

Katamari on the Funk is definitely a song that one can get up and dance to! It's beyond catchy! The only flaw I might have with this song is that it tends to drag on in certain spots. Perhaps that's just me! Stay tuned for another 100 videos, everyone, and thank you so much for viewing my videos!

Next week we'll be taking a breather from new volumes for a special 300th video celebration. I hope you'll look forward to it on SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs!