Saturday, September 12, 2009

DuckTales (NES) Retro Review

We've made it to another weekend. Hope everyone is relaxing and having a great one. Time once again for a retro review. This time we're taking a quick look at DuckTales for the original Nintendo Entertainment System.

Not ponytails or cottontails-- no, Duck Tales.

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Duck Tales was the beginning of a parade of games produced and developed by Capcom featuring characters from the wonderful world of Disney. Duck Tales is your standard 2-D platformer where you play the role of Uncle Scrooge McDuck as he searches high and low and from the snow-capped mountains of the Himalayas to the hollowed and haunted halls of Transylvania for treasure. There are a total of six levels in the game, and after choosing one of the three difficulties at the title screen, you're thrust into Uncle Scrooge's control room where you'll choose to start your journey in either the Amazon (where you'll climb up large vines and thwart flies and apes), Transylvania (where you'll have to maneuver through a haunted castle filled with hidden passages and mirrors which transport you across the castle), some African mines (where your platforming skills will be put to the test), the Himalayas (where you'll tiptoe across the snowy slopes and enter an icicle-filled cavern, and finally the Moon (where you'll infiltrate a docked U.F.O.).

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Out of the Amazon...

Each level includes various nooks and crannies to explore. The levels are seldom ever designed to have the player simply move left to right like Super Mario Bros. You'll need to survey the entire level, busting up bad guys, dodging attacks, leaping over bottomless pits, and navigating the labyrinth of the game's six levels to gain treasure. Treasure is hidden well in this game. Each treasure Uncle Scrooge picks up goes into a total at the top left corner of the screen. At the climax of each level is a boss fight where learning the patterns of your foes is your best bet of picking up a victory.

Uncle Scrooge isn't a feeble old duck either. He has a bag of tricks of his own. Scrooge can't just jump on the head of a bad guy like Mario can, Italians can get away with it-- ducks can't. By standing next to a block, Scrooge can use his cane to knock it into an enemy. Additionally, by leaping into air and holding down and B, Uncle Scrooge can use his cane as a pogo stick. This is great for bouncing off foes' heads, making high jumps, and crossing over spiked sections of levels.

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...And into the African Mines!

Duck Tales is a television series that was fun, family-friendly, and easy to get into. The game is essentially the same. Seasoned gamers won't have too much difficulty beating the game in one sitting. Others might struggle as there is a certain toughness in this game even on the easiest setting. The beauty of classic games is playing through them multiple times, trying to beat your highest score. You can do this with Duck Tales as well. Simply see how much treasure you can pick up by the end of the game and you might unlock a secret ending. No promises though. *hint hint* If you see Duck Tales in a bargain bin, pick it up immediately. You won't be disappointed unless you have a duck phobia or something. Good luck with that if you do, however. The rest of us can and probably will enjoy this classic.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.0/10]

Friday, September 11, 2009

SPC Quickies - Volume Three: DS Blockbuster

If you recall, an affiliate and friend of ours, One Duck's Opinion, wrote up an exhaustive list of reviews of fifty-five of his DS games. Since my older brother is slouching on his next review, I'll be taking this opportunity to do the same except with my collection of DS games-- at least the ones I've played. Some of the games listed already have reviews to them. I will be glancing over them anyway. Like traditional quickies, I'll be rating these games from 0-5. I don't know if you can hear it, but I'm cracking my knuckles right now to get ready for this.

Advance Wars: Days of Ruin - War has changed. It's much darker, bleaker, but still full of adolescent commanding officers. Would you go to die for a sixteen year old? I digress. For the first time ever, you can hop online and battle friends and foes from across the globe with Wi-Fi warfare. With new units, a content-heavy single-player campaign, and online play, Days of Ruin is definitely one to recommend. 4/5

Advance Wars: Dual Strike - Andy, Max, Sami, and the gang are back with the very first Advance Wars game to hit the DS. Dual Strike takes its name from the one-two punch of CO powers that can be unleashed on your unsuspecting opponents. You can easily wipe out any resistance with these powers. Perhaps they're a bit overpowered, but it makes otherwise impossible battles all the more winnable. 4/5

Animal Crossing: Wild World - There's so much to do on the planet of Wild World. Befriend neighbors, do chores, furnish your house, pay off your debt to a weasel-y raccoon (yeah, right), collect new furniture and items, collect bugs, fish, gather seashells, create patterns for your clothes, and hop online and visit your friends. Animal Crossing had tons to do, and Wild World adds even more to the mix. Highly recommended. 5/5

Bomberman Land Touch! - An adventure full of mini-games to complete and tasks to do, Bomberman Land Touch! isn't your typical Bomberman. Sure, there's the classic Bomberman mode that you can play online that is separate from the single-player adventure, but the focus with Bombeman Land is all mini-games. Your mileage may vary. 3/5

Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow - My first ever Castlevania game, so I hold it near and dear to my heart. You gained souls from enemies and bosses. These souls granted you new powers to access new areas of the main castle. Bosses were memorable, many taking up most of the screen. The soundtrack is one of the series' best as well. 5/5

Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin - Easily the most forgettable game in the DS Castlevania trilogy, Portrait of Ruin gets its name from the many portraits you enter into new worlds and lands. The zombie-bashing, skeleton-slashing gameplay is present and accounted for, and the game is an entertaining romp for any fan of the genre. 4/5

Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia - I was supposed to write up a detailed review of this game, but I never managed to find the will to do so. Regardless, Order of Ecclesia is your standard Metroidvania fare. This time around, however, the world map is much more segmented and broken up into areas. If you like Castlevania, you'll love this more challenging game. 4/5

Chrono Trigger - I have never played the original Super Nintendo version of Chrono Trigger, so the DS remake was an entirely new beast for me. Featuring an entertaining battle system, time travel, and Yasunori Matsuda's magnum opus soundtrack, Chrono Trigger is a true winner for any RPG fan. 5/5

Clubhouse Games - Thirty-two classic parlor games, Clubhouse Games is packed with content. Don't like word games? Maybe the card games will be more down your alley. You can play online with up to five other friends, draw notes to one another, and have loads of fun. A great single-player and multi-player game for anyone, young and old. 4/5

Contra 4 - My butt is sore from Contra 4 continually kicking it. I no longer have a name because Contra 4 took it. Yes, it kicked my ass and took my name. This game is a Contra fan's explosive wet dream with two classic Contra games included, a balls-to-the-wall difficult challenge mode, and nine levels of increasingly grueling fun. Not for all, not for me. I'll stick with the easy games. 3/5

CrossworDS - Like crossword puzzles? Like word searches? Like anagrams? Then you'll love CrossworDS. It has hundreds of puzzles that will last you months. It's the perfect pick-up-and-play game. Definitely worth the twenty bucks. 4/5

Custom Robo Arena - I love robots, I love fighting, so this should have been a match-made in heaven. Too bad that the story is so juvenile and boring that it made playing through it nearly impossible. I couldn't complete it-- even with the cool robots and online play. 3/5

Diddy Kong Racing DS - This game is a good sign of what is wrong with today's Rare. They botched a perfectly good game. Blowing into the mic to start up your hovercraft at the beginning of a race? Seriously? Seriously??? 2/5

DK Jungle Climber - You can keep your wishes of Donkey Kong Country 4 because the DK King of Swing series is as close as you're going to get to it. The game used L and R to climb walls, bashing baddies, and collecting all sorts of goodies. This is a really cool game that can get quite challenging later on, too! 4/5

Dragon Ball Origins - I'm not a fan of the Dragon Ball series or any of its spin-offs. That's okay though because somehow I still enjoy the games. Dragon Ball Origins is no exception to this statement. Featuring stylus-based controls in conjunction with the d-pad, Origins is a fun little adventure that looks great, takes players up to the first Martial Arts Tournament, and oozes with humor. Check this one out. You won't be disappointed. 4/5

Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime - This adventure might be short at less than ten hours to complete, but it's a fun ride while it lasts. Rocket has to rescue his fellow Boingburg denizens from the clutches of the Plob! On the way he'll take part in tank battles which many folks are addicted to. Will you be one of them? 4/5

Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker - When you combine Pokemon style capturing and collecting with the world of Dragon Quest, you get Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker, a game permeating with content. The single-player mode can last upwards of thirty-to-forty hours as you go after and try to collect all of the over 200 monsters. Then you can take your monsters online and battle with friends or strangers via Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. 4/5

Elebits: The Adventures of Kai & Zero - This Elebits game is nothing like the Wii original. Sure, you still suck up Elebits by tapping at them with the stylus, but now it's an adventure game more akin to Zelda than Elebits. The story is pretty poor, but the gameplay is rewarding enough to keep players coming back for more. 3/5

Elite Beat Agents - A rhythm-based game featuring a trio of funkadelic agents, Elite Beat Agents may turn some people off with some of the song choices. Avril Lavenge? (Who really cares enough about her to get the spelling right.) Get that $@$# out of here. Touch, tap, and slide the stylus around the screen in time with the music for a high score. Fun, but I couldn't stay with it long enough to beat it. 3/5

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time - Echoes of Time is the indirect sequel to Ring of Fates showcasing online play for up to four players. The action-RPG aspect of the game is still here as is the dungeon-crawling. The 3D visuals are quite pleasing to the eye as well. 4/5

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates - Ring of Fates is an action-RPG with a lot of heart. The story isn't going to win any awards, but the gameplay is fun and easy enough for anyone to get into. Between this and Echoes of Time, however, Echoes of Time is the better game. 4/5

Final Fantasy III - A game stuck in the early nineties, Final Fantasy III is as old-school as it gets. A lack of being able to save anywhere, and the brutal difficulty made this fantasy one I could pass over quite easily. It's still a competent game, but it's definitely not for everyone. 3/5

Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales - Like Bomberman Land Touch!, this is a mini-game compilation under the guise of an adventure. Play multiple mini-games each with a fairy tale theme and each with familiar monsters and music from the Final Fantasy franchise. You can take on people online in two player card battles. Overall, a charming little game worthy of a look at the very least. 3/5

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars - I must be getting burnt out on these types of games. I couldn't play more than a couple of hours before being bored. The drive here, shoot these people up, move here gameplay just doesn't do it for me anymore. I will congratulate Rockstar on trying to make the series work on the DS. 3/5

Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure - By jolly! Meet Henry Hatsworth. He's looking for pieces of a legendary golden suit. Part platformer, part puzzler, you're constantly switching between leaping across chasms on the top screen and taking part in Panel de Pon-styled puzzles on the bottom screen. The game's rather challenging, too, so get ready to be frustrated at certain parts! 4/5

Kirby Canvas Curse - One of the earliest DS games, Kirby Canvas Curse came out the June after the DS released. It was right in the middle of a drought, something that the DS would not see ever again to this day. The game is played by drawing lines that Kirby follows. This highly intuitive, highly entertaining game is still one of the best uses of the DS. 5/5

Kirby Squeak Squad - There's not much that can be said about this Kirby adventure. It's rather generic, lackluster, and just uninspired. It's a breeze to play through with the only longevity coming from finding hidden treasure chests in the various worlds. Not Kirby's best entry, but it's a playable one nonetheless. 2/5

Kirby Super Star Ultra - Kirby Super Star Ultra is a remake of Kirby Super Star, a collection of mini-games and adventures including the Metroid-styled Great Cave Offensive, Meta Knight's Revenge, and many more. While Squeak Squad felt uninspired, Ultra makes up for that in spades with a wonderful collection of Kirby cuteness. 4/5

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass - Link hits the DS with a stylus-controlled journey on and off the seas. The controls worked great, but the big problem with the game was constantly returning to the Temple of the Ocean King after every dungeon, trudging through the same rooms over and over again. Not my cup of tea, but the rest of the game was terrific. 4/5

Lunar Knights - Kojima Productions does something different-- they make a game that is more gameplay than cutscenes! Wow! This Boktai sequel features an isometric view in dungeons with hack and slack/hack and shoot gameplay that just didn't click with me. It was repetitive, and the story was laughable (as is usual with something from Kojima) at best. 2/5

Magical Starsign - A real paint-by-numbers RPG, Magical Starsign doesn't really do much to make itself stand out from the many much better RPGs on the system. If you're a fan of Brownie Brown (all three of you), then you'll probably love this game. 2/5

Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time - I'm very excited for next week as Bowser's Inside Story comes out. The second of the Mario & Luigi trilogy, Partners in Time, featured a time travel mechanic, bosses that took forever to kill, and a disconnected world. What the game did right was be entertaining through and through with its fun gameplay and trademark humor. 4/5

Mario Hoops 3-on-3 - It was about time Mario and crew hit the hard-court and play a little basketball. Developed by Square-Enix of all people, 3-on-3 is oftentimes Mario Hoops 1-on-3. Your computer teammates just stand there, never helping out making games very infuriating and cheap. The game, however, is a good looker with a great soundtrack. It's just not that good of a game. 2/5

Mario Kart DS - One of the most complete Mario Kart experiences, Mario Kart DS features 32 races, sixteen old, sixteen new, a mission mode, online play, an emblem maker, and twelve different racers with multiple karts. There is no better Mario Kart game. Mario Kart DS is it. 5/5

Mario Party DS - Party hardy, Marty! Mario Party hits portables in a traditional game. Five boards, eight characters, and a myriad of cool mini-games that make use of the DS's hardware. What's the icing on this cake is that you can play all of the boards and mini-games with only one game card. No need for your buddies to buy the game for them to play it with you. I wish more DS games were like this! 4/5

Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis - The original Mario vs. Donkey Kong put you in control of Mario as he jumped and hopped his way through levels straight out from the classic Donkey Kong games. The sequel puts you in control of the Mini Marios as the goal to get them to the goal without destroying any of them. The single-player will last you five hours or so while the ability to create your own puzzles and place them online puts the replay value up considerably. 3/5

Mega Man Battle Network 5: Double Team DS - Two Battle Network games rolled into one package, Double Team DS features both versions of Mega Man Battle Network 5. Little has been done to the tired and true formula of past Mega Man Battle Network games. If you've played one already, you probably have seen most of what Double Team DS has to offer. 3/5

Mega Man ZX - A more Metroid-styled Mega Man game, Mega Man ZX features one of the worst map systems I've ever come across. It makes trekking anywhere a considerable pain in the rear. The action of the game is what you'd expect from Mega Man, and here, Mega Man ZX does not disappoint. Just don't rely on the map. 3/5

Mega Man ZX Advent - In Mega Man ZX Advent, each boss you defeated would give you the ability to transform into them to access previously unreachable areas. The map system has been improved, the game is more enjoyable, and there's plenty of content to keep you blasting away for hours. 4/5

Metroid Prime Hunters - What do you get when you take Samus Aran and combine it with deathmatch-style gameplay? You get Metroid Prime Hunters. I personally couldn't get a grip of the touch-screen controls, so I used good old analog. The single-player was quite good if not more linear than usual, and the multi-player was just pure bliss if you played with friends. There's too many hackers online to make the game fun with strangers. 4/5

Metroid Prime Pinball - What do you get when you take Samus Aran and combine it with pinball? You get Metroid Prime Pinball. The game had multiple boards with different little gimmicks on each of them. I'm usually not good or patient with pinball, but Metroid Prime Pinball is one of my favorites of the genre. Somehow Metroid Prime Pinball worked taking Samus and keeping her in her morph ball for most of the time. 4/5

Nanostray - Nanostray is a top-down shmup that rivals Contra 4 in difficulty that is from the same game that made Iridion for the Game Boy Advance. The 3D visuals are extremely impressive, and while the game doesn't feature much in the way of bullet hell, it can be frustrating at times. 4/5

Nanostray 2 - Taking the successful formula of the original and improving on it, Nanostray 2 showcases new perspectives instead of just top-down levels. There's new side-scrolling levels featuring the same awesome graphics and bosses that made the first game so fun. 4/5

New Super Mario Bros. - I'll probably be writing a more-detailed review of this game in anticipation of the Wii installment. I really enjoy this game as it's a challenging Mario game-- if you go after the three gold coins per level, that is. I didn't like how two of the worlds were completely optional, and that some hidden areas required some of the less interesting power-ups. Other than, New Super Mario Bros. is a fantastic platformer. 5/5

Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword - Slash, slice, dice, and strike your enemies with the stylus. When playing, you hold the DS on its side like a book. You use the stylus to attack enemies and move around and you use any button to shield yourself. Another game that can kick your butt in an instant, Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword is an incredible effort on the DS. 4/5

Nintendogs - Take care of your dog, cater to its needs, play with it, take it on walks, enter it in competitions, and much more in Nintendogs. One of the more addictive features of the game is the sheer amount of goodies you can put on your dog from Mario and Luigi hats to new dog collars. The multimillion seller may not last you that long, but the ride is indeed a fun one. 4/5

Planet Puzzle League
- It's Tetris Attack with a futuristic flair. Planet Puzzle League is yet another Nintendo property that hit the DS with online play. What isn't there in personality (no Yoshi, for example), the game offers in unique modes and hours upon hours of addicting gameplay. 4/5

Pokemon Diamond - Gotta catch 'em all all over again! The DS installment of the Pokemon franchise along with Pokemon Pearl, the game trumpets better visuals and online play. Those burnt out from the Pokemon franchise won't be getting into this game any time soon, but for the rest of us, there's so many Pokemon to capture and collect that we'll be playing til sunrise. 4/5

Professor Layton and the Curious Village - Professor Layton is a series of brain twisters all loosely connected by an overlaying story. With over 100 puzzles to solve, many of which are just clever beyond words, Professor Layton is a game that shouldn't be passed up. 4/5

Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box - Taking the same formula from the Curious Village, the Diabolical Box features more locales, more puzzles, and more content to take in. Both Curious Village and Diabolical Box are worth getting. I remember letting my mom play one of the games, and she's no gamer at all. She very much enjoyed her time with Professor Layton. 4/5

Resident Evil: Deadly Silence - Deadly Silence always reminds of farts being silent and deadly. Take that as you will. Deadly Silence is a remake of the original Resident Evil for the original Playstation. It featured some touch controls, but it was mainly the same game. Dated graphics and dated gameplay, but it still holds up well in most aspects. Those like me who never played the original got the most out of the game. 3/5

Soul Bubbles - An innovative game, Soul Bubbles has you guiding bubbles filled with souls across various game levels and worlds. The game isn't overly challenging, so it makes for a perfect game to sit back and relax to. What it lacks in difficulty it makes up for in sheer inventiveness. 3/5

Sonic Rush - Sonic speeds onto the DS with a worthwhile game full of fast fun and platforming peril. One gripe I do have is that the game uses way too many bottomless pits, something that the next game will rectify. Besides that, armed with an awesome soundtrack and impressive visuals, Sonic Rush is a great game for those wanting to forget those 3D Sonic games... 4/5

Sonic Rush Adventure - Add one obnoxious new friend for Sonic in Marine, a disjointed flow of zones, and jet skis, and you get Sonic Rush Adventure. While many of the problems of Sonic Rush were fixed, the decision to force the player to ride to different zones and islands wasn't one I was satisfied with. Still, those who love 2D Sonic and speed will love Sonic Rush Adventure. 4/5

Star Fox Command
- Some people dislike Star Fox Assault. I'm in the camp that dislikes Command. It was part real-time strategy, part dogfighting. The game was just highly repetitive utilizing the same structure for each mission. Shoot all bad guys, fly through rings, destroy mothership #345. 2/5

Super Mario 64 DS
- You take the original Super Mario 64, put it to the DS, add three new playable characters (Yoshi, Luigi, and Wario), add some touch-based mini-games, thirty new stars, and updated graphics, and you have a game that's still one of my favorites. I remember being amazed at the visuals and that a portable could produce them (this was before the PSP, of course). Great game even when just playing with the d-pad. 5/5

Super Princess Peach
- Princess Peach has never been the heroine or star of her own game. Until now. Mario and Luigi have somehow been abducted, and it's up to Peach to rescue them through eight worlds with multiple levels, secrets to be found, and bosses to beat down. The soundtrack is lively, the visuals are colorful, and the game, although easy, is a blast to play. 4/5

Tetris DS - A rare gem on the DS, Tetris DS is now out of production, and it can fetch for a high price on eBay. Unlike Planet Puzzle League, Tetris DS is filled to the brim with personality whether its from Mario or Samus Aran of Metroid fame. There's a ton of different modes and options available including online. If you own this game, hold it to your heart and cherish it. It's a great one! 4/5

Tony Hawk's Proving Ground - Tony Hawk translated quite well to a portable with Tony Hawk's Proving Ground. Sure, the character creator was plenty poor, but the actual skating and grinding worked really wonderfully. Online play was just the cherry on top of this great game, one that I enjoyed much more than the console versions. 4/5

The World Ends With You - This action-RPG featured a ton of annoying characters, but thankfully the gameplay saved it. The battles were controlled with the stylus, and each ability used a different method of unleashing it. For instance, drawing a circle would initiate an orb attack. This innovative and highly creative RPG is worth seeking out. 4/5

Viewtiful Joe: Double Trouble - The final game in the Viewtiful Joe line of games (thanks for killing it, Capcom), Viewtiful Joe: Double Trouble may not have been a technical marvel (only two enemies could be on the screen at once), but it was an entertaining game for the short time I played through it. 3/5

Yoshi's Island DS - A direct sequel to the Super Nintendo's Yoshi Island, the DS version is different in that it features multiple babies with different powers, a much more challenging adventure, and a horrible soundtrack. I really enjoyed this retread on old ground, and those claiming that Nintendo games are too easy should check this one out. 4/5

Yoshi's Touch & Go - This game is something more for an arcade than the DS. The goal is to get as high of a score as possible, drawing lines for Yoshi to walk on and shooting eggs to defeat enemies. One could say this game is a tech demo of the DS's capabilities, but it's an enjoyable little jaunt for sure. 3/5

There you have it. 63 games, 63 Quickies. My thanks to Psychoduck for the inspiration to do this!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Games I Liked, Others Didn't

We all have them-- games that we like that the majority of the gaming public doesn't. You try to hide them. You feel guilty about liking them, but you enjoy them nonetheless. I thought I'd take an opportunity to bring up some of these types of games. Feel free to share your own in the comments section!

Sonic Heroes (PS2, GCN, XBX)

Sonic Heroes had some of my favorite level design in the franchise's 3D history. I especially liked how the game followed the traditional 2D pattern of two acts followed by a boss. The glitches didn't bother me as I didn't experience a vast amount. The ones I did experience were vexing as they were usually ones that ruined a good run and were freak accidents. Playing as three characters as opposed to one was a fun gimmick, but playing through the game four times with the game's four teams became very tedious. Despite this, Sonic Heroes was an enjoyable, if not flawed, speedy experience.

Star Fox Assault (GCN)

Star Fox takes to the skies... and the ground in Star Fox Assault. The game featured impressive graphics for the time, a masterful soundtrack of old and new themes, hectic space dogfighting, and the ability for Fox to leave his ship and run on-foot. This is where some people disliked the game. I had no problem blasting baddies away, running around, and completing missions. There were only ten missions in all meaning that the campaign had much less longevity than what you'd see in Star Fox 64 which easily trumps this game. Multi-player, however, Assault has 64 beat with cleverly-designed, open battlefields and tons of modes and replay-ability.

Donkey Kong: Barrel Blast (Wii)

Donkey Kong: Barrel Blast was barrel-blasted for its controls. You drummed both the Wii remote and nunchuk to speed up in this racing game. You raced along a rail, so the turns were automatic, but you could move left or right by drumming the Wii remote or nunchuk separately. The game featured a myriad of modes from the standard grand prix to a special challenge mode that put you in a race and you had to meet the conditions of it. Combined with the racing was a cast of colorful Kongs and Kremlings from DK, Diddy, Lanky (DK 64), Funky, and King K. Rool.

Dewy's Adventure (Wii)

I remember pre-ordering this game so I could get the bonus, a Dewy plushie. I don't regret it one bit as I vastly enjoyed Dewy's Adventure for Wii. The game's visuals are still some of the best a third party has had to offer on the console, and the fun was immeasurable. You tilted the Wii remote to slide Dewy around the game's massive themed levels, rescuing fellow dewdrops and using the power of weather to shock or freeze enemies into submission. If an option to use the Wii remote and nunchuk were offered or the ability to tighten the controls of the tilting, Dewy's Adventure would most likely have been a higher rated game instead of the cult classic it is today.

Tony Hawk's Underground 2 (PS2, GCN, XBX)

After seeing Tony Hawk Ride, I'm sure more people are thinking more fondly of Tony Hawk's past games. Downhill Jam is more intriguing than Ride, for Bucky Lasek's sake! While Underground 2 followed a more Jackass feel with that giant moron Bam Margera, the game featured some of my favorite levels in the history of the series. The game was just fun to play, and it still had that enjoyable arcade feel that later games dropped altogether. The ability to create your own goals and make your own skate parks raised my love for this game. Along with Pro Skater 3, Tony Hawk's Underground 2 is probably my favorite in the series.

That does it for now. Again, let me know some of your games that you like that the rest of the world doesn't. Perhaps they will show up in a future installment!

Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time (PS3) New Screens

IGN has posted several shiny new screens from October 27th's Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time. You can be sure that a review will be forthcoming once the game is released as well as the continuation of my critique of the franchise. For now, ogle these beautiful shots!

August 2009 NPD Results

The middle of the month is here, so let's take a look at the NPD results from August.

PlayStation 2 105.9K
PlayStation 3 210.0K
PSP 140.3K
Xbox 360 215.4K
Wii 277.4K
Nintendo DS 552.9K

MADDEN NFL 10 (360; Aug-09) 928,000
MADDEN NFL 10 (PS3; Aug-09) 665,000
BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM* (360; Aug-09) 303,000
BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM* PS3; Aug-09) 290,000
MADDEN NFL 10 (PS2; Aug-09) 160,000
WII FIT* (WII; May-08) 128,000
MARIO KART W/WHEEL (WII; Apr-08) 120,000
FOSSIL FIGHTERS (NDS; Aug-09) 92,000

(*includes CE, GOTY editions, bundles, etc. but not those bundled with hardware)

Madden goes deep this month and scores while Wii Sports Resort keeps relaxing in the top ten. Meanwhile, Batman: Arkham Asylum reached the top ten for both versions. I need to pick that one up somehow. PS3 and 360 are ever-so-close this month, and it's a good belief that the PS3 will outsell it (perhaps even the Wii) this September.

The DS continues to find massive success, and from almost out of nowhere Fossil Fighters rounds out the top ten. Finally, the PSP gets a victory this month by having a title in the top ten with Dissidia: Final Fantasy.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Most Overlooked DS Games - Part Three

It's time again to un-overlook various DS games in the platform's extensive library. The DS is very much the Playstation 2 of its generation with all genres covered. The following games listed could have been overlooked by my gaming peers, consumers, and/or fellow reviewers. If you'd like to be caught up to speed on past installments, check out the following parts:

Part 1

Part 2

With that out of the way, let's get into the next five DS games that get the honor of being inducted into the Most Overlooked!

Super Princess Peach

One could say that Super Princess Peach was the appetizer to New Super Mario Bros. It came out the February before NSMB's release, and it had plenty of platforming goodness to share. The game featured Peach who could use the power of emotions to access new areas and beat bad bosses. She could cry tears that could get beanstalks to grow allowing her to reach higher heights or stomp in a furious anger, leveling all baddies in her way. While on the easy side, Super Princess Peach is a charming little game with fun platforming and a great soundtrack, too.

Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime

Just reviewed yesterday, Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime puts you in command of Rocket, a little slime who is charged with the task of rescuing all 100 of the townspeople of Boingburg. If scouring the seven lands for fellow slimes isn't your thing, perhaps the colossal tank battles are more up your alley. With about ten hours to single-player content, multiplayer tank battles, and plenty of cuteness, Rocket Slime is a great adventure oozing with saccharine sweetness.

Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker

But maybe Pokemon-styled monster catching, collecting, and battling is more your thing. Enter the 3D world of Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker where capturing and collecting monsters from the Dragon Quest series is all the rage. Collect over 200 different monsters with different abilities and skills, take part in Wi-Fi play as you battle players from around the world, or finish off the 30 hour single-player campaign in this content-heavy game. If Pokemon doesn't do it for you, perhaps Dragon Quest Monsters will.

Contra 4

Are you ready to have your ass handed to you by a DS game? Then pick up a copy of Contra 4. Made by the development studio behind Shantae, Contra 4 features nine levels of progressively more difficult stages, two-screened areas, diabolical bosses to blast away to smithereens, and more power-ups than you can shake a flame-thrower at. As stated before, this game can be crazily difficult, so easily-frustrated gamers need not apply. Contra veterans will love all the bonus content the game has including a museum filled with past Contra games.

Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword

Another game from a series that can put your butt through the wringer, Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword features an intuitive control system where you slash and slice enemies with your stylus. The game is played in a storybook style position with the DS held on its side. If the sheer amount of enemies doesn't kill you, the crafty bosses surely will. Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword unfortunately failed to set the world on fire sales-wise, but that doesn't stop the game from being a blast to play.

Have any suggestions for future installments for DS, PSP, Wii, PS3, or 360? Feel free to post a comment to let me know.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime (DS) Review

Let's kick off the next 500 with a brand-new review. It's not for a really recent game, but it's fair game nonetheless! It's Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime for the Nintendo DS.

It's Slime Time!

The Dragon Quest franchise is foreign soil to a lot of Western gamers who are probably more familiar with Final Fantasy. Before Final Fantasy was Dragon Quest, then Dragon Warrior in the West, an RPG series that the Japanese are simply enamored with. Instead of playing one of the lengthy numbered installments of the series, I've decided to get my feet wet with Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime, an action-adventure game with characters and themes that any DQ fan will instantly pick up. Is Rocket Slime worth your time, or is this game anything but s(ub)lime?

Welcome to Boingburg, capital to the kingdom of Slimeria. It is here where slimes of all shapes and sizes live in harmony. That until a group of monsters known as the Plob ransack the town of all its citizens save for a soon-to-be hero slime named Rocket. With a few cool tricks in his repertoire and a mysterious flute that can call upon a gigantic slime tank, it's up Rocket to track down the Plob, rescue his kidnapped villagers, and save the day. The story is decidedly for the younger set, but there's plenty of humor for older folks.

There are seven main areas on the world map for Rocket to explore. They range from mountaintops to sprawling wooded areas. Each one is divided up into several rooms or areas. The goal is to shuffle around the levels, defeating enemies, gathering gold, and rescuing fellow slimes from their treasure chest imprisonments. Most levels have upwards of ten slimes to save in all. Rescuing all of them in a level earns Rocket a reward. The lower screen displays the action while the top screen shows off how many slimes are left as well as a map of the entire area of map. Once a slime has been freed from captivity, it has to be transported back to town in order to be fully rescued. This is where carts come in. Tossing a slime, enemy, or item onto a cart will send it back to Boingburg without Rocket having to go back to town himself.

Rocket is a flexible little fellow. He can attack foes with his patented elasto blast, and while they are in the air, he can catch them and send them flying at another foe or send them on a cart back to Boingburg. The elasto blast has a myriad of other uses such as using it to slam through crystallized walls, using it to bounce back and forth on a row of bungee cords, and it can be used to smash treasure chests for gold, health-increasing items, and rescuing slimes. Rocket can also jump and hover in air for a limited amount of time.

That action is just one half of Rocket Slime. The other comes in the form of tank battles. Items carried by Rocket and sent back to Boingburg are available as ammunition for Rocket's gigantic tank. How tank battles work is that Rocket and crew gather and toss ammo into one of two cannons-- one shoots straight ahead while the other shoots in an upwards arc. Meanwhile, the other cannon's occupants will be tossing ammo into their two cannons as well. The goal is to whittle down the opponent's hit points by using the ammo to damage their cannon. When a tank's HP is down to zero, Rocket will be able to enter his opponent's engine room and destroy the heart of the tank, winning the battle.

Of course, I make it sound easier than it actually is. If two items shot from opposite tanks hit one another, they'll negate each other. It takes a fair amount of strategy and a little patience to damage a tank. This can make some battles go on for a ridiculous amount of time. Sometimes I dreaded having to go into yet another tank battle. By the end of the game I was just entering my opponent's tank and stopping them from throwing ammo in their cannons.

While in Boingburg, Rocket can venture around town. As more slimes are rescued, more sections of town are available for Rocket to explore. Rocket can visit the library, purchase ammunition at the shop, use the Krak Pot to create new ammo from received recipes, and upgrade the HP of his tank. As you begin the game, Boingburg will start out as a dilapidated mess from the Plob's attack, but as the game progresses, the town will be renovated and look as good as new.

Rocket Slime isn't a lengthy or difficult adventure at all. It can be completed in less than ten hours, and that's with collecting all one-hundred captured slimes. While the journey is a brief one, it's certainly satisfying. Up to four players with heir own DSes and a copy of the game each can participate in multi-player tank battles where each opponent selects a tank, chooses a side, and sets forth to blow each other away. Unfortunately, there's no Wi-Fi to speak of which means tracking down three other people to play, let alone just one other, is a lofty ambition. The single-player story does have a tank masters mode where you face CPU-controlled tanks in battle. Point being is that if you're looking for longevity, you're not going to find it here.

Presentation-wise, Rocket Slime features cute 2D graphics. This is nothing that couldn't be done on the GBA, but it's still a delight to look at. Characters move in a believable if not endearing manner. The soundtrack is nice and bouncy with numerous tunes that will have your head nodding and your toes tapping. Overall, the presentation package doesn't push the DS to anywhere near its limits, but it's a pleasant package regardless.

Overall, Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime is a cute little adventure for younger gamers and those young at heart. Those looking for a particularly long or challenging adventure may want to look elsewhere, but fans of the Dragon Quest franchise will find a lot to love with this game. The tank battles might go on too long, and the difficulty level may not be challenging, but Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime is a worthy addition to anyone's DS collection. You might even have the slime of your life.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.0/10]

Monday, September 7, 2009

SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs - 500th Entry Edition

Welcome to a very special edition of SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs. It's the 500th entry of SuperPhillip Central! With that, we're taking a listen to music from the Final Fantasy series. Here's to 500 more!

v391. Final Fantasy - Cornelia Castle

We're starting off a new series now. We've gone through Mario, Sonic, Zelda, Mega Man, Donkey Kong, Katamari, and now we're headed for Final Fantasy. Let's start with the very first with the original Final Fantasy. This is the Origins version of Cornelia Castle.

v392. Final Fantasy II - Symphonic Suite - Scene VII

This theme comes from Final Fantasy II, but it's the Final Fantasy Symphonic Suite edition of the piece. It's very haunting and heroic with its choir, sharp brass, and low strings, don't you think?

v393. Final Fantasy III -

The final battle theme of Final Fantasy III, KURAYAMINOKUMO, is our next edition to my favorites. This version is performed by Nobuo Uematsu's band, The Black Mages. Rock out as you attempt to save the world!

v394. Final Fantasy IV - Fight 2

As the title suggests, these themes come from Final Fantasy IV. This time I'm playing the original SNES version, and since the track is so short, I've included the latest DS rendition for your listening pleasure. Along with Final Fantasy VI's boss theme, Final Fantasy IV's is my favorite. You can also hear it in Super Mario RPG for the game's secret boss.

v395. Final Fantasy V - Ahead on our Way

The Final Fantasy V Dear Friends soundtrack was an arranged album of Final Fantasy V tunes. This is the very first song on the soundtrack, Ahead on our Way, the main theme of Final Fantasy V.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando (PS2) Retro Review

Continuing our series of Ratchet & Clank video game reviews on the way to A Crack in Time, here's Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando for the Playstation 2. Being the first Ratchet game I played, how well has it aged since I first played it?

Going, Going, Gone!

Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando was the first game in the series I played. Of course, it holds a special place in my heart, but putting nostalgia aside, is Going Commando a game that deserved my applause? With new locations, new characters, new weapons and gadgets, and new gameplay elements, is Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando a game that's qwarktastic?

It's been awhile since Ratchet and Clank teamed up to save the universe from the power-hungry despot Drek. The galaxy is at peace, and no one really needs a hero anymore. Instead of saving the day, Ratchet and Clank are relegated to ribbon ceremonies and laying about Ratchet's home. This is until the pair is transported to another galaxy by Megacorp president Abercrombie Fizzwidget. He tasks the two with securing a captured creature known only as "the Experiment". What follows is an adventure in a totally new galaxy with characters old and new. Unlike the original Ratchet & Clank, the two heroes have gotten over their initial hostilities and get along well. The trademark humor of the franchise is present and accounted for, and it will have you laughing or at least smiling here and there.

Planet Oozla is a swamp planet.

Variety is the spice of life, and it's also the spice of Ratchet & Clank's newest adventure. When Ratchet and Clank aren't separated from one another, flying their spaceship and taking part in dogfights, racing hoverbikes in something with the mechanics that could be a full-fledged game, or beating down bosses as Giant Clank, Ratchet and Clank will be jumping on platforms, blasting away baddies, grinding on a series of rails with their grind boots, walking on walls with the magnetic boots, mining for Moonstones and crystals, and competing in gladiator-inspired coliseum battles. There's over a dozen different planets for the heroic duo to explore. Each one features at least two linear paths with occasional detours to follow. The goal of each planet is to find the clue that will show what planet the crew needs to venture to next. Checkpoints are much more abundant this time around, and you're notified when you've reached one. The days of taking five minutes to redo a section of level are over for the most part. This is also in part of the new health system. As enemies are defeated, an experience bar below Ratchet's health will increase. Once it reaches full capacity, Ratchet will earn a new sliver of health. Up to eighty of these can be earned opposed to the eight of the original Ratchet & Clank.

Ratchet has a bounty of weapons and gadgets in his arsenal, and this time his weapons get evolve into more powerful forms with repeated use. As a weapon gets used to destroy enemies, a bar underneath the weapon's ammo amount increases. Once it reaches full capacity, the weapon transforms into a stronger version. An ordinary Lancer pistol will turn into the Heavy Lancer with more ammo and more firepower. There's twenty or so weapons to collect and upgrade. Some of which are found in the game's levels while others are to be purchased with bolts, the currency of the series, from weapons vendors. The amount of firepower is vast and varied. There's the mine-erupting Bouncer, the fire-spewing Lava Gun, the Sheepinator which transforms enemies into harmless sheep, and many more.


Gadgets new and old return from the original Ratchet & Clank. The returning favorite, the Swingshot, is used to swing across chasms. Meanwhile, new gadgets are all the rage these days, and Ratchet's bag is full of them. The tractor beam is used to move around specially-designated objects around. The earliest use of this is to arrange columns into a row of platforms for Ratchet to reach higher ground. There's also the Therminator which freezes warm water or warms freezing water. The Dynamo is used to create holographic platforms for Ratchet to leap off from while the Hypnomatic controls robots which can open the way for the pair. Gadgets like the Infilitrator and Electolyzer open locked doors for the pair when their respective mini-games are cleared. Each gadget is used throughout the duration of the game, so no one gadget is used once and only once.

Nothing starts a party like a mini-nuke.

Going Commando controls very tightly. You move Ratchet with the left stick while controlling the camera with the right stick. Clank is on Ratchet's back, and Ratchet can use Clank for extra height in his jumps or to hover safely to far away platforms. Weapons and gadgets can be placed in the quick select menu which is brought up with the triangle button. This is a fast way of selecting a weapon or gadget without needing to head to the pause menu. This time around Ratchet can strafe with the L2 and R2 buttons, so he can move around while keeping focus on his targeted foes. You can even go into first-person mode to take out foes from a closer-in perspective. The hoverbike and spaceship missions control well, too. They're responsive and feel very good as well.

Ratchet brings the pain.

For most players, Going Commando will take upwards of ten hours. Once the game is completed (and after the disappointing final boss fight), players can opt to enter Challenge Mode. This makes the enemies more difficult, but it also rewards players will more bolts. Bolts in Challenge Mode can be used to purchase Mega versions of the game's multitude of weapons. Hidden on each planet are platinum bolts. While these aren't as well-hidden as Ratchet & Clank, they are test to uncover them all. These can be used to purchase mods such as acid and lock-on upgrades for already-purchased weapons. If that's not enough to keep you occupied, there's skill points which are hidden goals in planets that unlock cheats such as new skins for Ratchet. Such goals include beating a boss with only the wrench and completing a part of a level without getting hit.

Going Commando is still a good-looking game. There's seldom any hints of slow-down or framerate problems. However, there is some pop-in with faraway objects, but it doesn't really detract from the experience. Worlds are vibrant and detailed as are the character models. Going Commando is a visual marvel. The soundtrack is one of the series' best with wonderful music that's memorable and hummable, too. Voice acting is top-shelf material with great dialogue and comedic delivery. Overall, Going Commando's presentation package does not disappoint.

Grinding is one of many gameplay
styles in Going Commando.

Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando is a terrific entry and does everything bigger and better than the original. The difficulty is more toned down, the characters are more likable, the worlds are more detailed, the story is more entertaining, and the secrets are more varied. If you've never played Going Commando, do yourself a favor and put down the twenty dollars it costs to play this gem of a game. For a sensational series, this is a sensational game.

[SuperPhillip Says: 9.5/10]