Saturday, September 26, 2009

Hot Shots Tennis (PS2) Retro Review

Earlier this week, I shared with you the debut trailer for Hot Shots Tennis for the PSP. There doesn't seem like a better time to show off a review of the original Hot Shots Tennis for the Playstation 2 than now. Well, perhaps during the U.S. Open would have been a good time as well!

The Hot Shots crew makes a "racket" on the tennis court

Sony and Clap Hanz team up once again for another Hot Shots title. However, this time the crew is tackling a new sport-- tennis. While not serving aces, Hot Shots Tennis does an adequate job of taking a deep sport and giving it enough accessibility for almost anyone to enjoy.

While there aren't a wide variety of modes for players to sink their teeth into, what Hot Shots Tennis does offer is amusing enough. The meat and potatoes of the Hot Shots Tennis main course is Challenge Mode. By winning a set number of matches, players rise in the ranks whilst unlocking one of fourteen characters from the experienced Suzuki to the Australian Carol, new tennis courts, new costumes for unlocked athletes, and brand new umpires who call each tennis match. There are numerous ranks to unlock in Challenge Mode each with harder opponents and larger match lengths. Most matches have certain stipulations such as only being able to dive into the original pool of characters to having the camera stuck in its original position. Later matches can generally be a pain in the tennis balls as the AI will destroy you if you don't know what you're doing. Couple this with accidentally not hitting the ball over the net, and it can get quite frustrating having to deal with the AI and your own mistakes. However, dedicated tennis players can actually complete this mode in a day or two if they really desired to. Couple this with there not being an online mode (which Hot Shots Golf Fore possessed) the single player element of the game dries up rather quickly.

Going for the ace...

Hot Shots Tennis isn't an overly complex game, but as previous Hot Shots titles have shown there's a lot of depth in what seems to be a shallow pool of gaming water. The title utilizes three main buttons-- triangle, X, and circle. X hits a top-spin shot, circle does slices, and triangle performs lobs. Using these buttons in conjunction with the analog stick or directional pad points to where on your opponent's side you wish the ball to be hit. This doesn't always work out the way you'd like it to, but for the most part this function works rather well. If a player lobs the ball into the air either intentionally or accidentally (swinging too soon or too fast), the other player can scramble to the yellow circle where the ball will fall and perform a smash-- a super fast serve which can catch your opponent off guard.

Nice save!

The charm of the Hot Shots brand is present and accounted for-- deformed anime characters and vibrant Each character has their own playing abilities, personality, and costumes to be worn (to make up for the lack of a character creation mode). There's over ten different courts with zany locales from the tropical beach of Aloha to the jungle of Wild Green. There aren't any environmental hazards to dodge-- they're simply for aesthetic purposes. Sure, each court's floor is either hard or soft which makes the tennis ball bounce differently, but it's nothing we haven't seen before in a tennis game. With a multi-tap, four players can participate in wacky doubles play which offers some insanely entertaining excitement and fun. However, as mentioned previously there is no online mode which is a glaring omission considering Hot Shots Golf Fore had such a feature in place. Regardless, your typical upbeat graphical style and soundtrack are around as ambiance. Hot Shots vets can even see characters from previous games serving as the audience.

Doubles action opens up even more heated competitive play.

Hot Shots Tennis is an enjoyable first foray into tennis for Sony and Clap Hanz, but there's a lack of modes, customization of characters, and single-player longevity. If you have a friend (or friends with a multi-tap) you'll most likely enjoy the title more than someone without. A dedicated player can fly through the main Challenge Mode in a rental session, and without any friends to play locally with there's really nothing to do afterward. Hot Shots Tennis is currently only $29.99, but it's basically a last-gen price for last-gen standards.

[SuperPhillip Says: 7.5/10] - Good. Worth a rental at the very least. Hopefully a sequel will fix the glaring problems of Hot Shots Tennis.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash Up (Wii) Review

A busy work week concludes here at SuperPhillip Central with a brand-new review just for you! (And everyone else reading SPC.) Tonight we're taking a look at Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash Up for Wii (also available on the PS2).

Get Ready to Kick Shell

It's intriguing to me that there haven't been more copycats when it comes to Super Smash Bros. It's an extremely popular series that sells very well. Perhaps someone at Ubisoft heard my thoughts because Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash Up is exactly that-- a copycat. Whereas Smash Bros. focused on the likes of Mario and Link, Smash Up takes the fighting to the sewers with Leo, Raph, and all of the TMNT gang. Is Smash Up a smashing success, or should it have its license to brawl revoked?

There's a decent amount of modes available in Smash Up. Arcade mode is a carbon-copy of Super Smash Bros' Classic mode. In this mode the story, told with comic book style black and white cut-scenes, tells the tale of a tournament being run by Master Splinter. The winner gets to choose one item from his collection. Nothing astronomical here, but it works. What follows is match after match as you take on opponents 1-on-1 or up against three other opponents. Survival mode pits players against 100 characters in succession with the goal to eliminate and endure. Mission mode is probably where most of your single-player time will accumulate. There's fifty-one challenges in all each with their own rules for winning. Some will have you protecting a character for a set period of time while others will have you collecting pizzas, taking out ten enemies as a specific character, being forced to take your opponent out via a stage hazard, and many more. Some of these challenges even on the easiest mode can be damned difficult to accomplish-- almost frustratingly so. To round out the package, there's six bonus mini-games from dodging kunai for 90 seconds to reaching the goal before the clock runs out.

Cut-scenes like this bookend the arcade mode.

Battle royal is where the party really gets started, and you'll want to play this mode if you want to unlock everything there is to see in the game. Up to four players, human or CPU, can duke it out against each other. You can select between last man-- er.. turtle standing, timed matches, and tag-team duels. You can set the time, how many lives each character has, how much easily each combatant's health bar goes down, and whether or not the game picks the stage for you or not. Locally, the game is a blast to play, and it's perfect for pick-up-and-play sessions with friends and family.

Of course, if local multiplayer isn't a possibility for you, you can always check out the online modes. You can play with friends via friend code in lag-free matches, or you can hop online and take on up to three other strangers. You just select a character and a stage you hope to play on. The game will randomly choose the stage from all four fighters. While you wait for your opponents you're placed in a training room where you can dish your frustrations out on an AI dummy. Once everything is ready, you're immediately thrown into battle. As said before, playing with friends is pretty much lag-free, but with strangers it really depends on the connection of all players. I've had some games so smoothly, but most featured input-lag throughout the entire bout. This meant holding the control stick to move right, and one second later my character would finally move. Aside from traditional jump-right-in modes, you can also build trophies and start tournaments with the winner receiving said trophy for their collection. A very cool addition indeed.

Four player mayhem!

While Smash Up is a blatant Smash Bros. clone, the idea behind eliminating your opponents is different. Smash Bros. had you knocking your unsuspecting opponents out of the playing area once their damage was high enough. In Smash Up, the game uses a traditional health bar. As a player is attacked, his or her bar will go down. Gobbling up pizza will replenish health. Fully-cooked pizzas aren't the only items in play during battle. Different colored orbs drop into the arena just waiting to be picked up. These items have different effects. Some create a whirlwind around the player who acquires the item, damaging anyone that gets in the character's path. There's guard-breaking kunai blades that damage and stun a hit opponent, bombs that bounce around, exploding on contact, a dangerous fire-breathing item similar to Smash's fire flower, and many others.

Many stages have destructible objects on them.

Super Smash Bros. is known for the simplicity of its controls. Smash Up once again follows the proverbial leader in this regard as well. One button is used for strong attacks while another is used for weak attacks. These buttons are used in conjunction with the directional pad or analog stick for different attacks (e.g. Up and A, Down and B, etc). Unlike Smash, these B moves aren't special moves whatsoever. Instead they're just stronger melee attacks. Most moves can be blocked, so if your opponent stays in a guard stance, you can grab them and do one of many grab attacks. Characters also have the ability to jump off walls and attack foes for some high damage. However, not all is well here. Falling down takes some time to recuperate which can be very vexing and waggling the analog stick to wake up from being dazed is also annoying after repeated usage. Aside from those couple caveats, the controls themselves work well, and they feel great, too. You can select from one of four control schemes: Wii remote by its lonesome, Wii remote and nunchuk, Classic or Gamecube controller.

Give me a home where the buffalo stampede your ass.

When you start Smash Up you are limited to one of seven characters to select from: Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Donatello, Raphael, Splinter, April O'Neil and Casey Jones. As you complete the arcade mode, finish up mission mode, and take part in numerous battle royals, you'll unlock more characters to your arsenal. There's sixteen in all. Unfortunately, for a game that is all about celebrating the Turtles' twenty-fifth anniversary, you'd be hard-pressed to figure that out by looking at the roster. Instead of using characters from comics past and present, the majority of characters are from the more recent Turtles episodic series down to the voice work and character design. There's no Bebop, no Rocksteady, no Leatherhead, no Triceraton, no Slash, no Rat King, no Baxter Stockman-- you get the idea. What's even more questionable about the roster is the inclusion of not just one but three different Rabbids (from Rayman Raving Rabbids) as unlockable characters. Sorry if I spoiled it for you. Not only is three overkill, but there's plenty of other characters in the Turtles universe to choose from. While the roster is acceptable, it will very much be disappointing to those expecting their favorite characters to show up and don't. As for each character, they have an alternate costume that can be unlocked from doing certain in-game tasks or via promotional code from Ubisoft. Don't like ninja April O'Neil? Then switch her out into her street clothes instead.

Moving away from characters to focusing on the stages, there are fourteen stages in all to do battle on. About half of them need to be unlocked. The stages are surprisingly well-designed and fun to play on. Some arenas have multiple areas to them. For instance, the sewer stage has two parts. The second part is accessed by flooding the first area and washing away everyone into the second area. Some stages are just your typical multi-platform arena with nothing in the way of environmental hazards while others like the jungle have bee hives, breakable platforms, and crocodiles that tend to pop up and take a bite out of anyone not paying attention. There really isn't a stinker in the bunch which I can't even say about Smash Bros. Brawl. If you like great arenas in your brawlers, you'll dig Smash Up in this regard.

This ain't no pleasure cruise.

When it comes to presentation, Smash Up isn't a poor looker by any means. Yes, it uses an engine from the Playstation 2 era, but it still looks good. The frame rate is steady, and the cast of characters are modeled well and appear nice. Each character is voiced by their 2003 cartoon counterpart, and a lot of lines of dialogue from simple moans and groans to victory taunts are a nice touch overall. The soundtrack is shockingly good with plenty of rock and memorable tracks.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash Up is an obvious attempt to leap on the success of Super Smash Bros. Brawl. The game doesn't try to hide this fact at all with its constant use of the word brawl in advertisements and on the back of the box. However, those expecting Brawl 2.0 will find themselves disappointed with Ubisoft's offering. If you're a fan of the Turtles and a fan of Smash Bros, Smash Up is a no-brainer, really. If you're one or the other and not both, a rental may be best at first. While the end roster may be underwhelming and the depth may not be of Brawl-levels, the gameplay mechanics are fun enough and the action is enjoyable enough for anyone to give Smash Up a whirl.

[SuperPhillip Says: 7.75/10]

Spaceball Revolution (Wiiware) Contest

Affiliate Nintendo-Okie is having a special contest in celebration of Spaceball Revolution coming to Wiiware. The winner of the contest will receive their own digital copy of the game gifted to them. Here are the rules as posted on Nintendo-Okie:
All you have to do is comment on this post, or watch for the review on Monday and make a comment there. Everyone who has commented will be entered for a chance to be given the game. If you comment on both posts you will receive a chance for both comments.

On Friday, October 2nd I will announce the winner. You have until 12:00 CST on that day to enter the contest. The winner will be contacted and once we have exchanged Friend Codes I will gift the game to you. It's that simple. Just read the site and post a comment.
SuperPhillip Central users can enter, too, if they desire. Just head to Nintendo-Okie, post in the comments section, and bam! There it is.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

SPC Mailbag - September Edition

We've spent the day looking at some new game trailers for games coming down the pipeline, but it's been too long since we've visited the SPC Mailbag. Let's open this baby up and answer some questions sent via e-mail. In this edition, we're discussing how I review games, favorite Nintendo franchises, and gaming pet peeves.

How far in a game do you get before you review it?

This is a great question, and it really depends on the game. For most games I try to play until I see the ending. For things like multi-player and games without endings, I usually try to see and experience as much as the game has to offer. Even when I'm ready to write a review, I may continue playing the game more to get a better opinion. So in short and to reiterate, it depends on the game and genre.

What is your favorite Nintendo franchise?

It'd most likely be a toss-up between traditional Mario platformers and The Legend of Zelda. I'm a sucker for great platformers, and I love the design behind various worlds and how they're infinitely replayable. As for Zelda, I really enjoy the extreme amount of polish put into each and every entry of the franchise. From the dungeon design to the world map, Zelda is tops.

I'm particularly interested in
New Super Mario Bros. Wii.

What's the worst game you've ever reviewed?

A masochist, eh? All right. The two lowest reviewed games thus far on SuperPhillip Central are Ninjabread Man and New Play Control! Mario Power Tennis. Funnily enough, both games are listed right next to each other on my review database.

What are some of your gaming pet peeves?

In games, I absolutely abhor invisible walls. I love exploration, and when I see an intriguing-looking area that I can't explore because of an invisible wall, I get disappointed. I also dislike being unable to skip cut-scenes. I know that some are to mask loading screens, but you should be able to skip them once loading is completed. I don't like having to re-watch a cut-scene just because I died at the boss after the scene.

What difficulty do you usually play your games on?

For the first time playing through, I am usually on the normal/default difficulty. I will later play through the easy mode just to revisit the game. I generally don't care for harder difficulties. I don't like too much of a challenge in my games, so I tend to stay away from the Contras and Ninja Gaidens of the gaming world.

What game has been most disappointing so far this year?

I'm really fortunate in that the biggest disappointments I've had have been pretty minor. Marble Saga: Kororinpa's wonky physics really ruined the sequel for me, and Mario Power Tennis was just a poor effort all around where motion controls would have been perfect for the game otherwise.

Let's close 'er up. That's it for this edition of the SPC Mailbag. Hopefully next time we'll revisit it much sooner rather than much later.

Mario & Sonic at the Winter Olympics (Wii) Dream Trailer

Let's continue our winter theme this afternoon with a look at Mario & Sonic at the Winter Olympics. These are special dream events that showcase Mario and company sliding down slopes at Seaside Hill from Sonic Heroes, Radical Highway from Sonic Adventure 2, and Peach's Castle from various Mario games. The end shows us a dodgeball-inspired snowball fight of epic proportions. Okay... maybe not epic proportions, but it looks darned fun!

Motorstorm: Arctic Edge (PSP) Trailer

Known as Raging Ice for our Japanese viewers, Motorstorm: Arctic Edge is readying its end of September launch with some impressive footage. New tracks, customizable vehicles, custom soundtracks, and online play is just the icing on this proverbial cake. Catch a review of Motorstorm: Arctic Edge sometime next month.

Super Monkey Ball: Step & Roll (Wii) Debut Trailer

We continue our look at debut trailers with the upcoming brand-new Super Monkey Ball: Step & Roll for Wii. This game is compatible with the balance board peripheral, but SEGA has said that players can use a traditional Wii remote control instead. No bosses, no jumping, and all classic Monkey Ball action comes to Wii in February of 2010!

Minna no Tennis Portable (PSP) Debut Trailer

Known to us Westerners as Hot Shots Tennis for the PSP. Not a port, but a brand new entry in the series. Like the portable versions of the golf Hot Shots outings their appears to be character customization and a varied array of costumes to collect. There even appears to be an exploration/adventure aspect to the game with multiple lobbies to walk around in. Here's hoping a North American and European announcement shortly follows.

Tatsunoko VS. Capcom (Wii) - Frank West Gameplay

Frank West has covered wars, so he's readied for combat. That's exactly what he'll get in Tatsunoko VS. Capcom due out in North America January 26th, 2009. Watch his wide assortment of moves pulled directly from the zombie-bashing hit, Dead Rising! This may be one of the few fighters I actually enjoy.

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers (Wii) TGS Trailer

The Tokyo Game Show is in full swing, and that means more news stories than usual! I'll be hand-selecting my favorite games from the show. Let's kick things off with a Final Fantasy game that seems more entertaining than XIII, it's The Crystal Bearers!

In the meantime, get your Crystal Chronicles fix with these reviews of the series. Both of which are DS games:

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Batman: Arkham Asylum (PS3, 360) Review

Returning from the 64 bit days, let's head back into the present. What we have here is a game that could definitely be a contender for Game of the Year. Bah! It's too soon to be talking about that. Instead, take a look at this review for Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Be the Bat.

Comic book video games have always been hit or miss. For every great one like The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, you get one Iron Man, one Aquaman, and dozens of other poor monstrosities. And when it comes to Batman games, there's more often that not been more stinkers than actual quality games. Developer Rocksteady is hoping to break that trend with their Unreal-powered Batman: Arkham Asylum for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. It's got the look, and it's got the feel, but is Arkham Asylum one madhouse you'll want to be admitted to?

This isn't your Adam West-lover's Batman!

Once again, Batman's nemesis, the kooky, all-evil Joker has been reprehended by Batman. The dark knight personally delivers the insane to the membrane villain to Arkham Asylum, home of the criminally insane. However, this time, Joker's capture was easy. Too easy in Batman's eyes. While being brought into the cells of Arkham, Joker breaks free, pummels some guards, and puts his plan into action. The Joker, with partner Harley Quinn, effectively take over, and now the inmates have taken over the asylum. All hell breaks loose as multiple criminals and henchmen roam free in Arkham. It's up to Batman to use his brains and his brawn to bring order back to Arkham and figure out what Joker's master plan is before it's too late. This game's story is quite dark and features some disturbing imagery here and there. Regardless, the story's engaging the whole way through and is your typical comic book fare. Meanwhile, Kevin Conroy known from his work on Batman: The Animated Series and Mark Hamill from Star Wars fame return as Batman and the Joker respectively, and they sound terrific. This could be their best work as their characters.

"Welcome one and all to the Joker Show!"

Batman: Arkham Asylum is one part action game, one part exploration, and one part stealth. Batman can unleash his fists of fury on foes with incredible fluidity. As Batman decks baddies, his combo rises. When his combo reaches higher levels his attacks deal much more. Of course, enemies just won't sit there and let themselves be pummeled to oblivion. Instead, a visual cue over an enemy's head with indicate when they're about to attack. You can press the Y or triangle button to perform a counter attack. Not only does Batman dodge a painful blow, but he keeps his combo intact. As Batman defeats enemies, he'll earn experience which will regain his health if it's on the low side as well as gain the ability to use experience towards new moves and abilities such as more powerful combos, greater defense, and boosts to his various gadgets.

Batman isn't alone in his quest to put Joker back in a straitjacket. He has numerous gadgets as his disposal. At the start of the game, he only has access to sharp, bat-shaped boomerangs to attacks foes from afar, but as the game progresses he'll earn a whole slew of new gadgetry allowing him access to previously unreachable areas of Arkham. There's the explosive gel which Batman can spread on weakened walls and blow them apart, oftentimes showing hidden goodies. There's the bat claw which can be used to pull vent covers off from walls that would otherwise be inaccessible for Batman to reach. Then there's the line gun which shoots a rappel line for Batman to cross chasms.

You can use the action camera to get a close look
at your gadget's action.

While combat is an integral part of Batman: Arkham Asylum, there's times where stealth is the aim of the game because Batman is no match for henchmen sporting automatic rifles. If spotted, enemies will fill Batman full of lead faster than you can say "holy crap, Batman!" In these sections, stealth is necessary. Batman has multiple tricks to use when taking out baddies quickly and quietly. He can crouch and enter vents to get the jump and foes, sneak up behind them, and take them out. He can approach from the air, using his cape to glide behind a foe and knock them into next week. Using detective mode, Batman can scan the area with enemies popping up as red skeletons. This is integral in practicing great stealth because it can see through walls, so the dark knight can plan accordingly. If spotted, Batman will need to take it to the air and grapple from gargoyle to gargoyle until the enemies can no longer spot him. Then it's back to playing cat and mouse.

The other part of Batman: Arkham Asylum is exploration. Progression in Arkham Asylum is dictated by the various objectives Batman will need to accomplish. The asylum itself spans multiple areas with various types of buildings: the penitentiary, the medical offices, Arkham Mansion, the botanical gardens, the caves, and intensive care. Each area has its own ambiance and theme, and backtracking is seldom a problem since you can access almost anywhere rather easily. You'll also never have to worry about wondering where to go because the helpful map will pinpoint Batman's desired location. Sure, you have to figure out how to get there (i.e. finding vents to climb through, properly using Batman's grappling hook), but Batman didn't become Batman by being stupid. There's even some platforming thrown into the mix in areas where the walls are too weak for the grapple gun to support Batman's weight.

Riddle me that.

The single-player campaign will last anywhere from ten to fifteen hours, and there's only one part throughout the whole shebang that felt like a chore. You'll know it when you get to it because you can only walk for the majority of that section. Regardless, the game keeps players chugging through with enough variety that the game seldom feels boring. If you're not solving a simple puzzle, saving a guard from impending doom, or taking out a room full of Joker's henchmen, you'll be exploring the grounds of Arkham, effortlessly floating and grappling across Arkham Island, and meeting up with and taking down escaped supervillains from the likes of the Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, Killer Croc, and the Joker himself.

"How's it hangin', Bats?"

After the main story is done, there's still plenty to do on Arkham Island. For one, the Riddler has strewn about the island various riddles and tasks for Batman to complete. These range from destroying sets of toy Joker teeth, tracking down well-hidden trophies and interview tapes, and solving one of many of the Riddler's various riddles. This is done by scanning certain objects in rooms that serve as the solution to the Riddler's riddles. One riddle will ask for something that can cut. The solution is to scan the portrait of Arkham's warden, one Mr. Sharp. As riddles are solved, new content is unlocked from character biographies to 3-D character trophies that can be ogled to your heart's content. Aside from the story, there's a challenge mode that puts you in various scenarios either for combat or to take out foes silently with the shroud of stealth. Your best times are posted on a worldwide leaderboard for all to see.

The difference between visuals on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 is really slim. Both versions look fantastic and run really well. The only difference is that the PS3's a little more jaggy in certain sections of the game. Other than that, picking one version over the other only has to do with which system or system's controller you prefer. It's fascinating seeing how Batman's costume becomes more dilapidated with cuts and tears as the game rolls on, and hearing the Joker constantly taunt Batman and order his henchmen over the PA is a very neat treat.

Batman: Arkham Asylum successfully brings what makes Batman great and translates it well to a video game setting. The level of polish and dedication devoted this game is apparent. With no hyperbole intended, this may be one of the best comic book video games period. Sure, some sections of the game may feel like a chore, but most of the game has you playing as the caped crusader you know and love-- the one that makes you feel like the hero you are and handling with ease. Batman: Arkham Asylum gets a high recommendation. Fans of the bat will love this game, and fans of great gameplay will, too.

[SuperPhillip Says: 9.25/10]

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Top Ten Nintendo 64 Soundtracks

Continuing the music theme of SPC, the Nintendo 64 was an interesting console. It defied convention by continuing to use cartridges while its competitors used compact discs. Cartridges held sound limitations so the idea of a symphonic orchestra playing a piece against the backdrop of Hyrule was more of a pipe dream than anything. However, the Nintendo 64 brought with it some of the most memorable soundtracks of its time and its future. The following lists my picks for its best soundtracks.

10) Bomberman 64: The Second Attack

We start our musical journey with the bad bomber himself, Bomberman, in arguably one of his best outings. The music was co-composed by veteran Yasunori Mitsuda of Chrono Trigger/Cross fame as well as Yoshitaka Hirota who would go on to compose music for the Shadow Hearts series of video games. Upbeat, melodic, memorable, and fitting to each scenario and planet, Bomberman's second N64 adventure's soundtrack starts our countdown.

9) Diddy Kong Racing

One of Rare's in-house composers, David Wise crafted the happy and perky tunes of Diddy Kong Racing, which some considered to be Mario Kart 64 2 at some point in development. The game features a colorful cast, vibrant tracks, an adventure mode, and some groovy tunes to burn rubber to. DS owners can hear some of Wise's work with the remake, Diddy Kong Racing DS, but the sound isn't as full as what you'd hear from the 64 version. Nonetheless, both soundtracks are fundamentally the same which is nice to hear.

8) Super Mario 64

Koji Kondo shows why he's Nintendo's go-to composer. Mario's explosive and landmark leap into 3-D was met with a colorful, upbeat, and very melodic soundtrack. Each theme covers the levels they are assigned to splendidly. Today the final battle with Bowser still gives me goosebumps by the haunting organ played in the background. Additionally the game's main theme-- played at Bob-Omb's Battlefield and other locations in-game-- keep the Mario-style bounce. A great soundtrack for an awesome game.

7) Mario Kart 64

One of the two racers that appear on this list, Mario Kart 64 features a more jazzy soundtrack than its followers as evidenced by the brilliant Staff Roll, Highway (Toad's Turnpike), Snow (Frappe Snowloand), and Circuit themes along others. Kenta Nagata composed all the music for this game and would go on to write music for The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Animal Crossing, and MK 64's brother, Double Dash. A catchy soundtrack that I believe is the series' best alongside Double Dash.

6) Mario Party

The ultimate party game for the Nintendo 64 brings with it a catchy soundtrack of remixed Mario classics and new twists alike. Composed by now veteran composer, Yasunori Mitsuda, the game's music is very easily something you can hum along to. My favorites would have to be the mellow Mario's Rainbow Castle and Eternal Star. This would be the only Mario Party entry that Mitsuda would compose. A nice treat for the ears nonetheless.

5) Mario Golf

FOOOOOOOOORE!!! Okay, I think I have the golf lingo out of my system now. Mario and company hit the links with an impressive golf outing. What is additionally impressive is the game's soundtrack. Composed by the man of a million masterpieces, Motoi Sakuraba. He's composed titles ranging from Golden Sun, the Tales series, Baten Kaitos, Star Ocean, and many more. He also composed additional titles in the Mario sports series, but this one I believe is his best. My favorite tunes consist of Boo Valley, Ring Shot Menu, and Mario Star. The music here definitely scores an eagle (and I thought I finished with golf talk).

4) The Legend of Zelda series

Zelda appears near the top of the list as probably expected by most. The Ocarina of Time was composed by Koji Kondo, and Majora's Mask by Kondo and the lesser-known Toru Minegishi. I personally enjoyed Majora's Mask's sounds over Ocarina's, but Ocarina had a brilliant soundtrack regardless. My favorites there include Hyrule Field, Gerudo Valley, and the Fire Temple (the first version). Majora's sounds that I dug were the Song of Healing, Termina Field, and the Ending Theme. Two epic soundtracks for two epic games which stand head and shoulders above the rest to many.

3) Banjo-Kazooie series

Grant Kirkhope, another Rare in-house composer who is sometimes overlooked by David Wise, creates this fun platforming series' sounds. One of the most impressive sound elements in gaming to me is how when you approach different sections of levels the music changes to reflect the area. So if you're inside, the music will play with softer instruments and staccato. When near a fair ground in Witchyworld, the instuments would be played by an organ just like at a carnival. An incredibly impressive job by Mr. Kirkhope.

2) Perfect Dark

The talented trio of David Clynick (Perfect Dark Zero), Grant Kirkhope (Banjo-Kazooie), and Graeme Norgate (Jet Force Gemini) bring a sometimes soothing, sometimes rocking, sometimes adrenaline-pumping soundtrack. This trio of composers is something that people like myself salivate over. Regardless, the game's music has all the stealth movies covered, and when action hits, the soundtrack pumps with it. Just try to keep down all the laptop gun fire so you don't drown out the fantastic music.

1) Jet Force Gemini

The best of the best, composed by the Rare duo of Graeme Norgate and Robin Beanland, is in Jet Force Gemini. Everything from the battles to the planets to the soundtrack screams epic. This soundtrack has just brilliant quality that I almost forgot I was listening to a Nintendo 64 game. Listen to this soundtrack and I assure you, you will be blown away. The compostions are masterful, the instruments sound life-like, the music feels strong then tense then quiet then-- it's just that mind-blowing to me. Great soundtrack, and it doesn't hurt that there's a disco track in there for good measure.

The Nintendo 64 may not have became the champion of its generation, but it did produce some of the most memorable games and music for its time. Games that just missed the cut include Goldeneye, Star Fox 64, and F-Zero X. Even today I cannot get enough of the games listed and their respective soundtracks. Any gamer should play at least some of the titles mentioned if you haven't already. Also, take some time to listen closely to the games you play. More often than not you'll actually like what you'll hear.

Did I not mention one of your favorite Nintendo 64 soundtracks? Let me know in the comments section.

Monday, September 21, 2009

SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs - Zeroing In Edition

We're starting the next one-hundred with some sights and sounds from the F-Zero universe. Shift into sixth gear, check your g-diffuser system, and rock out.

v401. F-Zero - Mute City (SSBB Remix)

We're kicking off the next one-hundred with some music from the F-Zero series. Any F-Zero fan knows Mute City. It's been in almost every F-Zero game to date. This is the Super Smash Bros. Brawl remix, and it seriously kicks major butt. I love when the guitar goes all crazy at 1:08. You go, crazy guitar player. You go.

v402. F-Zero - Fire Field (Arranged)

This song is Fire Field from the jazz arranged F-Zero album. It's a slower tempo than what we're used to hearing, but it's much catchier as well.

v403. F-Zero X - Drivin' Through On Max (Guitar Arrange)

From the Guitar Arrrange F-Zero X soundtrack, it's Drivin' Through On Max which plays during the Devil Forest tracks of F-Zero X. If you get a chance, look into more of the F-Zero X Guitar Arrange soundtrack. You won't be disappointed.

v404. F-Zero GX - Hurrah for the Champion (Winning Run)

Hurrah for the Champion (Winning Run) is the theme that plays as the F-Zero pilots take to the podium. F-Zero GX though fiercely difficult at times is easily my favorite F-Zero of the bunch. It had fantastic tracks, a lot of attention to detail, and great music. Which F-Zero is your personal favorite?

v405. F-Zero GX - Dr. Stewart

Feel that pulse and race to the finish with this song, Dr. Stewart's theme. In F-Zero GX/AX, each of the forty-some-odd characters had their own theme. This one is pure electronica, soothing, sweet, and satisfying.

That does it for another week of the VGMs. Catch you next week for more.

SuperPhillip Central - Feature Catalog

This is an expanded resource of some of SuperPhillip Central's best articles, editorials, and lists. New features will be updated on a regular basis, so check back to see if you've missed any new notable articles.

[Bad Levels in Gaming History]

Volume One

[Best Boss Battles in Gaming History]

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five

[Best of the Best]

Best of 2008 Awards - Day One
Best of 2008 Awards - Day Two
Best of 2008 Awards - Day Three
Best of 2008 Awards - Day Four
Best of 2008 Awards - Day Five
Best of 2009 Awards - Day One
Best of 2009 Awards - Day Two
Best of 2009 Awards - Day Three
Best of 2009 Awards - Day Four
Best of 2009 Awards - Day Five
Best of 2010 Awards - Day One
Best of 2010 Awards - Day Two
Best of 2010 Awards - Day Three
Best of 2010 Awards - Day Four
Best of 2010 Awards - Day Five
Best of 2010 Awards - Aftermath
Best of 2011 Awards - Day One
Best 0f 2011 Awards - Day Two
Best of 2011 Awards - Day Three
Best of 2011 Awards - Day Four
Best of 2011 Awards - Day Five
Best of 2011 Awards - Aftermath
E3 2008
The Legend of Zelda
Mario Kart

[Central City Census]

March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008

[Featured Articles]

12 in '12: Most Wanted Games
2011 Holiday Gift Guide Part 1
2011 Holiday Gift Guide Part 2
A Decade in Gaming - Games of the Year
Adieu, Xbox 360...
Announcing the SuperPhillip Central Best of 2011 Awards!
Around E3 in Fifteen Games
Bomb-Dropper: Nintendo 3DS Worldwide Price Drop
Bowing Out From Xbox: Why I Will Not Be in the Market for Microsoft's Next Console
Classics I Can Return To - Part One
Classics I Can Return To - Part Two
Conspiracy Theory: Is the World Out to Get Nintendo?
Curious As to SuperPhillip Central's Traffic? Look No Further!
Demo Round-Up: ModNation Racers and Rocket Knight
Demo Round-Up 2: Killzone 3 (PS3) and LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars (PS3, 360, Wii, 3DS)
Droughts and Why I'm Thirsty for Some Games, Nintendo
Even More Stats According to the Nintendo Channel
Favorite Video Game Commercials Part I
Favorite Video Game Commercials Part II
Games I Liked, Others Didn't
Games I Liked, Others Didn't - Mega Mania Edition
Games I Liked, Others Didn't Redux
Games I Liked, Others Didn't - Round Three
Games Others Liked, I Didn't
Happy 15th Anniversary, PlayStation.
High-Definition Hijinks: Games That Should Go HD
Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery
Introducing A New Addition to the Sidebar-- The Buzz
Introducing the Terrible Trio...
January Nintendo 3DS Playtime Results
Just Why Is Call of Duty So Popular?
Localizations, Please!
Localizations, Please! Cinco de Mayo Edition
Mini-Games: A Little Bit of Awesome
Misunderstood Marvels - Part One
More Most Wanted Games of 2011 Redux
More Stats According to the Nintendo Channel
Most Anticipated Games of 2009
Most Anticipated Games of Holiday 2008
New Youtube Advertisement for SuperPhillip Central
Nintendo 3DS: Launch Titles to Avoid
Nintendo 3DS: Launch Titles to Look Out For
NPD 2010 - Top Ten Games for Each Platform
October Nintendo 3DS Playtime Results
Ode to the Strategy Guide - Part I
Ode to the Strategy Guide - Part II
QA Quandaries: How Nintendo Dropped the Ball This Gen
Rated "M" for Misnomer
Rayman Origins (PS3, 360, Wii) Demo Impressions
Roster Suggestions for Sony's Smash Bros. Clone
Sequels I'd Love to See
Sour Games, Sweet Soundtracks
SPC One Year Anniversary - The Best of SPC
STFU: Shutting the Fanboys Up
SuperPhillip's 2011 Gaming Resolutions
SuperPhillip's Console Games Collection
SuperPhillip's End of 2011 Game Collection (And Other Oddities)
SuperPhillip's Strategy Guide Collection
SuperPhillip: The Game - A Platforming Adventure
SuperPhillip: The Game (LittleBigPlanet 2, PS3) Update
Surprising Sales: Games that Outperformed Expectations
Terms in the Industry that are Overused
Third Party Woes on Wii - Who's to Blame?
Underrated Soundtracks This Gen: Music to My Ears
Underrated Soundtracks This Gen Part 2: And the Beat Goes On
What is UP with that!?
When Remakes/Ports Are Better Than Their Predecessors
When Remakes/Ports Are Better Than Their Predecessors, Part 2
Wii 2 Wishes
Wii Music: The Struggle of Sound
The Wii, The Third Parties, The Casuals, and the You
Wiitriol: Ask your doctor if Wiitriol is wrong for you
Xbox - Ten Year Anniversary
Year in Review - 2011

[Great Levels in Gaming History]

Volume One

Volume Two
Volume Three
Volume Four
Volume Five

[Most Overlooked]

DS - Part One
DS - Part Two
DS - Part Three
DS - Part Four
DS - Part Five
Gamecube - Part One
Gamecube - Part Two
Gamecube - Part Three
Nintendo 3DS - Part One
PlayStation 2 - Part One
PlayStation 2- Part Two
PlayStation 3 - Part One
PlayStation 3 - Part Two
PlayStation 3 - Part Three
PlayStation 3 - Part Four
PlayStation 3 - Part Five
PlayStation 3 - Part Six
PSP - Part One
PSP - Part Two
PSP - Part Three
PSP - Part Four
PSP - Part Five
Wii - Part One
Wii - Part Two
Wii - Part Three
Wii - Part Four
Wii - Part Five
Wii - Part Six
Wii - Part Seven
Xbox 360 - Part One
Xbox 360 - Part Two
Xbox 360 - Part Three

[Rank Up!]

3D Super Mario
God of War
Jak and Daxter
Kirby (Consoles)
Kirby (Hand-helds)
The Legend of Zelda
Mario Kart
Mario Sports on Wii
Mega Man X
Modern Sonic the Hedgehog
Nintendo Consoles
Ratchet & Clank
Sonic the Hedgehog (2D Console Games)
Super Mario Bros.
Tony Hawk


Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts
Donkey Kong Country Returns
Mario Kart Wii
Mario Party 8
New Super Mario Bros. Wii
Super Smash Bros. Brawl

[Review Round-Ups]

February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
June-August 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
June-October 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009

August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009

[SPC Mailbag]

September 5, 2008
October 10, 2008
November 25, 2008
January 6, 2009
September 24, 2009
November 10, 2009
January 27, 2010
March 27, 2010
June 2, 2010
March 3, 2011
August 9, 2011
September 21, 2011
December 22, 2011
January 10, 2012

[SPC Showdown]

December 18, 2009
April 2, 2010
April 27, 2010
March 16, 2011
May 10, 2011
August 3, 2011
January 19, 2012

[SuperPhillip's Favorite Video Games of All Time]

June 13, 2008
June 20, 2008
June 27, 2008
July 4, 2008
July 25, 2008
August 1, 2008
August 8, 2008
August 15, 2008
August 22, 2008
Games of All Time
Games of All Time - 2012 Edition

[SuperPhillip's Game Screens]

3D Dot Game Heroes

AR Cards
Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts
Endless Ocean: Blue World
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers
Motorstorm: Arctic Edge
Motorstorm: Pacific Rift
Pilotwings Resort
PokePark Wii: Pikachu's Adventure
SuperPhillip: The Crystal Quest
WipEout Pulse

[Top Five]

Bond Themes
Favorite Bands
Fighting Game Characters
Game Boy Advance Ports
Game Hubs
Gaming Peripherals
Golf Games
Golf Games of the Current Generation
Innovations of This Generation
Kart Racing Games
Leading Ladies
More Most Wanted 3DS Games
Most Wanted 3DS Games
Most Wanted PlayStation Vita Games
Other Golf Games
PlayStation 3 Exclusives
Racing Games of the Current Generation
Reasons to Hate Capcom
Reasons to Hate Microsoft
Reasons to Hate Nintendo
Reasons to Hate Sony
Scariest Enemies
Spider-Man Games
Super Mario Galaxies
Tennis Titles
Video Game Collections
Wii Exclusives
Wii Rail-Shooters
Wrestling Games
Xbox 360 Exclusives
Yoko Kanno Soundtracks

[Top Tens]

Anime Soundtracks

Brand-New IPs of This Generation
Desired Games of 2010
Donkey Kong Games
E3 2011 Games
Ending Themes
Favorite Franchises
Final Boss Themes
Games of All Time
Games of All Time - 2012 Edition
Gamecube Games
Gamecube Soundtracks
Hand-held Games of 2011
Mario Kart Tracks
Mario Power-ups/Suits
Mega Man Robot Masters
Most Anticipated Games of E3 11
Most Anticipated Games From E3 2010
Most Overlooked Wii Games Period
Most Played Wii Games According to the Nintendo Channel
Most Played Wii Games According to the Nintendo Channel - Games 20-11
Most Played Wii Games According to the Nintendo Channel - Games 30-21
Nintendo 64 Games
Nintendo 64 Soundtracks
Original Game Boy Advance Games
PlayStation 2 Games
Quirky Gems of This Generation
Rivalries in Video Games
Soundtracks of 2008
Super Nintendo Games
Third-Party Exclusives on Wii
Towns in Video Games
Under-appreciated Wii Games
Video Game Villains
Wii Games Under $30
Wii Soundtracks Thus Far
Winter Wonderlands of Gaming
Zelda Items