Saturday, January 30, 2010

Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster's Hidden Treasure (GEN) Retro Review

I remember as a young lad, running home so I could have my mid-afternoon snack and watch an episode of Tiny Toon Adventures on the telly. It still is a very good show, and it makes me feel bad for children growing up now with such a low quality of good television shows for their age group. Nonetheless, here's a classic retro review of Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster's Hidden Treasure for the Sega Genesis. Konami does what Segagain doesn't. Or something like that.

A better game than Super Pluckio Bros.
All screenshots by SuperPhillip.

In the early nineties, Tiny Toon Adventures was all the rage with elementary school tykes and even older folks. Coupled with great humor and a cast of likable characters, the show did well enough to be immortalized in the realm of syndication. And like any money-making franchise video games followed suit from the Nintendo Entertainment System to the SNES and then to the Genesis where Konami's Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster's Hidden Treasure takes place.
When a secret treasure is rumored to be hidden within Acme Acres, Buster Bunny decides to go on an adventure to find it. However, he's not the only one after this hidden gold. The rich mega-millionaire Montana Max catches wind of the treasure and goes off to discover it before his rival can. Who will recover the treasure first? Well, who am I to spoil the biggest secret in gaming?

Buster slides into home plate!

Buster's Hidden Treasure doesn't break the mold of a platforming game. I'd even go as far to say that it's a cross-breeding of Super Mario World and Sonic the Hedgehog. Buster begins his quest in the verdant bluffs of Acme Acres. By reaching Go-go Dodo at the end of each stage he opens up another level. Some areas have a hidden exit which will open up an alternate path for Buster to follow. After four or five stages Buster will come across the villainous Dr. Gene Splicer who has brainwashed many of the blue bunny's buddies. By hitting Dr. Splicer on the head multiple times with Buster's jump and avoiding attacking Buster's brainwashed buddy, the pal will snap out of his hypnosis state and the boss battle will be completed. These boss battles feel a lot like a bout with Dr. Robotnik. Each battle has a different invention and attack that needs to be avoided.

Normal levels (which there are twenty-something of) will take Buster from rolling, expansive green fields to a water mill inside of a forest to a volcanic cavern to the bottom of the ocean floor. There's a lot of variety here, and it's all welcome in Buster's adventure. The pacing of the game is perfect as well. Players will start off in easy levels, but move onto some dastardly-devised stages. Most enemies can be defeated with a simple jump on the head. If Buster gets enough speed his feet will agilely cycle as if he were Sonic the Hedgehog. Buster is also an acrobrat. He can leap off walls as well as crawl through narrow passages.

Every hero needs a life, right? Hearts are the life supply of Buster Bunny. He starts off with three in each level. Collect a bell inside a bubble (don't ask me what the hell a bell is doing inside a bubble for) to add an addition heart to Buster's supply. This will stay with Buster until all of his lives are gone and the player continues. Collecting carrots (which are plentiful in Buster's Hidden Treasure) to gain the ability to summon a Tiny Toon Adventures supporting role to purge the screen of all baddies. Little Sneezer the mouse, for example, takes one huge sneeze to blow away all of the enemies in sight.

From grassy plateaus to haunted pirate ships, Buster explores all.

Graphically, the 2-D graphics are clean, colorful, and nice to look at. Buster has several animations tied to his sprite as do all of the other sprites in the game. The soundtrack is very good, and I'd be hard-pressed to find someone who wouldn't be humming the tunes after an extended play session. Get... out... of my head... Can-can... theme!!

Speaking of extended play sessions, that might be a good idea. Because the game has an absolutely horrid password system. It's sixteen letters, and the interface isn't that terrific. It's more of a hassle than anything which makes one wonder why a battery save wasn't included with the original cartridge.

Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster's Hidden Treasure might not be the most original platformer out there, but it's damned fun. There's a good number of stages to play through, the difficulty is just right, and it's in my opinion one of the best cartoon to video game adaptations available for the 16-bit era, and easily the best Tiny Toon Adventures game ever created. Fans of the old cartoon will love this title, and even those who never watched a single episode and can't even tell apart Buster and Babs Bunny (no relation) will enjoy the game. That's a wrap.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.0/10]

Friday, January 29, 2010

Top Five Racing Games of the Current Generation

NASCAR season is almost upon us, and while I'm not a fan, I decided why not create a list of five racing games that are the best of the best-- the ones that leave every other game in this generation in the dust. These games are the fastest, funnest, fiercest, and frenetic of this current generation. I'm counting all five systems: the PlayStation 3, the Wii, the Xbox 360, the DS, and PSP this time around. Will your favorites be listed? Will I have even played your favorites? Let's find out.

5) Burnout Paradise (PS3, 360, PC)

The Burnout series is known for its hectic arcade-style racing. That's not all you'll get with Burnout Paradise. This time around there's a free-roaming sandbox world to cruise around through. There's events at nearly every intersection that you can participate in. There's the standard circuit races around the city, but there's also more gnarly events such as road rage where you take out as many cars as possible on your very bad day, stunt challenge where the goal is to boost and drift your way to the top, and marked man where the object is to avoid as many crazed drivers as possible in your attempt to survive. With beautiful visuals, cool-looking cars, and a bounty of bodacious gameplay, Burnout Paradise is very much a car fan's paradise.

4) Motorstorm series (PS3, PS2, PSP)

The Motorstorm series is all about off-road hijinks. There's multiple vehicles to choose from each with their own optimal lines to take in each race. A giant big rig shouldn't leap off ramps while a motorbike should stay away from deep water, mud, and snow. As you complete races, you earn tickets and points that unlock new, more challenging races. As you earn points, you move onto new ranks where the races are harder and the competition is much fiercer. There's three Motorstorm games thus far, each with different themed locales. The original Motorstorm takes place in deserts and canyons. Pacific Rift is set on a tropical island whereas Arctic Edge occurs in the frozen tundra. The latter two games have online multiplayer for up to eight players.

3) Mario Kart Wii (Wii)

Time for Mario and friends (and foes) to take a chunk of this list, don't you think? While it's not the best Mario Kart ever thanks to obnoxious catch-up AI via item abuse, it is the most content-packed. There's so much to see and do in this installment of Mario Kart. There's thirty-two tracks in all with the sixteen all-new tracks being some of the most exceptionally designed and crafted yet (save for another Mario Kart on this list). The online is top-notch and shows that the Wii can do a competent online system-- if EA and Activision haven't already shown you that. The visuals are crisp and colorful, the racing action is fast and intense, and the fun is wild and wacky.

2) Excitebots: Trick Racing (Wii)

Get ready to get excited with Excitebots: Trick Racing. The goal in this game isn't just to cross the finish line in first place-- it's to do it with style. Performing air spins, bar spins, vehicle smashes, tree runs, bowling a strike, kicking a field goal, scoring a goal, piecing together super sandwiches, and more all earn you stars. The player with the most stars at the end of a given race wins. Stars can then be used to purchase new vehicles styled after insects and animals and new paint jobs. Whether you want to play against the computer on one of more than twenty courses or hop online and take on friends and strangers, Excitebots: Trick Racing is the game for you. No other racer besides number one put a smile on my face more than Excitebots.

1) Mario Kart DS (DS)

Who knew that my favorite racer would appear on a portable of places? Mario Kart DS has it all: thirty-two tracks, sixteen old, sixteen new, twelve racers with multiple karts to utilize, online Wi-Fi play, a better item balance than most Mario Karts, less catch-up AI, and some of the most creative track design in the series. If there's anything this game doesn't have is online battle mode, but get a friend with a hacking device and this problem becomes nil. A great game to play alone or with friends local, national, or worldwide, Mario Kart DS is my favorite racer this generation. Who doesn't love racing someone with a penis for their online avatar?

There you have it. We started our engines, and now we're letting them sit and cool. Were your favorites listed? Let everyone know in the comments section.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Kirby Canvas Curse (DS) Review

Welcome to Thursday here on SuperPhillip Central. This past Tuesday we took a look at Super Princess Peach, an early DS game. Here's an even earlier DS game that came out within the initial seven months of the DS. Known as Power Paintbrush in Europe, here's Kirby Canvas Curse.

A Brush With Destiny

Kirby seen a lot of action, but he's been mostly relegated to handhelds. His last full console adventure was Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards on the Nintendo 64. This trend of portable platformers remains true with Kirby's first DS outing, Kirby Canvas Curse. At the time of release, there was a huge drought of worthwhile DS game releases that stretched out for most of the first half of the DS' first year. It was until Canvas Curse came out that the proverbial ball really started rolling with new releases with Nintendogs, Advance Wars, Mario Kart DS, and a new Castlevania all coming out within the span of a few months. Kirby Canvas Curse remains one of the best uses of the DS touch screen and here's why.

Out of the frying pan,
into the volcano.

The world of Dream Land was once peaceful until an evil witch showed up, and started terrorizing the denizens with her mystical magic. Kirby himself was affected by the magic, being turned into a ball. Now with the player's help, drawing lines to move Kirby around, it's up to you and Kirby to save Dream Land from the wicked witch of Dream Land.

Kirby Canvas Curse is not your traditional platformer. There's still platforms to ride on, jumps to make, and baddies to bash, but it controls entirely with the touch screen. As a ball and by himself, Kirby is helpless. He needs you, the player, to draw lines for him to ride, tapping enemies to daze them for Kirby to attack, and tapping Kirby to perform a spin dash. Special enemies give Kirby new abilities which can by utilized by tapping Kirby with the stylus. There's fire, ice, beam, stone powers and more. Using these powers can give Kirby access to otherwise unreachable areas.

Balloon is just one of many powers
in Kirby Canvas Curse.

You only have a limited amount of ink to draw lines, so you can't draw willy-nilly at your leisure. Yes, the ink recovers after a certain amount of time, but you still have to be smart about your ink usage-- especially in later levels. You can draw loops for Kirby to gain speed upon, draw lines to block Kirby's progress, having him change directions, and make lines to shield Kirby from harmful bullets and lasers. This is important as Kirby can initially only take four hits before the player loses a life.

There's eight worlds in all to tackle. Seven of which have three levels each with the eighth only possessing one to conquer. The worlds aren't themed-- just the levels. You'll face off in red hot mountains, cool blue oceans, contraption-filled caverns, grassy plains, and much more. After the three levels in a world are completed, you're assigned to a choice of one of three boss battles. Eventually, each boss battle will have to played twice, but at the start you have a choice. These boss battles face you off in a game of arkanoid against a cloud, a race against the dastardly King Dedede, and a connect the dots mini-game. Unfortunately, the latter of these has horrible hand-recognition and are incredibly frustrating.

Use lines to dive Kirby underwater.

In almost every level there's three medals placed in precarious locations or hard-to-find areas. Collecting as many as possible earns Kirby the ability to purchase new goodies with them such as new-colored lines to draw with, more health, new mini-games, and even new playable characters.

Additionally, there's two bonus modes included in Canvas Curse. These award medals for completing them quickly and efficiently. The first is a time trial where the goal is to get to the end of the level as fast as possible. The second requires a bit more finesse as you have a limited amount of ink to use and only so many lines you can draw to get Kirby from point A to point B. These modes are very enjoyable and add some longevity to this already meaty game.

Visually, Kirby Canvas Curse is what'd you expect. It's mucho colorful and even utilizes multiple different graphical styles depending on what level you're in. The game runs smoothly without a drop in framerate and looks quite nice doing it. It's 2-D art at its finest... at least on the DS. The music features many classic Kirby tunes to listen and hum along to. There's nothing ground-shaking here, but it's pleasant enough.

It might be called Ghost Ground, but
there's nothing haunted about this place.

Overall, Kirby Canvas Curse still remains one of the best uses of the DS' touch screen even after all this time. I eagerly anticipate a sequel of some shape or form even though we've already seen three Kirby games on the DS already. Those looking for an innovative and intuitive platformer will feel right at home. Everyone else should definitely give this game a try. You might be surprised with how good it is.

[SuperPhillip Says: 9.0/10]

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

SPC Mailbag - January 27th, 2010

Welcome to the middle of the week here at SuperPhillip Central. I'm back in school, so that means I have less time to devote to posting new entries on the site. I aim to do at least five a week. At the very least, Monday through Friday. Though the picture uploader runs incredibly slow at the school, so they might be without pictures until the weekend when I head home. Regardless, let's reach into that old mailbag and see if we can find a gem or two to answer!

What's your opinion on Microsoft and Sony's new motion control systems?

At the moment I couldn't care less. There's no games. These new hardware already have the disadvantage of coming out years into the current generation, and it's a known fact that it's not the hardware that sells the software. It's the other way around. So unless Microsoft and Sony unveil some games, it's hard to be excited for potential.

Furthermore, it's not a good sign when Natal and Arc are supposed to come out at year's end yet there's no information on any games. Arc has some titles in development by Sony with names but no information and some games getting patch support for Sony's Wii remote competitor, but that's it. So case in point, I have to see the games before I give a true opinion. Though those who are suddenly excited about motion controls now that they're on their personal platform of choice bug the heck out of me.

Do you think it's too late for hardcore third party games on Wii to sell well?

In a word, yes. I think having the first three years of the Wii's life having nothing of a value to the so-called hardcore has a lot to do with the consumer abandoning the Wii for hardcore gaming... unless the games are from Nintendo themselves. Now the quality of third party games are much higher but still nowhere near their HD contemporaries, but I feel that the consumers who would have purchased these games quit trying to find good third party games of the hardcore variety. They went to the HD consoles for that. I think it's too little too late now, and third parties will want to reassess how they do business and make games on Nintendo's next console.

You used to post a list of games you were planning on reviewing for the next month. Why did you stop?

Good question, and I'm surprised anyone noticed. Anyway, I found it was very difficult to play through all the games I listed. I generously added a lot of games that I couldn't possibly play in one month, so it was always a tentative list. I feel that just keeping the reader in suspense over what I review alleviates any pressure on me to do each and every review I have planned. Hope that makes sense.

Why did you start SuperPhillip Central?

I originated as a reviewer for GameFAQs. I found I liked doing reviews so much that I wanted a place that could be a compendium of all my reviews. Alternatively, I enjoy writing a great deal. It's one of my passions as is gaming, so I figured why not combine the two with this blog? I do this plainly as a hobby, but if a job offer ever came up, I'd probably jump at the chance knowing me.

Zip the mailbag back shut because we are finished with it for now. If you have a question or comment you'd like to send me, hit me up with an e-mail at Until tomorrow, have a pleasant evening, everyone.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Super Princess Peach (DS) Review

Welcome to Tuesday here at SuperPhillip Central. I truly appreciate your feedback, so please keep giving it to me by posting a message in the comments section on any and every story you find interesting or have something to add, a question perhaps. Today I'm reviewing a game that was released on my birthday in 2006. It's none other than Super Princess Peach-- the game that held me over for New Super Mario Bros.!

Princess Peach Power!

There's few women in gaming more recognizable than Princess Peach from the Super Mario Bros. series. Sure, there's Samus Aran, but she hides underneath a mask most of the time. On that note, hopefully I didn't spoil the fact that Samus is actually a girl. Nonetheless, tired of her co-stars hogging all of the action, Princess Peach has set out for her own portable adventure. With girl power taking precedence this time around, is this adventure just as peachy as Mario's?

Things have turned flip-side upside down in the Mushroom Kingdom. Mario and that green guy have been plumber-napped by Bowser, and it's up to Peach to save the day for once! She won't be alone, however, as she comes across a talkative and cheery parasol to help out in her journey across eight themed worlds from arctic mountains to active volcanoes. Bowser's plan is to use Vibe Island's Vibe Scepter on the denizens of the island. It's up to Princess Peach to rescue the plumber pair, take back the Vibe Scepter, and kick out Bowser from his vacation retreat.

Mario and Luigi have been captured!
It's up to Princess Peach to rescue them.

As stated, there's eight worlds in total, each with six levels. The sixth being a boss battle against a giant foe from an enlarged Kamek to a wiggler to Gooper Blooper. Before these fights are lame touch screen-driven mini-games where you must reach the boss. These just feel tacked on and gimmicky. As for the bosses, they all have a weakness to one of Peach's various emotions, so experimenting to see what emotion will tackle what boss is all the fun... except the game tells you what emotion to use before the actual boss battle.

Big girls don't cry.
Unless they're facing a mean piranha plant.

Speaking of emotions, Princess Peach is an emotional gal. Not to invoke stereotypes of women, but she can change her emotions like she's changing the time on a clock. However, unlike the untrue stereotype, Peach's emotions can help her out in the grand scheme of the things. There's four emotions to choose from, activated by the touch screen. Each emotion when in play saps energy from Peach's vibe meter. When it runs out, you are unable to use emotions until you fill it back up either by grabbing blue gems or siphoning energy off enemies by sucking them inside the parasol. The four emotions are: joy, rage, gloom, and calm. Joy engulfs Peach inside a miniature twister which attacks enemies and allows her to fly. Rage sets Peach fire in a burning flame as she marches through enemies and burns bridges (literally) with her anger. Gloom tears up poor Princess Peach as she cries. Her tears can water beanstalks to make them grow, and her speed in this form allows her to race through levels at a brisk speed. Finally, calm is probably the most broken emotion. In this state and until she takes damage, her health heals slowly. This makes most boss battles and otherwise more difficult parts of the game less challenging.

Familiar sights abound in Super Princess Peach.

Another problem with the difficulty is that Super Princess Peach does not use a life system. If you fall in a bottomless pit, you lose a half a heart. That's it. If you lose all of your hearts, you have to restart the level. This is so difficult to actually achieve that this will most likely be a non-factor when playing through the majority of Super Princess Peach's levels.

As for the levels, Super Princess Peach has admirable level design. There's nothing that will make you drop your jaw like New Super Mario Bros. Wii, but that's alright. There are some cool ideas sprinkled in and creative design such as a rotating room. The levels are pretty easy, and they're divided up by rooms much like Yoshi's Island. Each level has three toads to save. They're hidden in pretty clever locations though you'll get an audible and visual signal when a toad or other secret is in the room you're currently in. Collecting all the toads unlocks new, more challenging bonus levels after the game is completed.

There's also coins to collect throughout Super Princess Peach's worlds. These aren't just for show or to make Peach richer than she already is. No, no. They're used in the game's shop to purchase new moves, health and vibe meter increases, music, mini-games like Toad Jump, and puzzle pieces. There's also a glossary that lists all of the enemies and bosses you've encountered, a place to listen to purchased music, and many more options available.

The graphics are top-notch and very good.

The visuals unlike New Super Mario Bros. are exclusively 2-D, and the game looks great. Peach and company animate beautifully, the worlds are bright, vivid, and colorful, and the game never chugs slowly even with multiple enemies and things going on the screen at the same time. The music, other than the charming gameplay, is one of the best parts of this pretty and pink Princess Peach package. There's multiple memorable tunes and tracks that you'll be humming to as you play through the game.

Overall, Super Princess Peach is a fun, five-hour game with plenty of unlockable content to discover and enemies to bash and absorb. The only main gripe I have with this game is a lack of real challenge. Sure, there's some trouble spots here and there, but it's nothing that can't be conquered after a try or two. With lush visuals, a great soundtrack, and an endearing heroine, Super Princess Peach is one platformer not to be missed.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.5/10]

Monday, January 25, 2010

SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs - Back to School Edition

Welcome to another installment of SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs brought to you by Tatsunoko VS. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars for Nintendo Wii. This week we have Wii Sports, Wave Race, and much more, so sit back, relax, and get ready for some of my VGMs!

v476. Wii Sports - Title (Live version)

This live, acoustic version of the Wii Sports Title theme comes to us from the Touch Generations Japanese album. It has themes from a wide variety of Touch Generations titles from Nintendogs to Wii Fit to English Training. If you get a chance to track down a copy, you will not be disappointed in what you hear.

v477. Mii Contest Channel - Submission Plaza

Here we have what I think is the first theme that doesn't come from a game whether downloadable or retail. What we have here is Submission Plaza, a song from the Mii Contest Channel. Rate your favorites, take a Mii or two (or a dozen!) home to your own Wii, and have a quick jaunt on this otherwise useless channel.

v478. English Training - Peter Piper Syndrome

Here comes a title that never made it to North America, but it did in Europe and Japan. It's part of the Touch Generations line of games from Nintendo. This catchy song tells the tale of Peter Piper who picked a pack of pickled peppers. If Peter Piper picked a pack of pickled peppers, how many did Peter Piper pick? Great question. Great question.

v479. Wave Race 64 - Port Blue

Coming from Kazumi Totaka who is better known for his work on Animal Crossing, Wave Race 64's soundtrack uses synth guitars and other instruments like keyboards to give off its tropical flair. Port Blue was the fifth race in the Normal, Hard, and Expert cups. It's a race that takes place-- where else-- in a port with cargo ships and crates floating in the water.

v480. Wave Race: Blue Storm - Dolphin Park (Exhibition)

We once again hit the water with the Wave Race franchise. This time we're taking a listen to a song from the Wave Race: Blue Storm, the way difficult sequel to Wave Race 64. Dolphin Park is the tutorial course of the game with easy obstacles, light waves, and bright sunshine. The song for the level relies heavily on the electric guitar. Perfect for ripping some waves!

This is the end of the road for now, kiddos. Until next week, the VGMs are going back into hibernation!