Tuesday, June 8, 2010

More Stats According to the Nintendo Channel

Welcome to a wonderful Tuesday evening here at SuperPhillip Central. Why is it so wonderful? Well, it was raining heavily, but now the sun is shining and the evening is turning out great. Why not ring in a nice day with some more statistics from the Nintendo Channel. This time around, I'm choosing five select games to put under the playtime microscope. The first two have surpassed several games listed in my various top ten lists. The latter three are actually the 31st, 32nd, and 33rd spots on the Nintendo Channel's most played list. Let's get this party started, shall we?

Monster Hunter Tri - 38 Hrs. 25 Min.

Time in this game has been spent almost half and half I'd say between offline and online skirmishes. The game is full of content from weapons to upgrade, monsters to massacre, and of course, the thrill of the hunt to be had with friends! The game may be difficult to the outside gamer, but for those with a passion for learning a game inside and out and improving with it, you can't do much better than Monster Hunter 3. Online play is still enjoyable despite my lack of a keyboard to type messages with. Instead, I use the premade messages such as "Let's do this" and "Sorry..." If you're a fan of games that reward you for fighting smart and hard, Monster Hunter 3 may just be the game for you.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 - 36 Hrs. 2 Min.

Scoring an unprecedented perfect ten out of ten on SPC, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is definitely spectacular. Both my older brother and I have been playing through the game with each of us collecting the original 120 stars and besting Bowser for the final time. Now we're both scurrying to outdo one another in collecting the 120 green stars hidden throughout each galaxy in often death-defying locations. Aside from that, this game is a 3D platforming fan's dream with all of the creatively-designed levels filled with obstacles to dodge and platforms to leap on. Super Mario Galaxy 2 truly is a game that is out of this world.

Mario Super Sluggers - 15 Hrs. 7 Min.

Batter up! Baseball season is upon us, and so is Mario and the gang as you'll see shortly. Mario Super Sluggers takes the tried and true formula of the original Superstar Baseball game for Gamecube, adds in some motion control batting, and some updated visuals for an intriguing take on our nation's pastime. With multiple, themed courses some with hazards like Chain-Chomps and Piranha Plants to go to bat on as well as superstar moves for each player both offensively and defensively, and you have one heated game of baseball. Playing through the solo mode took plenty of my time as did multiplayer sessions with friends.

Mario Strikers Charged - 14 Hrs. 17 Min.

Mario just won't leave us alone on our list, will he? Never the mind as we're enjoying his company. Mario Strikers Charged by Next Level Games (who would later craft the fine Punch-Out!, also for Wii) was an excellent take on the world's favorite sport, football. See there? I called it football not soccer for my international readers! SP's got your back! Regardless, the game featured 3-on-3 linesmen each with their own deke moves and offensive abilities like the Hammer Bros' hammer spike. Oftentimes considered a cheap move to spam coincidentally. With plenty of characters and captains to choose, multiple arenas, and an impressive presentation, Mario Strikers Charged comes charging out onto the field as a winner.

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers - 14 Hrs. 2 Min.

My only regret with Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers is that I only had time to play through it once. I didn't get to experience all the game offered, and it definitely offered an abundant amount of content. From fun mini-games to rewarding experimenting in combat, The Crystal Bearers was quite the enjoyable romp even if some of my fellow colleagues disagreed. Then there were medals, achievement-like rewards that lengthened playtime considerably. There's over 300 to collect, and with the new game plus option there was really no excuse not to give the game a second go-round. Curse this backlog of mine!

Have any Nintendo Channel data of mine that you would like to see? Hit me up with a comment in the section derived for comments-- the comments section!

Dragon Quest IX (DS) All-New Trailer

Sentinels of the Starry Skies is the full subtitle of Dragon Quest IX, sure to cause a wave or two of excitement with JRPG fans when in comes to North American shores in mid July. This trailer briefly skims over the various features the game possesses from customizable heroes to the battle system. Even though I own Dragon Quest VIII, I've yet to play a Dragon Quest game that wasn't a spin-off. Here's hoping I buck the trend when Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies comes out next month!

Monday, June 7, 2010

SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs - June Bug Edition

Monday means it's time for some more of my favorite VGMs. This week we're listening to tracks from The World Ends With You, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, and 3D Dot Game Heroes, to name a few. Without further ado, let's get started, shall we?

v571. The World Ends With You - Someday

The World Ends With You, or as it is known in Japan, It's A Wonderful World, is an action-RPG by one Mr. Nomura. That's the guy behind the Kingdom Hearts series. The game is a unique take on the RPG formula, and it uses touch mechanics in battle to utilize attacks. It's really rather cool. What's also cool is the eclectic soundtrack which you can hear a sample of here. Aren't I nice?

v572. Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts - Nutty Acres (Daytime)

Composer Grant Kirkhope gives us this tropical theme for Nutty Acres, part beach, part hilly countryside, part volcano, all in one. If your ears lend you well, you might even hear a motif or two from Treasure Trove Cove from the original Banjo-Kazooie. While not the platforming perfection fans of the series wanted, Nuts & Bolts is a competent adventure nonetheless.

v573. Wii Shop Channel - Main Theme

Come buy something. You know you wanna. Such memories of getting my Wii, hooking up to the internet, and buying games I already owned that were already in perfect working order just for the fun of it. This is a simple theme composed by Kazumi Totaka who is well known for having his secret Totaka's Theme hidden in various Nintendo products that he makes music for. Enough talk-- let's start buying some more virtual games!

v574. Chrono Cross - Another Termina

Chrono Cross is a great game, I'm told. I never played through the game the whole way. I really should, but there's so many games that are out now that I need to play first. Even though I neglected to play the game, I did appreciate the soundtrack. It's one of Yasunori Mitsuda's best. Speaking of which, I still have to play Chrono Trigger for Lavos' sake!

v575. 3D Dot Game Heroes - Main Theme

It may be an homage/clone of the original Legend of Zelda, but it's a highly competent and enjoyable one. 3D Dot Game Heroes has you playing as a silent protagonist, slaying monsters, venturing into dungeons, gaining treasures to beat said dungeon's big bad boss, and saving the kingdom from evil. Even the main theme has some resemblance to the Zelda overture!

There goes another edition of SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs that has just flown by. Stay tuned next week for more music and more fun! Until then, check out previous installments of the VGMs right here.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Planet Minigolf (PSN) Review

I remember playing rounds of mini golf with my dad when he took me down to the Lake of the Ozarks. It was a mini golf fan's wet dream. Dozens of entertaining, well-made courses perfect for putt-putt play. Now that I'm older I don't get around to the courses as often as I'd like, so video games will have to do. How does Planet Minigolf hold up?

Putt-Putt Planet

Miniature golf is the perfect pastime for friends to hang out, play a round, laugh at their horrible skills, and enjoy themselves. It's also the perfect date, too. You get to teach the girl how to swing with your hips hovering right behind hers. Perhaps I watch too many movies. Regardless and case in point, mini golf is a fun hobby that is popular with kids, adults, and everyone in between. Zen Studios best known for their Zen Pinball title on PSN have returned for an encore. This time around they're hitting up the miniature links with Planet Minigolf, also for the PlayStation Network. Does this putt-putt simulator shine, or does it get penalized a few strokes?

There are four themes in Planet Minigolf. There's a swashbuckling paradise with sandy shores, pirate ships, and ocean ambiance, a futuristic downtown Soho city with halfpipes, quarter pipes and everything else to make your ball feel like Tony Hawk, an ancient Mayan temple, and finally, an ice cold polar region because when I think of putt-putt I think of polar bears and frostbite. Each theme has four different courses of nine holes to play on: warm-up, pro, extreme, and wacky. You start at the warm-up level on each course, and by coming in first place on a given course, you unlock the next difficulty with new and far more challenging holes. What is simple mini golf on the warm-up difficulty is mere child's play compared to the off-the-wall and highly hard wacky holes.

The Ancient Ruins are but one of
the four themes in Planet Minigolf.

As you complete each competition, you're rewarded with keys. These keys unlock new attire for your band of five generic-looking golfers to wear. There's three types of keys: gold, silver, and bronze. The cooler attire from hats and shirts to pants and shoes are harder to acquire, needing gold keys won by playing and winning the extreme and wacky golf outings. That said, it is fun to dress-up your golfers with your own personal touch even if the more enviable goods are locked away with golden locks.

One of the problems with Planet Minigolf is that the golf courses quickly range from simple to tough in an instant. These are unlike any miniature golf courses I've seen with long drops, multiple points of becoming out-of-bounds, and even power-ups. When your ball picks up one of these said power-ups, you can activate them with the X button at any time. There's all sorts of power-ups from using the Sixaxis' controls to jostle and steer your way closer to the hole to your ball becoming a magnet to the pin for an easy hole-out to making your golf ball massive in size perfect for getting across otherwise uncrossable rope bridges. The power-ups do a good job of keeping things fresh and interesting if not a bit chaotic on later courses.

Aren't you chilly in that get-up?

If the courses in Planet Minigolf don't do you any favors, you can create your own built upon one of the four themed areas of the game each with their own construction pieces. You place parts down from one of five categories: straightaways, curves, plains, endings, and phantom pieces. You then snap together your hole using these various parts, place the pin and tee locations, test your hole, and then you're good to go. You can even set hazards and obstacles like barrels and crabs if your heart so desires. You can create dozens of holes, group them as a course, and publish them online for other players to enjoy or in my case get infuriated with. You can play other players' courses and holes, rate them, and save them to your personal collection. It's a very cool editor which may get more play time from some people than the actual game itself!

Speaking of the game itself, there are three types of swing methods in Planet Minigolf. The first is the simplest. You just aim and hold down the X button. As the button is held, your golfer swings his or her club back. Release to smack that ball toward the hole. The second is your traditional three-click system seen in many golf games from Tiger Woods to Hot Shots Golf. You press the button once to start the gauge, press it again to set the shot power, then as the gauge swings back, you hit the X button one last time to set the accuracy of the shot. Simple as can be. Finally, there's a less than usual swing mechanic that utilizes the left stick to swing. You pull the stick back and then move it forward to shoot. How far your hold back determines the strength of your shot. This is my least favorite of the three swing styles by far. It's far too inconsistent for my tastes.

From sunny shores to creepy caverns.

What is also inconsistent is the game's camera. Many times you'll be unable to move the camera around to actually see the blasted hole. Yes, there's an aerial view that shows the entire hole, but trying to see the hole is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Forgive my cliched analogy.

Planet Minigolf is presented pretty well though I can say that a little bloom goes a long way. You might have to wear sunglasses the bloom lighting can be so bad. Though you do have good animations in your golfers from their happy taunts to their aggressive "I can't believe I screwed up this shot" poses. What accompanies the visuals of Planet Minigolf is a series of themed songs perfect for the courses you're playing on. Techno for the futuristic Soho, a seaside shanty for the pirate-themed courses, etc. Just turn down the buttrock on the main menu. That can get aggravating in a jiffy.

Planet Minigolf may not be the best mini golf simulator ever, but what it does succeed in is a fun experience for players. While an imperfect game of putt-putt, Planet Minigolf does shine in its robust course editor, challenging (if not too challenging) holes, and fun multiplayer sessions either online or off. When the weather turns sour, and outdoor mini golf isn't an option, Planet Minigolf is here, it's cheap enough, and it's a barrel of laughs with friends.

[SuperPhillip Says: 7.0/10]