Friday, November 12, 2010

Donkey Kong Country Returns North American Advertisements

We're going bananas here at SuperPhillip Central as we take a look at the North American ads for Donkey Kong Country Returns! It's just a week from this Sunday, kids and kidettes! This is one of my more hyped games of the gaming season, so I can't wait to play it. These ads can't possibly hope to appease me until release date! What do you think about these ads?

Special SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs - Sonic Colors Edition

Sonic Colors, the newest 3D and maybe the most improved 3D Sonic is hitting the Wii and DS this Tuesday for us North Americans. To celebrate, we're skipping thirty VGMs until Monday to display this special five VGM special of Sonic Colors music. It's a glorious soundtrack indeed. Well, enough banter from me, let's get on with it!

v631. Sonic Colors - Reach for the Stars

Reach for the stars, pardner. This track is the main theme of Sonic Colors, a game that destroyed the Sonic Cycle! Maybe not destroyed, but perhaps altered the Sonic Cycle. Doesn't matter it's an annoying meme anyway that some bitter dudes created after buying each and every Sonic game ever released. Sucks for them. As for the song, it sports a catchy melody with tolerable, cheery lyrics. Reach for the stars!

v632. Sonic Colors - Tropical Resort Act 1

There are six acts in each zone, but only three different songs for all three acts. I assume that each version of Act 1's theme is played twice per zone. Sonic Colors is set to finally undo some of the wrong that Sonic Team has done to the franchise. One game isn't going to undo all the heartache and headaches caused by past Sonic titles-- especially Sonic 2006. I'm shivering right now if you can't tell.

v633. Sonic Colors - Planet Wisp Act 1

Planet Wisp Act 1's theme features a catchy piano melody and accompaniment with a funkadelic bass guitar along for the ride. I've seen photos of Planet Wisp and even a gameplay trailer, and I must say this might be one of my favorite zones in the entire game. We'll see when I play the game when it comes out later next week.

v634. Sonic Colors - Asteroid Coaster Act 1

Another Act 1 theme (I'm noticing a trend here), Asteroid Coaster is pure hard rock with a rockin' theme. I've not seen photos or gameplay of this zone, so it'll be an entirely maiden voyage to this zone for me. As you can probably tell, the soundtrack of Sonic Colors is quite good, and that's why I chose to run five videos in a row for it. Enjoy!

v635. Sonic Colors - Final Boss Phase 2 ~ Reach for the Stars (Orchestra Ver.)

Final Boss Phase 2 ~ Reach for the Stars (Orchestra Ver.) is a mouthful for sure, but it's also an epic version of the main theme. I've no idea who the final boss is, and I'm sure on keeping it that way. It's probably Eggman or some alien being thing. Something crazy like that. Regardless, this ends our tour of Eggman's Amusement Park. Hope you enjoyed the ride!

There you have it. On Monday we'll return to VGM 601 and continue from there. If you're interested in past and future VGMs, check out my Youtube channel for more! Until next time, the VGMs are out!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Editorial: Just Why Is Call of Duty So Popular?

I haven't done an editorial for a while, and it got to me. Call of Duty: Black Ops has just released on all three major platforms and PC, and I wondered why this series was so popular. Then a thread on NeoGAF popped up asking the same question. "It's just fun" isn't a reliable answer. Why is it fun? What makes the game more enjoyable and selling more than something like Halo? (Obviously Halo is exclusive to one system while Call of Duty is not.) Let's try to figure this out in my latest editorial.

Call of Duty is a massive franchise in the Western video game world. There's no secret about that. Every year it seems like a new CoD comes out, and it destroys sales records of its predecessors. To the untrained eye, it would seem like the series was just new missions with the same old gameplay. Perhaps that could be the case, but is there some better reason why millions upon millions of people play the Call of Duty franchise?

Call of Duty is no doubt popular with fraternities and the demographic of males 18-35. How many voices online are that of these people shouting "Ooh-rah" into the mic, cursing out others, and being overly aggressive in their playing? Quite a few is the answer. This demographic is one of the keys to Call of Duty's popularity. That isn't to say that's all the people who play this epic franchise. You can bet though that the majority of people playing Call of Duty are that of the-- I hate this term-- fratcore.

Another explanation to the success of Call of Duty could be attributed to the ease of playing. Even a casual gamer who plays games every now and then can jump in (no reference to the Xbox 360 intended) and mow down Nazis or whatever enemy of the year there is for that installment. The generous number of checkpoints, different difficulties to choose from, and how easy it is to take enemy soldiers down makes for an easy experience for a casual gamer to have a good time. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. More hardcore players can choose a more challenging difficulty if they so desire. Still, it's very easy to take down enemy soldiers and feel like an American marine, navy man, or army soldier in the process. Perhaps that's a reason.

Something else that caught my attention was the multi-player. You gain experience from doing tasks such as kills, kill streaks, k/d ratios, and so forth. The littlest things give the player experience, and with this experience it feels like you're being rewarded for doing the simplest tasks. This system is so popular other FPSes have been using it to reward their players. By gaining enough experience, you gain levels. Levels award the player with new perks, weapons, and abilities, so playing for hours on end just to reach level 25 isn't a big pipe dream to most players. Is it this simplicity of being rewarded for simple tasks a reason for the series being so popular?

Finally, there's one big elephant in the room to broach about. Advertising and marketing. If you think Kinect is overmarketed, you haven't seen a Call of Duty ad campaign. Countless commercials airing on all the major networks that people ages 18-35 would watch. There's your Spike TV, Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, ESPN, among others. Each release is treated like some godly event that if you miss out, you'll hate yourself for the rest of your life. The point is, Call of Duty gets a lot of TV time. It gets billboards on the sides of buses, ads in magazines, and so much more. Is this the reason the games are so popular?

My conclusion is that not one of these is the reason the Call of Duty franchise is so popular. Instead, I choose ALL of these answers as my reason why. Call me a gutless coward for not finding the exact reason, just don't call me Shirley. While I haven't played every Call of Duty game, I do find the series enjoyable if not a bit shallow. If people love this series, who am I to tell them to stop liking it? Hopefully future iterations of the franchise change things up quite a bit and don't become complacent. Aw, who am I kidding? This is Activision the company that killed three of their brands due to complacency! Oh, that was a close one!

Why do YOU think Call of Duty is so popular of a series? Let me know in the comments section.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Top Five Most Wanted 3DS Games

The 3DS release is pretty close. Just early next year doesn't make it seem so long to me. Regardless, Nintendo and third parties have already unleashed a load of software for the little handheld that could possibly sell out all over the world. The following list is my top five picks for 3DS games that most interest me. Let's check some of them out.

5) Star Fox 64 3D

Take to the skies all over again with Fox McCloud and crew as he wages war on the evil Andross. Andross won't have his way with him! Choose your path wisely through the Lylat System as different planets and sectors hold different challenges. Each planet or sector is its own level full of various obstacles, bosses, and baddies. But now the fun's in 3D to make your flight all the more enjoyable.

4) Kid Icarus: Uprising

For the first time in almost twenty years, Pit, better known from his appearance in Super Smash Bros. Brawl (even supporting the same model), is back to star in his own video game. This 3DS exclusive puts you in the sandals of young Pit, on a goal to once again take down the evil Medusa and her dark forces. Fly or do battle on the ground in this multi-focused title. It's rumored that this might make launch. Cross your fingers.

3) Mario Kart 3DS

Little is known or seen of this title except for a brief teaser trailer showing off Mario and Luigi racing through rolling hills, forests, approaching Peach's castle, and through pipe-infested valleys. We know the visuals are pretty good, but there's little else to go on save for promised online play which is always a nice treat. Will it show off Nintendo's new online strategy? Once again, we'll have to wait for Nintendo for those answers.

2) Animal Crossing 3DS

Animal Crossing is back and looks better than ever. It already looks vastly different than past installments due to 1) your character is now longer and leaner, and 2) you're supposedly now the mayor of your villager. Goodbye, Tortimer! I'll miss the old tortoise. With beautiful visuals, online play for up to four players, and the good old fashioned charm the series always possesses, Animal Crossing 3DS looks like a title to watch out for.

1) The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

My favorite video game of all time is now being remade with 3D as the focus. The visuals have been greatly improved, and Link looks better than ever. All we know is the game is a remake of the 1997 Nintendo 64 classic, and not much else is known. Will there be a new dungeon or two thrown in to make this title even more enticing to consumers, or will it be a straight port save for 3D? Your guess is as good as mine as we await more information from Nintendo.

Runners-up include Mega Man Legends 3, Resident Evil: Revelations, Pilotwings Resort, Nintendogs + Cats, Paper Mario 3D, and Super Street Fighter 4 3D. What are your most anticipated 3DS games, if any?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Goldeneye 007 (Wii) Review

All right, kiddos. It's time for an all-new review for November. This time it's an actual game that released this month! I know! It's Goldeneye 007, a title we reviewed before, but this time it's Activision's version. Go figure!

"For England, James?" "No, you yutz. For Wii!"

The task of getting Goldeneye 007 into a new form was a promiscuous process. One, Rare owns the code of the game as well as the level design. Then you have Nintendo who owns the rights to the title Goldeneye 007. Activision contacted Nintendo in order to recreate the Goldeneye experience for Nintendo's Wii console. Is this a title that succeeds, or is it just a mission failure?

Activision's version of Goldeneye 007 loosely tells the tale of the movie and less of the ground-breaking game. Pierce Brosnan has been cut loose, and Daniel Craig has taken his place-- monotone voice and all. The fun all begins at a dam where 007 teams up with 006, Alec Trevalyn, in order to infiltrate the dam, set off some explosions, and get the heck out of there by the skin of their necks. Something goes awry, however, has 006 gets caught which puts a damper on the operation. Shot at point blank range, Alec is seemingly killed. 007 opts to set the timer for three minutes instead of six, gets on a conveyor belt out of the facility, steals a plane, and soars away as the facility explodes in its magnificent glory. This is the familiar beginning of the movie. What changes, however, are plot point and locale locations as well as old characters showing up in new places. It's not an exact retelling of the originally 1995 blockbuster, but it creates an updated story that works well overall.

Oh, the places you'll go!

Most players will hop right into the single-player campaign made up of around fourteen missions and six chapters. You'll drive a tank in St. Petersburg, Russia, go shooting about in the statue park, and funk out in Zukovsky's nightclub. The areas of the game aren't very similar to the original Goldeneye 007. They're entirely new and feel new, too. The level design isn't exactly wide-open, but it's neither linear either. There's secret passages to get a jump on enemies, split-paths to build a sense of exploration in the game, and hidden areas to uncover.

Goldeneye 007 encourages you to play it stealthily. If you don't, you'll sound off an alarm or a loudmouthed guard who will zone in on your position and call for back-up. In later difficulties, this is a headache as the extra enemies are all gunning for you with automatic weapons, and death is no stranger to 007 in harder modes. Instead, the game allows you to use a silenced pistol to shoot a guard in the head like pin the tail on the donkey, or if you're too close for comfort, you can always knock them out up close and personal with a knockout move. Something like a quick hit to the back of the head or a headlock into submission will do.

Boys with toys.

To my surprise, enemy AI is quite intelligent (hence the I in AI). They'll duck behind cover, and when their cover is exposed after repeated shots (there's destructible cover by the way), they'll run to another spot for cover. Enemies will run and slide into cover, wait for you to move, and blast you until you're turned into an MI-6 memorial star. They're quite crafty as well usually using the numbers game to your disadvantage. On later difficulties, they'll be downright ruthless in 007's death. Sure, you can use the AI's idiosyncrasies to your advantage, but not often will they give you the honor. Still, very impressive AI in this game.

The single-player feels like something out of Call of Duty as does the multi-player (which we'll get to in a bit). There's set-piece after set-piece from quick-time events to riding shotgun in an army truck, blasting any foe that foolishly steps in your path. And why wouldn't the game feel like Call of Duty with Activision publishing it and Eurocom (whose last project was the rightfully overlooked Dead Space Extraction) developing the game.

We've talked about the campaign, so let's move onto the multi-player modes. Firstly, there's the classic four player split-screen action where you choose one of many characters such as certain Bond villains like Dr. No and Oddjob as well as the many enemy models the game has to offer. You can set up modifications for battle such as melee mode, paintball guns, or one of many other options. It's fun for a little bit, but the lack of bots (this is 2010, not 1996, Eurocom) is a bit disconcerting and lowers the fun down quite a bit.

Who wants some?

The online multi-player is a different story, and it's very reminiscent of Call of Duty. There's over eight different modes to be played. Conflict and Team Conflict are your standard deathmatch scenarios. Then there's the Golden Gun mode where the object is to grab the Golden Gun, and kill enemies with it. You gain five points per kill instead of just one as you would without the gun. Then there's the Black Box mode where the goal is to either defend the Black Box or destroy it depending on what team you're placed on. Next up is the Goldeneye mode where players hack terminals, and whoever holds the most will have the Goldeneye nuke their opponents' base. Heroes marks one player on each team as the hero. Killing the hero earns major points, but the hero himself or herself has more strength and health. Finally, three other modes are locked until a player reaches the level requirement.

He has a powerful weapon, he charges a million a shot.
An assassin that's second to none-- the Man with the Golden Gun!

Yep, levels and experience points return making this Call of Duty: 007 style. You earn experience for kills, kill streaks, killing a major enemy such as a hero or person with the Golden Gun, and kill/death ratios. As you earn experience, you gain levels which unlocks new bonuses, weapons, and gadgets for you to use. Say for when you reach level fifty (if you have the patience to play this game that long), you earn proximity mines.

Online isn't perfect, however. The game suffers lag and frame-rate issues as well as some hackers already. Friend codes are used to add other people to your buddy list of which one-hundred people can join. Finally, it's just too damn easy to die in this game. Before you can even turn around, you're dead, making for some frustrating gameplay. I have on occasion rage-quit because of how cheap the game can be especially with the lag and frame-rate issues the game possesses.

Frankly, my dear, I don't give a "dam". *groan*

Visually, Goldeneye 007 is a bad mamma-jamma, and I say that it in a good way. The special effects such as explosions, snow, and rain are all incredible to gaze upon. The character models animate well and are crafted just as well. The voice work, on the other hand, could use some pepping up. Every character, including Daniel Craig and Dame Judi Dench, speaks in an annoying monotone voice. Is this an action game or a funeral, people? Make up your minds quickly now. Otherwise on the sound side of things, the music is perfect for each location from the statue park to the dam to the nightclub to-- you get the idea, hopefully. To cap off, the presentation is very good, and no "not just for Wii" garbage either.

Postcard from Severnaya! Greetings!

Overall, Goldeneye 007 is far from a perfect game. The online is far from issue-free and the single-player can screw you out of completing missions thanks to the constant continue points disallowing back-tracking. It's not all bad, thankfully. There's plenty of fun gun-slinging, gadget-using, tuxedo-wearing action to give this game a good rating. Those just interested in the single-player should stick with a rental, but those wanting to try out the infinite online options, feel free to buy before you try. To me, Eurocom is the company that laid the Golden Gun.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.25/10]

Monday, November 8, 2010

SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs - November to Remember Edition

Why is it a November to remember? Why, we've reached 600 videos here at SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs! What a wonderful number-- six-hundred. Sit back as I have planned for you some great music including new tracks from the Distant Worlds Version II soundtrack as well as songs from Sonic Adventure and Super Mario Land 2! Let's get this party started!

v596. Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins - Star Maze

Super Mario Land and its sequel, Six Golden Coins, are some of the least talked about mainline Mario games. Well, Super Mario Land for good reason as it wasn't very good, but Six Golden Coins was much better. It was just a bizarre game-- fighting Tatanga once again, giant pigs, and entering lands based on Halloween, the inside of a house, and battles in space-- way before Super Mario Galaxy. Speaking of space, this theme, Star Maze, plays during one of the space zone's levels. It's catchy, no?

v597. Final Fantasy Tactics - Battle on the Bridge

Battle on the Bridge plays for the first time in Final Fantasy Tactics in the confrontation with Ramza's long-missing best friend, Delita, on-- you guessed it-- a bridge. He is protecting Princess Ovelia while fighting Gafgarion. This battle is accentuated by this gripping track featuring the main theme melody of the game. Final Fantasy Tactics remains one of my favorite gaming soundtracks. I hope you see why with these tracks.

v598. Final Fantasy VI - Dancing Mad (Distant Worlds II Ver.)

Distant Worlds II is a new arranged release of Final Fantasy tunes. I hope to share some more before we get to video 600. Actually, I'm sure we will. This version of Dancing Mad isn't as awesome as the Black Mages one, but it's still in a class all to its own. I hope you enjoy this phenomenal arrangement of Kefka's theme (move over, Sephiroth), Dancing Mad.

v599. Final Fantasy VII - J-E-N-O-V-A (Distant Worlds II Ver.)

This version of J-E-N-O-V-A also comes from the Distant Worlds II album. It features a full string ensemble perfect for taking on Sephiroth's mommy. Aww, what a little mama's boy. No wonder he's so popular of a character! I digress. The Distant Worlds II album features plenty more arranged versions of several Final Fantasy classics including To Zanarkand, Melodies of Life, and Terra's Theme.

v600. Sonic Adventure - Skydeck A Go! Go!

Sky Deck is one of the final levels in Sonic's story in Sonic Adventure for the Dreamcast and then later the Nintendo Gamecube and PC. The song is a rockin' theme that is very catchy. It'll grow on you when you're trying to beat the level for the first or fiftieth time (depending on your skill level). Sonic Adventure nowadays is a significantly flawed game with plenty of merits to make it enjoyable-- though I do prefer Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Heroes to it greatly. Which 3D Sonic game do you prefer?

If you're looking for more good video game music, check out the past. Just enter SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs into the search bar for more gaming sound goodness. Until next week, adieu!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Top Ten PlayStation 2 Games

It's been a long time, and the PlayStation 2's success knows no bounds. Still you can buy games at your local Best Buy, Wal-Mart, or other gaming-related retailer easily. I bet you didn't know that it's been ten years since the PlayStation 2 hit the worldwide market. Its catalog of games is one of the most impressive in gaming history. I think only the Super Nintendo rivals it, so picking out ten games to represent the PlayStation 2 is a difficult challenge. I'm up to that challenge, however, with my picks of the cream of the crop, the best of the best that the PS2 has to offer. Note: I have not played all 1,000+ games released on the PS2, so if your favorites aren't mentioned, I probably didn't play them.

10) Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy

My favorite of the Jak trilogy before things got dark and stupid, Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy is your basic Super Mario 64 clone. Instead of gathering power stars you gathered power cells. Instead of cashing in with coins you collected precursor orbs to purchase a wealth of awesome items and abilities. The levels were colorful and fun to play in, and the difficulty was just right for kids and adults to enjoy this excellent platforming romp.

9) Gran Turismo 4

The ultimate driving simulator is back and better than ever with more cars, more tracks, more weather conditions, and more hours of your life to waste playing this phenomenal racer. Either practice your driving in the training modes or put the pedal to the metal in the hundreds of races and race types to dominate or self-destruct on. My first and only run-in with the franchise, Gran Turismo 4 fits the bill as my favorite realistic racer.

8) God of War

By the gods, this game is great. Play as the bemoaned Kratos as he seeks revenge on the god of war, the deity who tricked Kratos into killing his own family. Use the Chains of Olympus to carve your way through enemies both human flesh and animal beast as you play through this eight hour campaign. Blades will bleed, blood will be shed, and in the end only one man will stand among the gods, and his name will be Kratos.

7) Hot Shots Golf Fore!

FOOOOOOOOOOORE!!! This golf game was awarded the best golf game ever in my top five list awhile back, and now it's back for more gloating. With a kooky cast of primed golfers, twelve courses that could be played in any of the four seasons, and online play, a first for the series, Hot Shots Golf Fore! took the golfing experience to a whole 'nother level. Do not miss out on this title if you're any fan of the game of golf.

6) Sly Cooper and the Thievius Racoonus

This pretty platformer comes in at the number six spot with all sorts of platforming moves in his repertoire. Tip-toeing on pipes, sliding down electrical lines with the use of his cane, and pulling off incredible heists and taking down incredible bosses such as one that is like a music game is what Sly Cooper is all about. The best of the bunch in my opinion, this thieving racoon is after a family heirloom and will steal from and steal his way through anything to get it back!

5) Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando

My favorite and first Ratchet & Clank adventure, Going Commando was an action-platformer that focused 50/50 on action and platforming. With the action you had tons of weapons and firepower to blow baddies away with while with the platforming there was tons of platforms to leap on, dangers to avoid. The protopet problem won't go away with Ratchet and Clank to save the day. Are you a bad enough dude to assist them?

4) God of War II

The God of War is back, and this time he's been betrayed by Zeus. You know the drill, more monsters to carve open, more enemies to massacre, and more blood that will be bled. From the amazing battles with a giant Colossus to the battles with Greek folklore heroes, God of War II outshines its previous game with more action, more bad bosses to beat down, and more perplexing puzzles to solve. If you need some raw action in your life, look no further than the God of War.

3) Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence

It's Solid Snake, but not the Solid Snake of old. Well, technically it is the Solid Snake of old since this is old Snake we're talking about. Y'know, Big Boss. The game explains it so much better. Anyway, the stealth action and combat of the Metal Gear Solid games is here and apparent. With Subsistence you could play the game without fixed camera angles, a fully 3D world instead awaited you. Eat snakes, shoot bad guys, let bosses screw with your head, Solid Snake's oldest adventure in the timeline is one of his best.

2) Resident Evil 4

Originally scheduled as an exclusive to the Gamecube, as a dick move, the PS2 version was announced before the Gamecube version had the chance to shine. Regardless of your opinion of the outcome, the PS2's Resident Evil 4 was the better of the two with more content, more firepower, and more costumes to choose from. Sure, the cutscenes weren't real time, and the game suffered from frame-rate problems, but the game was still complete and a blast to play. It might not scare you as much as older RE titles, but your adrenaline will be pumping like Leon blowing away enemies with a shotgun.

1) Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

It may have ended up on the Xbox, but it was originally exclusive to the PlayStation 2. Never before was there such and open world to explore. You had a state with three distinct cities, multiple patches of different land from badlands to desert to trot or drive over, and lots of pedestrians to "unintentionally" run over. Throw in the best story the series has ever seen, multiple options to customize C.J., the main character of the game, and you have the best GTA experience money can buy. Others will call GTA 4 "oscar-worthy" but they've been playa-hatin' to a severe degree. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is the best sandbox game you can get.

And there you have it, folks. You might notice games missing such as Kingdom Hearts, Shadow of the Colossus, Okami, and the like. Most of which I have never played. They're in my collection, but I've never got around to them. You know that story, right? Hope you enjoyed this special top ten.