Friday, July 1, 2011

Central City Census - July

Happy July, everyone. It's a new month, so it's now time to check out a new Central City Census. But before we do that, however, let's take a glimpse at last month's results.

When was the first time you visited SuperPhillip Central?

Since the very beginning.
7 (28%)
A year into SPC.
0 (0%)
1-2 years ago.
5 (20%)
Less than a year ago.
13 (52%)

Votes so far: 25

Twenty-five votes this month, a nice rounded number. The majority of people voting on when their first SPC experience was was less than a year ago. In second place was the very beginning. Glad you folks could hang around with me. The last option was 1-2 years ago which isn't a laughable chunk of time either. Now let's check out July's newest poll.

Sports games are extremely popular within a certain sect of the gaming populace. Are you a regular fan? Vote now even though the poll is open all month long.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Metroid: Zero Mission (GBA) Retro Review

Continuing our celebratory bash of all things Game Boy Advance, it's also the 25th anniversary of the Metroid franchise. No better way to applaud both than a retro review of the second game on the list of best GBA games. It's Metroid: Zero Mission, and spoiler alert: it's good.

Samus Aran's First Mission is A Success

When it was released in 1986 back on the Nintendo Entertainment System, Metroid was an innovative title. It brought with it an entirely different game style than players had been used to. The goal was simple-- upgrade your equipment so you could access new parts of planet Zebes. However, all of the game looked the same, the game had a punishing difficulty, and there was no map to assist you. Nintendo felt this title was worth revisiting, and revisit they did with Metroid: Zero Mission for the Game Boy Advance. With colorful maps, helpful item locators, and brand-new post-game content, this is the definitive version of the NES classic.

Bounty hunter Samus Aran's first ever mission has her infiltrating the harsh and unforgiving planet Zebes to take down an entity known simply as Mother Brain. It isn't going to be as simple as entering a room and blasting her to Hell, unfortunately. Instead, Samus is going to need to upgrade her equipment if she wants half a shot at fulfilling her mission objective. The wildlife is dangerous, the caverns are labyrinthine, and the dangers are many.

Samus Aran explores the depths of Brinstar.

There's a plethora of upgrades to collect in Zero Mission from charge shots to new beams to missile upgrades, health-boosting energy tanks, high jump boots, spin attacks, and morph ball bombs to name a list. As you earn new abilities, the game opens up considerably. Previously unreachable areas become ascertainable. The game does an adequate job of directing you in a general sense on where to head next without actually holding your hand the entire way. There's an abundance of save rooms and map rooms to make getting around Zebes much easily. Still, there's plenty of challenge to be had just staying alive much less finding your way about the hostile planet.

The planet Zebes is split up between various zones. There's Brinstar, the starting area, Crateria, Kraid, Ridley, Tourian, and more to explore. Each zone has its own set of enemies and dangers to get acquainted with. Each zone also has its own theme from Brinstar's cavernous areas to Crateria's aquatic puzzles.

This centipede has its eye on Samus.

Metroid: Zero Mission takes much less time to beat than the NES original mostly due to the fact that you have a map to assist you this go around. The game can be completed with 100% items collected in less than three hours. However, your first time will probably take upwards of 5-10 hours. Multiple playthroughs will reveal secret endings just for beating the game under certain conditions. Getting everything in the game will show off Samus in a more revealing outfit while doing the bare essentials will not reward the player as much.

New to this rendition of Metroid is an entirely new post-game episode where Samus' ship crash-lands on the Space Pirates' planet. Samus, armed only with her Zero Suit, must stealthily creep through the corridors of the planet undetected. A final battle with the boss of the game with all of her powers bestowed upon her adds up to one hot finale. This new change to the game is a welcomed one, and adds a solid breath of fresh air to this ancient relic of the past.

Kraid is here and ready to kill.

Metroid: Zero Mission is a colorful game. There's cutscenes that occur at crucial story points in the game such as Ridley arriving on the planet Zebes to the introduction of the gargantuan Kraid. The animation is superb, and the framerate stays constant even with loads of action occurring. Case in point, this is a stunning game that really pushes the Game Boy Advance.

Metroid: Zero Mission is a fantastic title to start playing the Metroid franchise with. It contains a more manageable collection of tools to assist the player without being overwhelming like the Nintendo Entertainment System original. There's plenty to do, secrets to find, and bosses to take down. This is the type of game you'll play for a half hour, put down, and sooner or later get right back into. You'll constantly be returning to this game if you have any kind of soul to you. It may be her first mission, but Samus Aran is no virgin to kicking butt.

[SuperPhillip Says: 9.5/10]

Family Fishing (Wii) Gameplay Trailer

From Yuji Naka's creative mind and the team behind Let's Tap is Family Fishing, an all-new fish-studded game for the Wii. Beautiful visuals combined with multiple modes, tons of fish to catch, many mini-games to compete in, and a myriad of areas to explore is all present and accounted for. Here's hoping SEGA or someone brings this title to North America.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Top Ten Original Game Boy Advance Games

Yesterday, in celebration of ten years of the Game Boy Advance, we took a brief glimpse at five of the best GBA ports in the portable's mighty collection. Today we're taking a look at original titles might they be brand-new journeys or remakes. Let's get it started then!

10) Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire Versions

A new generation of Pokemon brought with it a cavalcade of new collectible Pokemon, a new region to explore, all-new trainers and Elite Four to battle, and new towns to rest up and conquer gyms at. Don't forget bonus material like legendary Pokemon and the aquatic islands which could be visited both above and below sea level.

9) Mega Man Zero

A brand-new Mega Man franchise was born on the Game Boy Advance, and it brought with it a high difficulty. If one managed to perform admirably on missions, they could inherit the boss abilities of the various bad guys Zero took on. A simple mission structure where Zero could choose which objectives to tackle went along with this game making it feel like a whole 'nother Mega Man game of which it technically was.

8) Sonic Advance

Sonic had meandering scores when it came to his 3D outings on the Dreamcast and Gamecube. Sonic Team opted to create the first 2D Sonic title in years exclusively for the Game Boy Advance (although this game would be ported to multiple devices afterward including the Nokia N-Gage). Fast-paced action, run and jump platforming, and a myriad of colorful and well-designed zones marked this above-average return-to-form for Sonic the Hedgehog.

7) Metroid Fusion

The first Metroid in a few years off from a decade's time was Metroid Fusion bringing new gameplay elements including a horror portion of the game. When the ultra-powerful SA-X Samus arrived, you better devise an escape plan ASAP. The virus was stronger than regular Samus Aran, and could vaporize her in seconds. The fact that it could show up anywhere only added to the tense atmosphere of the game. Though the game was more linear than past efforts, there was still plenty of adventure for Samus in Metroid Fusion.

6) Golden Sun

One of the few original RPGs for the Game Boy Advance, I chose Golden Sun over its sequel, The Lost Age, as I found the original to be a more harrowing experience. It was easier to follow with less babble and unnecessary text, a hallmark for Camelot RPGs. The battle scenes were breathtaking for the time, the in-dungeon puzzles were brilliant and clever, and the music is once again a compelling masterpiece thanks to Motoi Sakuraba's efforts. If there's but one traditional RPG to play on the GBA, make it Golden Sun.

5) Advance Wars

War. Uh. Good god, y'all. What is it good for? In the world of Advance Wars, apparently everything. You have children as commanding officers for heaven's sake, put in charge of leading men out to die if not taken seriously. This strategy RPG takes the colorful Nintendo charm and adds the brutality of war to make one addicting and complex experience. With multiple troop types, COs and CO powers, maps, and modes, Advance Wars is a game with a napalm's worth of replay value.

4) Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga

The very first Mario & Luigi was an interesting experiment. In the overworld one button controlled Mario while the other was in charge of Luigi. The same concept occurred in battle where timed jumps or strikes would negate more or bestow more damage. Even the dialogue poked fun at several cliches and tropes of the Mario franchise. Then there's Fawful which is one of the wackiest characters ever seen in a game period. This isn't your ordinary RPG. Far from it, and it's a much better game for that.

3) Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow

Soma Cruz is the lead hero in this Castlevania/Metroidvania title. By defeating enemies sometimes they would drop new abilities for Soma to possess. Who doesn't like clobbering baddies with a beyond-from-this-world scythe or deck of cards? If you've played a Metroid game, you should be familiar with this type of game. As you learn new abilities, you can access newer portions of the main castle. Not only the best Castlevania on the Game Boy Advance, just one of the great games of all time on the system in general.

2) Metroid Zero Mission

The original Metroid was a frustrating experience. There was no map, areas all looked the same, and the game was punishingly difficult. Nintendo opted to changed all of that with a remake entitled Metroid Zero Mission. Adding in new content such as beastly bosses, power-ups, and intriguing post-game content where a suitless Samus must escape from the Space Pirates, this Metroid is one of the best in the series' illustrious history.

1) The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap

Developed by the non-defunct Flagship of Capcom fame, The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap was an adventure full of things to do, places to see, items to collect, and baddies to beat down. While the game was but five or six dungeons long, the overworld itself was as complicated as any dungeon offering tons of exploration. The addition of Kinstones to link up with the NPCs of the game added even more replay value and time added to your playtime. The shrinking mechanic of the game was ingenious and opened up the game considerably. One of the more looked down upon Zelda games, this one happens to be one of my favorites.


Tomorrow we're continuing our celebration of all things GBA with a retro review! Put your helmets on, snap your seat belts as we're going to have a bumpy go of it. Stay tuned, followers!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Top Five Game Boy Advance Ports

The Game Boy Advance released in North America on June 11, 2001. It's been officially ten years and some change since the portion of Nintendo's handheld dynasty hit. Like most portables it was full of remakes and ports. We'll be focusing on the latter with this top five list. It's the top five Game Boy Advance ports here on SuperPhillip Central. There were loads of them, so sorting out the top five is going to be a major task!

5) Breath of Fire

Ryu, Nina, and the gang battle the Dark Dragons in the very first Breath of Fire. Minor touching up was performed on this Super Nintendo classic to make it meet 2001 standards such as adding avatars to the battle screen and colorful HP bars. The music remains as great as it was back in the nineties. For a nostalgia trip like no other, check out Breath of Fire.

4) Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3

Mario returns in port form with the game fans were clamoring for from the beginning in Super Mario Bros. 3. This time around Nintendo's ill-fated eReader accessory allowed players to scan cards to give power-ups and even all-new, never-before-seen levels to gamers who could track down card packs. The visuals are shared by the Super Mario All-Stars version. With all that this is without a doubt the version to get for fans of the original game, that is, unless you prefer the original sound and graphics.

3) Final Fantasy IV Advance

I always preferred Final Fantasy IV to Final Fantasy VI. It was a more linear experience that one couldn't get lost as easily in. That notwithstanding both games are considered the pinnacle of the RPG genre of the nineties, and you'd be amiss not to check them both out. FFIV for the GBA introduced the Cave of Trials, Lunar Ruins, and Music Player as well as a bestiary to keep tabs on monsters met and beat.

2) Super Mario World: Super Mario Advance 2

My personal favorite Mario of all time, Super Mario World gave you incentive to not only access all of the stage exits, but it also gave you the incentive to collect each of the five Yoshi coins in each level to truly complete the game. The retread to the Dinosaur World fills me with great memories and playing the game itself leaves a sunny sensation that I will not soon forget.

1) The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past/Four Swords

One of my favorite games period got the port treatment armed with a brand-new game with Four Swords. Four players could link up with the Game Boy Advance link cables and venture together in a game built for four people. Completing this quest would unlock the Temple of the Four Sword in the original game where bosses of beaten past would await Link. Couple this with the original 2D epic full of fun dungeons and a vast overworld and you have a winner.


Tomorrow we'll be taking a glimpse at the top ten best Game Boy Advance games of all time. Should be fun! We'll see you then!

Monday, June 27, 2011

SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs - Boys of Summer Edition

It's officially summer now, and it's time to get out the suntan lotion and put on the shades. This week we return with a full helping of favorite VGMs starting with the sport of the boys of summer, baseball.

v736. Mario Superstar Baseball - Yoshi Park

Mario Superstar Baseball was a Gamecube exclusive sports game which would later get a much better sequel for the Wii in Mario Super Sluggers. Yoshi's stadium, Yoshi Park was a grassy field filled to the brim with piranha plants that would grab errant baseballs and sometimes shoot them over the home run wall. Other times, however, they'd just get in your way. Speaking of baseball games, Mario Super Sluggers just recently went down to $19.99 in North America. What a steal!

v737. Wario World - Wonky Circus 2

Part 2 of the original Wonky Circus level, Wario World was an interesting but fun take on the money-loving Wario. His castle and treasures were stolen by a mysterious new villain, and it's Wario's job to get it all back. Several treasures were hidden in each level, adding some replay value to the game. Still, Wario World was short, but I enjoyed playing through it again and again. Who doesn't love power-bombing enemies like a WWE superstar?

v738. The Munchables - Star Ving Island

The Munchables is one of my favorite truly niche game for the Wii. That and We Love Golf. Even the music conveys a Katamari Damacy feel to it. The goal in The Munchables was to gobble up enemies that were smaller than your character. The more you ate, the bigger your Munchables grew in size. He or she could then chomp on larger enemies until time was up or the mission was complete. Great game worthy of your time.

v739. Star Fox Assault - Meteo

In the first and second entries of the Star Fox franchise, Meteo was an asteroid belt full of dangers and obstacles to overcome. In Star Fox Assault, it is Pigma Dengmar who has taken up hiding inside. If I recall correctly, Meteo was the fifth of ten missions in Assault. While the game may be short an while the game may take too much time out of the air, I really enjoyed this sequel. Here's to the next Star Fox (if there is a new one and not a remake) is fantastic.

v740. Wild ARMS - Lamenting and A Promise (Prologue II)

Wild ARMS was one of my first RPGs I completed along with Breath of Fire I and II and Final Fantasy IV. I remember one of the fun parts was the ability to name your own spells. Well, it was fun to me at the time. This music of Wild ARMS gives a spaghetti western type feeling to it. It brings me to nostalgia. If the crude early 3D models aren't up to snuff for you, you can always play the remake, Wild ARMS: Alter Code F.

That wraps it up here for this Monday at SuperPhillip Central. Tomorrow we'll have a brand-new top five list grilled fresh for you. Until then, see ya!