Friday, August 5, 2011

Best Boss Battles in Gaming History - Part Two

This article features spoilers, so please tread carefully. Warning given.

It was just one week ago that I introduced a new segment to the lineup here at SuperPhillip Central, and it turned out that it was pretty popular. It's time to give the people what they want and give them more Best Boss Battles in Gaming History! If you missed out on Part One, just click the appropriate link to magically be transported to your destination. Without any further ado, it's time for more close encounters of the epic kind!

Gruntilda - Banjo-Kazooie (N64)

After besting her at her own game show, The Furnace of Doom, Gruntilda retreats to the top of her castle. Banjo with Kazooie in tow closely follow, and soon the final battle begins. Starting off the fight, Gruntilda jets on her broomstick and aims to ram into bear and bird. When her broomstick stalls, the player should leap onto the ledge of the tower and chuck a plethora of eggs at old ugly's rear to damage her. After doing this enough, a new phase of battle with begin. Grunty will launch a homing attack that can only be avoided by Kazooie shielding Banjo with the help of the golden feather ability. Throwing firecrackers at Banjo, Gruntilda moves around the arena, and the heroic bear must time his egg shots carefully unless he desires to get burned. Once enough damage has been taken, Grunty will retreat to the skies.

Utilizing some air combat (aka ramming into Gruntilda while avoiding her aerial firecrackers), will take the nefarious witch back down to earth for the time being. A shield will then appear around Gruntilda and Jinjo statues will arise all around the arena, ready for Banjo to launch a few eggs into to activate them. Activating these statues will free the almighty Jinjo from its statue prison and strike the shield of Gruntilda. After all of the Jinjos have been freed and have attacked Grunty, the mighty Jinjonator statue will rise up from the center of the arena. Shooting eggs into all four sides of the statue while avoiding Grunty's fast and furious firecrackers and homing attacks will activate a final blast of Jinjo power that will knock Gruntilda over the edge of her tower and with a long fall to Spiral Mountain below, her evil reign will be vanquished.

Kaptain K. Rool - Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest (SNES)

From pirate ships to castle keeps, Diddy and Dixie Kong (no relation) have had a long journey in their mutual quest to rescue their pal, Donkey Kong. One final encounter stands in their way, and it's a tough one against the sinister Kaptain K. Rool. This Kremling just won't give up! The battle begins with K. Rool launching a cannonball from his launcher. He then propels himself to the other side of the arena. His launcher has the ability to suction anything near him, including the Kongs. Unfortunately for him that ability can also be used against him. By chucking said cannonball into the launcher, the launcher will backfire, damaging K. Rool. The next go-round, K. Rool shoots out a spiked ball in the center of the arena. The Kongs must avoid this while dodging the propelled K. Rool who zooms across the battlefield. After the bad ol' Kap'n halts to a stop, he resumes vacuuming, and the spiked ball retracts its sharp barbs, allowing Diddy or Dixie to pick up and chuck into K. Rool's launcher, once again doing damage to him. This pattern continues once more, but this time two spiked balls are shot out. Once K. Rool is damaged, he falls to the ground, and victory is retrieved as Donkey Kong falls from the sky. However, the encounter isn't over. Kaptain K. Rool rises up, and the battle continues.

Donkey Kong gets hoisted back up, and K. Rool shoots out multiple spiked cannonballs at varying heights that the Kongs must duck and jump over. A final shot reveals a barrel that one of the Kongs must leap on to unveil a cannonball to chuck into K. Rool's launcher. The next barrage of balls bounce up and down at different heights, then after that, the spiked balls circle around as they scroll across the screen. Bouncing on the barrel and chucking the exposed cannonball into K. Rool's mouth of the weapon will once again make the krooked Kremling fall to the ground in defeat.

Fooling the player into thinking they've won once more, K. Rool shoots out blue and red amoeba blasts. If these touch the Kongs, the player's controls will become inverse, left is now right and right is now left. As K. Rool jets across the room, with each pass he'll become more and more transparent. The Kongs will have to endure three rounds of this varying attack pattern, tossing cannonballs into the mouth of K. Rool's weapon before he is finally defeated. Donkey Kong breaks free from his roped restraints, attacks K. Rool with a powerful uppercut, sending the Kaptain krashing down Crocodile Isle and into the sea below.

Dr. Wily - Mega Man 7 (SNES)

Dr. Albert Wily just never seems to give up. After his eight new Robot Masters have been destroyed once more, Wily aims to take out the blue bomber himself in one of the most difficult battles in series's history. There's two parts to this fight, and the first is relatively and deceivingly easy. Dr. Wily's two-legged skull robot marches into the arena, crossing the screen, dipping and rising as he goes. It's when Dr. Wily rises that Mega Man should slide underneath him to avoid damage. This is all the while attacking the open window of the skull's left eye to do damage to the dastardly robotic menace. Occasionally, Wily will launch two mini-robots to foil Mega Man in his plan to take down the mad scientist. However with enough practice and patience, round one of this fight goes to the blue bomber.

Round two is a bit more challenging as Wily teleports around the room, shooting off four small, elemental spheres that if they touch Mega, will inflict a certain type of damage to him. Blue spheres will temporarily freeze Mega Man, red will burn him to a crisp, and white will shock him. Then Dr. Wily zaps the ground with a bolt of lightning which disperses into four shockwaves. Suffice to say the elemental spheres home in on Mega, and these are very hard to avoid making this battle one that the player should definitely stock up on E-tanks. It's a battle of endurance, and the fate of the 20XX world depends on it, Mega Man!

Doomsday Robotnik - Sonic & Knuckles (GEN)

If Sonic does not collect all of the Chaos Emeralds, then the final boss of Sonic & Knuckles occurs at the Death Egg Zone, but we'll assume the player gathered all seven of them and reached a desperate Dr. Robotnik as he escapes through space with Angel Island's Master Emerald in The Doomsday Zone. With the power of the seven Chaos Emeralds, Sonic transforms like a flash of lightning into the omnipotent Super Sonic!

The Doomsday Zone logo pops up, and the action quickly begins. Super Sonic must make his way to Robotnik's cruiser which holds the Master Emerald. By bobbing and weaving through asteroids and missiles alike, Super Sonic must collect rings as his count slowly trickles down. If it hits zero, the player loses a life and must start the chase anew. Once Super Sonic catches up to Dr. Robotnik, he should circle around the crooked doctor's device, allowing Robotnik's own missiles to slam into the face of his own robot. With enough missiles doing damage to Robotnik, the second phase will begin.

A faster robotic creation will emerge from the mechanical beast with Master Emerald in tow. This time all that is needed is for Super Sonic to dodge the capsules that Robotnik launches from his machine and boost into the head of the robot. After several hits Robotnik will once again have his sinister plans foiled, and the Master Emerald will be back where it belongs at Angel Island.

Ganon - The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)

Just like the Hyrulian legend stated, the Hero of Time would go up against an ancient evil. After playing ping-pong with Ganondorf's magic and after his castle falls down around him, the evil pig beast known as Ganon rises from the ashes. It's only with Princess Zelda's help that Link can defeat him and rescue Hyrule from Ganon's grasp.

Ganondorf gathers strength from the Triforce of Power, summons a circle of fire around the arena, transforms into the beast-like Ganon, and smacks away the Master Sword from the Hero of Time. Without his trusty sword, this confrontation is set to be a perilous one. The evil is weakened by rolling between his legs and striking Ganon's tail with whatever weapon the player sees fit. Those seemingly useless Deku Nuts come quite in handy in this battle. Ganon soon falls to the ground in agony, weakening the flame force field that surrounded the battlefield, allowing Link to pick up the Master Sword and damage Ganon.

With enough pain given to the Evil King, Ganon will once again fall to the floor. Princess Zelda will hold him down with her magic, allowing Link to distribute the final blows to evil reincarnate. The Six Sages gather their power and chuck Ganon back into the Evil Realm where he belongs. Hyrule is saved, and a wonderful ending is in store for the player-- a wonderful ending for a truly tremendous title.


That just about wraps it up for Part Two of Best Boss Battles in Gaming History. What did you think? What are your favorite boss encounters of gaming past? Let everyone know in the comments section. Perhaps your favorites will appear in a future installment!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii) - Extended Trailer

In but a couple weeks, Xenoblade Chronicles will strike Europe allowing our PAL friends to play this seemingly glorious adventure. At the start of September, Australians will be able to take Xenoblade for a ride. Meanwhile, North American gamers will have to resort to modding their Wiis and importing if they want to play. With that out of the way, let's check out the newest trailer for Xenoblade Chronicles.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

SPC Showdown - 8/3/2011

It's the middle of the week, so why not begin our sixth segment of the SPC Showdown? This is where we pit games, companies, and more against each other to see which reigns supreme when all is said and done. Today we'll discover which installment of Super Mario Galaxy is best, whether ModNation Racers can outrun Mario Kart Wii, and which Final Fantasy experience on Wii outshines the other. That's just the beginning, but for now let's get this showdown started!

Round One: Super Mario Galaxy VS. Super Mario Galaxy 2

Two of the best games on the Nintendo Wii-- nay, this generation-- bar-none, but which is king of the 3D platformer?

Super Mario Galaxy

Mario and company enter territory last seen in Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins' Space Land in Super Mario Galaxy. With colorful worlds, rich visuals, an inspired orchestral score, and well-designed galaxies, Super Mario Galaxy is a treat to view as well as play. Reintroducing ideas such as the fire flower and presenting new ones such as the ice flower, Super Mario Galaxy keeps showing that Nintendo knows how to craft one amazing gaming experience.

Super Mario Galaxy 2

Reentering the stratosphere once more for some good old fashioned running and jumping action is Mario with pal, Yoshi, this time around in Super Mario Galaxy 2. The challenge bar has been raised this time with multiple shadow Marios chasing after our hero, endurance runs to tackle where a single hit will make Mario have to begin his mission anew, and big bad bosses to defeat. Those who complete all of these challenges will be entitled to a whole new series of stars to gather, and if all of those are collected, a brand-new galaxy, the Grandmaster Galaxy will be unlocked. It is with this, an improved soundtrack and galaxies, and unforgettable galaxies to explore that I bid Super Mario Galaxy 2 with this victory.

Winner: Super Mario Galaxy 2

Round Two: Super Mario Bros. 3 VS. Super Mario World

This duo of memorable 2D platformers are the champs of their respective systems, but which one outclasses the other?

Super Mario Bros. 3

Introducing a map system where players could completely skip individual levels if desired (but with how great they were all designed, who would want to?), Mario and Luigi plowed through eight themed lands in their latest adventure. From grass to desert, water to sky, Mario and Luigi bashed goombas, koopa troopas, lakitus, spinies, and even creamed Bowser in the end after a long, arduous trek through a tank-infested dark world. This game would be remade and ported to the Super Nintendo and Game Boy Advance with the latter receiving new levels via the doomed e-Reader peripheral. Does it take down Super Mario World, however?

Super Mario World

For the first time ever, players were introduced to Mario's lovable sidekick, Yoshi, a dinosaur who could gobble up certain enemies and came in several different colors. Expanding upon the map concept severalfold, Super Mario World featured secret paths leading to hidden levels, a challenging Star Road and Special World, and completing these turned koopa troopas into costumed Mario impersonators. Who could forget tackling all eight worlds, defeating the Koopalings, and chucking Mechakoopas into Bowser's cruiser in order to defeat him and save Yoshi's homeland? Plus with the new cape power-up, flying was never easier. It is with this that Super Mario World wins over a fierce opponent.

Winner: Super Mario World

Round Three: Mario Kart Wii VS. ModNation Racers

Two racers revving it up, ready to go. Which will reach the finish line first?

Mario Kart Wii

Doing away with snaking by having the player drift long into a boost around corners and turns, Mario Kart Wii did a lot of things right. Yes, with twelve racers that meant more chaos with items in heated races, but competent players could obtain enough of a lead where a barrage of blue shells wouldn't matter in the long run. With a fine selection of retro tracks including Delfino Plaza and Bowser's Castle (N64) and excellent new tracks from Coconut Mall to DK Summit, Mario Kart Wii also possesses some of the most fun online play to see the Wii. Does it speed past United Front Games' ModNation Racers, however?

ModNation Racers

Sony's foray into the kart-racing genre was not without faults. Regardless, it was a very innovative gem of a title. The ability to craft your own racer, tracks, and stickers was a pretty complicated process, but once mastered, you could build highly-detailed and impressive creations. But if you thought rubberband AI was a problem in Mario Kart, you ain't seen nothing yet in ModNation Racers. Opponents will abuse weaponry to take the lead from you, slam you off the road, and use any means necessary to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Frustrating as this may be, ModNation Racers is still a competent beast. It, though, just doesn't beat out Mario Kart Wii.

Winner: Mario Kart Wii

Round Four: Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon VS. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers

We have a duo of underrated Final Fantasy games for the Nintendo Wii. Which is the most classic of the two?

Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon

This simplistic roguelike took players through dungeons based on the memories of the game's main village's townspeople. As Chocobo you equipped talons and other garments and entered their memories, beating down familiar Final Fantasy villains such as bombs, goblins, and iron giants in your quest to figure out the mystery behind the town. With the best arrangements of classic Final Fantasy tunes period and quite engaging gameplay, Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon is a charming adventure that many Wii owners shouldn't hesitate to experience.

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers

Finally, a Final Fantasy hero who isn't androgynous! The hero of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers has the power to pick up foes and chuck them into walls, explosive barrels, or other enemies in order to damage them. While the main quest is nothing more than a collection of high-production mini games, The Crystal Bearers possesses a great amount of things to do and enemies to conquer. However, all the running around and tremendous music aside, it has nothing on Final Fantasy Fables.

Winner: Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon

Round Five: Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus VS. Sly 2: Band of Thieves

The Sly Collection recently was released in HD for the PlayStation 3. The top two titles in the compendium go up against each other. Which outwits the other?

Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus

Sly Cooper debuts in this cool caper that was originally released for the PlayStation 2. The sneaky raccoon would receive two sequels on the same system. In this title Sly goes after the sinister group of criminals involved in stealing his family's coveted treasure, the Thievius Raccoonus, a book featuring all of their family's stealthy moves. Each boss in the game has a page, so Sly leaps on poles, crawls through air ducts, swings from chandeliers, and performs other otherworldly feats of dexterity to get them back. More linear in progression than its sequels, that may be the reason I like the original Sly Cooper game.

Sly 2: Band of Thieves

Progressing more into an open-world-like game, Sly 2: Band of Thieves opened up the gameplay for Bentley and Murray to step in and tackle their own missions. Each world was its own heist. Bentley planned it out to the finest detail, and the trio of thieves would converge on the baddie's hideout, taking out objectives and missions. The goal? To stop a new group of villains from reincarnating Clockwerk, the Cooper family's sworn enemy. While the sequel isn't as enjoyable as the first, Sly 2: Band of Thieves is still worthy of one's money.

Winner: Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus


Five rounds are over, and with that, we've completed yet another SPC Showdown. Stay tuned in the coming months for our next showdown where more games, more companies, and much more will duke it out for supremacy. Until next time, see ya'!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection (PSP) Review

My interest in gaming has been wavering as of late. Few games have been tickling my fancy. It's just been guns, guns, blood, and more guns. Bo-ring. What ever is a superhero to do? Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection released a couple of months ago for the PlayStation Portable, and I played through all scenarios. Here's my verdict.

A Fantasy Complete

Final Fantasy IV has been one of Square-Enix's favorite titles to remake/port over and over again. From the original PlayStation to the Game Boy Advance, Final Fantasy IV has been around in various forms. Now the complete experience can be played on Sony's portable in Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection containing the original game with enhanced visuals, The After Years, an episodic series of games formerly exclusive to WiiWare and the iPhone, and a brand-new Interlude that bridges the two together. Is this collection the ultimate fantasy?

Meet Cecil Harvey. He's the head of the Red Wings, an airship force that is the marquis of the kingdom of Baron. Their mission is to retrieve the world's supply of crystals through any means necessary. However, Cecil begins to have doubts once his team massacres a group of innocent mages just to gain the town's crystal. The king of Baron (with a seemingly new personality) hears of Cecil's doubts, kicks him off of the Red Wings, and relegates him to a mission to take a package with childhood friend, Kain, to a faraway village. When this does not go as planned and the package is actually a bomb that sets the town on fire, Cecil and Kain only further question the motives behind Baron and its power-hungry majesty.

Edward's kingdom is reborn in the Interlude.

The tale of Final Fantasy IV (known back then in North America as Final Fantasy II) is a complex one with characters that grow throughout the game. Characters come and characters go, sometimes sacrificing themselves for the common good. Each party member has their own skills and abilities to separate each and every one from the pack. Cecil can use his dark knight powers to sacrifice hit points to damage enemies, Rydia can summon creatures and use black magic early on in the game, Tellah is the magic user of the party and utilizes some devastating and helpful magic in battle, and Yang can establish rank in encounters, obliterating foes with his martial arts skills.

Your party has a maximum amount of five members. As stated, they come and they go as the story permits. When one leaves, eventually another joins. In all, over ten different members will join Cecil in his quest throughout the duration of Final Fantasy IV to take down the sinister Golbez, the seemingly-omnipotent menace that thirsts for all of the crystals for unknown reasons.

Battles are fast-paced in Final Fantasy IV.

Battles in Final Fantasy IV were revolutionary for its time. The game used an active-time battle system, something that future Final Fantasies would feature. Each party member has a bar that slowly fills up. Once it fills to capacity, then that party member can choose an attack, spell, item, or other option in combat to utilize on their fellow party member or foe. Meanwhile, their enemies used the same concept. Certain spells like Haste and Slow could fasten or decrease the speed of a character's bar to either help or hurt their chances in battle.

Magic plays a huge part of combat in Final Fantasy IV. While not every party member can use magic, the ones that can't can use items to heal and help their fellow man or woman. Magic uses up a certain number of MP depending on the type of spell used. Some monsters are immune to some types of magic. Some will counterattack with a powerful move if magic is used on them. Strategy is key in battle whether it's with magic or items.

New graphical effects show off the processing power of the PSP.

Final Fantasy IV features two worlds, an overworld and an underworld. There's plenty of side content to partake in, summons to learn, extra bosses to battle, and hours to sink your teeth into. The main game lasts around 25 hours if you're really smoking. The games that accompany the main game, The After Years and the Interlude, don't fare quite as well. Not only are they far too linear in dungeon design, but they're quite short. Sure, there's an interesting moon mechanic in battle where when the moon wanes, attacks are increased in the Interlude, but that does little to make this new mode worth it.

The Interlude introduces Cecil and Rosa's child.

Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection has gotten smacked with the pretty stick. New higher resolution sprites and backgrounds have been crafted, and they look quite nice. They're detailed, colorful, and full of charm and character. Nobuo Uematsu's classic score is represented well. Players can opt to use the original soundtrack or the updated Nintendo DS version, and this option can be switched at any time. Overall, the PSP presentation of the game is excellent.

Straight from the GBA version, the Bestiary.

While The After Years and the Interlude of Cecil's compendium of adventures may not be worth playing through-- only the greatest fans of Final Fantasy IV lore should check it out, Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection is worth it simply for the original game remade in stellar form. Even if you've played this title twenty times, it's at your advantage to pick up the ultimate incarnation of Final Fantasy IV. For only thirty bucks, this collection is a steal.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.5/10]

Monday, August 1, 2011

SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs - Final Fantasy VI Edition

Final Fantasy VI is widely considered one of the best RPGs of all time. It has everything from a memorable story and cast of characters to a world full of secrets and an inspired score. We'll be focusing on the latter with Nobuo Uematsu's magnum opus with five themes from Final Fantasy VI, my second-favorite Final Fantasy game in the series. Let these tracks represent the greatness that is Final Fantasy VI.

v756. Final Fantasy VI - Terra

We're devoting the next five vids to one game. Some consider it the best RPG of all time. I've only played through it once, but the soundtrack will always be my personal favorite. For those wondering what my favorite Final Fantasy is, I'd have to go with number four. Regardless, Terra is the name of the main character in FF6 who can summon and control mysterious and powerful beings known as Espers. Terra also just so happens to be the world map theme for the first half of the game. Also, did you know that Terra's name in Japan is Tina?

v757. Final Fantasy VI - Edgar and Sabin

Edgar and Sabin were brothers in Final Fantasy VI, and with a flip of a coin they parted ways. One became the ruler of Figaro Castle while the other moved on to train in the martial arts. This theme, Edgar and Sabin, is a triumphant one that plays during the sandy recesses of Figaro Castle. While Edgar uses tools in battle, Sabin utilizes the martial arts like the Blitz attack to get the upper hand in confrontations.

v758. Final Fantasy VI - Kefka

Kefka is one of my all-time favorite villains. That would logically and obviously make him my favorite Final Fantasy baddie, too. He was one of the only bad guys to fulfill his plan, destroying the planet and creating a World of Ruin. He's also infinitely quotable, has an infectious laugh, looks badass in his final boss form, and has a terrific and catchy theme as you can listen to here.

v759. Final Fantasy VI - Celes

Locked away in an under martial law town of South Figaro, Locke discovers her and from there, a new love slowly builds. Celes is most famous for her participation in the beautifully-crafted opera scene. The accompanying picture displays a CG version of Celes in her wedding gown, awaiting her opera love, Draco. Celes and Locke would become great friends, and at the end of the game, Locke would rescue Celes from falling to her death-- a reminder of his dead love, Rachel, who died that way.

v760. Final Fantasy VI - Mt. Koltz

Mt. Koltz was a mountain passage that players visited early in Final Fantasy VI. The boss battle that occurred there was against a rival of Sabin who we briefly talked about in an earlier VGM. The song shows Nobuo Uematsu's magnificent range. Is there a soundtrack from this man that we could consider bad? I'm having a hard time figuring that one out. Regardless, that ends out journey into the wonderful world of Final Fantasy VI. If you're holding out on playing this terrific title, what are you waiting for?

And with that another episode of SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs comes to a close. If you're interested in scoping out past or present installments of the VGMs, check out my Youtube channel, where there's that and more to listen to. Adieu!

Central City Census - August

It's getting hotter out there and in here, so that must mean we've arrived at the scorching month of August here at SuperPhillip Central. With a new month we arrive at a new Census for our readers to vote on, but first let's check out the results of July's Central City Census.

Are you a fan of sports games?

I buy them each year.
3 (12%)
I buy them more often than not.
1 (4%)
Not too often.
13 (52%)
None at all. Keep 'em away.
8 (32%)

Votes so far: 25

Coming home with just over half the vote in this sports-related poll is the "Not too often" category. In second place 32% don't buy them at all, 12% (three people) purchase them yearly, and finally, one voter buys sports games more often than not. With that out of the way, let's see what August holds for the Central City Census.

The Nintendo 3DS is a hot topic as sales aren't exactly lighting the world on fire. However, with a nearly one hundred dollar price decrease, an Ambassador program for early adopters, and new games coming this holiday season, the future looks bright for Nintendo's newest handheld. With the price drop, do you plan on purchasing one?