Friday, August 19, 2011

Best Boss Battles in Gaming History - Part Three

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

It's time for five more classic boss encounters with this installment of Best Boss Battles in Gaming History, and what a way to end the week! If you missed out on past entries, check out Part One and Part Two at their respective links. With that out of the way, let's get to kicking some boss butt!

Big Baby Bowser - Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (SNES)

After the primary battle against Baby Bowser in his playpen, the sinister magician Kamek uses his magic to transform his master into the gargantuan you see in the picture above. The quickly matured Bowser slowly marches forward, and if Yoshi does not stop him, Bowser will smash the platforms Yoshi is on, immediately killing the green dinosaur.

So how do you defeat this giant koopa king? Large red eggs fly in from side-to-side over the bottomless pits. Yoshi must collect these, aim carefully, and target Bowser, chucking them far into the background, hoping they connect. Hitting Bowser with one causes the tumultuous turtle to fall into the background more, giving Yoshi and Baby Mario some more time to work with. Meanwhile, the team must watch out for falling rocks and other debris. After enough eggs have smashed into Baby Bowser, he'll be defeated, Kamek will scamper off, and Yoshi and Baby Mario will rescue Baby Luigi and the stork that was transporting him. All in a day's work for one of our heroes, even in diapers.

Wizpig - Diddy Kong Racing (N64)

Wizpig is a tyrannical interdimensional pig who travels from planet to planet, laying waste to each once he's had his fun of them. Arriving on Donkey Kong's planet, Wizpig arrives on Timber Island, puts a spell on some of the inhabitants, kicks the island's genie from his mountain home, and turns anyone who goes against him into frogs. Timber the Tiger has had enough. He enlists the help from his friend and nearby neighbor, Diddy Kong, to collect four pieces of the Wizpig Amulet to open the way to face Wizpig.

In Diddy Kong Racing, the player faces off against Wizpig twice. The first time features a daunting kart race in the rain where following the perfect racing line above speed-boosting zippers will barely guarantee victory. The second race takes place in Future Fun Land, Wizpig's home, and it takes place in air. Through avoiding flying meteors, zooming through caverns, dodging dangerous lasers, and hot-stepping it through the final stretch, Wizpig's heavily-guarded throne room, Diddy Kong and friends defeat the evil porker, saving Timber Island from the brink of extinction.

Ultimate Bowser - Super Mario 64 (N64)

Players battled Bowser many times in the past, but in Super Mario 64, this was the first time they had done it in three-dimensions. Mario previously beat down Bowser in the Dark World and over the Fire Sea. Now it's time for the final showdown in the sky. The same concept works on Bowser as it did in the previous battles-- run around to Bowser's backside, grab his tail, rotate the analog stick quickly, and chuck Bowser into one of the various scattered mines around the arena. It's harder than it sounds. You need to time it just right.

Bowser's no slouch this time around either. Mario needs to chuck him into a mine thrice in order to finally put the king of the koopas in extended vacation. Every time he is slammed into a mine, Bowser smashes part of the arena apart, eventually turning the arena into a star-shaped platform. There's little room to maneuver, to run around Bowser and grab his slimy yellow tail, and Bowser spins much faster than in prior encounters. The koopa king also breathes out fire in battle which can cook the portly plumber's hind parts in an instant, making this one dangerous fight. After three throws into the mines, Bowser surrenders, Mario puts on his wing cap, and flies off into the sky, back to Peach's castle for his reward-- some cake.

Sigma - Mega Man X (SNES)

After dishing out damage and defeating his dog and taking out Sigma bot-to-bot, Sigma will literally become a-head of himself and enter the large, ominous machine in the background. The battle to restore peace to the world will begin. Sigma's weakness is Armored Armadillo's Rolling Shield weapon. Players can either wait for one of Sigma's hands to come down to leap upon, or they can time it just right and scale up the wall as X, dodging the hand completely. X can't stand on the hands willy-nilly as they will shoot out thunderbolts from the center. X can either jump off or take damage. By far the most deadly move Sigma can deliver is a fire breath attack that sweeps the floor. This move does a lot of damage to X, so fill up on sub-tanks definitely if you're not that confident in your abilities. Deal damage to Sigma's head as that is the giant robot's weakpoint. Once his life meter trickles down to zero, the leader of the Mavericks will be defeated, and Dr. Light's dream for a world where humans and robots can live together in harmony will be one step closer to fruition. ...Until Mega Man X2 and the ensuing sequels, of course.

Dr. Nefarious - Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal (PS2)

The dynamic duo of Ratchet and Clank have had a grand adventure together. Sure, they've explored perilous planets and had to tolerate that dolt, Captain Qwark, but now they've reached the climax-- the battle against Dr. Nefarious! The battle begins with Nefarious leaping around the arena, chucking bombs at the pair of heroes. He also spins around and shoots out a purplish beam that Ratchet must hop over. This is all the while doing damage with some high-powered weaponry of the awesome kind. Once Nefarious is downed, he'll beg for mercy. This, however, is merely a ruse as he retreats. Ratchet and Clank must pursue, dodging Nefarious' purple laser and stampeding through blockades of big bots.

Once the two reach the second platform of the fight, Nefarious will go back to his old tricks... with some new ones, too. He'll create multiple images of himself which will charge toward Ratchet as well as have the images claw at the heroic lombax. Jumping into the air is a beneficial way of dodging this assault. The mad robotic doctor will also shoot out bombs that once they hit the ground will produce massive shockwaves that must be hopped over to avoid massive damage. As Nefarious' health bar disintegrates into nothingness, the final stage of the fight will commence.

Dr. Nefarious will summon his butler, Lawrence. The pair will enter a gigantic robot and begin blasting at Ratchet and Clank. Luckily there's a ship nearby with one-hundred health points to save the day. A simple strategy is to circle 'round Nefarious' robot, never releasing the trigger to fire shot after shot into the bot. This allows Ratchet's ship to escape the barrage of missiles being fired at it, and enables Ratchet to finally take down Dr. Nefarious and Lawrence, restoring peace and order to the galaxy.


That wraps up Part Three of Best Boss Battles in Gaming History. Do you like my picks? Let me know in the comments section. We'll see you in the coming weeks for Part Four!

Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympics (Wii, 3DS) - Gamescom Trailer

Has it already been four years since the last summer Olympics? Wow, does time fly! Examine this all-new CG trailer sporting the various events from the hurdles to more equestrian activities in Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympics. The Wii version is set to release this November while the Nintendo 3DS version hits store shelves in February of next year.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Most Overlooked PSP Games - Part Five

We've reached Part Five of our trip through the severely underrated PlayStation Portable catalog. With the PlayStation Vita on the horizon, what better way to send off Sony's first handheld than with another look at a series of overlooked titles from the PSP's library? One could argue nearly every game in North America is overlooked, and they would sadly be right thanks to how rampant piracy is. That notwithstanding let's check out and induct five new titles into the Most Overlooked PSP Games hall of fame.

God of War: Ghost of Sparta

Kratos's second handheld adventure brought him to Hades and back to recover his brother in God of War: Ghost of Sparta. Unlike Chains of Olympus, however, the previous handheld entry, Ghost of Sparta went under the radar. PSP owners just didn't bite. That's a shame, too, as there's a meaty experience, wonderful and impressive visuals, and sensational boss battles to take part in. Not even the rage of the gods was enough for consumers to take note of this epic title.

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together

From legendary game designer Mr. Yasumi Matsuno, the same mind behind Final Fantasy Tactics, comes the remake of the popular PlayStation One classic, Tactics Ogre. This journey chronicling the Wallister Resistance has players participating in terrific tactical RPG battles where players must think ahead if victory is their goal. The many available classes and abilities allow for various and unique strategies so no two battles were ever alike. As of right now, one can pick up this title from for under twenty clams.

Patapon 3

Pata-pata-pata-pon. Sony's attempts to establish new franchises worked well with some properties (i.e. Resistance, Motorstorm, and InFAMOUS) while others did not do so well. Such is the life of the Patapon franchise. This rhythm war game has players tapping buttons to the beat of the music to take down large bosses, enemy armies, and other opponents to achieve conquest. War is hell, and nothing shows it better like cute anamorphic creatures duking it out against one another!

Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection

Containing the original Final Fantasy IV, remade with higher-resolution sprites and environments, WiiWare's Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, and a brand-new Interlude that connects all three games together, Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection is the ultimate package for fans of Final Fantasy IV. This game was great back when it was released on the Super Nintendo, and it's great now more than a decade later. Consumers apparently did not think that this compendium of Final Fantasy IV was worth purchasing over Dissidia 012, but let me tell you that it is.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky

This portable RPG packs a huge wallop. There's over fifty hours of content to explore and have players sink their teeth into. From all of the optional sidequests to journeying through the expansive world map and many game towns, there's something for everybody in The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky. The combat system is truly entertaining, the original soundtrack is wonderfully captivating, and the visual style is quite remarkable. Those looking for the start of a new trilogy in the series and a solid RPG should look no further than Trails in the Sky.


We've reached the climax of yet another Most Overlooked article. Agree or disagree with my choices? Let me know in the comments section. And if you missed out on a past Most Overlooked PSP Games article, you can always click one of the following links:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dead or Alive Dimensions (3DS) Review

Here we are at a moment that was a long time coming. It's the very first Nintendo 3DS video game review. What's on the docket for this early Wednesday morning? Why, it's Dead or Alive Dimensions, a game culminating fifteen years of fighting between underage girls and ninja alike. Let's get to it!

Celebrating Fifteen Years of Combos and Breasts

Recently, the Dead or Alive franchise has been exclusive to Microsoft's consoles with both Dead or Alive 3 which appeared on the original Xbox and Dead or Alive 4 which premiered as a launch title for the current-gen Xbox 360. Now for the first time ever a Dead or Alive game is hitting a Nintendo platform. To commemorate the fifteenth anniversary of this storied series, Tecmo and Team Ninja have teamed up once again to chronicle the battle between the shinobi ninja clan and DOATEC. Is this portable version of Dead or Alive a knockout?

Right away when the player boots up the game, he or she will notice a wealth of modes to interact with and play. The main attraction here is Chronicle mode which serves as an overview of the Dead or Alive story. Told through real-time as well as cinematic cutscenes, the tale told is one of a runaway ninja, cloning, and a dastardly company in DOATEC which seeks to rule the world. It's nothing that will win any awards in the originality department, but it makes for some motivation to persevere and brawl on. Sure, scenes pop up seemingly in a random nonsensical order that will confuse newbies like myself to the franchise, but the five chapters feature a boatload of battles for players to dish out damage in to the AI opponents. The mode teaches the ins and out of combat from blocking to throwing, high attacks to low counters. Everything and the kitchen sink is taught in this mode making the other game modes easier to play.

The women of Dead or Alive once again steal the show.

The other big attraction here is Arcade mode. You select a character, and do battle against a set amount of opponents to score the best clear time. Completing this mode with different characters unlocks new costumes and apparel for your viewing and fighting pleasure. The player begins with easy mode, and through the clearing of each tier of opponents gains access to more difficult sets of enemies. It's a blast creaming the AI opponents as you go for new time records and all-new costumes.

Then there's Tag Challenge mode which pits one player against two opponents alongside a computer-controlled ally. This ally is practically useless, and when they're subbed in, they're basically enemy fodder. You tag your ally in when you need a breather. While outside the battle, your fighter regains health. The first team to knockout both members of the other team wins. There's a whole slew of Tag Challenges to overcome in Dead or Alive Dimensions, and this is not just talking about the ones forced upon you in the Chronicle story mode.

Other modes include Free Play which allows the player to select a character, stage, and number of rounds, and battle against the CPU at their own leisure, local play which allows two 3DS systems to hook up wirelessly and compete against one another, and online play. The online system pits players locally or from around the world, or you can always exchange friend codes with someone from a message board or from someone you personally know and battle while away from each other. Battles are best two-out-of-three, and they are relatively lag-free. Let's just say when you're giving a console game like Marvel VS. Capcom 3 a run for its money in modes and options, you know you're doing something really right.

Essentially all of the Nintendo 3DS's impressive features are put to use from StreetPass to SpotPass to the internal cameras. Players can turn on SpotPass to download daily costumes and new Throwdown Challenges. These challenges pit the player against a... well... challenging opponent. If the player wins, they receive two rare figurines. Even if they lose, they win a figurine just for trying, so it's beneficial to always keep SpotPass on and participate in these challenges whenever possible. In total there are nearly one-thousand figurines to collect. These are all of the various different characters in the game spread out in numerous poses. You can use the Figurine Viewer to examine these figurines more closely, take 3D pictures, and save them to an SD memory card. Such shots can produce some really cool results.

He may look foolish, but this hip-hop star packs a punch.

However, all of the eye candy and features in the world do nothing if the gameplay is not there. This is no secret to any knowledgeable gamer. Thankfully, Dead or Alive Dimensions definitely delivers in this category. The fighting is complex without being too taxing and complicated to learn. The fighting follows what is called by the game as the Triangle System. That is, that strikes cancel out throws, throws beat out holds, and holds take precedence over strikes. It's this paper/rock/scissors-like system that makes Dead or Alive really shine. Players can stand, crouch, turn their back to their opponent (though this is highly dangerous), and of course, be fully exposed by lying flat on the ground. Crouching while guarding completely blocks against low attacks while standing while guarding completely blocks against high and middle attacks. Then there's the option for critical strikes, counterattacks, jumping to dodge low attacks, and juggling which allows you to pull off some deadly combos with some impressive aerial acrobatics. If mashing buttons doesn't do anything for you, you can always tap the command list on the touch screen to select a combo to utilize.

Pow! Right in the kisser!

There's approximately sixteen characters to play as in Dead or Alive Dimensions, and they come from each and every previous installment of the series. There's mainstays like Kasumi, Ryu Hayabusa (also from the Ninja Gaiden series), and Ayane, but there's also previously unplayable characters that are unlockable which were bosses in past games of the franchise. Each character has their own set of moves to master, techniques to learn, and personalities and quirks.

The over fifteen stages of Dead or Alive Dimensions (from DOATEC's labs to a rickety old bridge nestled neatly over a waterfall) themselves are characters. Each has what the developers call danger zones. These can be ledges for which characters can be knocked off of, walls that explode upon contact, and grounds that electrify a foe unlucky enough to get bounced off of them. Getting caught in a danger zone produces more damage to that opponent, so using these to your advantage is key in battle if victory is something you take pride in achieving.

Use the environment to your advantage!

Dead or Alive Dimensions is a gorgeous-looking game. In 3D mode it runs at half the framerate as when it does in regular old 2D mode. Sacrificing frames for the cool and impressive 3D effect is up to you, but either is awesome. Each character is made up of thousands of individual polygons, are textured well, and are additionally animated to top standards. Backgrounds and environments are heavily-detailed, showcasing the immense graphical capabilities of the Nintendo 3DS. This is no visual slouch. Each character also has their own melodic theme in battle making things particularly interesting and varied. The music itself is marginally good if not just "there".

Those trying to decide between this title and Blazblue really have no decision to make at all. It's a no contest. Dead or Alive Dimensions runs like a dream, it's pretty to boot, and it's smooth as butter. There's enough content that players will grow tired of the game long before they collect every figurine, download every costume, and take multiple upskirt pictures of underage girls. This is a fighter with strategy, swiftness, and heart. It's Dead or Alive, and it's celebrating its fifteenth anniversary in style.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.5/10]

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sonic Generations (3DS) - Mushroom Hill Zone Screens

SEGA today revealed a new zone exclusive to the 3DS version of November's upcoming release, Sonic Generations. In the warm springtime era of the zone, you'll play as classic Sonic whereas in the cool sunset-covered autumn act, you'll control modern Sonic in three-dimensions. I can't say which version I'm more looking forward to. Perhaps I'll get them both!

Once again Sonic Generations is due out November of this year to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the blue blur.

Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One (PS3) - Gamescom Trailer

Ratchet & Clank, alongside the Hot Shots Golf franchise, are my favorite Sony properties, so you can bet that I am hotly anticipating the upcoming multiplayer Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One. Who doesn't want to control the sinister Dr. Nefarious, team up with Captain Qwark, and take down some intergalactic baddies? Not I, for one. Check out this trailer from Europe's Gamescom event.

Sonic Generations (PS3, 360, 3DS) - Two Sonics Trailer

This Gamescom trailer shows off both classic and modern Sonics in all-new zones such as Rooftop Run from Sonic Unleashed and Seaside Hill from Sonic Heroes. You can also view two Tails following close behind both hedgehogs. Sonic Generations is set to release this November for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo 3DS.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Batman: Arkham City (PS3, 360) Mr. Freeze Trailer

Chill out. Ice to meet you, and all those other Batman & Robin-esque Mr. Freeze puns. Mr. Freeze hath come to Arkham City to resurrect his dearly departed wife, and nothing-- no man or bat-- will stand in his way. Batman: Arkham City swoops down onto cities across North America in October.