Saturday, October 1, 2011

Review Round-Up - September

Joseph Capelli not only led the Resistance,
but led the games on SPC this month.

After being forced to combine three months into one for a lack of reviews, SPC picked up the pace with no less than six individual reviews and two SPC Quickie segments. Leading things off, we flew the friendly skies in Pilotwings Resort (7.5), putted and drove the ball in Let's Golf 3D (7.0), and mid-month fended off the Chimera invasion of America in Resistance 3 which earned the highest score of the month with an admirable 9.0. Star Fox 64 got an online-less remake which got it docked some points for an 8.5 while a myriad of Kirbys marched happily onto the DS with Kirby Mass Attack (8.75). Wrapping up the month, we had our one and only retro review of the month with Mario Party 2 that garnered a respectable and great 8.0 score out of ten. Throw in two 3DS Ambassador-inspired SPC Quickies segments, and we had a pretty entertaining month review-wise here at SuperPhillip Central! Let's hope October is even stronger for games!

Pilotwings Resort (3DS) - 7.5
Let's Golf 3D (3DS) - 7.0
Resistance 3 (PS3) - 9.0
SPC Quickies Volume Nine
Star Fox 64 3D (3DS) - 8.5
SPC Quickies Volume Ten
Kirby Mass Attack (DS) - 8.75
Mario Party 2 (N64, Wii VC) - 8.0

Kirby and his counterparts marched their
way into our hearts once again.

Central City Census - October

We've reached (at least in North America) the cooler autumn months with October leading the way. Wear a jacket because those fall nights can be brutally chilly! Before we get ahead of ourselves, let's scope out September's CCC results.

Between the Nintendo 3DS and the PSVita, which has the most games that interest you?

Nintendo 3DS
24 (47%)
PlayStation Vita
11 (21%)
Both do.
10 (19%)
I'm interested in neither.
6 (11%)

Votes so far: 51

The leading answer this month was the Nintendo 3DS, doubling the PlayStation Vita in games desired handily with nearly half of the vote. The PlayStation Vita received 21%, ten readers of SPC (19%) opted that both platforms equally have games that excite them, and only six voters revealed that neither of the handhelds interest them. This was a high number of votes for the month which I'm particularly excited about. Thanks for everyone who voted. May you continue enjoying the content I provide on SuperPhillip Central. Now onto October's Census.

Halloween is coming up, but some people love cosplaying the whole year 'round. Are you one of these people? Have you ever costumed as one of your favorite gaming characters? Let everyone know in October's Central City Census. Poll ends at the conclusion of Halloween.

Friday, September 30, 2011

High-Definition Hijinks: Games That Should Go HD

With the advent of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, gamers the world around have been able to play their favorite games in all their high-definition glory. However, there are a handful of games that haven't made the jump to HD which I think is a missed opportunity of sorts. The following are just a sampling of those titles. Whether you agree or not, let your opinion be known in the comments section.

Tony Hawk Pro Skater series (PS2, GCN, XBX, PS1, N64,)

There would be nothing better than manualing and reverting in glorious HD. Activision could have the perfect moment to reboot this once-popular and now-faltering franchise with a downloadable game that remixes the very best levels of the original Tony Hawk titles. Throw in drop-in/drop-out online play, and you're golden. Even the later games in the series which introduced the ability to get off your board in order to reach otherwise difficult-to-access areas provided some fun to this dulling series. Who wouldn't want to see the birdman in crisp and clear HD?

Muramasa: The Demon Blade (Wii)

There were rumors that this retail Wii game was coming to the downloadable services of PSN and XBLA, but it was just that-- a rumor. The game already looks gorgeous running on Wii hardware, but just imagine how colorful and marvelous it would look in HD. Muramasa had players exploring the Japanese countryside, taking down mythical bosses like the giant Oni and Kraken. From the makers of Odin Sphere, Muramasa had little in the way of slowdown unlike its predecessor, so that wouldn't even have to be fixed. What we'd wind up with is a game that's exemplary in art design and as an art form.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GCN)

The art style of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker would lend itself well to the HD capable Wii U. A port with Wii controls or the Wii U tablet would be wonderful all to itself. Imagine exploring the Great Sea, seeing islands with the game's massive draw distance, weathering impressive storms, and sailing from place to place via the King of Red Lions boat. The cel-shaded style of the game is already breathtaking, so putting it in high-definition only seems like the next step in making for a scrumptious package.

Super Mario Galaxy series (Wii)

Imagine traversing planets and planetoids alike in and HD version of the Super Mario Galaxy franchise, the Wii's most graphically competent game series yet. With the Wii U, fans could play through these games either with a dual retail release on one disc or through downloadable means. Whichever the way, Mario would never have looked so brilliant and vibrant. Nintendo has already made two of the best reviewed games this generation, so why not share them with the HD crowd? It makes too much sense to this superhero!

Ratchet & Clank series (PS2)

What is the hold up for a Ratchet & Clank HD collection? We've seen Kratos in HD, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, soon to be Silent Hill and Metal Gear, so how about everyone's favorite lombax? With the addition of trophies, all four (or three depending on your view) classic Ratchet titles would simply look grand in HD and have oodles upon oodles of longevity and lasting life. Whether he's taking out Dr. Nefarious's half-baked plans or taking down Megacorp, Ratchet and Clank is one team you don't want to mess with!

Tatsunoko VS. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars (Wii)

This Wii-exclusive fighter took the worlds of anime company Tatsunoko and game lords Capcom and shifted their worlds on their heads. The mechanics (in my opinion) outclass Marvel VS. Capcom 3 easily. It's just a more fun game with two-on-two teams as opposed to the triple threat teams of MvC3. Regardless, just picture the colorful cast and characters in brilliant and vivid high-definition graphics and online that works much better than it does on the Wii. It's a game that deserves to be played by as many people as possible, it's Tatsunoko VS. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (DS, WiiWare)

Hold it! We've seen Phoenix Wright in SD form enough already, so now it may be time for him to shine in heavenly high-definition. Objections and being out of order would never be so delicious to look at. The character models would stay in 2D and animate even more beautifully than they already do. All the courtroom drama on a giant well-formed screen would make for a brilliant-looking game-- more so than it already looks. With rumors (and a leaked character list) from Ultimate Marvel VS. Capcom 3, we won't have to wait long to see a 3D model of Phoenix Wright in HD.


That's but a small sample of some of the games I'd love to see in HD. What about you? There must be other games or trilogies that you'd love to see get the high-definition treatment. List any and all such titles in the comments section.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Top Ten Nintendo 64 Games

Did you know that today marks the fifteenth anniversary of the Nintendo 64 in North America? Yep, it was fifteen years ago to the date that the original N64 stormed store shelves with two titles and brought three-dimensional gameplay to the masses (though there was already some form of 3D gameplay to be had prior). The N64 just made it more commonplace. The following is a top ten list of my favorite games for the little system that could. It may not have won the console war, and it may have started Nintendo's failures with third parties, but it was a fun system all to its own.

10) GoldenEye 007

The name is Bond, James Bond. Shaken, not stirred. And all that jazz. Why this game is so low on the list (it barely made it thanks to games like Conker's Bad Fur Day, Donkey Kong 64, Banjo-Tooie, Mario Kart 64, Mario Golf, Paper Mario, and Ogre Battle 64) is because so many FPS games have outshine this classic shooter. The controls and mechanics feel ancient to this day, but the game is still a joy to play. The varying missions depending on your difficulty chosen allowed for clever exploration of the game's marvelous and memorable levels. And that multi-player! While it did not have bots, four friends (or enemies) could frag one another all night long with the myriad of maps both small and large and a wealth of weaponry to shoot each other with. While not the top FPS on the N64, GoldenEye 007 will always have a near and dear place to my heart.

9) Jet Force Gemini

Bugs, guns, and outer space were the calls for the day in Jet Force Gemini. The group consisted of Juno, Vela, and Lupus the dog. Each character proceeded through three planets or levels with multiple areas until they made their way to Mizar's Palace. After defeating the grotesque and grand insect, the adventure was just beginning. Now players could inhabit any planet, finding and rescuing all of the Tribal characters on each planet and level using the new upgrades of each character. The weaponry was impressive as well from powerful rocket launchers to rapid-fire machine guns. The epic (a word used all too lightly on the internet, but it's the best description here) soundtrack still brings chills down my spine with its immense masterful compositions. Even the multi-player where players could select from a member of Jet Force Gemini or of one of Mizar's many drones, bugs, or baddies was a blast to participate in. For a terrific third-person sci-fi shooter, Jet Force Gemini is heads and shoulders above the rest.

8) The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask

The world of Termina was unlike anything a Zelda fan had seen before. This was a tremendously unique adventure with Young Link constantly needing to go back in time by three days or else the dreaded moon would crash into the planet, ending all life and giving the player an obnoxious game over. While there were only four main dungeons, there was plenty to do in the world of Termina from collecting all of the masks to journeying through the numerous sub-dungeons Majora's Mask had to offer. Transforming into a Deku scrub, Goron champion, or Zora guitarist was just the icing on this already scrumptious-tasting cake. Many complained that this game was too different from Ocarina of Time, and now they complain that games are too similar to that same game showing that the fans don't have any idea what the heck they want!

7) Super Smash Bros.

The commercial with "Happy Together" playing in the background is forever ingrained in my memory as is this terrific multi-player game. Introducing the player to a unique fighter where damage percentages were in and health bars decreasing to zero were out, Super Smash Bros. was a game where much fun was had. Seeing Mario beat on Pikachu or Samus taking on Link from The Legend of Zelda franchise was a sight to behold, and any of the slightest Nintendo fan was in awe and was enjoying their time with the game. Unlocking Captain Falcon, Luigi, Jigglypuff, and Ness enabled good times and even more varying play styles. Mario may have had parties prior to this game, but the real party was with Super Smash Bros, and while it may have been outperformed with future iterations, this N64 classic still has some entertainment value to be had.

6) Star Fox 64

Star Fox, Andross had invaded the Lylat System! We need your help! And with that, Team Star Fox, led by Fox McCloud, sprung into action with their very first mission in Corneria. Immediately Slippy Toad (who's always finding himself on the receiving end of trouble) was being pursued by a bogey on his tail. This rail-shooter with an occasional all-range mode was a high scoring affair. Destroy enough enemy fighters whether with single shots or charged multipliers, and you'd earn medals. Star Fox 64 allowed for players to choose their path to Venom with varying mission goals and bosses depending on the path chosen. Did you want to go to Macbeth or try your hand in the arid desert of Titania? The choice was up to the player. The multi-player with four friends nestled in the same room smack-talking one another in Arwings, Landmasters, or on-foot was a blast as well. There is no better on-rails game than Star Fox 64, to put it bluntly.

5) Diddy Kong Racing

Simply outclassing Mario Kart 64 in every category imaginable, Diddy Kong Racing is simply a meatier experience. It introduced an Adventure mode which had players collecting pieces of the Wizpig amulet by participating and winning races, beating bosses, playing mini-games like a deathmatch or egg-carrying game, and collecting eight silver coins placed in precarious locations in order to face the sinister Wizpig who wished nothing more than to take over Timber Island and obliterate it. Diddy and friends weren't just relegated to karts either. They could float along the water in hovercrafts or take to the skies in airplanes as well. The music by Dave Wise was unforgettable as well. For a multi-player experience that you won't soon forget, Diddy Kong Racing holds up greatly even over a decade later.

4) Super Mario 64

The game that the Nintendo 64 controller was built for, Super Mario 64 still holds up well to this day. With 120 stars (a popular number to this day as evident by Super Mario Sunshine and the Galaxy games) to collect, fifteen main worlds with six objectives each (such as Dire Dire Docks and Hazy Maze Cave), an open-world approach so to speak, numerous new enemies to tackle, bosses to bash and beat, and a memorable score composed none other than by veteran Koji Kondo, Super Mario 64 is 3D platforming bliss. The ability to move the camera around with the C-buttons was novel then, and it still works now. Whether you're catching MIPS the bunny in the hollowed castle hallways or collecting 100 coins for a star on Tick-Tock Clock, there's always something to do in Super Mario 64, one of the greatest platformers period. But it's not the best on this list!

3) Perfect Dark

Although the game suffers heavily from framerate drops when the action gets heated, Perfect Dark is still near-perfection in my eyes. With more interesting levels, better guns and gadgetry, cooler and more well-designed multi-player maps (including three borrowed from GoldenEye), the addition of differently themed bots that could be programmed to act in certain ways, four difficulties with varying objectives depending on which you chose, and challenges in the Combat Simulator which unlocked new maps, simulants, and weapon layouts, Perfect Dark simply has many more options and content than her predecessor, James Bond, and it makes for one unforgettable experience. I was enamored with this game way back when, and when the XBLA-enhanced port came out, I was in seventh heaven.

2) Banjo-Kazooie

With a hub that was a labyrinth of passageways and rooms, containing secrets and hidden goodies all around, themed worlds with ten Jiggies (the stars of Banjo-Kazooie) apiece, and a humor all to its own, Banjo-Kazooie was Rare's attempt to outdo Mario 64. In my opinion, it succeeded handily over its competition with better level design, more feats to accomplish, better visuals, and more moves than you could shake Banjo's backpack at. The constantly rhyming Gruntilda was a great new villain, and her thirst to be beautiful drove her to bear-nap Banjo's lovely younger sister. The game was so addicting that you'd want to collect just one more jigsaw piece, and that trend would continue into the wee hours of the night.

1) The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Listed as my favorite game of all time way back when, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is a force to be reckoned with. It introduced a Z-targeting system which locked on to enemies and centered the camera on foes for a simple-to-use combat camera. It brought Zelda into the world of three-dimensions, allowing for a whole new dimension of secrets and discovery. Hyrule never looked so good or had so many hidden things to find. It brought forth the nefarious sole Gerudo male, Ganondorf, into Zelda lore, and oh, what a villain he was. Who could forget leaping over the fence with Epona the horse and exploring the sunset-soaked hills and valleys of Hyrule Field? Certainly not this gamer. All these reasons combined and more make Ocarina of Time my personal favorite Nintendo 64 game of all time.


There ends my list, but what are your top ten Nintendo 64 games? What fond memories do you have with Nintendo's graphical powerhouse? It may have been known by the moniker of the Nintendo and Rare box with the occasional third-party game thrown in, but it was a doozy of a console. The droughts were long, yes, but I wouldn't give up the high quality of the gaming library any day because of that. Add your comments below, and let's reminisce on this 15th anniversary of the Nintendo 64.

Sonic Generations (PS3, 360) Dreamcast Era Trailer

A new trailer for Sonic Generations (HD version) emerges! It's a showcase of the Dreamcast Era levels, a trio of colorful bureaus including Speed Highway (Sonic Adventure), City Escape (Sonic Adventure 2), and Seaside Hill (Sonic Heroes). Though calling Sonic Heroes Dreamcast Era is pushing it a little bit... Anyway, check out this minute-long trailer, and tell SPC readers what you think!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Best Boss Battles in Gaming History - Part Five

This article contains spoilers. Please tread carefully.

We're smack-dab in the middle of the work week here at SuperPhillip Central, and it's time for another installment (the fifth to be exact) of Best Boss Battles in Gaming History. Here we celebrate the greatest, boldest, and most entertaining encounters in the realm of bosses. If you skimped out on a previous episode, feel free to check out the following links:

Meta Ridley - Metroid Prime (GCN, Wii)

Listed as one of my favorite rivalries in gaming, Samus Aran takes on a mechanized Ridley in the Gamecube classic, Metroid Prime. Before she can enter the crash site, she must take on and defeat the monstrosity known as Meta Ridley in battle. The fight begins with Meta Ridley flying around the arena, shooting a pulsating fire beam at Samus. This is all the while Samus shooting Super Missiles at the creature's exposed chest. The leader of the Space Pirates will then fly away and make a pass at the arena, dropping bombs atop of the bounty hunter in hopes of obliterating her.

After enough damage has been inflicted to the machine version of Ridley, the creature will drop to the ground, swiping its claws toward the femme fatale. This is the perfect opportunity for Samus to blast a few well-placed shots from her arm cannon. Ridley will then scurry away in fast fashion.

Once Meta Ridley's health dwindles down 3/4ths of the way, his wings will catch on fire and he'll be forced to the ground. Now the real fun begins! Meta Ridley will cock his head backward and lunge toward Samus who must swiftly sidestep out of the way or take major damage. This game of cat-and-mouse continues until Meta Ridley's health decreases to zero. Then the dragon-like monster will careen over the cliff and fall to its doom. Samus's mission is far from over, so take a deep breath and enter the crash site to take on Metroid Prime.

The Final Hazard - Sonic Adventure 2 (DC, GCN)

After Shadow takes down the Biolizard, a difficult clash to its own, both Sonic and Shadow put aside their differences and summon the power of the Chaos Emeralds to turn into their super forms to take on the prototype of the ultimate life, the Final Hazard! Who doesn't love a boss battle with some rock and roll being played all the while? The aim of this outer space battle is to zoom through the stars, avoid the attacks such as lasers and bombs the Final Hazard unleashes, and slam into the numerous swelling spots on the creature's body. Each second that passes a ring is lost. Rings are the lifeline of both Sonic and Shadow. If the ring counter hits zero, the heroes lose a life.

The first hit is simple enough. Just control Sonic and jet into the swollen spot on the Final Hazard. The next is a little trickier. The Final Hazard will perpetually launch a large laser into space which can knock back unsuspecting hedgehogs as they attempt to smash into the Hazard's swelling spot. After three hits come a pair of gigantic laser beams coming from the final boss. This is followed by a shield of red orbs that get shot from the body of the bellowing beast. Bob and weave as Shadow through these harmful and annoying obstacles and crash directly into the boss's weak point for maximum destruction. A few more hits and Dr. Gerald Robotnik's mischievous creation is surrounded by a symphony of explosions. Sonic and Shadow then congratulate one another on a job well done.

The End - Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (PS2)

A battle of perseverance and patience, the fight against the well-experienced The End is one for the ages. It spans multiple jungle areas. Just finding the location of The End before he scampers off to a new location is challenging enough. Whether Snake opts to utilize a silenced gun or aims to match weapons and go sniper to sniper with The End, the possibilities in this encounter are seemingly endless (no pun intended).

This battle can go on for long durations of time with The End constantly changing spots, picking off Naked Snake, and hiding among the brush with his camouflage. Either match wits and fire from far away when you've locked onto his position or sneak up and attack The End with your fists of fury. Just be sure you keep your stamina gauge high enough to outlast this bashful boss. Of course, you can always kill The End by fast-forwarding the PS2's internal clock or sniping the aged villain from afar when he's sitting in his wheelchair before a certain cutscene. However, if you do either of these two things, you're missing out on an exhilarating and entertaining game of hide and seek.

Krauser - Resident Evil 4 (PS2, GCN, PS3, 360)

Government agent, Leon S. Kennedy, must collect three insignias to open the gate leading to Ashley, the president's long-lost daughter. One is to the north, one is to the east, and one is held by Leon's former partner, Krauser, turned by that darned Las Plagas virus. While Leon climbs ladders, crashes open doors, and runs through the ruins, Krauser closely stalks him, knife readied to take pretty boy Leon out. If Krauser gets close to Leon, a QTE segment occurs. If Leon fails, he gets cut down to size and takes major damage. If he succeeds, he knocks his old partner to the ground for a brief breather. When Krauser is down, Leon should fire some rounds into his fallen body. After enough abuse, the boss will drop a flash grenade and retreat for the time being.

When Leon reaches the eastern side, Krauser ambushes him with a barrage of machine gun bullets. He then drops to Leon's floor and charges at him with his bloody knife. Again, complete the appropriate QTE actions to allow Leon enough time to blow some bullets into Krauser who will then retreat. Now push the statue into its proper hole to open the gate covering the switch that raises the door leading out of this area.

Through the next part of the ruins, Leon must watch out as well as take out buried drones. The explosion will hurt him if he's close to it, so take them out from afar. This is also a terrific way to earn some extra ammo for the upcoming encounter. Climb out the north tower, grab the second piece of the insignia, and the final stage of the fight will start.

Krauser awaits Leon at the top of the tower. He tosses away his weapon to the surprise of the U.S. government agent. Then all Hell breaks loose when Krauser's arm transforms into a grotesque claw-like concoction. Krauser shields his body with said claw, deflecting any shots Leon pumps into him. Only when he gets ready to attack is there an opening for Leon to get in some well-placed rounds. More successful QTEs allow Leon all the time in the world to kill Krauser. Did I mention this battle is timed as the tower is going to explode in just under three minutes? Yeah, that's a pretty important detail. With Krauser finally succumbing to Leon's uber coolness, the last piece of the insignia is collected, and smooth-talking Kennedy can move on. Tense scenarios like the one aforementioned make Resident Evil 4 not only one of the best action shooters around but one of the best games of all time.

The Minotaur - God of War (PS2, PS3)

Deep in the corridors of Hades lies the mythical beast, the Minotaur. Kratos, fueled by revenge, desires nothing more than to slice and slash this baddie to the depths below. By immediately running towards the screen, players can get on even ground. It's suicide to take on the Minotaur from the ground level. The creature slams its claws onto the platform, swipes at Kratos, and if it grabs him, it will smash him against the wall and chuck him to the ground. Occasionally the Minotaur will charge from the back of the hallway and into the elevated balcony platform, causing the lava below to come crashing up. A simple leap into the air will avoid turning Kratos into Greek fried chicken.

After enough damage, the boss's armor will crack, shining light from within the beast. It will then scamper to the back of the hallway where a QTE will be engaged. With well-timed rotations of the analog stick, Kratos will ride the Minotaur rodeo-style before slamming its face sharply into the ground. As the weakened creature lay there in agony, Kratos needs to quickly run up to the balcony platform and pull a switch. This will send a large arrow piercing through the Minotaur's ironclad armor. Continue this pattern a few more times and the mythical Minotaur will be impaled, its foot slamming through the wall, creating a space for Kratos to continue through. Now if only the rest of Hades was so fun...


With that we wrap up the fifth episode of Best Boss Battles in Gaming History. There's been five installments, but have I left out your favorites at all? Send me a comment below, and I'll see if I can fit one or two in next time!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mario Party 2 (N64, Wii VC) Retro Review

Most likely than not, this will be SPC's last review of the month. It is a retro review for a game that one day my older brother and I decided to play together. It's Mario Party 2, and we brought out the old N64 controllers and had some fun. How does it hold up over a decade later? The following review has all the answers.

Let's party like it's 2000.

Some gamers might be partied out from Mario's partying escapades and for good reason. Mario has had eight outings, soon to be nine in 2012 with the Wii's Mario Party 9. That doesn't stop the N64 classic of Mario Party 2 from being a great offering in the series. Gather some friends, some soda (or alcoholic beverages if you're old enough-- you know who you are), and have a blast with Mario's second fiesta. He's having a party, and everyone is invited. Should you RSVP?

Our simplistic story begins with Mario and friends trying to and failing to come up with a name for a theme park-styled area. Mario, of course, wants to name it Mario Land while his rival in Wario desires nothing more than to have the place called Wario Land. Even Princess Peach Toadstool gets in on the feud and is interested in calling the land Peach Land. Unbeknownst to them, however, Bowser is hatching a sinister and nefarious plan of his own. A koopa troopa gets word of this and informs Mario and company. His cries fall on deaf ears as the group continue with their raucous bickering. Finally, Toad steps in and advises that whoever can become the superstar will have the name of the land all to themselves. Sounds like a plan and plot point for Mario Party 2 to me! And thus our six playable heroes in Mario, Luigi, Peach, Yoshi, Wario, and Donkey Kong set out to beat the villainous Bowser, become the superstar, and have the land named for them.

For those new to the Mario Party series, Mario Party is a board game where four players take turns rolling the die, moving spaces, landing on specially-marked areas, and then playing mini-games for coins. Coins are used to purchase stars from Toad who is usually randomly located somewhere on one of the game's six unique boards from the swashbuckling Pirate Land to the spaghetti Western Land. At the end of twenty, thirty-five or fifty turns, the player with the most stars is the winner. Bonus stars are awarded at the conclusion of the game for players who have earned the most coins in mini-games, gathered the highest amount of coins at one time, and who have landed on the most happening spaces. These bonus stars are usually the difference between victory and defeat.

Grab and pull this face to be as close to
the one in the center as possible.

There's a plethora of space types in Mario Party 2. Blue spaces award the player with three coins while red spaces take three away. As players pass by the bank, they are forced to deposit five coins into the bank. The player who lands on the green bank space earns all of the coins in storage. Happening spaces make their return from the original Mario Party, and these have different effects depending on the board and location. Some may launch cannonballs at unsuspecting players, sending them back to the beginning of the board, while others might call a parade of Bowser's baddies to cause trouble for everybody. The battle space starts a four-player mini-game where players put a certain amount of coins into a pool. The first and second place winners of the mini-game earn the majority of the coins. Not all spaces are beneficial. Landing on a Bowser space can cause certain doom for unlucky players who land on it. Bowser can distribute coins evenly to all players, take away coins, and even steal stars on rare occasions. Finally, there's a brand-new item space. Landing on this launches a board-specific mini-game where one player attempts to gain a new item.

Survey the board to gather enough intelligence
to thwart your opponents!

Items are an entirely fresh feature introduced to the Mario Party series. Some are helpful like the Mushroom and Golden Mushroom. The Mushroom allows a player to roll a pair of dice instead of just one die while a Golden Mushroom gives a player three die to work with for the chance to move a maximum of thirty spaces (10+10+10). The Skeleton Key opens locked doors, usually leading to shortcuts while the Boo Bell summons the ghastly and ghostly Boo who will steal coins or an opponent's star (for a price, of course). Then there's the Plunder Chest that steals an item from a foe, the Warp Block which changes places with another player, the Dueling Glove which pits two players against each other for a duel mini-game, the Bowser Suit which when worn steals twenty coins from every player the wearer passes, and the Magic Lamp that transports the user to the location of the star. Just hope you have the twenty coins it costs to purchase that all-important star! Not every item is a positive one. Earning a Bowser Bomb turns Baby Bowser into Big Bowser who rolls three dice blocks. Any player he reaches will lose all of their coinage. Not cool, Bowser. Not cool. Items can either be purchased at shops for coins or won via item mini-games.

Draw, pardner, in this Western Land-themed Duel mini-game.

As stated previously, there's six boards to play through in Mario Party 2 with one of which needing to be unlocked: Pirate Land, Western Land, Space Land, Mystery Land, Horror Land, and Bowser Land. Each is progressively more challenging and fiendishly designed than the last. Pirate Land has players trekking across rickety bridges, avoiding cannon fire, taking a ride on Sushi the shark for a shortcut across the sea, and paying the Thwomps' toll to pass on by them. On the other hand, Space Land has a beam that slowly counts down. Players hit by the beam lose all of their coins, so timing is everything. Each board has its own characters that inhabit them and personality. No two boards are alike, and the variety is more than welcomed.

After a turn ends, a mini-game is played by all players. Depending on the spaces the players have landed on, either a four-player, two-on-two, or one vs. three mini-game will ensue. For example, if Mario and Luigi land on red spaces while Wario and Yoshi land on blue, a two-on-two game will commence. Furthermore, if Donkey Kong lands on red, and everyone else lands on blue, a one vs. three game will begin. The winner or winners of each mini-game earn a minimum of ten coins unless it's a bonus mini-game where players can earn more.

Teamwork is key in two-on-two mini-games.

Gone from Mario Party 2 are the blister-inducing games from the original where players had to ferociously rotate the analog stick with either the palm of their hand or their thumb. Yes, there are a handful of returning mini-games from the first Mario Party, but most are brand-new. The ones that do return have alterations such as Bumper Balls which is played on one of three islands: a grassy knoll, a volcanic rock, or a slick and icy island. Some games have new names like Mushroom Mix-Up has been turned into Hexagon Heat. It's a game where Toad raises a colored flag, and players must race to stand on that colored platform while the other hexagons lower into the hot, bubbly lava. The last player standing wins. The two-on-two games require teamwork whether players like it or not. One has players riding a bobsled down an obstacle-ridden track with bottomless pits, speed boosts, and wall-less curves while another has players alternating button presses as they commandeer a handcar while trying not to take turns to fast. Otherwise you'll both careen off the track! Most mini-games are skill-based, but there's an occasional game thrown in that's purely controlled by lady luck. As if there weren't already enough variables to worry about!

The infamous Hot Rope returns as an
old haunt from the O.G. Mario Party.

Apart from playing alone or with friends (where the Mario Party franchise truly shines), there's Mini-Game Land where players can try out games they've already experienced, buy new ones, and try out Mini-Game Stadium or the Mini-Game Coaster, a single-player mode. Perhaps something good will happen if this mode is completed...

Moving to presentation, Mario Party 2 is decidedly dated in graphics. The characters are jagged little caricatures of themselves and look pretty gnarly. The boards themselves are full of rich colors and have many details given to them which make them pleasant to look at even if the characters aren't. The framerate pretty much stays at 30 fps with little in the way of dipping, and the game runs smoothly for the most part. Sound-wise, the whoops and quips of Mario and the gang are what you've come to expect from a Mario title. The music is especially catchy with plenty of tunes that will have you tapping your toes and humming along happily. That is, if you aren't cursing the computer for somehow getting yet another hidden block containing a star.

Depending on whether or not you have another person or party to play with, Mario Party 2 may or may not be recommended. If you lack friends or family to experience this game with, avoid Mario's second party outing as the computer tends to cheat, get all the breaks, and gang up on you. With friends and family, at least hooting and hollering at each other is much more enjoyable. With six boards, approximately fifty mini-games, and six characters to select from, Mario Party 2 remains my favorite of the franchise. Those who don't want to track down an original Nintendo 64 copy can purchase the game on the Nintendo Wii's Virtual Console service for the modest price of ten dollars or 1,000 points. Party on, Mario and friends. Party on.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.0/10]

Rayman Origins (PS3, 360, Wii, 3DS, Vita) New Trailer

A trailer exclusive to Gamespot has surfaced featuring the worldwide exploits of the limbless hero and friends. Glamor at the gorgeous art style, ingenious level design, and intense four player multi-player in this fairly brief trailer. Rayman Origins is due out on store shelves in North America on November 15th. Sent to die, unfortunately...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Top Ten Rivalries in Video Games

When there's a protagonist and an antagonist, there's bound to be some kind of heated rivalry between the two. Sometimes a rivalry will be friendly, but oftentimes it won't be. The following list is made up of my favorite ten rivalries in gaming. These have to do with characters merely and not companies. With my explanation out of the way, let's get to the countdown.

10) Chris Redfield and Albert Wesker

Chris Redfield and Albert Wesker were once a part of the same S.T.A.R.S. team that infiltrated a mansion in the original Resident Evil. Since then, Wesker grew hungry for power and had a lusting for blood. He has had a cameo in nearly every major Resident Evil game, and it all came to a head in Resident Evil 5 where he planned to unleash a virus for total global saturation. Pummeling a boulder out of the way in fierce fashion and propelling a rocket into the lava-bathed Wesker seemingly defeated the foe, thus ending this unfriendly feud.

9) Mario and Wario

Appearing first in Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins for the O.G. Game Boy, Wario took up residence in Mario's castle while our portly plumber was away, saving the day in the Mushroom Kingdom. It was Mario's assignment to unlock the door to his infiltrated and captured castle by going around the island, entering levels, beating bosses, and collecting all six of the fabled golden coins to enter his home, fight Wario, and take back his castle. Ever since Mario and Wario have constantly been battling it out in various sports games whether it be tennis, golf, baseball, or soccer, and they've tried to out-party the other in the Mario Party series. As long as there is a Mario spinoff to be had, Mario and Wario is a rivalry that will continue to blossom.

8) Samus Aran and Ridley

A young Samus Aran watched helplessly as a flying dragon demon and leader of the dreaded Space Pirates in Ridley murdered her parents. Then raised by the Chozo who gave her a special Power Suit with numerous capabilities, Samus Aran grew up to become a bounty hunter with Ridley at the top of her list of hits. In Metroid: Other M (Wii), Samus was frozen with fear as Ridley roared onto the battle arena, taking out one of her former space academy friends. This scene is one of the most infamous in the game as it makes Samus look cowardly even though she had already beaten the Space Pirate leader multiple times in the past. It seems no matter what the femme fatale does, Ridley keeps coming back, making this rivalry an everlasting one.

7) Mega Man and Dr. Wily

Dr. Thomas Light and Dr. Albert Wily were once comrades and fellow scientists. Then one day Wily stole some of Light's robotic creations and turned them on the city. Light had no choice but to build a robot with the ability to take Wily's Robot Masters down. It was then Mega Man (or Rock Man in Japan) was born. Armed with the ability to copy the powers of defeated Robot Masters, Mega Man turned Wily's war against humanity in favor of the good guys. However, Wily always seems to get away in the end. After a brief hibernation period, Wily makes more robots for Mega Man to defeat, creates more hideouts, castles, and towers, and hatches more diabolical plans that Mega must thwart.

6) The Belmonts and Dracula

A rivalry centuries in the making, the Belmont family constantly rubs up against the prince of darkness, Dracula. This vampire continuously gets summoned back from the grave by cults and criminals alike, and each time the Belmont clan puts him back in his coffin. Occasionally but not often, Alucard, Dracula's son, will take it to his father, but most often than not it is the Belmont family who spearheads the fight against the creature of the night. As long as there are Castlevania games, so, too, will there be Dracula for a Belmont member to battle.

5) Sonic and Dr. Eggman

Whether you prefer to call him Dr. Robotnik or Dr. Eggman is trivial, but all I know is that this rivalry is celebrating its twentieth anniversary this year with Sonic Generations (PS3, 360, 3DS). Eggman usually has a plan to take over the world whether it's splitting up the continents, turning our hero, Sonic, into a werehog, constructing a gigantic Death Egg to obliterate Angel Island, stealing the Master Emerald, or continuing his grandfather's research. Sometimes in rare instances Sonic the Hedgehog and Dr. Eggman will be forced to set their myriad of differences aside and work together against a common enemy. These moments are just part of what makes the feud between these foes so gosh-darn interesting.

4) Ryu and Ken

These brothers share the same sensei, and thus mostly share the same move set. Ryu wears white karate gear and a red headband while Ken wears red karate gear and has golden, flowing locks of hair. This is the only strife that's of the friendly type on our list. Both train as hard as the physically can to outdo and outperform the other in battle. Whether they're both unleashing hadoukens or shoryukens, they share a common foe where they'll put aside their differences to fight. Even though they contest against one another, they often spar to themselves to strengthen their ties as brothers.

3) Cloud and Sephiroth

The most popular feud in the Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy 7's rivalry of Cloud Strife and Sephiroth is one for the ages. They have a lengthy history to both of them as they were both a part of the same military unit. With the awakening of Jenova and the learning of his troubled history, Sephiroth went off the chains. He mercilessly destroyed everything in his path, and he wants nothing more than to see the world burn. He entered the lifestream to summon enough power to do this task for himself. Cloud and friends put an end to his plans with a well-placed Omnislash limit break, but Sephiroth wasn't truly dead as viewers of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children are well-aware of. To this day players can duke it out as either Cloud or Sephiroth in the PSP Final Fantasy franchise of Dissidia.

2) Link and Ganon(dorf)

Whenever there is a legend of a hero that slays a dark beast, you can bet that that legend is referring to Link and Ganon. They've been pitted against one another in the original Zelda, A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, Four Swords Adventures, Oracle of Ages/Oracle of Seasons, The Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess. Each encounter is more epic than the last with the human form, Ganondorf, usually transforming into the boar-like demon, Ganon, as a last resort to defeat Link. Seeing as The Legend of Zelda is one of the most celebrated series in gaming even after twenty-five years (celebrating its anniversary this year with Skyward Sword), it only makes sense that this rivalry makes number two on our list.

1) Mario and Bowser

Who else could it be but Mario and Bowser? From their humble beginnings as Mario races under a leaping Bowser to release the bridge and send King Koopa to the lava below to more recent encounters such as roaming a small planetoid while Bowser spews out ferocious fireballs at our hero, Mario versus Bowser is the epitome of a gaming feud. They've done battle where Bowser ground pounds bricks until he falls to his doom, where Mario grabs Bowser's tail and flings him into a floating mine, and where Mario chucks Mecha-Koopas up, over, and into Bowser's flying clown car. While the clashes aren't all difficult, they certainly aren't forgettable in the least. As long as Bowser keeps on kidnapping the princess, Mario will be following closely behind to rescue her and give Bowser his comeuppance.


Honorable mentions go to Liu Kang and Sheng Tsung, Mario and Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong and King K. Rool, and Mega Man X and Sigma. I must have left your favorite feuds out, so let me know which ones were cast to the wayside in the comments section.