Friday, February 10, 2012

Mario Party 7 (GCN) Retro Review

As promised, here is the first review of February. I have more planned for the month, but I believe there will be less than January which had nine. Regardless, our first taste of judgment comes from the last entry on the GameCube of this popular franchise. It's Mario Party 7.

Mario Party's Lucky Number Seven?

The GameCube was kind to the Mario Party series back in the day. Hudson Soft was pumping them out faster than people could buy them. Then came the criticisms that the games were rehashes even though each installment introduced new gameplay concepts. This tradition continues with the final Mario Party released for the GameCube, Mario Party 7. Is this a pleasure cruise, or will you get seasick from the action?

After a seemingly infinite amount of times saving the day, the princess, and various Nintendo systems from failure, Mario needs a break. Even his vacation in Super Mario Sunshine was marred by cleaning up after Shadow Mario. That's no vacation-- that's work! Toadsworth greets the portly plumber and asks him if he will grace him with his presence on a nice relaxing cruise along the ocean. Mario agrees and the entire Mushroom Kingdom cast joins in on the fun. However, Bowser was not invited, and he seeks vengeance for this oversight. His plan is to completely ruin Mario and company's ocean tour through any means necessary.

Juggling is fine and all, but can you breakdance?
...Yeah, I didn't think so.

How does he accomplish this? Every five turns in a regular Party Cruise game (the Classic mode of Mario Party) is Bowser Time, an occurrence where the king of the koopas interferes and causes trouble for players. Sometimes he opens a shop where a player is forced to purchase a worthless item for an exorbitant amount of coins, other times he might just blatantly steal a star from first place. While this new gameplay mechanic might sound interesting, it quickly grows tiresome and makes an already unpredictable game even more so... sometimes just cheap as all get out. For instance, in Grand Canal, the first board of the game, Bowser can place a bunch of his spaces on the bridges that intersect the various islands of the game. When a player lands on his space, either a single-player or multiplayer mini-game takes place. These have players avoiding the shots of fire from Koopa Kids, leaping from platform to platform, trying not to fall into the lava, and trekking boldly through a deadly obstacle course while being chased by a fire-breathing machine. For every player that loses the game, Bowser will steal half or all of their coins or even a star. The problem with these games is that they go on way too long to complete them.

Race to the top of Pagoda Peak to purchase a star.

Another error comes with the microphone-compatible mini-games. Instead of just being limited to 1vs3 games, they have been expanded to all types. There's even a space players can land on where they can bet coins, memorize cards, and speak out which card was located where. After playing this game, saying the obvious correct answer only to be told I was wrong, I promptly turned all mic mini-games off. Your mileage may vary.

There are several types of mini-games: a 4-player, 1vs3, 2vs2, Battle, and Duel mini-games. I don't like how Duel games work either as the person who lands on the space no longer gets to make the bet. Instead the winner stops a slot machine and either takes all of the loser's coins, half of the loser's coins, 1 or 2 stars, or get unlucky and win nothing from their opponent.

Track and Yield is certainly one
dangerous way of staying in shape.

The actual mini-games played are the shining grace of Mario Party 7. There's games where you try to punch your opponents out of a floating bubble arena, games where you leap over hurdles (some of which are electrified) while running along a treadmill, games where you snowboard through alternating gates, games where you team up to take down web-shooting spiders in an attempt to rescue Flutter (an enemy from the Mario universe), and games where you ground-pound tiles with the goal of making them your team's color. The games are for the most part enjoyable, and thankfully only one or two can be considered luck-based, the types of mini-games that are true pet peeves of mine.

In Target Tag, players fly through targets of
different point values, aiming for the top score.

The single-player mode this go around is called Solo Cruise. You choose a board, go up against one computer or one friend, and try to complete the board's objective before the other player. For instance, on Pagoda Peak the goal is to gather 100 coins and reach the top first while on Pyramid Park the object of the game is to retrieve a stolen star and give it to the Bowser sphinx which sits near the center of the board. Solo mode is an entertaining diversion and it is the only way to unlock the final board which belongs to Bowser.

Likewise, the meat and potatoes of Mario Party games is the multiplayer action, and Mario Party 7 does not disappoint here. You can play free for all, 2 on 2 (a pair of players roll dice blocks numbered from 1-5 and their rolls add up to how much they move), or with four controllers, four teams of two. Of the six boards of the game, each one has different means to win the game unlike past titles in the series. Grand Canal is your standard Mario Party rules of buying a star for twenty coins which then moves to a new location after it has been purchased. Meanwhile, Neon Heights houses three treasure chests. Only one contains the star while the other two either contain coins or a Bob-omb that will explode, sending the unfortunate player back to the start of the board. Each time a star is found, three new chests materialize on the board at new locations.

Share a controller to play these eight-player mini-games.

Returning from Mario Party 5 and Mario Party 6 is the concept of orbs. You can either pick these up from spaces on the board or buy them from shops. There's over twenty different types. Some transport you to the location of the star, some allow you to roll two or three dice blocks, some allow you to throw them onto spaces where if a player lands on it, a myriad of different effects can happen such as stealing coins, stealing orbs, or even stealing a star. Proper and strategic use of orbs is key in deciding between victory and defeat.

At the conclusion of each game (and if they have been selected to be awarded or not), bonus stars are presented to players. Unfortunately, Mario Party 7 was the start of random awards. What I mean by this is that in the past Mario Party games, you knew which bonus stars were going to be awarded, so you knew what to gun for. Not so with Mario Party 7. Three bonus stars are handed out either by winning the most coins in mini-games, landing on the most red spaces, landing on the most action spaces, using the most coins at shops, moving around the board the most, or using the most orbs in a single game. This makes Mario Party 7 even more based on chance than past entries in the franchise.

After each Solo or Party Cruise round, every player (including the CPU) has their amount of spaces moved tabulated. These turn into mileage points which can be used at the game's shop to purchase a plethora of items such as new mini-games, new characters like Birdo and Dry Bones, taunts, souvenirs, higher difficulties for the computer, and much more. There isn't a shortage of activities to be found on Mario Party 7's cruise ship, and thankfully, shuffleboard ain't one of them.

Mario Party 7 is a decent looking game based on the era it came out. It could pass as a low-level Wii game even, but that isn't saying much about either the GameCube or Wii hardware. There are plenty of jaggies to be found on characters, and the various texture work in the game is passable at best. Most games run without any signs of slowdown, and the framerate of Mario Party 7 is steady, too. The compositions of the game are mostly forgettable besides some short victory fanfare themes. Other tunes like Grand Canal and Pagoda Peak are just grating on the ears and nothing else.

In Sphere Factor, see if sphere is not a factor for you.

Overall, Mario Party 7 might be one of the lesser installments of the franchise. The amount of chance that is involved is at an all-time high. Nothing is for certain in Mario's seventh fiesta. You can play the best, win every mini-game, and you could still be messed over by bad dice rolls and unlucky events. Bowser Time is cute at first, but it slows the game down to a crawl, especially Grand Canal's "let's put Bowser spaces all over the board with games that last a minute or more." There is probably a reason why the option was made to allow players to have the minimum amount of turns be ten instead of the series standard twenty. Mic mini-games may be a dud, but the non-mic games are mostly a blast to play. While not a full-fledged pleasure cruise, there is some fun in the sun to be had with Mario Party 7.

[SuperPhillip Says: 6.0/10]

Help Support SuperPhillip Central

Within a few years SuperPhillip Central has grown from a hobbyist blog to something more. It has almost turned into a second job for me, and with that comes certain responsibilities. May I call your attention to the sidebar? There you will find a brand-new section called Amazon Links. You can peruse a series of upcoming and recent titles I have selected, and if you click on them, you will generate money for the site. I'm hoping to use the funds provided to continue to get new games to review for SPC and also maybe use a game for a contest on the site. (Let's face it-- the economy sucks.) Additionally, you can always support my work and show that you really care by donating money via Paypal. My Paypal is superphillip32[at]yahoo[dot]com. If you don't want a fee, send it as a Gift.

Your continued patronage is truly appreciated. Thank you for your time.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Most Overlooked Nintendo 3DS Games - Part One

The Nintendo 3DS has almost been out for a year in Japan, and next month the system will have been out in the wild for a year as well. Over the past eleven months, we've seen many titles get released for the handheld. Some shine while others are dull as can be. Some sell well while others bomb for different reasons. This first edition of the Most Overlooked Nintendo 3DS Games checks out the latter of these titles.

Dead or Alive: Dimensions

What could be considered to be a greatest hits collection of the Dead or Alive universe, Dead or Alive: Dimensions takes all of the fights, frills, and thrills the franchise is known for and puts them for the first time onto a handheld device. In this case the action occurs on the Nintendo 3DS. The battle arenas are multi-tiered, offering the opportunity to knock your opponent off, onto a new battlefield, inducing damage to them. Collectible figurines add to the replay value and longevity of the game as does the entertaining online mode, allowing fighters from around the world to duke it out against one another. Throw in some free downloadable content in the form of costumes, and you have one knockout of a game.

Sonic Generations

While not as full of content as its console brethren, the 3DS version of Sonic Generations has seven unique zones from past Sonic games. From the original 1991 Sonic the Hedgehog all the way to 2010's Sonic Colors, many major Sonic games are present and accounted for. Zones like Green Hill, Casino Night, Mushroom Hill, Emerald Coast, Radical Highway, Water Palace, and Tropical Resort are all faithful to the source material and give off huge nostalgic vibes. Then there's returning boss battles remade for this 3DS version like Sonic the Hedgehog 3's Big Arms Robotnik battle and Sonic Adventure 2's Biolizard. Also included with the game is an assortment of missions to complete for unlockable artwork and music. Not a perfect game as most Dimps efforts aren't, but still worth checking out for any fan of the blue blue.

Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy

Ace Combat Assault Horizon Legacy takes flight onto the Nintendo 3DS with all of the high flying action, intense dogfights, and Top Gun-esque aerial maneuvers that you have come to expect from the franchise. The addition of touch screen targeting makes combat all the more intuitive and simple to pull off. The mission structure expands and trails off to a number of different scenarios depending on decisions you make in combat. The missions themselves have a wide range of objectives to make each one vastly different from the last. Little marketing for this title doomed it for failure. In Japan, the game works with the newly released Circle Pad Pro, but Ace Combat 3D: Cross Rumble (as it is known there) did little to soar up the charts in the land of the rising sun either.

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked

Essentially a port of the DS original, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked adds a whole slew of voice acting to accompany the intriguing story the game possesses. Along with the multiple secret endings players can uncover, Devil Survivor Overclocked introduces a new epilogue at the end of the game. Those are not the only changes to the game. Higher resolution character portraits and awesome remastered artwork have been included to further enhance this 3DS game, one of the rarest, most hard-to-find titles in the early life of Nintendo's stereoscopic wonder. Those hankering for an RPG tailor-made for the system need to look no further than
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked.

Nano Assault

From the team behind the excellent Iridion games on the Game Boy Advance, the enjoyable Jett Rocket and FAST - Racing League on the WiiWare service, and the fun Nanostray titles on the Nintendo DS comes a new shoot-em-up from Shin'en. Traveling through cells and participating in germ warfare, players blast their way through approximately thirty-something individual levels. Depending on how well or how poorly a player does in the game, the level will become either easier or harder in difficulty. With gorgeous 3D visuals, multiple modes and unlockable items, and an online leaderboard to boast to all of your friends, Nano Assault is a great shmup for fans of the genre. It's also only $19.99 MSRP.


We have reached another conclusion to another article here on SuperPhillip Central. Tomorrow I have in store the first review of February. It's about time, don't you think? We'll see you then.

January 2012 NPD Results

Ready for something depressing? No? Well, ignore this story then. For everyone else, here's the sales results from the United States in this month's NPD report.

Firstly, not a single new release in January charted. Now this was to be expected for games that released at the end of the month like Final Fantasy XIII-2, SoulCalibur V, and Resident Evil: Revelations. Regardless, there's even more bad news. Industry-wide sales are worse than January 2004.

In good news, Saints Row: The Third keeps making money for the ailing THQ while Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure for the first time reaches the top ten. (It made eleventh place last October.) Then you have your regular crowd of games such as Call of Duty, Just Dance, Madden, Skyrim, and Mario Kart. To be honest, this has been one of the most boring months for NPD information in a long time.

Individual platform information will be posted as (and if) it comes.

Kid Icarus: Uprising (3DS) Controls Trailer

What is more entertaining than hearing an orchestral score while watching how to play Kid Icarus: Uprising? Don't answer as that was entirely rhetorical. Regardless, this trailer shows you the various methods to control our hero Pit on his quest to vanquish the evil Medusa and her hordes of minions. You fire with L, aim with the stylus, and move with the circle pad. This might take some getting used to, but in Sakurai we trust. Kid Icarus: Uprising uprises and shines on the Nintendo 3DS in late March.

Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games (3DS) North American Advertisements

I played the demo for the next game I'll be showcasing on SuperPhillip Central. It's Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games. I reviewed the Wii version late last year, but the 3DS version is a different athletic beast entirely with different events and different controls. I don't see a reason to pick up the handheld version, but don't let my opinion stop you if you are interested. I'm just Olympic'd out. Not even Bob Costas can save me now. Instead, enjoy these highly humorous commercials for the game. (The video below is the first commercial.)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sour Games, Sweet Soundtracks

Games are a legitimate form of entertainment. Unfortunately, just like every other medium, there's more garbage than good out there. Sometimes you get a really bad game whose only saving grace is that it has a stellar soundtrack to accompany it. These following four games are just that. Marred by technical and/or fundamental problems, these titles only have a great soundtrack to bail them out and be remembered by.

Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) (PS3, 360)

Quite possibly the worst game I have ever purchased, I must have been painfully curious to just how bad 2006's reboot of the Sonic the Hedgehog series really was. Let me tell you that it was as bad as people say (save for Play Magazine who gave the game a 9 for dubious reasons). If your idea of fun is glitching through platforms, fighting a wonky camera, battling super poor collision detection, taking on hellish mach speed sections, boring, empty hubs, and sitting through a cringe-inducing story of hedgehogs kissing human girls (yes, your reaction probably mirrors my own), then party hearty, my friend. For everyone else, at least you can enjoy the soundtrack... pending you get past the first abortion of an act.

To be more positive, the soundtrack is one of the year 2006's best. Tomoyo Ohtani, Mariko Nanba, and Hideaki Kobayashi combine their musical talents to create the only thing sensational about this otherwise punishing to play game. I have hand-selected some of the game's better themes. Some songs have the classic rock riffs that fans of Sonic Adventure and on have grown to love while others go for a cinematic feel like Crisis City and Kingdom Valley.

Final Fantasy XIII (PS3, 360)

Now this is a game that seems to be either love it or hate it. It really depends on your personal experience with the game. Regardless, some did not enjoy the extremely linear gameplay, slow to unravel story, and episodic structure of Final Fantasy XIII. Then there's the story. It is not so much the narrative but the execution. There are plenty of groans and moans to be had if you wish to sit through this title and live to tell about it. At least the combat has something for everyone. I'm in the camp that likes the game, but I added it to this list to appease the critics. This is only going to happen this time, so you haters better be grateful.

Masashi Hamauzu and Ryo Yamazaki take over the composing duties for Final Fantasy XIII. They had big shoes to fill with past efforts by the genius that is Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy I-XI) and Hitoshi Sakimoto (Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy Tactics). They certainly-- to put it in baseball terms-- knocked one out of the park with their stirring compositions. From the outstanding battle themes to more character-driven pieces, there's a lot to love about Final Fantasy XIII's soundtrack, even if the game doesn't appeal to you.

Shadow the Hedgehog (PS2, GCN, XBX)

While I didn't like the angle Sonic Team took with Shadow the Hedgehog, I thought the game was perfectly playable. In fact I went so far as to get all of the highest ranks on every level and beat the game on Super Hard mode. Sure, there's a lot to be put off by in this game-- a foul-mouthed hedgehog armed with guns (but the guns meant you didn't need to use the not so reliable at the time homing attack), a plot that made little sense, and vehicles in the form of bikes. Depending on choices during each level, you progressed either the hero way, the neutral way, or the evil way. There were six final levels you could go to pending your decisions and twelve possible endings. Unlocking them all was the only way to see the true ending and face the true final boss.

Jun Senoue went with a darker sounding score for Shadow the Hedgehog. Some songs were death metal, some were grunge, while others weren't in the category of rock at all. If you like any instrument from the guitar family, you are bound to like something from the Shadow the Hedgehog soundtrack.

Mega Man X6 (PS1)

The worst in a series that took a massive downturn (X7 was not top-shelf material and X8 wasn't the best the franchise had to offer either, though it was good at least), Mega Man X6 was the lowest point in the X line of games. With horrible, sometimes even lazy level design (who thought it would be a great idea to have X or Zero face the same boss 4-6 times in the same level?), a back of the box that flat-out lied about features, and no dubbed voices, Mega Man X6 came out almost a year after the not too bad Mega Man X5. To say the game was rushed out the door would be an understatement. Plus, I hated the lack of localized boss names, a trend which started with X5. Regardless, we'll always have the memories of the music such as the best Mega Man boss theme in Sigma 2nd to soothe us out of our "irritated from playing this game" state.


My turn is up, so it's now your turn to share. What games have you played that you didn't exactly find fun but had an excellent soundtrack? Let your opinion be heard/read in the comments section.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Rank Up! - Jak and Daxter

Did you know that yet another HD collection of games has hit the PlayStation 3 today? It's the Jak and Daxter Collection available for $39.99. It's set to release in PAL territories later in the month. It makes perfect sense to have another Rank Up! segment to greet the Jak trilogy's arrival into HD... well, sub-HD. Anyway, what games will we be ranking this go around?

Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy (PS2)
Jak II (PS2)
Jak 3 (PS2)
Jak X: Combat Racing (PS2)
Daxter (PSP)
Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier (PS2, PSP)

Before wrongly believing video games should mimic movies as close as possible with the Uncharted series, Naughty Dog had experience with a platforming mascot with Crash Bandicoot on the original PlayStation. After Crash left Sony's hands they had a go of developing their own platformer franchise and that was none other than Jak and Daxter. The series had six unique games developed for it within a relatively short time span. As is usual with Naughty Dog games, the writing was humorous and well done, and the action was enjoyable for the majority of their games.

6) Jak X: Combat Racing (PS2)

As is customary with mascot platformers, one must have a racing game. Jak X: Combat Racing is just that, offering a plethora of modes, tactics, racers, tracks, and unlockables. Hampered by loose controls, floaty and unpredictable physics, obnoxious rubberband AI, and a list of other problems, Jak X is more of an effort in frustration than an enjoyable racing game. Yes, there's enough content to justify the cost of entry, but when the irritation of the playing the title is so high, is it actually worth it? I say no.

5) Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier (PS2, PSP)

When the world's supply of invaluable Eco begins to run dry, Jak, Daxter, and Keira go out on a journey to the edge of the planet in search of new sources. There they meet a band of sky pirates who won't have that. Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier was an entry that landed on both the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable. If you have to choose between the two, the PSP version is the way to go. Regardless, when you're not battling against creatures on the ground and performing acts of platforming peril, you'll be flying around in a ship doing battle against sky pirates. One of the weaker entries in the franchise because 1) It was not made by Naughty Dog, 2) It was made on a cheap budget, 3) The camera is finicky, and 4) The game is relatively short, Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier is still a worthy entry in this series that struggled to find an identity and an audience.

4) Jak II (PS2)

Completely selling out the franchise to make it appeal to god-knows-who, Naughty Dog chose to not only change the colorful and cheery setting of the first game, but make Jak chatty and hurl out the occasional expletive. This embarrassing shift in tone made playing Jak II a difficult proposition for me. Add in an empty open-world city to explore, annoying racing missions, the addition of guns as Jak's main means to attack, the ability to transform into a Dark Eco-craving beast, and a lesser focus on actual platforming, and you have the catalyst to what was a great start to a franchise. Leave it to Naughty Dog to miss the point entirely on what makes video games entertaining.

3) Daxter (PSP)

Daxter is a prequel to Jak II. Jak and Daxter entered a new dimension and Jak was imprisoned, subjected to scientific experiments and Dark Eco. This excellent PSP game tells the tale of Daxter, alone in an unfamiliar world, in search of a way to rescue his best bud. The orange ottsel opts to join an extermination gig where he either sprays or gets up close and personal and swats the metal-bug infestation with a fly swatter. With each new job and each new mission, Daxter gets one step closer to discovering how to save Jak from his uncomfortable staying arrangements. In Daxter, the titular hero has the ability to climb up walls, enter areas that an ordinary human wouldn't be able to fit through such as vents, and he can use his spray can to hover over gaps a la F.L.U.D.D. in Super Mario Sunshine. High Impact Games did a wonderful service to the series with Daxter.

2) Jak 3 (PS2)

After getting the sour taste out of my mouth from Jak II, I opened up to idea of Jak being a completely different character from the first game in the franchise. Leaving behind the boring environment and setting of Haven City from Jak II, Jak 3 banishes our hero to a desert wasteland, a much larger place than his previous playground. Jak 3 doesn't sell itself as a platformer at all. Instead it mixes genres completely such as platforming, adventure, puzzle, strategy, racing, and more. Vehicles play a bigger part in the game as crossing the rugged slopes of the desert on foot is essentially suicide. With less frustrating missions than its predecessor, Jak 3 is an excellent and fun romp through multiple gaming genres.

1) Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy (PS2)

Games that emulated the open-ended formula of Super Mario 64 were few and far in-between, especially on Sony's PlayStation 2. Naughty Dog's Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy looked to change that. With vast, expansive worlds just begging to be explored, players collected power cells to open up new areas, precursor orbs that needed to be gathered, and multiple secrets to discover, this then new IP offered a fresh take on the Super Mario 64 styled platformer. Jak himself was a mute while the former human turned ottsel from a bath in Dark Eco, Daxter, was Jak's partner and the series's comic relief. The Precursor Legacy continues to be the best game in the franchise, and it does so without selling its soul to be more "mature" or "dark" or "edgy."


Do you plan on picking up the Jak and Daxter Collection for the PS3 any time soon? For those that have never played the series, it's the perfect opportunity to do so. We'll see you here tomorrow for more SuperPhillip Central goodness.

Monday, February 6, 2012

SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs - Mario & Sonic at SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs EdItion

Before we begin with the weekly VGMs, I'd like to thank all of the readers of SPC, either one-timers or all-the-timers as last month netted this blog with its highest amount of traffic ever. There were over 37,000 views total. It's your continued patronage that makes SuperPhillip Central as successful as it is.

Regardless, it's another Monday, so let's dig out the VGMs for a special edition. Instead of the traditional five videos, I have ten in store for you this week. There's five for Mario, and five for Sonic the Hedgehog-- Hence the title of this edition. Get your ears locked and loaded, and let's begin!

v26. Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii) - Melty Monster Galaxy

One of the later levels in Super Mario Galaxy 2, named number two on my Games of All Time ~ 2012 Edition list, Melty Monster Galaxy has one sensational theme to accompany the hot and heated action that takes place in the world. It begins with a bombardment of brass which is then followed by several strings. The theme gets louder and louder before playing the main theme of Super Mario Galaxy 2. By itself the game is already an impressive beast, but the soundtrack only solidifies Super Mario Galaxy 2 as one of my favorite titles of all time.

v27. Super Mario Sunshine (GCN) - Ending Theme of Super Mario Sunshine

Some people believe Super Mario Sunshine to be the weakest 3D Mario or even not a good game at all. While I can't agree with the latter statement, the former pretty much succinctly summarizes my thoughts on the game. Don't get me wrong-- I loved this GameCube classic and everything it brought to the Mario universe-- F.L.U.D.D., Isle Delfino, Piantas, Nokis, Toadsworth, etc., but it also had some scathing issues like a poor camera in some places. Nonetheless, this live version of the game's ending theme is performed like a party by the Big Band of Rogues at the Mario & Zelda Big Band Live concert that took place September 14th, 2003.

v28. Mario Superstar Baseball (GCN) - Let's Play Baseball (Staff Roll)

Catchy but admittedly corny, Mario Superstar Baseball's Let's Play Baseball, the credits song of the game, is what players who have successfully vanquished Bowser's baseball team get to enjoy for their victory. Packed with guitars, drums, and an electric piano, we truly do love baseball. While Mario Superstar Baseball wasn't perfect, it was yet another interesting entry into Mario's catalog of sports games. Boy, does that plumber ever get around.

v29. Mario Hoops 3-on-3 (DS) - Sherbet Land

Way back on volume 20 on the VGMs, I mentioned that Tatsunoko VS. Capcom's Orbital Ring Systems Cargo Bay was a great workout song. Here's another one that puts me back to the nineties with its beat, female vocals, and instrument selection. Mario Hoops 3-on-3 was one of the more worse sports efforts of Mario. Developed by Square Enix, your teammate AI was brain-dead and did little if anything to assist you. You were pretty much on your own for every game you played. I did, however, very much enjoy the immense variety of courts from Luigi's Mansion to Marlboro Garden to this stage, Sherbet Land.

v30. Mario Party (N64) - Rainbow Castle

A gentle, mellow melody is what one hears as they play Mario's Rainbow Castle board in the original Mario Party. The board is pretty straightforward. You follow a path to reach the tower where you can purchase a star. However, every time a star is bought, the tower rotates 180 degrees where Bowser then sells fake stars for twenty coins. Then the tower rotates back to Toad and the process continues. I liked Mario Party save for the impossible to win rotate the stick mini-games. As for the song, Yasunori Mitsuda of Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross, and Xenogears fame composed the music for this game, making Mario Party 1's soundtrack the best score of the series.

v31. Sonic Generations (PS3, 360) - Crisis City
Act 1

We move on from Mario to Sonic the Hedgehog. One of my favorite themes from the recently enough released Sonic Generations just happens to be Crisis City Act 1. While many Sonic fans know of Jun Senoue since he is pretty much the man behind most of the music from Sonic Adventure on, Tomoya Ohtani is also a very talented composer, maybe more so. His work on Sonic Unleashed, Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), and now Sonic Generations is unmatched in my book as evident by this rocking theme.

v32. Sonic and the Secret Rings (Wii) - High and Broken

A grungy Sonic theme with a Middle Eastern flair, High and Broken is the music heard during Sonic's race through the Levitated Ruins in Sonic and the Secret Rings, Sonic Team's first attempt to create a decent 3D game on the Wii. The fact that one had to buy skills to even get Sonic to control anywhere near decently says a lot about how this game was. Regardless, the music of the game is as good as ever. The band Runblebee lent their talents to the soundtrack as well. It's just a shame that soundtracks alone do not a great game make or Sonic Team would be golden.

v33. Sonic Rush (DS) - Ethno Circus

Hideki Naganuma is a name Sega fans should know as he penned the soundtracks of such games from the series of Jet Grind Radio, Super Monkey Ball, and yes, Sonic the Hedgehog. His specialty is generally in the genres of hip-hop, big beat, breakbeat, funk, and electronic music. His work on Sonic Rush is stellar. Ethno Circus is but one of the many themes that are not just catchy but they are infectious, getting into one's head and not wanting to get out. This theme plays on Mirage Road. Sonic Rush is an okay game, but its many bottomless pits make for an annoying time.

v34. Sonic 3D Blast (SAT) - Green Grove
Acts 1 and 2

Richard Jacques composed the music for the superior Sonic 3D Blast soundtrack. The Saturn version, having CDs instead of cartridges, obviously allowed composers to have a much richer and realer-sounding compositional voice. This is a mash-up of both Green Grove acts, the first zone of the game. The first act is pleasant enough, but the real joy and pleasure comes from listening to the kick-butt second act. Full of prominent trumpets, piano, and perfect percussion, Green Grove Act 2 is truly a terrific treat to listen to.

v35. Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) (PS3, 360) - [Boss] Solaris Phase 2

Listed number two on my favorite final boss themes list of all time, Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) had an incredible and adrenaline-pumping song for its final boss, Solaris. Sure, listening to this song within the game meant you had to suffer through the endless glitches, bugs, uncontrollable mach speed sections, boring missions, and other problems which plagued this rushed out game, but would it be worth it just to hear this fabulous theme? ...Well, no. Not really. Instead, why not forget the headaches of playing the game and just listen to the extended version of the song?


This week's fun-filled festival of VGMs is now complete. Next week another (yes, ANOTHER) ten VGMs will be posted. This time we'll be looking at efforts from Nintendo and Sega. Their best all-stars will be represented, so please look forward to that. Until next time, have a great start to your work week.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Resident Evil: Revelations (3DS) Demo Impressions

Resident Evil: Revelations has already released in PAL territories and Japan, so these demo impressions are not meant for those who are already enjoying the game. With the Resident Evil: Revelaitons (I guess that's how Capcom wants to spell it) game coming out for the 3DS on Tuesday for North American gamers, now is as good a time as any to unveil my personal opinion on the demo to the game. Better late than never, right? If you're type who thinks demo impressions can be considered spoilers, you may not want to read my thoughts. For everyone else, let's begin.

The demo starts off with Jill Valentine waking up on a bed within one of the cruise ship's cabins. She has no idea how she got there, but she knows she must return to and meet up with her partner Parker. Going to the exit, I found the door to be locked, so that meant trekking into the adjacent bathroom and doing some sleuthing. There I discovered a bathtub full of dirty water (did you really expect it to be pure and clean in a Resident Evil game?) with the option to drain it. I did, and the water subsided, revealing a key. Exiting into the cabin room, I walked forward only to be greeted by an albino monster crashing out of a nearby cabinet. Just imagine if this crooked creature came out of hiding while Jill was sleeping. I shudder to think of the outcome. Regardless, several shots of Jill's handgun put this monstrosity out to pasture.

Which virus has infected these poor souls?

Before I continued, I opted to change the controls. I went with Type C (there were three choices) which mapped the aiming to the face buttons a la the PSP's Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. I then inverted the Y-axis to make things even easier for me to control. You can also choose between first or third-person aiming. Getting used to this setup took a little getting used to as I'm accustomed to dual analogs or Wii remote pointing to aim, but I quickly adhered to the controls and moved deeper into the demo.

I exited the cabin room and went into a hallway. Ammo is ubiquitously scarce in old-school Resident Evil games, and at least in the demo, this traditional held true. I traveled through hallways and into a room full of bookshelves placed in a maze-like fashion. I was once again met with another albino abomination which I promptly took out. When these monsters get close, they sink their teeth into Jill's neck, and you must mash the Y button to escape. Thankfully, herbs were generously placed around the many rooms of the demo.

Eventually I entered a dining room filled with tables covered with white linen sheets, already eaten food, and dirty silverware, plates, and centerpieces. Another monster appeared, crawling out from under a table. I must admit here that I was scared once during the demo. There was a hallway that looked unassuming at first. Then two albino creatures dropped down from the ceiling. ..Eek! Anyway, I took out the monster with my newly acquired shotgun received from one of the rooms I visited. I then went up the stairs in the dining room and entered a door. Inside was something I feel I will be using obsessively, the scanner. By using it you can find invisible items and monsters. I didn't come across any invisible oddities in the demo, thankfully. I wasn't wearing any protection, so that was a relief. I did, however, come across several hidden items like ammo for my handgun and shotgun as well as herbs and grenades.

These creatures can pop out from anywhere.

The grenades were used to take out bunches of foes with ease. There's even baddies that explode when they come near you, so taking them out from afar is generally the best and recommended tactic to use. After being overwhelmed by one of the enemies (I had no ammo left) and being chewed up like a dog's bone, I proceeded to exit out of the demo. This seemed like the perfect time to quit and not spoil the rest of that part of the game for me. The rest will be completely fresh to me when I pick up the retail version this Tuesday. Resident Evil: Revelations is already out in Euroland and Japan where in both the U.K. and the land of the rising sun it reached number one on the weekly sales charts. Here's hoping Capcom's console-like Nintendo 3DS Resident Evil gets the same amount of love from North American gamers.