Saturday, February 25, 2012

Announcing Our Newest Affiliate: Gamingheap!

We approach the end of the month with a new affiliate, Gamingheap. It is gaming with a teenaged twist where Oli the owner keeps everyone in the loop on his various gaming ventures with reviews as well as progress on his run at getting platinum trophies. I am happy to have Oli's blog as my latest affiliate.

Heroes of Ruin (3DS) New Screens

While I'm on a 3DS kick, let us roll into the wee hours of the night to talk about another title for the system that is due out in early April. I do not think I have covered this next game yet, but if I have, remind me. I have an itch for a dungeon crawler on the 3DS, and Heroes of Ruin (quality in question) seems to scratch said itch. Does this game appeal to you at all? It has four player online as well as a seemingly infinite amount of loot to acquire. Heroes of Ruin seems to be another game that fills another niche for the 3DS market.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy (3DS) Review

Three days, three new reviews. I have been going into overdrive in the second half of February, and I don't seem to be slowing down. The next game we will be taking a look at is one that I must warn you about. We're going into high altitudes with this one, so please watch out for nosebleeds. It's Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy for the Nintendo 3DS.

Namco's Ace in the Hole for the 3DS

The Ace Combat series is one that has not appeared that much on Nintendo platforms. It has mostly been a PlayStation franchise. Now Namco is setting its sights on the Nintendo 3DS with a new installment of the popular dog-fighting franchise. While the HD twins received the Call of Duty-inspired Assault Horizon, the 3DS gets a more traditional Ace Combat in Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy, a remake of the second Ace Combat game. As someone new to the Ace Combat series, this obviously does not matter to me. It is a totally fresh experience. Does Namco's 3DS ace soar high in the sky or does it crash and burn?

Despite all the context and mission briefings you can opt to sit through, the story of Ace Combat 3DS is quite simple. You play as Phoenix, an up and coming pilot for the Allied Forces who is tasked with accomplishing various missions to root out the Rebel Forces from the USEA continent. That is really the extent of the story. As you progress through the 21 missions of the game, you gain infamy as an promising pilot. Through humble beginnings you are eventually considered a god of the air by the end of the game. Additionally, you take on rival groups of pilots such as Cocoon and the Beast brigades in battle and face a mysterious pilot who controls a plane known as the Z.O.E. Unfortunately, this story arc really doesn't go anywhere and ends abruptly without any explanation.

Sometimes you need to sacrifice
power for speed to fit the mission.

At the start of each mission you are given a briefing by your superior officer played by Richard Epcar (He was Batou in the anime Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex). A map of the upcoming field of war is shown as he recites the plan of action for battle. Don't worry. You can skip this if you like, or you can have him-- Keynote-- explain the mission over again if you missed something.

From there you choose a plane to move out in. These planes are based off of real-world airplanes designed by Boeing and other popular manufacturers. At first you have a limited selection of aircraft to select from, but as you complete missions on the various difficulties (there's Easy, Normal, and Hard), you earn new planes. Of course, everything costs points (you gain points by completing missions, taking out enemies, etc.) if you want to use them. This goes for new crafts, new weapons such as bombs that can be dropped on ground forces, and upgrades for your various planes. Each plane has different attributes. Some are better at defense, some are better at maneuverability, some are better at speed, and so forth. Showing loyalty by using the same plane unlocks alternate colors and patterns for your them. It's purely an aesthetic touch, but it's nice to have anyway.

Who wouldn't be afraid of a plane with
teeth painted on the front of it?

The missions themselves span the USEA continent as well as span objectives. One mission you will be escorting a fleet of Allied Forces battleships through a Rebel-infested channel while another you will be jetting through a narrow ravine, trying to catch up to and destroy the enemy's submarine before it can reach their base. My favorite mission was one where I had to destroy the enemy's stronghold set in Saint Ark. I demolished the anti-air defenses, had to fly through a claustrophobic passage to reach the enemy's core, and then I blew it up and called it a day. Saving the continent is such hard work, you know. However, not all of the missions are a bed of proverbial roses. One has you chasing a missile that is set to obliterate a city. The missile goes so fast that catching up with it is more of a fluke than a plan. Regardless, the missions are perfect for a handheld as they are relatively short. The longest mission I faced was approximately ten minutes long. Even then if you fail through either not meeting the objective, through crashing, or through being shot down, then-- if the game permits-- you can choose to start from a checkpoint. The only catch to this is that all of the points you earned in the mission prior to your failing go bye-bye.

At the conclusion of a successful mission you can view a replay of your handy work and even save it for future watching pleasure, receive bonus points for every enemy you downed, and earn a rank based on how well you performed (C being the worst, S being the best. I haven't really gotten the science perfected on how ranks are handed out. Sometimes I'd go fast and kill everyone and still get but a B or A rank while on other occasions I'd take my sweet time and be selective with my killing and earn an S rank. You cannot see this but I am shrugging right now with an "I don't know" look on my face.

Each craft in the game has its own unique cockpit to peruse.
(Ha, ha, ha. I said "cockpit"!)

The actual flying and dog-fighting in Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy is excellent and feel wonderful. Unlike something like Star Fox 64 3D, you need to hold down the R button to accelerate if you want to actually go anything that could be considered fast. The B button serves as your machine gun which you have an infinite supply of ammunition for while the A button acts as your secondary fire button for missiles and bombs (you can change between the two with the right and left directions on the d-pad).

In battle you will find that the Y button is a godsend. Not only is it crucial for getting behind foes, but it is also imperative for dodging opponents' missile barrages. When you are within a Rebel craft's airspace, a circular gauge on the 3D screen will fill up. As long as you stay close to the craft the gauge will continue to rise. Once it fills halfway or all the way you can perform an attack maneuver which starts a quick cutscene of your plane flying behind the enemy's. You can then target your foe and lock on with either machine gun fire or take them out altogether with a missile or two. Nonetheless, enemies can also use missiles against you. When this happens a warning box appears on the 3D screen around your vessel. You only have a second or two (or less in Hard mode) to press Y and the proper direction shown (either left or right with the circle pad) to take evasive maneuvers and avoid your assailant's attempt to rock your world.

Sneak around those filthy Rebels,
and then shoot them suckers down!

Despite the game only having 21 or so bite-sized missions, you cannot play them all in one play-through. There are at least three points in the story where you must choose between two mission arcs. No matter which path you decide on, you always end up at the same place by the end of the game. As stated previously, there are three difficulties to select from, multiple medals to earn through completing goals like downing 200 enemies, beating the game on Hard, and achieving an S rank on every mission. Buying every craft, weapon, and upgrade for engines, armor, wings, and more will take you some time too, and as you progress through the main campaign you will unlock endurance and survival missions that are much more challenging than most of the story. Don't be fooled-- there's a large chunk of content to be had in Ace Combat 3DS. Sadly though, there is no multiplayer to speak of. This is all solo fun.

Ace Combat on 3DS is impressive to look at. The stereoscopic 3D is amazing (especially the cockpit view) and makes the aerial encounters all the more engaging on the eyes. Some of the ground textures when you're close to them are a bit muddy, but everything else from the environments to the special particle effects and explosions, to the sun sparkling on the ocean make for some very nice visuals. The frame-rate chugs along without any problems as well. The constant radio chatter with authentic garbled speed makes you feel like you're right there in the action, and the music is one part rock soundtrack and one part intense classical score. This is the genuine article presentation-wise here, folks.

The cockpit view may be disorienting at first,
but it really shows off the 3D effect well.

Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy somehow manages to be better than its HD counterparts despite being on a handheld. The missions are brief (great for short bursts and quick play sessions) but there are enough to make you feel like you didn't get ripped off out of your $39.99 MSRP. The game runs well on 3DS hardware, and it has plenty of pleasing graphical touches without any turbulence. Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy flies high on the ever-growing 3DS library, and it is one game that indubitably earns its high marks.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.0/10]

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2 (PS3, 360) First Trailer

GameSpot has the exclusive first trailer of the Spring 2012 release Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2. However, I'm not about to link to that garbage site. Instead, how about you take a look at this YouTube mirror of the trailer? Certainly looks like something Dimps would put out...

SoulCalibur V (PS3, 360) Review

Earlier in the month I reviewed Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition for the Nintendo 3DS. Now it is time for another fighter to step up into the arena and face the fury of my judgment. It strikes fear into the heart of men with its unbridled rage. I'm talking about my fury, of course, and not the game I'm going to be reviewing. Regardless, I do indeed have a new review to share. It's SoulCalibur V for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

The soul still burns, yadda, yadda, but it's
more of a weaker ember than a raging inferno.

Since its inception in arcades and on consoles with the Dreamcast, the SoulCalibur series is known for its weapon based combat and superb visuals. Armed with a new generation of characters along with some returning old favorites, SoulCalibur marks its second outing on the HD consoles with installment number five. As a fighter the soul still burns as it is wont to do, but is the series now on cruise control and just relying on name recognition at this point?

Story ~1607 A.D.~ is the episodic mode of SoulCalibur V and it tells the tale of the dueling soul swords and Patroklos Alexandra, son of Sophitia from past entries in the franchise. In search of his sister, Pyrrha, Patroklos starts out as nothing more than a puppet but by the end of the game becomes a full-fledged warrior with his own resolve. The story is told mostly through storyboard-esque stills backed by narration. Some of the more important scenes get the full cinematic CG treatment. Regardless, the narrative does little to get you invested in the fates of the various characters you come across, and the majority of the battles you fight are a result of the flimsiest of excuses.

Nightmare is having a nightmare of his own--
getting his butt kicked by a girl.

Apart from the multiple episodes and tales of the story mode, there's also the Arcade Mode where you choose a difficulty (Easy, Normal, or Hard), choose a path (such as Asia or Europe where you combat against fighters from the continent chosen), and duke it out in six successive battles to aim for the fastest time. There are also modes where you battle the various bosses of the game (unlockable mode), take on created characters manufactured by the developers, and fight locally with a second player or against an AI opponent.

Online is an important piece to the SoulCalibur V puzzle, and it is crafted quite well. There's the traditional Ranked Match where you have a quarrel with a single opponent. If you win, you earn points that go towards your overall rank. There's Player Matches where you can create rooms where you are able to send invitations to friends which you can then set up bite-sized tournaments with. With Soul Link you are able to check in on (see: stalk) a trio of players' stats and monitor what they do on and offline in the game. Then there's the most ambitious part of SoulCalibur V's online, the Global Colosseo. This is essentially a series of online lobbies which can be occupied by up to 50 unique players. You can select random fights, ranked matches, or even participate in tournaments. You can also check occupying players' stats and challenge them by choosing their card. It is yet to be seen if Global Colosseo will be accepted by the community and will take off. Hopefully it shall because it is a very intriguing concept in theory.

Kickin' it old school with some new school characters.

For every match you throw you hat into the ring in, you earn Player Points or PP which adds up to earn levels akin to getting experience in an role-playing game. As you level up you receive new characters as well as new options such as equipment and weaponry for the Create-A-Soul mode. In Create-A-Soul you craft a custom character for use in the various other modes in the game as well as online. You can set the sex, height, voice, and outfit your fighter with a myriad of different equipment. Unfortunately you are immensely limited in what you can do at first. Until you gain levels, your creativity will be stifled severely. To unlock all of the goodies you can put on your custom character you will need to invest dozens of hours to reach the appropriate levels. This is a huge turn-off for yours truly, and it will no doubt turn off a fair chunk of players. Additionally, when doing battle as a custom character and you take damage your armor and clothing falls off with each successful strike. This means that you should be prepared to see your fighter in underwear more than you will see them in your fully made attire.

At first you have few options to choose from,
but as you gain levels you earn more clothing choices.

SoulCalibur V continues the eight directional 3D fighting the series is well known for, but it really changes up the fighting formula the series was well known for. You still combat your opponent with weaponry such as Patroklos' sword and shield, Maxi's nunchaku, Astaroth's giant axe, etc., you still use horizontal slashes to fend off foes moving around you, and you still try to beat the living snot out of your opponent or force a ring out. However, there's new items to put into consideration. A new gauge rests by each players' health bar. As you do damage, take damage, and guard against attacks your Critical Gauge increases. It can fill two bars or be filled by 200%, and you can perform three individual maneuvers at varying levels: 1) By using 50% of the meter you can perform a Guard Impact which deflects any attack. If you do it just right, you can temporarily stun your foe, 2) Also by using 50% of the meter you can use Brave Edge which turns all throws and attacks into EX ones, and 3) Critical Edge attacks use up 100% of the meter and unleash a massive amount of damage onto your unlucky target.

Different fighters use different weapons in combat.

Also new to battle are Guard Bursts which occur when you or your opponent guard too many times. Your health bar will flash when you become dangerously close to getting Guard Burst and entering an extended session of being stunned, opening you up for any number of attacks from your assailant. Finally, the Just Guard move allows you to take lesser damage or period of stun time from an attack by pressing the guard button exactly when you are hit. These new moves and maneuvers make SoulCalibur V into a completely different beast than past games, and fans who have mastered the skills and abilities from prior installments will feel like they have to learn a whole new game (which essentially they will).

But that's not the main problem I have with SoulCalibur V. The source of my frustration with the game comes from all of the content that seems to be sucked from the game that was in past entries of the series. There's far less modes to be found in local play (not everyone wishes to play online-- even if it is relatively lag-free), little from SoulCalibur IV was improved upon in this sequel, and this was touched on before but having to unlock the most interesting items for Create-A-Soul is ludicrous. You have a blank slate and there's nothing but scraps to begin with.

Ezio from the Assassin's Creed acts as
guest star in SoulCalibur V.

The SoulCalibur series is known for its rich and wonderful presentations, and this is a part of the game that does not disappoint. Each arena from river raft rides in a ravine to a burning medieval town all look sensational. Seeing little particle effects and bloom make for impressive settings and scenes. Meanwhile, the narration before each battle as well as the marvelous symphonic score get you pumped to duel it out, and the character animation is fluid and looks quite impressive. While the brevity of content is maddening, you can be sure that you are getting a top-notch product at least presentation-wise.

The battlefields are lush and full of interesting items.

SoulCalibur V doesn't necessarily reinvent the franchise, but it does attempt to try new things. The poor story mode, lack of local options, and the need to unlock anything worthwhile in the Create-A-Soul mode are upsetting, the combat (which does take getting used to for those who frequented past games), online options, and presentation all make for an above average fighter. While most series would play it safe, I admire that SoulCalibur V went in a bold new direction, even if it didn't pay off completely. The soul continues to burn, but it's shun much more brightly in the past.

[SuperPhillip Says: 7.0/10]

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tales of Graces F (PS3) More New Screenshots

Last week I showed some screens from Tales of Graces f which appeared on Namco Bandai's Facebook page. Well, it's another week and more screens have been posted. As a staunch supporter of anything not FPS 24/7 on HD consoles, I proudly showcase these new screenshots on SuperPhillip Central for your eyes to peruse.

Sonic CD (PSN, XBLA) Review

Last Friday I reviewed Final Fantasy XIII-2, a game that primarily features time travel. Today I will be reviewing yet another game with a time travel mechanic. This game released in late December of last year, and I've finally gotten around to it. It's Sonic CD for PSN and XBLA (plus other platforms but I don't cover those on this site).

A Sonic Boon

The history of Sonic CD is an interesting one. After the completion of the original Sonic the Hedgehog in 1991, Sega assigned two teams to create two different games for two different platforms after Yuji Naka, creator of the blue blur, grew displeased with Sega's Japan sector and left to the United States. The two platforms were the Genesis for the team behind Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (the US team) and the other was the ill-fated Sega CD for the team behind the subject of this review, Sonic CD (the Japan team). My first run-in with Sonic CD was the PC port released in 1996 and then again in 2005 on the Sonic Gems Collection compilation for the GameCube. Now released again but this time on digital platforms, is time kind to Sonic CD?

Sonic the Hedgehog arrives to find Little Planet, a legendary and once peaceful place tethered by chain to a mountain by the sinister Dr. Robotnik. The planet's special ability to flow through time has aroused the interest of the bad doctor who wishes to utilize it for his own personal gain. Not only does Robotnik possess the power of Little Planet but he also has created a robotic doppelganger of the blue hedgehog in the form of Metal Sonic who promptly kidnaps Amy Rose, a devoted follower of Sonic. Now it's up to the ultra cool hedgehog to enter the metallic madness of Little Planet, recover the Time Stones (think Chaos Emeralds) to restore Little Planet to its former glory, defeat Metal Sonic, save Amy, and kick Robotnik's butt once more. Sonic CD is the only game in the series to feature anime-styled cutscenes. These sequences which occur at the beginning and ending, appropriately acting as bookends for the game, were produced and manufactured by Toei Animation (Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball series), and they look wonderful even after all these years.

For those new to Sonic the Hedgehog (where have you been?), the goal is as easy as reaching the end of the level intact. Rings are the lifeblood of Sonic. If he is caught without a ring and is damaged, you lose a life and must start either at the beginning of the act (there are three acts per zone) or at the last reached checkpoint. Yes, I know this is all elementary stuff for fans of the series, but some of you might not be "with it" when it concerns the blue blur's gameplay.

Sonic CD changes up the formula of the franchise by introducing a time travel mechanic. It is entirely possible just to breeze through each act without ever going traveling through time, but you won't get the best ending possible. As you explore each level you will come across signposts either marked "Past" or "Future." When you pass through one of these signs and want to go to the target time destination, you must find a spot in the level to gather enough speed to break through the temporal barrier and go either back to the past or forward to the future. Most times finding enough room to speed into either the past or future is as simple as coming across two red springs that bounce you quickly back and forth like a pinball table.

Pull a Doc Brown and go back to the future.

The past is always more colorful and rich than the present or, heaven forbid, the future. Inside the past in the first two acts of every zone there are machines placed by Robotnik and projectors placed by Metal Sonic that are to be destroyed. Doing this creates a Good Future once you reach the third act of a zone. Finding these machines requires a superb sense of exploration, and exploration is the name of the game in Sonic CD.

There are plethora of pathways to venture through in this title. Some make for an easy time while others a harder one. Regardless, to say some levels are a convoluted pigsty would be an understatement. The level design is all over the place and most oftentimes it is quite messy. You could be running through a level only to be surprised by a red spring that launches you backward in the act. Occasionally you'll come across a spring that shoots you upward only to be smashed into a series of painful spikes without any way of knowing ahead of time. All of these aforementioned problems add up to a headache when attempting to go for adequate time trials.

Collision Chaos is the second zone of Sonic CD,
and it's a Spring Yard-esque environment.

Just like in Sonic the Hedgehog (the 1991 original, not the 2006 monstrosity), once Sonic has collected 50 rings and has safely reached the goal, he can enter a large golden ring that transports him to one of seven of Sonic CD's special stages. Unfortunately, these happen to be the worst special stages in Sonic's illustrious history. The premise is that you are let loose in a 3D arena where you move around in an attempt to jump into and destroy six UFOs. Not only are you timed, but any moment you land in water swiftly takes valuable time off of the clock. This challenge is exacerbated by the fact that it is incredibly difficult to judge distance with 2D sprites. However, not all is bad. This edition of Sonic CD auto-saves after you enter the special stage meaning if you exit out of the game before time runs out in a given stage, you can retry it. (If you let the time run out to zero, the game auto-saves and you're SOL.) Each time you demolish all of the UFOs, you gain a precious Time Stone, the equivalent of Chaos Emeralds in other games. Acquiring all of the Time Stones affects what type of ending you get once you take down Robotnik in the final showdown.

Speaking of Robotnik, the third act of every zone is a battle with the mad doctor. Unlike other games in the series, there's a little traversing to be done before you get to the fight. Once you do reach Robotnik you will probably discover that outside of a couple of select battles, the encounters with Robotnik are quite easy to beat. One of the more interesting encounters has you running along a conveyor belt. As you continue to sprint, you cause friction which makes Robotnik's capsule-like machine fall closer and closer to the ground. Of course, the battle isn't as easy as getting the villain's machine to be destroyed once it hits the ground. You must skillfully dodge falling mines from the ceiling while avoiding moving to slow as to get hit by a series of blue flames which rest on the opposite side of the arena. Nonetheless, for every decent Robotnik battle there is an equally appalling one such as playing inside a pinball arena and struggling for minutes to reach the top where Robotnik rests.

Grind Robotnik's machine into dust.

Completing Sonic CD is not too daunting of a task. The game can be completed in just under an hour. Of course, trophy and achievement lovers will have other challenges to accomplish such as collecting 200 rings in a given act, gathering all of the Time Stones, and completing Time Attack mode in under 25 minutes, to name a few. There's even an all-new special unlockable for besting Robotnik and beating the game. While it's probably no secret to fans or people with access to the Internet, I'll leave it to you to discover it for yourself.

Sonic CD has special graphical filters which makes it look the greatest out of any version yet released. Regardless, many zones (especially Quartz Quadrant and Stardust Speedway) are oozing with way too many colors and way too much brightness. It almost becomes an eyesore to look at. Musically, there's the option in this digital iteration to choose between either the Japan/European soundtrack or what I consider to be the superior soundtrack, the North American one. I find the JPN/EU score to become rather grating on the ears as opposed to the rock-centric NA score. Nonetheless, at least you're given a choice as to which one you'd prefer to listen to as you play the game.

Some zones look especially tacky with
too much going on graphically.

Overall, Sonic CD is a worthy download to your digital arsenal of games. While the game is on the short side, the level design is convoluted, and the special stages are painful to play, the positives far outweigh the negatives this time around. From the title's desire for you to explore the multifaceted acts to the pretty pleasant presentation, Sonic CD is a colorful, creative, and charming take on the blue blur. If you've already played the game in your past, perhaps it's in your future to give it a chance with its new features on either PSN, XBLA, or on smartphones.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.0/10]

Mario Tennis Open (3DS) Box Art and First Trailer

I love the Mario Tennis series, so when Nintendo showed that the franchise was coming to the 3DS in one of their Nintendo Direct events, I was excited. Now on today's ND they released this trailer unveiling some of the gameplay. There seems to be touch controls available for those who choose to utilize them as well as colorful new courts to take out your opponents on. Mario Tennis Open takes to the court May 20th in North America.

Kid Icarus: Uprising (3DS) Multiplayer Trailer

nother week and another Kid Icarus: Uprising trailer has been released by Nintendo. This go around we're looking at multiplayer action. It's three on three on the war zone, and players have a choice of what weaponry they wish to bring into battle. Doing well in combat awards you with a new weapon and a bonus, so there's always something to work towards. Kid Icarus: Uprising soars onto the 3DS with online multiplayer next month.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

SuperPhillip Central Has Reached a Milestone - 300,000 Views

I am happy to announce that SuperPhillip Central has now accumulated more than 300,000 views since May 2009 according to Blogger's running tally. Of course, many know that SPC has been around since June 5th, 2008, but for some reason Blogger does not have information on months prior to May of 2009. Regardless, I'm very proud that what started with few readers has now blossomed into a pretty popular blog filled with news, reviews, editorials, articles, and lists. Your continued readership is greatly appreciated, and as Frank Sinatra would sing "the best is yet to come."

Top Five Xbox 360 Exclusives

By now you know my stance on Microsoft's Xbox 360. It is the worst console I've ever owned and the worst mainstream console on the market. It is heralded as the hardcore gamer's console, and seeing as I dislike so-called "hardcore" gamers and everything they stand for, the 360 gets a strike. Poor exclusives, pay-to-play online, and the shoddiest hardware period make a trifecta of answers as to why I dislike the platform. The former is the subject of today's post. While the 360 has the weakest exclusives this gen, the system does have some titles worth playing that are only available for it. Let's discover which ones are my top five.

5) Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise

Professor Pester and his army of sour pinatas are at it again, and it's up to you to turn them over to the side of good and sweetness. Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise is everything great about the series and more. With dozens of new pinata species to coax on your side through various means such as having two flowers of any kind in your garden or have a specific number of a certain type of pinata in your garden, Trouble in Paradise will have you playing for hours. The new sand and snow environments allow for not only new ambiance but also new pinatas to come visit and eventually (hopefully) stay as residents. Then there's all that romance and pinata-on-pinata action that Viva Pinata is known for.

4) Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts

Many fans of the bear and bird were upset that the Xbox 360 installment of the series drove so far away from the franchise's roots. Instead of being a pure platformer the game was a vehicle-building and riding game. The goal of collecting Jiggies was the same, but the means of doing so was different. They weren't hiding in the various worlds waiting to be collected. Instead, you talked with the numerous characters around the levels and accepted their challenges. There were objectives like transporting a flurry of soccer balls into a goal net, racing against Mr. Fit, and taking to the skies to defeat Mr. Patch. Being creative with your vehicle choices was just the start of the strategic thinking necessary to ace missions. You needed to actually perform well to get top times and be awarded with those coveted Jiggies.

3) Perfect Dark Zero

This choice is not necessarily the most popular one, but I actually enjoyed Perfect Dark Zero more than the Halo games. Yes, Joanna Dark turned from a British spy to an American teenager, but I liked the mission structure with its various objectives instead of Halo's run-through-and-kill-wave-after-wave-of-enemies formula. On harder difficulties you not only had more objectives to complete, but you also took more damage. The multiplayer is the coup de grace as it had huge maps to explore with high-powered weaponry, bots (I love bots), and vehicles including a jet pack. Many hours were wasted jumping in online and playing with friends and total strangers and enjoying almost every moment of it. The hate for this game must stem from the fact that the Nintendo 64 original was so spectacular and the Xbox 360 prequel fell short of that.

2) Tales of Vesperia

In Japan the Xbox 360 was and will always be on life support. To combat this Microsoft attempted to buy support as they had little faith in their first-party studios to create content that would appeal to the East. One of their purchased titles was the timed exclusive Tales of Vesperia (the PlayStation 3 version of the game is only available in Japan), a beautiful anime-styled RPG with clever dialogue, memorable characters, and an engrossing battle system. The colorful areas of Tales of Vesperia come alive wonderfully on the Xbox 360 hardware, and while the system isn't known well for its range of genres, Vesperia helped for at least a week in putting the 360 on the map in the Land of the Rising Sun.

1) Dead Rising

Meet Frank West. He's covered wars, y'know. He's a photojournalist who unwittingly gets caught right smack dab in the middle of a zombie outbreak in the city of Williamette, Colorado. Armed with nothing more than a camera, Frank will have to utilize any and every item available to him inside the mall where he takes refuge in like chainsaws, lawn mowers, baseball bats, trash cans, soccer balls, and even toys such as teddy bears. In his journey to discover the truth behind the zombie epidemic, he comes across men and women who have succumbed to their insanity and have become psychopaths, ready to kill everything under the bloody sun. Did I mention that Frank was timed during all of this? It's something that critics of the game don't like, but while this time system was sometimes overwhelming with having to rescue civilians and meet people at specific times of the three day cycle, it makes Dead Rising one intense and exciting game to play. Note: the Dead Rising series did come to Wii, but the game was so different that I still consider this original version as an Xbox 360 exclusive.


Next week I will be covering the top five PlayStation 3 exclusives, so please look forward to that. As for now, what Xbox 360 games that are exclusive to the system do you love the most? Leave me a comment below and join the debate!

Monday, February 20, 2012

SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs - The Captivating Edition

Happy Presidents' Day, America. For everyone else it is still a special day as it's VGM day! For this edition of SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs it is all Capcom all the time. Five themes from various Capcom games; from old school to new school, we have a lot of fresh tunes to listen to. On the docket today are games like Street Fighter IV, Monster Hunter Tri, and Marvel VS. Capcom 3.

v46. Street Fighter IV (PS3, 360) - Volcanic Rim Stage

Early last week I reviewed Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition on the Nintendo 3DS. The game wasn't my first foray into the world of Street Fighter IV. I played the vanilla version as well as Super Street Fighter IV, but I couldn't get down the button combos. Thankfully the 3DS iteration allowed players to select moves via the touch screen. Onto the song itself, this is Oceania's theme. It borrows the main melody of Street Fighter IV and comes off as something from the 80s. It is an insanely catchy little ditty, one that made me select this volcanic stage just to hear this awesome song.

v47. Monster Hunter Tri (Wii) - Land and Sea Tremble - Ragiakrus

Performed by the FILMharmonic Orchestra, Land and Sea Tremble is the them heard as you do battle with the cover monster of Monster Hunter Tri, Ragiakrua, an underwater serpentine dragoon. If you aim to do battle with this behemoth-sized creature, I hope you have developed a sound game plan and brought as many potions and possible. The theme played is certainly bombastic, filled with tribal beats, sensational strings, and loud brass to accentuate the tension. It is my favorite piece from Monster Hunter Tri (voted best third-party exclusive on Wii by yours truly) soundtrack.

v48. Breath of Fire (SNES, GBA) - Day and Night

Let's step away from current gen music and head back to the past... the 16-bit past to be specific. Breath of Fire on the Super Nintendo was a joint effort by then Squaresoft and Capcom, and it was my first introduction to the RPG genre. Well, it was either that game or Final Fantasy II (IV). Day and Night is one of the many village/town themes heard in the game. This one is my personal favorite as you can imagine strolling through a countryside town, conversing with the villagers, and entering shops to boost your equipment. Some prefer Genesis music to SNES music, but I'm the opposite. I believe it is what you grew up with that affects your opinion on the matter.

v49. Marvel VS. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds (PS3, 360) - Staff Roll

I was not amused when Capcom announced Ultimate Marvel VS. Capcom 3 a mere few months after just releasing the vanilla version, Marvel VS. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds. It was like I purchased the wrong version and Capcom was mocking me for it. Regardless, of the two games I find that the original MvsC 3 possesses the better soundtrack. From the arcade victory theme to this staff roll theme beginning with delightful female vocals and then concluding with an epic and heroic symphonic theme, Fate of Two Worlds amazes with its musical beauty.

v50. Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles (Wii) - The Theme of Alexia Type II

Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles focused on Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil: Code Veronica, and an all-new chapter set in South America. The game is one of the best on-rails light gun shooters on the market, and more people will get to play it when it comes to the PlayStation 3 some time soon. Nonetheless, the music is a Resident Evil fan's dream come true. Remixed and remastered music with huge orchestras and choirs highlight the majority of pieces in the game. The Theme of Alexia Type II was listed as one of my personally most cherished final boss themes. Take a listen to understand why, and if you own a Wii and lack this title, what are you waiting for-- an engraved invitation?


It pleases me greatly that we've reached the fiftieth VGM! Next Monday is my birthday, so we will be celebrating with five more terrific tracks of video game music goodness. Stay tuned, friends! This week of SuperPhillip Central is going to be great too!