Friday, March 23, 2012

Kid Icarus: Uprising (3DS) Launch Trailer

Sorry to keep you waiting with this post, but the launch of Kid Icarus: Uprising is today as already stated on an early entry. Why not have a launch trailer to go with it? That is exactly what Nintendo has done. Showing off the impressive technical feats of the game, the sky and ground gameplay, and the AR card action are just three of the fascinating features of this video. See for yourself!

More Desired Super Smash Bros. 4 Newcomers

Kid Icarus: Uprising releases for the Nintendo 3DS today in North America and Europe. The creator of this game is also the man behind the incredibly popular Super Smash Bros. series. Last week I listed seven hopeful newcomers for the next installment of the franchise. This week I have seven more Nintendo characters that I think would make great additions to the lineup of all-stars.

Little Mac (Punch-Out!!)

The pummeling pugilist Little Mac is due for some spotlight outside of the ring. He's KO'd the best of them: King Hippo, Mr. Sandman, and heck, even Mike Tyson! Little Mac could have an interesting variety of moves. He could obviously punch foes mercilessly, perhaps even use a ring bell to knock some sense into his opponents. For his Final Smash (pending they return in SSB4) he could summon Doc Louis to ride a bike while Little Mac chases, dealing serious damage to whoever is unfortunate (or stupid) enough to get in the way. This character was present as an Assist Trophy in Brawl, but it is time for Little Mac to get his chance to shine.

Starfy (The Legendary Starfy)

You will notice that there are a lot of characters I want in the next Smash Bros. game that were merely Assist Trophies in Brawl. Starfy is yet another one of these characters. The series this star is from is a long running series that only has seen one title released in North America, the fifth installment. It sold adequately, so I look forward to see if the starry hero will return in a new adventure. That said, Starfy's twirl ability gives him and edge over the competition as well as take the form of multiple animals via donning different costumes as seen in his games. Maybe he could even team up with his female counterpart Starly to dish out proper punishment.

Lyn (Fire Emblem)

I am a huge proponent of having more female characters to round out the Smash Bros. roster. Lyn is a young woman who knows how to get things done. Her blade is one force to be reckoned with, allowing her to cleave, carve, cut, and slice any opponent who dares come her way. In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, she was-- you guessed it-- an Assist Trophy. Her entrance into the arena had her drawing her sword for a few moments before speeding across the battlefield, knocking out any unaware victim. My knowledge of the Fire Emblem franchise is limited, so do you think Lyn would be a capable character and addition to the SSB4 lineup? We need some Lynsanity.

Ray MK III (Custom Robo)

Even toys can be fierce fighters as evident by the Custom Robo series. Ray MK III is the newest version of the main robo of the series. If the robust robo appeared as it did in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, it would be too small to actually do battle. It wouldn't be fair, so a larger form of the toy would be more interesting. Custom Robos have a stockade of weaponry at their disposal such as bombs, lasers, missiles, and more. Ray MK III could utilize all of these to add one amazing adversary and addition to the Smash 4 roster.

Isaac (Golden Sun)

A boy from the town of Vale who would journey across the continent of Weyward, lighting the four elemental Lighthouses to save the world, Isaac is the main character of the original Golden Sun. He would appear in its sequel, The Lost Age, and return in older form in the DS' Dark Dawn. Issac's primary direct attacks would be with his sword, but his indirect assaults on foes could use Psynergy, or magic. A Final Smash could be one of many of Golden Sun's unique and intimidating summons. I was surprised and quite frankly disappointed that Isaac was relegated to only Assist Trophy status in Brawl instead of as an active fighter. Here's hoping this changes with Super Smash Bros. 4.

Jill (Drill Dozer)

A young girl who as a baby did not use a carriage but instead her Dozer vehicle, Jill from Game Freak's latest new IP (which was way back in 2006, by the by) punishes punks by driving her drill straight into their chest cavities. When she really gets cooking, her machine produces a whirlwind that can certainly mess adversaries up severely. I don't really know if a person in a vehicle like Jill would really gel with the Smash Bros. setting, but it would never hurt to try, right? Jill has enough maneuvers from her game to establish an interesting moveset.

Zoroark (Pokemon)

The bipedal Pokemon choice for the next Smash Bros. game, Zoroark would take the place of Lucario and Mewtwo before him. Zoroark has the ability to assume the appearance of any Pokemon it meets. It is also a master of Dark-type moves, so there you have a myriad of attacks at this Pokemon's disposal. A Final Smash could have this fox Pokemon using Night Shade on all comers, attacking with a strong intensity. Unlike the legendary Pokemon of Black and White, Zoroark is actually a reasonable-sized creature that could fit in-game.

Do you like my picks for more wanted Super Smash Bros. 4 newcomers? If you haven't already, specify which Nintendo all-stars you'd like to see in the next Smash Bros. game.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Rayman 3D (3DS) Review

Next week I will be posting my 300th review (the game being reviewed will actually be recent). I have been touting and pounding the drums for this review for a good while now, so I hope it can live up to the hype. As for now, let us bring the hype in a little with my review of yet another 3DS launch title, Rayman 3D. Do all guts and no limbs mean glory for France's version of Mario?

Why Not? Yet Another Rayman 2 Port

If there are two terms that never quite go together well, they are "quality" and "Ubisoft with handhelds." With their incessant need to put out games that end with the letter "Z" or their quick cash-in attempts, the Ubisoft name on portables is pretty much synonymous with "steer clear." The 3DS launched a year ago, and you can bet that Ubisoft were going to push some of their games for the system's launch. And they did. One of their opening projects was Rayman 3D, a game that is a port of the infinitely ported Rayman 2: The Great Escape. This 3DS port of the Dreamcast title shows that gamers' theories on Ubisoft and handheld titles is an apt one.

Rayman and his dear friend, the lovable Globox, are resting in the Glade of Dreams when they are suddenly and unexpectedly captured by a group of rogue pirates under the order of Admiral Razorbeard. The two heroes wind up in the same cell aboard a flying vessel where Globox gives his limbless friend a Silver Lum (fairy-like creatures), granting Rayman the ability to shoot magical beams from his fists. This allows the two to escape from their imprisonment and leave the ship, albeit through free fall. Separated, Rayman must find the will and strength to oust the evil pirates from his homeland and save the day once more.

Get reacquainted to Rayman, limbs be damned.

Rayman 3D is a platformer of the purest sense. He has the ability to jump and then use the helicopter-like extremities on his head to twirl slowly to the ground, making dangerous leaps all the more easier to pull off. By holding the left shoulder button, he can strafe and then shoot off beams from his fists to attack various enemies and pull switches. Occasionally, he'll need to carry around explosive barrels or mystical orbs in order to open shut doors to advance.

In-game the HUD is actually cleaner.
Most notable info is relegated to the bottom screen.

Swimming is usually a nightmare when it is not pulled off correctly, but thankfully in Rayman 3D, the controls work rather well. One face button acts as a diving button while another serves as a button to resurface. Rayman can grab oxygen-restoring Blue Lums while exploring underwater abysses, ruins, and caverns.

Make Michael Phelps envious with your expert swimming.

Speaking of lums, there are fifty to find in each of the game's 20+ levels. Some are hanging around individually with the most difficult to discover ones being locked away in cages that can be broken with a couple of attacks. A faint cry for help usually gives away when a flurry of lums are hidden in the general vicinity. When all of the lums have been collected in a level and the end of the level has been reached, players enter a bonus game where the goal is to simply outrun, outrace, and reach the goal before the pirate. This is performed by mashing the Y and B buttons one after the other. To this moment, I still have no idea what the prize for winning actually is. Perhaps it's more health for Rayman? Got me.

The levels themselves are rather linear affairs with the occasional ability to be lured off the beaten path. Where the game really shines is during chase sequences where you are either running after a pirate ship while leaping over falling platforms and avoiding attacks, or sequences where you speed down a slide, leaping over chasms and dodging obstacles and hazards. But for every fun part the game gives you, there is annoying one such as riding a rocket-powered enemy through trap-laden corridors. The game can glitch you to your death on multiple instances on pure whims. Thankfully, there are a good amount of checkpoints to be had. Though the last level of the game is an effort in frustration as you must ride a flying barrel with pinpoint precision through tight spaces and hallways, sometimes making right angle turns at the throw of a metaphorical hat.

The chase is on! These levels are some of my favorites.

This level is exacerbated by the problematic camera. It does not just affect these types of levels but all of the levels in the game. In fact, technical problems infest this 3DS port of Rayman 2. The camera can easily get caught on objects, not face the proper direction, makes you fight it just to have it look the way you wish it to, and can lead to many undesired deaths. Then there's the many graphical glitches that come with the game. Don't forget the out of place saving and loading screens that just unceremoniously stop the game between areas to show some artwork by the design team. Rayman 2: The Great Escape was a capable if not outstanding 3D platformer on the Dreamcast and PlayStation 2, and I doubt it is just nostalgia that is making me say this. The team behind the 3DS port severely botched the execution of the game.

Rayman 3D, as stated already, is a port of the Dreamcast version. Since the 3DS has been proven to be able to push a nice amount of polygons and sport impressive technical feats, Ubisoft's launch day port is a mess in comparison. Even the 3D effect isn't that interesting with its numerous instances of ghosting which make your eyes cross and your head ache with how ugly the effect can become. We've seen the effect work abundantly well on other games, but as we all know by now, Ubisoft does not have the magic touch. Then there's the sound and music which is terribly tinny, almost sounding like someone is taking a blow dryer to the 3DS system's speakers. It is just awful to hear if the volume is up. On the positive side, the hoots and hollers of the various characters are pretty charming.

Is it sad when the touched up images
still don't look that good?

Rayman 3D is definitely not worth the original retail asking price of forty dollars. In fact, it is hardly worth what I paid for it which was half of that. Even with the horrid port job done by the team, the game is still playable and enjoyable enough to recommend to those who have never touched the source material. The camera is off, the sound is poor, and the glitches are numerous, but the fun is definitely there. Just don't run to your local game shop wanting to pay full price for Rayman 3D to honor Ubisoft's shoddy handheld offering. The limbless wonder deserves better, and hopefully the upcoming 3DS version of Rayman Origins is it.

[SuperPhillip Says: 5.25/10]

LittleBigPlanet Karting (PS3) First Trailer

This racing game has been announced for months, but now LittleBigPlanet Karting has been officially unveiled to the masses. With promises of open-world environments, battle modes, and numerous unlockable goodies, the world of LittleBigPlanet enters the kart racing genre. Check out almost two minutes of LBP driving goodness.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sonic Generations (3DS) Guest Review

Please note that guest reviews do not count towards my count of reviews, so we're still two reviews or so away from my 300th. That said, we haven't had a guest review for a few months. We rectify this with, you guessed it, a guest review. Coming from the mind of my older brother, he takes you through Sonic's first 3DS foray, Sonic Generations. Speaking of brothers, does it live up to its HD relatives?

A Pair of Speed Freaks Arrive on Nintendo 3DS

Sonic the Hedgehog has made a rather triumphant return to form in the last couple of years with many of his recent efforts. Sonic Colors, the remastered version of Sonic CD, and the recent PS3 and 360 release of Sonic Generations. It’s the last title we’re going to be focusing on here as it also received a handheld counterpart made by Dimps on the 3DS. The two versions are pretty different all things considered in more ways than you’d think. Does that mean you should invest a little more time into Sonic’s recent time travel story?

The game’s story is literally the same as it was in the HD game. A creature’s wreaking havoc on the timeline which sends Sonic into levels from his past. He’s not the only Sonic you have to work with as he’s also joined by his younger and pudgier counterpart from the Genesis days. Now while both Classic and Modern Sonic both have their own gameplay styles, the game is almost entirely a 2D affair. Classic Sonic has the spin dash and the more old school style of levels while Modern Sonic has quite a bit of his tricks, most notably the boost and homing attack. That said, as you progress, both Sonics will learn a new move. Have you ever wanted to see the old school style of Sonic learn the homing attack? Even though purists may be offended by this tactic being forced on them as they progress, it doesn’t really matter all that much in the grand scheme of things as both styles are still different enough to make for a varied experience.

Once again, the game is divided into three time periods although the levels that you’ll be traversing are nearly completely different from the HD version of the game. The Genesis days bring about Green Hill, Casino Night, and Mushroom Hill, the Dreamcast gets Emerald Coast and Radical Highway, and the modern period gives us levels from Sonic’s DS days in Rush and Colors. Now unlike in the HD version that had parts of stages that would feel familiar, certain levels in the 3DS game are literally just graphically enhanced ports. Off the top of my head, Classic Sonic’s first three stages are all the same as they were on the Genesis while Modern Sonic’s Water Palace was a port of the old Rush level. Playing off of nostalgia is fine, but when a fifth of the levels are straight up lifted from other games, that can be a small problem.

The good news is that while there are some ripoff stages, the other hedgehog’s version will generally be a new experience altogether. In Mushroom Hill, I was using Modern Sonic’s ability to fly on the propellers to cross deadly gaps whereas Classic Sonic is forced to run from a giant enemy sub in latter half of his Sonic Rush stage. I’m glad that Dimps took the time to add in different scenarios for levels that we never really dealt with in the old games, and for the most part, these tricks work. Also on the positive side for changes are the boss battles. When you clear an era, you’ll unlock a rival race battle against one of Sonic’s old hedgehog nemeses. Beat that, and you’ll open up the real boss fight for the level against foes like Big Arms from Sonic 3 or Biolizard from Adventure 2. I’ll even give props to the final fight for being much more enjoyable than the HD version’s battle was.

But with all that said, there are still some problems. As mentioned, the game treads familiar ground a bit too much for my liking. This includes the Sonic Heroes-esque special stages that you’ll automatically open up after clearing both Sonics’ acts in a particular level. Not only does this make collecting the emeralds a bit easier than I’d like, but even if you do screw up on an emerald challenge, you’ll be able to simply go and retry over and over again until you get things right. While I found these areas pretty easy in their own right, these tube chases are just a bit too colorful for my eyes on the condensed screen, making things come out to be a mess.

There are also areas in the game that can be a mess, especially when the control style will literally change on the fly. For instance, one section at the very end of Radical Highway will have Sonic hit a spring and then run along the side of the building. While I saw the perspective shift coming, I figured I would be pressing left to run up the wall. Uh-uh. That will kill you. Okay, do I press right then, the button I was holding until I hit the spring? Nope. That kills you, too. Instead, I had to switch to holding up just to keep running forward. It doesn’t help that all you’re doing there is just running forward to hit a ring, but the arbitrary decision to switch up my controls without me knowing in a life or death situation is not something I enjoyed very much.

Of course, there’s also the regular problem that comes with many of Dimps’ recent titles. More often than not, their idea of difficulty will be to keep adding more and more bottomless pits as you advance, and I have never particularly enjoyed that design decision. While I enjoy the fact that they use the same orange warning signs to tell me when I’m about to plummet to my demise, I’d much rather just have them tone down on the pits altogether, especially when you have so little time to react before you fall straight into them.

Finally, there are other modes for you to enjoy which is a rather good thing as the story mode is also fairly short in this title. There are missions*, an online versus mode, and time attack to go through. I will say that I didn’t bother too much with this as I had already had my fill with the game by the time I reached the end. Still, those of you that enjoy going through Sonic’s titles in depth are going to have a couple of hours added on past the finishing point. Those that don’t will probably only need four hours to go through the story, if that.

*SuperPhillip's Note: Missions are unlocked via paying Play Coins or through the 3DS system's StreetPass feature.

Even with my mixed take on this title, I still had more fun with Sonic Generations than I didn’t. While the 3DS game isn’t even close to the level of its HD counterpart, there’s still a decent amount of fun to be had. In all honesty, this title made me wish that Dimps wasn’t working on lesser versions of titles like they have been in recent years and get to try their hands at a wholly original adventure again as they seem to best when they do their own thing like the Advance or Rush titles instead of make efforts trying to play off of the past, and yes, that’s another shot at Sonic 4. Anyway, if you’re looking for a fast-paced trek through Sonic’s timeline, this game is all right. Just realize that the Blue Blur has seen better days.

[Overall: 7.0/10]

Announcing Our Newest Affiliates: Game Bullets and The Gay Gamer!

The circle of affiliates and friends for SuperPhillip Central continues to grow exponentially. We have two new friends that have agreed to share links, and they are both sites that you should look into. The first is Game Bullets, a site dedicated to information regarding Game of the Year editions and collections. The latter is The Gay Gamer, a blog founded by Brian Ochalla. Really, the hook isn't so much that he is gay, but rather that he is a competent writer who details his thoughts on gaming on a daily basis. I encourage you to visit and explore both of these sites, and perhaps even subscribe.

SPC Mailbag - March 21st, 2012

Sometimes I get e-mails and messages from people who have nothing but questions to ask their friend SuperPhillip. Sometimes I answer them while other times I feed them to my pet monkey, Mr. Aces. Today I am going to do the former and read and answer some queries from the SPC community. Last time I offended some people, so this time we will go 2-for-2 for 2012.

You seem to cover Nintendo a lot and have a passion for Nintendo games. Would you consider yourself to be a fanboy?

I do not like the word "fanboy." I feel it is a grade school playground insult that perpetuates the stereotype that the industry is for children. Maybe it is after reading some the reactions to Eurogamer's 8 out of 10 for Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception and looking at various message boards and comment sections.

That said, I grew up on Nintendo and have a soft place in my heart for their games. I always note when they make a misstep, so I don't have a blind devotion (heck, I even wrote a top five list of reasons to hate Nintendo). In fact, I loathe the typical message board Nintendo fan. They are by far the most obnoxious group in gaming next to the chest-beating "hardcore" gamer.

The bane of the hardcore's existence.

To be totally truthful, I loathe the so-called "hardcore" gamer and everything that they stand for. They constantly turn up their nose at anything they deem "casual" (whatever that term means), and think that if a game isn't tailor-made for them, it sucks. The hardcore seem to hate Nintendo and everything they stand for, so I cannot help but root for Nintendo to continue to do well just to spite these miserable creatures. Thus, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Then these pitiable souls create excuses and move the goal posts. "Wii's sales don't count. It's last gen" and "Wii is a fad." Yeah, a normal console life is a fad. Whatever helps you sleep at night, kids.

Do you think Sony's PlayStation Vita will do well in the future?

Well, everyone knows I am a master prognosticator, so you asked the right person. The Vita is one sexy piece of hardware, but unlike some female IGN games enthusiast, I won't lick it like a pathetic little loser. Instead, I will bask in its glorious launch lineup. Unfortunately, Sony seems to be making the same mistakes they made on the PSP. They are not devoting their A teams to the system to make games for it. It's funny how the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo were keeping gaming in the "handheld ghetto", and it is Sony that keeps their own handheld hardware from being anything more than second fiddle to the 3DS. If they were serious about the Vita like Nintendo is with their own portable dynasty, they would send A teams to create games for the system. When Naughty Dog says they are not making or plan on making games for the system, you know something is rotten in the state of Denmark. This is just my opinion, I want the Vita to do well (it is anemic in sales in Japan where its third party support would come from), and I don't pretend to know the industry well unlike a certain analyst who seldom predicts anything correctly (*cough* Michael Pachter *cough*).

With a barren upcoming release list,
the Vita is in need of a true killer app.

You gave The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Game of the Year for 2011. How can you do this when the game has broken controls?

You didn't see this just now, but I did a Danny Thomas spit-take when I read your question. Exactly what is "broken" (as you say) about the controls of Skyward Sword? I could understand if they took getting used to and had a learning curve, but to say the controls are broken is folly. I've seen many "hardcore" gamers who never gave the Wii a chance, picked up the game, and guess what-- they never gave the controls a chance either. "I don't want to learn how to swing the Wii remote correctly, so every time I mess up, it must be game's fault." That is a common excuse that I gather from reading (painful reading, might I add) message board users.

"Motion Controls for Dummies" just sounds too mean.

Perhaps if Nintendo packaged a large pamphlet or guide entitled "The Complete Beginner's Guide to Skyward Sword's Motion Controls" with the game, we would see people actually learning the controls. Now, let's be fair. You occasionally need to recalibrate the Wii MotionPlus controller. For me, I had to do this maybe twice in the 35+ hours I played the game. I just think most so-called gamers (who I thought would be open to new gameplay experiences, but I was immensely wrong) never gave the controls a chance and called them broken. Not saying you are one of these, so don't send me a rage-filled reply. I won't bother reading an all CAPS hate-drenched comment (nor will I post it). Apologies for the snark.


So let's see who I offended this time around. Hopefully not too many people, and maybe if you were offended, you would reflect on why I angered you. As for everyone else, the SPC Mailbag is closed, but I am always accepting new e-mails and comments. Send the former to superphillip32[at]yahoo[dot]com. As for comments, feel free to post them below with your thoughts on this edition's subjects. Did you have problems with Skyward Sword's controls? Do you feel like Sony is treating the Vita like a second-class platform? Let me know. We'll see you later, friends!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fire Emblem: Awakening (3DS) New Trailer

As the Japanese release for Fire Emblem: Awakening quickly approaches, new media for the game is being divulged by Nintendo. This introduction trailer oozing with a lovely look shows off the story elements of the game. Again, we have no clear cut answer as to whether this latest chapter of the Fire Emblem story will reach North American shores, but do not give up hope. E3 is in mere months, so if anything, expect a release date there.

Resistance: Burning Skies (PSV) New Trailer

The Resistance franchise might be out of Insomniac's hands, but that isn't stopping Sony from allowing the series to thrive on their PlayStation Vita. This trailer tells the tale of the game as well as sports some low framerate-filled action of the game. Resistance: Burning Skies is gunning for a May 29th release date in North America.

Mario Party 9 (Wii) Review

Can you guess which upcoming new release will be SuperPhillip Central's 300th review? The review is coming soon, so be ready. As for now I have a review to share from a recently released game, Mario Party 9. Are the new changes to the Mario Party formula for the better?

Ain't No Party Like a Mario Party

Nintendo is one of those companies whose fans are almost impossible to please. Make a change with one of Nintendo's franchises and the game sucks. Make no changes with one of Nintendo's franchises and the game is a rehash. Therefore, Nintendo must constantly walk a tightrope between tradition and progress, and it is almost a fool's errand. A good portion of their fan base is simply insatiable. Mario Party is one of Nintendo's biggest properties, and it is also one of the franchises that is most stagnant. Finally, Nintendo and developer ND Cube are mixing up the formula. While the execution is clearly off, it is a welcomed change.

Mario Party 9 introduces a brand-new mechanic to the tried and true formula of the series. This time around, four players ride around in the same vehicle across mostly linear boards. Each player takes turns being the captain with the goal of collecting Mini Stars during their turn while avoiding the dreaded purple Mini Ztars. This creates a fair bit of strategy. As a captain lands on a blue space, they earn a special dice block. These can be dies that grant the captain a guaranteed roll of a 4, 5, or 6, a die that rolls a 1-10, a die that gives the captain a 0 or 1 roll, or a die that rolls a 1-3. Using dice blocks smartly is key to screwing over your opponents. Perhaps there is a batch of five Mini Ztars four spaces ahead of you and you have a 1-3 dice block. If you use the block, you might force the next player in line to get those Mini Ztars which take away Mini Stars from the unlucky victim's total. Be careful, though, as your fellow passengers can mess you out of Mini Stars as well.

You may be riding the same vehicle,
but you are far from traveling buddies.

Mario Party 9's boards are set up as an adventure for players. Some have you driving through a flower-covered field in Toad Road while others have you riding on conveyor belts in Bob-omb Factory. There are seldom opportunities for split paths. The game's boards are incredibly linear. The main objective is to get from Point A to Point B while attempting to mess over your traveling companions through making them pick up Mini Ztars and performing well in Captain Events. More on those later. The game doesn't end when you reach a set amount of turns. It ends when you reach the boss at the conclusion of the board.

There are two Boss mini-games that occur on each of Mario Party 9's seven boards. The first happens about halfway through a given board while the second takes place at the very end. Boss mini-games are essentially battles against one of Bowser's many minions including Lakitu, Whomp, King Bob-omb, King Boo, Blooper, Chain Chomp, among others. While you do work cooperatively with other players, the goal is to score the most hits/get the most points to win the most Mini Stars. For instance, in Cheep Cheep Shot, the aim of this game is to tilt the Wii remote to swim around, grabbing green shells to chuck at a giant Cheep Cheep fish while dodging its advances. Meanwhile in Wiggler Bounce, you ground pound on the individual sections of the titular boss to score points. Getting the final attack on a boss nets you extra points.

Blast Blooper by aiming with the
Wii remote's pointer to score huge points.

Unlike past Mario Party games, you don't participate in non-Boss mini-games after all four players have taken their roll of the dice block. Instead, mini-games are either played by landing on a marked mini-game space or by landing on a blue space, picking up the present with special dice block, and finding a mini-game inside said present. Mini-games also are scored differently. First place gets the most Mini Stars, second place gets the second best amount of Mini Stars, third with the third most, and last place gets table scraps. There are three types of non-Boss mini-games in Mario Party 9: Free-for-All, 1-vs.-Rivals, and Bowser Jr. games which pits two players against Bowser Jr. Win and you get five Mini Stars. Lose and you part with five Mini Stars.

I am having flashbacks to New Super Mario Bros. Wii.

There are eighty or so mini-games in Mario Party 9, and for the most part they control really well and are fun to play. Speeding Bullets puts you on a swift Bullet Bill with the object to tilt the horizontal Wii remote to move left and right across dash panels while dodging Piranha Plants and the pipes they come out of. Skyjinks harks back to New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Platform Peril from Mario Party 1 and 2 as you jump on moving platforms, trying to stick with the scrolling screen and make it to the goal intact. Other enjoyable mini-games include the snowmobile-riding race Snow Go, the new sport that is sweeping the Mushroom Kingdom, Goomba Bowling, the ride-the-dolphin Ring Leader, and football-inspired Tackle Takedown. Some games just do not work well at all, however, like Don't Look. The premise is that your character must look a direction that the on-screen arrows do not point to. This is easier said than done as you have to jerk the Wii remote in the desired direction. When I moved the Wii remote up, my character looked left. The Wii remote just cannot read movements like this apparently. Then there's the flurry of luck-based mini-games like Pier Pressure, Pinball Fall, and even some Boss mini-games that involved chance and not skill.

The dolphins from Super Mario World return from their...
whatever dolphin hibernation is called.

Speaking of chance and not skill, Mario Party 9 is the textbook example of this concept. Captain Events fill every board. These are great chances to pick up a sizable amount of Mini Stars, but unless you are filled with luck, you probably won't get them. Then there's Lucky and Unlucky Spaces. By far the most despicable turn of luck comes from board events and Bowser spaces. The latter happens on the last leg of each board. Bowser fills up to five spaces (sometimes having three spaces in a row full of them) with his sinister spots. You can lose half of your precious amount of Mini Stars from one unfortunate roll of the die. What is the point of playing the first 3/4ths of each board when the last 1/4th is what usually determines the game? Don't even get me started on in-board hazards like rising lava in Magma Mine that if you are the one who doesn't roll a high enough number to escape it, you lose half your collection of Mini Stars. Well, technically I did get started on it...

Captain Events are nice opportunities for
the game to show you that it hates you.

Point being is that luck is a bigger factor than ever in Mario Party 9. This makes the game's Solo mode an effort in frustration. This mode is one you have to play and complete if you want to unlock the two secret characters, Magikoopa and Shy Guy. In Solo mode, it is not so much that you must win each board, but it is that you must not let Magikoopa or Shy Guy win. Given how each board's winner is determined in the last stretch, this is infuriatingly stupid. Buy Mario Party 9 if you have wins, and stay far away from the Solo mode unless you love having bulging veins come out of your forehead and severe migraines when the AI "somehow" gets yet another lucky roll.

If a Boo catches up to you on this board,
you lose half of your Mini Stars.

Mario Party 9 is a much better looker than its previous Wii installment. Character models looks sharp, boards are colorful and full of life, detail, and impressive effects, and when the action intensifies, there is no framerate hiccups to speak of. The world of the Mushroom Kingdom definitely comes alive. This is a nice visual experience definitely. As for the sound side of the spectrum, Mario Party 9 boasts catchy and cheerful tunes. Toad Road remains close to my heart as does several of the boss themes. Character quips aren't grating either. Overall, the ninth installment of Mario Party is a decent showing of the Wii's ever-aging hardware.

The change to the stale structure of past Mario Party games is a very fortunate one. It adds a layer of strategy and a much obliged new feeling to the formula. That said, Mario Party 9 is best played with friends as alone the game is maddening. Most of the time each game is reliant on the last few rolls, and the best player will almost assuredly will not win. If you can accept this caveat, Mario Party 9 has mostly marvelous mini-games, a great supply of unlockables that are purchased via Party Points earned through playing the game's boards, and a quite capable presentation, so bring your noisemakers, bright, pointy hats, and get ready to party hearty with Mario and his pals.

[SuperPhillip Says: 7.0/10]

Monday, March 19, 2012

SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs - March Madness Edition

Welcome to an all-new week here at SuperPhillip Central. As it is now customary of Mondays, it is time for SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs. This week we have music from games like Killer7, Kirby Air Ride, and Star Ocean: The Second Story. The lineup is there, so let's get to the music.

v66. Killer7 (PS2, GCN) - Dissociative Identity

I had not heard of Suda 51 until Killer7, originally one of the Capcom Five. We know what happened with that... Killer7 was a game where you had a limited range of movement. You could only walk on specified linear paths. This is all the while gunning down temporarily invisible Heaven's Smile infected. Dissociative Identity is the credits theme of Killer7, and it is a smooth tune that is accented by an easy piano melody and a percussive series of beats.

v67. Kirby Air Ride (GCN) - Checker Knights

Masahiro Sakurai's latest game, Kid Icarus: Uprising, is set to release in North America this Friday. Today, however, we listen to a theme from his GameCube cult classic, Kirby Air Ride. The game was simplistic in its controls, but fun as all get out. Kirby Air Ride introduced a challenge wall, something that would be seen in one of Sakurai's later games, Super Smash Bros. Brawl. You would complete tasks and receive unlockables based on what task you completed. Checker Knights is one of two or so orchestrated themes in Kirby Air Ride. It is particularly peppy and lovely.

v68. The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (GBA) - Minish Village

The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap was Capcom's final brush up with the fabled Zelda franchise. Capcom's Flagship studio would later be dissolved much like Clover Studios. Who needs quality studios when you could hand your properties off to Ninja Theory and Slant Six? I'm sure they'll do a great job with Devil May Cry and Resident Evil (this is sarcasm). The Minish Cap is a charming adventure featuring one of my favorite of Link's traveling companions, a Minish sorcerer turned talking hat, Ezlo.

v69. Star Ocean: The Second Story (PS1) - Theme of RENA

A hauntingly beautiful, sad theme for Rena, one of the two selectable main characters for Star Ocean: The Second Story (PS1) or Star Ocean: Second Evolution (PSP), Theme of RENA chimes in eerie female vocalizations. Star Ocean 2 remains one of my favorite RPGs to this day. Its combination of memorable characters, sci-fi/medieval setting, and marvelous music all add up to make one sensational game. If you have a PlayStation Portable, pick up a copy of Second Evolution, an enhanced version of The Second Story.

v70. MadWorld (Wii) - Come With It

Warning: This song contains explicit lyrics. As for everyone else, Come With It is a song by Doujah Raze who feels that they have to say their name at the beginning of every song that they contributed to the MadWorld soundtrack. I am not generally a fan of rap, but MadWorld's music gelled with me regardless. The catchy beats and the infectious rhythms add up to one unforgettable soundtrack. Add together some visceral action with it, and you have an interesting albeit violent game.


This week's quota of quality VGMs has been filled. Next week we will have five more themes from video games to listen to. Until then, two new reviews will be posted this week, and we might even see another installment of the SPC Mailbag. Stay tuned, SPC faithful, stay tuned!