Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Last Story (Wii) New Screens

Since the market for core games on Wii is pretty much dead as the console nears its six year anniversary and the release of its successor, the Wii U, is on the horizon, Nintendo of America passed the publishing rights of Mistwalker's RPG epic, The Last Story, to XSEED Games. The company has released these new screenshots for the title, due out July 10th. Man, I'm still knee deep in Xenoblade Chronicles!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Mario Power Tennis (GCN) Retro Review

Time to cap off the week with a retro review. As you most likely know by now, Mario Tennis Open (3DS) is due out in less than three weeks in North America. It seems as good a time as any to take to the court for some practice with the GameCube's Mario Power Tennis. 

Power to the Players

Tennis isn't a sport I was put on this earth to enjoy. In fact, I find the act of watching tennis to be incredibly boring. I can only imagine how it is to see it live at center court. Eyes looking to the left, then the right, then the left, then the right, ad nauseum as the players volley the ball back and forth in a rally. That's okay, though, as I know the sport is popular throughout the world. However, whenever Mario leaps his way into a sport, I find myself getting more invested in it. This is true with Mario's GameCube tennis escapade, Mario Power Tennis. Is this version of tennis an ace or a double fault?

There are a myriad of modes to partake in inside the wacky world of Mario Power Tennis. The main attraction here is Tournament Mode which pits you against a vast array of Mushroom Kingdom characters in order to earn the coveted trophy for each cup. There are three cups: Mushroom, Flower, and Star. As you progress through each tournament, the competition gets tougher and the sets you must win become greater. Tournament Mode is set up for singles as well as doubles play. Unfortunately, you cannot play with a buddy in tournaments; you are forced to work with a computer character. As you complete tournaments, you not only unlock one of four secret characters to play as, but winning the Star Cup of a singles tournament gives whatever character you played as a star, giving them more abilities in a given match.

Mario once again takes to the court!
Outside regular tennis that generally takes place on the Peach Dome trio of grass, clay, and hard courts, there are gimmick courts which add a flavor of Mario's fantastical elements into the sport. The Luigi's Mansion court is haunted with a plethora of poltergeists which will attack their victims, slowing them down, as well as throwing slippery banana peels all over the playing surface to trip up players. Meanwhile, the Gooper Blooper court hanging above the waters of Super Mario Sunshine's Ricco Harbor has sliding floor panels which move once a ball hits them, revealing holes. If a ball hits these holes, the ball is considered "out" and your opponent gets the points. Another example of a gimmick court is the DK Jungle court where the always-annoying from Donkey Kong Country Klaptrap enemies will attach themselves to players, slowing them down. There are a total of ten courts-- including the three variants of Peach Dome-- to play on.

As if tennis wasn't hazardous enough without
all of these Klaptraps on the court!
In addition to the gimmick courts are concepts like Item Battle and the fan favorite Ring Shot. Item Battle has Mario Kart's item boxes spread across the net. Each time a ball passes through an item box, the player that hit the ball receives a helpful item such a Mushroom (speeds your movement up), a Star (grants invincibility), or a Red Shell (homes in on your opponent to knock them out temporarily), to name a few. Ring Shot pits two opponents or two teams against one another, hitting balls through rings to score points. The side with the most points at the conclusion of the game is determined as the victor.

Send back all of this big, bad Blooper's shots to win.
Apart from typical tennis and the aforementioned eccentric modes come Special Games. These put your numerous tennis abilities to the test in various scenarios. In Artist on the Court, you hit multiple colored paint balls into a wall in an attempt to paint a mural of a character. Hitting shots accurately to touch up various portions of the painting is key to getting a good time. Meanwhile, Gooper Blooper Volley is a test of endurance as you hit back all of the shots of the titular boss enemy. If you miss a shot or hit a ball onto a space marked with an "X", your game is over. There are eight or so Special Games to play, some of which need to be unlocked. Each game has multiple levels to complete with each level becoming increasingly more difficult to complete. Usually you have less time to score more points or some other kind of stipulation that is against you.

Up to four players can join in on the Special Games fun.
As for the actual gameplay of Mario Power Tennis, it is incredibly accessible to any player's skill level. The controls couldn't be easier. There's buttons for slices, topspin shots, lobs which send the ball high into the air near the back of the court (perfect against players that play near the net), drop shots that aim for the front of the court on a low trajectory, and smash shots. Smash shots occur when the ball is hit high into the air and a star appears on your side of the court. If you hustle on over to the star, you can press the A and B buttons to perform a powerful and speedy smash shot. All of these shots can be charged up to be launched at a fast velocity. Your opponents won't know what hit them.

The "Power" part of Mario Power Tennis refers to the various power shots players can use on one another to unleash vicious offensive or defensive maneuvers on their opponents. As you volley the ball back and forth between you and your adversary, your racket will begin to glow. At full power, you can dish out a power shot. Depending on your position in relation to where the ball is you can let loose either an offensive or defensive power shot. If the ball is right in your line of sight, you can use an offensive shot such as Mario's heavy hammer power shot which hits the ball at a high speed. If your opponent hits the ball back, they will momentarily be pushed back deep within their side of the court. Likewise, defensive power shots are used when you are far away from the ball with no hope of getting to it on your own. For example, Luigi's defensive power shot has him strapping on his Poltergust 3000 and sucking up the ball from wherever it may be. He can then send the ball to his opponent's side of the court. Power shots are surrendered if you block an offensive power shot. However, you won't be hit deep on your court's side.

DK's defensive banana boomerang grabs far away shots.
There are eighteen characters in all to play as (four of which are unlockable through Tournament Mode). Each has their own power shots and proficiencies. All-around players like Mario and Luigi are good in every category while Technical players like Peach, Daisy, and Shy Guy can hit shots with better accuracy. Then there are Power players who can hit the ball with such strength that they will hammer the ball down your throat. Other categories include Speed players such as Yoshi and Diddy Kong, Defensive players like Waluigi, and Tricky players in the vein of Boo and Bowser Jr.

Mario Power Tennis runs at a steady framerate in order to keep up with the fast and frenetic action of the sport. Characters are modeled well, and the courts are lively background and foreground. The game can become cluttered with too much color at spots which may blind some players or make it challenging to see where the ball is. The voice work isn't too grating, and the soundtrack by veteran composer Motoi Sakuraba fits the happy-go-lucky realm of the Mushroom Kingdom quite well. The opening cutscene is also highly hilarious to watch if you enjoy lighthearted fare.

One of the two unlockable courts in Mario Power Tennis.
While not perfect (I can take or leave the addition of power shots), Mario Power Tennis (stay away from the Wii's New Play Control version) is a welcome addition to the exhaustive lineup of Mario sports titles. If you are interested in the ultimate arcade tennis experience, then I suggest you look into the Nintendo 64 version of Mario Tennis or the PlayStation Portable's Hot Shots Tennis: Get a Grip. For everyone else, you have a competent and entertaining tennis romp that even non-fans of the sport can enjoy. Mario and friends don't hit a smash shot with this game, but it is a game you'll feel the "love" towards.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.5/10]

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Three Reasons the Video Game Industry Won't Be Taken Seriously Any Time Soon

Let's face it-- the video game industry is a joke. Like comic books before it, video games are often the martyr for the mainstream. With games like Duke Nukem portraying women as sexual objects and nothing more, gamers with a superiority complex even though all they are doing is playing with glorified, expensive toys, and people on message boards trolling companies as if that company ran over their dog, the industry has a long way before it is ever taken seriously. I have three reasons (but not only three) for why video games and gamers will seemingly forever be the butt of jokes in the world.

The industry provides consistent classy quality.
1) Fanboys and Trolls

Fanboys and trolls were around way before the Internet. The days of "Sega does what Nintendon't" had Nintendo fanboys and Sega fanboys beating on one another on playgrounds across the globe. With the advent of message boards it became even easier for people to make complete morons of themselves. If you are older than 18 and you behave in a manner where you take potshots at a company just to make the other side angry or vehemently defend a company that does not care about you at all at every opportunity, you should ask God to stop the ride so you can get off. There are honestly people who get off just on trolling people and will make numerous accounts after being banned time and time again to continue to troll. Constant arguments and pissing matches over which console is more powerful, laughing because you got a third party exclusive and your rival fan group didn't, and rubbing it in that Sony has low sales this generation don't do this industry any good. Grown adults acting like they're prepubescent teenagers only give a black eye to gaming. Even the press and developers aren't innocent of this. How many times have we've seen "Wii is two GameCubes duct-taped together" and "Call of Duty is a tired franchise unlike Battlefield 3" from people inside the industry? The video game arena is full of man-children, and a simple gaze at a gaming forum where discussions of games devolve into personal attacks and slander or the reactions at an E3 press conference are all that is needed to see this.

12 year old kids, or people with the maturity of one,
 should not have forum access.
2) The Hardcore Gamer

One of the most selfish and obnoxious groups in gaming is the "hardcore" gamer. Never have I been more embarrassed to be associated with this league of fools than this generation. After producing a console with hardware strength comparable to its competition, Nintendo's GameCube still failed to do well with the hardcore, even with a nice and steady library of games. With this failure, Nintendo tried a different approach towards gaming for everybody with the Wii. Now these hardcore gamers have the gall to claim Nintendo abandoned them? Seriously? Who actually abandoned who here? The hardcore had their chance, and they failed. It's not like Nintendo stopped making games for them either.

Hardcore gamers are also incredibly selfish as I previously stated. They constantly want more. They are never satisfied. "I'm going to boycott you if I don't get what I want!" When companies focus on the nontraditional gamer, they whine and moan. "Why aren't you paying 100% of your time and resources on us?" Heaven forbid we get the mainstream to take our hobby seriously and allow them to share in what we enjoy.

Or how about how complacent they are? If the industry worked like they wanted it to, we'd still be using a controller with one joystick and one button. They hate on new control inputs like motion controls because they're too incompetent to learn them. Same with touch controls like seen in Kid Icarus: Uprising. Hardcore gamers are just too lame to adapt, hate if they have to *gasp* go out of their precious comfort zones, and instead blame their ineptitude on the games/controls and not themselves, you know the true villains here. Note: I am not meaning to paint all hardcore gamers with one broad stroke. I realize there are many of us who do not behave like petulant children at all.

3) The Enthusiast Press

The group of man-babies that essentially act as another public relations branch for video game companies (at least the ones that they like), the enthusiast press often gets pandered by companies, getting free trips to foreign countries, party-like events, and free swag that could easily be worth hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. This goes into their reviews where they oftentimes sound overly emotional and hyperbolic. IGN is a great source of this. Who could forget the infamous "Oscar-caliber drama" passage from the Grand Theft Auto IV review? Or how about when they act as damage control for their precious companies such as defending Mass Effect 3's pitiful ending, and calling anyone who didn't like it and wanted it changed "entitled"? They not only have their hands in the pockets of the companies for which they review games for, but they're absolutely shameless in their actions. The enthusiast press is just another reason why video games will continue to be a laughingstock to the mainstream.

"You can't arrest me! This is an Oscar-caliber drama!"

Do you agree or disagree with my arguments? Sure, it's more interesting for discussion to disagree, but I'm always open for people who share my opinions. Let yours be known in the comments section.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

SPC Mailbag - May 2nd, 2012

It is time once again to open up the old SPC Mailbag and read some of your fine questions. I don't get many e-mails, but when I do, I drink Dos Equis. Not that I endorse drinking alcohol or anything like that. ...Don't look at me like that. Let's get to answering your e-mails!

Recently, some analysts have been wanting Nintendo to put their games on iOS and smartphones. What are your thoughts on this?

Unless they are companion apps such as having an app that acts as a Pokemon checklist for monsters you've caught or something small like that, I am of the firm opinion that Nintendo placing their IPs on iOS in the short term would be okay. Unfortunately, there is a certain concept called the long term where doing so would surely bite Nintendo on the butt. They live and die by their hardware and software. Their hardware sells because of their software. You've no doubt heard/read the statement that software sells hardware and not the other way around. This is most certainly true for Nintendo. If Nintendo puts their games on iOS, I feel most consumers wouldn't see a need to buy Nintendo's hardware. They'd be placated to just have bite-sized or cheaper versions of Nintendo's greatest franchises in the palm of their hand on their smartphone or other device. After all, why would they need to shell out even more money to play vastly more expensive versions of Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Kirby, and more? It's a losing long term proposition that would start off swell but end with even more angry shareholders, lost money, and the cheapening of their IPs. Though, to get a second opinion on this matter, the other side, please check out this article from one of SPC's affiliates, Digitally Downloaded.

 Tablets and phones terrorize poor Mario! (Not my image.)
I've read some of your reviews, and I really like what I've read. Would you consider joining the staff of [my] site?

As someone who tries not to spend too much time online, when I do hop online, I spend the majority of my time combing through news sites for posts for my blog as well writing fresh and exclusive material for SuperPhillip Central. This generally means that I cannot surrender much time to other sites. Another reason is that most places want my reviews to be exclusive to their sites, so that means that I cannot even post my thoughts on games on my own blog. Thus, I generally answer no to such requests. However, recently I accepted the offer of a fine bloke name Christian who runs a 3DS-centric center called Planet 3DS. I don't have to devote too much time to the place, and I don't have to post exclusive reviews for them. Sure, that means I must learn how to use not only the new Blogger but WordPress, but you take what you can get. My first reviews on Planet 3DS have already been posted. It's a nicely designed place that is full of news, screens, videos, and what I specialize in, reviews. Check it out. Maybe you'll find a new hangout spot on the Web.

Come visit the gang at Planet 3DS. 
What do you have to lose except free time?
Every week you post five themes from video games that you really like. I love this idea, but I was wondering what your favorite soundtracks of all time are. 

That's not really a question technically, but I'll allow it. On the heels of celebrating the 100th VGM this past week, I am planning to make a list (no, not a top ten or even a top five list) of my favorite game soundtracks, providing a short blurb of the game, the composer, and the music itself as well a handful of samples. I'm not too terribly sure on when I plan to do this. If I was smart (which I feign the look of on multiple occasions), I would do it this week as we're fresh off the 100th VGM. However, I do have a new review to share this week as well as a rant about things that are making the video game industry a laughingstock. I could hold one of those off until next week. What do you guys and gals out there as readers think? Which article would be more interesting to read for you all?

 Perhaps this is a hint of a game with a stellar soundtrack...
Wink, wink. Hint, hint, and all of that other stuff.

For now we put the SPC Mailbag back in its resting place, awaiting more e-mails from people all around the world. If you have a question you want to ask me, please send an e-mail to superphillip32[at]yahoo[dot]com. Replace the brackets with the necessary symbols. You know how to work the Internet, right? Thanks for reading and joining me on my adventure through the thin pile that is my e-mails.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Ys: The Oath in Felghana (PSP) Review

For the first review of May on the first day of the month, I turn to Ys. Ys is a niche series on this side of the world, but it has legions of fans in the East. My PSP was getting lonely with nothing inside its UMD slot for over a year, so I decided to go with a new game. The title I selected was Ys: The Oath in Felghana, which was recently released on Steam with achievements a month or so ago. Here is my review of the handheld version of the game.

Fun and Frolicking in Felghana

I must admit that I don't have any experience with the Ys franchise. I did, however, know that each game in this wildly popular (at least in Asia) series was standalone and its own separate entry. Some of the characters and lore come across in each title, but for the most part, one can leap into the series at any point. I decided on a blind metaphorical leap of faith to two games, Ys Seven and the subject of this review, Ys: The Oath in Felghana, a remake of the third Ys game that originally appeared on the Super Nintendo. However, the gameplay has been drastically altered. Gone is the Zelda II-like 2D side-scrolling gameplay. It has been replaced with full 3D arenas, dungeons, and towns. Was my decision to take up the Ys series with The Oath in Felghana a wise one?

You, the red-haired hero and a humble wanderer Adol Christin, and friend Dogi have arrived on the continent of Felghana, but not all is as Dogi remembers it. Monsters ravage the lands, the townspeople are scared out of their wits, and the Count that rules over Felghana has gotten into quite a bit of a mean streak. His thirst for conquest has, for unknown reasons, closed down the nearby quarry where the townspeople mine and gather valuable raval ore. The ore is what the denizens of the continent consider their livelihood. He also has troops all around Felghana in search of four special statues. The question is in what is the purpose of these statues, and do they have anything to do with the rise of savage monsters across Felghana? There are over 1,500 lines of spoken dialogue throughout the 8-10 hour campaign. Some characters sound better than others, but all in all, the voice work is quite good. You can skip individual lines by pressing a button to close the text box, but you can't, however, skip whole conversations. This can get annoying if you don't care about the story, or have to sit through a conversation before a boss fight when all you want to do is battle. The tale itself is pretty interesting, full of plenty of plot twists to enjoy.

What a creeper!
At first I wanted to compare Ys: The Oath in Felghana's gameplay to the Zelda franchise. However, the more I played Ys, the more I discerned the differences between the two. Zelda is more about puzzles in dungeons with a lesser focus on action most of the time. The Oath in Felghana lacks serious brain busters and is more about platforming and action. You'll be leaping across chasms, jumping to higher platforms, dodging death traps like spikes and swinging maces, hopping over enemy attacks, and slowly crossing narrow pathways.

Thankfully, the game assists you with the more fiendish platforming tasks. You can enable 8-way direction to make walking on narrow platforms all the more simpler. You can even enable the No-Fall option. With this option on, when you fall, instead of dropping all the way to a lower level, you'll just pop up back to the place before your fall. Of course, sometimes you'll want to fall, so keep in mind that you'll occasionally want to turn the option off. These platforming features combined with the six difficulties the game offers (one of which is unlocked by beating the game), makes The Oath in Felghana accessible to players of any skill. Regardless, things can get annoying when you are trying to judge jump distances. You can accidentally over or undershoot quite easily, making for some mild frustration.

Some platforming sections can be hard to judge.
This hazardous corridor is just one of them.
You obviously don't just jump your way through the game. You have a sword, so why not use it? Why not use it in conjunction with your jumping abilities? That is exactly what you can do. You can perform a Jump Slash by leaping into the air and pressing the attack button during your ascent, an Up-Thrust by being in the air at the peak of your jump, and a Down-Thrust by pressing the attack button on the descent of your jump. As you defeat enemies, you earn experience that goes to gaining levels. New levels brings higher stats like HP, MP, and attack strength, for instance. You also increase a gauge on the lower left corner of the screen known as the Boost Gauge. When it is full, you can go into Boost Mode. Not only will your attacks be stronger, but you also take less damage and no knock-back (stumbling to the ground after an enemy's attack) when you are hit. Combat feels fast and responsive, and it is most importantly fun.

Do battle with enemies of all shapes and sizes.
Nonetheless, brute force alone won't save the day. Throughout your tour of Felghana, you will come across three bracelets that grant you the magical powers of fire, wind, and earth respectively. (What, no love for water?) While the fire magic is great for incinerating foes and lighting unlit torches, the wind bracelet, in tandem with jumping, can allow you to cross large chasms that otherwise would not be passable. In fact, many of the new spells learned give you the ability to access new areas in old dungeons, Zelda-style. These bracelets can be switched in the equipment menu or with a press of the right shoulder button. Finally, the earth bracelet lets you smash certain rocks that block your progress. Gathering rubies for the fire bracelet, emeralds for the wind bracelet, and topazes for the earth bracelet allow you to charge up your magic, unleashing obliterating spells. Using the right spells at the right times is often the difference between victory and retrying a room or a boss battle.

Use the wind bracelet to cross colossal chasms like this one.
Speaking of boss battles, Ys: The Oath in Felghana is full of them. From foes that are small 3D models to adversaries that fill up the screen, the variety of bosses is staggering. Each boss has its own life bar, and depending on the difficulty to play on, the boss will have a different amount of health to whittle down. The battles are usually pretty intense and demand your total concentration. Luckily, there is usually a travel monument-- the save points of Oath-- placed before each encounter, and you can retry a fight if you fail.

 Live by the sword, die by the sword 
in these variety-filled boss battles.
After the final boss has been beaten and the credits have rolled, you can save your clear data and begin a New Game+. You earn points depending on the difficulty you cleared the game on which can be spent on bonuses towards your new game such as keeping your current level and stats, getting fifty extra HP to work with, and having all of your equipment at the level you beat the game at. So even though the game is but 8-10 hours to play, there's plenty of replay value to be had.

A wandering warrior needs his rest, and the town of Redmont is the place to do it in. Here is where your hero will be returning on multiple occasions for various reasons. The biggest one is to advance the story, but there also other activities to partake in while in town. Villagers have lost items (funnily enough they are mostly in dungeons) that they need returning, and they'll give grand rewards for you doing so. You can also take all of that money and raval ore that you found dropped by monsters and discovered in treasure chests to build better equipment via Redmont's blacksmith. You have three types of equipment to build up to the maximum of three levels: your sword, your shield, and your armor. The better the equipment, the more money and raval ore you'll have to fork over. 

Ys: The Oath in Felghana has a wide assortment of customization options. You can customize the controls to your likening, assigning actions to any button you like, turning off the narrator or voice work altogether, setting the text speed, and even switching which version of the soundtrack you want. You can go old school or keep the awesome new and remastered soundtrack. The latter option is recommended as the new music is simply sensational, offering a mightily metal take on the music, and sporting a heavy focus on violin and electric guitar. Sometimes I found myself just grinding enemies for the heck of it just to listen to the excellent music.

 The clock tower dungeon possesses my favorite
 piece of music in the game, Sealed Time.
That isn't the only part of the presentation that shines. The visuals have gotten a big upgrade. Felghana's areas and dungeons are brimming with activity, and the game's 3D models are pretty nice to look at. Adol's in-game armor changes depending on what you equip. That's a darned nice touch. Not everything is great as monster locations can be deceiving. It can be hard to tell where a foe is actually at given the alternating camera angles. It's not that big of a problem, however.

Ys: The Oath in Felghana wound up being a tremendous introduction to the Ys series for me. The presentation is very good for the PSP, all of the voice work is great nine times out of ten, the platforming and fighting is generally fun, the RPG elements work well, and the story remains interesting from beginning to end. Make yourself an oath to at least play this game. It is definitely something that fans craving an action platformer with RPG elements will certainly adore.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.5/10]

Mario Tennis Open (3DS) New Screens

It seems like every week now we are receiving new screens from Nintendo for their upcoming smash hit, Mario Tennis Open for Nintendo 3DS. These new screenshots show off two new playable characters, Dry Bowser and Luma, and display some Mii action. Are you in the market to make a racket on the tennis court?

SuperPhillip Central Celebrates a New Milestone - 400,000 Views!

What started as a small hobbyist blog has grown into a reasonably-sized hobbyist blog. It is you, the viewer, that has contributed to SPC's newest milestone-- 400,000 page views! I hope you continue to enjoy my in-depth reviews, scathing articles, quirky top ten and top five lists, and other oddities that you can find only on SuperPhillip Central! Thank you, and as the theme of The Golden Girls sings, "Thank you for being a friend!"

Review Round-Up - April

As Vanilla Ice once sang, "No, ninja, no, ninja, no!"
The month of April showered SuperPhillip Central with a total of six reviews and/or review segments. However, as you can see by the numbers, it was a month of low-scoring games. We started off with the immensely disappointing bloodbath that was Ninja Gaiden 3. The game turned away from its difficult but rewarding gameplay, and received a 4.0 for it. We rebounded with a more colorful disposition with Mario Party 5 that partied til it got a 7.5. One-Sentence Reviews returned, a popular and innovative segment, for round number three. Then we went back to disappointment with the high-selling but low-rated Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City. Not even the Resident Evil name could get it anything but a 4.25. An SPC Quickies segment, the eleventh of its kind, was soon followed by the game of the month, a 3DSWare painting application known as Colors! 3D (8.75). I was a particularly harsher reviewer this month than usual. That or the games that I played were just not up to task.

Ninja Gaiden 3 (PS3, 360) - 4.0
Mario Party 5 (GCN) - 7.5
One-Sentence Reviews - Volume Three
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (PS3, 360) - 4.25
SPC Quickies - Volume Eleven - 3D Classics Edition
Colors! 3D (3DSWare) - 8.75

A horde of zombies, some high firepower, 
what could possibly go wrong?

Central City Census - May

April showers bring a new Central City Census for my readers and passersby to vote on. Let's not jump the gun, however. We still have the results of April's poll to gaze upon, so let's do that now.

If a next gen console blocked used games, would you still buy it?

Absolutely. In fact, I'd be happy for it.
  5 (8%)
Yeah, I'd probably still purchase it.
  6 (10%)
It really depends.
  25 (42%)
No, definitely not. [No] Used games = no buy.
  23 (38%)

Votes so far: 59

It seems only a select handful of people either are pro-anti-used games (see what I did there?) or would still buy a next gen console even without the ability to play used games on it. I personally find the act of blocking used games to be deplorable. I'm not made of money, and selling and/or trading used games is how I get new games, publishers. It seems a good chunk of those who voted share some of the same sentiments. Thank you for voting. It is always appreciated. Now, what is the CCC for May?

The Wii U is Nintendo's next console for the next generation. There are qualms and rumors regarding its power (or lack thereof). Despite this, many are looking forward to playing their favorite Nintendo franchises in full high definition. That's fine for Nintendo, but what about third parties? Do you think the third party support of the Wii U will be better than Wii? That is the cusp of what May's Central City Census wants to know.

Monday, April 30, 2012

SuperPhillip's Favortie VGMs - April Showers Edition

This is a special installment of SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs for two reasons: 1) It is the celebration of the end of April 2012, and 2) It is the celebration of reaching our 100th VGM! We've been doing this since the beginning of the year, and we have no signs of stopping. Let's dive head first into a pool of video game music goodness with songs from Xenoblade Chronicles, Rayman Origins, and Final Fantasy VI.

v96. Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii) - You Will Know Our Names

I am currently knee-deep in Xenoblade Chronicles, one of the most appealing RPGs I have played in a long time. You Will Know Our Names is one of many battle themes. However, this one is heard when you do battle or get caught with your proverbial pants down by encountering a special monster. These are always much stronger than the other foes you'll face around the various areas of the game. My favorite part starts at 1:05 and concludes at 1:30. Who can resist the call of an electric guitar rocking out? It's 25 seconds of pure musical bliss.

v97. Rayman Origins (PS3, 360, Wii, PSV, 3DS) - Gourmand Land - Land a Chef

How about some chips to go with your salsa? Rayman Origins' soundtrack is an eclectic mix of music from various genres. Gourmand Land - Land a Chef is but one of these themes that plays in one of the icy levels of the extraordinarily excellent Rayman Origins game, a lovely 2D hand-drawn platformer for the ages. It won many awards at last year's SuperPhillip Central Best of 2011 Awards, best graphics and whatnot. The music is just one part of this enticing package. The game actually did well enough for Ubisoft to call in for Michel Ancel and his crew to create a Wii U bound (plus other unannounced platforms) sequel. How about that!

v98. Donkey Kong 64 (N64) - Crystal Caves

This gentle and mellow piece plays during the Crystal Caves world of Donkey Kong 64. Throughout the piece the ambient sounds of water droplets following into puddles can be heard. This tune is mightily relaxing. The world itself is full of stalactites and stalagmites, high and low platforms, and deep pools of water just begging to be explored. Donkey Kong 64 was the epitome of the collect-a-thon platformer. There were so many doodads to gather that it could come across as overwhelming. And sometimes it was!

v99. Ys: The Oath in Felghana (PSP) - Sealed Time

Starting out with a techno flare before having the violin melody kick in and the agile beat accentuating it. Sealed Time is the theme of the clock tower dungeon, one of the only vertical dungeons of the game. The clock tower is also one of the final dungeons in the game. The top of the tower reveals one of the game's biggest plot twists. I don't dare spoil it for you. The game is quite good, and my review tomorrow based on the PSP version will shed some light on that.

v100. Final Fantasy VI (SNES) - Dancing Mad

The 100th VGM isn't the original SNES version of the final boss theme from Final Fantasy VI, Dancing Mad. Instead, it is the orchestrated Distant Worlds II version in all of its symphonic glory. The theme builds from its four movements. Most of which sport a haunting choir, church organ, and heavy percussion. Dancing Mad was a groundbreaking theme when it originally premiered in 1994's Final Fantasy VI. It masterfully switched between movements as players defeated each portion of villain Kefka's esper tower. Then things get real when the fast-paced final movement plays and the anti-angel Kefka enters the fray. A glorious theme represented by a glorious range of instruments and vocals.


100 VGMs down, but we're not about to stop there. Come back next week (but stay for the other stories being posted throughout this week) for more VGMs from more video games you may or may not have had the chance to play! We'll see you around!

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (PS3, 360, 3DS, PSV) First Trailer

I've already shared the first screens of the game, but why not see the game in action? The Transformed part of the game references the ability to turn your kart into a plane or boat when the situation presents itself, Mario Kart 7 style! What do you think about this game? Is it on your radar?

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (PS3, 360, 3DS, PSV) First Screens

This game was rumored to be in development, but it's nice to see some confirmation. Two characters revealed for this game include Vyse the pirate from Skies of Arcadia and Gilius Thunderhead from Golden Axe. We haven't seen him since Sega Superstars Tennis. No word on a Wii U version yet, but the producer of the game has hinted at one. I think they'd be foolish not to have a Wii U iteration as Nintendo and Sega is a match made in gaming heaven. Regardless of what platforms this game comes out on, this racing title is a definite buy as the original is my favorite arcade racer of this generation.