Thursday, May 10, 2012

April 2012 NPD Results

I hate to end the day on a sour note after we've been having so much fun, but I must. Last month, sales were pitiful. The trend continues with April's NPD results. Let's see how bad they are.

Did you know that the top seven titles of April 2011 all outsold the number one game of this April? It's true. This means both versions of Prototype 2 (there was a Prototype 1?) sold less than 236,000 copies. Some find this hilarious. I don't find the industry doing poorly funny, but I might not be one who wants to watch the world burn either. My shake-my-head award goes to Kinect Star Wars at number two which proves that if you market your product and shove it down people's throats, they will buy it. Kinect continues its dominance in the industry. I must say, I can sort of see why people feared the Wii. I'm doing the same with Kinect. If that's the future, count me out. In other news, Tiger Woods may be doing poorly in real life but his golf games still do well, Mario Party 9 stays at the number seven spot, and Just Dance 3 returns to the top ten. A horrible month for sales.

Killer Soundtracks - My Personal Favorites, Part One

Coming fresh off the heels of beginning the next 100 VGMs is a new article celebrating video game music and all of its eccentricities! I promised I would be revealing my most cherished soundtracks, the ones that are just as strong today as when I first played the games they accompanied. For Part One of this feature I have ten soundtracks to share from games from consoles and handhelds far and wide. Let's see which ones make the grade!

Final Fantasy VI (SNES)

Final Fantasy VI is in my mind Nobuo Uematsu's magnum opus. It is the culmination of all of his compositional prowess. You get the World of Balance theme, Terra, you have the fight with the weapons in The Fierce Battle, the theme of flying in the World of Ruin in Searching For Friends, the fabulous boss theme in The Decisive Battle, one of my favorite town themes in Kids Run Through the City, the hauntingly beautiful theme of The Phantom Forest, the glorious character theme of Celes, and of course, the big one, Dancing Mad. It is the bounty of memorable tunes that makes Final Fantasy VI one of my favorites.

Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles (GCN)

I adore the soundtrack of Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles for its worldly instruments and its wonderful music by Kuni Tanioka. The opening song is Kaze no Ne while you have incredible dungeon themes such as When the Northern Sky Is Clear, Magii is Everything, and Daemon's Court. You also get the fast-paced boss theme, Monster's Dance ~Rondo~. Then there's town tunes like Amidatti, And Eleonor Too and the lovely A Gentle Wind Blows. Darn it-- now I want to play Crystal Chronicles all over again!

Star Ocean: The Second Story (PS1)/Star Ocean: Second Evolution (PSP)

Whether you are playing the original second Star Ocean or its PSP port with character portraits and voice acting, you are definitely going to get a healthy dose of excellent video game music thanks in total by veteran composer Motoi Sakuraba. You have breaths of fresh air like The Venerable Forest and Pyroxene, you have town themes like Shower of Blossoms, Walk Over, and Let's Walk in a Parade, the sad Theme of RENA, and tense tunes like Rescue Operation and Dynamite, the boss song. Whatever your preference in music, Star Ocean 2 most likely has something for you.

Sonic Adventure 2 (DC)

I never owned the ill-fated Sega Dreamcast, but that didn't stop me from playing Sonic Adventure 2. It thankfully came the Nintendo GameCube's way in the form of Sonic Adventure 2: Battle. Jun Senoue and friends provided a rocking at times, jazzy at other times soundtrack. Escape From the City, That's the Way I Like It, Won't Stop, Just Go!, and Keys the Ruin make up my favorite blue blur themes while other character themes like This Way Out and Rumbling HWY for Tails' stages, Soarin' Over the Space for Dr. Eggman, and the cool feeling Bright Sound and Lovely Gate 3 for the cleavage-showing bat Rouge. Not only the best Sonic the Hedgehog soundtrack in his 3D escapades, but it is just fun to listen to outside the game.

Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest (SNES)

The fine and ultra-talented composers at Rare pushed the Super Nintendo's sound drivers as much as Rare's graphical side pushed how far the Super Nintendo's technical capabilities could be shoved. It most indubitably shows too. Atmospheric tunes like the underwater sloshing of Lockjaw's Saga, the volcano journey of Hot-Head Bop will full lava bubble sounds, the buzzing of bees in Flight of the Zinger, and the peaceful tranquility of Forest Interlude made for an engaging OST. But it didn't end there. Tracks like Snakey Chantey, borrowing the melody of the original DKC's Gang-Plank Galleon, Disco Train, and the fan-favorite in Stickerbush Symphony led the way to make Donkey Kong Country 2's soundtrack my favorite of the Super Nintendo era.

Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)

To make a play-on words, the soundtrack of Super Mario Galaxy is without a doubt out of this world. Who would have thought that Mario's space epic would be backed by an entire orchestral score? You have sensational galaxy themes like Egg Planet, Wind Garden, Floater Land, Stardust Road, Battlerock, Hell Prominence, and Galaxy Plant. Mahito Yokota-- who previously worked on the music for the GameCube's Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat-- wrote most of Mario Galaxy's music. Sometimes I found myself sitting in a particularly galaxy with Mario in an idling animation just so I could hear the soundtrack for extended periods of time. Sure, it's even more exhilarating to have the symphonic score accompany Mario's platforming pursuits, but that's just how good the music really is.

Final Fantasy Tactics (PS1)/
War of the Lions (PSP)

Get enough Final Fantasy yet? Final Fantasy Tactics is most likely my favorite PlayStation 1 soundtrack. Its majestic, poignant, and medieval themes set against a war-torn world in Ivalice make for a stunning and moving score. The game's music is one of the few that makes me heavily nostalgic. Yes, Final Fantasy Tactics has had various spinoffs, but none come close to the original article. I love the beauty that is Ovelia's Theme and Ovelia's Worries, or the jaunty Tutorial theme. Then there's such tremendous battle tunes that get the heart racing as you make strategies to clear the map of enemies with songs like Apoplexy, Battle on the Bridge, Decisive Battle, and Trisection. I'm not going to say the soundtrack alone makes the game worth buying, but it's pretty darn close.

Katamari Damacy (PS2)

I mentioned something about my eccentricities earlier in this article. Well, if there is one game that is full of eccentric music, it has to be Katamari Damacy. Have a favorite genre of music? Katamari probably has you covered. From jazz in A Crimson Rose and a Gin Tonic and Que Sera Sera to hard rock in Katamari Love to just random craziness in Lonely Rolling Star and You Are Smart, the varying musical stylings of the game are present and accounted for. Who doesn't love a choir of young children with Cherry Blossom Color Season? You'd have to have no soul if you don't.

Mega Man X (SNES)

Even though Capcom doesn't care for the blue bomber anymore, I will always have a soft spot for Mega Man and his many forms. My favorite would have to be Mega Man X. The quality of his games dipped between X5-X7, but X8 got him back on track in my opinion. Songs like Opening Stage, Spark Mandrill, Flame Mammoth, Storm Eagle, Armored Armadillo, Sigma Stage 1, and Zero's Theme all kick serious robotic butt and still sound pleasant on the ears to this day. Mega Man X is one of the greatest Super Nintendo games in existence. The PSP remake is good, but it doesn't hold a candle to the original great.

Xenogears (PS1)

Yasunori Mitsuda was listed as my fifth favorite composer of all time on a list I did way back when, and for good reason, he has brilliant range. Xenogears is a soundtrack that makes this point highly evident. With the score you get such songs like the opening theme, Star of Tears, the timeless and charming My Village is Number One, the better-get-outta-here-now theme Fuse, the militant Flight, one of my favorite airship themes in Wings, the final boss theme Awakening, the chilling and powerful epilogue song The Beginning and the End, and finally, one of the best vocal songs in gaming, Small of Two Pieces. You want to know how I know this soundtrack is outstanding? I've never made it very far in this game, and I still adore the music.


Did you enjoy listening to some of the samples I listed? What soundtracks from video games are your favorite? Nonetheless, stay tuned next week for Part Two of Killer Soundtracks - My Personal Favorites! I'll have ten more excellent scores to share.

Ratchet & Clank HD Collection (PS3) New Trailer

Although this trailer is Japanese, it shows off the compendium of one of my favorite franchises. Ratchet & Clank, Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, and Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal will all be on one Bluray disc in full HD and even 3D for those with special glasses. Interestingly, Ratchet: Deadlocked will also be available but as a PSN exclusive. As a fierce fan of the series, all four of these titles will be mine.

Soul Sacrifice (PSV) First Screens

Soul Sacrifice is an up and coming PlayStation Vita game from the mind of Keiji Inafune (formerly of Capcom), with development by Marvelous AQL, production by Sony Japan Studio, and music in part by the great Yasunori Mitsuda. It has all the elements of a big production title for a platform that is desperately needing some notable games. Six screens have been released alongside the logo. A trailer is coming down the pipeline soon.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Rank Up! - Mario Kart 7 Tracks

Welcome to the middle of the week on the middle of a Wednesday. We're going to do something completely different for this installment of Rank Up! Instead of listing a series of games from least favorite to most favorite, I am going to be going in-depth on the most recently released edition of Mario Kart, Mario Kart 7, and ordering the tracks from worst to greatest. But before we can get to ranking up, we have to see which tracks we'll be ordering:

Toad Circuit
Daisy Hills
Cheep Cheep Lagoon
Shy Guy Bazaar
Wuhu Loop
Mario Circuit
Music Park
Rock Rock Mountain
Piranha Plant Slide
Wario Shipyard
Neo Bowser City
Maka Wuhu
DK Jungle
Rosalina's Ice World
Bowser's Castle
Rainbow Road

For a series that critics claim is complacent, Mario Kart 7 introduced plenty of new mechanics such as underwater and aerial racing as well as kart customization. The sixteen new tracks are some of the best the series has ever seen with multiple shortcuts, places to nail tricks off of, and hazardous turns to drift through. For some reason the American and European versions have differing names for a good share of the tracks. For the most part, the European version has better names such as Koopa City instead of Neo Bowser City, Melody Motorway instead of Music Park, and Piranha Plant Pipeway instead of Piranha Plant Slide.

16) Neo Bowser City

In a race, Neo Bowser City (or Koopa City in European areas) would be eating the dust of its competitors. The name gives away that the track takes place in a futuristic city run by the king of the Koopas that is filled with winding turns and neon-lit signs. The track itself is pretty featureless. Rain falls on the roads, creating puddles that if a kart runs over will spin an unfortunate soul out. The final stretch of tracks enables racers to fly through the air off of the last hill that leads to the finish line. Not even the remix of Toad's Turnpike (Mario Kart 64) can make this track very interesting to me.

15) Cheep Cheep Lagoon

From the starting line, racers make a 90 degree turn towards a dock that abruptly ends, plummeting players into the titular lagoon, full of Cheep Cheeps, seaweed, and clams that open and close on a routine basis. A well-timed drive through an open clam shell can grant a racer coins or even an item box. The underwater section has multiple hills, allowing racers to trick off them for extra boosts of speed. The final stretch grants the ability to either ride along a narrow path followed by a small flight in the air (just watch out for the cavern's stalactites), or an underwater Sunday drive (here you must watch out for crabs). An oceanic ride, Cheep Cheep Lagoon is fifteenth on this list.

14) Toad Circuit

The skies are a bright blue with three giant inflatable Toads in the air: red, blue, and yellow in Toad Circuit. The track is the first in the game, so it's simplistic in nature. It is almost a figure eight with some slight variations. Players can catch air off a ramp to fly over an overpass or choose to drive under the bridge. A tunnel then takes racers to the back stretch where one can practice their drifting or opt to use a Mushroom to bypass a big turn to save some precious time. Toad Circuit is a pleasant introduction to the dog-eat-dog world of Mario Kart 7 which is why it speeds into the fourteenth spot.

13) Wuhu Loop

Most tracks are three laps, but Wuhu Loop shuns this structure. Instead, it utilizes a start and endpoint structure. It has three sections that takes players around the base of Wuhu Island from the starting town, across the red suspension bridge, along the cliff side of the island, through the plains, and back to the town. Watching out for cars is a given, but in case you don't consider them threats, watch out for cars. Wuhu Island was first introduced in Wii Sports Resort (of which it uses a remixed theme for the track), and then made its return in the Nintendo 3DS launch title, Pilotwings Resort. A summer-themed drive through the easy going curves of Wuhu Island is just what a kart racer needs to loosen the nerves and gain some peace with nature.

12) Piranha Plant Slide

This course is split into two parts: a drive through a Piranha Plant- and Goomba-infested sewer and an outside grassy plain full of trees, Goombas, and bushes that are heavily reminiscent of the original Super Mario Bros., only in 3D. Even the clouds are the same shape as the bushes! What starts with a ride down a water slide ends up in a dank and dark series of turns. A giant Piranha Plant sits in a pipe in the fork of the road. Of course, you can try to take the middle path for some extra coins, but the carnivorous plant makes for an obstacle. After this, a series of turns full of the underground-colored Goombas from World 1-2 of SMB lurk, ready to spin players out. Then comes some rail-less turns with some pipes allowing players to trick off them. An underwater section leads to a jump that sends racers taking flight, avoiding three pipes spewing water, and reaching the outside, final section of Piranha Plant Slide.

11) Rock Rock Mountain

Own the mountain. You begin on the cliff side of the mountain with a huge pit alongside you to the left. The road is curvy and leads to a cave inside the mountain where Swoopers-- bat creatures-- flying in your path to slow you down and rock-solid columns throughout the cavern. The exit of the cave leads to a downhill path followed by a ramp that opens your glider. You're in free flight now, but be careful to avoid the horizontal pipes that rest in the way. A forested section is followed by a huge uphill section where big boulders threaten to flatten those unprepared. Reaching the top of the path once again opens your glider, allowing you to casually fly over the finish line if you so choose. Rock Rock Mountain is a fun ride full of fun obstacles and great gliding opportunities.

10) Shy Guy Bazaar

Remember Subcon from Super Mario Bros. 2/Super Mario USA? If so, you will get fond flashbacks of the dream world as Shy Guy Bazaar is a veritable reintroduction. In fact, the final section of track has players gliding across a dark pit while dodging Shy Guys who soar in the air upon flying carpets. The actual bazaar area of Shy Guy Bazaar allows players to drive through the Arabian-themed streets and vendors or take it to the top and ride along the roofs. Even the pots can be obstacles, running into one reveals either a Mushroom, Banana, Green Shell, or if you're very lucky, a Star. The brick road barely dusted by sand wraps its way through this excellent track, giving players constant opportunities for divine drifting and other splendid racing feats.  

9) Rosalina's Ice World 

Right off the bat on the snowy and icy track you can see Rosalina's Comet Observatory on the right side of the starting line. As if that wasn't exhilarating enough, you will then speed through a halfpipe-esque area where the right side houses a time-costing pit. A cavern comes and ends with a short ramp that you can either jump onto a series of icebergs (first lap only) or dive underwater to gather coins. Penguins from Super Mario 64 call this area of Rosalina's Ice World home. After exiting the icy depths, you enter a cavern full of icicles that will slow down any who crash into them. From there you have a choice of two paths: an easy path or a more challenging and rail-free path full of boosters. A final jump and a final turn reintroduces players to the beginning of the track. This track oozes with Super Mario Galaxy charm, making it number nine on my list.

8) Wario Shipyard

A waterlogged course which reminds me heavily of Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3, Wario Shipyard (or Wario's Galleon) is home to the yellow and purple-clad plumber and rival to Mario. Hazards includes swinging anchors, topsails while gliding, sidestepping crabs, broken remains of the galleon, and jet streams which threaten to push players off of the track completely. The track is heavily atmospheric, dark, and gloomy, perfect for Wario's personality, which makes me enjoy Wario Shipyard a lot. From sharp turns to being able to glide while dodging topsails and anchors, the track has no shortage of entertaining ideas.

7) Music Park

Keys that can be driven over, making different sounds as they are pressed, glockenspiels and xylophone paths, drums that bounce players across chasms, and notes that leap into the air that can either smash players or allow them to trick as they hop in the air are but some of the fascinating ideas used in Music Park (known as Melody Motorway, a superior name, in European countries). There's even vegetation in the form of grass and gigantic Piranha Plants that will bite players if they drive within the light surrounding them to be enjoyed. Music Park is a colorful, enjoyable, and thrilling track that challenges players to keep their wits with them if they want to earn that checkered flag.

6) Maka Wuhu

Regardless of it having a huge glitch allowing for cheaters to skip half the track, I am judging Maka Wuhu by its merits as a cleverly constructed track and nothing more. Like its Wuhu cousin, Maka Wuhu has three sections and forgoes the three lap structure. One section begins at the base/beach of the island, racing through mud and dirt paths which constantly fork. All this leads to a cavern full of pits that players can fall into. Leaving the cave leads to the island's castle which the track loops around. This opens up a path still heading up the mountain with players narrowly avoiding boulders that roll down the opposite way. At the peak of the mountain players drive off a ramp, open their gliders and float down to either a floating target or Wuhu Island hotel's roof before once again taking a ramp to glide down to the beach which houses the finish line. I love using the shortcut that enables players to drive through a purple pool of water in front of the island's castle, riding up the path, going through the castle, and cutting a good amount of seconds off one's time. It also helps that I'm a sucker for a beautiful sunset.

5) DK Jungle

Based upon Retro Studios' Donkey Kong Country Returns-- in fact, Retro Studios helped to design some of the courses of Mario Kart 7-- the first track of the Special Cup, DK Jungle, is like driving through a level of Returns. Even the oh-so-familiar Jungle Hijinks theme plays as you race through jungles full of Tiki Goons, Screaming Pillars that push gliding karts back and forth, and swamp frogs that will spin unfortunate racers out. During the section with the trio of Tiki Goons, one can plainly see DK's home sitting on stilts to the left of the curved path. The final portion of track has racers running up sloped paths up to the Golden Temple where the fabled golden banana rests. A last glide past Screaming Pillars and a choice between two curved paths gives way to the finish line. My nostalgia for Donkey Kong knows no bounds, making this jungle jape number five on the list.

4) Daisy Hills

Even though it is only the second track in Mario Kart 7, Daisy Hills is a wonderful track in my mind. It harks to a Dutch landscape as it has a vibrant village surrounding the starting line, full of windmills and hot air balloons soaring in the bright blue sky above the track. In fact, the windmill blades and balloons become hazards as you fly through the sole flying section of the track. As for the first portion of the track, there's plenty to take in here as well. You're constantly going uphill, bypassing verdant fields of flowers and grass, using logs as a means to trick off of and goats that block the road at certain sections of track. Daisy Hills may be an early introduction to flight in Mario Kart 7, but is one of the more impressive rides in the game.

3) Mario Circuit 

I like this version of Mario Circuit for its simplicity. It's a gorgeous track with grassy fields, smooth, paved, cement roads (sometimes sandy paths), and lovely cherry blossom trees surrounding the curvaceous nature of the course. The petals fall on the road as you drive by. My favorite part of Mario Circuit is when you careen off a ramp, bounce off a red mushroom trampoline, make the trip towards Peach's Castle, and drive up the red-carpeted spiral road inside Her Majesty's home. What follows is another ramp that has players opening their gliders, flying over pipes that blast out hot air, perfect for catching even more air, before curving into a warp pipe tunnel that leads to the finish line for the next lap. The track is quaint, delightful, and a feast for the eyes. I normally enjoy Mario Circuit tracks in Mario Kart games, and this version is no different.

2) Bowser's Castle

If there is a constant in Mario Kart, it is that the Bowser's Castle tracks are one of the better courses in each installment. That tradition continues with Mario Kart 7's iteration of Bowser's Castle. Beginning with a ramp to glide straight into either the top floor or bottom floor of the castle. Either entrance leads to the same place. What follows is a series of hallways full of crushing Thwomps and later a pool of lava under a quick shortcut. Whichever way one chooses gets players by a rotating wooden wheel that after it concludes leads players into an underwater portion of track, full of lava geysers and pools of the hot-to-touch substance. Exiting the water grants racers access to a mountain path full of dangerous curves all culminating in a glide to the finish line. This is one of the only courses where you are supposed to fly over the line. In fact, you're supposed to soar through a big ring that signals the end of the track.

1) Rainbow Road

The ultimate track in Mario Kart 7 and the final Special Cup track, Rainbow Road keeps the trend of extravagant track designs for the series of courses going strong. Like Wuhu Loop and Maka Wuhu, Rainbow Road uses the three section structure. From racing around whole planets to driving on the face of a low gravity, Chomp-covered moon, Rainbow Road is a wild ride. The majority of the track has no rails, so falling off is especially easy to do. The final part of the course is by far my favorite as it allows players to glide through star gates a la Super Mario Galaxy, speeding through the air instead of dealing with the hazardous, gap-filled track below. The last incredibly dangerous turn can make or break a race for a given player. Make sure your nerves are calm, your drifting is true, and you driving skills are top of the line. Mario Kart 7's Rainbow Road takes you through an epic intergalactic adventure through the boundaries of space all within the time span of three minutes.


What a workout for the fingers that was! What are your favorite Mario Kart 7 tracks? Let the SuperPhillip Central community know in the comments section.

Mario Tennis Open (3DS) North American Advertisement

The coverage of Mario Tennis Open continues with this North American advertisement for the game. Up to four players can take to the court online for some intense rallies of volleys. Mario Tennis Open releases May 20th alongside the all-new Royal Purple Nintendo 3DS.

Mario Tennis Open (3DS) Japanese Launch Trailer

I was pondering to myself, "wouldn't it be awful if this game turned out to be total garbage after I've been covering it for so long?" That hasn't happened much on SuperPhillip Central with games I look forward to, so let's hope this is as good as it looks. Nonetheless, even though Japan gets Mario Tennis Open after North America's May 20th release, Nintendo has released this Japanese launch trailer for the game. It shows off the optional touch controls, the two angles you can play with, the Mii customization, and the different types of playable characters-- though not in that order. Do you have the need to pull off an ace on Mario and company?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Wario Land 4 (GBA) Retro Review

If there ever was a first-world problem, having a backlog of video games would be a popular one for game hobbyists. There always seems to be more games than one could ever have the opportunity to sit down and play. I started Wario Land 4, the subject of today's review, back in January. I only recently got back into it. Multiple releases getting in the way and all that. With the game completed, I can finally render a severely late verdict on the game.

Greed Is Good

Wario first debuted as a castle-stealing tyrant in Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins on the original Game Boy. He then had the gall to steal the Super Mario Land series from poor Mario. Now, Wario has his own series in the Wario Land franchise of games. The most recent entry has been the artistically impressive Wario Land: Shake It! on the Nintendo Wii. With the release of the Ambassador line of downloadable titles from Nintendo for early 3DS owners, Ambassadors have gotten to take a glimpse at Wario Land's Game Boy Advance entry, Wario Land 4. While not the best platforming title on the GBA, the game is well worth playing and a welcome gift for 3DS Ambassadors.

Wario Land 4's story is quite simple. Our garlic-chomping hero treks out in his purple convertible (as seen in various Mario Kart games like the GameCube and Wii versions) to an out-of-the-way jungle. Inside the jungle looms a mysterious pyramid that the antihero believes to hold immense amounts of wealth. And so Wario's journey for booty and bounty begins.

There are four sectors to the pyramid. These can be played in any order. Each colored sector has four levels. Each level has a myriad of goods to collect such as a key known as Keyzer which opens the way to the next level in a given sector, four pieces of a jewel hidden in four treasure chests which when all four parts of the jewel have been pieced together in each level of a sector, the way to the boss opens up, a CD that unlocks a song to listen to in the pyramid's Sound Room, and multiple miscellaneous gems that boost Wario's score.

Clear all passages to raise the Golden 
Pyramid in the center of the hub.
The levels themselves take place inside paintings a la Super Mario 64, so the worry that the game's zones are all pyramid-themed can be washed away. Sure, some of the levels follow the typical beach, jungle, volcano, and ice world tropes, but most break away from such ideas, offering new ideas and locales such as rolling around a giant pinball machine, scampering through a world made up of doodles and writing utensils, and getting messy in a hazardous junkyard.

Areas demand exploration in order to find the four golden treasure chests in each level. As stated, without gathering them all in each of a sector's levels, you cannot gain access to that sector's boss. Hidden in the most devious of places are the CDs, one of which in each main level. These take all your cunning to discover. Additionally, there are secret areas that act as puzzle rooms. Usually the prize for figuring them out is a blue gem worth plenty of money. These puzzle rooms can be as simple as chucking a fellow treasure hunter into a switch to turn transparent blocks solid in order to act as a staircase to the gem, or as complex as completing multiple steps just to reach a gem.

Wario and his booty plunder for booty.
The goal of each level is to reach the statue usually placed in the deepest part of the level. The fun (and the danger) doesn't end there either. Stomping on the statue reveals a ticking time bomb inside the statue. Wario must escape the level before the time bomb goes off. Oftentimes, Wario will enter new, unexplored parts of the level in his struggle to stay alive.

Wario has all the moves to explore and survive through the numerous worlds. Like his rival Mario he can ground pound. From higher distances, Wario can smash through harder blocks. With a shoulder button pressed down he can blitz through blocks and speed through levels like an offensive linebacker. Wario's main line of attack is his charge. Of course, some foes cannot be hit from in front as they can carry painful spears, so they must be taken out from behind. And when an enemy is dazed he can chuck them with such ferocity or go all Larry Bird and perform an alley oop arc shot when the need is presented to him.

 For such a pudgy plumber,
Wario sure can jump.
Wario can also transform his body into various different shapes and forms. If he gets caught on fire, he runs like a madman, bounces off the walls a few times before being engulfed in flames, allowing him to burn special flammable blocks. He can get flattened into the shape of an accordion by an enemy's hammer, giving Wario the ability to leap high into the air, crashing through blocks during his ascent. He can even get bitten by a vicious vampire bat, turning into one, and gaining the power of flight. Just be sure to watch out for lights that will transform him back into his familiar pudgy self. There are an abundant array of transformations that can assist Wario-- from zombie Wario to snowball Wario-- into reaching secret and/or helpful areas.

Each sector concludes with a bizarre boss battle. Like the ending of each normal level, each encounter has a time limit. Not only is Wario's life on the line in these fights, but so are three treasure chests. As the timer goes closer to zero, the treasures placed in the background disappear. To get the best ending of Wario Land 4, players need to keep and collect as many of these treasures as possible. That's no elementary task as these bosses take a lot of punishment. One has you riding the waves made by the boss to come off a high enough place to ground pound its face while another drops enemies with sharp pins on their heads for Wario to pick up, throw into the butt of the inflated boss, and have Wario charge into the creature controlling the giant adversary.

 And I thought Wario had bad hygiene;
this boss is drooling all over the place.
Wario Land 4 is a fairly short game. Most players could probably reach the credits in 5-8 hours. But factor in the addition of difficulties to play which switch up where each treasure chest is, adds more hazards and enemies to contend with, and makes each time limit even stricter, and you have a game that you can play multiple times. This makes the game well worth the asking price.

The title itself is pleasant to look at. The 2D visuals are divine, and Wario's animations-- whether walking, running, charging, leaping, or idling-- all look fantastic. The music on the other hand is pretty forgettable aside from the Hurry Up! theme that plays each time Wario makes his grand escape out of a level. Some songs even have lyrics, but most of the words are hard to understand coming out a handheld's speakers.

Wario Land 4 is a weird little platformer that's just crazy enough and suitable for the character the game's named after. While it's easy on Normal, the challenge certainly heats up on the Hard and Super Hard difficulties. Collecting every treasure, every CD, and earning high scores on each level will last players a good long while. There is no doubt that there is plenty of fun to be had, and if you're growing tired to platforming with a certain goody-two-shoes plumber in Mario, maybe you should consult your mean and greedy side and pick up a copy of Wario's GBA adventure. Greed is indeed good.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.5/10]

Announcing Our Newest Affiliates: Planet 3DS and Nintendo Gamer Thoughts!

In the middle of last week I announced that I earned a writing gig at Planet 3DS, a site for Nintendo 3DS news as well as reviews. My job is the latter. The best part is that I don't need to write exclusive reviews for them; I can just use the reviews I post on SuperPhillip Central for them. Regardless, it makes sense that my blog is affiliating with Planet 3DS, does it not? Finally, I forgot to mention Nintendo Gamer Thoughts, another site that SPC linked up with in the past. SuperPhillip Central welcomes our newest affiliates proudly and loudly.

Monday, May 7, 2012

SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs - ...Bring May Flowers Edition

April has come and gone, and now we are left with the month of May where flowers bloom and the winds blow. The first edition of SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs of the month has a veritable pantheon of selected video game tracks. This includes music from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Super Mario 64, and Resident Evil 5. Let us begin our trip through the land of VGM!

v101. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii, GCN) - Hyrule Field

We kick off the next 100 with how we kicked off the first 100, with a Zelda theme. If there is one fan group that I cannot stand, it is the Zelda fan base. They are the stingiest, most never satisfied group in gaming. Remember when The Wind Waker came out, and fans didn't like it? Then Twilight Princess came out, and then fans like Wind Waker and not Twilight Princess. Now Skyward Sword is out and the fans like Twilight Princess all of a sudden. It's this pathetic pattern that makes me hate Zelda fans tremendously. As for this theme, it plays during... well, you can probably guess from the song title. My favorite part happens between 0:44 and 0:57. It's particularly poignant and heroic to me.

v102. Super Mario 64 (N64) - Water

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink. Who would want to drink the water after Unagi the Eel has swam through it? Water is the theme heard in two levels of the revolutionary Super Mario 64, Jolly Roger Bay and Dire, Dire Docks. It is a mellow piece that is perfect for plundering the depths of both levels. Who could forget entering a sunken ship, opening treasure chests in the correct order to lower the water level, collecting red coins while riding on moving poles, or stowing away on Bowser's docked submarine? This is one of my favorite compositions by Koji Kondo, and a brief listen to the track will help you understand why.

v103. TMNT: Tournament Fighters (SNES) - Metal Works

There were three different versions of TMNT: Tournament Fighters, a fighting game for the Super Nintendo, Nintendo Entertainment System, and Sega Genesis. The Super Nintendo version had the best character roster and presentation. Metal Works is not only a stage in the game, set in a welding factory, but it is also the theme of Cyber Shredder. There were a load of other characters to choose from, mostly from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic such as War, Armageddon, Chrome Dome, and the seemingly steroid-crazed Rat King.

v104. WarioWare: Touched! (DS) - Mike's Song (Brawl Version)

Go! Go! Go, go, Mike! Go! Go! Go, go, Mike! The Super Smash Bros. Brawl took a plethora of classic video game themes and remixed and remastered them with the assistance of a smorgasbord of veteran video game music composers to create one unforgettable soundtrack. This theme from the near-launch Nintendo DS title, WarioWare: Touched! is Mike's Song, a talking microphone headset. The Brawl version is appropriately peppy and enjoyable to listen to. This dude is never off-key because he is, in fact, a karaoke machine!

v105. Resident Evil 5 (PS3, 360) - Wind of Madness (Digital Version)

This intense boss battle theme gets a supremely superior digital version. It is the theme heard as you have your second-to-last encounter with Albert Wesker. This is all before the infamous Chris-punching-a-boulder segment in the volcano. Instead, here you are trying to get Wesker to have a rocket caught in his face. Easy peasy, right? Well, Wesker is no idiot. He is pretty sharp. After all, he's the brains behind the whole Majini operation. Speaking of the song, there is no better part to me than 1:43 to 2:06. The impossible odds can get to a weaker team, but Chris and Sheva are up to the task.


What a way to end this edition of my favorite VGMs. Next week we will have more VGMs to hear tracks from, including but not limited to: Final Fantasy XIII-2, No More Heroes, and Golden Sun!