Friday, June 15, 2012

Demo Round-Up 3: LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes and The Amazing Spider-Man (3DS)

Update: Today's second planned post will be made public tomorrow.

I'm going to do something special today that is rare for SuperPhillip Central. I'm going to be posting two unique articles in one day. The first is this, a couple of demo impressions for two recently added demos on the North American Nintendo eShop. Perhaps I go into more detail than necessary and certain details may be off thanks to going off by my memory, but these impressions and walkthroughs of the pair of demos should give you a good idea of what to expect.

LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (3DS)

The demo starts off with a cutscene showing the Gotham City Man of the Year Awards. Lex Luthor (voiced by Clancy Brown) who thinks he has the award wrapped up sits at a table with Bruce Wayne who goes on to actually win the award. Before he can get to accepting it, however, The Joker crashes the party with a cavalcade of some of Gotham City's most notorious villains such as Harley Quinn, The Penguin, and The Riddler. The group's goons begin robbing the rich denizens at the ceremony blind, including Lex Luthor who sees potential in The Joker saying that the two will see other again.

Soon, I got control of Batman and partner Robin in the ceremony room, which is a two section area, the floor and the stage on top. After dealing with several henchmen, I broke a nearby device on the northeast side of the area which allowed me to use the parts of the device to build steps leading up to the stage. More tenacious twerps were put out of commission, and I was met with the presence of one Harley Quinn.

The boss fight against Harley Quinn was easy peasy as all I had to do is when she spins her giant hammer is to use the Batarang (used by holding a button and dragging the icon over my intended target, in this case, Harley Quinn). As her health dwindled past half, she leaped up to the stage and moved between two columns, swinging from the poles set in between the columns change sides and columns. Now, the goal was to use my Batarang to hit a red and white target on the side which Ms. Quinn stood. If she was stationed on the left, I'd hit the left target to shock her with some painful volts. If she stood on the right platform, I'd smack the right target to put her out of her crazy misery. Soon she was defeated, and a trapdoor opened in the center of the stage for Robin and I to fall down.

Perhaps this is a good time to discuss the controls. Switching between Batman and Robin is performed with one of the face buttons, attacking with another, one can jump and then press that same button while in the air to glide and descend slowly, and another button controls the special weapon or power such as Batman's Batarang.

After falling down the trapdoor's hole, I was greeted with the message saying Harley Quinn was defeated. Back to jail with you, my pretty. It was now The Riddler's turn for some pain and swift justice. I could tell this because I was introduced to a fairly simple puzzle. Hitting three targets, all sitting side by side in a horizontal row above a closed door of sorts, opened up the compartment below it and showed a series of four multi-colored notes shown on a musical staff. There were five instruments in the room each of a different color as well, so it seemed logical that each note shown on the staff corresponded to what order of instruments I should play. This puzzle changes each time, so I can't pass it by simply remembering the order of which instruments to press A on.

After solving this puzzle, the compartment revealed a chute that Batman, being his big, busty self, just couldn't fit through, so I switched to playing as Robin. I went through the chute and wound up in a basement area. I destroyed a box to reveal pieces to a ladder which could quickly be created by Robin. If only real life LEGOs were so easy to build with! Batman climbed down the ladder to join me in the basement area and we were met with two levers to pull. Apparently, both needed to be pulled simultaneously, so I was glad to have Batman with me. We did just that, and the path to the next area was revealed through a once-locked door.

Entering the next area, I fended off a series of Riddler grunts and then the area was mine to explore freely. A secret area that could only be opened with the help of Superman meant I wasn't getting through there in this demo. I tried going right (the way to go), but a camera each time would see me and the door would then shut tightly. I guessed I couldn't go that way... yet. A section in the northwest corner of the main room allowed Robin to make multiple wall jumps up it to reach a high catwalk. I broke an object when I was on top to reveal a series of small blocks that could be built to make a grappling hook point for Batman to use to reach my level. As Robin, I then used multiple poles to swing across a gap and made a platform move outward to allow Batman to cross. I then switched to Batman as there was a pad of sorts with his logo on it. Standing on it, Batman's suit transformed. Instead of the special attack button being a Batarang, it now allowed Batman to cloak himself. I used this ingenuous technology to slip past that aforementioned camera undetected, through the door, hitting a switch behind a panel of glass to shut the camera off, allowing Robin to freely pass through as well, and moved on to the next area, a battle with The Riddler.

The Riddler fight had three boxes to choose from. Using Batman's new suit, I could stand before a box, press a button, and see through into the inside. If the box was empty, I needed to move away or else get hurt by a falling object. If the box had The Riddler in it, the villain would jump out, take his beatings alongside his henchmen, and the process would then repeat. Defeating Edward E. Nigma would make him drop a keycard, giving me access to the next area.

This area had even more baddies to battle, who went down quite easily. What followed was me destroying a big statue that fell down into multiple parts. One part revealed blocks that could be used to built a way to reach the top balcony of the room where two pulleys rested. Both Batman and Robin pulled these and the way to the next area was open, the battle with The Penguin.

Perhaps "battle" is a misnomer as I didn't even touch the "fowl" character. Instead, a plethora of small mechanical penguins popped out of boxes, slowly moving towards me. Touching them proved idiotic as they exploded on contact, killing me. Instead, I used my Batarang to daze one, picked one up, and tossed it at one of the failing supports of the balcony The Penguin was standing and taunting on. Doing this tactic on all support columns sent The Penguin crashing down in a messy heap. The path to The Joker was finally ahead of Robin and me.

The final room of the demo had the boy wonder and I met with explosives destroying our way back. We were in this to the end now. After relinquishing some thugs, I moved to the right side of the room, obliterated a vending machine, and used the pieces to build a new contraption on a wall. Robin twisted and turned the object all he wanted, but nothing was working. Then, as Batman with his ability to see through certain walls, looked through a silver door by the device I was turning as Robin. "Turns" out that I needed to line up a series of pipes of sorts by turning the two knobs on either side of the door as Robin. I did just that as Batman's faithful companion, and The Joker showed himself, though sitting on a machine that spewed out missiles.

The fight itself was very simple. Dodge the missiles that Joker shoots intermittently, and then chuck a Batarang at the machine to damage it. Do this enough and then Batman and Robin get the last laugh. Or do they? The end of the demo showed a scene having Joker escaping via a speedboat. We'll get him next time!

LEGO Batman 2's final version-- at least on the 3DS-- will not have the open world gameplay of its bigger brothers. This might sink the 3DS version for me pending the Wii version has that gameplay as both versions are the same price ($39.99 while the PS3 and 360 versions are $49.99). Regardless, I could see how cutting out the filler of driving or riding from place to place could offer better pacing. We'll see, I guess. Overall though, I really enjoyed the demo, but it's important to note that I've only played one other LEGO game of this style and that was on the 360, so I don't suffer the same amount of burnout from the franchise as others might.

The Amazing Spider-Man (3DS)

This demo, limited to only ten tries, starts off with Felicia Hardy (who would later be known as Black Cat) holding up a bank (oh, how cliche) and pointing a gun at the bank's president. Mishandling the cowardly man, Hardy pushes and kicks him before she coerces him to follow her plans. Cue Spider-Man. The demo allowed a number of strategies to be had at the start. I could go down immediately and fight the henchmen infesting the main lobby of the bank, or I could utilize a huge hanging chandelier and drop it on the thugs in the center of the floor, making a grand entrance (and causing lots of property damage). I opted the chandelier route, dispatching two goons in the process.

Combat consists of throwing punches and kicks at opponents. You can press and/or hold the A button to fire webs to hold foes until they break free. Though, dodging is relegated to touching the right side of the bottom screen, which is a questionable decision at best. When you have a goon with a gun, you must constantly tap the dodge button to continually roll out of the way. Not so easy when you must also be on the offensive, too. It's silly to me because there are plenty of buttons and inputs on the 3DS for the dodge mechanic to be put on one of them. Did Beenox, the developer, really need to have the L and R buttons as well as the d-pad control the camera when L and R could have been used for simpler dodging and evading?

Meanwhile, Web Rush is a technique that when the button is held down, surrounds the screen with a purple glow. Spider-Man can then target specific enemies or areas and quickly sling towards them. For actual web-slinging, all you need to do is press and hold the jump button. This feels nice, swinging around areas, though it IS pretty hard not to get THIS concept right. Something not right, however, is the obnoxious Call of Duty when-you-get-hit-the-screen-around-you-turns-ugly-painful-red-and-stays-that-way-until-you-heal-up.

Anyway, after removing the lowlifes from the room, my next task was to take a vent in the president's room, located on the upper level, to the next area. More thugs to take out followed by a trip through the subway tunnels to catch Ms. Hardy. Arriving in an area with multiple columns, I had to do battle with her. The encounter had Felicia firing shots from her gun at me. Simply running around and using a column to use between Spider-Man and Hardy worked to avoid getting blasted. Of course, I couldn't just stay in defensive mode. I used my webs to ensnare the rowdy woman, beat her to a pulp, and then watched her various acrobatics allow her to escape. This gameplan continued for a couple of more rounds until she changed up her tactics. She now threw down a smoke bomb and hid around the arena. If she spotted me, she would taunt and then move to a new location. Very annoying, but then I figured out that she couldn't see me on the ceiling. An effortless Web Rush attack to spot and then hit her a few times made her mince meat. Spider-Man then apprehended her and I was tasked with taking her to the entrance of the bank by backtracking through my previously explored areas.

The demo didn't allow for upgrades to Spider-Man's suit which will be in the main game. Experience points gained by combos in combat, taking out multiple foes, finding hidden magazine strewn about the given levels, and taking photos of the Oscorp logo on various items all add up to give Spider-Man new upgrades. What I played was okay, but with reports of other players falling through floors and getting glitched scenarios, I think it is safe to say that I don't think I will be taking the full retail version of The Amazing Spider-Man on 3DS out for a spin.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

May 2012 NPD Results

I sort of dread seeing numbers now from the NPD's monthly recap of the video game industry's sales in the United States. But it's like The Situation completely bombing on the roast of Donald Trump (both people who I can't stand), it's hard to look away. Well, without further ado, here are your best-selling games of May 2012.

I must say, I don't think my tastes could be any further from the tastes of the country I live in. Perhaps I was born in the wrong country like Hideo Kojima. Then again, I don't like high pressure jobs with intense hours, so maybe not. What we have here are Western PC game with problems, guns, guns, game I didn't know had a first entry much less a sequel, sports, guns, more guns, even more guns, Japanese developer once again straying from what they know to court the West (and failing to do so apparently), and dancing.

The Xbox 360 sold the most this month, but it only sold just over 150,000 units. The 3DS outdid its performance last May, but that's not saying much as there was a new color released and it still didn't light up the charts. Consumers just seem bored with the current crop of consoles and handhelds (I don't even want to know Vita numbers), and I feel that there is nothing the big three can do to change that. Sure, it would help if the big three would actually release a steady stream of software (looking at you mostly, Nintendo), but I'm an idiot in all honesty.

Killer Soundtracks - My Personal Favorites, Part Four

Time to brighten your Thursday with Part Four of Killer Soundtracks - My Personal Favorites. I hope you have gotten to know my tastes in music through these special articles. If not, well, perhaps I need to get my point across better or you need to pay better attention. Regardless, enjoy ten more video game soundtracks that I just happen to adore. 

Banjo-Kazooie (N64, XBLA)

Banjo-Kazooie is one of my favorite 3D platformers of all time, and for good reason-- it has plenty of challenging jumps, a lovely sense of humor, colorful graphics, and loads of challenge. The soundtrack is also a plus for me, featuring such tracks as the mischievous Gruntilda's Lair, the tropical Treasure Trove Cove, the sensational strings of Freezeey Peak, the peppy Click Clock Wood, the xylophone-filled Bubblegloop Swamp, the industrial Rusty Bucket Bay, and the dramatic Final Battle.

Diddy Kong Racing (N64)

David Wise does his compositional duties wonderfully well with a cheery soundtrack with lots of life with his Diddy Kong Racing soundtrack. Who couldn't have nostalgic flashbacks with songs like Ancient Lake, Jungle Falls, Hot Top Volcano, Crescent Island, Frosty Village, Darkmoon Caverns, and Wizpig Challenge? Well, unless you never played DKR, then shame on you! Diddy Kong Racing remains the best kart racer in its genre, and it's a shame that we won't see a proper sequel. 

Perfect Dark Zero (360)

A heavily rock-centric soundtrack (but that's not all there is to it), Perfect Dark Zero was my most played launch title of the Xbox 360. And then the system and I sort of parted ways after the menagerie of shooters and Western-themed games took over. That said, the music by David Clynick is quite good. You have a familiar theme in Combat Arena, hard rock songs like Glitter Girl (Dark Side), Subway Retrieval (Descent), Rooftops Escape Main Theme, Trinity Escape Main Theme, and Bridge Assault (Action), as well as the soothing beats of River Extraction (Lab Escape).

Sonic Unleashed (PS3, 360)

One part good game, one part bad game, Sonic Unleashed was an interesting experiment, harmed by the questionable decision of adding the completely sluggish and slow Werehog Sonic into the mix. That said, like all (and I do mean all) Sonic Team games, Sonic Unleashed is supported by a stellar soundtrack of fast tempo tunes and terrific hub world tracks. You have the "inspirational" opening theme in Endless Possibility. You have various songs to speed through levels to such as Windmill Isle - Day, Savannah Citadel - Day, Cool Edge - Day, and Rooftop Run - Day and hub world themes like Empire City - Day and Shamar - Night. A nice mix of music indeed.

LocoRoco 2 (PSP)

Not like any other soundtrack you have ever heard, the LocoRoco 2 soundtrack is certainly... eccentric, no? You can tell with such songs like dadhi dado da, muimui house, muimui (my favorite of the themes), buibui, Moja's Song, uwauwau, and arten daffu. The LocoRoco series utilizes its own made-up language, so don't feel the need to try to translate any of the lyrics you here. LocoRoco 2 is one of more creative and charming titles in the PSP software library, and it is a game that I cannot recommend enough as it launched at the price of twenty dollars. It is bound to be cheaper now.

Viewtiful Joe (PS2, GCN)

Viewtiful Joe is a series that will most likely and sadly never see another installment. Sure, Capcom teases with the character's inclusion in games like Tatsunoko VS. Capcom and Marvel VS. Capcom 3, but fans like me can see the writing on the wall. If Capcom turned its collective back on their main mascot Mega Man, why would they bother with a lesser known character? While you are now depressed, why not check out these tracks from the first Viewtiful Joe such as Some Like It Red Hot, Let's Ride Six Machine, The Viewtiful Escape, Another Joe, Inferno Lord, and Standing Ovation?

F-Zero GX (GCN)

F-Zero GX is a fantastic futuristic racer, but man, is it supremely difficult. Sega's Amusement Vision and Nintendo teamed up to create this high velocity arcade-style racer, and it still impresses both gameplay-wise and graphically to this day. The music is also great, showcasing genres like techno and rock. You have theme songs of the pilots like Captain Falcon, Dr. Stewart, Mrs. Arrow, Phoenix, and Princia Ramode as well as track themes such as Fire Field's Feel Our Pain, Aeropolis' ZEN, and Casino Palace's Shotgun Kiss. I like how the track themes change when you are on the final lap to something even more intense.

Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games (Wii)

The London 2012 Olympics are almost here. Can you feel it? Even with the long wait that didn't stop Mario, Sonic, and their friends to get a jump on the ceremonies and have their own pair of games (Wii and 3DS) to participate in the global event. The soundtrack itself is made up of remixes of past Mario and Sonic games like Mario Kart: Double Dash's Mario Circuit, New Super Mario Bros.' Underwater Theme, Sonic Heroes' Grand Metropolis, as well as Sonic & Knuckles' Flying Battery Zone, and totally new themes like Badminton, Beach Volleyball, and Football. Some of the mini-games don't work so well (just a handful, really), but Mario and Sonic's latest Olympic outing is definitely worth a look, especially for Olympic fans.

Final Fantasy IV (SNES, PS1, PSP, DS)

Over these past four parts of Killer Soundtracks I have posted a lot of music from the Final Fantasy series. It is one of the best franchises for music, and our journey through the series takes us to Final Fantasy IV, most likely my most played entry of the mainline titles. Nobuo Uematsu moved from the basic 8-bit sounds of the Nintendo Entertainment System/Famicom to the Super Nintendo/Super Famicom to blow the doors off the joint in style. We have such unforgettable tracks like Red Wings, Battle 2, Into the Darkness, Mt. Ordeals, Battle With the Four Fiends, Giott, the Great King, and The Big Whale. A true classic in every sense of the word.

Kingdom Hearts II (PS2)

From one Square game to another, we have Kingdom Hearts II on our proverbial plates to listen to now. Composed by the incomparable Yoko Shimomura, this soundtrack captures the whimsical nature of the Disney brand to a "T." We have the soothing Lazy Afternoons for Twilight Town, the bouncy battle theme Working Together, the chorus-backed Fragments of Sorrow, the theme of Beast's Castle Waltz of the Damned, the majestic Olympus Coliseum, the rocking Hazardous Highway, and the ending theme of Fantasia Alla Marcia. Nothing better than exploring Disney worlds with Sora, Donald, and Goofy with some lovely music playing overhead.


Ten more of my favorite soundtracks have been unveiled. Next week, Part Five will be posted. Until then, why not check out a previous part of Killer Soundtracks - My Personal Favorites?

Killer Soundtracks - My Personal Favorites, Part One
Killer Soundtracks - My Personal Favorites, Part Two 
Killer Soundtracks - My Personal Favorites, Part Three 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Top Five Controllers

The Wii U Gamepad was formally unveiled at last week's E3 2012 event. It seems like the perfect chance to talk about my five favorite controller input devices in video game history. These can be listed by comfort as well as innovation and impact. Will your favorite make the list?

5) The PlayStation 3's Dualshock 3

The original controller on the original PlayStation did not have analog sticks. It was only until the Nintendo 64's analog stick gained popularity that Sony added two analog sticks to their controller. The reactionary innovation of Sony knows no bounds. With the Dualshock 3 controller for the PlayStation 3 you have the pressure sensitive buttons and analog sticks that can be pressed in (the L3 and R3 inputs), much like the previous Dualshock 2. However, new to this iteration of the Dualshock was the Sixaxis technology, allowing for simple motion movements. Some games used this better than others. Although the evolution of the PlayStation brand's controller has the same basic design throughout its life, the third installment is arguably the best.

4) The Xbox 360 Controller

Outdoing the PlayStation's Dualshock controller in comfort, form, and function, the Xbox 360's controller is a modern miracle in design. It expertly combines past controller ideas and meshes them together with new ones. The diamond pattern of the four face buttons from past controllers is here, but they're given a jelly bean-like feel and look to them, two analog sticks-- not adjacent like the Dualshock, dual triggers and dual bumpers on the top of the controller, and the Home button, allowing players to see which player they are as well as sending them to the dashboard to check out information on the Xbox Live account and new achievement updates were some of the more notable qualities of the controllers. The only knock you can give to the controller-- and it is a big one for 2D games-- is the mightily mediocre d-pad, one of the worst in recent memory.

3) The Nintendo Wavebird

The terrific thing about Nintendo's Wavebird controller for use on the GameCube and then later the Wii was that the player no longer needed to hassle with a long cord connecting the controller to the actual system. The omission of rumble was unfortunate, but it allowed the Wavebird to go uncharged for play times in the range of 50+ hours. The Wavebird was yet another innovation in controller design by Nintendo that is now a mainstay. All controllers nowadays are wireless, though they don't need a separate receiver plugged into the system like the Wavebird did. The comfortable controller allowed for relief when playing games for extended periods of time, and the arrangement of the buttons and triggers was a breath of fresh air-- and they felt nice, too. Overall, the Wavebird was a welcomed addition to many GameCube owners' homes.

2) The Wii Remote and Nunchuk

While not the first device to allow motion controls to enter homes across the world, the Wii most certainly made them quite popular. But I'm not going to talk about motion controls much here-- as much as they were novel and fun to use in games like Wii Sports, Red Steel 2, and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (the latter two required the Wii MotionPlus attachment). Instead I'd like to talk about the IR pointer used in FPS games, TPS games, and rail shooters. This was the thing I was most excited about with the Wii remote and nunchuk, and the games that used it made dual analog look like a dinosaur. I'd also like to broach about how cozy the controller combination of the Wii remote and nunchuk was. You could play with your hands apart, on your lap, in the air, anywhere. You could actually relax and not have your hands bound together. The nunchuk added bonus inputs to games, and you pretty much had all the buttons and inputs you needed when the two were tied together. Perhaps my only complaint with this setup is that the nunchuk and Wii remote weren't wires-free from one another. They had to be tethered together. That said, the Wii remote and nunchuk remains one of my favorite controllers around.

1) The Super Nintendo Controller

The ultimate controller for 2D gaming, the Super Nintendo controller is what I consider to be one of the most influential gaming input devices around. Since its inception in 1991, it made the diamond pattern of the four faces buttons a mainstay for nearly every controller that followed it. It made shoulder buttons the new hotness, and it was just easy on the hands to hold thanks to the rounded edges of the body. Nintendo could have simply taken their NES controller and painted it purple, but no, they advanced this hobby once more, as they are wont to do. Many days and nights were had sitting around the old Super Nintendo and playing classics that wouldn't have been possible to play as well or wouldn't have played as well on the NES like Super Mario World, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Donkey Kong Country, multiple fighting games, and more. Note: the Super Famicom version of the controller is basically set up the same way, but it has different colored buttons.

For more articles, editorials, and special segments, check out the SPC Feature Catalog.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Rayman (PS1, SAT) Retro Review

If you can recall, I previously listed Rayman as one of my favorite platforming mascots. Most of that was due to the fact that I greatly enjoyed his latest platforming romp, Rayman Origins. Now, I am turning my attention to his very first adventure, Rayman, for this first review of June. Note: All screenshots are from the PlayStation version of the game.

Meet the Old Crazy

Poor Rayman never reached the heights of popularity of Mario or Sonic, though one could consider Rayman to be the French equivalent of those two platforming icons. My first run-in with Rayman was an awful Nintendo DS port of Rayman 2: The Great Escape around the system's launch followed by the Nintendo 3DS port of the same game. Apparently, Ubisoft loves to create less than satisfactory ports of Rayman 2. What hooked me on the character, however, was his most recent adventure, a return to form with Rayman Origins. That game made me want to check out Rayman's first game, simply called Rayman. Does it still hold up in the present?

As typical of platformers, the story of Rayman is not anywhere near a harrowing tale of complexity and drama. It is quite basic. The Electoons, a source of power within Rayman's world, have been captured by the main villain of the game, the mysterious Mr. Dark, and placed within cages all around the various levels of the game. Don't you feel the need to get involved and save the day as well as ridding Rayman's realm of Mr. Dark?

Rayman comes across as a simple platformer, but there's some depth to be had. For one, Rayman can only get hit about four times before he dies. Lives are earned through gathering orbs and collecting Rayman idols placed in usually precarious locations. Levels generally consist of an abundance of secret areas, and the levels are split up between sections of huge areas and rooms, sort of like Yoshi's Island or Wario Land.

Right away you can see how
striking this title truly is.
At the start of the game, Rayman only has the ability to move, jump, and climb certain structures. This makes enemies a big threat. However, as you progress throughout the game, Rayman learns new helpful abilities to take down Mr. Dark's forces a peg or two. He can gain the ability to throw a powered punch, to hang from cliffs and pull himself up, to grab special objects like rings to fling himself across chasms, and to pull out his signature helicopter move, allowing Rayman to slowly float across gaps effortlessly.

Can you keep up with the action?
There are a handful of worlds for Rayman to visit. They forgo the typical tropes found in most platformers. One world you'll be in a swampy forest while another you'll be walking along a world filled with musical instruments as platforms and hazards. There's usually five or six levels in each world, and there is a spot on each world's map to save progress. The last level of each world pits Rayman against a boss character. From bipedal saxophones to stone golems, Rayman has his work cut out for him.

I ordered eggs, not Rayman.
Speaking of boss battles, the fights here are quite intense. Like I said, Rayman has a limited amount of hits he can take before he perishes, and the bosses pull no punches. Their patterns offer a myriad of moves to outmaneuver, and they mix things up on a consistent basis. The first fight against an irritated mosquito has the enemy dropping small and then humongous barbed balls onto the arena which bounce when dropped. Rayman must time his movements just right to pass under them unharmed. The boss can also jet horizontally across the battlefield. Rayman needs to either duck or leap over the mighty mosquito depending on where it attacks.

As if the bosses weren't tough enough, the actual game is deviously difficult, something you wouldn't expect for a game that you would think would appeal most to children. Levels feature loads of platforming peril and challenges that require quick wits and reactions. One level in particular involves  Rayman and a brass instrument-shaped series of enemies which use their ability to blow Rayman away from them. Rayman gains a lot of speed when being blown back, and players must use his momentum to jump over a succession of increasingly smaller vertically-inclined platforms as he gets pushed back and forth. Falling means you must ascend this tower of instruments all over again. To say this part of the game is annoying to play (and it's only the second world!) would be an understatement. Enemies are pretty crafty, too. When they see Rayman is firing one of his fists outward at them, they appropriately duck under them. This can be maddening to the player, but it shows some intelligent AI. Challenge is one thing, but I think for a game that tries to appeal to everyone, Rayman will turn a lot of people off before they even get to the meat and potatoes of the title. It also doesn't help that there is some trial and error to be had here-- especially with a few obnoxious blind jumps.

That red power-up bestows Rayman with increased health.
As stated previously, Mr. Dark captured all of the Electoons and stuck them inside cages. There are six cages in each level that need to be broken open with a punch from Rayman. Cages are well hidden and require you to explore far and wide. Some cages don't spawn until you complete a certain objective or visit a specific portion of level. Other cages require you to return to the level when you have picked up the required ability to reach the cage. Breaking open cages and freeing Electoons isn't just a personal goal for players to achieve; in order to reach the final, final boss of the game, all cages must be opened in every level.

Rayman is a gorgeous 2D game. The vibrant and vivid visuals from characters to the cheery backgrounds speak greatly of the talented artists and the terrific art style the game sports. Rayman and the various other characters in the game animate splendidly, presenting believable movements. Even with all the chaos that occurs on the screen, Rayman rocks a solid framerate at all times. Rayman is indeed a beautiful looking game, and even when you die time and time again, you will appreciate the art the game holds. From sights to sound, the music of the game is pretty catchy and is overwhelmingly good. It isn't the best the series has to offer (no, that accolade belongs to Rayman Origins), but it is pleasant on the ears regardless. Sound effects come across as suitable for each situation. For instance, when Rayman incurs damage, he utters a hiccup-sounding yelp that is pretty adorable. Point being, if it is presentation you are worried about, Rayman will no doubt surprise you.

One ability allows Rayman to grip these floating rings.
Rayman is an interesting title and conundrum. On one hand it is full of exquisite charm, personality, fun platforming, and gameplay. On the other hand it is full of such frustrating difficulty (even early on, but it is always perceived as fair) that the intended target of the game will without a doubt abandon the game when they reach a roadblock or stumbling point. If you are into platformers that are unapologetic in their challenge, then Rayman is an apt choice for a fan of those types of games. For people easily irritated, this limbless wonder's game might be good to pass on, or perhaps you could look into the slightly toned down DSiWare version of the game. Whichever your stance, I believe Rayman for either PlayStation One or Sega Saturn is worth a look as even with its challenge, its unbridled character, setting, and presentation exudes such a level of charm that the game is really hard to pass on.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.0/10]

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon (3DS) Gameplay Footage

While there is another video from GameXplain, this video from Nintendo World Report is easier on the eyes. I didn't want to spoil myself too much on the game, but I did watch a little bit of the footage. Luigi is just adorable, and the actual gameplay across numerous haunted locales looks vintage Luigi's Mansion. Here's hoping the game comes out around Halloween-- the marketing writes itself!

Monday, June 11, 2012

SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs - E3 Hangover Edition

I have overindulged on E3 and games, so it's time to wind down and return to normalcy with SuperPhillip's Favorite VGMs. This week we have music from titles like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Rabbids Go Home, and Resident Evil: Revelations.

v126. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64) - Kokiri Forest (Hyrule Symphony Version)

Listed multiple times as my favorite game of all time, the 3DS version brought with it a higher and steady framerate, better visuals, and excellent and optional gyro aiming. Hyrule Symphony features compositions by Koji Kondo which have been arranged by Ryuichi Katsumata. There are thirteen tracks in all including Hyrule Field, Hyrule Castle, Lon Lon Ranch, Ganondorf, and this track, Kokiri Forest. It is a worthy CD to add to a video game music aficionado's collection.

v127. Rabbids Go Home (Wii) - Bubamara

For a while there the Rabbids took Rayman out of his own franchise and stole the spotlight entirely. When one thinks of Rabbids they usually think of mini-game collections. Well, Rabbids Go Home is nothing of the sort. It is a platforming/adventure game where the Rabbids must collect loads of trash and everyday items in order to build a giant pile to reach the moon, their home. Much of the music heavily showcases brass as performed by Fanfare Vagabontu. 

v128. Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box (DS) - The History of the Village

Professor Layton is the type of a franchise that can appeal to a wide range of people and not just the stereotypical gamer. The series has sold millions of copies thanks to the efforts of Level 5 and Nintendo. The lack of localization news regarding The Mask of Miracle for the 3DS disappointed me. Apparently only games starring plumbers get E3 time. Regardless, The History of the Village is a tune appropriate for the man with the top hat and gentlemanly duty.

v129. Breath of Fire II (SNES, GBA) - Clean Hit

One of the many boss themes of Breath of Fire II, a classic Super Nintendo RPG developed and published exclusively by Capcom (if you recall, the original Breath of Fire was a joint effort between Capcom and Squaresoft), Clean Hit plays during some of the game's most chaotic battles. Although Breath of Fire II is a capable game, it does suffer from too many random enemy encounters, especially in later stages of the game. Despite this, the title still holds a fond place in my memory.

v130. Resident Evil: Revelations (3DS) - Revelations (Full Ver.)

The full theme of Resident Evil: Revelations plays during the credits. My favorite part happens around 1:02 and ends with 1:31. The actual game itself earned the number four spot on my Top Ten Retail 3DS Games of the System's First Year list, and for good reason. The series returned to its survival-horror roots while also giving players who enjoyed Resident Evil 4 and 5 their kind of preferred gameplay. The game is genuinely creepy and I did leap into the air at some rather unsettling parts. If you like action-oriented games or titles that make you squirm, Revelations is definitely a solid investment.


That concludes another installment of my favorite VGMs. Later in the week you can check out an all-new part of Killer Soundtracks - My Personal Favorites. Until then, if you missed a previous VGM, scope out my VGM Database.