Saturday, August 11, 2012

New Super Mario Bros. 2 (3DS) New Trailer

This French release trailer shows off various never-before-seen locales and levels from New Super Mario Bros. 2 for Nintendo's 3DS. Be wary of the final boss spoiler at the very end. Nintendo is betting a lot of coins on this game to turn around the 3DS system's fortunes in the West. Will it pay off?

Why I Think Imitation Is the Sincerest Form of Flattery (Or Why Some Gamers Need to Chill Out)

Not to be confused with my article entitled Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery, this piece comes fresh off Platinum Games' Hideki Kamiya stating on Twitter that Superbot's upcoming Super Smash Bros.-esque party fighter PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is a "ripoff." It is not so much about the offhand Twitter remark either. No, it is the embarrassing reaction from both sides of platform zealots partaking in console wars and the ensuing bloodbath that followed that was the thing that got me hot and bothered. This article delves into recent games or ideas that were developed that received games or ideas inspired by them, whether in mechanics or premise, and why it is okay to have "copycats."

When PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale was formally announced after dozens of rumors noting the existence of the game, gaming sites went into crazy mode, and not for good reasons. No, instead the battles between console/company zealots over whether Battle Royale was a shameless Super Smash Bros. clone was the hot topic. But the idea of a party fighter is not new. It was never exclusive to Smash Bros. Obviously one can argue that if not for the success of Smash, Sony would have never had Superbot develop Battle Royale. That makes perfect sense. However, the actual mechanics of the games and how they are scored are entirely different. In Smash, the goal is to deal damage to your opponent to weaken them enough/accumulate enough damage for them to be hit out of the stage. Battle Royale's gameplay premise is to attack foes to build up a Super Meter (can grow up to three times). Opponents unleash their supers on their adversaries to score points. The concepts to scoring are miles apart in similarity.

There are some similarities, but these
two titles are quite different.
Then there is Sony's trophy implementation, without a doubt borrowed from Microsoft's achievement system. In my opinion, Sony took an established idea and made it better. That is what great imitations do; they evolve preexisting ideas and do them in such a way that the industry is better for it. Rather than have some arbitrary number attached to every goal a given gamer does in a title, a trophy is awarded: bronze, silver, gold and a platinum; the latter is handed out for receiving all of the trophies. Unlike achievements, a person can look at another's stats and see right away what the toughest and easiest trophies were to nab. That platinum on one's profile means they obviously mastered the game, and they are more intriguing to me to attain than some point value. Your mileage may definitely vary.

With the Wii, few could predict that the platform would sell so astonishingly well. It was inherently fun to swing the Wii remote like a bat, tennis racket, or golf club, and have fun with friends and families. Caught with their pants down, Sony and Microsoft, after deriding the platform in multiple interviews, finally turned the other cheek and decided to develop their own motion-controlled solutions. Sony pulled out an incredibly similar Wii-like product with the Move (ironically looking like a lollipop) while Microsoft pulled out a totally unique product with the Kinect. Kinect skyrocketed Xbox 360 sales while Move hardly moved units. It does show that sometimes pure imitation won't drive sales and that innovation matters. Why settle for an imitation when you can get the original with much better support? That said, Nintendo was immensely flattered, and if new motion control products meant for new ways to play and new people entering our hobby, that is just sensational, then. Why are some of the most vocal gamers so quick to always devolve discussions into console wars? The implementation of new devices and new people in the gaming hobby was something I consider to be splendid.

Nintendo's competition entered the motion control 
market with their own brand of devices.
Even Nintendo, a company whose fans say leads the charge in innovation and that other pubs and devs take ideas from, isn't one to lift some ideas from others. Case in point: the Wii U Pro Controller. It resembles something from a current gen popular console. Spoiler: It is the Xbox 360. However, regardless of what company critics may say, there's nothing wrong with that. Nintendo went with something that worked in a surefire way and modeled their Pro Controller's design after the 360's controller, adding their own specific touches. A big difference is that the analog sticks are parallel to one another on this new controller. This could possibly be one of the better controllers of all time since it fixes a problem with the vanilla 360 controller, the less-than-terrific d-pad. An already superb controller in the 360 getting Nintendo touches? What's bad about that?

It has the shape of the Xbox 360 controller,
but there are some new features to be found.
You may be wondering where I am going with all of this. My point in all of my banter is that if the developers didn't borrow ideas from other games, I believe there would be a serious problem. What if no one bothered imitating the first RPG or the platformer? We wouldn't have as great of a variety of games as we do right now. There would be no established genres. You can't possibly create something that is 100% original. Every game borrows a concept from something else. Instead of being upset that Sony and Superbot "ripped off" Smash Bros. to create their own brand of mascot-laden party fighter, be happy that the genre is getting another representative and chance to shine. The genre can grow and get new fans. Instead of being miffed on message boards that Microsoft and Sony created their own brands of motion controllers after the Wii's runaway success, be like Nintendo and be flattered.
Now PlayStation fans can enjoy the genre Nintendo 
fans have for over a decade! What's wrong with that?
We wouldn't have some of my favorite games of all time without developers borrowing inspiration from other titles. The Nintendo 64 classic, Banjo-Kazooie, would never have been as awesome as it was without its obvious inspiration from Super Mario 64. One of the best kart racers of all time, Diddy Kong Racing, would never have pulled out of the garage without influence from Mario Kart 64. Rare's racer even added a never-before-been-done adventure mode to the formula which would then have Naughty Dog's Crash Team Racing utilize that concept. And where would Final Fantasy be without the game that came out before it, Dragon Warrior (now Dragon Quest)? You see, developers build off preexisting ideas and try to make them better. It's how every industry works. Gaming is no exception.
In no way am I saying that wholly original (or as wholly original as they can realistically be) ideas shouldn't be created. No, they are just as an important part of the industry, no doubt. But even these are influenced by other titles in even the smallest regards. So if you see a game that is similar to one you like and get ill-willed towards it, step back and realize that perhaps the "copycat" game in question is pushing the genre forward or giving it more spotlight. Imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, but it is also quite necessary for genres and the gaming industry itself to grow, evolve and get the attention they so richly deserve.


Do you agree with the concept of this article? What do you think about games drawing inspiration from other titles? What are some of your favorite games that have a clear influence from other games? While you're thinking about that, don't forget to read other articles by yours truly in the SPC Feature Catalog.

Friday, August 10, 2012

21 Terrific Gaming Commercials

Are you ready for a nostalgic trip through gaming commercials from yesteryear to now? That is precisely what I have in store for you with this list of 21 (odd number notwithstanding). These televisions ads come from Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, and third-parties across decades of games and countless generations. Whether they're funny, artistic, send a message, or are just plain cool, these 21 ads are some of my personal favorites. Will your favorites be listed? If not, realize that this won't be the only article regarding great gaming ads.

Note: These commercials are all from the States. Feel free to share commercials from outside the U.S. 

Note 2: To save everyone from lots of loading, the actual videos are linked to as opposed to embedded on this site. Click the name of the ad to get to the video. I apologize ahead of time for YouTube comment sections.

Nintendo Wii "Wii Would Like to Play" Campaign

The console that shook the gaming world and changed it forever, the Wii received an outstanding blitzkrieg of television ads. This is actually a compilation of such ads to introduce America to the Wii. The ads portray two Japanese gentlemen riding across the country in a smart car, greeting unaware folks at their doorsteps, and with Wii remote in hand, bowing and stating the clever line, "Wii would like to play." Showing the fun and simplicity of motion controls in a masterful way, these Wii ads helped shape the success of the platform. And then the rest of the gaming world would follow, even a once reluctant Sony and Microsoft. We will see if Nintendo can convey the inherent fun and uniqueness of the Wii U in such a similar fashion.

"Michael" - PS3 Long Live Play Campaign

This commercial could be perceived as a prelude to Sony's Smash Bros-inspired game, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. It features a cast of both first and third-party characters that have appeared in numerous PlayStation 3 titles. We have Nathan Drake from Uncharted, Kratos from God of War, Cole from inFamous, Solid Snake from Metal Gear Solid, and soldiers from Call of Duty, to name several. It is a tribute to the gamers who made the PlayStation name such as success. To Michael! 

Halo 3 (360) Believe TV Spot

While this commercial gets points off for not including any gameplay, I will give it a pass since that would detract from the artistic nature of this ad. It shows stationary and incredibly articulate figurines put in battle against one another. Added are special effects like blur and explosions. It is of stark contrast to the gentle theme of Frederick Chopin's Prelude 15 (Raindrop). Juxtaposition, if you'd rather call it that. The scenes certainly showcase the epic struggle between the humans and the Covenant forces. At the end, we see Master Chief held up by his neck, defeated... or is he? A grenade in his hand lights up, and his head turns up, looking at the viewer. Believe.

Metroid Prime (GCN)

Now this commercial is just incredible. It masterfully blends live action with the gameplay from one of the greatest games from last generation, Metroid Prime. It shows Samus Aran, clad in her Power Suit, exploring a desolate industrial zone. She moves through the facility, enters her Morph Ball, and blasts the hostile lifeforms which take up residence inside this dark and deserted area. The narration with lines like "The cold silence of space only punctuates the feeling of death that emanates from this virtually lifeless planet" as well as "And [evil] must be destroyed -- decimated -- exterminated... But first... it must be found." Combined with the sensational special effects and imagery, this is one of the coolest commercials Nintendo has ever put out. And it should be when it gets a Hollywood director to help produce it.

Gears of War (360) - Mad World TV Spot

This artful ad shows a lone solitary Marcus Fenix in the fight for his life. Like the Halo 3 Believe TV spot, this Gears of War one juxtaposes the action and seeming futility of Fenix fighting on with the song Mad World by Michael Andrews on piano and Gary Jules providing vocals playing in the background. The ad concludes with Marcus entering a dark building which he thinks provides shelter, only to be greeted with a colossal beast. Nothing left to do but fight on, pelt the Locust monster with bullets.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii - Pair of Ads

I don't know why the uploader of this video felt the urge to show him screwing around on the Nintendo Channel menu, but the first of the two ads for New Super Mario Bros. Wii actually begins at 0:23. The nostalgia immediately comes pouring in as we here the classic 8-bit Super Mario Bros. theme, alongside shots of the real world mixed with Mario elements like beanstalks and flagpoles. We see several groups of four players across varying ages having fun with the game (and the multiplayer is very fun -- the best of this generation locally, to be honest) while Bob-ombs, Cheep Cheeps, Mushrooms, coins, and other Mario-themed creatures and objects linger around them. Here we go indeed!

"Cubs Win" MLB 2012 The Show (PS3, PSV)

Finally, after a century of failures, the Chicago Cubs win the World Series! Tears are shed, prayers have been answered, a celebration erupts in the Windy City. Skyscraper windows light up with festive messages, citizens cheer, cry, and embrace one another, and the Cubbies storm the field in one giant blob of white uniforms. But it isn't reality. The real reality is that it was a PlayStation 3 owner winning the World Series with the Cubs in MLB 2012 The Show, the best baseball simulator yet. The tears from the player are, in fact, real. The point of the ad is that the game feels like the real thing, so real emotions (manly tears, I'm sure) were conveyed. It really is a tremendous ad. Then again, a video game championship doesn't go in the MLB record books, give you a parade and trophy, and break your 100+ year curse.

Perfect Dark (N64)

Perfect Dark is without a doubt my favorite first-person shooter of all time. It wasn't perfect like the name suggests as the framerate was low in high octane situations. However, the XBLA remake fixed this, making it tops in the genre for me. The objective-based missions a la GoldenEye will always be my preferred means to play. Plus the combat simulator was full of awesome options. So many, your head would spin. The commercial shows a live action Joanna Dark's morning routine. It's all common stuff: shower, an energizing drink, lipstick, getting pretty, getting dressed, selecting what gun you are going to wear to work -- it's all common like I said. As the commercial states quite clearly, the only person man enough to tackle the DataDyne corporation's nefarious scheme is a woman.

Final Fantasy VII (PS1)

Like Halo 3's ad, this Final Fantasy VII TV spot does not show any gameplay either, but at least we have some in-game cutscenes to marvel at. While it doesn't really do anything spectacular or even original, the sight of seeing the first Final Fantasy in full 3D was astonishing at the time. Sure, the graphics of the game outside of FMVs look rather prehistoric now, even headache-inducing (personal experience), but it was still a well put together commercial. The line "you can always push the reset button" is one that has stood with me for a long time. It's just one I hear or read somewhere and I immediately think "Final Fantasy VII."

Kingdom Hearts (PS2)

You'll never know who you'll run into next. That was certainly the mantra of the Kingdom Hearts series. I had to choose between this and Kingdom Hearts II's ad, but I felt this one captured the spirit of what the series was originally intended to be without -- y'know, before one of the most awful and convoluted stories in gaming history came to exist. It was indeed simple and clean for the most part. Sora, Donald, and Goofy went from Disney world helping the denizens out, defeating the Heartless horde, and saving the day. The commercial shows a full cavalcade of Disney all-stars from numerous films. It is a wet dream for any fan of Disney or, to a lesser extent, Final Fantasy.

Gran Turismo 5 (PS3)

The Kevin Butler ad campaign may have overstayed its welcome or have made some to believe the character was the arrogance of Sony personified in marketing form, but I just enjoyed them for the most part. Anything was better that that creepy PS3 baby or Marcus. 500 cars? No. How about 1,000? No realistic damage? Nah, you better put that in. Gran Turismo 5 may have failed to live up to the unrealistic expectations fans had (but it was later patched to be a sensational racing simulator), but this commercial certainly did not fail to entertain. Even the disclaimer while Butler tears out of the parking lot, "Mr. Butler is a professional driver on a closed course" leaves me in stitches.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PS2, XBX)

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas had a full, living, breathing world to explore. Three cities based on Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Las Vegas separated by miles of country and desert, multiple vehicles to utilize including sports cars, tanks, jet fighters, and speedboats, great mission variety, and an engaging story all added up to my favorite open world sandbox experience ever. The ad beautifully displays all of this frenetic fun with Guns 'n Roses' Welcome to the Jungle accompanying the action. It is a well-edited commercial that even when my attention was elsewhere during commercial breaks, it immediately turned to this TV spot as soon as it started playing on the air.

Crash Bandicoot (PS1)

Oh, man. Could you stand it if a commercial like this aired on TV in today's gaming climate where console zealots and trolls are at the highest level of obnoxiousness yet? It would be disastrous. I'm not the type of person who grabs a bowl of popcorn to watch fanboys and trolls make asses of themselves on message boards, so I wouldn't be sitting back and watching that happen. There's far better things to watch like all seven seasons of The Golden Girls, the first 100 or so episodes of Family Guy (when it was routinely funny to me), and the great out-of-retirement cop show New Tricks. Nonetheless, I am getting off point. It was hilarious seeing a man in a Crash Bandicoot costume with a bullhorn blaring insults to Nintendo's supposed headquarters. It's sort of funny knowing how things actually turned out. How's that non-future in gaming going, Crash?

Super Mario Bros. 1-3 (NES)

Nintendo fans sometimes get called a cult due to some of their ilk becoming overly defensive whenever Nintendo has bad news or gets the slightest bit criticized (there's even evidence of that on this very site if you look hard enough). Whether or not some of them have a persecution complex as well is another argument that can be made. Regardless, this very old commercial for the NES trilogy of Super Mario Bros. games shows multiple groups chanting "Mario" in a cult-like fashion as they wear different colored clothing; some in red, some in blue, some in white, and some in black. The camera pans out into a view from space showing that the massive group of young'ins look like Mario's head from that distance. Very clever.

Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 (GBA)

What do Japanese schoolchildren have in common with an American audience? Why, everyone loves Mario, of course! And if you don't, you obviously have a problem. (Kidding, obviously). The commercial has school letting out, and the schoolchildren rushing, jumping, providing aerial acrobatics akin to what is seen in Mario games, racing across subways, and heading some place all in one smattering of kids. Their destination? A store that has just release Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3, a wonderful remake of the Super Mario Bros. 3 classic. (Well, technically it's a port of the Super Mario All-Stars version of SMB3 with added content in the form of e-Reader cards.) This ad was part of Nintendo's intriguing "Who are you" campaign during its GameCube/Game Boy Advance days.

Paper Mario (N64)

One of the funniest commercials to me on this list of 21 is Paper Mario's US ad. It is just so delightfully charming. After receiving a letter from the seemingly perpetually kidnapped Princess Peach, a cutout of Mario throws down his fishing rod, dives into the lake, and begins swimming on his journey to save his lovely lady. He jumps off a cliff, crosses the stormy countryside, and crashes through a plated glass window to save the princess from an untimely death, the dreaded paper shredder. Such a remarkably clever commercial. It really is amazing.

Super Smash Bros. (N64)

Something truly has gone wrong in the happy-go-lucky world of Nintendo, but it is oh-so right at the same time. The game that made immensely popular the party fighter genre, Super Smash Bros. was a hit from the mind of Kirby creator Masahiro Sakurai. Two sequels later and the series is primed for a fourth installment across two platforms: the Wii U and 3DS. The Turtles' Happy Together plays as people in Mario, Yoshi, Donkey Kong, and Pikachu costumes beat the crap out of each other. Good music, good entertainment, good commercial. And quite memorable, too!

Banjo-Tooie (N64)

No, no, no. What is wrong with that skydiving instructor? The guy in the Banjo costume obviously doesn't need a parachute, he has Kazooie in his backpack to soften his fall. But wait-- Kazooie's AWOL? Uh-oh. The commercial's premise shows how Banjo and Kazooie are no longer inseparable. They can split up and handle tasks on their own when the necessity presents itself. A wonderfully executed idea making for a wonderfully executed commercial.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64)

Willst thou soar... Or willst thou suck?  Well, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time certainly did not suck, nor did its epic commercial. Showcasing multiple action-packed instances of gameplay, story elements, and other notes of interest, this ad cemented my desire to get the game and increased my already feverish anticipation of Ocarina of Time. And even with this impossible to satisfy hype I had for the game, Ocarina of Time still managed to outperform my expectations. Just astonishing, and it is still such an outstanding game. Speaking of outstanding, how about a look at this glorious European ad for Ocarina of Time 3D featuring Robin Williams and his daughter Zelda? Why, oh why didn't this ad come out in North America?

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GCN)

"In the land of Hyrule, there echoes a legend." And so this enchanting commercial begins. Mixed with a live action Zelda telling the tale of Link with some captivating gameplay of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, this ad is whimsical. When it was originally shown, the cel-shaded art style was lambasted by fans. Then, like so many times with Nintendo, critics actually played the game and developed a fondness for the very thing they derided so vocally. It seems history will continue to repeat itself forever.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)

Swords and shields fall to the ground from the heavens above. They might look cool and stylish, but they can certainly take your head off if you aren't careful. I mean, surveying the damage from the commercial alone and you can see cars destroyed, lunch dates ruined, and those in apartments who I really hope have some kind of insurance policy. Say what you will about the quality of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword or how the series has lost its way, but my review backs up why I love the game and why it was SPC's Game of the Year 2011.


Did you enjoy this look at 21 gaming commercials that I admire? If I left out one of your favorites, let it be known that I plan on doing an additional list of other favorite commercials of mine. Can't have part two be full of second-tier favorites! I gotta have some stellar and unforgettable ones! And if you aren't in the States, what commercials in your country or even outside your country do you adore?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

July 2012 NPD Results

The following table shows the top ten best-selling SKUs of July 2012 for the U.S. The best-selling console of the month for the 17th straight month was the Xbox 360. The DS and 3DS sold around the same. Some could be convinced that this means Nintendo should kill off the DS so consumers would flock to the 3DS. We'll find out next NPD when the 3DS XL will be a factor. If the numbers are lukewarm, then we'll know who was right. As for the game situation, over half of the titles are from last year. The retail situation in America is pretty pitiful right now. Thankfully, digital was up over retail for Q2 2012. That said, we desperately need a new generation, regardless. This one has far outworn its welcome, in my view. What do you think?

Most Overlooked Nintendo 3DS Games - Part Two

With hundreds of games released yearly and with the advent of digital games, there are now more games than ever, and it is so incredibly easy to have your game slip through the cracks and fade into obscurity. The latest edition of the popular Most Overlooked series of articles on SuperPhillip Central delves into five more underrated and overlooked gems on the Nintendo 3DS that failed to generate a high amount of attention, buzz, and/or sales (for Part One, click here). Will this list inspire you to check out a title you might not have been interested in? Let's find out!

Rhythm Thief & the Emperor's Treasure

In Rhythm Thief, you play as a young man who by day is Raphael, but by night he is the smooth criminal known as Phantom R (well, technically he can also be Phantom R during the day, but yeah...). Unlike most rhythm games, Rhythm Thief has a full-fledged story mode with an intriguing plot following Raphael's search for his missing father. The quest sends him all over Paris, clamoring for clues, solving puzzles, conversing with NPCs, and yes, participating in some rhythmic affairs. Such games include using the bottom screen to touch one four multicolored sections to have Phantom R strike the correct pose behind a statue, using gyro controls to dodge thrown objects heading your way with the beat of the music, or playing two odes to classic Sega rhythm games, Samba de Amigo and Space Channel 5. Rhythm Thief had the unfortunate luck of releasing in North America to only a select few retail stores, being caught shortly after Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, a much more hyped rhythm game, and being sent out with next to no fanfare by its publisher Sega. In Japan it was the top new title on the week of release which was encouraging, selling over 30,000 units. In Europe, the game completely bombed.

Tales of the Abyss 

This game is anything by abyss-mal, Tales of the Abyss is a port of a late generation PlayStation 2 RPG. However, this version of the game adds 3DS functionality like stereoscopic 3D (though the effect leaves a lot to be desired) and helpful information on the bottom screen. The greatest change to the PS2 version that the 3DS version contains is the reduction of the lengthy loading times the PS2 original possessed. Sure, the story isn't anything exceptional, and the characters -- especially at the start of the game -- can be downright obnoxious, such as the bratty main character Luke, but if you give the gameplay a chance, you will find that the battle system is fast-paced, frenetic, and fun, the world is teeming with interesting places to explore, and the challenge of the game is quite balanced. On a platform that is starving for traditional RPG games, Tales of the Abyss might not be a game tailor made for the 3DS, but it is one that I would like to see even more players warm up to outside of the 70,000+ at launch in Japan, because outside hardcore JRPG fans, Abyss received little buzz. Namco Europe stated it was satisfied with sales, but when it regards JRPGs in the West, having immensely lowered expectations is generally what the M.O. of a lot of publishers really is, especially with how few copies were initially produced of the game.

Crush 3D

Having the ill-conceived idea of making this PSP remake a GameStop exclusive cemented Crush 3D to sales mediocrity. Regardless, this twenty dollar game is certainly worth playing. Crush 3D's main claim to fame is revolving a third-person camera around four views -- north, south, east, and west -- as well as a top-down perspective. While the viewpoint is in one of these five directions, players can perform the namesake maneuver of the game and crush the level. All 3D parts of the level turn into 2D, giving off a 2D platformer-type feeling. Crushing helps in allowing faraway platforms in 3D to be reachable in 2D. Each level requires the player to gather as many marbles as possible in order to open the goal. New variables get added to the gameplay on a consistent basis such as timers, enemies, and obstacles. Thankfully, there are a plethora of checkpoints on harder, longer levels. If you are in the mood for a puzzle-platformer that has a more inviting art style than its PSP counterpart, Crush 3D is a "crush" course on fun.

Cave Story 3D

The original Cave Story was a freeware platforming game similar to Metroid and Castlevania in structure. The game was such a huge success for the developer Nicalis that the company put the game on Nintendo's WiiWare service with a price tag but with more content. With the Nintendo 3DS, Nicalis partnered with Nippon Ichi Software to remake the game with 3D assets on the system. The updated game brought with it new, upgraded visuals, a camera that would zoom in at certain points of the action, and an entirely new level. The problem with Cave Story 3D, despite it being a remarkable rendition of the classic Cave Story game, is that the original could still be downloaded for free while the 3DS remake cost a full retail price of $40 USD. Throw in that a most retailers didn't sell the game in their stores (only online), and you have a game that languished in sales. Whether it deserved to with that price tag is an argument for another day.

Tetris: Axis

Tetris: Axis was one of the final Hudson Soft-developed games created by the company before they were swallowed up by Konami. The game was published by Namco Bandai in Japan, but Nintendo published the game in North America. However, even with Nintendo's backing, the game failed to light up the charts. Tetris: Axis had a relatively basic but slick presentation, but it's not good to judge a book by its cover. The game contained 20 unique modes including Marathon, Computer Battle, Survival, Fit, Stage Racer Plus, as well as two augmented reality modes; 8-player multiplayer both off and online; and the ability to use a Mii. (Seeing your Mii encourage you as you clear lines is always a good time. Perhaps consumers were Tetris'd out. Perhaps consumers were satisfied with the Virtual Console's Game Boy Tetris. All that can be surmised is that Tetris: Axis did not light sales chart ablaze, which is disappointing as there was a lot of entertainment to be had from the game.


Any 3DS games that you have enjoyed that you recall didn't receive much buzz, attention, or sales? If you are interested in other platforms which had overlooked titles on them, click on the SPC Feature Catalog, scroll down a bit to Most Overlooked, and go hog wild!

Toki Tori 2 (Wii U) Trailer

The original Toki Tori premiered on the Game Boy Color way back when. It received an updated version on Nintendo's WiiWare service. Now the series is back with a new installment for Wii U (oh, and also Steam). The visuals have a nice homely feeling to them and the puzzling gameplay from the previous games are present and accounted for. Toki Tori 2 is coming out as the trailer says, "soon-ish."

Rayman Legends (Wii U) Introducing Barbara Trailer

A new playable character has been revealed by Ubisoft for the much anticipated Rayman Legends, a game that will no doubt in my mind be multiplatform. The art style is oozing with personality, and I hope it finds an audience with early adopters of the Wii U. Rayman Legends does not have a definitive release date, but let's hope it arrives just in time for the Wii U's launch.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Code of Princess (3DS) Character Showcase Trailer

Interested in seeing a new trailer for Code of Princess? How about one full of characters sporting their English voices for the game? Alongside this new trailer, Atlus USA has given Code of Princess an October 9th, 2012 release date for North America. Code of Princess might suffer the fate of being overlooked by many this coming fall, and it is a shame; the title is looking quite manic and entertaining.

Remakes, Please! - What's Old Is New Again

Based off the smash-hit series, Localizations, Please!, comes its close relative, Remakes, Please!, where I list several games of yesteryear that I feel deserve to have a second chance in the spotlight with numerous updates for the 21st century world! These can include graphical enhancements, online, and even new modes. Let's see which games are just begging to be remade! A lot of the titles I listed in Localizations, Please! were actually brought over to the West, so here's hoping I have the same winning percentage with Remakes, Please!

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (N64)

This one is basically a no-brainer. My favorite game of all time, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, was made better with the 3DS remake. Now, Nintendo can use that same engine to recreate the world of Termina for Majora's Mask. The framerate would be improved, the vibrant exteriors of Clock Town were become even more vivacious, the battle with Goht would pop out of the screen thanks to the 3DS's stereoscopic abilities, and switching between items and equipment would be a breeze thanks to the touch screen. Add in the awesome-feeling gyro aiming for items like the Hero's Bow and the Hookshot, and you have an already classic game made even more masterful. Majora's Mask's Termina felt like the most complete world in a Zelda game. Characters had their own schedules during the three days of doom that Link kept rewinding, and through assisting them, Link managed to earn remarkable rewards like new masks -- the main feature of the game -- and Pieces of Heart. I would love to be able to relive Majora's Mask with what would certainly be the definitive version of the game.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES)

3D Zelda is great and all, but I always have loved the old school 2D adventures as well. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is without a doubt my second favorite Zelda game. It was built by virtuosos of game design, puzzle design, and world map and dungeon design. The mechanic of switching between the Light World and the Dark World was ingenious for its time and still showcases some marvelous ingenuity by the developers. Nintendo recently was curious as to which Zelda game fans would like to see remade: either Majora's Mask or A Link to the Past. It's essentially a battle between an incredible game versus an astonishing game. Gamers win regardless. Though the concept of the 2D world of A Link to the Past remade on the 3DS (no, I'm not insinuating that the game would or should be three dimensions) with all-new visuals flair definitely interests me... Regardless of their decision, gamers get a spectacular remake of a classic Zelda to enjoy.

Final Fantasy V/VI (SNES)

Final Fantasy V
Final Fantasy VI
Originally, Final Fantasy V skipped the Super Nintendo in the West. It would reach parts outside of Japan on the Sony PlayStation collection, Final Fantasy Anthology. The game also came with Final Fantasy VI (which had previously been known in Western markets as Final Fantasy III) in the collection. A port of FFV would come to Nintendo's Game Boy Advance in 2006 in North America, and 2007 in European territories. Even with owning both the Anthology compendium and the GBA port, I have never sat down and fully played through Final Fantasy V. I'm eager to, but can never find the time. However, a possible DS-style 3D remake on the 3DS or a Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection-esque remake with slick updated 2D visuals and a remixed soundtrack (with the option for the original one, of course). I'm a bit of a cheater as I listed both Final Fantasy V and my favorite Final Fantasy, number 6, here. I'd like to see them both. V because I never played it. VI because it is the best and deserves even more admiration.

Mega Man 2 (NES)

You cannot imagine my heartbreak when I read that Mega Man: Powered Up bombed. I loved the chibi-style, cel-shaded look the game had, and enjoyed all of the bonuses like the two additional Robot Masters in the form of Time Man and Oil Man, the ability to play as all eight Robot Masters in the main game and Challenge mode levels, the updated visuals and music, and the ability to create fully detailed Mega Man levels, and idea that would evolve into the sadly cancelled Mega Man Universe. I think Mega Man: Powered Up was victim to being on the wrong platform. I don't think the PSP's market that was more geared towards teens and young adults fit toward the aesthetic of Powered Up. Perhaps if it released on PSN and XBLA in this time period it would have more success. Regardless, I wish deeply for a remake of one of fans' favorite Classic Mega Man games, Mega Man 2.

Mega Man X2 (SNES)

In my Rank Up! segment of listing the Mega Man franchises from least favorite to most favorite, I listed Mega Man X as second overall. This was despite me preferring to gameplay of the X series to the Classic series. Mega Man X2 is one of the better entries in the series. It feels incredibly complete, has numerous secrets, optional bosses, and the optional task of obtaining all three of Zero's stolen parts. The level design is superb with a heavy action-centric focus, and the bosses are memorable -- even with a name like Wire Sponge for one of them. Mega Man X: Maverick Hunter released on the PSP. The game was a remake of the original Mega Man X with some bonus material apart from the new presentation. Like many of Capcom's earliest support for the system, the PSP remake sunk in retail. But oh, what I wouldn't give to play Mega Man X2 with the same visual style and additional content!

Jet Force Gemini (N64)

Rare left Nintendo as a mere shell of the great company it once was. The Twycross-based developer would still push out some sensational titles for their new employer, Microsoft. I'm referring to such games as Viva Pinata and Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. However, nothing has sold or has been as impressive as Rare's Nintendo efforts. One game that even on Nintendo's system that flew under the radar a tad and didn't get as much love is Jet Force Gemini. The bug-busting third-person shooter needs more love. How else can Rare get some easy money and get the word back out that the developer still makes games for the non-Kinect crowd? Don't answer that. It was rhetorical. Regardless, and HD Jet Force Gemini with online multiplayer (oh, the hours spent blowing away buds), updated visuals, and achievements would be a terrific Xbox Live Arcade title. I know the chances of this are sensationally slim as Rare is more focused on Kinect (though I can't complain about Kinect Sports too much) than their past glories.

TimeSplitters 2 (PS2, GCN, XBX)

Let me get this out of the way. My favorite first-person shooter is without a doubt Perfect Dark. It did all the right things. The remake on Xbox Live Arcade improved the visuals and framerate problems the Nintendo 64 original had and added online to an already addicting and expansive multiplayer mode. The team behind the original Perfect Dark had members that left to establish Free Radical Design. Their first project was the PlayStation 2 exclusive, TimeSplitters. The sequel would be an even better with game with many more multiplayer options, more story mode and multiplayer level creator capabilities, and a competent objective-based (my favorite type) single-player campaign. Crytek, the company that acquired Free Radical, said this past week that fan interest in a TimeSplitters 4 was not high enough. 1) I hate Facebook for gauging fan interest, and 2) How can you possibly build interest in a series that hasn't had a new installment or news for years? Regardless, what better way to reintroduce the world to TimeSplitters than remaking the best entry in the series and put it on digital platforms? How about you throw in online and the ability to share created content with the world? Someone pay me for this stuff!


What games would you like to see remade? Obviously, new games are outstanding to have, but there is no shame in wanting remakes of some of your favorite titles as well.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem (DS) Guest Review

Do you know how difficult it can be to come up with a tagline for a review? I mean, seriously. One time I had this really good one for Rhythm Heaven Fever. It was "I got a fever, and the only prescription is more Rhythm Heaven." But you know what happened? Those jerkwads at GameTrailers used that exact line in their review for the game. Then I was up a creek without a paddle and had to come up with a new one that would be nowhere near as apt as my old idea. Regardless, my brother had some trouble with coming up with a tagline for Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem. He finally did, and I find it to be incredibly clever. Here's his review!

The Mini Faces of Mayhem

The Mario vs. Donkey Kong has provided some fun entertainment over the years. The GBA game was in fact one of the first reviews on SuperPhillip Central! While that particular game played out more like a sequel to the 1994 Donkey Kong title on the Game Boy, recent iterations of the series have focused on the Minis, the little toys that Mario tried to get back from Donkey Kong in the GBA game. This time around, the simian gets a little steamed when he’s shafted out of receiving a Mini of his own at the grand opening of Mario’s newest theme park and decides to make off with Pauline once again. Since Mario can’t really get his move on in such tight spaces, he sends the Minis in to do the hero thing for him. If you’ve played the other DS titles in the series, this may sound like standard fare at the fair. Does Nintendo change up things for this third offering, or is this one ride you should skip out on?

If you’ve ever played the DS titles in the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series, you’ll know that the action is almost all controlled by the stylus. With it, you can activate your Minis and try to get them to the exit door in each and every one of the game’s eight main worlds or Attractions as the game likes to call them. The main difference between this and March of the Minis is that once you’ve activated your Minis, you will no longer be in control of them. How are you supposed to guide those little guys around when they’re completely out of your direct control? You control them indirectly, of course!

You see, Mini-Land Mayhem focuses more on you using the terrain to help your toys reach the goal rather than just guiding and stopping the Minis around manually. You start off learning how to use girders as walkways for the toys. These girders are held in place by two bolts. With one tap of your stylus on a bolt, the girder will disappear back into your collection, giving you a few extra construction pieces to place down a girder in a different place. To do that, all you have to do is draw a line from one bolt to the other to create a new path for your Minis to walk about on. As you’re going about guiding the Minis through a level, there are coins, a Mario token, and a card to pick up. Picking up all of these in a level will give your Minis a perfect score bonus at the end and hopefully a trophy to boot. The tokens and trophies unlock special levels once you’ve collected enough of them while the cards will unlock minigames that I’ll get into later.

It’s not all just learning how to use girders as the game will also throw in springs, conveyors, ladders, pipes, and cannons that you’ll have to use in tandem as you go along. The first levels of each Attraction generally try to get you familiar with what you’ll be focusing on for the rest of the levels while subsequent levels will increase the challenge of how to get your Minis to the goal without losing one in the process. The thing about this game is that if you lose one Mini, you’ll have to replay the stage once again. It’s all or nothing. The same applies if you get one Mini to the exit and fail to get another there quickly enough. Once one goes through, you have six seconds to get another Mini to the goal before it locks you out and you’re staring at the retry screen. Some later levels can be extremely strict with this limit as Minis will be placed all over and getting them to the goal will require a good deal of thinking, timing, and maybe a little luck to go along with it!

There is an exception to that timed door rule, and that comes in the fourth level of every Attraction. Here, you won’t just be in control of Mario Minis. You’ll have to free and bring a Toad, Peach, Donkey Kong, and even Pauline Mini to their own respective doors, thankfully without a time limit, to complete the stage. Other themed levels include having to deal with a Circus or Capture Kong in each seventh level that will try to prevent you from getting to the door while the eighth and final level of each Attraction has one Mini carrying a key that will have to get to the exit door first to unlock the door and help you exit the stage. Once you’ve beaten all eight levels, you’ll gain access to a boss fight with that dastardly Donkey Kong.

These fights play out in vertical levels similar to the old style Donkey Kong fights you’re used to. Just like in the main stages of the game, you’ll have to guide your minis up to Donkey Kong and have them climb ladders, walls, or whatever three times to put him down for the count. As you’re trying to do that, Donkey will drop barrels or enemies to try and take out your Minis in one fell swoop. Even worse, when this monkey gets really mad, he can destroy positions on the map where you can place bolts, limiting where your Minis can walk. It can get a little frustrating at times after collecting both the level card and token only to be forced to wait things out as you can’t create the right path to defeat Donkey Kong.

Once you have taken down the ape, you’ll both unlock that Attraction’s stage parts to use in the game’s construction mode and be sent off to the next Attraction, but you can quickly go back and play the previous Attraction’s minigame if you’ve collected all of the nine cards along the way. These minigames are nothing more than trying to drop specific Minis into their own color-coordinated boxes or ones that have point multipliers depending on which setup the game gives you. Either way, you’ll have to make sure to avoid the dark boxes that will take points away from you. Beat the high score, and you’ll earn yourself three more Mario tokens.

I mentioned that there were bonus levels in the game, and yes, these ones are much more difficult than most of what the main game has to offer. The Mario tokens will unlock the twenty levels that the special world has to offer. These areas are unique in that you don’t get a chance to survey your surroundings before starting. Once you tap the screen to go, all of the Minis in the level will start up on their own. To say things get a bit hectic here would be an understatement. Moreover, collecting enough trophies will give you a chance to play the extra levels. These ten stages are huge in length compared to what you’ll deal with in the main story, and even to this point, I have yet to complete all of them.

The content doesn’t stop there, either, as the game has a harder difficulty setting once you’ve completed it in Plus mode. While the levels are the same in layout, you’ll be given different Minis other than Mario to play around with again. The catch is that you now have to get the Minis to the exit door or doors in a specific order. I found this part of the game to be much more fun than the main mode as it required some ingenuity at times to get everyone to the exit in the proper order. If you’re one that thinks the game is too easy, trust me when I say that this mode will give you the challenge you were looking for. If you’re on the other side of the fence and are struggling too much with it, then that’s all right, too. Borrowing the idea from New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Mini Guides will become available if a stage is giving you too much trouble. While I chose not to use them in my run through the game, it’s nice to see that the option is there for those that can’t figure out that one stage.

So there you have it. Add up the boss and minigame levels along with Plus mode, and you’re looking at 222 stages this game has to offer. The construction mode gives creative minds the chance to make and upload their own levels online, but I more than had my fill with the game itself. Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem offers a surprisingly deep amount of content once you get through its easy initial offerings to create a title that I eventually warmed up to more and more throughout my time with it. If you're one of the players out there craving a challenge, you might get a little bit bothered by having to work your way through nearly half of the whole package to get there, but the end result is a somewhat thrilling ride that can be enjoyed by all ages.

[Overall: 7.5/10]