Friday, March 22, 2013

DuckTales Remastered (Wii U, PS3, 360) Debut Trailer

DuckTales has returned into the limelight. Capcom's Nintendo Entertainment System classic is coming back and in a big way. This $15 summer download features new content and most obviously updated visuals. Wayforward (Mighty Switch Force, Contra 4) is the developer of the game. Can I get a woo-hoo?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

LittleBigPlanet Karting (PS3) Review

We kick off the road to 500 reviews with LittleBigPlanet Karting. If you recall, we took a look at another kart racer this month with Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. Can Sackboy and friends outperform the Blue Blur's racing effort? Let's find out with SuperPhillip Central's review of LittleBigPlanet Karting.

Have Kart, Will Travel

Out of every new franchise that has been born from this past generation, my favorite would have to be the LittleBigPlanet series. It allowed its players to enter a craft world full of whimsical charm, platforming fun, and a massive amount of creation, giving people like me the chance to make their own levels and utilize their imaginations to the max. The series hasn't really moved out of its genre as of yet... until now. LittleBigPlanet Karting is Sony and United Front Games' attempt to cash-in on the Mario Kart crowd. Whether that crowd owns PlayStations is up in the air, but what the final product is is one worthy of a look. Rev your engines, Sackpeople across the planet, and get ready to race. It's LittleBigPlanet Karting time.

The main mode of LittleBigPlanet Karting is the Story Mode. This sees a monstrous menace known as the Horde madly picking clean every area they infest. It's your Sackperson's job to save the craft universe through visiting multiple planets to right the wrongs the Horde have caused. Each planet takes you through a varied round of events, some as simple as three lap races while others are more involved, such as fighting Horde members in a battle arena, participating in a waypoint race against the clock, and playing keep-away with a dinosaur egg.

The first track of LBP Karting takes players
back to a familiar setting for fans of the original LBP.
Make no mistake, however, with LittleBigPlanet Karting. Despite its childlike and easygoing presentation, the game is anything but in the difficulty department. There are two challenge levels that can be switched between as you play: Casual and Normal. You will only be able to post your scores online and compare them with friends and the rest of the world by playing on Normal. That is fine and all, but playing with Normal level computer bots is an effort in serious frustration. They are absolutely ruthless in how they race and how they attack. Even on Casual LittleBigPlanet Karting nabbing the necessary third place to advance (or moreover earning first, for that matter) is an arduous task. This is one of the main problems with LittleBigPlanet Karting. It's a sometimes infuriating game for adults, and considering the game is one marketed more towards kids, it's hard to see a child having the patience to play and stick with this title, just due to frustration alone. It's not quite as crazy as Mario Kart Wii, but it approaches that game's insane levels of cheapness.

Beware! The AI can be pretty cheap.
Like the main LittleBigPlanet games, LittleBigPlanet Karting houses prize bubbles within its various levels. They are placed from easy-to-reach to hard-to-find, requiring players and completionists alike to comb through every corner and inch of a given track to uncover every prize bubble there is. It's a fun optional task that adds content and features to the Create Mode. Of course, if you are not in the mood for a scavenger hunt, then you can simply purchase a pass that grants you all of the items in the game without the need to search for them. It will set you back a few bucks, but perhaps saving you from aggravation would be worth it.

Use the L1 button to grab onto these blocks
and swing across large chasms.
Any kart game of its own worth needs zany power-ups to be at its most manic fun, and LittleBigPlanet Karting does not disappoint in this regard. Weaponators, as the game calls them, are like the Item Boxes of Mario Kart, strewn around each track, ready for you to nab them. There are little mines that you can drop ahead of you or throw in front of your Sackboy. There are missiles that temporarily blur the target's screen. There's even a blue shell equivalent in the form of a blue rocket that automatically targets the player in first place. Thankfully, all homing attacks can be blocked if you have an item of your own to use. When the icon behind your Sackboy turns into a shield, that is your cue to press the square button to block.

What is this, Nickolodeon with all this slime?
As for the kart racing in LittleBigPlanet Karting, it is well done, offering two ways to play, either with X as the accelerator or a shoulder button to accelerate. Drifting is simple in the game, allowing players to not only take corners better but also get a boost at the end of the drift. The longer the drift is held, the longer the boost given will be. While in midair, whether through coming off a long ramp or hitting a slope and jumping into the sky, you can spin around. The more revolutions you perform, the more of a boost you get when you land... pending you land straight. Overall and with these additions to the gameplay, racing is tight and you never feel like you're on the verge of losing control like with some other kart racers.

By far the most ingenious part of the LittleBigPlanet series is the ability to create your own stuff and share it with the community at large. Instead of making 2D levels like the series proper, you're making your own fully 3D track, and it's as easy as paving a road through driving a Sackboy across the lay of the land. You can even have the game auto-finish your track if you're really lazy. You can create the typography, time of day, what music is played, ambient sounds, camera angles to bookend the race on your track, and objects that will line your track (or you can use the ones already pre-made). Breadcrumbs can be used to let players take the road less traveled instead of being restricted to solely the track you paved. This is the way to create shortcuts and other interesting routes.

A look at my own work in LBP Karting.
If you're ambitious, you can even do some advanced track creating course fun like programming conditional branches using objects that look like microchips. The great thing about LittleBigPlanet Karting's creator is that you can create a great track whether you're a beginner or total professional. Truth be told, however, that creating a cool track takes a lot of time, so with proper patience and a little imagination, you can create tracks that spark envy in the minds of those who play them. If you lack a creative bone in your body, the LittleBigPlanet Karting community is full of players who are immensely creative and talented. You can simply play online with friends, with strangers, or by your lonesome against the CPU to get some inspiration. There is some really awesome stuff online.

What some creators have made is simply incredible.
LittleBigPlanet Karting runs rather well. It's obviously not a game that pushes the PlayStation 3 to the limit, so perhaps that is to be expected. There is the occasional dip in frame-rate, but all-in-all it doesn't negatively affect the races in a big way. The soundtrack is composed of original music as well as licensed music from indie artists. There's a little something for everybody in LittleBigPlanet Karting.

While it's not the best kart racer on the PlayStation 3, or even the best kart racer released in 2012, LittleBigPlanet Karting is a serviceable racer that doesn't really do much to entertain in the Story Mode, but really shines when you dive into the creation and community aspects of the game. You have to give the developer credit on taking the LittleBigPlanet universe and effectively transposing it to the kart racing genre. You don't, however, have to give credit to the cheap AI even on the easiest difficulty. That will certainly turn off a lot of younger players, and possibly even the less patient older players. That said, LittleBigPlanet Karting is a charmer, a competent racer, a nice addition to most PS3 owners' libraries.

[SPC Says: 7.5/10]

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon (3DS) Launch Trailer

The original Luigi's Mansion was a clever ghost-busting romp, and its upcoming 3DS sequel, Dark Moon, is looking to be even better and more varied. This launch trailer is proof of such a statement. Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon arrives in North America this Sunday.

Resident Evil Revelations (Wii U, PS3, 360) New Trailer

A new trailer for the upcoming Resident Evil Revelations has surfaced. This one deals with the story elements of the game. Despite owning and reviewing the Nintendo 3DS original, I have a high interest in checking out Resident Evil Revelations when it hits store shelves in May.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

How Can Nintendo Possibly Right the Wii U Ship? Let's Discuss.

The Wii U is not doing well in sales across the globe. There is just little enthusiasm for the system, despite this week seeing some excellent titles released for it. While I am not in the category of people asking for a time of death for the system, I do believe that the window of time to turn around the Wii U is slowly but steadily closing. This article delves into possible ways Nintendo can fix the current sales problems with the Wii U, whether through new tactics or even new management.

First, Nintendo cannot possibly ask for a successful console without support. They need to be proactive with getting third-parties back on board. I doubt Western third-parties will have an interest in the Wii U ever, even if it was the most powerful console on the planet. However, what about Japanese support? Why is there such a huge lack of Japanese titles and third-parties for the Wii U? If Nintendo can encourage third-parties to develop games for their struggling system, then perhaps another issue that the Wii U has will be helped.

That issue is the subject of long droughts. Nintendo seems to be having trouble with HD development. It's totally new to them. Games that were supposedly launch window titles like Pikmin 3 and The Wonderful 101 still have no release date. It's absolutely mind-boggling how Nintendo was so ill-prepared, despite having over a year since the system's E3 2011 debut to finalize software.

A more extreme suggestion to turn around the Wii U's fortunes would be a price cut and rebranding. However, as history as shown, a price cut alone does nothing long-term for a system's sales. There needs to be a steady stream of games to facilitate continued growth. It is my belief that Nintendo needs to deliver a price cut this holiday season when the Wii U's heavy hitters and the consoles from Microsoft and Sony possibly arrive. This one-two punch could help create a sustained amount of growth for the long-term instead of simply having Wii U sell well for a month and then drop to current poor levels.

Included with the price drop I would want to see a much better marketing presence. The Wii had commercials on a myriad of channels here in the United States around launch. The advertisements for the Wii U? Not so much. I would want to see mall tours like the Wii had with multiple demo units for the Wii U allowing consumers both in-the-know and out-of-the-know to try out the system. That did wonders for the original Wii. Why hasn't it been done more with the Wii U?

There needs to be a message to the less savvy consumers out there that the Wii U is a brand-new console and not just an add-on to the Wii. Games like Wii Fit U will help in appealing to this market, but if Nintendo thinks that they are going to recapture the highly fickle market that bought the original Wii Fit in droves, they are mistaken. I think that audience has gone towards smartphones and tablet gaming.

Perhaps my most extreme suggestion, though, would be completely new management. It was telling at E3 2011 when the reaction towards the Wii U wasn't a fevered or overly excited one. Already there were questions regarding whether the Wii U was just an additional controller to the original Wii. Nintendo had an entire year to possibly change the name, get better support, create new games, and correct the errors from that E3 presentation. However, E3 2012 came around and the presentation was an equal disaster-- maybe even more so because it was the second failure of a coming-out party for the Wii U at an E3. Nothing was done to correct the abysmal path the Wii U was heading down and is currently experiencing now.

Despite all of the talk Satoru Iwata, current president of Nintendo, said about Nintendo "learning its lesson" with the Nintendo 3DS's launch, the Wii U suffered the same exact problems as their handheld: too high of an asking price, a lack of compelling launch software, and a huge drought soon after. Incompetence, thy name is Nintendo. What is the excuse for this? How unprepared and stubborn were Nintendo with the launch of the Wii U? Do you the different branches of the company even communicate? I adore Mr. Iwata and his developer-first stance with the company, but there comes a time when even after his success with the Wii, it's time to cut him loose. Under his leadership he has botched both the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U launches. Something has got to give, and Nintendo's stockholders will make that clear very soon.

The sales of the Wii U are incredibly pitiful, and the sad part of it is that many saw this fate for Nintendo's console coming a long ways back. While it's easy to play armchair analyst concerning what would make a console do better, I do not envy Satoru Iwata and the rest of Nintendo's current position. I can only hope, as many gamers do, that Nintendo rights the Wii U's problems.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (Wii U, 3DS) Launch Trailer

Monster Hunter may be a niche franchise, but that isn't stopping Wii U owners from getting excited about the newest iteration of the game, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. This game offers cross-play capabilities, online play for the Wii U, and handheld play for the Nintendo 3DS, to take your monster hunting anywhere you go. Check out this launch trailer for the game below.

20 Cheap PS3 Games You Can Buy for $30 or Less

A couple of weeks ago we at SuperPhillip Central posted a list of twenty cheap Wii games for $20 and under. Today we're doing the same for the PlayStation 3, but this time it's twenty cheap PlayStation 3 games for $30 or less. The PlayStation 3 happens to be our favorite high-definition platform of this past generation, and with all of the excellent games for the system, both first and third-party, it is easy to see why. This list of twenty games is for the frugal gamer in all of us, and it couldn't be at a better time with the current economy. Now, realize that this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of games. There are plenty more titles you can get your grubby little paws on for less than thirty dollars. In fact, after you have read our list, we encourage you to find and post other games that are quite cheap to purchase.

Disclaimer: The games listed here and linked to other sites had prices that were $30.00 and under at the time of this article's publication. SuperPhillip Central cannot be held responsible for increased prices that make a given game over $30 after the fact.

God of War III (buy here)

While the prequel to the God of War trilogy, God of War: Ascension, just released last week, if you've somehow come late into the franchise, why not look into how the series got its start? God of War Collection contains both God of War and God of War II on one disc, and the conclusion to Kratos' story, God of War III is an impressive beast too. The series' staples are here: high octane melee action, magnificent set pieces, and clever puzzles. What it all makes is a terrific way to cap off the trilogy.

InFAMOUS 2 (buy here)

The original InFAMOUS can also be found for under $30, but InFAMOUS 2 takes everything that players loved about the first game and makes it exponentially better. Return to the role of Cole MacGrath as he enters a new city to explore, New Marais, with full superhero-like powers intact. InFAMOUS 2's morality system allows you to choose how you play through the game's rather lengthy campaign and see one of two endings. When you're not doing that you can craft and share your own missions with other players. All this for around $20, and you have a must-buy at this point in time.

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (buy here)

The third game in the Uncharted series takes Nathan Drake to wooded chateaus, military air fields, shipyards, sinking cruise ships (worse than even a Carnival cruise!), forsaken deserts, and everywhere in between. The addition of multiplayer brings a new level of mayhem into the mix, meaning that once you have mastered the extensive single player journey, you can hop online and start taking it to friends and total strangers around the world.

Uncharted Greatest Hits Dual Pack (buy here)

Two of the most entertaining titles of this generation available in one neat package? If you haven't already looked into these titles, then you obviously must waiting for an engraved invitation. Unfortunately, you will be waiting for a long time. What I can offer you, however, is the knowledge that the first two Uncharted games are excellent action-adventure titles that are one part Indiana Jones and one part Tomb Raider. You throw these two franchises into a mixer and you get Uncharted. For less than $30, this dual pack is a no-brainer. While Nathan Drake hunts for lost treasure, your treasure can be playing these two games.

Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time (buy here)

Both Ratchet and Clank have had a few stumbles recently with games that haven't been the greatest. Nonetheless, why dwell on the present when we can dwell on the past with one of Ratchet and Clank's grandest adventures that brings them through an adventure with the fate of time and space in their two pairs of hands. The arsenal of weapons for Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time is immense, and so are the areas and planets the duo explore. A Crack in Time is a superb entry in the franchise, and one every platformer fan should play.

LittleBigPlanet 2: Special Edition (buy here)

Speaking of games that every platformer fan should play, LittleBigPlanet is a series of creative games that sparks the imagination of each player it comes in contact with. The cheap LittleBigPlanet 2: Special Edition comes with $35 worth of bonus content, including Disney/Pixar costumes, extra levels, and PlayStation Move content. This is all in addition to the already 50+ levels of platforming fun available. It all adds up to one excellent bargain that even those without a creative bone in their body can enjoy.

Rayman Origins (buy here)

One of the greatest 2D platformers ever, Rayman Origins hit platforms a couple of years ago with little fanfare. It was only until it started reaching bargain bin prices that people began to take notice. Michel Ancel and his team really crafted one phenomenal platforming adventure that up to four players can share together. Like Valkyria Chronicles, Origins has its own sensational art style and graphics engine allowing the cartoon worlds of Rayman to be seen in their most impressive glory. If you have yet to play Rayman Origins, now is the time to do so!

Valkyria Chronicles (buy here)

Tactical RPGs are always full of ways to flex your strategic muscle, and the PS3 exclusive Valkyria Chronicles puts it into overtime. With over 100 characters that you can freely customize, a unique means of participating in combat, and 30+ maps to battle on, Valkyria Chronicles is one mean game. Not only does it play remarkably well, but it also looks absolutely delightful thanks to the graphics engine tailor-made for the PlayStation 3.

Killzone 3 (buy here)

The fight against the Helghast gets even more intensity with Killzone 3. This sequel sees improved features such as the ability to carry two primary weapons, better melee combat, and an increase in the types of vehicles you can commandeer, including the awesome jet pack. For those like me who love pointing and aiming more than dual analogs, you can use the PlayStation Move to pick off foes with ease. In addition to all this, Killzone 3 sports some of the best FPS multiplayer on the PlayStation 3. Now's the time to bring the fight again to the Helghast... and for a low price, too!

Saints Row 2 (buy here)

Return to a much larger Stilwater with Saints Row 2. The sequel makes everything bigger and better. This open world juggernaut rivals that of Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto effort this past generation, and that's because Saints Row 2 doesn't take itself too seriously, it has a bevy of customizable options, and it possesses multiplayer for two friends to wreak havoc and total destruction around the city streets of Stilwater. Saints Row 2 is one of the better open world sandbox games out there, and playing it is believing.

Batman: Arkham City (buy here)

A sensational superhero game, and quite frankly one of the best ones ever made, Batman: Arkham City also sports an open world structure to it for Batman to explore the crime-filled streets of Arkham City. The story features a wide array of heroes and villains from the Batman universe including the Joker, Catwoman, Two-Face, Harley Quinn, the Riddler, and so many more. You never know who you're going to run into next. That makes you want to keep playing through the game, but that isn't the only reason to do so. No, the excellent combat and gameplay makes you feel like you're Batman. Something few games have been able to accomplish.

Final Fantasy XIII-2 (buy here)

The general consensus towards Final Fantasy XIII was that the game was a bit of a let-down, full of linear corridors in the form of dungeons and a lack of towns to visit. Final Fantasy XIII-2 remedies many of the problems of its predecessor and creates a time-traveling adventure worthy of the Final Fantasy name. While the game does not reach classic Final Fantasy levels, it holds its own in a modern era. From recruiting monsters to your cause to the multiple endings the game contains, Final Fantasy XIII-2 is a competent and capable entry in the long-running Final Fantasy franchise.

Mirror's Edge (buy here)

Mirror's Edge is one of those titles that a lot of gamers are clamoring for a sequel. That's for good reason, too, as the game is an exceptional one that has players performing feats of parkour-- running along rooftops, scaling walls, and leaping across wide chasms. Mirror's Edge features plenty of platforming puzzles, intense chase sequences, and other forms of terrific gameplay that gets the adrenaline pumping and the heart pounding as well.

3D Dot Game Heroes (buy here)

For a series that is so heralded, few have tried to imitate The Legend of Zelda series. Well, 3D Dot Game Heroes goes right for the nostalgic heartstrings with its 8-bit art turned three dimensions, and an adventure that is more similar to the original Legend of Zelda. 3D Dot Game Heroes has players journeying across an overworld map, defeating monsters, visiting towns, exploring dungeons, battling bosses, and acquiring new treasures. It's perfect for the old school gamer that loves them some Zelda.

Sonic Generations (buy here)

Coming off the stellar Sonic Colors for Wii, the Blue Blur is back with a brand-new adventure that spans two generations, Classic and Modern. Both offer their own brand of platforming fun that takes the Sonic the Hedgehog series from its former mediocrity to all-new heights. Seamlessly intertwining 2D and 3D gameplay, Sonic Generations is a fantastic reminder of why many of us still love the blue hedgehog. From Green Hill to Planet Wisp, the game will have you (mostly) smiling from beginning to end.

Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (buy here)

Ratchet returns and Clank is back with him in the duo's first foray on the PlayStation 3 and in high-definition with Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction. The game comes with a whole horde of new high-powered weaponry that levels up in strength and use as they are utilized. Tools of Destruction is the start of a new story that stretches across this game, Quest for Booty, and A Crack in Time, delving into the origins of Ratchet, the last known Lombax in the galaxy. This entry of the Ratchet & Clank series is perfect for beginners to become accustomed to the characters of the series and is definitely worth a play.

Journey Collector's Edition (buy here)

Journey by itself is a fantastic game, but when you add Flower and fl0w into the fold, you get a package of games that is undeniably stellar. Not only do you get three games, but you also get bonus content in the form of a 30-minute documentary about Journey, the soundtracks to all three titles, and a trio of mini-games from thatgamecompany. This is all for under $30. If that's not enough to entice you, perhaps the free month of PlayStation Plus will.

Heavy Rain: Director's Cut (buy here)

More an interactive experience than a full game, Heavy Rain consists of numerous quick-time events and choices for your character to make as the two of you progress through the intriguing story. The inclusion of multiple endings means that Heavy Rain is the type of title that you will want to play through several times so you can see how many different ways the tale includes. The game is a wild ride with numerous twists and turns that will have you engaged from beginning to end.

Gran Turismo 5 XL Edition (buy here)

The ultimate driving simulator Gran Turismo returns with a complete version of its fifth installment, full of all of the updates of the vanilla version right on the disc, and $20 in bonus content. The series is known for its realistic handling of all of its multitude of motor vehicles and machines, and Gran Turismo 5 is no different. Race on real and fictional courses as you vie for the number one spot, giving you more money to purchase even more of the 1,000+ rides the game possesses. Gran Turismo 5 is the type of title that will have you playing for eons as it holds myriads of content. The low price of admission is just the icing on the cake.

Grand Theft Auto IV & Episodes from Liberty City: The Complete Edition (buy here)

While in retrospect a good portion of gamers believe that Grand Theft Auto IV is one of the most overrated games of this generation (and perhaps of all time), it is still worth playing, in my opinion. The Complete Edition, which contains the vanilla version of Grand Theft Auto IV in addition to   the episodes The Lost and the Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony, makes for a tremendous value. You really have to appreciate the world that Rockstar North created with this iteration of Liberty City. With essentially three unique games to play in one package, there's little to lose and a lot to gain by trying The Complete Edition out.


That wraps up our list of twenty games. As stated in the introduction, there are no doubt other games we didn't even list that we'd love to see you guys out there come up with. Post other games under $30 that we left out of our list in the comments section below.

Monday, March 18, 2013

SPC's Favorite VGMs - Double Dose of Sorrow Edition

Nothing like SPC's Favorite VGMs to dabble in a double dose of sorrow for a lovely March day, no? Today we have two tracks with the word "sorrow" in them. They bookend the other three VGMs for this edition. We have music from Golden Sun, Dynasty Warriors: Gundam, and Paper Mario: Sticker Star.

v336. Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia (DS) - Sorrow's Distortion (Spell of Sorrow)

The final entry in the Castlevania trilogy on the Nintendo DS was also the hardest of the three games. Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia fused the old-school difficulty of older games and the more modern Metroid-style gameplay of more recent games to create one fantastic experience. Whether you know this song as Sorrow's Distortion or Spell of Sorrow, I think we can all agree that this theme gets one in the mood for vampire-slaying action.

v337. Golden Sun (GBA) - An Adapt's Home ~ Vale Theme

The primary hero of Golden Sun, Isaac, calls Vale his happy home, but when tragedy strikes, he must venture outside Vale's boundaries with friend Garet on an epic journey. The theme of Vale is very homely and suitably so. The pan flute gives an earthen vibe to this satisfying theme.

v338. Dynasty Warriors: Gundam (PS3, 360) - Breakthrough in Your Fate

Dynasty Warriors as a series, and games of its ilk, are given a lot of grief for their repetitive nature. Some folks like myself just enjoy them as pure comfort gaming. We don't mind the endless hacking and slashing. Dynasty Warriors: Gundam combined two great things: Dynasty Warriors and the manga/anime Gundam franchise. It was a marriage that spanned three games across the HD twins.

v339. Paper Mario: Sticker Star (3DS) - Snow Rise

There is no doubt in my mind that the greatest soundtrack from the Paper Mario series is this one, Sticker Star. The melodies are memorable, the themes are catchy, and even though the game did not live to the series's normal standards, it was still great fun. Snow Rise is one of the better songs in the game with its jaunty melody and piano accompaniment. Winter might soon be disappearing, but we can still enjoy what's left of it with this song.

v340. Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles (Wii) - Sorrow

We cap off this doubly sorrowful edition of SPC's Favorite VGMs with Sorrow, a boss battle theme from Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles. The game featured a wholly new scenario, content from Resident Evil 2, and content from Code Veronica (where this remixed song comes from). The strings and choir make for a truly sensational sounding and dramatic tune!


The conclusion of another edition of SPC's Favorite VGMs has been reached. No worries if you grow sad that they won't be back until next Monday, as you can listen to every VGM ever spotlighted in the VGM Database.