Saturday, June 22, 2013

Tomb Raider (PS3, 360, PC) Review

A game that is too recent to be listed as a Better Late Than Never review, Tomb Raider released back in March, and now SuperPhillip Central is finally giving Ms. Lara Croft's origin story some of our devotion. How does Tomb Raider hold up? Let's find out with our review.

A Story of Survival... And Mass Murder

Back in the days of the original PlayStation, Tomb Raider was a franchise that was a force to be reckoned with. However, as more sequels came out in later generations, each feeling more iterative than the last, the quality of the games declined greatly. Now, the series is faced with a massive reboot created by Crystal Dynamics-- certainly no easy undertaking. Simply titled Tomb Raider, the game shows a more fragile Lara Croft's origin story. Is the price of survival worth the price of admission?

As stated, Tomb Raider tells the tale of Lara Croft's not-so-humble beginnings. When a voyage to an island in the Dragon's Triangle goes awry, Croft and crew's ship crashes. Lara wakes up, calling for her friends, only to be blindsided by a local. Dazed, tied up, and hanging in some kind of cavern, Lara frees herself and must do everything to survive on her own. It won't be easy, as the island is maintained by a crazed cult, any ship or plane that tries to leave the island gets shot down by Mother Nature, and supplies are scarce. Tomb Raider definitely shows a different side to the mythos of Lara Croft. She starts out as an incredibly vulnerable and scared girl and by the end of the game she becomes a hardened survivor. However, I found it difficult to suspend my disbelief at times. Lara is constantly put in ridiculous situation after ridiculous situation, each more insane than the last that it felt like the storytellers were trying to shove it in my face that Lara was a strong-willed survivor. Seriously, I got it already. It's sort of tough to swallow to have it repeatedly drilled into me.

It takes a big man to use a woman for a shield.
Another issue I have with Tomb Raider stems from how violent the game is. It just feels forced and unnecessary. I don't play Tomb Raider games to see Lara Croft impaled through the throat, bashed in the face until she's a bloody mess, or have her spine snap when she smacks into an underwater rock, nor do I want to see that. What the developers call a visceral gameplay experience, I call gratuitous violence for the sake of violence. There's realism and then there's what Tomb Raider is. It gets worse when you realize that  as soon as Lara Croft comes across her first gun (before which she has to carefully sneak around the island), she almost immediately transforms from a helpless young woman into the female version of the Terminator, complete with genocidal kill counts and merciless executions. The violence displayed by Tomb Raider almost becomes comical at some points, obviously not the intention of the developers. It makes emotionally nuanced story sequences of the game seem wasted when the next moment Lara begins slaying foes as easily as a mass murderer.

Bad dog! Down, boy!
That said, Tomb Raider is an incredibly fun experience. The game has you moving from section of island to section of island, exploring the wide open areas (of which you can fast travel from camp to camp), venturing into optional tombs for treasure, performing feats of climbing prowess that would give Nathan Drake a run for his money, hunting animals as if Lara was on an African safari, and taking out violent islanders that want nothing more than to see outsiders like Lara taken out as brutally as possible.

Well, aren't these cheery surroundings. 
Thankfully, Lara has tools at her disposal to bring the brutality right back to them. There are four weapons that Lara Croft comes across in Tomb Raider, and each serves its own purpose. Lara starts out with the bow and arrow, perfect for silently taking out foes and animals. Holding down the fire button draws the bow back more for increased damage, and also easier penetration into armor. Then there's a pistol, an automatic rifle and a shotgun, all of which can be upgraded through earning salvage points. These come from coming across and opening boxes strewn about the island, and looting the corpses of your slain victims. Upgrades purchased through spending salvage points can be used to strengthen the recoil of your weapon, allow more ammo in a magazine, or cause give better accuracy.

In addition to salvage points, Lara Croft can also earn experience points through multiple means, such as scavenging fallen animals she hunts, defeating enemies (headshots and more savage kills net more points), and coming across hidden collectibles. When enough experience points have been earned, Lara gains skill points. These can be used to get survivor abilities for Lara to use. Such examples of this include being able to spot otherwise hard-to-find sources of loot, recovering shot arrows from downed creatures and enemies, and increased climbing speed.

Speaking of hunting, one of Tomb Raider's first objectives after Lara escapes from the cavern of crazed cult members is to hunt a deer for a source of food. You might think that this skill is useful and is used more prominently later in the game, but no, it's simply a one-off deal that only nets you experience points each time you kill an animal. I would have liked to see taking down animals as something necessary, since after all this is a game showing how Lara survives her ordeal. Wouldn't scavenging for food be an important part of that? And I don't mean something as boring and as tedious as collecting and eating food like Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater had. Just something to make the experience seem more realistic would have been interesting to see.

There's no thrill to these hunts in Tomb Raider.
A great part of Tomb Raider is how much exploring is available to you and Lara. Of course, the linear set pieces that drive the action sequences of the game are nice and wow-worthy, but it's nice to just be able to explore the island at your own pace, uncovering secret tombs and collectibles like GPS caches, documents that fill in the holes of the story, and relics left behind by those who were doomed to never leave the island. The island feels natural, and there's a remarkable sense of wonder in every facet, mountain face, and area. New tools allow for Lara to reach previously inaccessible areas to further discover the entirety of Lara's marooned location.

Nathan Drake, eat your heart out.
Meanwhile, something that Tomb Raider fans are generally unfamiliar with, multiplayer, comes with this all new reboot. It contains four mostly fun modes where beginning players need to grind experience to unlock better skills, weapons, upgrades, and characters. It isn't the most innovative or routinely engaging multiplayer out there, but it does its job well and increases the replay value of Tomb Raider immensely. Some might argue that the multiplayer could have been scrapped in order for the developers to bolster the single player experience better, but I, for one, welcome being able to hop online for some gratuitous shooting that actually belongs in this portion of Tomb Raider.

Multiplayer offers four unique modes to enjoy.
Tomb Raider's budget is quite high, and it's easy to see that a lot of the money went into creating the vast island expanses, gorgeous visual output, and brilliant voice acting. It's nice seeing how Lara gets increasingly more messy as she explores dirty caverns and have her clothes stay wet after she exits a body of water. Effects like fire look damn impressive, and the vegetation and structure of the island are built to look as natural as possible. The island doesn't usually feel like its made by a designer for Lara to easily get to point A to point B. It feels more genuine than that, much like a game like Metroid Prime used the environment to make platforming and journeying seem more organic.

Fire bad! But it looks really good at least!
Tomb Raider is the type of triple-A experience that succeeds in creating an engaging gameplay experience, but fails at conveying a realistic vulnerable survivor in Lara Croft. When one moment you're seeing Ms. Croft cry her eyes out for killing her first islander, and then the next you're performing headshots like a professional hitman, it gets quite jarring. That notwithstanding, a plot and campaign that will keep you wanting to play, fun (though oftentimes unbelievable) set pieces that amaze, and a multiplayer component that increases the longevity of the game make for a remarkable reboot for the Tomb Raider franchise. I can't wait to see in which direction Lara Croft's adventures take her next, because I will happily follow.

[SPC Says: 8.75/10]

Friday, June 21, 2013

Top Ten Summer Vacation Video Game Destinations

Today is the summer solstice, and now it is officially summer here in North America. It seems like the perfect time to think fondly of some of our favorite summer areas in video games. Those steamy areas, those tropical locales, those sandy beaches, and those sparkling blue waters... Ah, this is the life. This top ten list features those summer vacation video game destinations that take us out of being stuck in the Midwest and takes us into virtual summer getaways.

10) Planet Pokitaru - Ratchet & Clank (PS2)

Ratchet & Clank's tourist attraction planet is Planet Pokitaru, which also makes an appearance as the first level of Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters. Its sunny shores might seem innocent enough at first, but then you have to deal with those orange fish, who unlike usual fish, the only biting they do is not onto fishing lines, but Ratchet himself! Planet Pokitaru offers the rare opporunity for Ratchet to actually swim in the surrounding pollution-free water instead of getting eaten whole by some aquatic life as soon as he steps inside. Throw in some aerial dog-fighting in the cheery sky, and you have a planet that makes for a load of fun and a joy to play.

9) Altamira - Tales of Symphonia (GCN)

Ah, the seaside paradise of Altamira... Such beauty, this city that sits on its own isle. This sun-soaked city is full of locales, such as being the home of the Lezareno Company. Altamira also contains a grand beach-- ripe with places to sit back, relax and tan (doing too much of the latter is not recommended)-- a resort, a theme park, and a hotel. To say there is something for everyone at Altamira is a definitely safe thing to say. Lloyd Irving's party heads to Altamira in the second half of Tales of Symphonia, and it is such a beautiful paradise that leaving it is very hard to do, especially if you're next destination is some dank and dark dungeon.

8) Lake Orangatanga - Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble (SNES)

When Dixie and Kiddy Kong aren't busy trying to take down the new mechanical menace simply known as Kaos, they unwind in good old Lake Orangatanga, the first world of Donkey Kong County 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble. This world reminds us of summer camp, only without the reading of dirty magazines and giggling. The outdoor levels are generally set on wooden docks and planks, with the lake waters below. It's a nice setting, especially compared to the darker levels of Donkey Kong Country 2. Lake Orangatanga is the type of watering hole we would love to stop at.

7) Koopa Troopa Beach - Mario Kart 64 (N64)

Recently put back into the limelight with its inclusion as a retro cup track in Mario Kart 7, Koopa Troopa Beach is the third course of the Mushroom Cup in Mario Kart 64, the four-player multiplayer classic. From the flocks of seagulls that fly around the skies of the island to the crabs that scamper across the beach sands, Koopa Troopa Beach features plenty of summer excitement. The rock structure in the center of the island that reveals itself to look just like the profile of a Koopa Troopa makes for a stunning sight when you finally see it for yourself (most likely in the game's credits sequence). The shortcut found by taking a ramp and leaping into a cavern is not for the faint of heart. Though pulling it off will definitely earn you some mad props.  Koopa Troopa Beach is an excellent tropical course, but it's not Mario Kart's best.

6) Daisy Cruiser - Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (GCN)

No, our favorite tropical track from the Mario Kart franchise comes from Mario Kart: Double Dash!! It's Daisy's themed course, a cruise liner fit for some fast and furious racing action. The start of the track allows players to choose to go to the left or right. Regardless of which path they select, the track reconvenes, having players circle around a swimming pool. Then comes a trip to the lower deck, where tables slide back and forth in the main lobby, getting in racers' ways if they aren't careful. An optional path takes players even deeper into the ship, shooting them out of a cannon. A final large bend leads to a stairway leading up. Just be sure to dodge the life rings that hang over the track. This cheerful track feels so totally summer, and it's a track that we wouldn't mind spending our lazy summer days on.

5) Treasure Trove Cove - Banjo-Kazooie (N64) 

The second major level in one of the greatest 3D platformers of all time, Banjo-Kazooie, is Treasure Trove Cove, a level set on a beach, surrounded by an ocean infested with one dangerous shark, tropical palm trees, cliffs to climb on, an isle with a lighthouse at its very top, a sandcastle that houses a word puzzle, and an unlucky shipwrecked pirate who just wants to return to the sea. Don't forget about Nipper, a very snap-happy crab who holds onto one of ten Jiggies Banjo and Kazooie need to obtain. Treasure Trove Cove is also worth mentioning not just because it is a vacation destination like no other in the Banjo-Kazooie series, but it's also the first place the bear and bird learn to fly.

4) Costa del Sol - Final Fantasy VII (PS1)

Welcome to Final Fantasy VII's sunny coastal town, Costa del Sol, serving as a port for those sailing in from Junon. After the mechanical, industrial nature of the latter, seeing a sun-drenched beach resort town is as refreshing as a tonic on a hot summer's day. In Costa del Sol, Cloud Strife and his party are able to purchase  President Shinra's summer home. All that is required is a 300,000 gil payment. Chump change when you're picking all that gil off the dead carcasses of all the monsters you slay! Though the mission to follow the trail of and find Sephiroth is pressing on Cloud and friends' minds, there's no harm in lounging around just a little bit, right?

3) Besaid Island - Final Fantasy X (PS2)

From one Final Fantasy game to another, we look at Final Fantasy X's Besaid Island. Sure, the world of Final Fantasy X is in deep doo-doo, what, with a colossal creature named Sin threatening its very existence, but Besaid Island is a tropical destination to indulge in the warm climate and sea breezes nonetheless. It is here that our happy-go-lucky and extremely cheerful Final Fantasy X protagonist meets up with most of the members of his party. Throw in some sublime sights like cliffs covered with lush greenery and waterfalls, sandy beaches and steamy jungles, and you have a nice place to get away from it all. Just be sure to return to saving the world sometime soon!

2) Emerald Coast - Sonic Adventure (DC)

The first fully 3D Sonic (so no Sonic 3D Blast), Sonic Adventure really wowed us when it debuted with SEGA's final home console, the SEGA Dreamcast. Its introductory level was a visually appealing, fast romp through beautiful beaches, past wooded docks and through the glorious natural architecture of the stone cliffs. By far the most memorable section of Emerald Coast was the Blue Blur being chased by a killer whale, which pursued Sonic closely, smashing the wooden planks he had just crossed over. And how could you not fall in love with the music of this magical place?

1) Isle Delfino - Super Mario Sunshine (GCN)

Though not as wonderful of a 3D Mario game as we would have liked, Super Mario Sunshine contains one of the most satisfying summer locales in gaming history, Isle Delfino. While some may quickly grow tired of every level being focused around a tropical theme, Isle Delfino is a terrific place for some summer fun. Sure, Mario's vacation isn't so grand. He's locked up and falsely charged with cleaning up the goop on the island, but the player gets a round of platforming entertainment so it makes up for Mario's work. Delfino Plaza is the main hub of Super Mario Sunshine, and it is a favorite hub world of ours. Boats come in and out, the sun shines brightly on the city streets and washed out buildings, and the crystal clear water is perfect for taking a nice dip in. Other locales on Isle Delfino like Bianco Hills, Ricco Harbor, Gelato Beach and Pinna Park, the amusement park destination, all make the island a remarkable place, and our choice for best summer vacation video game destination.


That completes our choices of favorite summer vacation video game destinations, but what are some of yours? Let us know in the comments section. Now, excuse us, as we get our tans on!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

F-Zero (SNES, Wii U VC) Retro Review

We conclude this Thursday with a retro review. F-Zero is a popular, but severely overlooked by Nintendo series that always brings with it intense speeds and careful precision racing. With our review of the original F-Zero (available now on the Wii U Virtual Console), we take a look at the franchise's humble beginning.

Life in the Fast Lane

Back at the Super Nintendo's launch, a new IP named F-Zero debuted, and it took racing to new speeds and to a futuristic setting. The F-Zero franchise is now one of the most wanted series that fans want Nintendo to return to, and for good reason. Its fast, futuristic racing on tracks that loop, spin, twist, twirl, and rise to the heavens has made many gamers' hearts race. However, all things must start with a beginning, and before the fully 3D versions of F-Zero X and F-Zero GX came to be, the F-Zero series started out with flat track design. That notwithstanding, the original F-Zero was still a technological marvel, being one of the first Super Nintendo games to use Mode 7 graphics to create the illusion of 3D. See why the beginning of the F-Zero franchise on the SNES is still worth a look with this review.

F-Zero is a racing game that takes place on futuristic courses suspended in the air. Of course, the technical limits of the Super Nintendo made it impossible for the tracks to actually look like they were high above the ground, but you work with what you've got. The aim of F-Zero is to compete in several cups, each containing five races each. Unlike Super Mario Kart, you don't earn points for winning races that tally up to make you the overall winner after all five races have been completed. Instead, the goal of F-Zero is to stay qualified and not retire.

Captain Falcon shows us his moves.
As each of the five laps of a given race are completed, the minimum place that you can get before being forced to retire gets stricter and stricter. While the first lap of a race only requires you to be in at least the fifteenth position, the last lap requires you to at least be in third place to continue onto the next track.

Then there's the worry about your vehicle. Of the four playable vehicles in the game (yes, a small number compared to what would be available in F-Zero X and F-Zero GX), each handles differently and comes with its own stats. For instance, the Blue Falcon serves as the well rounded type while the Fire Stingray is a brute that has the highest max speed but the worst acceleration.

This section of track brings a whole new
meaning to the term "snaking."
You need to be wary of your machine's health during a race. The tracks are lined with hazards-- even the walls are dangerous! If your vehicle's health is empty, you will retire from the race. If your vehicle leaps off of the track, you will retire from the race. Losing a machine means losing a life. Run out of lives, and it is game over. Thankfully, each track has a pit stop area that you can quickly speed through to recover a slab of health.

There are three leagues in F-Zero, sporting five races each, adding up to fifteen tracks total. The leagues range from easy like the Knight League to the King League which is the hardest of the three. Tracks are oftentimes windy, offering some brutal curves that will put your racing prowess (or lack thereof) to the test. Some tracks contain jumps, some contain mines, and some have patches of track that are harmful to run over. The track design is quite good in F-Zero, and it provides a nice challenge to the player.

Whether dawn, day or dusk, the F-Zero
racing league speeds on.
Speaking of challenge, F-Zero will put you through the ringer. It's not difficult because of poor controls or unfair AI. No, it is legitimately a hard game, so if you're not in the mood to try, try again on that race you just can't seem to beat on that difficulty level you just can't seem to pass, you should look elsewhere for your retro racing fix.

The controls in F-Zero feel quite nice. Of course, I have no reference as to what cars that hover above a track handle like, but I imagine F-Zero's machines handle just fine. You can tap the accelerator to more gently careen around corners, you can use the super jet to get a burst of speed (once per lap), and you can use the shoulder buttons to shift your vehicles weight for better handling.

White Land is one of the more 
impressive tracks in F-Zero.
One of the two things that glare out at me the most concerning F-Zero's faults is the total lack of multiplayer. It seems like such a shocking omission for this type of game. Secondly, the practice mode only allows you to race on seven of the fifteen tracks. This means you cannot practice on the more challenging races or participate in time trials for them in a single race affair. I would have thought I could have unlocked more races for practice mode, but no matter what league on what difficulty I beat, I never earned more tracks to try out. Disheartening, and makes for frustration when your first try on a track goes horribly because you couldn't practice it. And you WILL need to practice for some of these tracks (e.g. Fire Field).

F-Zero is a magnificent showcase of the Super Nintendo's power. The Mode 7 visuals allow for 3D-like tracks that still impress to this day. The frame-rate is super smooth, only further contributing to the awesome sense of speed F-Zero provides. The soundtrack features some very catchy tunes like Mute City and Silence, which continue to amaze my ears.

The speed of F-Zero is helped by
the absolutely fluid frame-rate.
Despite lacking any form of multiplayer and being a truly tough game, F-Zero is a worthwhile addition to anyone's gaming library-- especially fans of futuristic racing or a racing game outside the norm. This 1991 classic is still a very capable racing title that dazzles as well as entertains. F-Zero is the type of game that allowed the Super Nintendo to show its moves, and now you can show F-Zero your moves too.

[SPC Says: 8.0/10]

The History of the Paper Mario Series

Nintendo of Europe has provided SuperPhillip Central with this infographic detailing all of the games in the popular Paper Mario line of games. From the original Nintendo 64 title to the latest Nintendo 3DS installment, this infographic will give you everything you wanted to know about the Paper Mario series in as brief a way as possible.

This Infographic comes courtesy of Nintendo UK. Paper Mario: Sticker Star is available on Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo 3DS XL

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

SuperPhillip Central's Top 100 Games of All Time (80-71)

On June 5, SuperPhillip Central turned five years old. We're celebrating big the only way we know how, with a list of our favorite 100 games of all time. SuperPhillip Central's staff has come together to come up with this list. These don't necessarily have to be the best, but they are indeed our favorites. Coming up with an order for these games has been an immense challenge. We're sure you won't agree with our order-- heck, we don't even agree with our order. That said, we hope you'll at least agree with our picks, and if you don't, at least you can read our rationale for our choices. Regardless, for ten weeks, we will be counting down our favorite games of all time. Please join us for this great undertaking. Let's get to the countdown!

80) Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon (3DS)

Kicking off the Year of Luigi (and part three of our ten-part countdown) in style, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon delivered on the thrills and chills when it released earlier this year. The game did away with playing through and exploring just one mansion, and opted for multiple mansions and a mission-based structure. We couldn't have been happier with this change, as it offered much more depth, much more fun, and much more replay value. The addition of online and local multiplayer only further added to the latter. Dark Moon was a graphical showcase of the 3DS' power, and also a showcase of just how well Next Level Games can create an overly fantastic piece of software with the right guidance. Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon is an essential purchase for any Nintendo 3DS owner.

79) Advance Wars: Dual Strike (DS)

The third entry in the Advance Wars series and the first to debut on the Nintendo DS, Advance Wars: Dual Strike was a turn-based tactical RPG that put players in the role of one of many colorful and whimsical commanding officers across multiple armies. The goal of Advance Wars was always to eliminate enemy forces with your own swath of units. The strategy came from using the right unit type, as each unit type had its own unit types it was weak and strong against. The Dual Strike in Advance Wars: Dual Strike referred to the capability of using two commanding officers instead of the traditional single commanding officer in battle. The dynamic of battles shifted dramatically because of this. We view Dual Strike as the greatest installment of the Advance Wars series, possessing more maps, more challenge, and more fun than ever before.

78) Star Wars: Battlefront (PS2, XBX, PC)

Taking a part of what makes Star Wars so fascinating-- the epic scale battles-- and making an entire game out of them was a hefty task, but it was pulled off with Star Wars: Battlefront. Playing as a Rebel or Empire soldier, pilot, or Storm Trooper, weaving in and out of laser fire and explosions, and doing your best to capture as many enemy bases and command posts as possible were tasks that Battlefront gave players. There was nothing better than getting a massive kill streak going and feeling like you could take on all comers and blast them down. From fighting on the moon of Endor to gunning down Storm Troopers on the icy surface of planet Hoth, Star Wars: Battlefront was a stellar addition to the Star Wars game universe.

77) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time (ARC, SNES)

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles recently reentered pop culture with an all-new Nickolodeon computer-animated cartoon, and soon they will have their own Michael Bay feature film. That last one you can happily ignore, though. Regardless, back in the day, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were, as the kids say, tight. You could not go anywhere without seeing TMNT merchandise, movies, TV shows, action figures, and so forth. That continued into video games, and the best one ever featuring those heroes in a half shell released on the Super Nintendo after debuting in arcades. Turtles in Time was an old-fashioned beat-em-up. While these games tend to be linear and short, Turtles in Time was so much fun that one could not help but play through it again and again, especially if you had your favorite buds around to enjoy the game with.

76) Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes (GCN)

A project that would not have been possible without Shigeru Miyamoto and Silicon Knights, Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes was a GameCube exclusive remake of the original Metal Gear Solid. The remake featured all-new cutscenes, beautifully done upgraded visuals, and gameplay improvements to make the title less clunky as a whole. The latter made for a much grander and less frustrating experience. For instance, players could not fire in first-person mode. In addition to that, enemy AI was updated to balance the inclusion of the first-person viewpoint. Some claim the new perspective made for a game that was easier, perhaps too easy. While we can understand that, we still stand by the opinion that The Twin Snakes is the definitive version of the first Metal Gear Solid game.

75) F-Zero X (N64)

F-Zero set the standard for speed on the Super Nintendo. F-Zero X on the Nintendo 64 made futuristic racing on tracks that twisted, turned, and looped very popular. One of the only games on the N64 to run at a fluid 60 frames per second, F-Zero X blew past the competition and is still one of the greatest futuristic racers to date. Having thirty racers dueling it out for first place supremacy, spinning and slamming your vehicle into others, boosting past the competition at manic speeds, and trying not only to win but to simply survive, F-Zero X was a game that made our adrenaline pump and our bodies tingle with excitement. Speaking of F-Zero, stay tuned for a retro review this week regarding the original F-Zero.

74) Kirby's Return to Dream Land (Wii)

The latest in the Kirby franchise, Kirby's Return to Dream Land offered four player simultaneous play, something that became something popular on the Wii (and we loved every minute of it). Being able to play as Kirby, Waddle Dee, Metaknight, or King Dedede made for some frantic and fun multiplayer action. The game contained seven worlds, each with multiple creatively-designed levels and a concluding boss battle to top each world off. Energy Spheres were the optional collectibles that players could nab in order to unlock hidden content, and after beating the game, an all-new EX Mode was unlocked, giving players harder enemies to deal with and less health to work with. Kirby's Return to Dream Land was a project that was scrapped and rebuilt time and time again, and we're very happy and satisfied with how the final product finally turned out.

73) Kingdom Hearts (PS2)

Combining the serious world of Final Fantasy with the often happy-go-lucky world of Disney seemed like an odd feat to do. However, Square Enix and Disney proved that they were more than capable of performing such a task. The end result was Kingdom Hearts, the first in a series of action-RPG games featuring a wide array of Final Fantasy characters and Disney all-stars all together in one game. We feel that the original Kingdom Hearts stands head and shoulders above every sequel and spin-off that followed it. It had a much less convoluted story, a less obnoxious and tedious beginning, and the right mix of platforming and action RPG fun. What better time to revisit Kingdom Hearts now that the third installment in the series is due for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One!

72) Batman: Arkham Asylum (PS3, 360, PC)

Prior to Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman games ranged from awful to good. Seldom, if ever, did a Batman game get deemed as masterful. That all changed with Batman: Arkham Asylum. A team that hadn't done much to distinguish itself (or make a great game), Rocksteady, managed to create one of the best superhero games of all time. The Metroid-like structure, where Batman earned new gadgets to allow him to explore new areas of the Arkham Asylum grounds, was a much welcomed inclusion to the formula of the game. Perhaps the only major gripe to be had with Arkham Asylum was the tacked on final boss battle that did not really serve as something that fit with the style of the game.

71) The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii, GCN)

We round out part three of our list of 100 favorite games with a Wii launch title, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. The game debuted at E3 2004 with thunderous applause and cheering. Tears were literally shed by some people. Go figure, huh. Anyway, the final product featured some of the greatest dungeons in series history, a large expansive world to explore, and some incredible boss battles. The Wii version is a mirrored take on the GameCube iteration. What we mean is that the world of Twilight Princess on Wii is flipped compared to the GameCube version (e.g. a destination that was west is now east, and vice versa). The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess also introduced Wolf Link into the picture, a darker tone and setting, and one of the most enjoyable companions to Link, Midna. Twilight Princess might have its share of problems (like the long-winded opening tutorial sequence), but overall it was a fantastic addition to the historic series.


That concludes part three of SuperPhillip Central's list of our favorite 100 games. Make sure you are back here next Wednesday for games 70-61 of our countdown!