Friday, August 9, 2013

Top Ten Most Wanted Wii U Games (2013 Edition)

If you have owned a Wii U since launch, then you're probably used to the waiting game. Most Wii U owners have been more than patient enough for a downpour of new software rather than the trickles we've received over the past nine months. Finally the drought is over with the release of Pikmin 3, and finally the release schedule has beefed up. There are a lot of exciting Wii U games coming forth this fall, this holiday season and next year. This list provides our readers with the titles that we want most that are coming to Nintendo's eighth generation system.

For other features, articles, editorials and lists, check out our Feature Catalog! Also, don't forget to vote on this month's Central City Census poll, located at the top of the sidebar!

10) The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD

A remastering of a game we played a decade or so ago isn't going to interest us much, but when it is a new and improved version of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, we can't just thumb our collective noses at it. Using new lighting including enough bloom for outdoor areas to give that tropical sun-drenched shine to islands, clever Miiverse functionality, and an updated take on the once tedious Triforce quest, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD is shaping up to be just the taste of the Legend of Zelda series that fans have been desiring ever since they purchased their Wii Us. We know we're in that camp!

9) Rayman Legends

The first of a handful of third-party games on our list, Rayman Legends was originally due out way back in late February. Due to poor sales of Ubisoft's premier Wii U launch title, ZombiU, the publisher decided to delay the game to make it multi-platform. At first we were upset with this news, but seeing all of the added content the developers have included due to the delay make us really happy. We're also really happy that the Wii U version still appears to be the definitive version of the game, thanks to the touch screen and exclusive content, including the just announced Mario and Luigi costumes. (Though we're glad more people get to experience this game.)

8) Sonic Lost World

Back in the Super Nintendo/Genesis playground wars over which system was superior, you would have been called some very naughty names had you said that one day Sonic the Hedgehog would appear on a Nintendo platform. You would have probably been beat up if you said that the developer hopes that this Sonic game will revive Nintendo's system. Those playground squabbles get violent fast, after all. Borrowing a page from Super Mario Galaxy, Sonic Lost World defies gravity for an extra dose of amazing fun and fantastical level design that many players of demos seem to be enjoying. We cannot express how glad we are that Sonic Team has finally come to terms as to how to create a satisfying 3D Sonic. They've done it with Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations, so hopefully they can pull off the hat trick with Sonic Lost World, only for Nintendo Wii U.

7) The Wonderful 101

This morning we caught a humorous glimpse at Platinum Games' Hideki Kamiya performing the same mannerisms of Nintendo president Satoru Iwata for the special Nintendo Direct featuring The Wonderful 101. Unite, wonder-eyes and take down the alien robotic menace that threatens the peace-loving people of our world. The Wonderful 101 has players taking command of a superhero squad, using the Wii U GamePad to draw symbols to summon high-powered weaponry like fists, swords, guns and whips to demolish foes with ease. As would be expected of a Platinum Games title, there is a great layer of depth in the gameplay to be had, and you can bet that the colorful stylized world of The Wonderful 101 is one that you'll want to return to over and over again.

6) Bayonetta 2

One of the most embarrassing events of last year for the gaming industry (and there are sadly so many to mention) was the reaction to Bayonetta 2 becoming a Nintendo Wii U exclusive. There were death threats, people who would rather see the game not exist at all rather than be exclusive to Nintendo (these people are known as pathetic console warriors), and other immature behavior that did the industry no favors in making people take our hobby seriously. Regardless, without Nintendo's support, Bayonetta 2 would simply not exist. We're glad that the high-heeled femme fatale has returned, and boy is she looking phenomenal. We're ready to take down demons, monsters and enemies of all shapes and sizes when Bayonetta 2 smashes onto the Wii U next year.

5) Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

While most of gamer-dom wanted Retro Studios to be working on a new Metroid, we were absolutely elated to discover that the developer had chosen to work on a sequel to one of the greatest platformers of the past generation (and of all time), Donkey Kong Country Returns. Now, the team is at it again with Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, adding underwater segments, dynamic camera angles, a new enemy threat, and playable Dixie Kong. We're anxiously awaiting seeing more footage of Tropical Freeze and see just how stellar Retro Studios' masterful level design carries over to this new game. It is a grand year to be a platformer fan, and if you own a Wii U and are like us, then you will be in heaven this year.

4) Super Mario 3D World

Super Mario 3D Land on the Nintendo 3DS was an excellent merging of gameplay styles of the Mario series. It had the move set of the 3D games, while bringing the linear obstacle courses of the 2D games. The end result was a combination that rocked our worlds. Speaking of worlds, Super Mario 3D World is set to release this December for the Wii U, and being able to play a 3D Mario with friends and family is a concept that enthuses us to no end. The all-new Cat Suit looks absolutely adorable and opens up the level design exponentially. We are also liking how each playable character controls differently, much like Super Mario Bros. 2 (USA version). Many fun times and sleepless nights will no doubt be had as we mess with one another's jumps, causing "accidental" deaths and the kind of entertainment you can't just get anywhere.

3) X

Still a code name for Monolith Soft's epic RPG project for the Wii U, X is one of the most impressive looking games from a technological standpoint. Then, when you factor in giant colossal mecha robots (which you can enter and exit in an instant), behemoth-sized beasts and lands that stretch out as far as the eye can see, and you can probably realize why so many are hyped for whatever X will eventually turn out to be named. It also doesn't hurt that this team's last game was one of the best RPGs ever devised, Xenoblade Chronicles. We're chomping at the proverbial bit to find out more about Monolith Soft's ambitious title.

2) Mario Kart 8

Another great looking title from a technological standpoint is Mario Kart 8. After the less-than-impressive-looking Mario Kart Wii, it seems the development team has something to prove graphics-wise, and they are certainly proving it with the clean and colorful visuals of Mario Kart 8. Although the game is due out next spring, we do have details that we know of. The most obvious is that anti-gravity a la F-Zero will be a huge part of the gameplay and track design. The Mario Kart series has some of the best track design of any kart racer, so seeing what the development team will do when they're no longer tied down to the laws of gravity is something that is really exciting. Spring 2014 is such a long time to wait for Mario Kart 8, but we're most certainly sure it will be worth it.

1) Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

The top three games on this list are the furthest away for Wii U owners, being 2014 releases. That said, we're constantly getting new screenshots on a daily basis straight from the creator of the Super Smash Bros. series himself, Masahiro Sakurai. We are in love with both versions of the game, the Wii U and 3DS versions, but the Wii U game has us most interested. While the current roster is on the light side, we are pleased with the inclusions thus far. Then you have the stage design, which is looking rather excellent and should deliver plenty of fun for players. Super Smash Bros. Brawl is without a doubt our most played game of the past generation, and we're eager to invest more of the days of our lives into this new Smash Bros. game.

The Wonderful 101 (Wii U) Director's Trailer

Hot off the heels of the special Wonderful 101 Nintendo Direct is a long trailer for the game, showcasing the various heroes and abilities the game contains. The Wonderful 101 takes the action dial and turns it up to 11 from the word "go." Europeans can experience this game later this month, but North Americans will have to wait until mid-September to wonder-eyes.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Hindsight Is 20/20: Ways Wii U Could Have Already Been A Success

It seems every day we see a new article pop up on how Nintendo and the Wii U are doomed forever and how Satoru Iwata should be sacked or something similar. We're pretty tired of these types of traffic-bringing articles moving fanboy-level discussion to message boards all around the internet. It's incredibly easy to look at the Wii U and say Nintendo should have done this or should have done that now that the system is severely underperforming. Indeed, hindsight is 20/20. We at SuperPhillip Central have decided to come up with our own ways that Nintendo could have better prepared and made the Wii U a much better success than it currently is. Like we said, seeing the platform do horribly around the globe makes for an easy way to see where the Wii U went wrong. The true challenge is coming up with ways for the system to right its path.

- Avoid Wii/Wii U name confusion

This one boggles our minds completely. After the brand confusion between the Nintendo DS and the successor the Nintendo 3DS, where the average consumer believed the 3DS to simply be a remodel of the DS, one would think that Nintendo would have learned their lesson about naming platforms so similarly. Turns out they somehow learned nothing from this whole fiasco and decided to add the letter U to their previous platform for their new system. The end result has consumers believing that the Wii U is simply an add-on tablet controller to the original Wii and poor marketing that does no favors into killing off this belief. How did this possibly become a problem for a second time for Nintendo? How difficult would it have been to simply call the Wii U the Wii 2? Is this the sound of an incompetent company?

This past Sunday's Target ad shows a
Wii U GamePad and Wii system.
Something's off here.

- Not rush to launch

The Wii U's November 2012 launch reeked of being rushed. The operating system was unbearably slow, the many key features were not present, including the Virtual Console, and the lineup of games was not there. All the November launch last year did was kill any chance for momentum the Wii U could have due to the long droughts of little to no games that followed. Perhaps with a spring launch, like the Nintendo 3DS had, Nintendo could have had more features in place, been able to spread out releases better to avoid such aforementioned droughts, and have the operating system run at a faster speed. As it stands now, Nintendo essentially floundered their yearlong head start against the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

The Wii U's Virtual Console was not
anywhere near ready for launch.

- Anticipate HD development better

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata and highly acclaimed designer Shigeru Miyamoto have both expressed how difficult HD development is compared to Nintendo's work on standard definition platforms. That would be a good excuse for why multiple former "launch window" games were delayed for a year if not for the fact that any HD developer could have told Nintendo that HD development took an exponential amount of more resources and time. Wait a minute. They practically did in interviews and statements within the past six years. Sure, six years is a long time, but when you live in the kind of bubble that Nintendo must live in to not be prepared for HD development after all of the comments from Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC developers for six years of time, that sort of time can get away from you. It must have for Nintendo.

It is for this reason that games like Pikmin 3, The Wonderful 101 and Wii Fit U were pushed far outside of the planned launch window release date. It is why we have to wait until 2014 for Mario Kart 8. This isn't the sign of a highly capable company. Instead, it tells us that Nintendo lives in its own world or has its collective head in the sand to not be prepared for HD development despite all of the comments that should have prepared them for it.

Once a launch window title, Pikmin 3 just
released this past Sunday in North America.

- Court third-parties more

We think Nintendo believed that third-parties would come running to their side with the Wii U after the success of the Wii. This obviously didn't happen, and we see even worse support for Wii U than any other Nintendo platform in memory. This is no doubt worrying, as it will be difficult for Nintendo to be the sole developer supporting their platform. Most third-parties are playing wait and see with the Wii U, but perhaps this wouldn't be an issue had Nintendo proactively went after third-parties. Nintendo could have signed marketing deals to advertise third-party games for them as a benefit to both entities. Wii U owners could have received a larger and more varied array of third-party titles, many of which are available on PS3 and Xbox 360 but skipped Wii U. We might have seen Saints Row IV, Dynasty Warriors 8, Tomb Raider, BioShock Infinite, and Grand Theft Auto V had Nintendo actively went after third-parties instead of thinking they would arrive without persuasion. It's unfortunate, too, as right now the third-party situation is all but positive. It's rather bleak, as Japanese third-parties are close to nowhere to be found, and Western third-parties have pretty much surrendered development on Nintendo's struggling system.

- Continue Wii Remote as main focus

The Wii U GamePad isn't quite the innovation that consumers are wanting. Sales dictate that notion quite well. Consumers just don't seem as excited for the GamePad as much as they were for the Wii Remote. We think that an updated Wii Remote (better gesture recognition, improved gyro functionality, etc.) as the main focus of the Wii U would have been a much more novel proposition. We're confused why Nintendo abandoned it as the primary controller for their new system. The Wii Remote was still popular among many consumers for quite some time.

The kicker is that the Wii U GamePad hasn't had much use outside of a handful of games. We're talking titles like Nintendo Land, ZombiU, and LEGO City Undercover. However, a lot of games on Wii U work with just the Wii Remote and Nunchuk or just the Wii Remote by itself. The biggest launch title was New Super Mario Bros. U, and it didn't really require the GamePad outside of Boost Mode, which seemed like an afterthought anyway in retrospect. Even Pikmin 3 that released this past Sunday in North America works best with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk combination, with the Wii U GamePad working on the side as a map.

Perhaps the Wii U GamePad could have been a peripheral for the Wii U. Of course, we know that if it's not standard, third-parties will generally not go anywhere near it, but it would have driven the cost of the Wii U system down, it would have allowed the Wii Remote to continue to be expanded upon by developers, and it would have kept Wii consumers interested.


What other ways can you think of that the Wii U could already be a success? Do you think it's too late for the Wii U to turn its unlucky fortunes around? Let the SuperPhillip Central community read your thoughts in the comments section below.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

SuperPhillip Central's Top 100 Games of All Time - The Top Ten

This is it. The moment you have been waiting for. For the past nine weeks we've been counting down our favorite games of all time. This is the final week we'll be doing so, listing our top ten games of all time. As is standard for each week, here is our spiel:

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.

If you missed a previous edition of our countdown, look no further than these links:

Games of All Time (100-91)
Games of All Time (90-81)
Games of All Time (80-71)
Games of All Time (70-61)
Games of All Time (60-51)
Games of All Time (50-41)
Games of All Time (40-31)
Games of All Time (30-21)
Games of All Time (20-11)

10) Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)

Many competitive fighting gamers would stick up their noses at this choice, but our preference towards the Super Smash Bros. series has us choosing Brawl over Melee. Super Smash Bros. Brawl, while not as competitive of a fighter as Melee, was the more complete package. It was much more entertaining for parties and gatherings due to its off-the-wall antics, fierce action and intense battles. Throw in interactive stages, newcomers like Ike and Lucas, a healthy heaping of crazy items, and you have the ultimate party game. Like many of Masahiro Sakurai's creations, Super Smash Bros. Brawl brought players hundreds of hours worth of content-- stages, characters, modes, trophies, stickers, music, etc. One could spend months, if not years, trying to unlock everything that the game contained. Brawl was indeed a love letter to all Nintendo fans, lovingly designed by its developers, offering more characters than ever before in both playable and non-playable forms, two dozen all-new well-executed stages, trophies containing info about many Nintendo properties, music from an assortment of well-known Japanese composers and tremendous bang for one's buck. A local multiplayer fan's delight, Super Smash Bros. Brawl is our number ten game.

9) Mega Man X (SNES)

While we love the classic Mega Man series and think it has more great games than the X series, our favorite Mega Man title of all time just so happens to end with an X-- Mega Man X, to be specific. Everything about Mega Man was made more incredible and astounding with Mega Man X. You had more abilities like wall climbing, more replay value in finding Dr. Light's capsule upgrades, heart tanks and sub tanks, more challenge, more intimidating bosses and a more mature story. The level design was among the entire Mega Man franchise's best, making players perform daring leaps while keeping a cool head about them. This was definitely one of those games that would get your hands soaked with sweat as you clutched your Super Nintendo controller. Mega Man X is one of those games that we constantly find ourselves returning to. It may not take a long time to complete once you know the location of every item, but we always come up with new challenges to do-- speed runs, no damage runs, X-Buster only runs, etc. Case in point, if you're looking for hot and hectic 2D run and gun platforming action, there's no better than Mega Man X.

8) Banjo-Kazooie (N64, XBLA)

Yes, we actually prefer Banjo-Kazooie to Super Mario 64. While Super Mario 64 was revolutionary for 3D platformers, Banjo-Kazooie was evolutionary to Super Mario 64. It offered larger worlds, a wider array of moves (most of which had to be unlocked, so you would have a reason to return to past worlds), plenty of fun collectibles, awesome transformations a la Mumbo Jumbo, great music, Rare's trademark humor and some gorgeous graphics. It's actually the Xbox Live Arcade version that prefer the most and is our favorite. In the original N64 version, you had to collect all 100 musical notes in a given level at once. That meant if you died, you had to restart your collecting of them. With the XBLA version, if you die, all the notes you've collected stay collected. This makes the game a more fair and fun experience. Banjo-Kazooie delivered on all fronts, and focused on platforming and exploration to create a combination that is hard to beat.

7) Resident Evil 4 (Multi)

Out of all of the different versions of Resident Evil 4 that came out (the GameCube original, the PlayStation 2 port, the iOS version, the HD iterations), our favorite would have to be the Wii version. Not only did it offer superior aiming controls with the Wii Remote, but it was just a lot more entertaining taking shots on and picking off the Ganado horde. The version had all of the content of the PS2 port, and if motion controls did not suit your fancy, you could choose to use a more traditional means to control U.S. government agent Leon S. Kennedy. As a whole, Resident Evil 4 was a perfectly paced game, delivering thrills, chills and tense moments throughout its lengthy adventure through three major areas. The game defied all expectations, certainly our own, and there's good reason it is so almost universally loved. Resident Evil 4 created dozens of imitators and games inspired by it, and none-- even Capcom's own efforts-- have come close to outshining the game.

6) Metroid Prime (GCN)

Austin-based Retro Studios was a developer no one really had much clue about or faith in, but if they taught us anything, it's that Nintendo's influence can make the difference. Oh, what a difference it made with Metroid Prime. Taking the 2D foundation of the series and implementing it into 3D was certainly a daunting task, and the end result was a first-rate first-person shooter with a focus on adventuring. The world of Tallon IV felt lived in, natural and full of wonder to behold. Little in this world felt man-made, and the overall level design was simply superb. Secrets were smartly hidden and required some exploring to find, rooms and areas were linked together in a logical way, and enemy locations were wisely placed. The encounters on this mysterious planet were action-packed and exemplified the excellent controls that Retro Studios gave the player to control Samus Aran. Metroid Prime came from out of nowhere. Few expected it to be something special, and many gamers, including us, were hit with it like a strike to the back of our head. Unlike a real strike to the back of the head, Metroid Prime was mostly certainly welcomed and felt oh-so good.

5) Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)

Previously Mario had ventured through the Mushroom Kingdom, explored the hallways and chambers of Peach's Castle and even had a platforming adventure on a tropical island. Who could have foreseen that Mario would be going galactic with Super Mario Galaxy, and who could have foreseen that it would become not only one of the highest rated games of the generation but also one of the best games of all time? Super Mario Galaxy put players in an epic intergalactic quest to save Princess Peach from the clutches of Bowser through traversing along planetoids both big and small, taking down the Koopa King's forces and entering some of the best designed levels ever seen in a platformer. The originality and innovation that exuded in Super Mario Galaxy was no doubt breathtaking to behold and witness. Nintendo EAD created a title that was truly unforgettable and shows that all video games need not look towards Hollywood-like experiences for entertainment. Instead, pure fun in disc form is all you need for a good time.

4) Super Mario World (SNES)

The battles on message boards pitting Mario fan against Mario fan concerning which 2D Mario is superior, Super Mario Bros. 3 or Super Mario World, are never going to pass away any time soon. That's okay, as good discussion comes from such battles. Regardless, we're in the camp that prefers the multitude of secret exits, multiple paths to reach Bowser and addition of Yoshi with Super Mario World. Over two decades old now, few developers have come close to creating a game with as excellent and near-perfect level design than Super Mario World. There was no filler to be had. As stated with other Mario games on this list, every hill, every pipe, every enemy, every block, every coin, etc. had its purpose and was placed perfectly for players to try to overcome. The aforementioned secret exits meant the levels containing them could be explored more thoroughly, and when you finally found that key and keyhole, you felt an immense level of pride, as many of the secret levels were really well hidden. It says something about Super Mario World when you can not play it for years, yet go back to it and remember so much about it, especially the minor details. It is for these reasons why our top 2D Mario title is none other than Super Mario World.

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

The greatest 2D Legend of Zelda title is A Link to the Past. After the drastic departure from what fans were accustomed to with the original LoZ with the side-scrolling Zelda II, Nintendo return to the overhead viewpoint of the original Legend of Zelda with their lone Super Nintendo entry of the series. As kids, we lost ourselves in A Link to the Past's Hyrule, venturing through the forests, caves, towns and dungeons, bombing walls for secrets, acquiring optional items, collecting Pieces of Heart, solving puzzles in dungeons, figuring out how to and then taking down behemoth-sized bosses and transporting between the Light and Dark Worlds. The two world mechanic opened up so many more possibilities to the world design, and the dungeon design offered plenty of brain busters that made us think out of the box countless times. It all adds up to Link's most complete and satisfying 2D adventure yet. With the Nintendo 3DS' A Link Between Worlds, we are anxiously awaiting returning to ALttP's version of Hyrule.

2) Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)

To see a direct sequel of a 3D Mario game was an usual, but very welcomed, sight. To see it be the sequel of one of the highest rated games of all time made us worry at first. How would Nintendo EAD possibly outdo Super Mario Galaxy? The answer is "very well." Offering a higher challenge right from the get-go, Super Mario Galaxy 2 was a game that used ideas left over from the original Galaxy game, while bringing forth multiple amazing new gameplay mechanics, a near perfect mastery of level design by the designers, and some of the most fun we've had with a platformer since... well, ever! The developers designed Super Mario Galaxy 2 around the concept that players had already experienced its predecessor, meaning that the difficulty could be placed at a higher point at the start. This made for a much more rewarding, and challenging, experience for players. Even after besting Bowser and getting all 120 Power Stars, the game still wasn't over. You then needed to use your platforming prowess and a little ingenuity to reach 120 Green Stars scattered in hard to reach locations in each galaxy. Super Mario Galaxy 2, alongside Super Mario Galaxy, are without a doubt the best games of this generation and of all time. When your bottom line is entertaining the player and charming the pants off them at a constant rate, this is the type of exquisite game you get.

1) The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64, 3DS)

The most masterful game on this list, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, released in 1998, after years of tech demos, trailers and screenshots in issues of Nintendo Power. The game went through several incarnations before finally becoming the highly rated and greatly loved game. Super Mario 64 was a game that put Nintendo in a class to themselves by properly and almost perfectly implementing a true 3D world. Shigeru Miyamoto and Nintendo took their expertise and successfully put the world of The Legend of Zelda into 3D as well. Pretty much using the foundation and formula laid down by A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time perfected it, adding new touches, new items that would go on to be series regulars, the incredibly innovative, intuitive and invaluable Z-targeting to center Link's attention on a foe at a given time, and dungeons that required deep thinking to solve the copious amounts of puzzles that laid inside.

We will never forget first walking out onto Hyrule Field and seeing the glorious expanses ahead of us. Sure, nowadays it seems quite empty, but then it was marvelous. Moreover, the entire game world was fascinating to explore, from the high vantage spots of Death Mountain to the beauty of Lake Hylia. The recent 3DS remake, Ocarina of Time 3D, built even more on the greatness of the Nintendo 64 original, beefing up the graphics and frame-rate, introducing the ability to change between equipping the Iron Boots with ease with the touch screen (making the Water Temple no longer tedious) and a Master Quest for veterans.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is one of those games that doesn't come out very often. It brings with it universal critical and gamer acclaim, it inspires countless developers, it redefines our understanding of what makes a truly terrific and expertly crafted game, and it sticks with us long after we've put the controller down.


There you have it. Those are our top 100 games of all time. Do you agree/disagree with our list? Are there games that you love that we neglected to name? Keep in mind that this list is by no means the be-all end-all and that it is entirely subjective. Give us your thoughts in the comments section below.

Bad Levels in Gaming History - Volume Two

We've mentioned a lot of levels that we deem the greatest in video game history, but we also like talking about those levels that irritate us to no end. It's been since March 2012 since our first segment, and now your long wait for Bad Levels in Gaming History - Volume Two is over. The worldwide nightmare is over! Speaking of nightmares, this segment talks about those levels that have poor design, are frustrating as hell or simply just aren't fun. Today we have a wide variety of games, from Halo to Mario, and Grand Theft Auto to Sonic the Hedgehog. Get ready to get stressed out remembering these design atrocities!

If you missed Volume One, click this link!

Cortana - Halo 3 (360)

The original Halo's Library level was seen as a level that was very repetitive, due to the swarm of Flood enemies players had to take down as Master Chief. It would be assumed by people that Bungie wouldn't let another level like that go near another Halo game. You'd be wrong.

Meet Cortana-- no, not the hologram character that Master Chief cherishes-- we're talking about the eighth playable level in Halo 3. The level has you entering an area full of brown, the innards of some kind of living thing, full of gooey sounds as your feet slush their way on top of who knows what. And maybe we don't want to know what either. Halo 3's Cortana is repetitive as all get out, with Master Chief needing to blast through wave after wave of enemies through curved hall after hall until he reaches the core of the Flood's (bullet sponges) lair. 

Phew! All done, right? It turns out you have to go all the way back through the labyrinthine corridors of the level and reach daylight again. Did we forget to mention there's more enemies to deal with this time? Halo 3's Cortana is just poor design. It stops being fun halfway through the level, and then it requires you to backtrack through an already boring interior. 

Earth - Darksiders II (Wii U, PS3, 360, PC)

When Death reaches Earth, Darksiders II has a bit of an identity crisis. It completely forgoes the hack and slash God of War-esque combat the game has been using in lieu of something more akin to a third-person shooter. Death acquires a weapon that serves as a shotgun of sorts to deal with the endless amounts of enemy fodder that charges at him. This section of the game takes Death through a dreary apocalyptic city setting, through the sewers, through the underground tunnels, and through dilapidated city streets, taking out enemies at every turn. Like Halo 3's Cortana, this is as repetitive and mind-numbing as it sounds. 

It's baffling why the developers decided to integrate shooting elements into Darksiders II. Not only does it not fit with Death, but it simply doesn't fit with the rest of the game. The fact that you need to follow the game's rule of three (i.e. collecting three of these, doing three of this action) doesn't help things either. It's a negative part of a game that is otherwise rather great. 

Supply Lines - Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PS2, XBX, PC)

If you thought the Grove Street boys had dirty mouths, wait until you play this optional mission in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. You'll be cursing like a sailor on a rap album. Supply Lines is one of Zero's missions in San Fierro, the San Francisco of San Andreas. This mission requires you to remotely control an RC plane, which handles about as well as a Walmart shopping cart with two wheels. Your objective is to go after five targets through the city streets of San Fierro: three vans, one motorcyclist and one courier on bike, and shoot them down. 

Seems simple enough, no? Well, factor in that you must do this with a limited fuel supply and the mission gets exponentially more difficult. At least in the PlayStation 2 version you have to be thorough and plan your flight path to perfection. Any dilly-dallying means you won't have enough fuel to reach and destroy all of your targets. Supply Lines is one of the most maddening missions in a Grand Theft Auto game, and we as gamers are just lucky enough that this mission was purely optional. Your humiliation is complete, Zero.

Pinna Park Episode 5: The Runaway Ferris Wheel - Super Mario Sunshine (GCN)

It's not every day that we get to list a level from a Mario game in a Bad Levels in Gaming History segment, but Super Mario Sunshine, a game of many bad firsts, delivered for us. One of the biggest problems we, as well many others, had with the game was the atrocious camera. The most egregious example of this monstrosity (we miss you, Lakitu, from Super Mario 64) is witnessed in Pinna Park's Episode 5: The Runaway Ferris Wheel. 

This episode requires Mario to reach the top of the amusement park area's Ferris wheel to collect the Shine Sprite. This is performed through climbing up fences, while avoiding electrified enemies. This is easier said than done, because the electrified beings are not only the biggest threat to you successfully completing Mario's mission. No, the biggest threat is without a doubt the camera, which you will be fighting with constantly in a futile effort to see what you're doing. Seeing as this level is a vertical one, you might see yourself falling back to the bottom of the long climb, resulting in you having to redo everything all over again. An episode worse than what you'd see on Roseanne season nine, The Runaway Ferris Wheel from Super Mario Sunshine feels worse than a sunburn from a day at Gelato Beach.

End of the World - Sonic the Hedgehog (PS3, 360)

You could easily pick any level from the 2006 reboot of the Sonic the Hedgehog series. There's Dusty Desert's Silver the Hedgehog level, where at the tail end you need to push billiards through a next to impossible obstacle course. There's all those cursed mach speed sections that are unwieldy at best and traumatic at worst. But, the level we are taking from the plague that was Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) is the final level of the game. Yes, Sonic the Hedgehog built up to this horrid moment through all of its awful levels leading up to End of the World.

End of the World has players switching between multiple characters as they go through a nightmarish city setting searching for Chaos Emeralds to revive the fallen titular hero of the game. Not only does the camera not do any favors, but there are an abundance of black holes that will suck players up, instantly causing them to lose a life. Everything about the End of the World is what we loathe about Sonic the Hedgehog-- the 2006 game, not the series, mind you. There's shoddy camera work, glitches abound, enemies that take too many hits to bring down, cheap deaths to be had, and so much more. 


What levels do you think are horribly designed? Do you agree with our picks? Let the SuperPhillip Central staff and community know in the comments section!

Monday, August 5, 2013

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGM - Four RPGs and Halo 4 Walk Into A Bar... Edition

...So Halo 4 says to the four RPGs, "Monopoly?! I thought we were playing Yahtzee!"

It's time once again for SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGM, a series of segments where we delve into the best of video game music. As the title suggests, we have Halo 4 leading the charge this week, alongside four unique RPGs. It's an interesting mix of games this week, with the first appearances of games like Suikoden II and Final Fantasy XII. If you're ready to listen, we're ready to share our faves!

v431. Halo 4 (360) - Main Theme

Halo 4 was listed as one of our favorite games from the Xbox 360 at last year's SuperPhillip Central Best of 2012 Awards. For good reason, as well. 343 Industries took the reins of the Halo series from Bungie and they successfully made it their own. In addition to a new developer, a new composer took center stage as well, and you can hear his work with this terrific main theme for the game.

v432. Suikoden II (PS1) - Secret Village of the Ninja

Miki Higashino composed this theme for the ninja village within Suikoden II's vast world. As stated in the introduction, this is the Suikoden series' first time being featured on SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGM. We especially love the vocals to this beautiful piece of music, along with the very Asian flair.

v433. Star Ocean: First Departure (PSP) - All for One

A very foreboding town theme, All for One is an orchestral masterpiece. Star Ocean: First Departure marked the first time the original Star Ocean was available for Western audiences in an official capacity. The original released on the Super Nintendo before making the shift to the 32-bit PlayStation platform.

v434. Fire Emblem: Awakening (3DS) - Id (Hope)

Our second favorite theme from Fire Emblem: Awakening (albeit from a DLC battle) after Id (Purpose) is Id Hope. We love the piano, orchestra and brass and the fast tempo that makes for some great accompaniment to a tense battle!

v435. Final Fantasy XII (PS2) - Ozmone Plain

This theme has actually been featured on a prior edition of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGM before. Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift has a version of this theme known as Crossing Over the Hill. Same composer, so why not enjoy it all over again for Final Fantasy XII's Ozmone Plain?