Thursday, June 5, 2014

SPC Soapbox - 6/5/2014 Mario Maker Rumor, Satoru Iwata Missing E3, and VGChartz

It's been a long time coming, but the SPC Soapbox is back! It seems fitting we do this on the six-year anniversary of SuperPhillip Central! For those uninitiated, the SPC Soapbox is where we take three video game-related topical stories and newsmakers and give our thoughts on each. These thoughts are too brief to be presented as their own separate opinion pieces, so we just put three into a trio and call it the SPC Soapbox! This edition's topics include the supposed Mario Maker leak, Satoru Iwata's absence from E3 due to illness, and the credibility of using VGChartz for sales information.

Mario Maker Rumored for E3 2014.

We don't do a lot of rumors on SuperPhillip Central. That isn't because we're above doing so, it's just that it's very difficult to figure out which has some truth in them and which do not. The Internet and various photo-imaging tools has made it incredibly easy to make mock-ups and complete falsehoods to trick the unassuming.

Mario Maker has been outed by various sites, posting the following grainy (of course) picture that you can see alongside this paragraph. The poster shows the classic NES Super Mario Bros. graphics and a stylus that is held over a sprite, leading many to believe that this supposed game is a level creator for either or both the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS. Well, the name of the game sort of leads many to believe that, too!

As stated, it's all too easy nowadays to fool the gullible or those without much insight into thinking something completely phony is indeed truth. That said, Michael McWhertor of Polygon suggests that this rumor is actually true, saying that he's a bit more confident of the supposed game's legitimacy.

One would think that if this was a big announcement from Nintendo, the E3 sign wouldn't have been so readily available to see-- that Nintendo would have been much more secretive regarding it. Also, if it was a big announcement to come at E3 this year, wouldn't you expect Nintendo to put the game's reveal under a non-disclosure agreement? Then, why would a journalist be able to hint about it so transparently?

We'd love this rumored leak to be true. We're lovers of level design, just look at all the time we've spent on LittleBigPlanet! A Mario-themed level creator sounds absolutely wonderful, but on the same token, it depends on how in-depth the tool is for users. Regardless, we don't have too long to wait to see if Mario Maker is the real deal or not!

Satoru Iwata Will Miss Attending E3 This Year.

It was announced by Polygon that Nintendo president and CEO Satoru Iwata would not be making his usual trip to E3 to attend the event. This has been confirmed by representatives due to illness. We at SuperPhillip Central hope for a speedy recovery, whether it's a common cold or something else.

Regardless, that brings us to our major point, as we don't really deliver news on a regular basis: If you take this opportunity to throw in a retort on how an ill Satoru Iwata is sick because he's stressed, doesn't deserve to be the CEO of Nintendo, or any other means of crapping on the man because of his health (which a decent person wouldn't even jump to conclusions on as to what illness he may have), you're, simply put, a piece of shit. You're human garbage who cares more about your precious games, console war nonsense, and getting what you want than about empathy for your fellow human being. Forgive our harshness, but some of you just disgust us.

Now is NOT the time to discuss such things. First, we don't know how sick Mr. Iwata is, and quite frankly, it's none of our business. It's a personal matter that should stay personal. We were fortunate to get assurance that Satoru Iwata's illness is not preventing him from doing his duties as president of Nintendo. He simply was advised not to travel, so please save the "fire Iwata" campaigns for one of the other millions of topics that it is shoehorned into on a daily basis.

Humans that aren't disgusting individuals

"I Know It's VGChartz, but..."

Ah, a statement that comes before many sales-related arguments on message boards, article comment sections, and even journalists in the industry. The truth here is that VGChartz is not a credible source of finding out about console and games sales. You can live in ignorance and think that VGChartz has reputable sources that know more than what even the NPD and game companies themselves hand out, but it's simply untrue.

VGChartz and its owner have a well-known habit of making up numbers, only to correct them-- stealthily, might we add-- when ACTUAL numbers are released, whether by NPD in the United States, Media Create in Japan, or any other official source of game sales and charts. The site has even been caught lying multiple times, most significantly when they revealed sold Wii numbers early in the console's life. It would have been believable, too, perhaps if the numbers they gave of what was sold hadn't been more than what Nintendo had actually shipped.

So yes, noting and sourcing VGChartz in any kind of reasonable way makes us immediately tune you out. It makes you lack credibility and hurts your argument significantly, so for all that is right and pure in the world, please don't do it. Friends don't let friends post VGChartz numbers.

Today is SuperPhillip Central's Six-Year Anniversary!

Hello. Phil here. Six years ago today I started a blog simply to post about things that interested me personally. I was a beginner at doing reviews, I posted really silly pieces, and I was just messing around. As the years went by, more people began to notice SuperPhillip Central, so I changed up how the site functioned, opening up to more "professional" reviews, editorials that made myself and others think, and even interviews with local, national, and international developers.

I haven't done this alone, however. I've had help from various writers who have contributed content in the past, two staffers who assist with the occasional article and technical support nowadays, and the motivation to keep going thanks to every single one of you who reads this very site.

I personally hope that SuperPhillip Central can continue to provide you with content you care about, and even for stuff that you don't, perhaps we can write something that makes you care about something you previously weren't interested in.

While we have nothing special planned for this anniversary compared to last year, where we listed our 100 favorite games of all time, this anniversary is yet another milestone for myself, the gang, and our site. It's also coincidentally our 4,000th entry on this blog. We definitely didn't plan THAT.

Regardless, please continue to enjoy what we have to offer, and as always, feel free to share our site with your friends, comment on any article you wish, and share any feedback you may have.

Here's to another year of SuperPhillip Central!

- Phil

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (3DS) E3 2014 Trailer

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate was announced several months ago for the Nintendo 3DS. However, we have yet to have received an English trailer for the game... until now. This early 2015 release for the West is shaping up to be a much improved game compared to past titles in the Monster Hunter series, and it's not like those games were bad anyway! Check out this pre-E3 2014 E3 2014 trailer!

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call (3DS) E3 2014 Trailer

A lot of publishers are revealing things before E3 even begins! Next week may be the official E3, but that hasn't stopped Square Enix from showing off its E3 trailer for the hotly anticipated Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call for Nintendo 3DS. With more Final Fantasy music, characters, and modes, Curtain Call is set to be an extremely content-rich game, more so than the original was-- and that one was already packed!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Multi) Review

June is all a part of the summer movie blockbuster season, and with that comes various movie tie-in video games such as The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Does this game fall in the typical tradition of bad games based off a movie, or does it buck that trend?

What A Tangled Web Beenox Weaves!

Movie tie-in games are seldom of high quality. However, I did enjoy the original Amazing Spider-Man movie game, so I had a very open mind when coming into the game's sequel, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, launching the same week as the movie of the same name. While the movie was a total disappointment, there's plenty to like (and dislike) about developer Beenox's attempt at producing a decent movie tie-in game.

Despite Beenox's best efforts to form a cohesive story with the original Amazing Spider-Man movie through creating a bit of an epilogue to the film with the first game, the events of the new film sequel destroy any hope of that. Thus, Beenox has essentially thrown its collective hands into the air and created a tale that isn't dependent on either source.

The initial story of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 game has Peter Parker/Spider-Man on the hunt for his Uncle Ben's murderer. It eventually unfolds into a search for a serial killer who preys upon criminals in New York City, simply leaving a signature in the form of a bloody "C.K." on a nearby wall of each crime scene. This has resulted in the city being gripped with a sense of terror, and Wilson Fisk being allowed to form a militaristic police squad known as the Task Force to assist in protecting the denizens of the city.

While the story does have some predictable elements to it, I did find myself intrigued and wanting to keep playing to see how the elements of the story would actually unfold. Curiously, Gwen Stacy, who was a prominent figure in both the two films and the original movie game is totally absent from this sequel. In addition to that, movie villains the Green Goblin and Electro feel thrown into this game, as they have relatively minor roles in the game's story. Instead, Spidey's rogue's gallery is better represented with foes like the Kingpin, Kraven the Hunter, The Shocker, and Black Cat who take a larger focus in the game's story.

Spidey certainly gets into the swing of things!
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 boasts an open sandbox setting of Manhattan much like the original movie game. Web-swinging around New York City has been tinkered with in comparison to the original Amazing Spider-Man and for the better. Instead of one button being used for web-swinging, the left and right shoulder buttons serve as Spidey's left and right web cartridges respectfully. Alternating between the two or using the correct hand to attach webbing to a nearby building is important because now you can't just attach webbing magically to the sky like you could in the first Amazing Spider-Man movie game. Spidey's webbing needs to attach to something, whether it be a building or a tree, in order to web-swing off of it. It's a nice change of pace, and it's good to see that Beenox took the criticism from the last game to heart with regards to web-swinging.

Where's a pair of Raybans when you need one?
However, web-swinging has somehow become worse than the previous game. It's true that simple swinging is easy enough, and the return of the Web Rush ability is most welcome, allowing you a first-person viewpoint where time slows to a crawl, granting you the capability of selecting a relatively nearby target to zip to. Outside of the Web Rush, though, any other type of precision webbing is an absolute mess. Trying to run up buildings, crawl on the side of a wall, or make careful jumps is futile due to the fact that movement is incredibly fidgety and the camera oftentimes spazzes out regularly.

Even a superhero needs to unwind sometime.
In the original Amazing Spider-Man, you had the option of taking on side missions, halting crime in its tracks, and helping civilians in between the game's story missions. In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, these side missions become mandatory thanks to the new and unnecessary Hero and Menace gauge. As Spidey rescues civilians and puts the breaks to various crimes, the Hero/Menace gauge rises into the hero side of the gauge. If Spidey fails in saving the day or if the mission isn't started on time (which is all too common as it's generally impossible to be in four places at one time, particularly near the end of the game), then Spidey's gauge tips more to the side of being a menace.

Spider-Man gives this goon the old heave-ho.
Apparently, the citizens of Manhattan have an extremely short-term memory, Spidey isn't allowed to mind his own darn business, and the only person in the city who can stop crime is your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Your Hero/Menace gauge falls into Menace territory all too easily, whether you're in a story mission or not. This means you're constantly forced to stop crimes around the city, or else feel the wrath of Wilson Fisk's Task Force, which makes getting around the city a pain in the spider butt, as you avoid attacking drones and Spider Slayer-like robots.

"Sir, I have probable cause that you
might be speeding with a hostage." 
Seeing as stopping the actual crimes gets monotonous quite quickly due to the fact that each is repetitive and the amount of crime types is low, this potentially novel idea simply becomes a hassle and a chore. You can only stop a breaking and entering crime, a standoff between goons and the police, and rescue a hostage from a speeding car so many times before it grows tedious. Perhaps if the gauge itself didn't quickly sink so fast into menace territory, this gameplay mechanic wouldn't be so troublesome.

This is Spidey's version of an ejector seat.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 game contains various alternate things to do within the Manhattan island limits. For instance, you can take a visit to the Comic Stand to see Stan Lee, gaze at various unlockables, and participate in numerous combat challenges. There's also a dozen or so timed races to engage in, photo opportunities to indulge Spidey's shutterbug tendencies, and 300 comic book pages to acquire, strewn about the city. The inclusion of unlockable extra costumes that boost certain aspects of Spidey upon wearing them adds to the longevity of the game.

Behind what goes on in the city, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 features various campaign missions that further advance the story of the game. Unlike the original movie game, there's a decreased focus on exploring separate areas in this game. Instead, story missions involve happenings around Manhattan much more.

This punch is for all heroes tired
of stereotypical henchman attire!
Combat is quite similar to what is seen in the Batman: Arkham games, albeit much more simplistic in execution. It's a matter of hitting the dodge button when your Spider Sense goes off to avoid the shots of a gun or counter a foe's offensive advances. In addition, Spidey can grab enemy weapons with a swipe of his webbing to disarm them or even drag an opponent towards him to let loose a flurry of attacks onto them.

The Shocker gets a shock to his system
with this shot from Spider-Man.
It's quite easy to drum up a high combo of punches and kicks to make short work of groups of thugs. Perhaps it's too easy to do so, as while there is a sense of achievement in taking down a slew of opponents, there's nowhere near the feeling of satisfaction as there is in the Arkham games.

Here's webbing in your eyes!
Unfortunately, while combat is adequate enough in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the game's presentation leaves much to be desired. For one, the load times are unbearable and inexcusable, the level of polish is greatly off, little things like voice clips and music cutting off, stopping, and ending abruptly occur, and the actual models outside of Spider-Man don't impress much at all. Manhattan itself is a pleasant enough place to look at, but pop-in related issues detract from the overall setting. The voice acting, like the previous game, does not feature any voice work from the stars in the movie. Instead, what is present is capable enough, although some of Spidey's one-liners will get grating quite quickly. In particular, the fight with Kingpin, where Spidey uses a plethora of "you're so fat..." jokes, is excruciating.

Some of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 game
looks really good. Others? Not so much.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 game could easily be considered a typical movie tie-in game. It features a menagerie of issues, a severe lack of polish, and questionable design choices that no doubt made the cut due to the necessity of rushing the game out for the movie's release. While the actual game isn't as much of a train wreck as the movie it is based off of, Spider-Man definitely deserves a better game to his name. However, Beenox seems to be feeling the burden of being the sole studio responsible for Spider-Man games, and it very much shows with the quality of this game in comparison to its predecessors.

[SPC Says: 6.5/10]

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs - Music of Generations' Past Edition

Welcome to a special Tuesday edition of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs! This week we delve into games from past generations, such as Shadow of the Colossus, Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, and Harvest Moon.

v636. Shadow of the Colossus (PS2) - The Opened Way

Kou Otani was the composer behind the cult classic Shadow of the Colossus' soundtrack. If his name is at all familiar to you, perhaps you know him from his work on such anime as Gundam Wing and Outlaw Star. The Shadow of the Colossus score is without question a masterful musical work of art that is as dramatic as it is moving.

v637. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (GCN) - With Us!

The lone GameCube entry of the Fire Emblem series, as well as the first home console release of the franchise in the West, Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance brought with it tactical RPG action with 3D polygonal character models. The entire presentation was a total upgrade from what the Game Boy Advance could provide... well, duh!

v638. Bomberman Generations (GCN) - Main Theme

This catchy number has a certain bouncy feel to it. Although Bomberman has since been put into hiatus upon Konami's acquisition of Hudson Soft (aka the franchise is pretty much DOA now), gamers like ourselves can still play a bounty of fantastic Bomberman games. Of course, we don't mention Act Zero in this line of games. No, no.

v639. Harvest Moon (SNES) - Spring

We go back even further into what many call the golden age of gaming. The Harvest Moon series debuted on the Super Nintendo, and it has since had numerous sequels across a myriad of platforms, whether they be home console or handheld. The spring theme evokes warm memories of plowing soil, fertilizing crops, and spending day after peaceful day on the 16-bit farm.

v640. TMNT IV: Turtles in Time (SNES) - Neon Night Riders

We conclude this edition of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs with another Super Nintendo classic. Based off the arcade game of the same name, TMNT IV: Turtles in Time remains one of our favorite 2D beat-em-ups ever created. The Neon Night Riders stage used the SNES' Mode 7 graphics capabilities to simulate a 3D course for your turtle to hover along. It was darn impressive when the game originally debuted, and it's impressive today in the sense of what the ol' SNES was capable of.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Review Round-Up - May 2014

One of the best arcade golf experiences
arrived on the small screen of all places.
Seven reviews were made in the month of May, a special Nintendo 3DS-focused month of reviews. Things kicked off (or should we say "teed" off?) with Mario Golf: World Tour, doing quite well for itself with a 9.25. In golf terms, it definitely was a game under par and ahead of the field. Then we turned our attention to Nintendo's pink puffball with Kirby: Triple Deluxe (8.75). While Kirby's latest captivated us, Aiai and the gang's 3DS debut was less than good. In fact, Super Monkey Ball 3D was bad-- receiving a 3.0. Turtle Tale kicked some shell with a slightly below average score of 4.75, and ATV Wild Ride 3D revved its engines and raced to a 7.0. Finally, a double dose of Disney rounds out our review round-up with Disney Magical World (8.5) and Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion (6.5). A fun month of reviews for sure, and something tells us that June is going to be even more exciting!

Mario Golf: World Tour (3DS) - 9.25
Kirby: Triple Deluxe (3DS) - 8.75
Super Monkey Ball 3D (3DS) - 3.0
Turtle Tale (3DSWare) - 4.75
Disney Magical World (3DS) - 8.5
ATV Wild Ride 3D (3DSWare) - 7.0
Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion (3DS) - 6.5

We've heard jokes about inhaling one's
dinner, but this is ridiculous!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Central City Census - June 2014

Welcome to summertime at SuperPhillip Central. While the kids are out of school and raising hell for their parents, we're hard at work providing content. Since it's a new month, let's see the results of May 2014's Central City Census. Hmm... Let's do a pie chart this time, shall we?

The question regarded the release of Mario Kart 8, a game which released worldwide this past Friday. Who was getting it? Did they preorder? Were they buying a Wii U for the game? Did they even have an interest in the game at all? That's what the answers to this past month's Central City Census provide. Take a glimpse at the results, and then move on to this month's poll question.

It's summer, so there's all sorts of free time available to a lot of people out there, particularly those in school. This month's Central City Census is all about whether you take a traditional gaming device outside to play on, whether it's on a road trip, on a plane, waiting for the bus, to pass time in the park, or whatever.