Friday, January 16, 2015

Would You Like To Be A "Friend of SuperPhillip Central"?

I don't know when I did this, but I absentmindedly removed the list of links to SuperPhillip Central's affiliates. I do occasionally clean the sidebar to make it less cluttered, so I must have gotten rid of it. Perhaps it was for the best, as most of the sites on that affiliate list eventually became inactive.

Regardless, this post is to send out a call to all gaming-related sites of a certain stature to become a "Friend of SuperPhillip Central." This essentially boils down to an affiliation, but it also allows me to read what fellow bloggers are writing about.

If you'd like to join SuperPhillip Central's affiliate list, "Friends of SuperPhillip Central", please send me an email at phil[at]superphillipcentral[dot]com.

Stay tuned for later tonight where I'll be posting SuperPhillip Central's 550th review!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Chariot (Wii U eShop) Review

We have arrived at SuperPhillip Central's 549th review! Let's not get ahead of ourselves by wondering what the 550th review will be. Instead, let's take a look at an endearing but heavily challenging physics-based platformer from Frima Games. It's Chariot, and it has finally arrived on the Wii U eShop.

The king is dead! Long live pulling his ghost from place to place!

The 2D platformer is a common genre used by indie developers and the genre in general is especially popular on the Wii U. I have no qualms with either of these realities whatsoever. It is my favorite game genre, after all. However, rather than just take the genre, throw in a new character and coat of paint, and call it day, Frima Games has made a physics-based platformer with plenty of character, charm, cleverness, and yes, some frustration as well.

Chariot has you playing as the daughter or prince of the late king. However, before the princess and prince can fully grieve the loss of their father, the king in ghost form demands to be taken to a suitable final resting place, sitting aboard a tomb on a wooden chariot. It's up to the player to take the king and chariot through over 20 levels of gameplay involving pushing, pulling, and puzzles dealing with physics. 

Physics and puzzles go together as well
 as peanut butter and jelly-- at least in Chariot.
The titular vehicle always needs to be nearby the player, or else after a few seconds, the player returns to the last checkpoint of a given level. Returning to the last checkpoint can also be done by holding the B button down for several moments. There are multiple times where the chariot can easily get away from the player-- fleeing down a steep hill, for instance-- making this manual way to return to a checkpoint most welcome.

Various platforming and physics puzzles include allowing the rope that the princess holds and is connected to the chariot enough give so you can leap to a higher platform and then wind the chariot in so you can manage the next jump. There're also pressure plates that need the chariot to sit on top of them to have a nearby door open. Some of these doors open permanently while others require smart chariot pulling and quick feet to pass through them before they shut tight. Then there are some rails that the chariot can pass through that the player cannot and vice versa. All of these obstacles and more add up to create a steady stream of levels with something new to offer.

At least the princess and her father
are spending some quality time together.
Chariot is not a twitch-based platformer where your reflexes are called into action most of the time. Instead, careful navigation of the game's cavernous complexes are what is needed to reach each level's exit. Along the way there are plenty of loot to be found, and thanks to the chariot having a bit of a magnetic personality, nearby gems will be collected just by being them. These gems can be used in the shop in between levels to purchase new tools, such as a peg that anchors the chariot securely in place. Perhaps over a pit so the player can jump off the chariot to reach an otherwise inaccessible platform, and then using another rope to pull the chariot to their level. 

The game's areas contain a multitude of secrets besides gems, including areas that require the most strenuous chariot-pulling action, denoted by signposts with stars on them. The more stars on a sign, the more challenging the upcoming optional area. However, through completing these non-mandatory areas will the player find the rarest of collectibles and treasure, such as special skulls and blueprints, the latter of which unlocks new items to be purchases in the shop.

The things we do for treasure...
Speaking of treasure, one of the more annoying parts to Chariot-- outside of contending with missed jumps from high heights, meaning you have to redo the same portion of a level multiple times until you get it right-- are the "looters." These small, treasure-stealing enemies are summoned by sound, so delicate movements with the chariot in tow are recommended. However, it's all too easy to alert the looters, who will then attack your chariot, quickly thieving your loot. It seems the only purpose of these creatures is to add some action to the otherwise exploratory gameplay of Chariot, but by having them, they simply are nothing more than a big annoyance. They aren't hard to get rid of, only needing to be attacked to run away, but when you have more than a dozen coming after the king's coffin, things get tedious to battle them over and over. The game comes to a screeching halt.

A very important part of Chariot is its local-only cooperative play where two players can control the princess and the prince at once. Communication is key here, and while it takes a well-oiled machine (i.e. partnership) to deal with the game's later obstacles, the co-op makes many of the challenges that would be really difficult to do alone much more feasible with two players. There are even sections in many of the levels that require two players, though these are for expensive gems and not an actual collectible, so there's no worry of missing out on something to 100% the game by not having a person to play cooperatively with. 

Work like a well-oiled machine or
a plain, messy oil spill with co-op play.
Frima Games has a good thing going on with Chariot in the presentation department as well, offering cartoon-like, whimsical visuals, stunning lighting and other special effects, and plenty of candy for the eyes. The sound is no pushover either, containing plenty of enjoyable (although sometimes overly repeated) lines spoken by the king and the shopkeeper, well done sound effects, and subtle music cues and themes. 

Chariot is not a game for everyone. Those lacking patience and the will to stick it out and conquer the game's abundance of physics-based platforming challenges will not have a good time with the game, as it can get very annoying to have to repeat vertical sections repeatedly. However, if you are looking for some good fun, especially locally with a co-op partner, and don't mind some frustration, your chariot awaits.

[SPC Says: 7.5/10]

Review copy provided by Frima Games.

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (3DS) New Trailer

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate will finally make its way across the Pacific next month. Monster hunters of all shapes and sizes have been clamoring for this reworked sequel and rightfully so. There's an abundance of monsters to hunt both new and old, and with the added functionality of the New Nintendo 3DS XL, the experience is even better.

Etrian Mystery Dungeon (3DS) Trailer

Etrian Mystery Dungeon, as the name suggests, is a combination of Etrian Odyssey with the gameplay of the Mystery Dungeon line of games. With multiple classes, monsters to defeat, and dungeons to explore, anyone with a craving for dungeon-crawling and loot-getting will find a lot to love with Etrian Mystery Dungeon.

Xenoblade Chronicles X (Wii U) New Trailer

A brand-new trailer showing the scope of Xenoblade Chronicles X's world was unveiled during this morning's Nintendo Direct. Jaw-dropping, amazing, astounding, and magnificent are just some of the words that come to mind while viewing this impressive (ooh, there's another adjective!) trailer. While we still have a vague 2015 release date, if Nintendo keeps putting out trailers for Xenoblade Chronicles X, I might be able to handle the wait until the game's launch.

Mario Party 10 (Wii U) New Trailer

Mario Party 10 has a firm release date of March 20, and with it comes Amiibo support and 80 new mini-games. Oh, and the return of Donkey Kong as a playable character, the most important new addition of all! ...Okay, I'm overselling that, but I don't know about you. I'm ready for another party with the cast of the Mushroom Kingdom!

Wii U - Kirby and the Rainbow Curse (Wii U) Gameplay Trailer

With a new Nintendo Direct this morning comes a new trailer for Kirby and the Rainbow Curse for Wii U. Kirby and the Rainbow Curse continues the formula of the Nintendo DS's Kirby: Canvas Curse with stylus-driven gameplay. This is one exciting game in both the gameplay and the presentation departments. It doesn't hurt that the game is being released for $40 MSRP here in North America.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D (3DS) "Is that…your true face?" Trailer

With an unexpectedly soon launch date announcement of February 13, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D is due out and will be able to be experienced by a whole new generation of gamers. Check out the latest trailer for the game straight from Nintendo.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

15 in '15: Most Wanted Games

It's become a yearly tradition to post near the start of the year what games I'm most looking forward to. In 2012, I shared my twelve most wanted games of that year. In 2013, I posted my thirteen most anticipated games of that year. And so on. ...Now that I think about it, I hope I'm not still doing this in 2055.

2015 is seeing lots of games that were delayed from 2014. This list incorporates some of those titles, but there's also plenty of unexpected surprises that hopefully turn into amazing hits. Here's my list of fifteen games I'm most looking forward to for 2015.

Monday, January 12, 2015

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs - Ocean of Stars Edition

It's going to be a fun week at SuperPhillip Central. I have in store the 550th review for the site, which I'll be posting later in the week. First, however, I have five new video game themes all a part of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs. Next week we'll hit a new milestone with the 800th VGM, but let's not get ahead ourselves. There's good music this week to listen to first. There's themes from Star Ocean: The Last Hope, Mega Man Zero 2, and Fantasy Life. Enough talk! Have at these VGMs!

v791. Star Ocean: The Last Hope (PS3, 360) - Don't Be A Hero

Motoi Sakuraba is no stranger to composing battle themes, and he very rarely misses the mark. Don't Be A Hero from Star Ocean: The Last Hope is yet another astonishing theme in quality and sets the pace for a fast and frenetic battle ahead of our heroes. While the overall game wasn't of the highest caliber, the soundtrack that accompanied it certainly was.

v792. Mega Man Zero 2 (GBA) - Departure (Mythos Version)

A song that's perfect for getting into the zone, Departure is the theme of the very first stage in Mega Man Zero 2. However, this remixed version comes from an official arranged album. It enters the fray with excellent guitar and stunning synth. If you're ready, Zero, let's go!

v793. Fantasy Life (3DS) - Cheerful Tavern

I must admit that I stayed inside Castele's tavern much more than I intended, and it's all thanks to this tune. Nobuo Uematsu may be aging, as we all do, but his composition skills surely aren't getting rusty as his Fantasy Life score shows. Expect a review of this game very soon. It might just be SuperPhillip Central's 550th review!

v794. LEGO City Undercover (Wii U) - Rooftop Chase

If you own a Wii U and like open world games, do yourself a favor and pick up LEGO City Undercover. The combat is basic and some initial load times go for a while, but the meat of the game and the city available to explore are phenomenal. I easily got over 50 hours with this gem, and I consider it to be the very best the LEGO game series has to offer. All I want now is a capable sequel, so greenlight it, Nintendo!

v795. Mario Sports Mix (Wii) - Daisy Garden

Mario Hoops 3-on-3 was a Nintendo DS game with a lot wrong with it. Developer Square Enix took the lessons learned from that game and opted to create a better game out of it with the addition of three other sports in Mario Sports Mix. Masayoshi Soken returned to compose the music, and what we're left with is candy for the ears.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Spy Chameleon (Wii U eShop) Review

A rare Sunday review reveals itself from the shadows! That's a suitable introduction here, as my review today is for a stealth game called Spy Chameleon. Available on Steam already, Spy Chameleon scampers his way onto the Wii U eShop. How well does he pull off his caper? Let's find out with my review!

I spy with my little eye... a fun little game that 
stars something that can camouflage.

For stealth game fans, there's a name that's synonymous with the genre, Solid Snake of the Metal Gear Solid series. However, now there's a new challenger waiting in the wings, and while he doesn't have the same level of gravitas or hype around him, he's a solid contender for being in a stealth game that's less about crazy plots of world domination and more about pure, unadulterated gameplay. This is Spy Chameleon, and it's a surprise of great quality for the Nintendo eShop.

What is Spy Chameleon? While not the most novel game title, Spy Chameleon pits you as the titular hero, completing five missions spanning across 75 levels. Played in an overhead perspective, the goal of each level is to avoid detection while aiming to reach the exit of each level.

Spy Chameleon is exceptionally easy to pick up and play. There's but two things that our star can do, and that's move and change colors to camouflage himself with his surroundings. The latter allows him to change into one of four colors, each mapped to one of the Wii U controller's face buttons. There's time where you can simply run to a piece of colored carpet and blend in, while later game challenges require you to be on the move as you seamlessly switch from color to color as needed.

In many regards, it's amazing how much the development team of Spy Chameleon was able to squeeze out so many levels with so much variety with just two moves the player can use. It's even more amazing how multiple new mechanics and obstacles are thrown in to keep the game feeling fresh and building off the aforementioned simple to learn controls.

Some levels you'll be maneuvering yourself past robotic guard drones. Although without sight, if a drone runs into you, you fail the level. Then there's security cameras and other enemies that display a field of sight, and if you enter that field, then yes, once again your mission ends. Thankfully, all of the lengthier levels in Spy Chameleon have at least one checkpoint that can be returned to if the stealthy reptile were to get caught.

There's a myriad of opportunities where our hero can slip by these fields of sight undetected, whether it's by carefully timing his movements to run past them while a camera's temporarily turned the opposite way or, better yet, using the various colored carpets, rugs, and flooring to use to blend in with his surroundings. This allows him to be in a field of vision of a foe without being caught, that is, as long as he is the correct color (i.e. being colored yellow on a yellow carpet).

While reaching the exit of a level is the main goal of Spy Chameleon, there are three other objectives to take care of. It's through these that Spy Chameleon allows players to play their way. If one wishes to speed run a level, they can do so, hopefully beating a given level's target time and earning a place on the online leaderboards at the same time. If one likes to collect things, there's ten flies to nab in each level, although these are generally placed in the path of how the developers think one should solve the level. Finally, after a level has been completed once, a ladybug or two (or three!) is placed in the trickiest of locations in each level, requiring the greatest skill to nab. Thus, depending on how you want to play Spy Chameleon, there's a goal for everyone. (Of course, I had to be a completionist and do everything!)

Speaking of completionists, finishing everything Spy Chameleon has to offer takes around six hours. That's beating every level 100% on both normal and hard difficulties and successfully completing each and every achievement. It's a solid amount of time for a game at this asking price.

Spy Chameleon won't wow many with its rather basic presentation, but what is here works and works rather well. Menus are simple enough to follow and look sleek, and the levels are easy to see where you need to go and what you need to avoid. The music, while replaying often, suits the look and feel of a slick, '60s spy series, something that I would imagine the developers had in mind.

What you end up having with Spy Chameleon is a wonderful game that challenges your brain as much as your timing. For a game with such simple controls and a lack of abilities for the player to utilize, the level design constantly introduces new concepts to keep the gameplay interesting. Each level is as refreshing as the last and offers as much novelty, too. While not without problems, Spy Chameleon gets a loud (but not too loud as to give away my stealthy position) recommendation and two color-changing chameleon thumbs up.

[SPC Says: 8.25/10]