Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly of Nintendo's DLC Strategy

Like many online-related things in gaming, Nintendo took their sweet time entering into the world of downloadable content, or as I'll shorten it to DLC for my own sanity's sake. Starting off, the company showed great promise in the way they were testing the waters. Nintendo has approached DLC in a multitude of different forms and ways. Some good, some bad, and some really undesirable. 

First off, Nintendo seemed to be doing all the right things with DLC with the Wii U. The three major games featuring DLC are Mario Kart 8, Hyrule Warriors, and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. This trio of games offers tremendous value to the buyer already, but the added DLC only makes the packages all the more enticing. 

For instance, Mario Kart 8 owners are able to purchase one or both of the DLC packs, each featuring eight new tracks, three new characters, and three new vehicles. Buying both at the same time gives a discounted price that is cheaper than buying both separately, despite both packs not being out at the same time. In fact, the second DLC pack is set to release next week, offering eight more remixed and brand-new tracks into the equation. Thus, you're essentially buying another half of Mario Kart 8 for less than $15. That is one heck of a deal, especially since the actual content is so desirable.

Moving onto Hyrule Warriors, Nintendo seems to have a great handle on making a compelling season pass if this Omega Force-developed title is anything to go by. Unlike Mario Kart 8, there is a staggering amount of content already on the disc that would make anyone who purchases it fulfilled without needing to fork over any extra cash. Though, don't get me wrong, what Mario Kart 8 has content-wise is nothing to honk one's horn at; it's just that any game compared to Hyrule Warriors' content would seem like slim pickings in comparison!

Hyrule Warriors was the gift that kept on giving to those who purchased the season pass. New characters which completely different strategies and play styles for players to learn, new adventure maps which allowed players even more fun completing each mission, and the brand-new weapons made for a game that could easily make players lose hundreds of hours of real life time, and I say that in a good way. Maybe not so much if you have an unhealthy addiction to playing video games, though.

Finally, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is the third game from Nintendo that I believe does DLC well. Recently (as in yesterday), the first of two announced DLC characters, Mewtwo, was released for people who purchased and registered on Club Nintendo both the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U copies of the newest Super Smash Bros. games. A lot of time and effort goes into creating a new character, as you can probably imagine. I mean, after all, there is balancing the new character against the entire roster, making the character work on all of the stages and with all of the items in the game. It's a lot of work, for sure. 

While Mewtwo will be available for purchase for everyone else later this month, another DLC character was announced at this past Nintendo Direct a couple of weeks ago, Lucas from the unlocalized Mother 3. This enables fans to purchase and play as these returning fighters for a fair price while not putting players who don't pay for them at any kind of disadvantage besides not having the coolness that is Mewtwo and Lucas in their personal roster of available characters.

These three examples are good forms of DLC practice because they aren't already on the disc completely, they weren't held over from the base game to get people to pay more for cut content, and they were created long after the initial development of the base game was over.

However, Nintendo started to slide into more, well, sleazy forms of what we can essentially also call DLC. It all began with one term-- amiibo. Many games recently released by Nintendo have features of the game locked away by an amiibo paywall-- that is, one needs an amiibo figure to unlock that content. Therefore, things like having a member of the Fire Emblem squad join you in Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. is locked behind not only owning a New Nintendo 3DS XL but also owning one of the amiibo figurines. The latter is more important factor to focus on. You're basically forced to buy a $12-$13 figure for something that could have been unlocked with a much cheaper DLC digital key. Speaking of keys, not only is the content already in the game itself, this expensive physical amiibo serves as the key to unlock this reward for players. 

The most egregious (and this is where it starts to get ugly) example of hiding something behind an amiibo paywall is Mario Party 10's amiibo Party mode. To play this mode, at least one amiibo is required. This makes essentially one-third of Mario Party 10 locked away from players without an amiibo, and considered the price of amiibo, that makes a $50 investment turn into an over $60 one. That is pretty slimy to me.

What's worse here is that a lot of the amiibo are too difficult to find. To get Mii costumes in Mario Kart 8, for instance, requires some of the rarer amiibo like Captain Falcon and Fox McCloud. Good luck getting those at a reasonable price, but even at the standard price of, again, $12-$13, it's a huge expense compared to just being able to go on the Nintendo eShop and just pay for a key to unlock all of the costumes yourself with a pain-free, scalper-free transaction. 

Things don't seem to be getting better with the amiibo front either. Wave 4 figure pre-orders sold out incredibly quick, new amiibo were announced for upcoming games like Splatoon and Yoshi's Woolly World (the former locking exclusive costumes and missions away from non-amiibo buyers), and the hope of restocking for most of the rarer amiibo seems hopeless. 

It's my wish that Nintendo leans more toward the good path of DLC (i.e. Mario Kart 8, Hyrule Warriors, and Super Smash Bros.) rather than the amiibo route. Sadly, as the figures continually sell out and are in great demand, these make Nintendo a lot of money. In turn, this reinforces Nintendo's desire to go the amiibo route with adding optional, but usually much desired content to its future lineup of software. Seeing my disgust with trying to even find amiibo figures or make pre-orders, if this were a card game (funnily enough Nintendo wants to make a line of card-based amiibo), I'd definitely say "deal me out."

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Super Mario 64 (N64, Wii U VC, Wii VC) Retro Review

Earlier this week I reviewed Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars. This was the first of SuperPhillip Central's month of 3D platformers. Little did I know that at the time, to be truthful. However, with Super Mario 64 releasing on the Wii U Virtual Console two weeks ago and Donkey Kong 64 releasing tomorrow in North America, it seems like an opportune themed month of reviews!

Super Mario 64 is one of the most loved 3D games of all time. It is just a master class of brilliant design, so you don't need me telling that the game is great. We know that. However, with this review, I'd like to share my own thoughts on why I think the game is so great.

Relive how Mario brought gaming into a brave new world

It seemed like the perfect day for Mario. He had just received a letter from Princess Peach requesting that he come to her castle to eat a finely prepared and baked cake waiting for him. However, upon reaching the castle grounds, there was no pomp and circumstance. Entering the castle, Mario heard the roar of Bowser, taunting that he had imprisoned Princess Peach and her Toad helpers within the castle walls via the power of the stars. What is Mario's misfortune is players' delight, as without Bowser getting involved, we wouldn't have an excellent 3D platforming adventure to play!

Super Mario 64's overworld hub is Princess Peach's castle and the surrounding expanse of greenery, trees, and the castle moat. It is the latter area that is essentially a danger-free and risk-free training ground for beginning players to get accustomed to the controls. There is no fear of losing a life because one doesn't have a full grasp on controlling the camera, moving Mario around, or their coordination in a 3D space is off. A player has as much time as they would like to freely explore the castle grounds before marching across the bridge above the castle moat and entering into Peach's domicile.

Super Mario 64 started the collect-a-thon approach to platformers. That said, the game is the most basic in this approach, only requiring the player to go after and collect the game's Power Stars and sometimes also red coins. Collecting enough Power Stars opens the way to new rooms in Peach's castle, leading to new levels to explore and gather even more Power Stars in.

Mario zeroes in on his good, old buddy, the Goomba.
The levels of Super Mario 64 take place primarily in the castle's paintings and pictures. The first course, Bob-Omb Battlefield, teaches the player how to do basic battle with enemies (whether it's punching, kicking, or going old-school and jumping on their heads when possible), how to run around more complicated environments, and utilize the controls and camera in a smarter way. The latter is best shown in the simplistic battle with King Bob-Omb, who reigns over his land as he stands at the summit of the level's mountain. All that is required of the player is to run around to the boss's backside, a task that is easy to do due to the king's slowness, pick him up, and chuck him to the ground.

No time to stop, so just run for it!
There are seven Power Stars in each of the game's fifteen courses, with the seventh Power Star always being one where 100 coins total need to be gathered. The fun of collecting Power Stars is that the majority in a particular level need not be collected in a given order. For instance, the fourth level of Super Mario 64, Cool Cool Mountain's task to acquire the level's first Power Star is to race down an icy slide and reach the bottom without falling into the abyss below. Once Mario exits the cabin door in which the icy slide leads down to, a Power Star appears. However, players can opt to grab hold of the lost baby penguin at the top of the mountain and bring it to the mama penguin at the mountain's base to earn a Power Star from that task instead.

Some say the gloves are for fashion, but sometimes
you never know when you're going to end up in a snowstorm.
To face Bowser in the final showdown (players face him two times prior in the game), all one needs to do is collect only 70 of the game's 120 Power Stars. This means that if a certain task or objective is deemed too challenging by the player, they can opt to just do another task or just head to a different level altogether. This is a pleasant arrangement due to the fact that it makes it so if one wants to collect every Star for an added challenge, they can do so. Meanwhile, players will a more limited skill set can just get the requisite Stars and beat the game if they so wish.

There is an incredibly amount of variety in Super Mario 64's objectives to get Power Stars. Some are as simple as performing relative minor platforming challenges to reach a said Star, while others require a little more footwork and using one's old noggin. Whether it's collecting eight red coins in a given level to spawn a Power Star, finding a secret exit in the Hazy Maze Cave's titular hazy maze, blasting Mario from a cannon into a piece of wall to reveal a hidden Power Star, using perfect timing to nab a Power Star from the tail of an electrifying eel, or solving a pyramid-related puzzle in the desert world, Super Mario 64's array of objectives will have players participating and partaking in a seemingly endless variety of activities.

Other times the gloves are great to
get one's grip and just hang out.
There are three major portions to Princess Peach's castle, and the last two are inaccessible at the beginning of the game. Mario has to collect a key from Bowser's merciless mitts to reach these areas, housing new mysteries in the castle and new levels. Upon collecting a specific amount of Power Stars, the way to Bowser's domain is opened. These three levels that play out throughout the course of Super Mario 64 are designed in much more linear fashion, setup more in the form of an obstacle course to test the player's abilities up until now. Reaching the end means reaching Bowser himself and engaging in battle with him. These battles are quite novel, requiring Mario to grab Bowser's tail, having the player draw circles with the analog stick, and pressing the throw button with proper time to launch big, bad Bowser into one of the mines that surrounds the arena.

An example of one of Bowser's obstacle-laden levels.
The Mario series is known for awesome power-ups, like the Super Leaf, Fire Flower, and Super Star. While these specific power-ups don't make an appearance within Super Mario 64, the game does offer a special line of caps for Mario to don. Upon entering special bonus areas hidden away in the game, players can stomp on switches that enable the use of these caps in multiple locations in multiple levels. The Metal Cap turns Mario into a metal mold, allowing him to sink underwater, nabbing submerged goods in currents that would otherwise be impossible to reach. Meanwhile, the Vanish Cap grants Mario the ability to move through grated walls, again, reaching areas he would otherwise be unable to. Lastly, the Wing Cap gives Mario unprecedented flying freedom. While this cap is a bit unwieldy in its controls, flight mostly feels right, save for when precision movements are called for (looking at you, "any time I have to go after red coins suspended in the air!"). All three caps give Mario temporary power.

Super Mario 64 immensely revolutionized 3D in gaming, and it's a testament to the game's superb design that so much of it still holds up today. The controls are tight and fluid, offering an amazing amount of control and influence the player can put to Mario's movements. Mario has myriad acrobatic abilities to utilize, from easy to achieve back flips and long jumps to more complicated maneuvers such as wall kicks into wall jumps and side jumps. In the case of side jumping, those aren't needed to beat the game. Instead, they're more a way for advanced players to show off their skills and platforming prowess.

Sometimes the camera can be your best friend...
or your worst enemy. Par for the 3D platformer course.
That said, not all is perfect. Moving the camera with the C left and C right buttons can be a bit tricky. Even with plenty of space to turn the camera around, it will become stubborn and not allow the player to get the optimal viewing angle. Getting such an angle is really important for places where precision movement, such as a very narrow pathway over an abyss, for instance, is required. It's challenging already since every little push or degree moved of the analog stick will send Mario a slight but noticeable different direction. Combine this with the camera occasionally disallowing you to get a straight path to walk on, and things can become a bit irritating. Still, it's astounding that as a really early example of a 3D camera system, even with its faults, Super Mario 64's camera still works better than a good number of its contemporaries. Once again a testament to the game's superb design and timeliness.

Mario would use these mushrooms to get high,
but he's already pretty far up this mountain.
Super Mario 64 presents a very easy on the eyes graphical style to players. Areas are appropriately colorful in outdoor areas and dark and a bit foreboding in cavern and Bowser areas. Geometry may be a bit simple, but the game's graphics get the job done admirably while not being rough on the old peepers in the process. The draw distance is pretty impressive, allowing players to see obstacles from relatively far away, though things like enemies and coins won't show up until Mario is within a somewhat closer range.

The ultimate course in Super Mario 64, Rainbow Ride.
Sound-wise, Super Mario 64 hits all the right notes, and that play on words was most definitely intended. Koji Kondo's timeless score full of catchy melodies and atmospheric themes is still as fantastic and memorable today as it was back in 1996. Mario's cute woo-hoos and voice work entertains without being overly grating, and the sound effects feel as if they belong in Mario's wonderful world.

Super Mario 64 was considered a masterpiece of 3D gaming and a revolution to the industry back when it originally released. For the most part, outside of some camera issues that pop up occasionally, whether just minor niggles or some things more severe, Super Mario 64 is still one of gaming's best. Now that it's on the Wii U Virtual Console, a new generation of gamers can grow up knowing that when 3D platforming is concerned, Mario may definitely be considered king.

[SPC Says: A]

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Soldner-X 2: Final Prototype (PS3, Vita) Review

This fine Tuesday and Wednesday on SuperPhillip Central sees a total of two new reviews! The second of which will be part of SuperPhillip Central's month of the 3D platformer! But first, let's devote our attention to Soldner-X 2: Final Prototype, a shoot-em-up that takes me back to playing similar games on my Super Nintendo back before I could type well enough to eventually write for my own blog. Let's take flight and see how she handles!

Galactic Civil War. Huh! What is it good for? 
Absolutely everything!

While big publishers have steered away from the types of games that were highly successful in the 8-bit and 16-bit eras of gaming, indies and smaller developers/publishers have filled in the gaps quite nicely, delivering unto gamers platformers, puzzle games, and yes, shoot-em-ups. From Eastasiasoft comes the latter, a technological marvel that's pure eye candy, but also has the great gameplay to back the whole package up. Soldner-X 2: Final Prototype is a digital title on both the PlayStation 3 and Vita that hearkens back to a simpler time in gaming where twitch reflexes, coordination, and a calm set of thumbs were what were in order to save the day from an alien menace.

Soldner-X 2 is a horizontal shoot-em-up, or as I'll fondly call it, a "shmup". You control one of several ships, each with their own strengths and weaknesses in battle, through scrolling 2.5D levels, taking out enemy ships while avoid a cavalcade a bullets, lasers, and gunfire. Compared to other games in the genre, Soldner-X 2 is a bit on the easy side, especially for those of you who have encountered so-called "bullet hell" games in the past. While Soldner-X 2 does stray towards have a colossal amount of bullets on screen at the same time, you don't have to make pixel-perfect movements to survive them as you would a "bullet hell" game.

You may start out with comfortable
room for your ship to maneuver...
You start out with a selection of two difficulties to choose from-- easy and normal. The other two more challenging difficulties must be unlocked. However, even still, easy and normal can be quite the handful thanks to a clever dynamic difficulty and scoring system. As you play a level, you start at the G rank, as you defeat enemies without taking damage, your rank goes up. The maximum rank it can reach is S. Not only does this make levels more arduous to complete, but it has the bonus of increasing your score multiplier. This is how you achieve magnificent ranks on the levels in Soldner-X 2.

...But then Soldner-X 2 begins throwing more enemies your way.
Having a high rank isn't just for increased difficulty and a bonus score multiplier either. In the game, much like the original Soldner, there are secret keys that you collect from dropped ships at certain locations in levels. Collecting all of the these in a level unlocks later stages to play. Some secret keys do not materialize for you to collect unless you're at a specific rank or higher. Therefore, it's important to chain attacks so your rank is high, so your point multiplier is high, and so you can collect the secret keys necessary to see all of the content within Soldner-X 2.

Soldner-X 2's general difficulty isn't too taxing, at least it wasn't for me, a person who isn't the best at these types of games. You take more damage at higher difficulties, and enemies enact more complicated patterns. Soldner-X 2's difficulty makes it so even a beginner in the shmup genre can have a blast with the game, and they can challenge themselves as they see fit on whatever difficulty setting they see fit.

From outdoor destroyed cities to zoom past...
Alongside the main arcade mode, Soldner-X 2 comes equipped with a Challenge mode. This mode creates scenarios for you to try to complete, such as not losing a life in arcade mode's first three levels or beating the entire game with the handicap of only being to select one weapon throughout its entirety. Completed challenges reward you with such bonuses like extra credits in arcade mode and new weapons for your ships, making them great to not only challenge yourself but to win cool rewards in the process. indoor circuitry and ruins to dart through.
Fortunately, Soldner-X 2's development team wasn't satisfied to just add a bunch of new things to make for a better game compared to its predecessor. The team also changed a lot of things for the better as well. For one, the original Soldner required you to ration your shots, as shooting too much meant your weapons needed to enter a cooldown period for a few moments before you could return to blasting foes to smithereens. This has been removed, thankfully, making what would be a very hard game much more manageable to play. In addition to that, gone is the need to switch between weapons to keep your attack chain going. In its stead is the ability to shoot down enemies and pick up golden rings, similar in appearance to what a familiar blue hedgehog would covet.

The super affordable downloadable content that released approximately eight months later to Soldner-X 2: Final Prototype, known as The Last Chapter, introduces three new fully developed levels and around a dozen new trophies for those trophy hunters out there. The levels are well crafted and will have your heart and adrenaline pumping just as wildly as when you're playing the standard levels in the base game.

Hello there, giant boss. Thanks for the warm welcome!
Soldner-X 2: Final Prototype as just the base game or the entire package with added DLC makes for an amazing old-school style shmup with intense side-scrolling shooting gameplay, bosses that cover up half of the screen, and plenty of challenges for both beginning players in the genre and veterans. Everything runs smoothly, the voice acting is superb, and the music gets you in the mood to shoot down the D'arrg menace, regardless of whether or not the story is as purely cliche as any other space shooter. While the need to collect space keys to advance in arcade mode is something I rebelled against in concept, overall, Soldner-X 2 is really remarkable shooter, perfect for gaming on the go or lounging on a couch at home.

[SPC Says: B+]

Review copy provided by EastAsiaSoft.

Monday, April 13, 2015

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs - "A VGM in the Hand is Worth Five in An Edition" Edtion

Welcome to a brand-new work week here at SuperPhillip Central! Lots of interesting stuff to cover this week, including multiple reviews, a look at Nintendo's way of doing DLC, and a lot more! But first we have SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs to kick things off with a bang rather than a whimper. Music this edition comes from games such as Metroid Prime, Mario Golf: World Tour, and Tearaway. I then wrap the edition up with music from the original Ratchet & Clank and The Sims 2: Seasons.

v851. Metroid Prime (GCN) - Menu Selection Screen

We kick this edition of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs off with a listen to the theme that plays during the awesome data selection menu. The menu alone excites the eyes with its amazing visuals, but the song that accompanies it is no slouch either. They combine to make an unforgettable menu for Metroid Prime players to behold upon starting up the game.

v852. Mario Golf: World Tour (3DS) - Star Coin Collector

Mario Golf: World Tour is my favorite arcade golf game ever made. It's combination of tight gameplay, great controls, terrific courses, lots of content to unlock, and presentation make for a near-perfect golf game. Motoi Sakuraba brought the goods when he composed the music for this game, especially with Star Coin Collector, a highly catchy theme that those in the Challenge mode will hear A LOT as they try to hit the ball into the coin while staying at par or better.

v853. Tearaway (Vita) - The Orchards

A rustic, worldly soundtrack accompanying a great game, Tearaway is a fantastic example of a PlayStation Vita exclusive that uses the hardware in some very smart, seldom-gimmicky-in-a-negative-way forms. From using the front touch screen to move platforms to tapping the back touch screen to "push" objects in the environment, Tearaway is one of the Vita's best titles, and soon, PlayStation 4 owners will get to see what the critical acclaim for the game was all about, albeit in altered form.

v854. Ratchet & Clank (PS2) - Blackwater City (Planet Rilgar)

Planet Rilgar's Blackwater City in the original Ratchet & Clank is home to the first hoverboard championship, a challenging mini-game for the uninitiated. However, with practice, one can easily shred and tear up the course with delight. The music of the first several games in the Ratchet & Clank series were composed by David Bergeaud, and he remains my favorite gentleman who wrote music for the franchise.

v855. The Sims 2: Seasons (PC) - Neighborhood Theme

A careful blend of piano and guitar make for a homely feel with this Neighborhood Theme from The Sims 2: Seasons expansion pack. It's a shame that the latest Sims game did not meet the financial success that publisher Electronic Arts was desiring. Thus, the series seems to be on indefinite hiatus.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars (Wii) Retro Review

Sometimes there is a rhyme and reason for why I do a particular retro review on a game. Sometimes. Other times, such as this one, I review an older game just because. Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars was an eccentric 3D platformer for the Wii. I finally got around to beating the game early last week, and now I have a review to share on this sleepy Sunday evening!

Make Room for the 'Shrooms

One of the many things I miss about the Wii was how it was essentially the PlayStation 2 of that generation. What I mean by that is that a lot more experimental and off-the-wall gaming experiences were to be found on Nintendo's eccentric little white system and in retail form, no less! Red Fly Studio's Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars is such a game. Not only is it a character-driven 3D platformer, something unheard of in this day and age in gaming, but it's an eclectic one with loads of personality. There is indeed fungus among us with The Spore Wars, but is that fungus of good quality?

Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars starts out with an asteroid crashing into the Earth. This asteroid leaves off a mysterious green dust that is harmless to humans, yet packs a wild punch to the floral, fauna, and fungi of the world unknown to the humans. To survive from the harsh outside world and creatures that have turned nasty due to the asteroid's green dust, fungi-- now able to think for themselves, communicate, and walk freely-- form tribes. However, these tribes spark a civil war that our protagonist Pax, a wandering mushroom, finds himself involved in.

Something told Pax that the dreaded "stick"
was not the appropriate weapon for this battle.
The Spore Wars spans nine levels, ranging from linear affairs to levels in scope more befitting of a collect-a-thon platformer. The world constantly amazed me, throwing in everyday objects like decks of cards, trash can lids, audio cassettes, and more as places to platform on; areas like trailers, sheds, and houses to explore; and what would be small annoyances to a normal sized character turn into big obstacles when you're playing as someone who is three inches like Pax is.

What secrets are housed within these four walls?
Aside from accomplishing level goals like taking out vicious rabbits in a shed by using Pax's telekenetic powers to interact with switches and buttons, causing giant objects to crush those completely un-cuddly creatures, levels present optional tasks like collecting meteorites, of which there are nearly 90 in total. Collecting enough of these powers Pax up, presenting him with more health to utilize in his adventure.

There are also egg-like containers that reveal weapon parts. When a certain weapon has all of the required parts acquired, you can create that weapon. From weapons that thrust to weapons for crowd control, collecting all of the weapons in Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars is not only helpful to extend the otherwise short playtime of the game, but it also allows Pax to have greater attack power, needing less strikes from his weapons to slay stronger foes.

This weapon uses a bottle cap attached
to a string to deal heavy damage to foes.
One of the toughest things to nail down with a 3D game, especially a 3D platformer that requires a lot of character movement, is the camera. Unfortunately, Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars' camera leaves a lot to be desired. While it offers manual movement with the d-pad on the Wii Remote and it's not too much of a burden during expansive areas, when you're in a close-ranged, almost claustrophobic area of the game, the camera can get caught on walls and in-level geometry.

This problem is further aggravated by the lack of a lock-on system for doing battle with enemies such as spiders, scorpions, rats, cockroaches, and other pests. To attack a foe you have to shake the Wii Remote, which all to itself isn't that comfortable or intuitive to do. When you attack, depending on the weapon protagonist Pax carries, you will either thrust or slash forward. This means the camera moves during this attack animation, making it so you have to constantly readjust the camera position after each attack Pax unleashes on foes. Many times you can completely whiff and attack due to the position of the camera, resulting in some really annoying combat scenarios. This is not exemplified any better than trying to face off against aerial enemies, which can just be an effort in futility.

The "Radical" class of weaponry slows Pax down
to a crawl but brings a hefty dose of pain to enemies.
Pax has defensive capabilities that you can use. By holding down the Z button on the Nunchuk you can bow Pax's head down, using his head to block all frontal attacks. If enemies have surrounded Pax, you can press the C button to evade and roll out of the way. The cap at the top of Pax's mushroom body will deteriorate when more damage is dealt to him, resulting in his core being exposed. Thankfully, enemies and certain plants in The Spore Wars drop health-recovering green pods that heal Pax if you find his health is dangerously low.

"Whee! Look, ma. I'm on SuperPhillip Central!"
Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars art style displays an earthy and rustic world. The amount of detail in environments is quite stunning, especially when you consider the hardware the game is running on. While objects in the environments look nice, ground and wall textures don't do much to impress, offering a muddy consistency at best. Still, The Spore Wars' environments and areas are rich with atmosphere and a grand sense of ambiance. Meanwhile, the majority of the music fits the mood of Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars well, composed mostly by Les Claypool, which is a name that fans of the band Primus should know quite well.

Place your bets in this battle between brave
Pax and a wily jackrabbit! 
Overall, Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars suffers with its campaign brevity, troublesome camera, and lack of lock-on. While these issues don't destroy the game from bringing any semblance of fun at all to the player, they do detract from easily recommending it to Wii and Wii U owners on the fence about buying the game. If you think you can wrestle with a finicky camera without experiencing too much aggravation, then Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars is worth a play. For everyone else, if you have to play one game starring a type of mushroom, try out Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker.

[SPC Says: C]

Project X Zone 2: Brave New World (3DS) Debut Trailer

Another Nintendo 3DS game announcement was officially let loose this weekend, and this time it's from Bandai Namco. While the original Project X Zone was indeed quite repetitive, here's hoping the sequel, filled with new characters like Leon S. Kennedy from Resident Evil and Shinobi from the series of the same name, will be an improvement overall.