Saturday, May 9, 2015

Bloo Kid 2 (3DS eShop) Review

Last night I covered the first of many Nintendo 3DS games to be reviewed this month, the second annual month of 3DS reviews! It was a digital game, much like this second title to be reviewed, Bloo Kid 2. The original Bloo Kid, released on mobile devices, is not for offer on the Nintendo 3DS. Hopefully that will change, as this sequel on the Nintendo 3DS (also on mobile devices) is quite the enjoyable romp. See how with my review.

A fun platformer comes out of the Bloo

Once every little while a game comes out of nowhere to surprise me with its quality. When I decided to review Bloo Kid 2, a game that originally released on mobile devices, I didn't think much of it. I knew it was a game in my favorite genre, but I didn't expect it to be anything above average. Fortunately, the old colloquialism "you can't judge a book by its cover" comes in here. Well, in this case, we're talking about judging a game by its screenshots, but that is neither here nor there. Bloo Kid 2 manages to successfully hearken back to a bygone era in gaming. While that is nothing original by itself, it doesn't have to be. Instead, Bloo Kid 2 puts fun over originality and day of the week.

Bloo Kid 2 is an old-school style platformer through and through, whether it is in its visual appearance, sound effects and music, or complexity. Bloo Kid himself has very little moves in his arsenal, making for a game that is accessible to nearly everyone. He can jump, double jump, bounce off enemy heads, and swim. That's pretty much the extent of Bloo Kid's repertoire. It's the actual level design that keeps Bloo Kid 2 from feeling stagnant.

You slimeballs know that they have corrective
surgery for lazy eye, right?
With Bloo Kid 2's levels, you get sprawling affairs with plenty of split paths that eventually converge to a return to a more linear path, plenty of hidden areas uncovered by walking through invisible walls, and tricky enemies to contend with. The levels are short enough that repeated play-throughs don't come across as tedious.

Depending on the difficulty chosen, Bloo Kid has more or less hearts to work with than normal, the basic health bar of the game. If you're hit when you have zero hearts shown, it's game over, and you have to retry the level from the very start. Again, level length allows for fast runs through them. It's just when you get to meticulously exploring levels (a task that is completely optional, but adds longevity to Bloo Kid 2) that the amount of time it takes to beat a given level is longer.

The enemy variety in Bloo Kid 2 is quite high.
There are nine levels in each of Bloo Kid 2's five worlds, the final being a boss battle that is highly reminiscent of bosses from other games. For instance, the boss of Green Hills, the first world of the game, is pretty much Whispy Woods from Nintendo's Kirby series. This is even down to the way it attacks and takes damage.

Each level has its own set of goals to complete, but you can simply rush through a level and beat it if that's all you want from the game. However, it's through completing the six goals of each level where you get a better satisfaction out of playing Bloo Kid 2 and more appreciation for the game's level design.

For instance, one goal is to collect all of the stars in a level or defeat every enemy. There are also three hidden silver stars in each level that require some fanatical devotion to acquire them all. Not just because they are hidden well, but also because many require careful and cautious platforming to attain. Despite a blue flower indicating a silver star is nearby, there is some a lot of searching to be done, whether it's through hidden walls or death-defying platforming prowess. Other goals include beating the level before the timer hits zero, completing the level with full health, and hitting the rising balloon at the level's goal before it escapes the screen.

Bloo Kid 2 makes no attempts to hide
that it was inspired by 2D platformers of old.
Bloo Kid 2 features color pixel visuals that look like a nice compromise between what one could find on the Super Nintendo and what one could find on the Sega Genesis. The 3D effect is pronounced but imperfect. Bloo Kid and the platforming environment have the same depth, but some platforms are further back in appearance in 3D. This makes it so Bloo Kid occasionally looks like he's standing on midair. Other than that, the 3D effect works well and looks great. The music is chiptune goodness that sometimes had me bobbing my head around as I played. The only problem really with the game's technical performance is that it crashed on me once in the fourth world, resulting my Nintendo 3DS system to go back to the home menu and restart.

Careful, Bloo Kid. You definitely don't want
to go for a dip in that lava!
Bloo Kid 2 doesn't attempt to do much that is original, but that's okay, as what is here is exceptionally fun. The level design houses an abundance of secrets, allowing players to comb over every inch for hidden areas, as well as the option to speed run with ease. The ability to play with physical buttons instead of a touch screen setup is a marked improvement, making a nicely designed game play even better. If you're tired of searching for an inexpensive 2D platformer that does its job well, Bloo Kid 2 won't give you the Bloos.

[SPC Says: B]

Review copy provided by Winterworks.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Boxboy! (3DS eShop) Review

Boxboy! kicks off SuperPhillip Central's month of Nintendo 3DS review in style. Nothing like a greatly reviewed game to start things off. There will be even more Nintendo 3DS games reviewed this month, both digital and retail, so I hope you'll look forward to them. For now, take a peek at HAL Laboratory's latest, Boxboy!

It's hip to be square.

From the developer behind Kirby comes Boxboy, another in the line of creative titles from HAL Laboratory. Although the game appears simple in concept-- you play as a box name Qbby, able to extend boxes of the same size from his own body to solve puzzles and reach otherwise inaccessible platforms-- Boxboy quickly turns the complexity dial up to 11 in a rather fast fashion.

Things start out simple enough, but Boxboy
can get mighty challenging in its level design!
As stated, Qbby's most pronounced ability in Boxboy is the power to create a chain of boxes from his body that can be situated to solve puzzles. One of the early uses of Qbby's abilities is to spawn three boxes resembling a staircases so he can reach a higher platform. Another has him creating an amount of boxes in the shape of a hook to hang off of another higher platform. With a press of the Y button, Qbby can contact the chain of boxes, allowing him access to the platform where the box that served as the "hook" once was.

Qbby can unlatch himself from the box chains he makes.
It's paramount to do for this particular situation.
The catch with summoning boxes is that each level has a set amount of boxes that can be summoned at one time, and each time Qbby extends a series of boxes, the last series of boxes disappears. Getting crowns in levels, collectibles that when all are collected in a level give the player a "perfect clear" rating, means that Qbby can only use a set amount of boxes total before the the crown(s) disappear.

On many occasions, boxes spawned by Qbby can
be used a protection against harmful hazards.
Beating a level earns the player credits that can be spent on time and score attack challenges, new costumes for Qbby (each with their own impressive amounts of animations), and even tips and tricks for different level mechanics within the game.

Each of Boxboy's worlds houses a specific set of themed challenges. Some deal with buttons that open and close doors when force is pressed on them that Qbby must place boxes on to hold them down. Others deal with conveyor belts, electrically charged blocks, gravity, and many more. The great thing about Boxboy and how it handles new twists and mechanics is that the game eases you into each new level gimmick. You're rarely unsure of how to go about solving a given section of level because the game did not prepare you for its challenge. Perhaps the only negative concerning the level design and new twists introduced to players is that many of the mechanics in Boxboy only show up in a handful of levels (aka one world) before the game moves on to a new mechanic.

Hold down this button with one of Qbby's boxes to
make this dark trio of squares appear for Qbby to walk on.
Levels in Boxboy feature plenty of checkpoints, so failure is seldom truly punishing. It definitely is never frustrating. No, when Qbby fails by getting stuck or taking damage, he starts at a checkpoint, which is always at the start of a new puzzling section of a level. Players can also press the shoulder buttons of the Nintendo 3DS to manually restart from a checkpoint if they get stuck.

If for some reason a section of level is something a player can't wrap his or her head around, the option of getting a hint is available through spending one of the Nintendo 3DS system's Play Coins. A quick picture of the location and amalgamation of boxes needed to progress in the level is shown, meaning that as long as a player has enough Play Coins, they can ask for a hint if they cannot come up with the proper solution on their own.

Much like Pushmo, Boxboy is yet another excellent Nintendo 3DS eShop entry from HAL Laboratory, showing that the developer still has plenty of creative bones in its collective body. Containing clever puzzle design, an innovative concept, and a creative and helpful hint system to allow for any and all players to beat its many levels, Boxboy is a fantastic offering that shows that it's truly hip to be square through its four hour plus playtime and affordable price.

[SPC Says: A]

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Splatoon (Wii U) "Splat The World" TV Commercial

Nintendo released a Nintendo Direct for Splatoon, a third-person shooter unlike any the genre has seen before. The game releases May 29, so ahead of its release, Nintendo of America has revealed this TV commercial for the game. Very Nickelodeon-esque, if I do say so myself!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Rank Up! - Mario Kart 8 DLC Tracks

The second of Mario Kart 8's DLC Packs released a few weeks ago, and now in addition to the 32 tracks already on the game disc, Mario Kart 8 owners also have 16 new and remixed tracks they can purchase. After some intensive research (i.e. having a lot of fun racing on these sumbitches), I have come up with a new Rank Up! where I rank the new tracks from least favorite to favorite! Nonetheless, it's quite important to note that none of these tracks are bad at all. In fact, I like them all, which made putting this in any kind of order a challenge! However, I persevered and have come up with an order that I feel satisfaction with. Let's get to the list of sixteen!

And if you can't get enough kart racing fun, check out my top ten list from yesterday regarding the best kart racing games!

16) Wario's Gold Mine

Wario's Gold Mine returns from Mario Kart Wii, and in that game it was one of my least favorite courses. I mean, lots of rail-less portions of track and eleven other racers to contend with, bouncing you off, is not too much fun. However, with the Mario Kart 8 version, the track is a lot more fun, and thankfully the moving mine carts no longer damage the player who runs into them. Instead, you get a boost from them since they are in an anti-gravity section of the track. The tunnel where the mine carts travel is still an awesome shortcut to take and still requires some skill to achieve. All this makes for a much better ride through the gold mine of everyone's garlic-chomping antihero.

15) Ice Ice Outpost

Similar to Electrodrome in the base game of Mario Kart 8, Ice Ice Outpost features a duo of paths that can be taken. The only difference here is that there are multiple points where the track splits up into two paths. While the shortcuts are fun and require skill to nail, they aren't really worth it in the risk versus reward category. Still, there's a lot of entertainment to be had racing through open mouthed ice caverns, icebergs, freight ships and huts housing Toads to recommend Ice Ice Outpost as a track.

14) Excitebike Arena

xcitebike Arena is a unique track, though not in its shape, as it's a mere oval design .Instead, it's a unique track due to it randomizing the location of its hills, ramps, jumps, and mud pits each time it is raced on. This means that you're in for a different race each and every time, which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on who you are. For me, the track having two huge straightaways makes Excitebike Arena less "exciting" to me, but overall it is still an enjoyable track to race on, particularly in multiplayer skirmishes.

13) Neo Bowser City

In Mario Kart 7, Neo Bowser City wasn't too fascinating of a track, but in this remixed version in Mario Kart 8, it is a very cool race. Seeing the rainfall splash onto the pavement of Neo Bowser City's roads and twisted curves is fantastic, and pulling off some of the more difficult curves on the track successfully makes one feel like a boss, specifically Bowser if we're saying "boss" in Super Mario terms. The final gliding section allows racers to still decide between soaring over the finish line or taking a daredevil trip over the abyss, using an air tunnel to get extra distance before landing back on the track. Though it's important to note that this isn't as easy as it was in Mario Kart 7.

12) Dragon Driftway

I love Dragon Driftway for its Asian setting alone, and the fact that you're racing on a giant stone Gobblegut for essentially the entirety of the race! As a dragon road, you might expect plenty of twists and turns and devilish curves. You'd expect correct, as Dragon Driftway is a very challenging track, especially in 200 cc. That said, the race seems less fitting for the super fast 200 cc and not particularly designed for it. However, if you manage to use the brake intelligently, you might just find yourself earning first place.

11) Baby Park

This is the third Mario Kart game where Baby Park makes an appearance. It originally debuted in Mario Kart: Double Dash!! for the GameCube, where it was a war zone of items, particularly shells, bouncing to and from, causing utter chaos and destruction. It reappeared in Mario Kart DS, but it was severely neutered. However, its next return, this time in Mario Kart 8, offers plenty of craziness thanks to twelve racers all competing on its very short seven lap oval. The fact that the music quickens faster and faster with each passing lap makes the race even zanier!

10) Yoshi Circuit

Yoshi Circuit is one of the only tracks in Mario Kart 8 without any anti-gravity section to speak of. However, the race is still an enjoyable one due to all of the curves both short and long the track features. This is especially prevalent on the spine section of Yoshi (after all, the track is an outline of everyone's favorite dinosaur Yoshi's profile). The lone shortcut (outside of Mushrooming across patches of grass) has racers speeding through a waterfall, across a small expanse of water, under Yoshi's arm. It is a blast to nail that shortcut, and it is a blast to just race on this track.

9) Super Bell Subway

Mario Kart 8 heads underground with its Super Bell Subway track. This track is an elongated figure-eight of sorts, where racers speed through the terminal before heading through the subway system, packed with zooming subways to contend with in addition to other racers. There are plenty of opportunities to use a Mushroom to blaze over the gravel portions of track that would otherwise slow a racer down, as well as places to ride in the rafters over and on top of the subways that patrol the tunnels. It's a very difficult track for me in 200 cc, but with more practice I'll find that I love Super Bell Subway even more than I already do thanks to its design and one particular Easter egg (the World 1-2 graffiti inside one of the subway tunnels).

8) Cheese Land

The developers of Mario Kart went absolutely crazy with the pair of Game Boy Advance tracks for the second DLC pack. While Mario Circuit's GBA version in the base game was flat, save for the anti-gravity U-turn section, the DLC Game Boy Advance remakes are full of undulations and environmental changes to make them feel like completely new races. Cheese Land removes the Mousers that patrolled the Game Boy Advance version of the race and adds two Chain Chomps instead. Also added is a tunnel through a big block of cheese, two shortcuts where racers can use Mushrooms to access, skipping over the final set of turns of the track, and plenty of sights and sounds to behold.

7) Ribbon Road

The second of the remixed and remastered Game Boy Advance tracks is Ribbon Road, taking place in a playroom that resembles something from Toy Story. The track is essentially split up into three portions, marked by their colors-- green, blue, and pink. Whether you're racing along an undulating rail-less ribbon that has plenty of curves to it, dodging Mechakoopas, or soaring past Bowser Toy Car jack-in-the-boxes, Ribbon Road features a lot of new obstacles and hazards to make note of. Both of these Game Boy Advance remade tracks are excellent, but I give the edge to Ribbon Road just for the nostalgia it gives me.

6) Rainbow Road (SNES)

Making its third appearance in the Mario Kart series, Rainbow Road is a much wider track than in previous appearances, but don't let that fool you. There are still myriad turns to worry about that skillful racers must overcome without being bumped off the track, one without any rails whatsoever. Then there are the electric Thwomps that slam into the track from midair, creating temporary undulations into it that can be tricked off of for added boosts of speed. Rainbow Road's sole shortcut comes just before the final turn to the finish line, requiring a Mushroom to leap across a chasm in the middle of a quick split path housing Thwomps on both paths. That is, unless you're playing in the 200 cc, where you can just speed over the ramp and make it to the other side with no problem whatsoever.

5) Big Blue

"You got boost power!" The only Mario Kart 8 DLC track that features three sections, much like Mount Wario (my favorite of the races in the base game), Big Blue is notably based on the setting of races in the F-Zero series. Therefore, as F-Zero fans can expect, it features anti-gravity all of the time, with insane curves, plenty of places to fall off from, and rushing water that pours down slides which racers jet across. Like Mount Wario, Big Blue feels like one big, epic, racing adventure, but this time it has a science-fiction feel to it. Just the way I like it. If Nintendo won't deliver unto us a new F-Zero, this and the next track on my list will have to do... for now.

4) Mute City

Big Blue is a part of the second set of DLC tracks for Mario Kart 8. Mute City is part of the first set. It takes place in the sky, like any F-Zero track would, but like Big Blue, it is a wholly original design. The environment is the sole aspect that is Mute City-ish, with futuristic buildings, billboards, and a pinkish purple sky. The road twists like a corkscrew, curves like a snake, and features a huge drop near the race's conclusion, where a smartly used Mushroom can reveal a shortcut just before the drop. Mute City doesn't fully satiate my desire for a new F-Zero, but at least Nintendo realizes and admits the franchise exists.

3) Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing is a very special track in that it actually has four forms, randomly selected each time you play. The only differences are aesthetic, changing in seasonal appearance. What it lacks in anti-gravity, Animal Crossing more than makes up for in nailing the atmosphere and small town feeling of being in an Animal Crossing town. Whether you speed through a grove of trees, encounter Mr. Resetti in the middle of the race, fly over the town's fountain, jet past the beach, or run into a rock (they even drop coins like the real game), Animal Crossing is a track that is enjoyable to race on. Then again, if you've followed me for any extended time, you know how much I love village/city circuit tracks.

2) Hyrule Circuit

The third and final crossover race in Mario Kart 8's DLC tracks, The Legend of Zelda's Hyrule Circuit has racers racing through Hyrule Field before taking a long right turn to a ramp, which takes them over Hyrule Castle's moat. From there, a left turn leads into the castle itself, where hitting three switches will reveal a shortcut instead of requiring the player to drive around the centerpiece of the castle. Racing out of the castle, race participants speed through a short town section before swerving through a valley full of Keese and Deku Babas. Finally, a quick ramp leads to the finish line, successfully taking racers through a quick tour of Hyrule, a race that makes me smile from beginning to end.

1) Wild Woods

This track, Wild Woods, takes racers through a treetop village and the forest canopy along giant tree branches serving as the track, alongside wooden platforms. Shy Guys seem to make their home here, most notably in the portion of track where players glide over a large chasm as Shy Guys swing overhead. Wild Woods is such a sight to behold, and I absolutely love the ambiance it presents players. The design is top-notch, too, offering tricky turns, an opportunity for a shortcut at the homestretch, and a fun water chute that leads to a pond with lily pads sporting boost strips on them. It's such an original track in both design and composition, making it my favorite of the sixteen new tracks that are a part of the Mario Kart 8 DLC.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Top Ten Kart Racing Games (2015 Edition)

With several new kart racers out since the 2013 list of top kart racing games, it seemed like an opportune chance to build a new, updated list of the kart racers that I deem the best of the big bunch. These games have great track design, tight controls, and all the options one would expect of great games in the genre.

You may notice that neither Super Mario Kart or Mario Kart 64 are on this version of the list. Both suffer from the same problem, an obvious case of rubber-band AI, which is immediately apparent when the AI's speed goes to impossible heights just to catch up to the player. This is easily seen on the Rainbow Road track on Mario Kart 64 if you take the shortcut that allows you to skip essentially half the track. The AI will catch up to you within a lap's time.

With that said, I hope you enjoy this second round of the Top Ten Kart Racing Games of all time.

10) ModNation Racers: Road Trip (Vita)

This might be an "out there" choice, especially as so few people have played it, what, with it being on the PlayStation Vita and all. However, ModNation Racers: Road Trip made the series that started on the PS3 even better with greater track design and the ability to create much more extravagant tracks of your own with much more ease. That was thanks to the touch controls of the Vita hardware. Furthermore, item balance was genuinely well done, thanks to the ability to use boost energy, made from drifting, to shield yourself from offensive attacks. It's one of my most played Vita games due to the fun racing and even more fun track creator.

9) Mario Kart: Super Circuit (GBA)

The first handheld entry in the Mario Kart series, Mario Kart: Super Circuit not only contained 16 new colorful tracks, but one could unlock all of the tracks from Super Mario Kart to make for an impressive amount of great tracks to put the pedal to the metal on. The game introduced the now well known ranking system that scores players on their skillful racing, and many times, good luck. It was a game that was more balanced and fully featured when compared to Super Mario Kart, and actually featured fairer AI to battle against for the first place trophy.

8) Mario Kart 7 (3DS)

The latest portable entry in the Mario Kart series is Mario Kart 7, and it didn't go as item-heavy as its predecessor, Mario Kart Wii did. While Mario Kart 7 lowered the racer count back to a less exciting eight, the game was a more balanced one because of it. Sure, later CC races would have more than their fair share of blue shells for first place to worry about, but for the most part, Mario Kart 7 was a far better entry than Wii. It featured some now-classic races and brought back several favorite tracks in retro cup form, such as Coconut Mall, Airship Fortress, Dino Dino Jungle, and more. Online communities were a step up from past Mario Kart online attempts, allowing friends to join specifically designed cups made by other players with a whole set of options.

7) Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (GCN)

Mario Karts prior to Mario Kart: Double Dash!! were pretty iterative, only offering newer tracks. Well, to be fair, going into full 3D with Mario Kart 64 was quite notable, but the basic mechanics and foundation were the same. Double Dash!! shook things up greatly with having two Mushroom Kingdom characters per vehicle, offering 16 new, colorful and creative tracks, multiple characters and vehicles to choose from, character-exclusive items like Bowser's big shell, and an awesome All-Cup that had racers taking on all 16 tracks of the game in a row. The GameCube saw many iterations of Nintendo's franchises that disappointed, but I'm of the mindset that Mario Kart: Double Dash!! was not one of them!

6) Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (Multi)

Sonic and friends return for a racing romp with the inelegantly titled Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. The game offered an immense amount of modes to players, from classic Grand Prix to a mode where players participated in races, challenges, and other tests of skill to unlock new challenges and racers. The reason I rate Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed lower than its predecessor is that this game featured more glitches and bugs than the original, as well some frustrating track design (i.e. instances where the direction to go is not abundantly clear, making some races very irritating) and lame character choices (I'm looking at you, Wreck-It-Ralph and Ms. Danica Patrick). However, there is no question that All-Stars Racing Transformed was and still is a fantastic kart racer that is more akin to arcade classics than say, a Mario Kart.

5) Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing (Multi)

Containing a wide array of classic SEGA all-stars, such as Sonic (of course), Billy Hatcher, Beat from Jet Set Radio, Samba (of Samba de Amigo fame), Aiai from Super Monkey Ball, and plenty more-- even some very old school selections, Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing featured brilliantly designed courses with plenty of killer shortcuts. The amount of love poured into the game was definitely apparent through every orifice. Using points to buy new courses, characters, and music was something that kept players going in their quest to unlock everything the game had to offer, and it was the preferred way I enjoyed of unlocking content than what the sequel provided. Trying all 30+ challenges in the game's Mission mode was also a blast. While not featuring all the little presentation flourishes that All-Stars Racing Transformed had, I still enjoy the original Sonic & SEGA the best when the two are compared.

4) Crash Team Racing (PS1)

Before feeling it was above cartoony games, Naughty Dog developed some very good games for the original PlayStation and its successor, the PS2. One of these for the PS1 was taking the characters from its Crash Bandicoot games and placing them into a kart racing game, very much inspired by Diddy Kong Racing's Adventure mode. The end result proved that Naughty Dog got exactly what made the genre and Diddy Kong Racing by extension successful, as it created an engrossing kart racers with excellent designed tracks filled with killer shortcuts, tight controls, balanced items, and loads of fun. Perhaps the only gripe I can give to Crash Team Racing is that the game's music fails to captivate as much as the rest of the package.

3) Mario Kart DS (DS)

My favorite handheld racer is Mario Kart DS. Sure, now you can't participate in online races via Nintendo's Wi-Fi Connection, but at the same, no more looking at player emblems that resemble or are blatantly dongs. Instead, the game still features plenty of content to make it worthy of playing even if you can't do online anymore. Mario Kart DS was the game that introduced the retro cup tracks into the fold, offering 16 tracks from past Mario Kart titles. Additionally, DS was the first game in the series to possess a Mission mode, where players engaged in challenges such as driving through numbered gates, collecting coins, and battling bosses in arenas. Mario Kart DS was recently released on the Wii U Virtual Console, allowing a whole new generation to try the most complete handheld entry in the series to date.

2) Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)

By itself, Mario Kart 8 is a competent package with some of the most ingeniously designed tracks in kart racing history, thanks to the most part by the all-new anti-gravity sections, turning Mario Kart 8's tracks reminiscent of F-Zero in some regards. Although the battle mode isn't up to the standards made by previous games in the series, what makes Mario Kart 8 shine the most is in its post-release content. We've seen 16 more tracks added to the game, and while these do cost money, the value is amazing as the tracks are just as smartly made as the base game. The recent addition of the 200 cc has made it so Mario Kart 8 is faster than ever before, making the game feel like a totally different beast. It is all of these reasons why Mario Kart 8 is now my favorite entry in the series and my pick for the second best kart racing game.

1) Diddy Kong Racing (N64)

The original Nintendo 64 version of Diddy Kong Racing reigns supreme in my book as best kart racer of all time, almost two decades after its initial release. The game still contains the most complete kart racing package combined with incredibly tight and responsive controls. There were three main vehicles to play as across dozens of lovely and dynamic tracks, an immensely innovative and creative Adventure mode that made for much greater longevity than other games in its genre, and it featured a resoundingly remarkable soundtrack and presentation. Diddy Kong Racing changed how I looked at kart racers, and it constantly returning to it I realize just how special this creation from the minds at Rare really was and really is.

Honorable Mentions:

Super Mario Kart
Mario Kart Wii
MySims Racing
LittleBigPlanet Karting
ModNation Racers

Monday, May 4, 2015

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs - May the 4th Be With You Edition

It's May the 4th, and it's a Star Wars holiday! Get it, because "may the force/fourth be with you"? Don't worry if you still don't get it, because all you really have to do is enjoy these five VGMs. Celebrating this special Star Wars day is a theme from Star Wars: Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II to kick things off. Then we move to Rayman Legends to give us some orchestral goodness. Next up, there are two forest themes, one from NES cult classic Whomp 'Em and one from Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster's Hidden Treasure. Finally, we end this session of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs with a track from Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Battle 22. It's a VGM edition that is both modern, retro, and everything in between! As always, just click on the VGM title to get transported magically to the YouTube link!

v866. Star Wars: Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II (GCN) - Main Theme

One of a wide amount of original themes from Star Wars: Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II to accompany the works of John Williams, the Main Theme of the game gets players set to go on a galactic campaign across numerous planets and star systems to take down the evil Empire. The third game in the series, Rebel Strike, would have the entire campaign of the second game available for cooperative play. One of the better deals in gaming, if I do say so myself!

v867. Rayman Legends (Multi) - Babel Tower

Essentially released on every major platform under the sun within the past three years, Rayman Legends offers a terrific soundtrack to go along with its amazing platforming and presentation. Christophe Héral is the man behind this particular theme, borrowing melodic phrases from some well known orchestral themes, but making for a track that feels wholly original at the same token.

v868. Whomp 'Em (NES) - Forest Stage Music

Whomp 'Em was a game inspired by Mega Man that starred a Native American character who used close range attacks rather than long range ones like Mega Man used. Players could choose which order they tackled levels in, and they would receive new abilities upon beating bosses. As the unofficial title of the song would lead you to believe, this theme is played during the forest stage of Whomp 'Em. It's quite the catchy 8-bit theme, no?

v869. Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster's Hidden Treasure (GEN) - Forest

We move from one forest stage to another with Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster's Hidden Treasure, which was designed much like Super Mario World with its world map, secret exits leading to new levels, and more. It remains one of my favorite overlooked Genesis titles due to its high challenge, great level design, and superb soundtrack, as shown with this example.

v870. Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Battle 22 (PS1) - Hikari no Will Power Theme

This theme is Trunks' from Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Battle 22, one of the hundreds of fighting games based off of the Dragon Ball Z anime. Unlike Dragon Ball GT: Final Bout, Ultimate Battle 22 featured 2D sprites rather than 3D polygonal models. It made for a look that was more faithful to the art style of the anime and manga.