Saturday, June 13, 2015

Check Out SuperPhillip Central's Newest Affiliate, Gaming Reinvented!

It's always fun to network with other sites of similar stature, and this one is special as it's from a regular commenter on SuperPhillip Central, CM30. Don't think I'm playing favorites, though, as the site he is part of, Gaming Reinvented, is of high quality. That's why I agreed to affiliate with them! If you're looking for gaming news that has a strong Nintendo focus, Gaming Reinvented could be a nice new Internet travel destination for you!

Check it out here!

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Top 50 Game Soundtracks of All Time - #40-31

Welcome to week two of the Top 50 Game Soundtracks of All Time, as chosen by yours truly. There are but two rules for games to be listed here: 1) They have to be from games I've played, and 2) They can't be made up of licensed music.

Journey with me through soundtrack selections 40 through 31 with this second part of my look at what I consider some of the greatest game soundtracks of all time!

Check out entries #50-41 here.

40) Fire Emblem: Awakening (3DS)

We start this week with a game that could have been the final Fire Emblem game in a while had the game sold poorly. It's Fire Emblem: Awakening on the Nintendo 3DS, and it delivers sensational symphonic sounds perfect for both the various battlefields and emotional moments of the game. From choir-central themes to majestic melodies, Awakening has it all.

39) F-Zero X (N64)

Taro Bando provided the hard rock and heavy metal themes to the first fully 3D F-Zero game, F-Zero X for the Nintendo 64. Whether you're listening to remixes of classic F-Zero themes like Mute City and Big Blue or entirely new compositions such as Silence and the Staff Roll, F-Zero X's music is sure to energize and raise one's adrenaline as they take to each track's numerous twists and turns.

38) Star Ocean: Till the End of Time (PS2)

Motoi Sakuraba sometimes doesn't give it his all when doing a soundtrack, but when he does, the emotions and feelings that empower one while they're playing a game featuring one of his compositions are tremendous. Star Ocean's third outing is one of these, offering immensely spectacular dungeon, town, and battle themes.

37) Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS1)

Nostalgia can be a funny thing at times, but nostalgia isn't why Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is listed on my list of favorite soundtracks. The composition quality is masterful, and the sounds of the instruments used makes for a sometimes rocking, sometimes haunting, always wonderful soundtrack.

36) Sonic Generations (PS3, 360, PC)

The first of many Sonic the Hedgehog soundtracks to grace this list of favorite gaming soundtracks, Sonic Generations is a combination of old school and new school Sonic the Hedgehog, offering a robust lineup of retro themes made modern. It was the 20th anniversary game for the Sonic the Hedgehog series, and unlike many past installments, it was worthy of the classic Sonic lineage and legacy!

35) Sonic: Lost World (Wii U)

The first Sonic the Hedgehog game to hit the Wii U wasn't the most remarkable game-- it had its numerous problems. However, one thing that was near perfect was the soundtrack for the game in question, Sonic: Lost World. Featuring a wondrous mix of melodic marvels, grand orchestral themes, and locale-inspired tracks, Sonic: Lost World was a product of Tomoya Ohtani, one of the greatest names when it comes to video game composition.

34) Katamari Damacy (PS2)

If you're looking for an eccentric soundtrack, look no further than the Katamari Damacy one. With a wide range of musical styles, even mishmashes of ones, Katamari Damacy provides listeners a journey of musical mayhem that will most likely have them beaming from ear to ear as they roll up objects and people to please the King of All Cosmos.

33) Sonic Colors (Wii)

Sonic, you're taking up a lot of the list entries this week! That's okay, though, as the SEGA Sound Team is comprised of the some of the best video game music composers in the entire industry. Sonic Colors continues the tradition of quality Sonic the Hedgehog soundtracks with orchestral delights, heavy rock influences, and modern pop eccentricities.

32) Mega Man X2 (SNES)

Let's get retro for a moment, huh? Mega Man X2 features a rock-centric soundtrack that caters to the game's more hardcore sensibilities when compared to the classic Mega Man series. All of the Maverick stages contain catchy and memorable themes to make playing through them repeated times a pure joy (well, the excellent gameplay and level design also assist in this). What you end up with is one of Capcom's grander 16-bit soundtracks available.

31) Star Fox Assault (GCN)

I'm a huge fan of orchestral scores, so when I first heard very familiar melodies from Star Fox 64 get the orchestral treatment, I was in soundtrack heaven. The new compositions to accompany the grander older ones are just as fantastic, creating one of the Nintendo GameCube's most fabulous soundtracks. It makes me eager to hear what the Wii U game will offer sound-wise.

Yoshi's Woolly World (Wii U) It's so fluffy! Trailer

Nintendo of Europe has unveiled an all-new trailer for the upcoming release Yoshi's Woolly World. The game hits Europe and Oceania in a couple of weeks, but North Americans will have to wait until at least the fall according to Nintendo of America. With trailers such as this, it makes the wait for the game especially hard!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Street Fighter V (PS4) Battle System Trailer

Capcom unveiled a trailer earlier today showcasing four characters and some battle system information for Street Fighter V. As someone who poor at fighting games, I wonder why I'm still so hyped towards this game. Maybe it's just memories of being "okay" at Street Fighter II's myriad releases. Street Fighter V is due out in early 2016.

7 E3 2015 Announcements That Would Have Me Hyped Like Crazy

E3 2015 is approaching like a speed demon. Next week will be like Christmas for gamers, where all the biggest announcements from the big three-- Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft-- as well as third-parties and indie developers will be made and games will be showcased. It takes very little to get me excited, as I just love all things gaming pretty much, but these seven dream games/announcements would make me flopping around on the floor with excitement like a fish without air. Okay, maybe I could have used a more pleasant simile, but you get the picture!

- A new Diddy Kong Racing

A rumor exists on the Internet that a project, either developed or co-developed by Retro Studios and Monster Games, are hard at work at a new Diddy Kong Racing, featuring Nintendo's lesser known characters as racers. This rumor dates back to last year, and it has recently popped up this week due to Nintendo of Europe filing a trademark for "Diddy Kong", and Diddy Kong being absent from Mario Kart 8's roster. While someone might just be playing with my heartstrings, Diddy Kong Racing is my favorite kart racer of all time, and I jump at any chance to believe that a new entry is being made.

- A new Metroid

Nintendo's Shinya Takahashi, a man who runs one of Nintendo's development division, stated last year that there are plans to build a future for both 2D and 3D Metroid. Could it be that many months after Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Retro Studios' last release, had its development finished (about 18 months ago) that they could be working on a new Metroid? Whether or not it's a dual release like in 2002 with the GameCube's Metroid Prime and the Game Boy Advance's Metroid Fusion releasing on the same day with a new 2D and 3D Metroid releasing simultaneously, one for Wii U and one for 3DS, I just want a new Metroid!

- LEGO City Undercover 2

This is one that probably won't happen at all, due to the fact that WB Games has LEGO Jurassic World releasing this week, LEGO Avengers releasing late this year as well as LEGO Dimensions, all for Wii U. It seems way too packed with LEGO releases to do a fourth game this year. However, LEGO Undercover continues to be my favorite in the series, and I would love a return to the Grand Theft Auto-lite world with Chase McCain, Frank Honey, and all the lovable characters that exist inside. The game remains one of my favorites on the Wii U, and a sequel would send me hooting and hollering like the Nintendo 64 kid.

- Sly Cooper 5

With a movie set to release next year, I believe, it would make sense for a movie tie-in game similar to what Insomniac Games is doing with Ratchet & Clank. Considering there was a huge cliffhanger at the end of Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, I'd love to find out what actually happens with regards to Mr. Cooper. It would also give me yet another reason to purchase a PlayStation 4, as colorful platformers are hard to find on anything but Nintendo systems, and 3D platformers are even rarer.

- Rare's new game being Banjo-Kazooie... or Jet Force Gemini... or Perfect Dark

Basically, if it's a franchise from its Nintendo days, I'm most likely interested in it seeing a sequel by this iteration of the Rare team. Heck, I adored Perfect Dark Zero, despite it not being fit to be in the same sentence as its predecessor. I know there's rumors that Battletoads, a true blast from the past, might be Rare's next game, or at least from another Microsoft-owned company similar to Killer Instinct. However, nothing gives me more excitement than seeing a franchise from my most nostalgic gaming period-- the N64 generation-- given a current generation entry.

- Sonic the Hedgehog's 25th anniversary game

Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice was announced prior to E3, and that might be all we're getting from SEGA this year when it concerns the Blue Blur (besides the next Mario & Sonic Olympics entry). That's fine with me, as next year will be Sonic the Hedgehog's 25th anniversary. It makes sense that Sonic Team would want to release a new game to capitalize on that occasion. However, I don't think it's too soon to reveal the actual project, whether a sneak peak or teaser, to Sonic's fans at this year's E3.

- Rayman's return

I generally don't watch third-party E3 conferences, but that may be changing with EA's and Ubisoft's this year. While I couldn't care less about the umpteenth entry in the Assassin's Creed franchise, any word on a Watch Dogs sequel, or the return of Sam Fisher, what would excite me would be a new entry in the Rayman franchise. Rayman Origins and Rayman Legends are two of the best 2D platformers I've ever played, so a third HD entry would have my head in the clouds, dreaming of nabbing Lums and rescuing Electoons. If you haven't guessed by now, my favorite types of games are fantastical cartoon-like concoctions.


What announcements from this year's E3 would make you go bananas? Let me know in the comments section below!

Adventures of Pip (Wii U eShop) Review

SuperPhillip Central continues its push towards its 600th review with Adventures of Pip, a newly released game for the Wii U eShop and Steam. I'll be covering the Wii U eShop version with my review. See why you should definitely think about checking this newly released game out!

A game I love to bits

The Wii U is in no shortage of 2D platformers, whether they come from Nintendo (Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and New Super Mario Bros. U), third-parties (Ubisoft's Rayman Legends), or independent developers on the eShop (Shovel Knight, Stealth Inc. 2). It takes something special to differentiate your 2D platformer from the crowd, and it's usually through creating a unique hook in the gameplay. Tic Toc Games's Adventures of Pip has this hook, and it isn't just there as a gimmick either. It hugely impacts the gameplay, creating one of the better platformers on the eShop and one of the better game on the Wii U in general.

The main gameplay mechanic of Adventures of Pip that sets it apart from other 2D platformers is Pip's ability to switch between forms. A total of three forms are available, having Pip switch between a mere pixel, an ultra lightweight form that allows him to glide in the air and slowly drift to the ground, as well as ride on wind tunnels; an 8-bit form that grants Pip the ability to run fast, wall jump, and even plant himself on walls; and a 16-bit form, which is slower and heavier than the other forms, but can unleash a sword strike to destroy certain blocks.

8-bit Pip is a fast runner and great jumper.
(He's a gosh darn showoff.)
In order to switch between forms, Pip needs to defeat special crystallized enemies. Each enemy defeated will "evolve" Pip to a higher bit form. Meanwhile, switching to a lower bit form has you holding a button and unleashing a special aura that can destroy enemies as well as pink blocks.

On many occasions, especially later in the game, you'll be switching between these three forms one after another to perform feats of platforming awesomeness. Those crystallized enemies I was talking about are placed in apt locations to keep the flow of switching between pixel and bit forms feeling natural and nary requiring annoying backtracking.

There are 36 levels within Adventures of Pip, spanning five worlds. Each level consists of its own platforming challenges, whether it's riding stone blocks across rows of spikes, wall jumping to avoid rising lava, or riding along lifts over hazardous bottomless pits. Thankfully, checkpoints are fairly well distributed, so dying doesn't present too much of a punishment to the player.

A sight to behold-- the checkpoint! Oh, how I've missed you!
Every level in the game houses three hidden villagers to find and collect. This is completely optional, but it stretches the longevity of Adventures of Pip greatly. There are some that will take lots of experimenting to find, as the game loves hidden alcoves and fake walls. Usually these have environmental hints to their locations, but others require pushing up against every wall in hopes of that being the one housing the hidden villager.

Each final level in the game's five worlds consists of a boss battle. These require Pip to change between forms to attack bosses when their guard is down and defend against boss attacks. These are mostly three hit affairs, and while that's the cliche, the bosses themselves are anything but. Some really creative designs and patterns are implemented to keep the battles engaging no matter if it's your first time fighting them or the seventh.

Bah! Where's a can of Raid when you need it?
Bosses drop extra hearts to add to Pip's health, similar to The Legend of Zelda's heart containers. You can also return to the town at the start of the world map to purchase extra hearts, helpful items, and bonus abilities from the two shopkeepers there. The currency of Adventures of Pip is that of pixels, which are dropped by defeated enemies and found within countless treasure chests sprinkled throughout the game's levels. Thus, your journey can be a much less hazarouds one-- after all, it is dangerous to go alone.

Adventures of Pip's story has an evil queen turning the kingdom's king and queen from 16-bit form into low-res pixels. It's up to Pip, albeit in modest pixel form as well, to travel the kingdom to defeat the queen in addition to rescuing the princess that the evil queen princess-napped.

All the pretty ones have an attitude problem.
The game itself runs relatively well, but there are sporadic but quick instances of slowdown here and there. The visuals creatively blend multiple eras of gaming graphics together, with 8-bit backgrounds and 16-bit enemies and boss characters. Pip himself animates wonderfully, correctly displaying the characteristics of the eras of bits (8-bit, 16-bit, etc.) his various forms represent. The music by Jake "Virt" Kaufman is a collection of adventurous themes and songs that perfectly fit the areas and environments they are played in. It's a superb soundtrack, overall.

Adventures of Pip's success comes from excellent level design that constantly throws new challenges in the way, slowly getting you comfortable to more difficult trials, and a creative evolution and devolution bit transformation gameplay mechanic. For those who want to go for all 108 villagers, the amount of time you'll spend with the game is well worth the asking price of $15.00. For everyone else, there is still a rewarding game that is worth playing over and over again much like the classics that gamers like myself grew up on.

[SPC Says: A-]

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

All-Star Franchises, Underrated Entries - Part Four

If you've been around SuperPhillip Central for a little while (it's still okay if you haven't, so no harm done), then you know that I like talking about underrated and overlooked games. I've done various series on the subject. However, most of the time, the games mentioned in these articles are from wholly new or overlooked franchises themselves.

There are also a multitude of series that I can think of that have one, two, or a handful of games in it that aren't viewed as highly as the others, whether just or not.

These ideas are where the concept of All-Star Franchises, Underrated Entries comes from, and since part one and part two, and part three, I've come up with six more underrated entries to big-time franchises, some bigger than others.

Metal Gear Solid - Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes (GCN)

Before the names Denis Dyack and Silicon Knights were less than respected, the development team worked on a Nintendo GameCube exclusive, a quick one-off partnership between Nintendo and Konami. The game was none other than Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, a total remake of the very first Metal Gear Solid game that originally released on Sony's PlayStation in 1998. This updated version featured innocuous Nintendo cameos, upgraded graphics, the aiming system from Metal Gear Solid 2, and revamped cutscenes. While the aiming system made for an easier go of things, and the cutscenes took great liberties with what was already an insane story to begin with, The Twin Snakes doesn't get enough love. To me, as someone who finds it hard to play the original Metal Gear Solid, it's a game that is much more modernized and all the better for it.

Resident Evil - Resident Evil Zero (GCN)

Announced a week or so ago to be finally releasing on Sony and Microsoft platforms after over a decade of exclusivity on Nintendo platforms, Resident Evil Zero was a nice experiment from Capcom, offering two characters to switch between. The two could partner together to solve complex puzzles. While Rebecca Chambers could mix herbs together for great healing effects, she took more damage from enemies. Meanwhile, the other half, Billy Coen, had great defense and could push/pull heavy obstacles out of the way. Instead of placing items inside boxes near save locations, Resident Evil Zero had it where players could drop items on the ground, returning to pick them up at a later time. The locations of dropped items would show up on the map. While this caused some unneeded backtracking-- picking up and putting down items-- it was a clever way of changing up the formula. Combine all that with one of the coolest areas in a Resident Evil game, the train, and you have a game that many have missed out due to it currently only being available on the GameCube and later the Wii in Resident Evil Archives form.

Super Mario Bros. - New Super Mario Bros. 2 (3DS)

Many fans and critics give the New Super Mario Bros. series a hard time. It's understandable, as Nintendo really doesn't do much to push the series beyond its safe boundaries. For instance, the visuals have remained safe polygonal models since the NSMB series's inception. One of the least heralded New Super Mario Bros. games is the Nintendo 3DS edition. Its big draw was coin collecting in an obsessive manner. While that central gimmick of the game wasn't much to write home about (isn't that an old colloquialism!), what excited me most about New Super Mario Bros. 2, and why I enjoyed it so much, was that the game was pretty much handled by a team of younger developers. Not only did they exemplify tremendous level design with clever new obstacles and ideas, but the overall game was executed brilliantly. It gives me hope for Nintendo's future when Shigeru Miyamoto and the old guard of Nintendo developers retire, these new developers will be there to easily pick up the slack.

Mario Kart - Mario Kart: Super Circuit (GBA)

I was mulling it around in my mind regarding which Mario Kart game to represent on All-Star Franchises, Underrated Entries. It was between Double Dash!! on the GameCube and Super Circuit on the Game Boy Advance. As is readily apparent, I have selected Mario Kart: Super Circuit as the series's representation. Offering a more robust experience than the Super Nintendo original, Super Circuit brought with it colorful, well designed tracks, much fairer AI than what Super Mario Kart delivered, a wide range of options, a ranking system-- the first implementation of it in the series, and even all of Super Mario Kart's tracks, given a Super Circuit update. When Mario Kart games are mentioned, usually the wholly 3D ones are the games talked about, but we shouldn't forget the abundant quality that Mario Kart: Super Circuit possesses.

Star Wars - Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike (GCN)

Before Factor 5 folded after the unfortunate disaster that was the PlayStation 3's Lair, the studio was known for their impressive tech and even more impressive games, such as the Star Wars: Rogue Squadron series. It started on the Nintendo 64, and its sequel was a launch title for the GameCube. Seeing as the games are still incredibly striking in visuals, it is absolutely amazing to this day what Factor 5 was able to push out of Nintendo's hardware. Regardless, the third game in the Rogue Squadron series, Rebel Strike, doesn't get as much acclaim or fanfare from fans of the series. It is somewhat understandable, as the game introduced love-em-or-hate-em on-foot sections and devoted a moderate portion of the game to outside-of-the-cockpit gameplay. However, I found these missions to be a breath of fresh air. Not only this, but you and a buddy could play the entirety of Rogue Squadron II together, as the game was available (albeit in cooperative form only) on the disc. Now THAT'S value!

Ys - Ys: I & II Chronicles (PC, PSP)

When people think of the Ys series, they most likely think of 3D arenas and dungeons where action-RPG combat is held. However, the first two Ys games that were given a revision are actually overhead 2D affairs where combat was as simple as walking or running up to an enemy. Now, there was some strategy involved-- when to run up to an enemy, what angle, when to dodge an attack-- but it was much more simplistic than what modern Ys games contain. Even the stories were much more basic in both scope and structure. That said, even with their more modest gameplay, both Ys I and Ys II remain classics for good reason: they were and still are excellent RPGs in their own right. Ys I recently released on iOS and Android, perfect for bite-sized adventuring, but if you prefer analog controls, there is no better option than either the PlayStation Portable version or PC.

Ratchet & Clank (PS4) "The Game, Based on the Movie, Based on the Game Trailer" Trailer

Now HERE'S a game that definitely interests me as a PlayStation 4 exclusive, Ratchet & Clank. This revised version of the very first Ratchet & Clank game features a lot of familiar territory and areas for fans of the original PS2 game. However, there's just enough that's new (such as the sexy new visuals) to make for a game that is a must have when it comes out in Spring of 2016!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Top Ten Super Mario Series Songs

It's the thirtieth anniversary of the Super Mario Bros. series this year, and Nintendo will be celebrating with the release of Mario Maker, a Wii U game that encourages the creation of creators' own Mario levels. We're bound to see this title at E3 this year, and it's quite exciting to see what the details of what kinds of levels we're able to create.

To kick off the celebration ahead of time, I've decided to look-- or rather, listen back at some of the Super Mario Bros. series's greatest tunes and compile a list of what I perceive to be the best and most memorable. Feel free to disagree at any time. Just be sure to set me straight in the comments section! To start off this list, why don't I borrow a phrase from Mario himself? "Here we goooooo!"

Note: Click on the names of the songs to listen to them via YouTube.

10) Athletic - Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (GB)

While Star Maze was another pick from this game that is indeed memorable, I find myself drawn more strongly to the more played Athletic theme from Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins. When you hear this tune, you know you're bound for some quick paced, uptempo platforming action. It's a perfect theme that boasts a rather catchy melody and rhythm-- a one-two punch of awesome!

9) Staff Roll - Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)

Super Mario 3D World delivered a soundtrack that was greatly comprised of big band tracks. No one was greater than the Staff Roll theme, playing above the credits of the game. You got the main theme of the game given a dynamic rendition, an adorable Bowser Theme interlude, and then the reprise of the main theme, creating a super catchy and bombastic end to a grand adventure.

8) Final Bowser Battle - Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)

To utilize an overused word on the Internet, Super Mario Galaxy 2's final boss was made all the more epic with this choir-infused final boss theme. Although the actual battle was quite easy and on the short side, a bad thing if you wanted to listen to this theme for an extended amount of time in-game, this theme lends itself to the boisterous environment in which the battle with Bowser takes place, making it my favorite final boss theme from the Super Mario series.

7) Athletic - Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)

A terrific tune to perform feats of platforming prowess to, Super Mario Bros. 3's Athletic shows that with some simple rhythms and catchy melodies, Koji Kondo certainly knows how to craft some highly memorable tunes that truly stand the test of time. Whether you're sliding down hills, taking out Goombas along the way, or riding lift platforms in the air, Super Mario Bros. 3's Athletic theme is there to accompany you.

6) Delfino Plaza - Super Mario Sunshine (GCN)

Celebrate the coming of summer with this tropical delight. Like a fresh, crisp, and delicious tonic on a warm summer's day, Super Mario Sunshine's Delfino Plaza delights the senses and syncs perfectly with the setting. It made what was a sensational hub world for Super Mario Sunshine all the greater with this guitar-heavy beauty from the tremendous Koji Kondo.

5) Dire, Dire Docks - Super Mario 64 (N64)

A much more moody and mellow track compared to past themes we've heard so far, Dire, Dire Docks presents players with a moving melody and synth string accompaniment. It's a terrific tune to go swimming in the deep to, plundering pirate ships, tangoing with Unagi the Eel, and exploring caverns to. When the beat picks up, the theme becomes even more superb. Yes, this theme is yet another example of composer Koji Kondo's brilliance.

4) Main Theme - Super Mario World (SNES)

A theme so nice in Super Mario World that the melody is heard throughout nearly every song in the game. Whether you're hearing a foreboding version as you enter a Koopa Kid's fortress, listening to a haunting iteration inside a ghost house, hearing a slow paced waltz underwater, or having your ears pick up on a fast paced athletic version, the main theme of Super Mario World is so good that you won't get tired of hearing it no matter what type of level you're platforming in.

3) Gusty Garden Galaxy - Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)

Upon entering this colorful and windy galaxy, your ears are delighted with this uptempo and upbeat orchestral wonder by Mahito Yokota. It pretty much serves as one of the main themes to the Super Mario Galaxy duo of games, and its melody is so popular that it has appeared in a multitude of spin-offs and future entries in the Super Mario series of games. Now, the Gusty Garden Galaxy theme sits on the same shelf of classic Mario tunes as Super Mario World's main theme and many others.

2) Bob-Omb Battlefield - Super Mario 64 (N64)

Played in many outdoor levels in Super Mario 64 as well as serving as the main theme of the game, Bob-Omb Battlefield is a jazzy little ditty supported by a nice "doo-doo" synth voice and synth brass as well. Whenever I hear this theme I can't help but picture myself controlling Mario through a colorful 3D world, scaling trees, punching Goombas, gathering red coins, blasting Mario out of cannons, and avoiding black balls rolling down the path to King Bob-Omb.

1) Main Theme - Super Mario Bros. (NES)

What else could it be but the main theme of not just Super Mario Bros. but the entire series? Through countless appearances in hundreds of games in normal or remixed form, the main theme of Super Mario Bros. is one of, if not the, most memorable theme in gaming. It might sound simplistic nowadays, but its simplicity is one of its greatest strengths. It's easy to remember and as soon as you hear those opening notes, you know what you're in for-- an awesome adventure with Mario and the gang!

Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice (3DS) Announcement Trailer

I didn't overly dislike Sanzaru Games's first go around with Sonic the Hedgehog and friends on the Nintendo 3DS. That's why I have some hope that the newly announced second entry to the handheld series, Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice, will turn out even better. It certainly has some interesting ideas to it, and I'm very open to give the game a fair shake when it releases this holiday season. What do you guys and gals think of this debut trailer for Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice?

Monday, June 8, 2015

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs - Nintendo & SEGA All-Stars Edition

E3 is next week, and I'm doing my best to not think about it, as that just generates excitement within me and a sense of uneasiness. I'm very hyped, as it's essentially gamers' Christmas. I have to keep my mind off of it so the days don't pass so slowly. Thus, SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs are here to distract me if only for a brief moment. This week SuperPhillip Central is dedicating this edition to music from Nintendo and SEGA games.

I have stuff from the newly released Splatoon, and more Wii U heavy hitters in the form of Super Mario 3D World and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. Finally, SEGA brings us home with music from Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz and Sonic Runners, our first iOS game on the old VGMs! Get ready for some truly catchy music!

v891. Splatoon (Wii U) - Splattack!

The first VGM volume for this Nintendo and SEGA-centric edition of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs is from Splatoon, a hotly anticipated third-person shooter that released a couple of weeks ago on the Wii U. Online lobbies are packed with players, covering arenas with their team's paint, splatting helpless victims along the way. Here's to Splatoon being a commercial success worldwide!

v892. Super Mario 3D World (Wii U) - Super Bell Hill

Super Bell Hill is essentially one of the main themes of the brilliant Super Mario 3D World. It is introduced to the player during the first level of the game, appropriately titled Super Bell Hill. Fancy that. Super Mario 3D World upped the ante of Super Mario 3D Land's design, creating a highly memorable and engaging 3D Mario that played like a wonderful mix between 2D and 3D Mario games.

v893. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (Wii U) - Grassland Groove

A level that feels straight out of The Lion King, Grassland Groove is one of my favorite levels from the Donkey Kong Country series, whether Rareware-developed or Retro Studios-developed. With E3 fast approaching, I am hopeful that we'll get a taste, no matter how big or small, of Retro Studios's next project!

v894. Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz (Wii) - Jumble Jungle

The music of Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz is some of the Wii's best. It's delightfully catchy, has terrific melodies, great beats, and tremendous rhythms. While the actual game isn't the best, due to the implementation of motion controls and jumping, both not the most accurate when trying to control your monkey in a ball, at least the soundtrack is fantastic.

v895. Sonic Runners (iOS) - Main Theme - Windy Hill Zone

It's been 894 VGM volumes before we've had an iOS game represented on SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs. This changes with volume 895's Sonic Runners's Main Theme - Windy Hill Zone. This remarkable rock theme blends guitars with piano to create a delightful and uptempo theme.

Mega Man Legacy Collection (PS4, XONE, PC, 3DS) Debut Trailer

An unexpected collection, Mega Man Legacy Collection was announced this morning by Capcom, a collection of Mega Man's 8-bit NES exploits. The PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC versions will release this summer while the Nintendo 3DS version will release later this winter. Here's hoping this is the start of Mega Man's grand return to gaming!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Splatoon (Wii U) Review

SuperPhillip Central is about ten reviews away from number 600. Do you think it'll hit it this month? Well, I'm wasting no time regardless. Today, I have a rare weekend review, and this one is of a highly anticipated Wii U third-person shooter. I never thought I'd type that sentence out! It's Splatoon from Nintendo for the Wii U!

An ink-credible new IP from Nintendo, but not without problems.

While Nintendo does provide unique IP, it usually doesn't do so with a major retail release. Nintendo also doesn't usually tackle certain genres outside of its usual suspects. That is until now with the Wii U's Splatoon. Judging by the quality of the game, I think Nintendo should definitely lend its hand to more nontraditional genres as Splatoon is an absurdly creative take on the third-person shooter genre, offering superb controls, addicting gameplay, and a tremendous feel.

Splatoon has you playing as both a kid and a squid. As a kid inkling, you use a weapon, whether a gun, a roller, or a sniper rifle-like charger, for instance, to try to not only cover the ground and walls with paint, but also unleash paint onto foes to eliminate them. Splatoon's main mode is Turf Wars, where two teams of four players each vie to cover the ground of the map with as much paint of their own color as possible. At the end of the three minute match, the team whose paint covers the most ground of the map wins. Three minutes is a perfect time period for each match, because if you are getting creamed in the current match, it is over before pretty fast. 

Who knew battle could be such a work of art?
As stated, you play Splatoon as both a kid inkling and a squid. When you're a squid, you enter into your team color's paint, skimming the surface of it, and being much faster than if you were running around as a kid. You can even climb up painted walls as a squid to reach new heights. You also need to enter into your side's paint to refill ink. Both running around as an inkling and skimming the surface as a squid have a terrific feel to them. It's certainly a joy to play as both, switching between the two as the battle situation commands. 

The other team is about to feel very blue soon,
and I'm not talking about being down in the dumps.
The GamePad is used to great effect, displaying an overhead view of the map to help you see where your team needs to start painting, defending, and attacking. You can also tap player positions to quickly launch to their location. This eliminates unwanted downtime between being splatted (i.e. K.O.'d) and returning to the action. That said, you have to be careful when you decide to launch to a teammate's location, as unless you have a specific perk equipped, the enemy can see where you're going to land. You could be arriving in a total ambush.

Currently, Splatoon offers non-ranked play and ranked versus. Both feature two maps at a time that the game randomly chooses between. Every three hours, the selection of maps changes. Each time you boot up the game, you arrive at Inkopolis Plaza, where Callie and Marie (get it?) introduce which duo of maps will be played on for ranked and non-ranked battles. This can be tedious at times where you just want to enter the solo mode of Splatoon, yet have to read the dialogue, albeit usually funny, between Callie and Marie's introductions of the maps for online multiplayer.

Inkopolis Plaza is where players you've met will populate the plaza.
When you decide to play online, you have the choice of entering a random online room or joining up with a friend and entering their room. If the room is full, the game presents a timer that shows when the current game is about to end, and when someone exits the room, you'll have a place there. Despite being able to join a friend on your Wii U friends list, whether or not you're on their team is purely up to chance. As of now, there is no party system-- that will come with a summer update. Instead, each match randomly changes who is on whose team, which is a bit of a letdown. 

Another oddity with the online of Splatoon is the current lack of matchmaking. It makes it so you might find yourself battling against a team with ranks of 19 and 20 while your inklings are much lower in comparison. This is especially evident in the ranked Splat Zones, a King-of-the-hill style mode where the goal is to capture and hold onto a section of the map by splatting it with enough of your team's paint. As an area is captured, a 100 second counter starts counting down. The first team to have the counter hit zero or have it at its lowest amount when five minutes expire is deemed the winner. 

Here's one more issue with Splatoon's online. This is most noticeable in ranked Splat Zones-- the lack of any type of voice chat. In normal non-ranked battles, voice chat isn't totally necessary, as one can look at the GamePad screen to see where parts of the match map require attention, either needing to be painted or needing to be defended from the other team. However, Splat Zones requires a greater amount of communication, as to have the whole team attack a splat zone at once. Since there's no way to communicate this, Splat Zones matches simply turn into total chaos with no sense of real teamwork, a very big shame as the mode has so much potential. 

Like a car without traction on an icy road,
the purple team has lost control.
When a match concludes, you earn battle points that accumulate, allowing you to increase your rank. You also earn cash to purchase new gear. At Inkopolis Plaza, the hub of Splatoon, you can enter into one of four unique shops to spend the cash you earned through matches. There are shops for clothing, headgear, footwear, and weapons. Each gear offers its own perks, such as damage up, defense up, more ink storage, faster squid movement speed, and even things like a ninja squid perk which makes you completely undetectable when submerged in ink. Thus, not only do you get gear to stay fresh and fashionable, but also for battle bonuses. As you continue to wear a piece of gear, eventually secondary perks are added to your gear. While these aren't as strong as the primary perk, they are indeed helpful to have.

You're looking mad fresh already!
Weapons come in a wide amount of varieties, from the fast ground-covering ability of the paint roller, which is a close range weapon, to the sniper rifle-like charger, that needs a quick moment to charge up before it can be properly fired. Each weapon has its own pros and cons in both painting and battle situations. While it's easy to cover a lot of ground in your team's colored paint with the paint roller, you're also pretty much in trouble if a person with a long-range weapon spots you from faraway. 

Great for close range assaults, the paint roller can
cover up a lot of ground quite quickly.
Each weapon in Splatoon comes with a sub and special weapon. For secondary weapons, there are things like splat bombs that when they explode, cover a wide blast area in paint; proximity mines that hide under the surface, ready to blow an inkling or squid to kingdom come; the sprinkler, a device that can be attached to a surface, wall, or ceiling that sprays an area with paint; and many more. Special weapons can only be used when the special meter is full, performed by painting either bare ground or enemy paint in your team's color of paint. These include temporary shields with the Bubbler, giant tornadoes of paint with the Inkstrike, multiple splat bombs to throw one after the other with the Bomb Rush, among others.

The sub weapon Splash Wall blocks enemy paint attacks like so.
While Splatoon is heavily online-focused, there is also a 25+ mission single-player mode called Hero Mode to not only unlock some worthwhile content, but also play through some ridiculously clever and well designed levels to build your skills. The Great Zapfish has been captured from Inkopolis Plaza by the Octarians, a militant force bent on eliminating the Inklings. You travel to Octo Valley, the hub of Hero Mode, and enter steam kettles, serving as entrances to levels. 

Each level's goal is to rescue the Zapfish from captivity through playing through linear levels, launching from huge platform structures, similar to the planetoids in Super Mario Galaxy, each with their own mechanics, set of enemies, and obstacles. The story mode continually introduces new concepts to keep levels feeling fresh, whether it's creative platforming or light puzzles. Each level focuses on a single level concept, such as gushers that launch you into the air as they gush out paint, inkrails that allow your inkling to travel on them when they are sprayed, and platforms that move when you spray their propellers. There are even arena skirmishes that pit you against Octolings in combat. These are the weakest levels of the single-player mode, as they're just the online multiplayer's maps with a single-player twist, but they do show a part of Splatoon that I feel is sorely missing-- the ability to play with bots. 

Do you enemies mind? I have a Great Zapfish to rescue.
Regardless, the handful of boss battles that are sprinkled throughout Splatoon's Hero Mode shines greatly with super creative ways to take down the bosses that come in all shapes and sizes. They're not just bosses that focus on you strong-arming them to surrender; they require some thought to defeat as they are a bit like puzzles themselves. 

On the whole, Splatoon's Hero Mode lasted me about 6-7 hours of gameplay time. This including collecting each level's hidden Sunken Scroll that reveals some of the history and background of the Inklings and Octarians. I would love an even more robust and lengthy single-player mode for a sequel, as beating the relatively short Hero Mode in Splatoon left me feverishly wanting more. Sure, using an Amiibo in Inkopolis Plaza allows you to replay these missions with different weapons for an added challenge, but it's really not the same. Plus, it's sort of slimy to hide content of any type behind hard-to-find figurines, which basically unlocks on-disc downloadable content.

Splatoon ends up being a fantastic online multiplayer shooter, but its current lack of true matchmaking or party invites makes it a bit of an uneven and sometimes frustrating experience. The lack of interesting local multiplayer (a balloon popping mode with one other player does not an interesting local multiplayer mode make) hurts a little, and the lack of bots even if just to replace disconnecting players online hurts a lot. That said, for all that is wrong with the experience, Splatoon is still an amazing game to play. The feeling of switching between a humanoid Inkling and a speeding squid is phenomenal, the concept as a whole is spectacular, the sounds and sights of splatting other players and covering floors and walls are tremendous, and the single-player mode will leave you begging for more. It's not a perfect introduction for Splatoon to players, but it's pretty ink-credible all the same.

[SPC Says: B]