Friday, October 16, 2015

The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes (3DS) Costumes Trailer

With Halloween approaching, it makes sense to have a game coming out that focuses heavily on different and creative costumes. That's exactly what you get with The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes, due out in North America in exactly one week. Check out this costume-themed trailer from Nintendo UK below.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Chibi-Robo!: Zip Lash (3DS) Review

We continue this month with a new 2D platformer. Those aren't scarce on Nintendo systems by any means, but it's a fun genre all the same. This time it's Chibi-Robo's turn to star in one with Chibi-Robo!: Zip Lash!

Zip it. Zip it good.

Chibi-Robo! is a franchise that is quite under-served, not just by gamers and consumers, but also a bit by Nintendo. His first game appeared on the GameCube, and it was a cult classic, although sales were less than stellar. Despite this, Nintendo continued with the series, though putting the chrome dome hero onto the Nintendo DS, which in North America was exclusive to Walmart stores of all places. Following that was a Photo Finder game on the Nintendo 3DS, which didn't feel up to snuff by any stretch of the imagination. Now, with what seems to be Chibi-Robo's final chance in the spotlight, he arrives in retail form on the 3DS with Chibi-Robo!: Zip Lash. Even if Nintendo unplugs the franchise and titular character, at least it's with a game that is actually quite good.

Swing it around, then bring this foe down!
Chibi-Robo!: Zip Lash may seem like a typical 2D platformer, but the mechanics make the game quite more interesting than the average game. Fans of the series known of our chrome dome hero's plug that is attached to his rear. Not only can he plug into outlets to restore watts (the lifeblood of Chibi-Robo-- if he has no watts left to use, it's game over), but he can use it to attack enemies by lashing it at them, he can use it to grab items, and he can hook onto orange tiles and pull himself up ledges or through otherwise impossible-to-pass areas.

Grab and pull yourself to these orange tiles with Chibi-Robo's whip.
With the eponymous Zip Lash technique, you can use Chibi-Robo to have his plug reach further distances. Collecting red and blue orbs makes his Zip Lash move reach farther out. Levels are specifically designed to take advantage of the fact that Chibi begins each one with the minimum Zip Lash distance. Otherwise you'd be able to skip huge parts of levels if the Zip Lash amount was cumulative. Having a large range with Chibi-Robo's Zip Lash technique allows him to throw it into walls, having it bank off them at an angle to reach out-of-the-way objects, items, enemies, and orange tiles.

Aim your Zip Lash to bank it off this wall to reach this orange tile.
Then you can pull yourself across these two chasms.
There is an ample amount of checkpoints in each level of Chibi-Robo!: Zip Lash, allowing players both skilled and beginner to enjoy the game. Falling into a chasm results in returning to the last passed checkpoint while running out of batteries through enemy hits, falling into holes, and just the general passage of time means you have to restart the level from the beginning. Two items can be purchased from our hero's Chibi House: one restores an empty battery while the other propels Chibi-Robo out of holes he has fallen into.

Careful, Chibi-Robo-- water and electronics don't mix!
There are six main worlds in Chibi-Robo!: Zip Lash, and each consists of six levels. The way about selecting a level is an overly gimmicky manner, the Destination Wheel. After beating the first level of a world, you get up to three spins on the Wheel that decides how many levels you move past. For instance, if you roll a three and you're on level 1-6, you'll skip levels 1-1, 1-2, and go to 1-3, as the level selection is a circle itself. Now, you can easily buy panels to place on the Destination Wheel to put the odds better in your favor, but it's also incredibly easy to get the spin you want. All you need to do is press the stop button as soon as the Wheel is on top of the number of levels you want to move, so if the Wheel is on "1" when you stop the Wheel, it'll usually end up landing on "1".

That said, since it's so easy to cheese the Wheel into giving you the correct level you want (I personally made it my goal to play the levels in order, so I always spun a "1"), what is even the point of the Destination Wheel in the first place, other than just to annoy some players? Getting stuck playing a level you've already completed because of a bad spin is not innovative. It's just stupid.

Levels in Chibi-Robo!: Zip Lash feature a wide variety of different mechanics in them. Each level generally uses one concept which is slowly but surely expanded, starting out simple and ending with something more complex and/or challenging. From using the power of a fire outlet to set Chibi-Robo on fire to rush through levels, melting metal blocks, to racing on conveyor belts and slippery icy floors, Zip Lash has plenty of variety to keep players coming back for more.

Nothing like a fling in the forest to recharge one's batteries!
Oh, metaphorically speaking, of course.
Most levels follow traditional 2D platformer fare, but one level in each world is a vehicle-based level. These put Chibi-Robo in control (or lack thereof as it can feel at times) of one of three vehicles such as a rocket powered skateboard or a hot air balloon and charge him with avoiding enemies while keeping his quickly depleting battery power charged. The controls for the hot air balloon take some getting used to, and later vehicle stages become a real challenge. However, it's never unmanageable, and dare I say, I enjoyed these sections for the spice of variety they gave.

Each level comes with a selection of collectibles to go after for more proficient players. These include three star coins, three Chibi-Tot robots that wish for Chibi-Robo to catch them (if he can), and several snacks, usually found in bonus rooms and inside treasure chests. Finding these is very rewarding, as it shows off the creativity and cleverness of the level design-- much more than if you just run through a level to just reach the end.

Chibi-Robo's globetrotting adventure takes him
to places, well, (since he's so tiny) big and bigger!
The snacks in Zip Lash are real world candies, pretzels, crackers, and potato chips from all around the world. When one of these is properly delivered to one of the six toy characters in the game, information about these are given. Despite Zip Lash lacking dialogue for the most part, the sections where the toys offer their wisdom are some very funny or at least very cute exchanges, showing the Nintendo Treehouse localization team know their stuff and can tickle some funny bones.

Why does this game have to make me so hungry?
Returning to levels is not only recommended for getting loose collectibles, but a lost alien will be loose in some area (except in vehicle levels, of course). Taking this alien and placing it inside its UFO will allow you the chance of earning a new costume. Maybe you can even unlock some Nintendo-related ones! While you can interact with users on Miiverse to piece together parts of codes to unlock new costumes, all of the codes are available online on, say, a message board, so you can simply input them in Chibi-Robo's house's computer, rescue and return the alien to its UFO, and get a costume without all the fuss of figuring out what the codes are for yourself (or hoping you luck out and get a costume by pure chance through the natural method).

Hmm, Chibi-Robo... you certainly remind me of someone.
When all six levels of a world have been completed, it's time to take on a boss! These encounters start off innocently enough, but then they really utilize Zip Lash's mechanics in some truly remarkable and clever ways. You'll anchor Chibi-Robo to an orange tile just to avoid being sucked up an alien spacecraft, for instance. The boss battles are a lot of fun and add even more value to this incredible 2D platforming offering.

And a "howdy-do" to you, too, Robo-Roo!
Chibi-Robo!: Zip Lash offers some lovely sights and sounds. The visuals are all 3D, and they look really nice with the 3D slider up. However, on some occasions there is an inexplicable frame-rate dip here and there, usually in rooms with a lot of enemies at once. On the sound side, the music is suitably catchy for the most part, offering synth instruments and lovely arrangements.

I'm at a loss for words as to why Chibi-Robo!: Zip Lash is receiving such a... well... backlash from some. It's a highly original and competent 2D platformer with wonderful level design, plenty of content to keep players coming back for more, and charming characters, both good and "evil". Things like the fact that 2D platformers are no stranger to Nintendo platforms, some of the vehicle sections, and that darned Destination Wheel do detract from the delightful quality of the game, but overall, Chibi-Robo!: Zip Lash does indeed lash, zip, and whip it good.

[SPC Says: B] 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Q.U.B.E.: Director's Cut (PS4, XONE, PS3, Wii U eShop) Review

Two reviews in one day? That's not as uncommon a concept as you might think. What is a more uncommon concept is a first-person puzzle game. Obviously we're all aware of the big guy on campus, Portal, but what about Q.U.B.E.: Director's Cut? That's the next game SuperPhillip Central will be putting its selective focus on. Here's my review.

Fun and puzzles3 

The concept of the puzzle is nothing new to gaming. However, the puzzle game itself hasn't seen as much use in the past decade... that is until independent developers started to bring it back and in big ways. Q.U.B.E.: Director's Cut is one such game that is all puzzles all the time, but the novelty here is that it's all done in a first-person view with an engaging narrative. See why Q.U.B.E.: Director's Cut is definitely a title you should look into.

Q.U.B.E.: Director's Cut doesn't hand-hold like so many games nowadays seem to enjoy doing. No, it thrusts players right into the thick of things, offering new concepts at a slow but steady pace that are introduced in clever ways. Never will you find yourself having to learn two concepts at once. It's deliberately designed so you are taught one thing, and then the game puts that concept into different scenarios until you're fully aware on what is needed to be done when you see it again and how you can utilize it in various ways. You become cognizant of what that concept/aspect of the game is all about.

The fun of Q.U.B.E.: Director's Cut teaching you how to play is that you get a sense of great accomplishment for figuring out what the game expects of you to do. You get that wonderful feeling of feeling smart (or in my case, feeling smarter than I am) when you solve a puzzle after tinkering around with it for several minutes, ever inching closer to the proper solution.

You have but three inputs as your unnamed character in the game. You can extend and contract objects and certain blocks without touching them with your hand, and you can jump. That's it, and that's all you need as the puzzles in Q.U.B.E.: Director's Cut unsurprisingly enough all have to do with different colored cubes and how you interact with them. 

A nice, laid out stairway for yours truly? I'm too kind.
There are red blocks that are introduced first, which you can extend up to three times and contract with presses of both the back left and back right shoulder buttons. Then blue blocks come in, which can be pressed down, and when you walk across them or an object moves on top of them, they launch whatever is on top of them upward. A trio of yellow blocks serve as steps. Whichever of the three blocks you interact with serves as the longest of the three blocks in the makeshift staircase of blocks. Finally, there are green blocks and balls that can't be interacted with by your character directly, but they can be pushed and maneuvered by other block types. 

Later puzzles involve a combination of all of these block types, as well as rotating walls that spin on your command. Then there are balls that must roll through specific invisible, colored cubes in order to change color and reach a same colored hole. These puzzles were the most fun for me because they didn't just require a thought process to figure out how to solve them, but they also required precise timing to complete. 

With proper timing, you can have the ball change course
by using the rotatable wall to move it to one side of the room.
Other puzzles include a giant maze like those tilt and tumble handheld games where you try to get an iron ball into the right hole by moving around the game. In Q.U.B.E., you interact with buttons on each side of the maze to make it tilt, moving the green ball inside every which direction as you guide it to the desired hole in the labyrinth. This was another enjoyable puzzle to do that required thinking and timing.

Having but three control prompts makes for a simplistic game, and that's one of Q.U.B.E.: Director's Cut's strengths. The simplicity goes into the minimalist visuals, where white cubes of different shades are the primary visual seen. The use of red, blue, and yellow against the white makes for colors that pop out well to the eye. This simple art style also allows the game to run at a steady frame-rate.

The simplicity even continues with the narrative Q.U.B.E.: Director's Cut possesses. You wake up as an amnesiac inside some sort of cubed area. A female astronaut contacts you, informing you that you're inside a structure that, like an asteroid, is careening towards the earth. The only way to stop it is for you to continue through the structure's many chambers and puzzle-like rooms. However, it isn't long before you as the player start questioning the astronaut's motives, as a male voice tells you that she's lying and that you're deep underground like a rat in a maze. Although the narrative is one that is intriguing, the ultimate truth isn't as rewarding as you might expect, which is disappointing.

Well, we're certainly not at the bowling alley!
Furthermore, Q.U.B.E.: Director's Cut suffers a bit when you're tasked with doing some first-person platforming. The jumping isn't wholly precise, meaning that in some puzzles where some sense of vertical-ness is involved, you can fall quite easily. This results in you having to do the puzzle all over again. Secondly, for those who want the option to reverse the controls of the Y-axis for looking around, this option is not there, unfortunately. 

Still, Q.U.B.E.: Director's Cut is a wonderful change of pace, as there aren't many games like it (or at all) on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Wii U. If you fear the 2-3 hour main campaign won't last you long, never fear. There are also timed challenges to tackle in several of the game's other modes. Q.U.B.E.: Director's Cut delights with its plenty of puzzles delivering many challenges for your brain and fingers as well as many "Aha" moments. 

[SPC Says: B-]

Review copy provided by Grip Digital s.r.o.

Toto Temple Deluxe (PS4, XONE, Wii U eShop) Review

Goats. Did you know that having a goat in your game automatically gives it an increased grade from SuperPhillip Central? Okay, that's not true, but having a goat definitely won't be a reason to deduct points from a review on SuperPhillip Central. Instead, there are other reasons why I wasn't 100% thrilled with Toto Temple Deluxe, the next game that we see a review for on SuperPhillip Central.

King of the Goat

King of the hill is a popular mode in a lot of multiplayer games, so what happens when you decide to build a game completely off that mode? You get Toto Temple Deluxe, a multiplayer delight from Juicy Beast Studio that delivers a lot of entertainment as long as you have friends to play it with. If not, then you better look elsewhere for your goat-grabbing fun.

In Toto Temple Deluxe, there are three unique gameplay modes to choose from: Classic, Bomb, and Target Challenge. In the first mode, you and up to three other opponents double jump and dash your way to the goat resting comfortably in the center of one of eight maps. (Note: Three of these need to be unlocked.)

Make sure this goat gets got.
When you have control of the goat, it's your job to try to stay away from other opponents who want nothing more than to dash into you, thus relinquishing your control of the goat and giving them control. As the goat is held by an opponent or yourself, points are gained for the person or team with control of the goat. The player or team that reaches a specific point total wins overall.

Bomb mode is a different take on Classic. Instead of a goat that you bully by not leaving it alone when all it wants to do is rest and graze, you dash into a bomb, picking it up. If you hold onto the bomb long enough, it will explode, making any player that gets caught in the blast radius lose and exit the game as ghosts. Of course, like with the goat, you can be dashed into. Thus, having the bomb taken away from you, and restarting the bomb's countdown in the process.

Break a leg (and those blocks) to get that goat!
The latter mode, Target Challenge, is unlike the preceding two modes, as it's only available for one to two players. This mode is essentially to practice your goat-herding skills and allows you access to trying out the controls before you play competitively through breaking targets to get a high score.

Regardless of playing competitively or not, Toto Temple Deluxe doesn't have much in the way of longevity. Sure, you can unlock new cameos from other indie games to replace the goat as you go through normal play and try to unlock the final three maps in the game, but other than that, there's not a lot to keep players playing. The main culprit to this is the total lack of online. Now, I understand with a smaller indie developer this might not be achievable in a realistic way, but the lack of online is still disappointing and would have made Toto Temple Deluxe immensely more re-playable.

Oh, if only you had online multiplayer, Toto Temple Deluxe...
Furthermore, the entire user interface of Toto Temple Deluxe is rather confusing. Instead of simply moving from mode to mode with a cursor or with the d-pad, you're forced to use your character to dash into buttons to make your choices, from modes to what character you want to play as and what map you want to play on. It's needlessly complicated and an issue with the game.

Toto Temple Deluxe can be enjoyable, but it all depends upon if you have the people to play it with. If you have friends or family to play with, Toto Temple Deluxe can be a lot of simple fun. If you're a solo player, you're better off getting your entertainment from goats from that one early herding mini-game from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.

[SPC Says: C]

Review copy provided by Juicy Beast Studio.

Monday, October 12, 2015

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs - Indie-genous People's Day Edition

It's Columbus Day in the United States, but rather than celebrate a total scumbag of a human being that the U.S. celebrates for no other reason than tradition, we'll be celebrating Indigenous People's Day here at SuperPhillip Central. In fact, we'll be celebrating indies this edition of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs.

Such indie games being celebrated this week include the great Shovel Knight, the co-op fun of Castle Crashers, the Sega-like Freedom Planet, the first-person fun of Lovely Planet, and finally, the Metroid-like Guacamelee! If you want to check out past VGM volumes, look no further than the VGM Database. That said, let's get on to the music from games from indie/independent developers!

v981. Shovel Knight (Multi) - In the Halls of the Usurper (Pridemoor Keep)

The theme for King Knight's stage, one of the first players encounter within the critically acclaimed (including by SuperPhillip Central) Shovel Knight, this catchy theme by Jake "Virt" Kaufman and Mega Man composer Manami Matsumae gets you in the mood to run and dig through a golden castle.

v982. Castle Crashers (Multi) - Forest Entrance

Speaking of catchy music, there are none more catchier than Castle Crashers' Forest Entrance theme. Do battle with up to three other friends as you beat foes into oblivion. Castle Crashers is available on Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. Hopefully one day Nintendo systems will get this game, but maybe that's wishful thinking.

v983. Freedom Planet (Wii U eShop, PC) - Relic Maze 2

Freedom Planet is one of Bean and my favorite digital games of the year. It released this month on the Wii U eShop after many months (maybe years?) of waiting. Relic Maze 2 is another memorable ditty from the soundtrack, and it hearkens back to old school platformers, the kind that Freedom Planet is happily and merrily based on.

v984. Lovely Planet (Wii U eShop, PC) - World 1 (Lovely City)

From one planet to another, Lovely Planet is an upcoming Wii U eShop game that has you in first-person mode shooting and dodging targets. The soundtrack is all composed by Calum Bowen, and you can download the soundtrack from his Bandcamp profile. Support the composer!

v985. Guacamelee! (Multi) - Boss Theme

Clap your hands! Wait, you don't have the time to do that when your hands should be pressed against a controller, taking on a big bad boss! Well, at least you can bob your head in time to the music, right? Guacamelee! is a Metroid-styled 2D platformer that has great combat that incorporates the abilities you learn into battle.

The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes (3DS) TV Commercial

It's dangerous to go alone! ...So don't. With The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes for the Nintendo 3DS, you can team up with two fellow Links locally or online to beat bad bosses and conquer perplexing, puzzle-filled dungeons. The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes hits store shelves on October 23.