Friday, October 23, 2015

Top Ten 2D Platformers on the Nintendo 3DS

To say that the platformer is a popular genre on Nintendo systems currently, whether the Nintendo 3DS or the Wii U, would be an understatement. With today's top ten list, we will focus on the former, the 3DS and its wide array of 2D platformers. These are what SuperPhillip Central considers the absolute pinnacle of the genre, usually focusing on raw gameplay over anything else. Of course, that's not the only consideration. After you've perused this list, why not share your own thoughts on the best 2D platformers the Nintendo 3DS system has to offer?

10) Shinobi

To kick off this list, I have a challenging game that fits with this long-running series' old school roots. Although the graphics and story are not much to write home on a ninja scroll sent by carrier pigeon about, Shinobi's most recent offering delivers tremendous action, a high difficulty, enjoyable ninja platforming, and intense missions full of dangerous jumps, impossible odds, and fearsome foes. While Shinobi on Nintendo 3DS doesn't reach the same highs as past installments of this classic Sega franchise, it does deliver an engaging ride from beginning to end.

9) Yoshi's New Island

The art style of Yoshi's New Island isn't the most beautiful out there in still photos, but in action, the animation and colorful characters really stand out and are quite pretty. That's but the outer coating of this child-friendly platformer starring everyone's favorite ride-able companion to Mario. Yoshi's New Island may not be anywhere near as good as the SNES original (oh, you certainly know how to sell people on a game, Phil!), but few games can actually compete against the original Yoshi's Island anyway. What New Island does offer are well crafted levels filled with items to collect, a breezier difficulty (except for the ultra-hard special stages), and just in general a nicely designed game.

8) Azure Striker Gunvolt

Ever since Mega Man as a series has gone missing in action, other developers have attempted to fill the hole that the Blue Bomber has left in gaming. One developer that has done an admirable and highly satisfying job of filling that hole is Inti Creates and their 3DS eShop game Azure Striker Gunvolt. Those looking for fast-paced action, plenty of challenging levels and boss confrontations, and an jaw-dropping collection of sprites and backgrounds will definitely find something to love about Azure Striker Gunvolt. It makes waiting for the sequel in the latter half of next year all the more unbearable for fans of the game like SuperPhillip Central.

7) Gunman Clive 2

Bertil Hörberg is but one man, one developer, one creative mind... but he managed to create quite the 3DS eShop game with Gunman Clive, offering a short but replayable run and gun Wild Western platformer. His sequel, Gunman Clive 2 offers even more in the way of gameplay variety, fun run and gun action, and this time, more than just a few colors. The adventure may be over within an hour's time, but with the addition of extra playable characters and just the pure joy of playing the game multiple times, Gunman Clive 2 is an inexpensive and quite wonderful 2D action platformer with some inspiration from games like Mega Man and even Donkey Kong Country.

6) Cave Story

We now turn our attention to a game that has seen more than its fair share of ports and re-releases, Cave Story. The Nintendo 3DS has even seen multiple releases of Cave Story-- even a retail version, Cave Story 3D. However, the original is still the game that shines the brightest, giving players a Metroid-style progression system, tight platforming, fun level design, great action, and charming characters both hero and villain. While Cave Story is a tried and true, well-known quality, you've probably already played this game to death, thus why it isn't at a higher place on this list. Don't worry, though, SuperPhillip Central still loves you, Cave Story! More than you will ever know!

5) Chibi-Robo!: Zip Lash

SuperPhillip Central didn't dislike this game as so many reviewers seemed to have. Instead, the big gripes like spinning a wheel to determine the level you'd go to next were easily remedied by either using coins to buy panels for the wheel to ensure a proper spin or just timing the press of the button to stop the wheel at your desired level (which was all too easy to do). Anyway, Chibi-Robo!: Zip Lash offers a unique hook, our hero's ability to use his plug as a whip to defeat enemies, grab walls and pull himself across pits and to higher platforms, and collect helpful items and other collectibles. The level design is teeming with creativity through and through, and it made for a charming little 2D platformer that brought a lot of fun to the table.

4) Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D

Monster Games handled the port for the 3DS version of Retro Studios' wonderful Donkey Kong Country Returns, which originally released on the Wii in 2010. This port is delightful, offering a halved frame-rate when compared to the original game, but what is added more than makes up for it. Eight bonus levels at the end of the game are included, offering the same level of polish and creativity as Retro's own levels from the original game. Optional helper items allow less than gifted platforming fans to enjoy the game and give them a greater probability of seeing more of the game. Plus, there are no more motion controls to worry about. What hasn't changed is the magnificent level design, the great feel of playing as Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong, and the cleverly hidden secrets and adventure that await players.

3) Kirby: Triple Deluxe

If you're a fan of Kirby, then you probably already have beaten Triple Deluxe multiple times now. You know doubt enjoyed the experience as well, as Kirby: Triple Deluxe is one of the better 2D Kirby games out there, which is high praise, as there have seldom been bad Kirby games. A weak title like Squeak Squad on the DS isn't even bad. Anyway, being able to inhale huge swaths of enemies and objects, playing with new powers like the Bell Kirby and Beam Kirby, and having levels that featured 3D depth with enemies and obstacles shooting from the background to the foreground all make Kirby: Triple Deluxe a delightful entry in the long-running franchise and worthy of playing, even if you don't wholeheartedly love Nintendo's pink puffball.

2) New Super Mario Bros. 2

A good amount of players might look at a game like New Super Mario Bros. 2 and immediately come to the conclusion that the game is a cash-in. However, SuperPhillip Central sees the game for what it is, a game with wonderful level design and controls that is held back by its art design and music. Still, gameplay trumps all, and it's here that New Super Mario Bros. 2 shines like Golden Mario. It amazes me that Nintendo's young team worked on the level design for this game. What that shows is that Nintendo is in quite capable hands long after the old guard of developers retire and no longer contribute to the company. Thus, I see New Super Mario Bros. 2 in a brighter light than many do, but at the same time, it's just a damned fun game to play!

1) Shovel Knight

Yacht Club Games, the developer of Shovel Knight, has seen a lot of well earned and deserved success for its release. The new, free DLC starring Specter Knight adds even more value to this incredible retro-inspired 2D platformer. Nearly everything about Shovel Knight is so well managed, from its sensational level design, full of compelling reasons to explore every nook and cranny, the tightness of the controls that make you just feel so good playing as Shovel Knight, and the presentation brings forth glorious old school goodness in both sights and sounds. Shovel Knight is a marvelously executed indie game, and it shows that you don't need a big budget to deliver a great, impacting game. All you need is creativity, putting gameplay before everything else, and oh yeah, a good Kickstarter!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash - Overview Trailer (Wii U)

Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash is less than a month away, and we haven't received too much info about the game. That is until now. Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash for the Wii U will feature the ability to play online, turn off chance shots for more traditional tennis action, and allow for amiibo use for cooperative doubles play. Mario Tennis's latest outing hits the Wii U on November 20.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Momonga Pinball Adventures (Wii U eShop) Review

SuperPhillip Central has a special review for this Friday of a game that recently released. Until then, though, let's keep our minds focused on the present (no matter how much Back to the Future Day would tell you differently) with a review of Momonga Pinball Adventures, a spirited take on the pinball game.

Take flight, little momonga!

Pinball has always been a bane to my existence. I was never good at keeping that marble ball from falling through those two flippers. While others were pinball wizards, I was more like a pinball novice in training. That said, there have been some video game versions of pinball that have kept my attention and have allowed me to enjoy them, such as Kirby's Pinball Land, Pokemon Pinball, and Zen Pinball, to name a few. Momonga Pinball Adventures from Paladin Studios is now a new title to add to that impressive list of games, although it's an experience that is marred by some sizable issues.

You play the role of Momo, a flying squirrel known as a momonga, whose village has been assaulted by a rampaging pack of sinister owls. All of his friends and family members were taken from the village, but luckily, Momo encountered a panda who rescued him from the owl onslaught. The panda soon prepares Momo for the journey ahead with a lesson in pinball.

Momonga Pinball Adventures features the prospect of enjoying a journey filled with pinball levels. However, you quickly realize the journey will be short-lived, as there are but twelve stages within the game, and a fourth of those are little mini-game levels. Thus, Momonga Pinball Adventures can be beaten within an hour's time. That said, what levels there are are generally well designed and feature plenty of interactive areas both obvious and hidden.

Hit this target to lower the bridge,
allowing Momo access to the next portion of this level.
To combat a short-lived experience, the developers at Paladin Studios have added challenges to each level of the game. There are five in each level, and these range from simple tasks like just clearing the level to more complicated tasks like clearing a level in a set amount of time, collecting all of the stars in a level, breaking a specific number of obstacles, and clearing a stage with a limited number of hits. These challenges are enjoyable, but you can't clear them except in a linear order. Plus, there is the fact that you must play the same level at least five times to clear all five objectives, as you can't complete more than one in the same run.

This early challenge requires the player to hit Momo into
all three targets with only four shots of the flippers.
Therefore, you have an issue here where players who just want to beat the game will not get their money's worth through the one hour of play time required, and players who want to complete all of the challenges might become too bored by the repetition required through playing the same stages over and over again. For me, I found that the levels were short enough that playing them multiple times was entertaining enough, and it made me slowly get better with practice. This required practice from replaying levels makes it so you can tackle the harder challenges within Momonga Pinball Adventures.

This level features plenty of hidden shortcuts and chambers
for the adventuring type in all of us.
The first goal of each level is to simply reach the end, and this is through hitting Momo with various pinball flippers to the top of each room. Many levels feature enemies and obstacles that wish nothing more than to stand in Momo's way and cause him trouble. Momo has three hearts to work with, and falling through the hole between the flippers crosses off one from his count. Lose them all, and you have to restart the level from the very beginning. The pinball physics are immensely precise and feel great. One of the little messages that plays during the loading screens says that one level in Momonga Pinball Adventures generally took the developers one month to make. You can tell, as the physics are practically perfect. You will always lose because you failed-- not the game's physics.

Sometimes your hands will be full with two characters to worry about.
Speaking of failures, though, Momonga Pinball Adventures does suffer from some technical issues. I've encountered three occasions in my two hour playtime where my Wii U locked up, requiring me to unplug my system. Also, there are some audio glitches as well to consider that rarely but do pop up occasionally. That said, it says something about this game that despite these issues, I couldn't wait to return to playing the game, even when it froze in the middle of one of my better runs.

Momonga Pinball Adventures is truly a fun game, but it depends upon if you can handle the repetition from replaying levels to complete the different objectives each level has. The online leaderboards and the game's achievements to complete also add to the longevity of this otherwise very brief game. If you're looking for an atypical pinball game with adventure elements to its credit, Momonga Pinball Adventures should be on your must-watch and maybe your must-play list, too.

[SPC Says: C]

Review copy provided by Paladin Studios.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Top Ten NES Games

The NES celebrated its thirtieth anniversary in North America this past Sunday. This means that in ten years, the NES will start dating younger consoles like the PS2 because of its midlife crisis. It also means that SuperPhillip Central is here with a special top ten list, detailing the best games of Nintendo's first home console. There were a lot of games to scan through to compile this list, so no doubt some of your favorites aren't covered. That's just a testament to how great the NES library truly was. Now, without further ado, here's the list.

10) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project

While Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game got a lot more hype due to it being a port of the ultra-popular arcade game, The Manhattan Project is preferred due to it being a wholly new game with interesting levels and environments, cooler action sequences such as boarding along the ocean waves, and a host of characters from the cartoon series that would make their only appearance in a TMNT game, such as Dirtbag and Groundchuck. Truth be told, SuperPhillip Central might be a little biased with this first top ten pick considering its love of the heroes in a half shell and beat-em-ups...

9) Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!

The fun of many NES games was continually seeing game over screens, but through doing so you increased your progress each time until you finally got to the end. Endings and credits sequences were earned in the NES generation, and a myriad of games put your finger-fu skills to the test. That first time you beat a game after many days, or maybe even months of practice, blood, sweat, and tears makes up for all the time you put into a game. Mike Tyson's Punch-Out! was one of these types of games, offering a charming collection of national stereotypes to learn their attack patterns, when to dodge, when to thrust your fist into them, and how to knock them out.

8) DuckTales

Bless ye bagpipes with this unforgettable licensed gem from Capcom. The first DuckTales game on the NES was an embarrassment of riches so great that even Scrooge McDuck would be envious. With a choice of five levels full of treasure, jewels, and loot, multiple pathways, hidden rooms, and terrifying enemies, DuckTales' secret to success isn't much of a secret anymore. A very good remake of the game arrived a few years ago, but nothing can compare to the original for being an important part of many gamers' childhood.

7) Metroid

Players joined Samus Aran on her first mission on the planet Zebes, earning new abilities and weapons to reach deeper into the maze of rooms the planet possessed. Sure, the prospect of drawing your own maps to remember locations of items and simply how to get around the labyrinthine complex of hallways and chambers may seem archaic nowadays, but at the time it was like you were exploring an alien planet all on your own. That was the point of Metroid, and it succeeded and still does succeed at making you feel all alone and isolated as you journey through planet Zebes.

6) Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse

This next game is just in time for Halloween! Playing as an ancestor to Simon Belmont, players assumed the role of Trevor as he entered the dark hallways and sinister chambers of Dracula's castle. With a nonlinear structure, players can choose their route to Dracula through a series of branching paths, consisting of 15 total levels. With refinements over past games like better controls, the aforementioned nonlinear level structure, and help from assist characters, Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse is a marked improvement over its predecessors without a doubt, and it stands as one of the best games the NES has to offer.

5) Kirby's Adventure

The previous Kirby games were very short-lived affairs that provided plenty of replay value and fun to be worth going through more than once. The pink puffball's premiere title on the NES, Kirby's Adventure, provided not only color and a decently sized campaign, but it also was composed of levels with plenty of hidden goodies in them for completionists to enjoy. What it all boils down to is a game where Kirby could inhale enemies, take their powers, and obliterate King Dedede's forces with ease.

4) Mega Man 2

The first Mega Man game to come with the traditional eight Robot Masters, delivering memorable levels and accompanying boss battles, Mega Man 2 is often stated to be the best of the classic series. While SuperPhillip Central disagrees (although just slightly), you can't argue that Mega Man 2 isn't a superb entry in the Blue Bomber's illustrious gaming history, offering tight controls, wonderful environments, top-notch level design, and an ultra-catchy soundtrack.

3) Mega Man 3

It was hard to ascertain which Mega Man game out of 2 and 3 SuperPhillip Central would choose as the best, but after some thinking and deep soul-searching, it was concluded that Mega Man 3 was the better of the two most popular entries in the classic series. Keiji Inafune might have said that development for Mega Man 3 was rough, but you can't tell that with how good the game plays and how highly competent the level design is. The length of Mega Man 3 is a bit longer than its predecessors, and it doesn't feature a lame Dr. Wily boss battle like the one requiring the Crush Bomb.

2) The Legend of Zelda

"It's dangerous to go alone. Take this!" ...And thus, a franchise was born as a green-hatted hero picked up a sword from an elderly man. Growing up without the help of a map, The Legend of Zelda was like getting lost in a fantastical world full of danger but also mystery and intrigue as well. Never before had players seen such freedom in a game, and the Zelda series itself would never see such freedom again either. Coming across dungeons, solving puzzles, acquiring new items, and defeating savage beasts of enemies were all memorable experiences for players. The Legend of Zelda remains a sensational entry in the Zelda franchise, and it remains a terrific, timeless title.

1) Super Mario Bros. 3

It might seem blasphemous to not include the game that helped save the video game industry on a list of the best NES games, but there are so many other titles that outshine the original Super Mario Bros. However, its second sequel, Super Mario Bros. 3, lets no other game takes it spotlight. The game was a masterful work of ingenious level design, tight controls that felt just right, and imaginative worlds with a load of creative enemies and obstacles to occupy them. This was one game where I'd feel bad about skipping levels with a trick--in this case, the Warp Whistle-- because that meant I'd miss out on multiple engaging and entertaining ideas Super Mario Bros. 3 would deliver to me as a player. It's for all of these reasons why Super Mario Bros. 3 is SuperPhillip Central's top NES game.

Monday, October 19, 2015

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs - Post-Season VGM Edition

Major League Baseball is deep within its post-season with dramatic upsets, dramatic at-bats, dramatic strikeouts, and dramatic home runs. SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs are getting into the baseball spirit with five completely unrelated VGM volumes. That's dedication!

This week, SuperPhillip Central presents music from a wide range of games, as how this usually goes. We kick things off with Panzer Dragoon, go to a South Korean-made MMORPG with Ragnarok Online, go retro with Donkey Kong Land, go chill with Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective, and cap things off with an early Halloween treat from Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem.

Checking out past VGM volumes from a WIDE selection of games is as easy as heading to the VGM Database. There are lots of musical selections from lots of games to enjoy.

v986. Panzer Dragoon (SAT) - Flight

This symphonic delight named Flight comes from Panzer Dragoon, a Sega Saturn classic that brought with it on-rails flight combat similar to something like the majority of levels in Star Fox 64. A sequel would appear on the Xbox called Panzer Dragoon Orta, which would have the original Panzer Dragoon as a bonus game.

v987. Ragnarok Online (PC) - Peaceful Forest

The Japanese aren't the only ones in Asia who can deliver a masterful fantasy MMORPG. In fact, so can South Korea with this Korean MMORPG with some of the most delightful music heard in such a game. Peaceful Forest is a relaxing tune boosted by its wonderful piano. Hopefully through listening to this song, you'll find yourself wanting to hear other tracks in this game.

v988. Donkey Kong Land (GB) - Kremlantis

The Donkey Kong Country franchise isn't the only one with very nice music. Okay, "very nice" might be pushing it considering the Game Boy sound chip isn't the best. However, Dave Wise's compositions are just as structurally sound as evidenced with this track from Donkey Kong Land, Kremlantis.

v989. Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective (DS) - Jowd ~ A Captive of Fate

How about something nice and chill for VGM volume 989? Okay, you're pulling my arm! Here it is! It's a song from Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective, Jowd ~ A Captive of Fate. Ghost Trick would arrive on iOS with a port. However, future iOS updates made the game incompatible and recently taken off the App Store. Hope you didn't delete the game from your phone, or you'll never get to play it again on it!

v990. Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem (GCN) - Gateway to Destiny

Halloween is a couple of weeks away, but that doesn't mean SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs can't delve into some spooky and Gothic goodness prior. This choir-filled theme for the epic final boss battle of Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem delivers thrills and chills as you take on the last enemy between you and the ending of the game.