Wednesday, January 6, 2016

16 in '16: Most Wanted Games

It's a yearly tradition here at SuperPhillip Central for me to list the games that most excite me in the upcoming year. Last year I wrote the 15 games of 2015 that most interested me, and the year before that I wrote up the 14 games of 2014 that enthused me. Here's hoping I'm not still writing this blog in 2040, or I'll have to come up 40 games on a list!

Regardless, many games that were on my 2015 list are on my 2016 list, funnily enough. Let's just hope that most of the games on today's list remain with us in the year 2016 and aren't delayed. From the big consoles to handheld releases, today's list is nice and varied with the big and small releases that 2016 will hopefully see.

Uncharted 4: A Thief's End (PS4)

After being delayed a couple of times, Uncharted 4: A Thief's End is finally set to release this year, April to be exact! Set to be the final entry developed by Naughty Dog, Uncharted 4 will be Nathan Drake's ultimate journey, making for a lot of predictions from fans as to what we'll see. No doubt the excellent gunplay of the past Uncharted games will be making its appearance known, updated and upgraded to great effect. No doubt we'll see the most incredible set pieces, gunplay, battles, and narrative ever seen in an Uncharted game with the increased power of the PS4, and that has me excited beyond words... except for the ones I just typed out.

Ratchet & Clank (PS4)

My favorite PlayStation franchise finally receives a full-fledged adventure, the type of full-fledged Ratchet & Clank game that hasn't been seen since 2009's A Crack in Time. Simply titled Ratchet & Clank, this new game is a reboot of sorts for the franchise, a remake of the original Ratchet & Clank to tie in with the new CG film releasing this year. Looking as great as a Pixar film in graphical quality, Ratchet & Clank is certainly one game that will get me hyped about getting a PlayStation 4 in the future.

Gravity Rush 2 (PS4)

Not much is known yet about this next game, besides being set for release in 2016 sometime. It's the sequel to the PlayStation Vita's Gravity Rush, a game that starred a girl named Kat that could use the powers of gravity to move through the areas of the game. A remastered version has already released of the original game onto the PS4 in Japan, and the West will be receiving it this February. It'll give PS4 owners a chance to see what they missed out on with the original Vita release, as well as get a taste of what's to come with the much awaited sequel.

Final Fantasy XV (PS4, XONE)

This next game takes a much different route than previous Final Fantasy games. Its history is one that span ten years already, formerly known as Final Fantasy Versus XIII. Final Fantasy XV is set to be an open world game that forgoes the traditional turn-based combat the series is known for, instead utilizing a battle system more akin to the Kingdom Hearts series. Vehicle-based exploration is available to explore the immense world size of the game. Here's hoping 2016 is the year that Final Fantasy XV gets released, as a lot of us have been waiting a long time for this game!

Kingdom Hearts III (PS4, XONE)

This might be a fool's errand to hazard the guess or assume that Kingdom Hearts III will be releasing this year, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the game. Kingdom Hearts III takes place after the Nintendo 3DS spin-off Dream Drop Distance, and it will feature a host of returning and new characters. New worlds are planned, such as Rapunzel's Tangled world and a setting from Disney's Big Hero 6. New Attraction Flow moves take famous Disneyland theme park attractions and turns them into special attacks. It's been a long time coming for Kingdom Hearts III, and it's safe to say that fans have been ready for a loooong time for this third numbered entry.

Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness (PS4)

The fifth game in the mainline series, following the PS3 and Xbox 360 game The Last Hope, Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness is due out in March in Japan with a TBA date for Europe and the Americas. This sequel brings the similar action role-playing fun the series is known for into the eighth generation, set on a world thousands of light years away from the planet Earth. Tri-Ace, developer of the series, returns for this sequel, showing that Square Enix is committed to the quality of the Star Ocean franchise. As a huge fan of The Second Story on the original PlayStation and as one who liked Till the End of Time on the PS2, I'm quite thrilled to see this fifth installment happening.

World of Final Fantasy (PS4, Vita)

Take control of twins Lann and Reyne in the wondrous world of Grimoire, full of characters from the Final Fantasy world in chibi form. Meant to be a game for fans of the Final Fantasy franchise as well as younger players, World of Final Fantasy is meant to be modeled after earlier Final Fantasy games. The game utilizes the ATB (Active Time Battle) system of earlier games, and it features characters from various Final Fantasy titles as well. As a dual release on the PlayStation 4 and the Vita, this intended 2016 release excites me as a fan of old school Final Fantasy games. No doubt it excites other Final Fantasy fans as well.

Mirror's Edge Catalyst (PS4, XONE)

Once again we find Faith Connors as the star of this greatly desired sequel to the cult classic Mirror's Edge. This time she's taking on a myriad of corporations taking control of the city of Glass. Along the way, Faith uses her tremendous parkour style to get around areas, stealthily subdue enemies, and jump across large chasms in the city sky. This time around cooperative multiplayer is available as well as a competitive multiplayer mode. Whether you want to play alone or with/against others, Mirror's Edge Catalyst will have something for everyone when it releases in May.

Mighty No. 9 (Multi)

While this next game has received a lot of controversy with how funds with the project have been utilized and how project lead Keiji Inafune has asked for more money over the course of the project. However, I can't say no to a Mega Man spiritual successor that doesn't look bad to me at all. Containing a mix of 2D gameplay and 3D models, Mighty No. 9 is pure fast-paced platforming in a variety of locales and locations. The main gameplay mechanic, hero Beck's dash ability, allows players to rush into foes, scoot across gaps, and much more. After seeing many major delays, Mighty No. 9 finally releases next month. Here's hoping the wait has been worth it.

The Legend of Zelda (Wii U)

Announced several two E3s ago, we have only seen about five minutes of footage for the newest adventure in The Legend of Zelda series. What we do know is that the game will be much more open-world focused than past games in the series. Whether this Wii U exclusive Zelda will remain Wii U exclusive (i.e. released on Nintendo's next system as well as the Wii U) is at this point unknown, but that hasn't stopped people from speculating. Regardless, in whatever form we see the latest Legend of Zelda, history shows that the game will probably be fantastic.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD (Wii U)

(Note: GameCube screen shown.) It's quite surprising to me that Nintendo hasn't done more HD remasters of classic games as a way to pad its lineup on the Wii U. We've seen in the past The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, a marvelous remaster, and now we see The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess receiving the same treatment. What additions this time around will be seen is unknown, but there's plenty to speculate about. It'll be nice returning to Twilight Princess' version of Hyrule when the game releases this March.

Star Fox Zero (Wii U)

The Wii U is winding down, but it has delivered a lot of excellent exclusives in its short life, both retail form and digitally. 2016 may be a slowing down period for the system, but the Wii U isn't totally finished yet. Star Fox Zero looks to bring a lot of the fun of the series to the Wii U with optional two-screen GamePad usage. The game was delayed from its November 20th date to April 2016, and here's hoping this Platinum Games developed title has received even more TLC to make it more impressive than it was early on. If more enemies get added, the excitement will be palpable for me, as that was really my only complaint with past demos and footage. Here's hoping Star Fox's return is a grand one and not just a blip on the radar.

Fire Emblem: Fates (3DS)

Another system that is winding down, the Nintendo 3DS still has a LOT of titles releasing in its twilight years. Fire Emblem: Fates is just one of these, and this strategy RPG is set to deliver intense battles requiring smart strategy, character relationships, and even online multiplayer this go around. With three versions to choose from, each offering a different side to the same story, Fire Emblem: Fates is going to be a game that players will dive into and remain with for a long time.

Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past (3DS)

After more than three years of waiting for a localization announcement, last month Nintendo delivered with the word that Dragon Quest VII would finally be hitting the West. Given the subtitle Fragments of the Forgotten Past, this Nintendo 3DS remake of the original PlayStation game features fabulous 3D worlds, on-screen enemy encounters, and much, much more. This intended summer release seems like the perfect cure for the dog days of summer. Now, excuse me while I catch up on my Dragon Quest by playing the DS remakes!

Final Fantasy Explorers (3DS)

With over a year's wait in tow, Final Fantasy Explorers will finally hit North America and Europe. The game is an action role-playing romp where custom characters can enter one of many job classes based off of early Final Fantasy games. Combat features battles against foes like monsters like Behemoths and Malboros, and summons like Ifrit and Shiva. Both offline and online quests are available, as is local play. I tend to enjoy the spin-offs of the Final Fantasy series more than the mainline games, besides a select amount of examples, so I eagerly await Final Fantasy Explorers when it releases at the end of the month.

Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam (3DS)

Releasing in the middle of the month, Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam puts the worlds of Mario & Luigi and Paper Mario together for one (most likely) very humorous adventure. The team of Mario, Luigi, and Paper Mario venture through colorful worlds, solving puzzles, and use each character's unique abilities to access new areas otherwise inaccessible to the player. Battles continue to contain the timed-button system of past Mario RPGs, making for more involved combat than simply mashing on a button and going through the motions. Note that Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam is already available in Japan and PAL territories, so this game on my list refers to the North America version.

Monday, January 4, 2016

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs - The Final First Edition of 2016 Edition

Can you believe it's already the final first edition of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs of 2016? Time surely flies. Don't worry, though. SuperPhillip Central will continue to deliver VGM goodness to you every Monday all 2016 long! Let's start the new year right with some great video game music!

This year of SuperPhillip Central's  Favorite VGMs starts things off right with music from a wide range of games, from the bright and colorful to the dark and macabre. There's some Darksiders II to start this edition off on the right foot. We then go full mascot with music from Ty the Tasmanian Tiger and Crash Nitro Kart. Following that, we learn the concept of love with Jet Set Radio Future. Finally, MadWorld raps us back home.

If you're still interested in looking back on the past before moving towards the future, check out the VGM Database for all past VGM volumes spotlighted during this segment.

v1046. Darksiders II (Multi) - Guardian Boss

We start this new year of VGMs off with a tense orchestral theme, perfect for a boss encounter. This theme comes from Darksiders II, a game that recently saw a "Deathinitive" edition release on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. I played a lesser version on the Wii U, but overall, if you like an enjoyable mix of God of War-style combo-based combat and Legend of Zelda-esque dungeons, puzzles, and exploration, then Darksiders II might be worth checking out.

v1047. Ty the Tasmanian Tiger (PS2, GCN, XBX) - Bridge on the River Ty

Ty the Tasmanian Tiger was one of the games on my backlog that I went through on my holiday vacation. Going back to that collect-a-thon style platformer was quite a trip, but other than the quality of the game (which was good), the one thing that surprised me most from my time with the game is how nice the soundtrack is. This theme plays during the eponymous level, taking place under a nighttime sky with spiders, cockroaches, and a frog you need to escort to his home.

v1048. Crash Nitro Kart (PS2, GCN, XBX) - Main Menu

My adventure in backlogging stayed around the PlayStation 2 generation of game platforms, as you can see with last month's Review Round-Up. After playing some of Crash Nitro Kart, the Vicarious Visions-developed Crash Team Racing sequel that pretty much takes everything from Naughty Dog's fantastic PS1 racer and just reiterates on it, I see myself really liking the game for what it is. By no means does it surpass Naughty Dog's effort, but it does indeed deserve more praise for getting what Crash Team Racing offered and delivering it well.

v1049. Jet Set Radio Future (XBX) - Concept of Love

When SEGA went third-party after the underachieving Dreamcast, the company released games on all three then-current platforms, the PlayStation 2, the GameCube, and the Xbox. The latter received some of the most striking content from SEGA, games like Shenmue 2, Crazy Taxi 3, and yes, Jet Set Radio Future. With SEGA releasing the original Jet Set Radio digitally, it makes sense to have the hope that the Xbox-only sequel will finally get to be played by more people with a digital release on current gen consoles.

v1050. MadWorld (Wii) - Survival

Platinum Games turns ten this year. Now, that's more of an achievement than posting the final first edition of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs of 2016, I'll admit. The company of former Capcom/Clover Studio devs has made some truly fantastic titles in their tenure, and while MadWorld isn't the studio's brightest work, it does offer an absolutely sensational soundtrack. When a soundtrack can turn me onto a genre I don't normally listen to, that's also one heck of an achievement.