Saturday, March 5, 2016

Mega Man X (iOS) Review

Earlier today I reviewed Swordigo, the first game review of March. Now, I turn my attention to an iOS remake of one of my favorite games of all time, Mega Man X. How did I like it? Well, I somewhat spoil that answer with my tagline for this review!

A mega mess that still remains enjoyable

I love Mega Man X. It's one of my favorite games ever made. It has a perfect amount of high-octane action, superb level design, fantastic synth rock music, and gorgeous graphics. Pretty much any time a new port or version of Mega Man X comes out, I come running. With the PSP remake, Maverick Hunter X, I bought the system for it. That's how dedicated I am to the sequel to the Classic Mega Man series.

I remember back in 2011 when word was given that Mega Man X would be coming to iOS capable devices, I was green with envy. The thought of having an iPhone was but a pipe dream. It was on a platform that I couldn't play the game on, and that killed me. Now, it's five years later, I have an iPhone, and I downloaded the iOS version of Mega Man X. It says something about my love for the SNES original that despite the iOS version being a completely bastardized take on Mega Man X that I still found much joy with it.

A familiar sight for Mega Man X fans, but something here is quite different!
It's interesting that I still found something to like with this port, as from stage one, the touch controls are not very good. Not only did my fingers obscure my view most of the time, the spacing of the virtual directional pad is too close, meaning oftentimes I'd move left when I wanted to move right. Dashing, unlocked from the Dr. Light capsule in Chill Penguin's stage-- impossible to not come across-- is performed by either double tapping left or right, or pressing down. Again, on many occasions I'd want to dash, but instead I'd just walk into a bottomless pit or worse, self-destruct on a bed of deadly spikes.

And trying to dash from one wall to another? Forget about it. It takes a lot of concentration and finger dexterity to successfully make the jump on one's first try. The jump button itself is rather small and easy to miss. Thus, dashing right into a hazardous situation can happen when you least expect it.

If you choose to, you can have Mega Man X's X-Buster charge automatically, giving you bigger, more powerful shots to shoot at foes in order to take them down with less bullets. The only problem with having this option on is that when you equip a subweapon, given to you by each of the eight Mavericks in the game, it unleashes the super version of that weapon if you've already charged your X-Buster up. Thankfully, the X-Buster doesn't keep charging up after this super shot.

The Chameleon Sting would not be the right weapon for this occasion, X.
So, considering all of the niggling control issues I experienced with Mega Man X, and how the controls are at best imperfect, then why do I still like the game? That's a well thought out question. The reason for this is that there are multiple difficulties to choose from to make Mega Man X on iOS much less frustrating.

For instance, the game's Easy mode pretty much cancels out the lackluster controls by implementing less damage for Mega Man X when he gets hit by enemies, less enemy health, and helpful platforms that cover up most bottomless pits and spike traps in the game. Call it wussy mode if you like, but with the problems with the controls and how imprecise they can be, messing you up when you least expect it, it's nice to have a mode that complements the lackluster controls in providing an enjoyable action platformer. There aren't any difficulty mode achievements to worry about anyway, but if you want a greater challenge, then Normal and Hard difficulties are there for you if you have a better mastering of the virtual controls.

Speaking of achievements, there are a good variety here that are of a worthy challenge to any Mega Man X player. Outside of beating stages or using a Maverick's weakness against them, you can unlock achievements by collecting upgrades, beating the game without using Subtanks, without collecting any items, beating the game in less than an hour, and defeating bosses without taking damage. There's a wide range of challenges here, and these will keep you coming back for more if you are entertained by Mega Man X enough.

Another point of contention with Mega Man X's iOS outing is that levels are split up between screens instead of being one long, continuous level. No doubt iOS devices are capable of running a somewhat simple 2D game without needing to split up entire levels into multiple segments. This game isn't resource-intensive. Further, once you enter a new screen, you are unable to go back. Miss an item you wanted? You better start the level over again. Also, you might want to change the orientation of the screen from the default setting, so you can see more of the levels around Mega Man X.

Speaking of the levels, the innovation from the original Mega Man X is gone in the iOS version. The innovation I'm talking about is that in through beating some levels, other levels would be altered. For instance, beating Chill Penguin first and then going to Flame Mammoth's stage would have you see what was once flowing lava coursing throughout the factory frozen over. That stage's Heart Tank was put at a precarious location that you could only get without taking damage when the level's lava was frozen. Now, the Heart Tank is up for grabs in an extremely simple location that makes you wonder why the designers just didn't put it in a different place.

The visuals are pretty appealing to me, but they definitely don't beat the Super Nintendo original.
I wouldn't think that a game like Mega Man X would possess superfluous downloadable content. However, this iOS version actually does. Through normal play and simple searching and finding, you can gain new armor upgrades from Dr. Light's various capsules, Heart Tanks that increase X's health, and Subtanks that are like health reserves. However, Capcom has decided that some players just don't want to do that "work". Who needs to explore the levels, an enjoyable task, when you can just use real world money to unlock all eight Heart Tanks, spend money to get every capsule upgrade, and invest some moolah in getting all four of those hidden Subtanks? By no means is it necessary to do this to enjoy the game, as I said, but it's incredibly humorous to me that this is an even an option to have.

Don't be dumb with your money. Just earn these things (besides the arranged BGMs) for yourself.
Mega Man X has gotten a bit of a makeover on iOS. The 16-bit sprites of the Super Nintendo version are now incredibly sharp, boasting vivid colors. Obviously they don't have quite the charm of the SNES original, but I don't think negatively of them, which might not be a popular opinion. Though Spark Mandrill's fangs from the SNES version now look like he's a bucktooth hillbilly in this iOS re-imagining. Additionally, the animations aren't that hot either, making for characters that move more like they were in a Mega Man fan game than an official product.

Rock(man) 'em, sock 'em robots.
Meanwhile, the music remains unchanged from the SNES original. You still get all the rockin' beats and rhythms that you loved from 1994 in this 2011 game. I assume the arranged versions of the songs in the game are from the PSP remake, Maverick Hunter, but I wasn't about to pay an extra $2.99 on top of the $4.99 I spent on the game to find out.

With so many things wrong with Mega Man X's iOS outing, it says a lot about my love for the base game that I still can find myself enjoying this admittedly bastardized version of the game. The touch controls don't offer anywhere near the same amount of precision, the lack of level changes is disappointing, and the need for stages to be split up between screens is baffling at best. However, the fun is still there, buried underneath those inaccurate controls, imperfections, and a laughable excuse for downloadable content.

[SPC Says: C]

Swordigo (iOS, Android) Review

While most of you enjoy your time off this weekend, your buddy Phil here is slaving away, writing reviews on SuperPhillip Central! Just kidding. I wouldn't be writing if I didn't enjoy it! And speaking of enjoying things, I really did enjoy this Zelda II-inspired action/adventure game for iOS and Android known as Swordigo. It's a few years old, but it's still very much worth looking at. See why with my review.

Swordigo-go get this game if you haven't already.

I've been playing with physical controls (that's buttons, d-pads, analog sticks, joypads, etc.) since I started gaming and since they've been essential parts of the controller in my gaming experiences. Going from something tangible like a controller to a touch screen to move a character is a drastic departure from what I'm used to. There's no denying that touch controls for precise movement isn't optimal by any stretch of the imagination, and it's quite important for a game on a mobile device or tablet to nail the controls as perfectly as they can, else the experience is subpar, even broken.

My worry with Swordigo, a 2.5D action/adventure with RPG elements was that the touch controls would make the game very difficult for me, especially since I've been so accustomed to physical buttons. However, it's my pleasure to admit that despite my opening grievances coming into playing the game, Swordigo is a prime example of touch controls doing an adequate job in allowing me to control my character.

A hero's journey has to start somewhere, and for Swordigo's hero, it starts in this tranquil town.
Swordigo plays much like a beginner-friendly Zelda II: Adventure of Link (or maybe I am the only one who feels that Nintendo's second Zelda outing kicks players' butts). You control a young boy with blue hair who is tasked with saving a kingdom from a growing evil that is poisoning the land. Swordigo has all the basics you'd expect: sword fighting, simple platforming, finding treasure, taking down enemies for experience points, and learning new skills and obtaining new equipment to better prepare yourself for the tough journey ahead.

This box will be used to give our hero extra jumping height to make it to a higher platform.
The map of Swordigo is an interconnected series of 2D areas that allow you to fast travel via helpful portals. These portals also serve as continue points, so if you fall in battle (and as Swordigo isn't a walk in the park exactly, you'll do this a lot most likely), you'll appear at the last portal you came cross. You'll have all your progress saved from your point of death, so there's no need to worry about lost experience, needing to open a treasure chest again that you found pre-death, and any other huge inconvenience.

This forest is one of the first areas Swordigo introduces to its players.
Swordigo's level system has you earning experience after each felled foe. Once you gain a level, you choose from one of three statistics to increase: health, attack power, and magic. By the end of the game you'll basically have all three stats maximized, but it's paramount to spread the love to each stat as you're playing through the game to make the adventure easier on yourself.

The areas of Swordigo take you from forests to towns, and dark, monster-infested caverns to dungeons where keys are needed to unlock doors to progress. The map shows not only your current location but how many treasure chests are left to open. Treasures can house everything from currency to helpful bags of experience points, to new weapons and armor. In towns, there is a healer that can instantly restore all hearts of health you have, as well as a shop that has new swords, armor, health potions to use when you're dangerously low on hearts and don't have a healer nearby, and magic.

Talk about running the gauntlet!
Swordigo's controls are really well done and feel much more accurate than other 2D platformers with touch-based controls. You have left and right virtual buttons that are spread apart far enough so it's difficult, but not impossible, to touch the wrong direction. Then there's your standard jump, attack, and magic buttons on the lower right quadrant of the screen. The controls aren't imperfect, as there were many occasions particularly in platforming-heavy portions where I'd fall because I didn't hit the exact spot of the touch screen I needed to. However, the checkpoint portals are so plentiful (save for the final area) that death doesn't take away too much progress. Plus, falling into a bottomless pit isn't instant death anyway. You're just placed back to a safe nearby platform.

The boss battles are pretty challenging. Some have a higher level of creativity in them than others.
Swordigo is a pretty lengthy adventure for the price of admission, lasting about 8-12 hours. Finding all of the treasures will add some time to that, as will completing all of the achievements. Exploration is indeed enjoyable, so searching for treasure doesn't feel like a chore. There are some puzzles that will have you scratching your brain, but with enough time, the solution will present itself.

All in all, Swordigo was an incredible surprise to me. Not only is it an extremely entertaining 2D action-adventure that is greatly satisfying to play, but the touch controls aren't a nuisance. In fact, they generally work better than what'd you expect. If you're looking for a Zelda II-inspired hack and slash platformer with fun RPG elements, Swordigo is a mobile game you should Swordigo-go play!

[SPC Says: B]

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Highs and Lows of Today's (March 3rd, 2016's) Nintendo Direct

After three months of waiting, a new Nintendo Direct wrapped up earlier this afternoon. With it came new announcements, updates on upcoming titles, and much more. Now I could just regurgitate all of the information shared during the Nintendo Direct, but that would be fairly boring, and you could find all of that information on any of the other (seemingly) millions of gaming sites out there.

Instead, I'd like to focus on the announcements and tidbits that personally excited and disappointed me most from today's 41 minute North American presentation. After you've read my thoughts, chime in with what you liked and disliked from today's Nintendo Direct.

+ New Star Fox Zero footage and trailer

Star Fox is one my favorite under-appreciated Nintendo franchises. I was quite worried to hear Liam Robertson of Unseen 64 suggest that the latest installment, Star Fox Zero, might get delayed due to quality control reasons. Whether Mr. Robertson has a pulse on the innards of Nintendo or not is debatable, but I'm just glad that the game is still coming at the end of next month.

With new announcements of cooperative play with one player guiding a vehicle while the other aims and shoots, branched pathways a la Star Fox 64, and more impressive footage, Star Fox Zero is indeed a game I'm quite looking forward to, hoping it makes fans like me super satisfied.

+ New Kirby announced

When Kirby's voice actress retweeted the news of today's Nintendo Direct, it gave way to rumors that something Kirby-related was going to be featured. Little did most of us know that it'd be a brand-new Kirby game for the Nintendo 3DS, Kirby: Planet Robobot, a traditional 2.5D Kirby game whose main new mechanic is the addition of a giant mech that Kirby can control. I am a huge lover of Kirby, and seeing the pink puffball's latest taking a similar formula to the great Kirby: Triple Deluxe makes me very excited. Kirby is basically comfort food gaming to me, so there's always room in my gaming stomach for second, third, fourth, etc. helpings.

+ Metroid Prime: Federation Force looks much improved

The anger, hostility, and quite frankly, entitled nature of Metroid fans when Metroid Prime: Federation Force was announced last E3 was pretty ugly and embarrassing. Still, Nintendo and Next Level Games (who have done a lot more good than bad, so they should at least get SOME benefit of the doubt) saunter on with development of this multiplayer Metroid.

Is Metroid Prime: Federation Force the ideal Metroid game after years of silence? Heck no, but does it deserve to be cancelled because it doesn't satisfy the personal desires of select fans? Heck no to that, too.

I, for one, am interested in seeing how Federation Force ends up being. I understand it's not to everyone's forte of what they want Metroid to be, but again, Nintendo and Next Level Games' relationship has been extremely fruitful thus far. The team deserves the benefit of the doubt here, I believe, even if the game is Metroid only in name.

+ A new Paper Mario was announced!
- It looks to be more like Sticker Star!

There were rumors from the 'net that a new Wii U Paper Mario game was in the works. Today, that rumor turned out to be true. However, while Paper Mario: Color Splash looks absolutely gorgeous visual-wise, its roots towards Paper Mario: Sticker Star seem very concerning to fans. I personally liked Sticker Star, but I'd be lying if I said I want more of that and not in the direction of the Nintendo 64 original and the GameCube hit, The Thousand-Year Door. That said, I don't want to jump the gun and also jump to a conclusion on what Color Splash will play like when all we've seen is about thirty or so seconds of footage.

- Dragon Quest VII release period possibly changed?

When Dragon Quest VII and Dragon Quest VIII were announced for localization to the West during the last major Nintendo Direct, Dragon Quest VII had a Summer 2016 planned release period. Today, the period was altered to late 2016, so we may have to wait some extra time for Dragon Quest VII to be released. One can then assume that Dragon Quest VIII will have a delay as well, well into 2017, unless Nintendo plans to publish both during the same launch period. Still, we've waited many years for the games to be localized, especially Dragon Quest VII, so a few more months isn't too much of a bother.

- No localization announcements for Picross 3D 2, Style Savvy 3, or Disney's Magical World 2... yet.

If you recall, an apparent leaker with sources to Nintendo posted a list of Nintendo 3DS games expected for 2016. A lot of the information on that list has come true, making it seem like the entire list might actually be worthwhile. Today, we saw the announcements of a new Kirby game (perhaps the Torte City mentioned in the leaked list), Disney Art Academy, and the localization announcement for the new best of collection of Rhythm Heaven for the 3DS.

However, something that disappointed me personally was a lack of information regarding the games mentioned above. There was no Picross 3D 2 (which is a game I desperately want to see localized, as the first Picross 3D on the Nintendo DS was fantastic), no Style Savvy 3 (the Americas are the last major market to not have the game), though that game might be the code name "Cadillac" in the list, and no word of Disney's Magical World 2.

It's important to note that Nintendo might not be ready to announce these titles, so while I am disappointed at the lack of them in the Direct, I am feeling everything but hopeless that these three games will be localized.

- Super Nintendo Virtual Console games for New Nintendo 3DS

Now, the announcement in itself wasn't bad by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it's pretty awesome that New Nintendo 3DS owners will get to expand their collection of digital games from yesteryear. However, what isn't awesome is the fact that Nintendo once again expects its user base to pay for these games all over again with zero cross-buy features. Do you want Super Mario World to take with you on your New Nintendo 3DS, own the game already on Wii or Wii U Virtual Console, and don't want to pay for it again? Tough. Too bad. This is why millions of Nintendo fans eagerly await the NX to see some semblance of an account system in the near future.

Metroid Prime: Federation Force (3DS) Project Golem Trailer

I must say, I was quite embarrassed by my fellow Metroid fans at the extreme hatred and apathy towards Metroid Prime: Federation Force's E3 unveiling last year. Many wanted the game cancelled because it didn't fit their personal expectations of what a Metroid game should be.

Regardless, I am open to this new direction for the series, as the actual game looks fun and Next Level Games has quite the pedigree with making games with Nintendo's support and direction. Check out this new trailer from the Nintendo Direct.

Star Fox Zero (Wii U) Let's Rock & Roll Trailer

Kicking off today's North American Nintendo Direct was new footage of Star Fox Zero, an April release for the Wii U. Now, a trailer has been released, featuring even more new footage that includes the cooperative gameplay and split branch paths that Star Fox 64 possessed. I eagerly await new gameplay impressions to see if Star Fox Zero will play as competently as it looks. (Your mileage may vary.)

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Review Round-Up - February 2016

Be a knight, monk, mage, and more in Final Fantasy Explorers, SuperPhillip Central's 650th review!
February may have been a shorter month than usual, but the review lineup this month was anything but short. That's thanks in part to SuperPhillip Central's extension into mobile games, such as starting off with Rayman Adventures (B), Sonic Runners (C-), and the Mega Man-inspired Venture Kid (B).

Not only that, but February was special for having SPC's 650th review, Final Fantasy Explorers, a game that earned its B grade. Following that were three downloadable titles for Nintendo systems, FreezeME (C-), the insanely wacky and fun Shutshimi (B+), and Word Puzzles by POWGI (C+).

Wrapping up the month were two enjoyable mobile games, the surprising Heroki (B+) and Crazy Taxi: City Rush (B-). February 2016 definitely delivered a nice spread of reviews to SuperPhillip Central, and March is shaping up to be both quality and quantity as well.

Rayman Adventures (iOS, Android) - B
Sonic Runners (iOS, Android) - C-
Venture Kid (iOS) - B
Final Fantasy Explorers (3DS) - B
FreezeME (Wii U eShop, Steam) - C-
Shutshimi (Wii U eShop) - B+
Word Puzzles by POWGI (Wii U eShop, 3DS eShop) - C+
Heroki (iOS) - B+
Crazy Taxi: City Rush (iOS, Android) - B-

Heroki led the way in the mobile game department with a colorful and impressive adventure.

Pokkén Tournament (Wii U) Combo Video

One of my problems with a lot of fighters is that I'm not at all familiar with the characters. I guess that's why I can enjoy Street Fighter and really enjoy licensed fighters (like Dragon Ball: Xenoverse, for instance) and all-star battlers such as Super Smash Bros. Pokken Tournament seems to not only play well, but it features a lot of characters I know too. Pokken Tournament, a game that combines the characters of Pokemon and the fighting mechanics of Tekken, releases later this month.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Crazy Taxi: City Rush (iOS, Android) Review

This month has flown by, and it's been full of mobile games! For the final review of February, we have Crazy Taxi: City Rush, and I assure you, the dollar sign in the logo is ironic as all get out!

A game so monetized, it's CRAZY.

A lot of publishers have attempted to put new spins on their classic franchises and interpreting them intelligently on mobile devices. Some have done well at this, while others have not. Sega's Crazy Taxi is a classic Dreamcast-era arcade-style title that now sees its first all-new mobile entry. With Crazy Taxi: City Rush, the developers at Hardlight Studios have created an arcade game that incorporates a lot of elements from the series well, while introducing a whole heaping pile of monetization-based roadblocks that surely sour the experience.

Crazy Taxi: City Rush is very much unlike past Crazy Taxi games, and that's mostly to do with the platform it's on, mobile. You don't have the luxury of driving freely around a relatively expansive city, picking up any fare that you want inside your craaaaazy taxi. Instead, you pick from a selection of fares from a menu of one of four areas of a city, which unlock as you make slow progress in the game. The fares have you starting a given play by picking up the person or people needing to be driven to a given location. Sometimes you'll pick up a new person at that same location, and need to drive them to a final spot to complete the fare. Of course, you have a set time limit to complete all of this in.

Load up on some Bite-Me Burgers, and then haul butt to your next destination.
Progress in Crazy Taxi: City Rush is done by completing HQ missions. Once all of them in a specific area of Bay City have been completed, you move on to the next area. However, this process does take a while as not only does your customizable taxi have weak stats-- too weak of stats to finish most of the missions-- but you also have play limits. This is where the stamina meter of most free-to-play games rears its annoying head.

You get four plays in your gas gauge that slowly regenerate after several minutes have gone by. You can get free plays from watching a video, but you can only do this a handful times before you can't do so for several hours. You can spend diamonds to refill your gas gauge, but these are better used for taxi upgrades and things of that nature. If you really enjoy City Rush or are just impatient, you can use real world money to either double your gas gauge (around five bucks) or purchase unlimited gas (around ten bucks) to play the game and drive fares as much as you want.

Drifting around uptown Bay City.
While having the option to get unlimited plays any time you want is nice, it's not really necessary to progress in City Rush. It just makes the process much, much, much faster. As you complete fares, you're constantly earning money to be used on new parts for your taxi. (You can also buy multiple taxis of different makes and models.) Things like upgrading your wheels to reduce wheelspin, making your car start out from the gate faster, and improve cornering; your boost tank to allow for more boosts, your engine to boost your top speed; and your body to reduce effects from crashing into things all increase the stats of your taxi.

Boost up your taxi's body so collisions like this won't slow you down as much.
Increasing the stats of your taxi makes it so the aforementioned HQ missions become much easier to accomplish. You can tell the difficulty of a given mission by the color of its bar. A red bar is the most challenging while a green bar is easy peasy pretty much. Thus, there is a lot of grinding to be found to get a suitable enough taxi to make actual progress in Crazy Taxi: City Rush. This obviously isn't a gameplay direction that fits everyone. Furthermore, it absolutely stinks that with each new area you unlock that you have to use an entirely new taxi on it. This means that you'll have to go through the progress of upgrading your taxi with each area you unlock in the game.

In addition to traditional Craxy Taxi fare-collecting and dropping-off missions, City Rush also has a Daily Rush mode that you can only play, of course, daily. It has you trying to go through as many checkpoints as possible with each checkpoint awarding you cash. The more consecutive days you play this mode, the more cash each checkpoint is worth. There is also a mode that is semi-daily that puts you in a tank, trying to run over and destroy as many vehicles as possible in a limited amount of time. These are fun additions to the formula and bring some freshness too.

Even with speeds going over 100 mph, getting your fare to his/her destination is more important than your safety.
Crazy Taxi: City Rush plays like a typical runner. Your taxi drives forward automatically, and by swiping to the left or right, it changes lanes. This is useful in avoiding traffic and collecting items on the streets. By holding the left or right side of the screen, your taxi turns in that direction. You can perform a Crazy Drift by holding the side of the screen in either direction before a turn to earn extra cash from your impressed fare(s). When it's time to stop at your fare's intended drop-off point, you furiously tap on the touch screen to brake and stop as fast as possible.

Tap, tap, tap-a-roo to stop your taxi in a jiffy.
The colors and visual style of Crazy Taxi: City Rush are extremely pleasing to the eye. The silky smooth and vibrant visuals aren't without a price, however, as sometimes the frame-rate can go into the proverbial crapper during more asset-intense moments. The soundtrack is suitably punk rock, but if you yearn for your own collection of music, you can create a custom playlist to better suit your musical tastes.

No, I will NOT make a joke about this ride being a day at the beach.
Crazy Taxi: City Rush captures the stellar, rambunctious, and speedy gameplay the series is known for and puts it in mobile format quite well. Depending on how much you can stand the game's blatant attempts at nickle and diming you out of real world money, City Rush can either be a joy or a major annoyance. For me, it was a bit of a grind to make much headway in the game, but I ended up enjoying picking up, dropping off passengers, and raising hell on the streets of Bay City in the process.

[SPC Says: B-]

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs - Leap Day with Nintendo Edition

Welcome to a rare, every-four-years occasion. No, I'm not referring to the presidential election season. It's best we leave politics off the table here at SuperPhillip Central. I'm talking about Leap Day! Not only that, but what's even rarer is an edition of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs on Leap Day!

This special edition is all Nintendo-themed this week. We start off with the Wii U launch title Nintendo Land. Then we have some cooperative action with The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes. Following up with that is a retro title, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. Finally, we trek through a winter wonderland with Yoshi in Yoshi's Woolly World and do battle in Splatoon.

As it's a tradition to mention the VGM Database, be sure to check it out for over 1,000 past VGM songs!

v1086. Nintendo Land (Wii U) - Metroid Blast - Infestation

Starting off with this edition of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs, we have Metroid Blast, an attraction from the Wii U launch title Nintendo Land. It's such a delight to hear themes from the Metroid series given rousing orchestral versions, such as this particular theme. It makes shooting down enemies as Samus's dropship or as your Mii a much more thrilling experience.

v1087. The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes (3DS) - Main Theme

Overall, this next game was satisfactory. The online was quite uneven, especially if you were paired with jerks as teammates. However, the actual sum of The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes' parts was pretty good. The soundtrack remains excellent like many Zelda games before it. Even if Tri Force Heroes was more of a spin-off title, it is well worth playing.

v1088. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (SNES) - Fight Against Monsters

We go a bit retro with the 1,088th VGM volume here with the normal battle theme, Fight Against Monsters, from Mario's first ever RPG. It was none other than Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, a then-historic partnership between Nintendo and Squaresoft. Yoko Shimomura contributed the majority of songs to the soundtrack while famed Nintendo composer Koji Kondo and even Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu contributed some tracks.

v1089. Yoshi's Woolly World (Wii U) - Fluffy Snow, Here We Go!

With winter wrapping up, I feel this song for one of the snow levels in the superb (dare I say better than the original Yoshi's Island!) Yoshi's Woolly World for the Wii U is posted at an optimal time. Fluffy Snow, Here We Go! is an uptempo track that is both cheery and playful, perfect for a romp in the snow with Yoshi.

v1090. Splatoon (Wii U) - Now or Never!

We wrap up this Nintendo-centric edition of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs with some music from Splatoon, Nintendo's wildly popular third-person squadron shooter. Now or Never! plays during the climax of battle, when time is just about to run out. Splatoon has such an eccentric soundtrack to it that only adds to the wacky and zany aesthetic of the game.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Heroki (iOS) Review

On SuperPhillip Central's march towards March, we have a new review to share together. It's a mobile game that is currently exclusive to iOS devices. It's Heroki, and it absolutely surprised me with its quality.

Fun takes flight

There are just some games that take you back to your childhood. For me, my childhood was defined by two video game systems: the Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis. Both saw a wide array of mascots, but since we're talking about a game published by Sega for this particular review, let's focus on the latter. The Sega Genesis saw many mascots, obviously Sonic the Hedgehog, but many others such as Ristar, Dynamite Headdy, Alex Kidd, and many more. It's why it's so amazing that Picomy's Heroki looks and plays just like a Sega game from the publisher's Genesis days, and that is very much high praise.

Heroki has you taking the titular character with a propeller on his head for a spin through 24 colorful and delightful levels spread out across three worlds. In each level, you'll have to defeat enemies, dodge obstacles, hit switches and buttons to open doors, and reach the goal ring at the conclusion of each level.

Levels are spread out affairs where there is some backtracking in them; usually when you hit one button to open a formerly sealed door in a portion of a level you've already visited. The backtracking didn't really annoy me, save for the underwater levels where Heroki's movements are slowed down just slightly. Otherwise, outside of water, Heroki moves a decent clip, making any need for backtracking not as tedious as it might sound.

One of the 120 Emerils that Heroki can stumble upon. Can you collect them all?
Heroki himself has an arsenal of moves bestowed onto him. For one, he can grab and hold crates, and then he can aim and throw at foes to dispatch them (somewhat similar to how Yoshi throws eggs in the Yoshi's Island series). If Heroki needs to descend quickly, one tap of a button does this, also allowing him to crash through blocks made out of clouds.

This big blue croc stands/sits/rests between Heroki and this Emeril.
Each level is scored by how many collectibles you gather. In total, there are six golden letters to find which spell HEROKI, five Emerils that when you gather enough unlock new moves at the end of a given world, and one treasure chest that houses presents for Heroki's home or extra lives. These collectibles can be out in the open like many of the HEROKI letters, but to find the Emerils and treasure chests you'll need to search high and low, far and wide, and so forth. Many borrow from the New Super Mario Bros. playbook and place them behind fake walls, ceilings, and floors. However, each have a geographic hint to them such as marking or crack to assist.

Ah, the golden 'H'! The first of many letters to find in this level!
Outside of venturing through levels, Levantia is the safe bastion away from danger where Heroki can chat with the locals, stock up on helpful items, participate in various mini-games, and explore to his heart's content. While Levantia is a nice excursion to the game, it isn't by any means a necessary place to visit regularly unless you're eyeing some of Heroki's achievements.

There are three touch control styles to Heroki, and my personal favorite of these options puts a virtual joystick on the screen wherever you touch in order to guide Heroki around. The virtual buttons also allowed me to use his special moves such as a dashing bash through walls and doors, a move that slows everything down, giving the player enough time to draw a path for a wind gust. This wind gust is great for turning on fans, removing sand piles, dissipating poisonous smoke, and moving certain objects.

No worries-- Heroki is definitely pulling his weight on his adventure.
The other two control styles for touch controls are pushing, where you move your finger on the screen, and Heroki will move in the opposite direction of your digit. Finally, there is the pull option, where you drag your finger around the screen and Heroki follows.

A problem with all three of these control styles, however, is that you do not get an optimal amount of precision with any of them. Instead, there are moments where Heroki will move too far in one direction, perhaps even unintentionally run into an enemy, causing him damage. Thankfully, Heroki is such a beginner-friendly game, and there are plenty of checkpoints that death isn't too big of a punishment.

Don't mind Heroki, Mr. Cactus and Mr. Condor. He's just passing through.
If you have one (and you really should for some iOS games), an MFi controller works wonders with Heroki. Controlling the game is an absolutely joy with an actual d-pad and buttons, each assigned to a different power of our propeller-ed protagonist. Still, even without a controller with tangible buttons, Heroki is a pleasure to play.

Aside from being a pleasure to play, Heroki is also a pleasure to look at. The game is absolutely gorgeous, offering stunning characters models, colorful graphics, beautiful backgrounds, and everything running at a steady frame-rate for the most part. It's as if the artists got out a big fat crayon with the color name printed on its side being "awesome." The music of Heroki is suitably charming as well, bringing with it cheery themes that don't offend the ears by any stretch of the imagination.

Movement is a bit more sluggish when Heroki is underwater.
Like I said in the introduction of this review, Heroki really does feel like an artifact from the Sega's Genesis days-- obvious technological advances not withstanding. Although the touch controls are imperfect and there is some backtracking to be found that some might find tedious, Heroki is a well designed, breezy game that seldom failed to put a smile on my face. Whether it was while searching high and low for a level's hidden treasure chest or taking on the final boss in a dramatic showdown in the lightning-filled clouds, Heroki is a wonderful gem of a mobile game throughout its ten-hour duration. Fly on, Heroki. Fly on.

[SPC Says: B+]