Saturday, April 16, 2016

On behalf of SuperPhillip Central, I am now on Patreon.

As alluded to earlier tonight in the introduction to my Bomberman (PSP) retro review, I have an interesting announcement for this evening. After some poking and prodding by others on the Internet, I've decided to join Patreon.

What does this mean for you, the reader? Well, really, nothing will change in that I will continue to provide content as much as I can each week. The interesting thing is now you can make a monthly contribution to my work on SuperPhillip Central by being one of my Patrons.

For details on what my Patreon account entails, its goals, and possible rewards, look no further than clicking on this link.

If you don't wish to click that link, then let me post why I'm now on Patreon right here.

Since June 5, 2008, I have been writing and supporting my video game blog, SuperPhillip Central. Since founding SuperPhillip Central, I have written over 3,000 unique blog posts, 650 unique reviews, and hundreds of articles and editorials. My site is about 20,000 unique views away from 2 million, which is very exciting to me. I help support independent video game developers by covering their games with reviews, as well as through interviews. I try to create at least five unique blog posts per week, whether they be reviews, articles, editorials, interviews, lists, or sharing trailers that interest me from YouTube related to games releasing in the future. 
With my Patrons' support, I wish to purchase a PlayStation 4 so I can cover more of the current generation of game consoles, thus adding even more worth to SuperPhillip Central, thus creating more interest in my site. 
If you have suggestions to what you'd like to see on SuperPhillip Central or better suggestions on how the Patron money should be spent, please let me know. Your thoughts and continued readership make doing SuperPhillip Central worthwhile when I'm feeling down. 
And my current goal, which I think is realistic enough:
I wish to continue covering games for SuperPhillip Central, but I currently have college I am paying for. Thus, extraneous purchases for a sizable amount of money at once aren't very possible for me right now.  
I suffer from bipolar disorder (I started school in 2004, and my mental illness has gotten in the way of college throughout my collegiate career-- I'm finally set to graduate this year, so YAY!), so I'm unable to hold a job to earn money. Additionally, I don't place ads on my site for revenue other than sponsored posts because I don't want to annoy readers like I would get annoyed if ads were plastered over a site I enjoyed visiting.  
Getting a PlayStation 4 would allow me to cover a new, insanely popular platform, giving me more options in my coverage and increasing my potential readership.
I hope this isn't considered a lame goal, so if it is, please let me know a better suggestion through Twitter or email. Thanks, and I hope you will consider contributing to my goal.
I hope all of you who like my content that I produce on SuperPhillip Central will think about contributing some money, but don't worry. I will create content for the gaming platforms I own in the meantime.

If you have any questions, suggestions, or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact me!

Bomberman (PSP) Retro Review

I have a special announcement coming in about an hour or so from this post, so please look forward to that. In the meantime, keep yourself occupied with this all-new retro review for the PlayStation Portable version of Bomberman. How does it hold up? Find out with my review!

Bombs away!

Like another popular 'Man in gaming, Bomberman once had so many games that were coming out at once that they were overflowing out of that poofy thing that comes out of his head. However, like Capcom's Mega Man, Bomberman's best days are seemingly behind him with no new releases in sight. Still, that doesn't mean I can't explore his vast library and entertain myself, right? That's exactly the point of checking out the PlayStation Portable version of Bomberman, simply titled... well... Bomberman! Is it a blast or a dud?

Bomberman's PSP outing features two main solo modes to enjoy. The first is Normal Mode, while the second unlocks after the former has been completed. This mode is Classic, and it pits you against 50 increasingly more difficult levels.

Normal Mode is essentially the same as Classic, save that it has 100 levels total spread across 10 worlds. Each world houses its own gimmick, whether it be the Jungle World's network of pipes that can be walked through, yet can also house enemies, or the Desert World's transporter system.

Be mindful of your surroundings, Bomberman. You don't want to blow yourself up.
The main aim of each of these modes is the same: to eliminate all enemies within each level and reach the goal, hidden in one of the bomb-able soft blocks. This is harder than you might think because the AI is relatively smart. Enemies won't just stand there while you set bombs up next to them. They might hide in a safe haven away from the cross-shaped explosion pattern of Bomberman's bombs. Not only do you have to destroy the soft blocks that stand in Bomberman's path in order to make it to the enemies in a level, but you have to blow them up without torching your own rear end.

Some enemies like these stone golems take multiple blasts to bring down.
Normal Mode also differs from Classic because in Normal Mode, you can collect different item icons from destroyed soft blocks, cycle through them with the shoulder buttons, and use them whenever you want. Some items stay with you as long as you stay alive, such as additional bombs that can be set on screen at the same time, bigger explosion patterns, and faster movement for Bomberman. Other items are only active for one level, such as remote-controlled bombs that explode with a press of a button or being able to walk through soft blocks. Then there are items that are just temporary like the ability to weather bomb explosions or granting Bomberman an extra hit from an enemy or bomb that would otherwise be a loss of life.

Whereas with Classic Mode, you have a set amount of lives to get through all 50 levels, and the items you collect are instantly bestowed onto Bomberman. Unlike Normal Mode, when you die, the effects of your collected items aren't removed, so it's very RPG-like in building Bomberman's stats.

The first nine levels of each world in Normal Mode are typical "destroy-all-enemies" affairs, while the tenth level pits you and Bomberman against a boss of some variety, These encounters are generally enjoyable with patterns you need to watch out for, and show a lot of creativity. These boss battles mix things up greatly as otherwise the PSP version of Bomberman might feel a bit too repetitive, despite the game changing up the obstacles and gimmicks with each new world you visit.

This spider boss spins webs of the explosive kind.
In each fifth level of a world, you have the optional task (well, it's mandatory if you want to reach the tenth world) of collecting a key. This spawns from doing a variety of tasks that is dependent on the world: defeating all enemies, blowing up all soft blocks, or bombing the goal (something I didn't pick up on in the ninth world, wondering where the heck that blasted key was!). Collecting all of the keys in the first nine worlds unlocks the final series of ten levels.

Carefully take down all targets and reach the goal to clear each level.
Any Bomberman game worth its weight in bombs has to have a compelling multiplayer piece to it. After all, that's what this franchise is most known for, it's extensive and explosive multiplayer. In this PSP version, you have the ability to play with up to four PSP systems either with multiple copies of the game or through game sharing. It's important to note that this multiplayer is only available via Ad Hoc mode.

Regardless, the battle mode in this PSP version is robust and quite customizable, to say the least. You can set the AI difficulty (for if you are just by your lonesome), how many rounds, whether revenge mode and sudden death are on, which items are to be included, and whether you wish to play in teams or not. The amount of arenas is sizable, though many feature the same environments. Still, if you're looking for an excellent on-the-go multiplayer Bomberman, you'll get that and more with Bomberman on PSP.

With four players (either human, AI, or a combination of both), Bomberman's multiplayer is a blast.
Bomberman's PSP game uses competent 3D models for its characters, enemies, and environments. It all looks rather nice, and I have no complaints. The game also runs at a smooth clip, so there's never any case of accidentally blowing yourself up due to any frame-rate hitching. The music featured in Bomberman fits each world it's played in, and many times it got me to bop my head along to it.

Overall, Bomberman on PSP delights with its single player modes, though limited in replay value. Its multiplayer is where the game truly shines in its longevity, offering a multitude of modes and options to customize your multiplayer matches however you see fit. For its cheap price nowadays, Bomberman is an excellent, explosive romp that is ultimately a blast. That concludes not only my judgment of Bomberman, but also the bomb pun portion of this review.

[SPC Says: B-]

Why Wii U is More Than Still Worth It: 25 Fantastic Retail Games

Despite being labeled a "dead" console (which is weird as I'm enjoying a dead console greatly more than "live" ones), the Wii U is still coming out with interesting releases both physical and digital. This article focuses on the former, showcasing some of the best retail releases on the Wii U in its short lifespan.

It's easy after looking at this list to see why some argue that the Wii U has the best exclusives out of any home console on the market. Obviously game-wise, the Wii U pales in comparison thanks to its utter lack of third-party games, which both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are showering in.

Nonetheless, this list of 25 retail titles show that the Wii U is very much worth owning, even if its future prospects aren't at all the brightest. Essentially, these are the best Wii U games the system has to offer retail-wise. Since this article is image-heavy, check it out after the break.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

I Don't Think Most Gamers Understand "Miitomo".

Nintendo's first mobile project, Miitomo, launched a couple of weeks ago here in North America. With it launched My Nintendo, a service that Nintendo wants 100 million accounts signed up to. Thus, one could say that Miitomo is a bit of a Trojan horse to get people to sign up to My Nintendo, this being the main point to Nintendo's mobile app in the first place.

Notice how I say mobile app and not game. Miitomo isn't meant to be played like a game. It's not really meant to be played at all. Instead, it should be used. Sure, there's Mii Drop, a mini-game within Miitomo that has users dropping Miis into a pachinko style board in hopes of gaining exclusive attire for their Miis, but that really is the limit to the area of play that Miitomo possesses.

Miifoto is magic. Miifoto is love. Miifoto is life.
The confusion that Miitomo is an app and not a game has been a point of contention with many games. Sort of like how gamers have the opinion of casual gamers not knowing a joystick from a d-pad, a lot of true and blue gamers really don't understand Miitomo. Not to say that even if they did understand Miitomo fully that they would enjoy it. It's definitely an app that isn't for everyone.

Firstly, Miitomo does have "gamification" in how users can earn MyNintendo points for doing in-app tasks, such as connecting one's Facebook and Twitter accounts to Miitomo, changing one's Mii attire on a daily basis, and answering a certain amount of questions per day, to name few. Many gamers use Miitomo as a means to quickly accumulate MyNintendo points. One such way this is done by adding as many people to their Miitomo friends list as possible.

I saw it was commonplace on sites like GameFAQs and NeoGAF, adding pretty much what amounts to be strangers to their Miitomo friends list. Then, after having about 400 strangers, these same people wonder why they don't care about what these people answer, not having the motivation to really interact with them, thus finding Miitomo to be a bore. 
Posting and reading off the wall answers
is part of what makes Miitomo fun.

While one can easily artificially build up their Miitomo friends list with strangers found on the net, that's really missing the point of the app. Miitomo is a social app, and it doesn't hide this fact at all. It's meant to be used with your circle of friends. I understand that not everyone has friends who use Facebook or Twitter, much more have them interested in using the same app as them. However, through gathering your real life friends, which fortunately I was able to do, I have really enjoyed myself with Miitomo.

Furthermore, Miitomo isn't meant for long stretches of use. It's perfect for answering a handful of questions per day, perhaps perusing your list of friends to see their answers, and maybe even commenting on their answers to start a fun discussion. I noticed some gamers were using Miitomo for hours at a time (which isn't good anyway as Miitomo confusingly sucks up battery life like the dickens), and then they wondered why they got tired of it so quickly. Again, Miitomo isn't a game. It's not meant to be used in long bursts. Instead, just hopping in while you wait for your order to ring up at Starbucks, while you ride the bus to school or work, or while you get ready for work or bed works wonderfully.

Lastly, a point that I think gets lost on many gamers, especially the traditionally catered to demographic of 18-35 year old men, is that Miitomo really isn't being marketed for them. It's also not really meant for them either. As this initial Miitomo spot on Nintendo Mobile's YouTube channel shows, it's really putting the spotlight on kids and young adults. I imagine that market would eat Miitomo up, if they aren't already. So, when xXx_PaperBoy69_xXx (pardon the awful example!) logs into Miitomo, wondering what the heck people see in this app, well, he shouldn't be surprised he doesn't get it. Heck, even some of the Nintendo faithful don't "get" Miitomo, and that's all right. There's nothing wrong with that. It's just not an app for everybody. Sometimes the greatest answers are the simplest ones.

Monster Hunter Generations (3DS) Styles Trailer

Check out the different combat styles in this more action-intensive entry in the Monster Hunter franchise, Monster Hunter Generations. The game is scheduled to launch this summer, though an exact date has yet to be confirmed. For now, watch this exciting trailer for a new generation of Monster Hunter.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Pug's Quest (iOS) Review

Unlike yesterday's Goblin Sword (iOS) review, this next review is for a game that released just last week instead of two years ago. It's Pug's Quest, and it has the charm, but does it have the longevity to keep players hooked?

Pug 'n Play

After a bunch of your puppy pals have been dog-napped and holed up in a mysterious trap and challenge-filled castle, you take control of a nameless but brave pug, setting paw in the numerous rooms and hallways of the castle in this puppy puzzle-adventure game. This is the idea behind Pug's Quest from Ravenous Games.

You control your pug by sliding your finger along the touch screen in the one of four directions he's able to move. You can hold your finger on the screen after sliding to have the pug move continuously in that direction, making it great for faster movements when required.

You begin with three lives, and each time you crash into an enemy, obstacle, or fall into the abyss, you lose a life and restart from the beginning of a stage. There are three rooms in a given stage, and the order of stages you play in is completely randomized, something that I found to be a sticking point to my enjoyment of Pug's Quest.

Talk about Blades of Steel! ...And of doom!
Instead of a typical level progression that would have made me feel like I was making some semblance of achievement, each time you die and lose your lives you start the game at a randomly selected stage. Have a favorite stage that you played? Well, too bad if you want to replay it any time soon unless you get lucky.

This lack of traditional level progression really spoiled any sense of contentment from completing a stage. All Pug's Quest ends up being is a high score challenge, and since some stages are easier than others, it really depends on the luck of the draw to get the highest score. Online leaderboards help add to some longevity in Pug's Quest, but overall the experience feels shallow in its current form.

Stages themselves include many traps and challenges to avoid. Your pug needs to dodge enemies that move in specific patterns, avoid spinning blades of death, and solve simplistic environment puzzles like nabbing a key to unlock a door, hitting four colored buttons in a certain order, and spelling out a word by stepping on the correct tiles.

Hit these colorful buttons in the right order to remove those pegs
blocking your pug's progress.
Points are earned through completing stages, as well as collecting yummy dog bone cookies with the golden ones being worth the most. You can also hope to get fortuitous by discovering a trapped dog to rescue, offering a big amount of points with one dog. Really, the main fun in Pug's Quest is through collecting enough points to score big while staying alive.

Those red tiles will crumble under your pug's pressure,
so don't hang around long on top of them.
Pug's Quest runs well as it isn't a very resource-intensive game by any stretch of the imagination. The pixel art is delightful, the characters are animated competently, and the environments are well done. The music is catchy enough and doesn't distract at all. All in all, Pug's Quest is cute and charming, a combination that I can't help but adore.

As a high scoring game, Pug's Quest is a fun little time waster. As a game that you'll want to play for a long time, Pug's Quest fails to hold interest. The lack of any sort of level progression really harms what could have otherwise been an addicting game. Instead, what you get is a random mishmash of levels that when you die, you sort of lose the motivation to start anew. Why bother when you're stuck with the luck of the draw? Nonetheless, for its price, Pug's Quest is worthwhile as long as you know what you're getting into. Otherwise it's a dog gone shame.

[SPC Says: C]

Top Five Yoshi Platformers

Nintendo's Yoshi originally debuted in the masterful Super Mario World in 1991. Four years later, Yoshi received his first starring role, albeit sharing the spotlight with an infant Mario. This game would create a series of games starring the ever faithful dinosaur (even in Super Mario World when Mario heartlessly leaps off of him, causing Yoshi to fall into a pit). The games range from console offerings to handheld entries. These five Yoshi platformers are what I consider the best and my absolute favorites.

5) Yoshi's Story (N64)

Yoshi's Story didn't grab me as much as it did with other players. For one, the game was a disappointment coming off of the exquisite Yoshi's Island on the Super Nintendo (more about that game later). That said, just because it didn't live up to that game doesn't mean it was a bad game. It was just different, offering six worlds where players selected from one of four levels. The amount of hearts players collected granted more options in what levels they could choose. The gorgeous art style impressed, and the catchy main theme was given numerous remixes throughout each level. Yoshi's Story was atypical in design in the fact that there was no traditional level goal to find at the end of a level. Instead, level endings simply sent the player back to the start of the level. The goal was to eat up 20 fruit. To get a good score on levels, Yoshi needed to gobble up all 20 well hidden melons in a level. This was optional, of course, but doing this gave more depth to an otherwise somewhat shallow game.

4) Yoshi's Island DS (DS)

After a long absence from the gaming sphere, Yoshi's Island as a franchise returned with a special Nintendo DS entry. It is what I and many fans consider the most difficult Yoshi game in existence. The later levels ensure that you'll be wasting a lot of 1-ups on them, and that's even without gunning for a perfect score on each level! Yoshi's Island DS used both screens to show massive verticality in levels, but at the same time, the space in between the screens can lead to many cheap hits to Yoshi. The game also featured more babies than just Baby Mario, and each possessed their own ability. Baby Mario could run faster than any other tot, Baby Peach could use her parasol in wind currents to fly sky high, and Baby DK could latch onto vines. The real casualty of Yoshi's Island DS was the quality of music which was highly inappropriate in liveliness compared to other games in the series.

3) Yoshi's New Island (3DS)

Yoshi's New Island got a lot of "blehs" from critics and gamers. However, I found it to be an enjoyable romp. For one, a big problem that I found with past Yoshi's Island games was fixed with Yoshi's New Island. The fact that you could collect all five flowers, all 20 red coins, and have full health for 100% in a given level in different runs made the entire experience more friendly to players. The pastel colors and rendered models of the game look great in motion, not so much in still screenshots. The level design houses plenty of secrets, and the bonus levels are some of the most difficult in the Yoshi series. Sure, the music and gyroscope focused vehicle sections didn't do much to excite, but everything else added up to a lively and entertaining game.

2) Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (SNES)

There's definitely no question that Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island is a marvelous game. It made Yoshi the star sharing the spotlight with Baby Mario. Taking damage in a level meant that Baby Mario would be ejected from Yoshi's saddle, crying incessantly as a timer chipped away seconds. If the timer hit zero, a bunch of Baby Bowser's henchmen would grab Baby Mario and take him to the King of the Koopa's lair, resulting in a lost life. Yoshi's Island introduced many mainstays to Yoshi's character: the flutter jump, latching onto foes with Yoshi's tongue, swallowing them, and turning them into eggs, and the familiar ground pound. From the beautiful coloring book inspired art style to the great Koji Kondo soundtrack, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island is a classic in every sense of the word, but it's not my favorite Yoshi platformer. At least not anymore.

1) Yoshi's Woolly World (Wii U)

This might be considered blasphemy, but yes, in my opinion, after years of good at best Yoshi outings, Yoshi's Woolly World, a modern gaming classic for the Wii U, not only finally matched the quality of the highly revered Super Nintendo Yoshi's Island, but it usurped it. With insanely creative yarn and wool crafted worlds, plenty of collectibles to attain, brilliantly designed levels, tremendous music, and a gorgeous aesthetic, Yoshi's Woolly World somehow gave me more enjoyment than the original Yoshi's Island. Similar to Yoshi's New Island, you didn't need to collect everything in one run to achieve 100%, something that made the game more enjoyable and less frustrating. Combine all that with cool bosses and cooperative gameplay for up to two players, and you have my pick for my favorite Yoshi platformer.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Most Overlooked Current Gen Games - Part Two

The Most Overlooked Games series has been around almost as long as SuperPhillip Central has-- seven years now. With each entry, we take a look at five of the most overlooked, less talked about games on various systems, past and present. However, until the inaugural edition of Most Overlooked Current Gen Games, I hadn't covered underrated games from the PlayStation 4 as well as the Xbox One. Obviously I already had a list dedicated to the Wii U.

Regardless, it's now time for part two where we look at five more under-appreciated games from the current generation of gaming.

Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree's Woe and the Blight Below (PS4)

The first game on this list actually sold well in Japan. It's currently the second best selling game in Japan. However, Most Overlooked Current Gen Games factors in sales from other over the world, and in the case of Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree's Woe and the Blight Below, the game in the west did not fare too well commercially. This game that allows you to slay slews of famous Dragon Quest monsters in a much quicker pace than you could a traditional turn-based Dragon Quest features a Dynasty Warriors style flow to battle. The lack of notable sales in the west certainly made Square Enix's decision to not localize recent Dragon Quest games seem understandable. Still, with a sequel launching on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and the Vita, perhaps Dragon Quest Heroes will get another chance to make an impact on the Western market.

Transformers: Devastation (PS4, XONE)

Platinum Games has an impeccable reputation as a developer of action titles. It's no doubt why Nintendo, Sega, and Konami have contacted them for work on projects in the past, and it's why Activision hand selected Platinum to create Transformers: Devastation as well as the upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game. The newest Transformers continues Platinum Games' stupendous tradition of terrific combat, incredible boss battles, and rank-based missions. Although the game is but five hours long, the addition of different Autobots to play as with different play styles in this 3D action game increases the replay value and longevity of Devastation greatly. It all makes Transformers: Devastation one of the best games starring the robots in disguise ever created.

LittleBigPlanet 3 (PS4)

Like Transformers: Devastation, LittleBigPlanet 3 is a cross gen release. Perhaps that's why it suffers from the most glitches and bugs out of any other LittleBigPlanet game. Not the best recommendation for the game so far, is it? Don't worry, though, as outside of the technical issues that haunt several aspects of the game, LittleBigPlanet 3 contains the same immensely open level creator, offering more options and ease of accessibility than ever before. The new characters give more variety in the types of levels available, and the single player mode, now sporting cute voice acting, is a joy to play from beginning to end. It may not be the technical marvel fans have expected, but LittleBigPlanet 3 delightfully delivers nearly everywhere else.

Rock Band 4 (PS4, XONE)

Containing a highly impressive library of over 2000 songs, most coming from past iterations of the franchise, Rock Band 4 launched on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One with the reception of a missed note during the guitar solo of Freebird. Rock Band 4 was a return to form for Harmonix, who had been away from the series for a good three years. The studio and game's return to the limelight was met with great indifference. For all the goodness that is Rock Band, it seems the days of people wanting to collect a mishmash of plastic instruments and house them in their rooms are over. The game was met with critical acclaim but limited commercial success. A PC version of Rock Band 4 was on the table for development, but the campaign to get the game on there was nothing but a failed one.

Evolve (PS4, XONE)

No, in this gaming climate, having an original idea like the asymmetric multiplayer gameplay of Evolve isn't enough to guarantee sales. Whether that says something about the current state of gaming or the quality of Evolve itself is anyone's guess. The gameplay itself has four players, serving as Hunters, having a first-person perspective while the single player, the Monster, has a third-person perspective. The goal is for one side to take down the other. Certainly, the developers did themselves no favors with the grotesque number of different downloadable content available for the game. This aspect alone turned off many potential players and buyers of the game. Despite selling strong out of the gate, Evolve's sales suffered hugely in the following weeks, proving to have no sales momentum whatsoever. Perhaps the criticism from some corners of the net cut off the game's tail. Regardless, Evolve is an innovative experience like none other with highly competent gameplay and fun asymmetrical goodness.

Goblin Sword (iOS) Review

This next review is for a game that came from out of nowhere to give me great delight. It's none other than the impressive Goblin Sword, available exclusively on the iOS App Store for $1.99.

Wears its retro influences proudly like one of its many wearable armors

The fantastic fan and at the same time the arduous challenge of the iOS App Store is locating games of great quality. Sure, the Internet is an excellent source to find knowledge of the more popular games, but many times, truly wonderful games do fall through the cracks. One game that I discovered upon that I feel immensely lucky for doing so is the 2D action platformer Goblin Sword. What it lacks in narrative it more than makes up for in fabulous challenge, great level design, and tight controls.

What there is of the story in Goblin Sword is very loose and very light. The only real scenes expressing any dialogue happen after certain boss battles, and really, once you see the still frame cutscenes, you're left with the strong sense of saying to yourself, "that's it?"

Still, while the story elements of Goblin Sword do little to drive players' motivation to go through the 40+ levels of the game, it's the excellent gameplay that personally kept me coming back for more and more. This consists of 2D hack-and-slash sword or whip action similar to the Castlevania series, as well as careful platforming to dodge traps like bottomless pits and spikes. Your hero can perform a double jump with ease as well as slash foes into oblivion, though most require more than one swing of the sword or strike of the whip.

The initial forest world nicely eases you into Goblin Sword's gameplay.
There are five worlds in Goblin Sword, and once you complete halfway through the third, the final two worlds open up for you play whenever and in whatever order you like. Levels are relatively short, usually last anywhere between 3-5 minutes in length. The design here is magnificent, constantly throwing new challenges in your path for your to overcome. Replay value comes from the wealth of secrets each level houses.

The enemy variety is immense, throwing in all kinds of foes for your hero to face.
In each level there are two hidden treasure chests to find, either containing precious gems to purchase new weapons, armor, and skill-bestowing relics, or actual treasure. This can come in the form of a new weapon, armor, or relic, but also things like potions that when four have been collected, you earn a new heart of health to add to your total.

There are also three crystals hidden in each level as well. Some are right out in the open, requiring some careful, precision platforming to attain, while others use a common trick in Goblin Sword. You see, there are a lot of secret alcoves in the game, all of which are uncovered by walking through what initially seems like a solid wall. Most of the game's secrets are placed behind such innocuous spots, meaning that in every level, you'll want to jump into any curious-looking walls, hoping to find a hidden area. This can be a bit exhausting, leaping into every wall in hopes of finding a secret path, but most are placed in locations that show intelligent design.

Blue orbs found in levels grant you a temporary upgrade to your weapon's attack ability.
Finding all of the crystals in a world unlocks a super special secret level that dishes out the most challenge of Goblin Sword, whether it's tough and difficult enemy placement, a barrage of enemies, or intricate and challenging platforming. As all levels in Goblin Sword lack checkpoints since they're so relatively short, you'll need to bring your "A" game in these especially tricky levels.

Each world houses two boss battles. One takes place after the first half of levels have been finished off while the second happens at the end. They're their own stages, so there's no worry about having to go through a platforming test before you have to face off with the boss. Boss battles have patterns to follow, tricky attacks to dodge, and spots where they're temporarily immobile, perfect for getting a few strikes in on their health bar. These battles are indeed a lot of fun and require skill in overcoming them.

Geez! Did someone pee in this boss's cereal this morning or what?!
Overcoming levels and bosses isn't made difficult because the touch controls of Goblin Sword work quite well. Moreover, if you demand greater precision in your controls, you can use a compatible MFi controller for added comfort and accuracy. I used the latter for the most part, and my enjoyment of Goblin Sword was heightened because of it.

While you explore levels and take on bosses, you'll earn gems to be used in Goblin Sword's shop. No worries about any microtransactions here. Everything in the shop is purchased via these gems, whether it's new swords with varying statistics (in attack power, speed of use, and range) as well as their own special attacks, used when your hero comes across special blue orbs in levels. Armor seems to be only good for fashion reasons, as you take the same damage regardless of what armor you wear. Finally, relics can be purchased, giving you abilities like more health-restoring hearts dropped by enemies, the ability to glide, or a super helpful triple jump for more challenging, platforming-centric levels.

A wide range of weaponry, armor, and relics are available for you to purchase with gems found in levels.
Goblin Sword will take most players about five hours to go through. Then there's the various achievements available to try to complete, such as clearing every level 100%, beating all bosses, buying everything in the shop, and overcome time trials in levels. There's a lot to do in Goblin Sword, and the great part is that once you pay the amazingly low price of $1.99 for the game (Careful, Phil, you're sounding like a late night TV infomercial), you've paid all you need to in this IAP-free title.

If you're looking for an incredibly fun, superbly designed 2D hack-and-slash action platformer (a mouthful, for sure), then Goblin Sword fits that bill wonderfully. It holds many fun secrets in its levels, the boss battles are fantastic, it has plenty of content for its price, and the controls are essentially immaculate. The story is needless, and the reliance on secret alcoves in the level design might drive some players crazy, but overall, Goblin Sword amazes in nearly every virtual crevice.

[SPC Says: A-]

Monday, April 11, 2016

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs - A Masters Masterpiece Edition

The Masters is over, and the most exciting event in golf is now in the past. However, SuperPhillip Central has the perfect answer to-- okay, what am I talking about. This edition has no golf in it whatsoever, and I just needed a catchy edition name.

That notwithstanding, some stellar titles are featured this week, starting off with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. We then take it to the court with Mario Tennis Open. Following this is a trip to Terranigma, then an excursion to Pirate Lagoon from Diddy Kong Racing. Finally, we wrap up with a cheesy (in all the good ways) vocal theme from cult classic Burning Rangers.

For those interested in perusing past VGM volumes of SuperPhillip Central's weekly segment, check out the VGM Database at this link.

v1116. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64, 3DS) - Title Theme

I couldn't help but bring back a game to SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs that is honest to goodness my favorite of all time. Now, that's not to say I remember everything about it. It isn't as easy to remember every facet and quirk about it as, say, a shorter game like Mega Man X, also a favorite. However, I do hold the game very dear. Touching songs like the one heard here for the title sequence as Link moves across beautiful Hyrule Field certainly help this feeling. The piano and ocarina combination is indeed a very endearing and romantic one.

v1117. Mario Tennis Open (3DS) - Wario Dunes

While Mario Tennis Open was a disappointment for many, I enjoyed the game and found a good amount of play time from it. Things could only go up with the next Mario Tennis, right? Well, about that... Anyway, the soundtrack for Mario Tennis Open, penned by Motoi Sakuraba, is full of tremendous grooves and catchy rhythms. It's great to play a spirited match of tennis to.

v1118. Terranigma (SNES) - Crysta

It's only fair that North America didn't see Terranigma while the rest of the world did. I mean, Startropics didn't see a Japanese release at all, and for the longest time (until the Wii Virtual Console, to be somewhat exact) Super Mario RPG was unavailable to Europeans. Since I'm based in the States (middle America, to be somewhat exact), I missed out on Terranigma, and I because of this I hold no emotional attachment to the game. That's how I know the game's soundtrack is something special.

v1119. Diddy Kong Racing (N64) - Pirate Lagoon

One of the lone hovercraft-only courses in Diddy Kong Racing, Pirate Lagoon has you carefully navigating your craft through hostile waters, tight turns, through a narrow cavernous chamber, and back outside near a wrecked pirate ship. Dave Wise once again delights with his music stylings, delivering a catchy, upbeat, and uptempo soundtrack that gets regular plays on my iTunes.

v1120. Burning Rangers (SAT) - Angels With Burning Hearts (English Version)

Rock out with this final VGM volume for this week. It's from a cult classic game for a cult classic system. It's Burning Rangers from the Sega Saturn. The game isn't totally unknown, as it got a new audience with the Burning Depths course in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. One of my least favorite tracks due to its hard to see turns, but a track in the game all the same. Gotta love the cheesy vocals, rock guitar, and sax!

Touching Tribute Message for Satoru Iwata Placed in Star Fox Zero's Credits Sequence

UPDATE (3:21 pm CST): The video has been delisted. However, you can still see the screenshot below.

How about some touching news to hit you right in your feels to start the work week? Despite the embargo for Star Fox Zero not being over until a little over a week, one YouTuber has posted the credits sequence for the game on his channel. That's not the news here, although it doesn't say much about embargoes if people nowadays keep blatantly breaking them.

No, the news is that Nintendo's staff have left a heartfelt and touching message for former president Satoru Iwata, who passed away last July, within the credits of Star Fox Zero. This message occurs after the staffers' names have been listed and while the credits theme hits its dramatic conclusion.

The message reads as follows: "This game is dedicated to our wingman who fell in battle." The wingman is obviously Satoru Iwata. It's a splendid calling to a man who did so much for Nintendo, much more the game industry.

Watch the video for yourself to see the message (for as long as the video stays uploaded), or just hit this link to go directly to the message.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Lovely Planet (Wii U eShop) Review

It's time for a Sunday evening review for a game that has seen release on Steam as well as on Xbox One. However, this review is focused on the newly released Wii U eShop port. Here's SuperPhillip Central's review of the Wii U eShop version of Lovely Planet.

The planet may be lovely, but the game unfortunately isn't.

I wanted to love Lovely Planet so much. Really I did. It has a pleasant flat polygon art style, catchy, if not infectious tunes, and a nice premise to it. However, several frustrations all revolving around the "hard for the wrong reasons" difficulty made Lovely Planet decidedly less than lovely when all is said and done.

Lovely Planet has you playing through over 80 levels of first-person shooting action. The objective of each level is to defeat every enemy through shooting them while getting to the goal. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, this is made challenging through a host of things wanting nothing more than to kill you and means for making you fail.

Whether it's pink balls of goo that you innocently brush against, enemies that shoot slow-moving bullets at you, spikes, innocent blue creatures that if you shoot you immediately fail the level, and apples that launch from catapults that if you don't destroy them before they touch the ground, you lose. The latter isn't made totally clear, so it took me a little while to catch on to this nugget of information.

Don't shoot those blue characters, or you'll find yourself restarting this level.
Levels are relatively short affairs, taking less than thirty seconds to complete, but that's only on a perfect run. Otherwise, you essentially have to memorize levels for all the obstacles and death traps, making more and more progress through each attempt. (Though you can use hit the 2 button-- not the 1 button like the on-screen prompt says-- to check out a level ahead of time.) You can easily fail a level upwards of a hundred times, though this isn't so common in the early worlds. Thankfully, once you do get fail a level, you're instantly brought back to the beginning to try it again with no pauses. The problem here, though, with Lovely Planet is that you fail levels due to not having known what was coming ahead instead of being able to observe your surroundings and dodge obstacles that way. It's all rote memorization, and it's all frustrating, too much so that it will test the patience of most players almost immediately.

In addition to that, there's plenty of platforming to be done in this first-person shooter. Not knowing where your feet are when you have platforms that are quite thin, some even disappearing from out from under your feet before you even know what happened, it becomes very easy to fall into the abyss. The platforming here isn't tight, and what challenge there is comes from falling off levels accidentally because you couldn't grasp where the end of a platform was.

The visuals look delightful, stylish, and dare I say, lovely.
The fact that Lovely Planet completely lacks an aiming reticle for targeting makes going for any kind of accuracy an annoyance. Be prepared to die because you couldn't properly aim at a foe before it could shoot you into oblivion. While through repeated playing does give you a sixth sense on where to aim to take down faraway foes, it's something that is a learning curve and something that I found to be needless.

On Wii U, you can play Lovely Planet with the Wii U GamePad, using dual analog to aim, though this isn't preferred due to how clunky the controls feel, or you can use the Wii Remote and Nunchuk combination, which offers pointer controls and the ability to adjust the sensitivity of aiming and turning. This was my desired method of playing Lovely Planet, and while I never found the aiming perfect despite tinkering with the sensitivity a mighty amount, it ended up being fun to use regardless.

A lovely shot. (Have you noticed how much I'm really milking this "lovely" thing?)
For those who aren't turned away by the brutally hard difficulty, levels in Lovely Planet each have three stars to gain through various means. The first is always earned from defeating every enemy in a level. This is mandatory to pass levels anyway, so it's always earned. The second is through completing a level within a specific time. Finally, you need to not miss any shots to earn the third star, which as I noted before, is no easy task. Fortunately, you need not earn all three stars in a single run, so you can focus on one specific challenge each run.

Lovely Planet features a difficulty that feels artificial and worse, unfair. Levels often require rote memorization, perfect platforming when the game doesn't really offer that as a viable option due to the controls, and pinpoint accuracy to stay alive. Be prepared to restart a level a plethora of times. Most players won't have the patience for this. I certainly don't. However, if for some reason you do, then you'll find a ball-busting hard first-person shooter under the disguise of a cute game.

[SPC Says: D+]