Friday, October 28, 2016

Fairune 2 (3DS eShop) Review

Another day, another dollar, and another review! The "another dollar" part is really the only unrealistic thing here, but that's unimportant! What IS important here is that SuperPhillip Central has Circle Entertainment's Fairune 2 to cover. A game filled with exploration and adventuring, Fairune 2 happened to be an entertaining experience overall. See how with the SuperPhillip Central review.

An old school adventure is in your hands

Circle Entertainment has been a fine localizing partner for many games that might otherwise never leave the East. Games of multiple genres and types come pouring out of the publisher, and the quality is generally quite favorable for them to keep doing so. The latest game published by Circle Entertainment is Fairune 2, a game hearkening back to a more old school design. Thankfully, this old school design does not make for an antique of a game.

Fairune 2 is part RPG, part adventure game. Really, the main focus of the game is exploring a myriad of maps to attain items to discover ways to progress further in the game. The main goal of Fairune 2 is to save three faeries from their imprisonment in the game's three main areas. Along the way you'll further the rather bare-bones story, but at the same time you'll most likely be enjoying yourself.

Fairune 2 is not the type of game that holds your hand. You're immediately set loose into a plains area where some modest exploration gives you a sword. This sword is your means of attacking enemies, but there really is no complexity to combat. All you do is walk into an enemy sprite, and that foe is defeated. Depending on your experience level, you'll lose some HP and gain some experience. The lower your level compared to the enemy you collide with, the more HP you lose and the more experience you gain. Early in Fairune 2 you'll find yourself defeating enemies while taking zero damage and gaining zero experience. However, as you progress through the game, you're always taking on new enemies with greater strength, so there is usually always something new to gain experience from, and thus, new levels. Even enemies that give no experience or cause no harm are worthwhile because they can occasionally drop money.

Combat is a bit of an afterthought in Fairune 2, but it does serve a small purpose.
So, really, the RPG and combat aspects of Fairune 2 are really just their to check boxes. They're not really important to the overall game or feel very iterated on. The true fun from Fairune 2 comes from the game's adventuring aspect. While the various maps of the game aren't too terribly big, they do house a lot of fascinating points of interest, many of which you will probably not be prepared to tackle right away. This is usually due to not having the correct item in your inventory.

Yes, items are a really big part of Fairune 2. Generally in the game you're walking around areas searching for the right order of steps to do to make progress. For instance, finding an axe allows you to cut down a specific tree, which in turn allows you to use that tree's logs to build a bridge to access a new section of the game. This specific order in which you have to do things may make for an appearance of linearity, but there are secrets hidden in Fairune 2's world that are completely optional to find to add to some good reasons to search every nook and cranny the game's various lands possess.

You'll come across a wide assortment of items in Fairune 2, each with their own specific uses.
Again, Fairune 2 doesn't hold your hand. There are no hints to be found. All that will assist you in the game is your own observance of the game world in which you explore. It's not just as simple as having the correct item. You have to realize when it's the right moment to use it. Even when you have the correct item, you might not know when, where, or even how to use it. Without spoiling the fun of figuring this out for yourself, there is a specific area in the snow world of Fairune 2 that requires you to use something in your inventory in a nontraditional way to find your way through a Legend of Zelda Lost Woods-style maze. When you finally get what you need to do, and not just in this example, it's such a rewarding feeling and "ah-ha" moment. Sometimes a puzzle won't even require an item, but through careful examination of the environment, the solution will usually present itself.

Solving puzzles with and without the use of items is the main element of gameplay in Fairune 2.
Occasionally, there are some frustrations with the adventuring aspects of Fairune 2. There is a lot of backtracking to be found in this game, and sometimes you don't know the item that you need is actually in a past area you've already visited. This means you can search up and down, left and right, and forwards and backwards through an area before you finally figure out that area doesn't have the item you require. The frustration increases as more and more time goes by before it finally dawns on you that what you're looking for isn't in your current area.

Fairune 2 is a rather lengthy adventure to do everything in, taking anywhere between 8-12 hours. That's a mighty good amount of time for the cost of the game. There are an assortment of achievements to try to tackle as well-- things like simply beating the game to doing so without a sword, or properly filling out every map. Then, your play time will increase even more through going after these additional goals.

The bottom screen's map is a blessing for getting your bearings.
Sporting a lovely retro art style, Fairune 2 dazzles with its colorful areas and simple but appealing sprites. The music is also suitably and charmingly retro, offering a catalog of catchy songs that even after repeatedly venturing through each area does not get grating on the ears. Despite being on the Nintendo 3DS, Fairune 2 does not sport any depth effects with the 3D slider. It's 2D all the way, which will at least save your battery to have extended sessions exploring the world of Fairune 2.

Fairune 2 is a marvelous adventure that works due to the logic of its puzzles. Every solution makes sense in some regard. There's never a feeling of "how was I supposed to know that" that ever shines through in the game. Occasional bothers like the throwaway combat and backtracking do hinder the experience somewhat, but overall, Fairune 2 delivers old school charm and old school game design influences without feeling antiquated.

[SPC Says: B]

Review code provided by CIRCLE Ent.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Severed (3DS eShop) Review

Here's a rather dark and macabre title for Halloween, coming early next week. It's Severed, from the team behind Guacamelee. It's a stark contrast compared to their past game, but like Guac, it's definitely worth checking out. Here's the SuperPhillip Central review.

A cut, slice, and slash above other dungeon crawlers.

After playing through Guacamelee!, I became a big fan of Drinkbox Studios and watched their content with eager eyes. After the lighthearted humor that Guacamelee holds, I wasn't quite expecting Drinkbox's next game taking a much different approach. Underneath its vibrant, colorful, and mysterious world, Severed houses an emotional tale that will keep players engaged from beginning to end. And if the story doesn't do that, then the combat and exploration certainly will.

Severed begins with your character, Sasha, standing before a mirror. Notably missing from her body is her left arm, just a stump dripping with blood. A brief flashback reveals how Sasha lost her limb as well as how she was separated from her family: her mother, her father, and her brother. Heeding the words of a cloaked, ethereal figure, Sasha takes a sword and wears her mother's armor, venturing out into a dangerous world.

Right away you'll notice a very different tone compared to Drinkbox's previous game.
If you've played a first-person dungeon crawler before, then you might feel right at home with Severed. You move square by square, turning left and right, and moving forwards and backwards through relatively claustrophobic areas from forests to puzzle-filled dungeons. Some squares on maps are empty, devoid of any challenge, while others hold a monster or two (or three, or four) to fight, a switch to pull, or some kind of puzzle to solve.

The monsters Sasha encounters throughout her journey are quite the interesting beasts. Some have spider-like characteristics while others are just monstrous amalgamations that really show the enemy designers' creativity.

The actual combat against these creatures is full of fun. There is ample strategy to consider rather than just using the stylus to furiously slash at foes. Slashing can be performed with long strokes for heavy damage or quick, short strokes for lighter attacks. Enemies don't just sit there and idle by as Sasha strikes them either. They can defend by covering up their weak point through curling into a ball, using their arm to shield themselves, among other tactics. Enemies each have a circular gauge that when full, initiates an attack from them. By slashing in the exact opposite direction of their intended attack, Sasha can block the enemy's offensive advance. Missing the timing or failing to slash at the right angle results in Sasha taking damage.

When an enemy's attack gauge is full, get ready to block with a correctly aimed slash.
The idea of strategy in Severed's combat really comes to light when taking on more than one foe at a time. Generally the maximum amount of enemies Sasha can take on at once is four. Through you eyeing each enemy's attack gauge you can plan which foe to attack first. Sometimes attacking a foe will lower that enemy's attack gauge so you can engage a more dangerous foe. You really have to prioritize which enemy you go after, when to spin around to block an enemy before they can cause you damage. It gets mighty challenging in some later battles where you have to constantly spin around and face enemies to prevent them from causing hurt to Sasha.

Then, there is something that is introduced in the second half of Severed known as buffs. These produce one or multiple benefits to enemies, such as a faster filling of a foe's attacking gauge, greater attack strength, greater defense, health regeneration, and the ability to block magic completely. These buffs make you want to prioritize which enemies you go after even more. Perhaps a foe with health regen should be saved for last so you can take out that baddie's buddies first so when you're distracted by another foe, that health-regenerating foe won't be healing himself as you're dealing with his friends.

Each foe tries to block Sasha's strikes in varied ways.
For the most part, Severed's slashing and slicing with the stylus feels really good. It feels much more accurate to me than using my meaty finger, which not only covers up the screen but also doesn't give me the same surgeon-like precision of the stylus. The precision works fantastically for when you can slice off (i.e. sever-- so THAT'S one of the ways this game got its name!) the limbs, wings, eyeballs, and more of various enemies. This can occur when your focus meter is at its fullest when you defeat a foe. Each time you make contact and damage an enemy, your focus meter fills. If one of your attacks is blocked before the meter is filled, it empties completely.

The actual severing of enemies isn't just some cool, morbid means of Sasha showing her enemies who's boss. The limbs and extremities that fall from foes are used in three skill trees to enhance her abilities. Things like increased damage, slower enemy gauge speeds, greater defense, and more are available by spending extremities. It makes you want to focus in battle so your meter can fill and you can get the opportunity of trying to carve off enemy eyeballs, limbs, wings, and other macabre collectibles. The great thing about this is that Sasha's skill trees in my save file weren't completed until close to the end of the game, so there was no grinding necessary.

Now, I said Severed's slashing and slicing with the stylus, and in general, feels really good, but I started that sentence with "for the most part." A problem that frustrated me throughout my play time with the game was when charged attacks were concerned. To perform a charge attack, you hold the stylus (or your finger) on the touch screen for a brief amount of time while your sword powers up. When the charge is full, you are supposed to slash the enemy. This is required later in the game for foes with rock armor on one or many of their extremities. Unfortunately, the game is very inconsistent with whether or not your slash after charging up actually registers. This is a big deal when facing four enemies, all with rock armor that needs to be knocked off with charged attacks. Not a deal-breaker for the game, but my biggest problem with Severed all the same.

Don't let this foe's attack gauge get full or else it'll launch this painful spore attack.
As you play through Severed, Sasha gains new abilities that assist in both combat and exploration. The latter is great to open up new areas of places Sasha revisits that house anything between shortcuts to other areas or health or magic meter-boosting items. For instance, a mask that Sasha acquires can use its eyes to open up specially marked walls to reveal passages, while in combat it can freeze enemies who don't have the magic defense buff.

There might be no reason to think much about the Nintendo 3DS version of Severed-- I mean, the PlayStation Vita version came out this past spring and plenty of players have been able to enjoy the game since. Fortunately, the 3DS port has some advantages that come in not only the aforementioned stylus controls, but also exploration is easier. You can assign a map to the top screen that displays a grander view of the current area you're in rather than a smaller map set to the top right corner of the actual game view. I found myself looking at the map often to get acquainted with areas, see where I needed to go, where I haven't gone, and it made getting lost a not-too-common experience. The 3D effect isn't really used to great benefit because of having the map on the top screen, but you can also have gameplay mirrored on both screens if desired.

First-person dungeon crawlers are often full of rustic, earthy areas saturated in brown and dark colors. Compared to those games, Severed easily separates itself from the crowd with its delightfully vibrant and bright visuals. Even places like caverns that you'd expect to be devoid of anything but dark brown hues are interesting to look at. The enemy design was talked about earlier, but I didn't go into just how marvelously these creatures animate. The designers could have gotten away with expressing personality in only their appearance, but how they animate makes them even more impressive. Meanwhile, the music features various atmospheric tracks as well as some tense tunes when the situation calls for them. I couldn't really recall these songs if you asked me to away from the game, but they fit rather well for Severed, and that's really all one could ask for. Memorability is just gravy in this case.

Despite one annoying control gripe regarding charge attacks, Severed is an insanely enjoyable first-person dungeon crawler that uses its touch-based combat smartly to great effect. The game doesn't outwear its welcome, telling a heartfelt and tragic tale that you can't help but hope will end well for Sasha and her family. Exploration is engaging, battles are strategic and tense, and you seldom ever feel you're just going through the motions. After the one-two combo of Guacamelee and now Severed, I eagerly anticipate what comes next from Drinkbox Studios.

[SPC Says: B]

Review copy provided by Drinkbox Studios.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Gurumin 3D: A Monstrous Adventure (3DS eShop) Review

Halloween is quickly approaching, and this is a holiday of thrills, chills, and monsters of all varieties! But why do we have to always celebrate the scary ones? What about the cute and adorable kind? That's what we have here with Gurumin 3D: A Monstrous Adventure, and it's the subject of SuperPhillip Central's next review.

An adventure that both humans and monsters alike can enjoy

Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure is no stranger to platforms. Originally a PC game in Japan, the game was ported to the PlayStation Portable, which was my first encounter with the game, and later on Steam. Now, the Nintendo 3DS gets Gurumin with added features, most notably stereoscopic 3D, for an affordable digital-only release. While the Saturday morning cartoon presentation of the game might not be every player's slice of shortcake, what Gurumin 3D: A Monstrous Adventure might be for everyone else is a rewarding game with fun combat, enjoyable exploration, and crafty puzzles to keep them engaged.

Gurumin follows the story of a young girl named Parin, who moves to a new town to live with her grandfather. He tells Parin that she is the only child in town. That doesn't make for much of a good time, so Parin goes ahead and tries to make one for herself by exploring the town. Upon stumbling on a portal that leads to a village run by monsters, Parin quickly makes new friends of the creature feature variety, although interestingly enough only she can see them when they hang out in town. Nevertheless, the monsters in the creatively titled Monster Village aren't in the best of spirits. A dark mist has surrounded their land and plenty of their priceless possessions have been stolen by a group called the Phantoms. Oh, and some villagers, too, were taken. That's sort of important to mention, right? Taking a modest drill in tow, Parin agrees to return the monsters' possessions to their rightful owners as well as rescue the monster-napped missing villagers, and in the process, gets involved in a plot to save the land from some nefarious foes.

Meander around and mingle with the monsters of Monster Village!
Gurumin's story is told through some pretty cheesy cutscenes, but their Saturday morning cartoon quality is all part of the game's myriad charm. This is a game for all ages, and Gurumin doesn't try to hide that fact through some complex plot. However, by the ending of the game, which takes about 10 hours (give or take an hour or two) to reach, you'll have to have a heart of stone to not have any warm feelings. 

Gurumin is labeled as an action-RPG, though that is not telling the entire story here. Really, Gurumin features plenty of platforming, though nothing as intricate as Mario obviously, in addition to its relatively basic combat. Parin can use a variety of tasks, from things as simple as swipe of her drill to charge attacks to pierce through enemy armor, as well as learn numerous special attacks, performed by inputting simple Circle Pad and button commands. The latter is terrific for delivering big-time damage to more health-endowed enemies.

With that enemy's armor, Parin will need to charge up her drill to pry it off.
Parin enters areas through an interactive world map that adds areas as possessions are returned to the faithful residents of Monster Village, using their happiness from getting their items back to put some holes in the dark mist permeating in the surrounding areas. Areas generally have one of a variety of themes; ruins, caverns, forests, mountains, and more. These, which what can be essentially be called "levels" run anywhere between 10-20 minutes, depending on how much you explore them. 

Early levels are pretty basic in their design. There are few hazards to worry about and easy enemies to vanquish. As you progress through the game, the complexity of the levels, their enemy types, the hazards to concern yourself with, and the difficulty of puzzles increases. Some puzzles are as elementary as lighting all torches in an area or pushing a box onto a button to hold it down, while others involve a little more thinking. Later levels will stop you from even getting past their entrance through cryptic skull signposts that demand you solve their riddles. 

In the beginning, puzzles are as simple as "flip this switch, open that door."
As Parin progresses, things get a little trickier!
Outside of unfriendly monsters to battle, another enemy in Gurumin at times is the unwieldy camera. You have direct control over it by using the shoulder buttons (or with the New Nintendo 3DS, the control nub) to spin the camera around to point it in your desired direction, but there is no ability to tilt it upwards or downwards. This makes seeing areas above and below a problem. Another issue is seen in small rooms where the camera can get blocked by walls. Never did these camera gripes cost me much more than some lost health, but they're notable nonetheless, especially when trying to battle bosses as well as the camera at times. Additionally, there are several occasions where Parin will look like she should be able to grab onto a ledge (which is indeed possible in this game to do), but she'll astonishingly and frustratingly fail to do so. This is more of an issue than the camera, as it led to some unwanted aggravation in later levels.

The levels themselves are considered cleared when Parin reaches the goal, collecting one of the monsters' pilfered possessions. One can master these levels through destroying all of the jars, defeating all enemies, and opening all treasure chests. This is a pretty difficult task without the Cat Ears headgear for Parin, as otherwise you don't have a clear tally of how many jars and chests are left in a room or area. You're on your own to hope you've defeated every enemy in a level, unfortunately, which can be a drag when you painstakingly destroy every jar and open every chest only to be greeted with the ending level notification that you only defeated 32 out of 33 enemies instead of all of them, for example. This leads to a lot of replays of levels that seems a bit unfair and unnecessary. Mastering levels rewards Parin with gold medals that can be traded to her grandfather for rare costume pieces and headgear.

Curses! I thought I defeated all the monsters in this level, but I was wrong!
Headgear is essential in Gurumin, and there are many types to be found, purchased, and collected. Some, like the Goggles, prevent damage when in water, while others like the aforementioned Cat Ears displays how many jars and chests are remaining in a given level's room. These headgear can be leveled up by a seller in town who uses junk dropped by enemies to improve the benefits of Parin's various headgear. Parin can switch through headgear at any time through the pause menu, as well as use the same menu to switch drill elements (ice, fire, or electric) and chow down on life-restoring baked goods like cookies, chocolate bars, and slices of shortcake. 

Gurumin on the Nintendo 3DS shares many similarities graphically with the PSP version. It's not much improved in this regard. The only major improvement is the ability to play the game in 3D, though the effect isn't necessary or too impressive compared to other implementations in other games. The sound is a mix of the previously mentioned (endearingly) cheesy dialogue and some catchy tunes to explore the levels. Though an issue with the music stuttering during loading times and transitions is unfortunately present. 

Some uninvited guests have arrived to ruin Parin's peaceful trip through these ruins.
Gurumin 3D; A Monstrous Adventure is not without problems (mostly pertaining to the camera and the requirement for mastering levels), but overall, the game is an enjoyable mix of light platforming, simple combat, fun puzzle-solving, engrossing exploration, and charming storytelling. The additional difficulties, new costumes that you can acquire through multiple play-throughs, and mastering of levels ensures that there will be a lot of bang for your buck if you decide to invest in this affordable adventure. And you should because it's ultimately a monstrous good time.

[SPC Says: C+]

Review copy provided by Mastiff.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 (3DS eShop) Review

We're approaching the end of the month with naught a review in site! Until now! This review starts a boon of reviews for October for SuperPhillip Central. We start off with the action-packed glitz and glamour of Azure Striker Gunvolt 2, a game that outdoes its predecessor quite admirably! See how with the SuperPhillip Central review.

Second verse, notably different from the first.

Between Azure Striker Gunvolt, Mighty No. 9, and 20XX, there are no shortage of titles competing to take the run, gun, action-platforming throne that Capcom's Mega Man has since abandoned. While the original Azure Striker Gunvolt was a fun romp and a nice attempt from developer Inti Creates at creating a successor to Mega Man, their second go at things, Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 is in a league of its own.

One of the big draws of Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 is the ability to play as not just one but two characters. After proceeding through the opening stages, you have the choice of choosing to play the campaign as either Gunvolt or his rival from the original game as well as this one, the Adept-hating-and-hunting human Copen. The levels you play as each character are almost totally unique from one another, and each also has their own plot, select-able order of boss stages to play and beat, experience levels to earn, skills to use, and their own set of challenges.

As a side note, challenges are much more desirable this time around. One major reason is that you aren't forced to choose a challenge to attempt, and you're not limited to picking just three at a time. Rather, after you beat a level, you can attempt as many challenges at once as you like, making for a much faster means of finishing off challenges and earning rewards such as materials to make new equip-able items and money. The percentage of challenges completed for each character also affects what ending you get. Challenges range from getting a certain rank on a level through proficient play to level-specific goals such as beating a mid-boss in a specific time frame or breaking all of the windows in the cathedral stage as Gunvolt.

Back to Gunvolt and Copen, these two protagonists aren't just two sides of a different campaign. They thankfully also play incredibly differently from one another. Gunvolt uses his bullets to tag enemies, and instead of those being the main means to eliminate enemies like in a game like Mega Man, when Gunvolt pulls up an electrified Flashfield around him, all tagged enemies take damage. Of course, you can't just spam the Flashfield all you want. It takes up energy, and if you use it too much, Gunvolt overheats, making his susceptible to enemy attacks. Energy can be restored either over time, or through double tapping the down direction on the D-Pad.

The more you tag a foe, the greater the damage to that enemy from GV's Flashfield.
Meanwhile, Copen uses a more athletic means of attacking. Through air dashing into foes, he tags targets, allowing him to fire and destroy enemies with ease. It's really fun to dash from foe to foe, destroying each without touching the ground in order to gain more points. Of course, like Gunvolt, there's a limit to how much Copen can use his signature ability, and that's denoted by the orange bullets on the bottom left corner of the main screen. When Copen takes damage, a bullet goes away. If he's damaged without any bullets filled, then his health gauge lowers from actual damage.

With Copen, you dash into a foe (no, not like Mighty No. 9), and then unleash your furor onto them.
Copen is more like Mega Man than Gunvolt is, and I don't mean by how he attacks. You see, after defeating one of the game's seven main bosses, Copen takes that boss's special attack to be used whenever he likes. Unlike Mega Man, however, each weapon doesn't have its own gauge of how many times you can use it. Instead, they all use one main gauge that refills rather quickly when a weapon isn't used.

Defeat a boss as Copen to earn his or her specialty weapon. Hmm. That sounds a bit familiar.
Another piece of the game that is exclusive to Copen is the use of chips. When equipped, different chips provide different benefits to Copen, such as more bullets to work with, quicker energy recovery, and more. Each chip takes up a certain amount of memory in Copen's repertoire, and since he has a limited amount of storage available to him, you can't gung-ho with equipping chips. Overloading Copen's available memory will unleash adverse effects in-game to him, some rather devastating. Fortunately, hidden in many levels are memory upgrades that add memory to Copen. Not only are these helpful, but they're fun to find.

The actual levels are more intricately designed compared to the original game. There is a wide array of horizontal sections as well as verticality to consider. Levels meander all over the place, and exploration isn't just some frivolous option this time around either. This time it's encouraged not just by getting medals for bonus opportunities after the completion of a level, but certain challenges ask of you to find all five medals in a given level. Some of these are hidden really well, forcing you to leave no stone un-turned, or in this case, area unexplored.

One of Copen's exclusive levels, this highway, is one of my favorites in Azure Striker Gunvolt 2.
At the conclusion of each level stands a formidable opponent for either Gunvolt or Copen to engage. Boss battles rely on the quick noting of patterns, competent evasion of attacks, knowing when to provide offense and when to get the hell out of the way from an attack, and finding the best means to empty a boss's health gauge, which is divided into three parts. As each part is emptied, the boss gains new attacks, and when two-thirds is removed, the boss unleashes its special attack. These special attacks usually take up a lot of real estate on the screen and the first time facing the boss can seem a bit unfair, as you really have to know what to expect to avoid the attack. Thankfully, one-hit kill moves are foreign to Azure Striker Gunvolt 2, so the worst you can expect is a reasonable chunk of health removed from your character's gauge.

Azure Striker Gunvolt 2's individual campaigns are a tad shorter than Gunvolt's campaign in the original game. However, playing both campaigns together, leveling up each character, and finishing off a majority of the challenges for both characters adds a greater duration of play time overall. You can beat campaigns fully in less than ten hours, but there is a lot of replay value that comes afterward in boss rushes, secret levels, and leaderboards.

Like Azure Striker Gunvolt, the game's sequel possesses a gorgeous 2D art style that looks absolutely beautiful. The spritework is immensely detailed and well done, and the backgrounds are pure eye candy. Effects like explosions and such are also quite engaging to the eye. That said, the UI does have some issues, particularly with the dialogue. Text boxes take up a significant portion of the screen's real estate, sometimes even covering up dangers like enemies and bosses (it covers a portion of the left side of the screen as well as the bottom, albeit transparent). I never died because a text box was in the way, but it is something to consider while playing. Upon repeated play-throughs of levels, there is a nice quality of life implementation where you can completely turn off conversations, meaning you'll seldom be stopped for scenes containing dialogue. This makes replays of levels much less taxing than they were in the original Azure Striker Gunvolt.

If you don't care for anime melodrama, you might want to just skip through story sequences like these.
Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 is indeed what I would call the heir to the Mega Man throne. Where games like Mighty No. 9 failed, Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 excels with blistering fast and satisfying gameplay with two unique play styles, challenges that encourage multiple play-throughs of levels, and regarding these levels, speaking of which, levels that can be played leisurely or briskly in pace that are fun to play repeatedly, and a story that is engaging from start to finish. Although Capcom currently has Azure Striker Gunvolt 2's inspiration on indefinite hiatus, Gunvolt and Copen are more than competent enough to take the Blue Bomber's place.

[SPC Says: A]

Monday, October 24, 2016

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs - Retro Rampage Edition

We're going retro again this edition of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs. From Nintendo's first home console to Sega's 16-bit system, this edition covers a lot of platforms from the [depending who you talk to] golden days of gaming.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 starts things off followed by the dungeon theme from StarTropics. Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters is our halfway point this week. Then, we delve into the innovative Sega Genesis beat-em-up Comix Zone. Finally, we take to a scorched Neo City with Contra III: The Alien Wars.

As always, just click on the VGM volume name to hear the song listed. Also, check out the VGM Database if you wish to listen to past VGMs featured on this weekly segment. Now, let's get on to the music!

v1251. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (GEN) - Aquatic Ruin Zone

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is the longest Sonic the Hedgehog game on the Genesis when talking about standalone iterations (i.e. not a combined experience like Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles was). Aquatic Ruin Zone is the third zone in the game, and the second to house hedgehog-deterring water in it. Be careful not to explore the briny deep for too long without the assistance of some air bubbles!

v1252. StarTropics (NES) - Dungeons

Nintendo fans, particularly longtime Nintendo fans since the NES days, have been yearning for a revisit to the StarTropics series from modern Nintendo. After all, Kid Icarus saw a lovely revival on the Nintendo 3DS that did relatively well. Regardless, StarTropics was a Zelda-like game with enjoyable exploration, more linearity, and yes, fun dungeons, where this theme plays.

v1253. Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters (GB) - Underworld Tower (Level 1)

Speaking of Kid Icarus, before Pit was reintroduced into the world with Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Kid Icarus: Uprising, he starred in two games: Kid Icarus for the NES and Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters for the Game Boy. I prefer the latter due to its easier difficulty (though still pretty darn tough!) and better music, such as this jaunty and catchy theme.

v1254. Comix Zone (GEN) - Episode 1, Page 1-2

Comix Zone is a mighty creative game, taking place not in typical left-to-right beat-em-up levels, but instead from comic book panel to comic book panel. The soundtrack of Comix Zone has a bit of a grungy feel to it, as you can hear with this early theme heard in the game.

v1255. Contra III: The Alien Wars (SNES) - Stage 1: The Streets of Neo City

My favorite Contra game remains Contra III: The Alien Wars. I attribute this to it being the first one I ever played. Good times were had with my brother, jumping and shooting through alien and enemy-infested areas, such as this first stage in the fiery domain of Neo City. This energizing song gets you pumped to unleash hell on your foes.