Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Central City Census - November 2016

It's a new month, and it's time for SuperPhillip Central to collect the results from the Central City Census used for the previous two months, September and October!

The question that was posed was one about whether readers and passersby purchased more physical copies of games or digital copies. Physical led with over half the vote, while a mix of both received nearly 40% of the vote. Meanwhile, digital was limited to less than 13% of the total vote.

This month's question is all about the recently announced Nintendo Switch. It's simply a question of whether or not you guys have an interest in it after what you've seen.

Mario Party: Star Rush (3DS) Frenzied Friends Trailer

Mario Party returns this Friday in North America, and it's looking quite the mini-game-filled bash! This time, everyone moves at the same time across a myriad of boards in the main mode, while other modes offer varied rule sets. SuperPhillip Central will have a review of Mario Party: Star Rush later this month!

Monday, October 31, 2016

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs - Halloween Havoc Edition

SuperPhillip Central ends October with SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs' Halloween edition. Five songs from  a handful horror-centric games. Heck, even a game that doesn't follow that theme is featured this week.

Resident Evil 6 delivers a chilling main theme as its offering to this week's featured VGMs. Then, TimeSplitters 2 gets into the spirit of Halloween with a haunting Gothic theme. Castlevania: Curse of Darkness might not have exquisite gameplay, but its soundtrack is more than worthy enough to have it featured on this week's edition. We go retro with Decap Attack to get a cartoon-y take on the holiday, and finally, Silent Hill 2 offers a soft and subtle track to chill to.

As always, dear fiends, just click on the VGM volume name to listen to it, and check out the VGM Database, boys and ghouls, for every VGM ever featured on the SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs. Now, let's get on to the music!

v1256. Resident Evil 6 (Multi) - Main Theme (Chris & Piers)

A tense and mysterious theme, Resident Evil 6 may not have had critical acclaim with either reviewers or fans, but there is no denying two things: 1) It sold really well, and 2) Its soundtrack continues the series's tradition of fantastic music. This main theme of the game really sets the tone and mood for what follows.

v1257. TimeSplitters 2 (PS2, GCN, XBX) - Notre Dame

Here, we have a game that is primarily a fast-paced first-person shooter, one devised up of objective-based missions, my personal favorite kind of FPS campaign. One of the levels in TimeSplitters 2 takes place in the zombie and creeper-infested catacombs of the Notre Dame cathedral, as well as in the actual cathedral itself, where a rather massive boss needs to be taken down. The haunting organ and choir really sends chills down one's spine as they travel through the Gothic environments of this rather enjoyable, if not unsettling, level.

v1258. Castlevania: Curse of Darkness (PS2) - Abandoned Castle ~ The Curse of Darkness

We've gone rather slow-paced for SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs so far, but I'd be remiss if I didn't include a theme from Castlevania. After all, what is Halloween without some Castlevania? This uptempo tune comes from one of the 3D entries of the series, Castlevania: Curse of Darkness. While the quality of the gameplay didn't make a pleasant transition from the 2D games, what remains great quality is the soundtrack.

v1259. Decap Attack (GEN) - Stage 3

And what would a Halloween edition of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs be if we didn't take a trip back in time for some retro goodness? It would be incomplete, that's what it'd be! This is why Decap Attack, a rather macabre 2D platformer where you sling your character's head into enemies to beat them into submission, is being represented this Halloween on the Favorite VGMs. Containing that Sega Genesis sound chip charm, Stage 3 from Decap Attack continues the catchy feeling of the soundtrack-- make no bones about that.

v1260. Silent Hill 2 (PS2) - Forest

We conclude on a somber and soft note with Forest from Silent Hill 2. It's a much more relaxed and soothing song than anything else featured on this special Halloween edition of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs, but it's from Silent Hill 2, one of the greatest psychological thrillers in the video game medium. Thus, it deserves a place in this edition.

Happy Halloween: Spooky Levels in Non-Horror Video Games

Happy Halloween to all readers regular and passersby here at SuperPhillip Central! May your day be full of terror-ific fun! Man, I'm using puns as bad as the Cryptkeeper here! Nonetheless, it wouldn't be Halloween on SuperPhillip Central without some special article, and what better way to bring this haunted holiday than with a collection of some of my favorite spooky levels from video games. However, it'd be way too easy to mention those twisted locales from horror games, so we're going to take a look at some scary sights from non-horror video games. This list is hardly all of my favorites, so for some others, I guess we'll just have to wait until next Halloween!

Ghost Houses - Super Mario World

Super Mario World introduced a lot of new concepts to the world of Mario. From Yoshi to secret exits in levels to a new level type: ghost houses. The various ghost houses in Super Mario World are usually the most fiendish levels in the game. The enemies are usually impossible to keep down or even defeat for that matter, and if the enemies don't do you in, the multitude of fake doors leading to areas you've already been will play with your mind. The exits to these ghost houses are usually found through some type of puzzle, not quite like the normal levels where you can just run from one end of the level to the other. Some ghost houses are even home to the behemoth Big Boo, which makes for a rather exciting boss fight against someone other than Bowser or his Koopalings.

Twisted Mansion - Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)

I was mulling over which spooky race in Mario Kart I would have represent the series on this list. It was between this pick and Luigi's Mansion from Mario Kart DS and again in Mario Kart 7 as a retro race. However, Luigi's Mansion will be represented next, albeit in a different game series. Regardless, Twisted Mansion takes place under cloudy skies in a mysterious mansion where the track starts by driving through the entrance. After a split consisting of two parallel undulating pathways, a left U-turn curve is made. A shortcut that cuts off this curve is available to those with a Mushroom, jetting them through a tunnel full of bookshelves. Either way, you end up going underwater in a submerged basement filled with ultimately harmless but gruesome all the same fish made of nothing but bone. After escaping this damp dungeon, you glide over an outdoor fountain, ride up some steps on a slight curve and head towards the finish line, attempting to avoid a trio of statues that wish to pound you into pudding. Twisted Mansion has the look of a scary course, and it's just an overall fun haunt to race around on.

Luigi's Mansion - Luigi's Mansion (GCN)

Not only is Luigi's Mansion the star of the game of the same name (besides Luigi, of course), but it's also its own character really as well. The entire game takes place in and around the grounds of the mansion. The mansion only allows Luigi to explore a small amount of rooms at first, investigating them with his trusty Poltergust. Through gaining keys from solving simple to complex puzzles and taking on bosses, Luigi gains access to larger parts of the mansion. The environments of Luigi's Mansion are teeming with personality and ambiance, providing the character of the mansion that I talked about earlier. While the game is hardly scary at all, this ambiance gives the entire mansion an endearingly haunted charm.

Mad Monster Mansion - Banjo-Kazooie (N64, XBLA)

From one mansion to another, a late level in Banjo-Kazooie, which just so happens to remain my favorite 3D collect-a-thon-style platformer around, Mad Monster Mansion is a sprawling but dense level set under a midnight sky. Full of skeleton enemies, ghosts, and tricky bats, Mad Monster Mansion also contains lots of unique landmarks. The mansion itself rests in the center of the level, as the main point of interest. Banjo and Kazooie can even explore many of its rooms through smashing through windows. To the mansion's west is a shrub maze where ghoulish ghosts make their home, while to the north of that is an old cathedral where a ghostly hand tickles the ivories of a massive church organ. It's a haunted level full of tricks and treats, Mad Monster Mansion is a favorite spooky level of mine.

Haukke Manor - Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (Multi)

There's nothing like a good story and background on a spooky setting to send chills down one's spine. The story behind Haukke Manor is one of a vain woman who desired to keep her beauty no matter what. It started with simple creams and tinctures, but when that wasn't enough, the woman started using the blood of her servants. Eventually she signed away her soul for eternal beauty, and her damned spirit still roams the halls of Haukke Manor. The manor itself is dripping with creepy atmosphere, and the battle encounters players find themselves participating in whether intentionally or not takes them fighting a myriad of macabre foes, including the vain woman of legend herself.

Pumpkin Hill - Sonic Adventure 2 (Multi)

The first level that players assume control of Knuckles during the Hero side of Sonic Adventure 2's dual-story setup, Pumpkin Hill is littered with the titular produce whether it's small pumpkins or massive-sized pumpkin structures strewn about in the horizon. Alongside the pumpkins are other spooky sights, such as villainous ghost enemies, gravestones, and skeletons. The goal of Knuckles' levels is to find three emerald shards hidden in different locations. Each time you play, the locations are switched up. But Knuckles ain't gonna let it get to him, as he's just gonna creep. Why let me say it, when you can hear it and see a jaunty little dance simultaneously?

Hang Castle - Sonic Heroes (PS2, GCN, XBX)

A less notorious pick from the Sonic the Hedgehog series than Sonic Adventure 2's Pumpkin Hill, due to a massive lack of memes and Knuckles raps, Hang Castle is a level in the second half of Sonic Heroes. It features Gothic-style architecture, crazy loops, and a foreboding sky. However, that isn't the main draw of this level. You see, Hang Castle has a rather clever mechanic to it. At different points in the level, Hang Castle becomes inverted, so the sky is now below Sonic and friends' feet and platforms that couldn't be accessed before can now be walked on. It's a wonderfully ingenious idea for a Sonic level, pending you can stomach Sonic Heroes long enough to reach it.

Shade Man's Stage - Mega Man 7 (SNES)

Let's go retro for this final example of a spooky level from a non-horror genre video game with Shade Man's stage from Mega Man 7, an often underrated entry in the series. Shade Man's stage feels very much like it escaped from Capcom's own Ghost 'n Goblins series, which is pretty coincidental that you can actually input a code before entering the level to hear the famous Ghost 'n Goblins theme instead of the stage's normal song. Regardless, you get robotic zombies rising from the ground and out of standing coffins, bats that awaken and fly downward in the Blue Bomber's path, and dangerous obstacles like platforms that smash downward, not inflicting instant death, but lots of pain instead. The midboss, a robotic pumpkin, holds the secret to two different alternate paths in the level, depending on where you inflict the final shot on it. From exploring the outside cemetery to entering the manic mansion, Shade Man's stage is highly memorable, probably the most memorable stage in Mega Man 7's decidedly impressive collection of levels.