Friday, December 23, 2016

Super Mario Run (iOS) Review

Nintendo and DeNA's partnership has seen much excitement within the mobile gaming community. First was Miitomo, a free social networking app starring Nintendo's Miis, then was the phenomenon that rekindled the love of the series for many people with Pokemon Go, and now it's Mario's turn with Super Mario Run. A lot of bickering has gone on regarding the price, but how is the actual game? That's what this in-depth SuperPhillip Central review intends to find out.

Mario goes mobile with much success.

Nintendo's pursuits in mobile have seen a lot of hype from consumers and some ire from more engaged gamers. Late and great Nintendo president Satoru Iwata came to terms with putting the company's franchises on mobile for two main reasons: 1) To add an extra stream of revenue for the company, and 2) To expand Nintendo's franchises to new audiences, perhaps getting them interested in Nintendo hardware and software. For the latter, this has come true, as seen with Pokemon GO and the increased interest and sales in Pokemon games on the Nintendo 3DS. Now, it's Nintendo's-- and the gaming industry in general's biggest star's chance to shine with Super Mario Run. With it, Nintendo has successfully taken the traditional Mario experience and retooled it almost perfectly to mobile.

Super Mario Run is an automatic runner that sees Mario moving forward continuously. It uses a very simple touch-centric control system, where depending on how long you press the bottom of the touch screen, the higher Mario jumps. Ordinarily, Mario will vault over small block-high enemies and obstacles, but tapping the touch screen when he's over, say, a Goomba, will have him perform an acrobatic maneuver to gain him height.

For such a simple control system, there is a lot you can do with Mario in Super Mario Run. Like the New Super Mario Bros. games, Mario has the ability to wall jump, something that is a major importance in clearing some levels or accessing hard-to-reach areas. Timing your jumps efficiently makes reaching challenging coins and special areas possible, and getting a perfect run going feels absolutely awesome.

The goal of the 24+ levels in Super Mario Run is to simply make it the flagpole, or in the case of airship and castle levels, make it to the end and beat either series mainstays Boom Boom or Bowser in quick combat. Generally, reaching the goal of a given level isn't too taxing, and most players should be able to do so. Unlike other games of the genre, Super Mario Run's levels feature many alternate paths and routes, allowing players to take advantage of them to score big coinage or other benefits.

Death in a level results in having Mario become encased in a bubble, moving backward in a level. Pop the bubble, and you're placed back in the level. Just don't do it while the bubble is over a bottomless pit like I've done many a time! As long as you have an extra bubble in your arsenal, as seen on the top of the screen, you can continue the level if you die. Without a bubble, death means restarting the level over again after hearing the famous "you died" jingle from the Super Mario series. You can also forcefully use a bubble in case you miss an important item or wish to take a different route in a level.

However, to add some longevity to the main mode, each level contains a batch of five pink coins that need to be collected in one run. After collecting all pink levels in a level, then the harder-to-collect purple coins unlock, and after those have been collected in one run, a final series of five black coins unlock to collect. As you progress in collecting coins, you get to see the level design truly shine. Sometimes the level gets shaken up a little bit between colored coin collecting types. For instance, the first level in the game adds blocks to wall jump off of to collect one of the black coins. Collecting all of the three series of coins in all 24 levels is a mighty challenge to do, and they will not only put your platforming prowess (or lack thereof) to the test, but they'll really make you appreciate how clever and well put together the level design in Super Mario Run is.

While collecting the differently colored coins is merely optional (though not if you wish to unlock the three extra-hard bonus levels), it makes sense to try to collect them. After all, if you're going to pay the atypically high for mobile $9.99 price point, you should probably want to get as much for your money as possible. Collecting the various colored coins will very much give you way more bang for your buck.

Super Mario Run also features a side mode called Toad Rally. In it, you select from a series of five players and race against their ghost data in a given level. You can only play levels from worlds you've already beaten. Levels don't have ends to them, rather they continuously loop, with the goal of collecting as many coins as possible, defeating as many enemies as possible, and performing as many tricks as possible to gain points and get the various Toads to root for you. Collect enough coins and defeat enough enemies, and you'll enter Coin Rush mode, where coins rain down like water for you to collect. The only issue I have with initiating Coin Rush is that there is a brief pause when Coin Rush mode is activated, which on more occasions than I would have liked, messed with my timing, sometimes resulting in falling into a bottomless pit, where Coin Rush is then abruptly ended.

At the end of a Toad Rally, the player with the most points gets all of the collected Toads from the round. There are five colored varieties of Toads in all, and many are only available in specific level types, such as ghost houses or underground levels. Your collection of Toads add up to unlock new content in the Kingdom Builder portion of Super Mario Run, where you can use your coins to place Super Mario universe buildings and objects, some unlocking one of five bonus characters to play as. Earning more Toads means earning more buildings and objects to place in your ever-expanding kingdom.

Super Mario Run's greatest problems arise from the $9.99 price point, which I talked about in an earlier article this week. Because of how Nintendo and DeNA set up the game, after playing the first four levels for free, a prompt to purchase the full game for $9.99 pops up. If the developers were more direct with the price point on the App Store, maybe having a demo version and then the full version, I feel that the sticker shock of the price wouldn't have been so massive to a great deal of iPhone and iPad users. Furthermore, the need to always be connected online with Super Mario Run makes for some inconvenience, especially to those here in the States where there is no signal in subways, a place where people travel quite often. For me, it wasn't a bother, as I just played at home, but it's a serious deterrent for buying the game for some.

Being Nintendo's first paid piece of software on the App Store, I feel Super Mario Run successfully brings the Super Mario franchise and platforming fun the series is known for and makes it work in a unique way for mobile devices. While you don't have the same freedom of control obviously, you do get a similar challenge, especially if you decide to get more bang for your buck and go for all of the pink, purple, and black coins in all of the levels. The price point and always-online requirement may be dissatisfying to some, but Mario's arrival on mobile devices is overall a massive success.

[SPC Says: B+]

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Classics I Can Return To - Part Seven

It's been over a year since this article type has been seen on SuperPhillip Central. Now, "Classics I Can Return To" is back with part seven, showcasing six more gems that I can't help but yearn to replay due to how fantastic and solid of gaming experiences they are. From Ratchet & Clank to Final Fantasy, multiple series are represented this time around.

To see all six prior parts to "Classics I Can Return To", look no further than these links:

Ratchet & Clank (PS4)

Not just a great rebirth of the Ratchet & Clank series, but one of my favorite games of 2016. Ratchet and Clank's PlayStation 4 debut had all the trappings of a good time: superb level design, tight controls, awesome weaponry, an alluring campaign that made me want to replay it multiple times, great humor, and some very beautiful graphics. The game didn't mirror the original PS2 Ratchet & Clank 100%, so it felt like a wholly brand-new game with some familiar enemies, story beats, and locales. Whether developer Insomniac decides to continue this reboot of Ratchet & Clank games with Going Commando or go down a fresh new path for the franchise, I'm both game and on board.

New Super Mario Bros. U (Wii U)

One of the main complaints of the New Super Mario Bros. series is how sterile and bland the visuals are. Plus, there is the fact that there have been three previous New Super Mario Bros. games, with one that had just released three months prior to the Wii U version, though on Nintendo 3DS. That said, New Super Mario Bros. U brought the series to HD with an assortment of goodies, such as gorgeous backgrounds, the return of co-op multiplayer, insanely good level design that was filled to the brim with secrets, a Super Mario World-styled world map, and an incredibly fun Challenge Mode. I really think that had New Super Mario Bros. U not have had so many similar-looking sequels of the New Super Mario Bros. name before it, this game would have been more accepted, despite its critical acclaim. Well, that and getting rid of the "Bah, bahs!" in the music.

Yoshi's Woolly World (Wii U)

The Wii U possesses a lot of really good games. However, being stuck to the poor-selling system meant that good deal of consumers and gamers never got to play them. Thankfully, many of these games are getting second chances, either with Nintendo 3DS versions or rumored Switch versions. Yoshi's Woolly World is one of those Wii U games getting a second chance to shine early next year with a Nintendo 3DS port. The game is a tremendous 2D platformer, and it really surprised me with its quality, whether that was in its music, amazing presentation, level design, and secrets to discover. Since Yoshi's Island on the Super Nintendo, we've seen the big N try and try again at making worthwhile Yoshi games that live up to the SNES classic, but they always came too short. However, Yoshi's Woolly World is not just a game that finally lives up to the quality of the original Yoshi's Island, but in some ways I would argue that Woolly World surpasses it.

Final Fantasy VI (SNES)

Nowadays, you can find Final Fantasy VI on a plethora of platforms, whether it's the Super Nintendo original release, the lackluster-due-to-loading-times PlayStation version, the Game Boy Advance port, or the iOS enhanced port with unsatisfying sprite art. Regardless of the platform, Final Fantasy VI remains one of the entries in the long-running franchise that I possess a profound sense of nostalgia towards. It's not unfounded nostalgia either, as the game still contains an immense amount of stellar scenes, an engaging battle system, memorable characters, fantastic music (one of Nobuo Uematsu's greatest scores, in my opinion), and a wonderful world. I would very much love for the Final Fantasy series to take a step back and look towards its past to influence its future, as games like Final Fantasy VI represent some of the best quality the series has yet to see.

Star Ocean: The Second Story (PS1) / Star Ocean: Second Evolution (PSP)

Regardless of whether I play the PS1 original or the PSP enhanced port, I'm always enthralled by Star Ocean 2's world and characters. This is a game that I continue to return to just for the fun of it. Exploring Expel, recruiting new characters, taking on side quests, venturing through dungeons and towns, participating in intense real-time battles, and replaying the game multiple times to see changes in the story depending on which characters were recruited are all activities that make Star Ocean 2 shine and shine brightly. Motoi Sakuraba's warm and wonderful soundtrack is one of my favorites in video games. All of these things add up to one RPG experience that not only gives me nostalgia but makes me realize how Star Ocean 2 has withstood the test of time.

Kirby: Canvas Curse (DS)

Three things come to mind when I play Kirby: Canvas Curse on the Nintendo DS; 1) This game is fun as heck, 2) For me, it single-handily made the touch screen of the Nintendo DS system worth it, and 3) This type of game would be pretty killer on mobile. Nevertheless, Kirby: Canvas Curse was an atypical Kirby game where tapping Kirby with the stylus would give him a boost forward while drawing lines would guide Kirby around levels. Kirby's traditional abilities taken from enemies were here, and several were needed to access secret portions of levels to find special medals, the collectibles of Canvas Curse. The addition of three unlockable playable characters and a host of modes meant that I was playing Canvas Curse for a seriously long time. If you have a Nintendo DS, 2DS, or 3DS, you're missing out if you haven't played Kirby's touch-centric adventure with Kirby: Canvas Curse.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Aqua Moto Racing Utopia (PS4, PC) Review

Some games come by that you don't expect much out of, and then they blow you away. Zordix's Aqua Moto Racing Utopia is one of those. I expected a wholehearted effort that didn't have the same highs as my favorite waterborne racer, Wave Race 64. Fortunately, I am happy that my expectations were dead wrong. See how with the SuperPhillip Central review.

These waters are anything but choppy.

If you're like me (and God help you if you are), then you no doubt have a soft spot for Nintendo's Wave Race series, specifically the Nintendo 64 and GameCube versions, with a greater focus on the former. Since Nintendo continues to keep the franchise on hiatus, gamers like myself have yearned for some kind of experience that mirrors and feels like Wave Race. Perhaps it's a bit cliche to compare every jet ski racer to Wave Race, but the game for me is the gold standard when it comes to water racing games with superb wave physics.

The Aqua Moto Racing franchise has seen releases on iOS and Nintendo 3DS with varying degrees of success. Now, Zordix brings us the latest entry in the franchise, this time on PlayStation 4, PC, and sooner or later (unless the version gets cancelled) the Wii U. It's Aqua Moto Racing Utopia, and while the entry price ($29,99 USD) might seem high, trust me when I say that for the most part, it's worth it.

Aqua Moto Racing Utopia features a wide variety of modes to dive right into. First, however, you create your rider through a series of somewhat limited choices. I didn't particularly find the faces too attractive, so I just put a helmet over my rider. Then again, it's not like you're staring at your rider's face ever while racing anyway! After picking a nationality, a name, a face, an outfit, and a color scheme, you're good to go in your Aqua Moto Racing Utopia career.

The main mode is the Championship, which comes in three varieties: one with heavy crafts, one with lighter and more mobile jet skis, and a trick-based championship. Each championship type has multiple cups to take on, each unlocking once the one before it has been completed. These race-centric championships generally have 3-5 races each. A great thing about the championships is that you just need to get place third overall to unlock the next championship. A further bonus is that you can restart a race without having to restart the cup. This means that messing up at a critical moment in a race won't cost you the entire cup. And you WILL mess up occasionally, either through human error or the AI pushing you off course.

Championship Mode pits you against seven other racers across multiple difficulties and multiple cups.
Races have you going along a track, passing by each colored buoy in order. You pass yellow buoys on the left and red buoys on the right. If you miss three buoys in a race, you're disqualified from the competition. Some races feature wide, breezy turns while others really force you to master tight cornering as you almost move from buoy to buoy like a slalom racer. Though there is a green arrow that points in the direction of the next buoy you need to pass, an extremely helpful map in the bottom left corner of the screen shows a zoomed in look at the track. This greatly assists in seeing where you're supposed to go (as many tracks are set in open waters), where red and yellow buoys are on the track, and where opponents are.

Nothing like racing through alligator-infested waters to really prove your mettle as a daredevil.
Depending on how closely you pass a buoy, you gain a portion of energy in your boost meter. Once it fills, you can press the X button to speed forward. Knowing when to boost and when to race conservatively can be the difference between a first-place win and an embarrassing off-podium defeat. Besides passing buoys to fill your boost meter, you can also perform tricks either on the water or in the air. The more complicated the trick, the greater your meter fills. Tricks involve the right stick and maneuvering it in various directions. While jumping off a ramp or a particularly huge wave, you can also hold down the left shoulder button to perform fast spins, flips, and even barrel rolls in conjunction with right stick tricks to gain an even bigger boost, as well as high scores in Freestyle competitions.

Look, Ma! No hands!
There are ten locales in Aqua Moto Racing Utopia, and these span various types of environments and feature different challenges and wave types. While the tropical paradise venue features calm waves, the oil rig showcases huge waves for serious air and trick potential. Other locales include arenas, stadiums, alligator-infested swamp lands, jungles, Asian cities, piers, and more. Each locale is an expansive area that in Leisure Mode, can be freely explored to your heart's content. Additionally, each locale possesses three to five different races in it, all containing different buoy placements, and all cordoning off specific sections of the venue to keep you on the right path.

Some races feature tighter corridors than others, such as racing through these narrow canals.
As you win championships, you earn money to be used to purchase new watercraft, and as you gain new ranks, new craft are able to be purchased. So, even if you're winding up off the podium at the end of a championship, you're still making money and progress to purchase better and improved watercraft.

Outside of the Championship modes, there are Time Trials for every race in the game, which challenge you to really get a grip on each course, knowing the ins and outs, when to boost, when to take it easy, and when and where to find time-saving shortcuts. Some of the gold medal times are seriously difficult, and it's quite the accomplishment to earn a gold medal on all of the races. In addition to Time Trials, there are Freestyle events for each venue which task you with performing different tricks for points to try to earn a bronze, silver, or gold medal depending on your ending score. Finally, four-player splitscreen is included as well as online multiplayer. However, the latter, at least on the PlayStation 4, is a ghost town.

The wave physics of Aqua Moto Racing Utopia work wonderfully well. Seldom does your craft ever unexpectedly take a wave in an odd way or angle. Some environmental obstacles can cause your craft to act strangely, but these incidents are so unusual that they aren't really a worry. Though, I will say that those damned alligators have made me crash more times than I would have liked!

Take turns more sharply and easily by holding the L2 button.
Aqua Moto Racing Utopia's racing controls seem almost, if not as close as those in Wave Race 64... or at least the GameCube's Blue Storm. Each watercraft feels like it has enough heft to it, but not too much heft, and turning feels delightfully natural. You can hold the L2 button while riding around turns to turn more sharply, great for buoys that are close by in a zigzag pattern and tight corners. As I said earlier, tricks are performed with using the right stick, holding it in one direction to perform a trick. You can also do various more involved tricks by flicking the right stick in one direction and then holding it in the other. Tricks can be performed on water, like your rider sitting on the handlebars of his or her watercraft, or in the air, like flips and spins. The main takeaway here is that many racers can be seriously frustrating with poor physics and poor controls. Aqua Moto Racing Utopia avoids this with natural physics and satisfying controls.

All right, Vincenzo Drago. I think you've taken up enough of my screen's real estate. Time to eat my waves.
If you've been searching for a jet ski/watercraft racer that brings back memories of Wave Race 64, or if you're just looking for a stellar racer in general with plenty of challenge (but seldom unfair challenge), then Aqua Moto Racing Utopia is a game you should seriously consider purchasing. The amount of races is astounding, learning the ins and outs of said races is enjoyable, the AI is usually a good test for one's skill without resorting to rubber-banding, and the ability to play splitscreen multiplayer is fantastic to see. The high price point and empty online are things to consider, but overall, Aqua Moto Racing Utopia is a winner and earns a place on the podium.

[SPC Says: B+]

Review code provided by Zordix.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

BLTN Reviews: LittleBigPlanet 3 (PS4, PS3) Review

A Better Late Than Never review is deployed when a game I cover has been out for a while, and I'm only getting into it now. Usually this is reserved for games that are several years old. The next BLTN review subject is LittleBigPlanet 3, a cross-gen release for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3. The series is one of my favorites from the PlayStation brand, so let's see how this entry shapes up.

A lovingly sewn-together game with bugs that can tear it apart

When LittleBigPlanet 3 originally launched, it was plagued with bugs and glitches that severely dragged the experience down, as well as review scores and fan feedback in the process. Now, several years later, I have returned to the world that Media Molecule gave birth to, and now a cavalcade of new developers to the series have taken control of for this entry as Mm makes Dreams, an upcoming PS4 release. While a lot of the bugs have been "ironed out", as they say, the experience isn't totally clean, with glitched trophies, falling through floors, and other gripes.

The first level of LittleBigPlanet 3 introduces the controls to new and returning LittleBigPlanetians. 
As always with the LittleBigPlanet series, the main attraction outside of creating levels is getting ideas for your own creations. This is where LittleBigPlanet's lovely little adventure mode comes in. The adventure mode of LittleBigPlanet 3 shows off developer Sumo Digital and friends' masterful ability to design spectacular and highly clever levels, each with their own theme and gimmick. Many of these levels utilize one of five new equip-able items that are gained throughout the adventure. One of these sucks and blows air to move certain platforms around, while another shoots out small balls that when they hit a specific green target, you're transported to it. This makes for some creative puzzles and dangers where you have to shoot a ball through a small tunnel that your Sackperson can't quite fit through. The ball goes down the tunnel, hits the green target, and your Sackboy or girl immediately transports to it.

Using this special gun, Sackboy blows out air to get this gear moving.
That isn't the limit of LittleBigPlanet 3's creativity in the level design. Adding to the roster of playable characters are three legendary heroes of Bunkum, each with their own special abilities to get through levels. The first is a dog-like creature known as Oddsock. He can run rather fast, jump off walls to gain height, and slowly slide down walls. Good levels featuring Oddsock showcase his extreme mobility and agility and put them to good use. Then, there's Toggle, whose name belies his ability to switch, or toggle, between his normal heavy form that can weigh down switches and a smaller form that can run through tiny tunnels and skim across water. Switching between the two forms at the right moments is the difference between clearing a level and coming close but no cigar. Finally, Swoop, a flying bird, is the last of the three heroes. He can of course fly, but he can also grab onto certain materials and objects, carry them, as well as use his titular swooping ability to perform a downward arc, perfect for slipping by certain hazards in levels.

Oddsock shows off his massive mobility in his introductory level.
LittleBigPlanet 3's adventure mode is all about bringing these legendary heroes of Bunkum back into the swing of things. This is done by collecting marbles, which are positioned at most levels' conclusions. Throughout the adventure, you visit three different hubs, another new feature in LittleBigPlanet 3. These hubs are not only home to the various entrances to levels, but they also house optional quests for players to complete. Many of these are completed in special challenge levels, again, not mandatory to beat.

The final hero of Bunkum, Swoop, soars onto the scene.
Despite having three adventure hubs and containing four books (or worlds), LittleBigPlanet 3's adventure mode is by far the shortest in the series's history on any platform. Still, I think the developers went for a more quality over quantity approach with the amount of levels, as most of the levels in LittleBigPlanet 3 are some of the greatest in franchise history. Each are packed with an abundance of Prize Bubbles, a collectible in the series that unlocks new goodies like costumes for Sackboy or Sackgirl and new objects and materials for the Create Mode the LittleBigPlanet series is most known for.

And yes, the Create Mode is the best it has ever been in LittleBigPlanet's life. The amount of options to create levels both small and large can be overwhelming, as you can pretty much create as complex a level you want (i.e. as big as you want, whether you'd like to use beginner-friendly "programming" to create more complex levels, make levels that aren't even platformers, make movies, and so forth). Fortunately, LittleBigPlanet 3 comes equipped with a much more entertaining tutorial system than past games. Sorry, Stephen Fry, but even your whimsical words grow tiring after having to sit through the umpteenth tutorial like in previous LittleBigPlanet games.

My older attempt at creating a level.

This time around the tutorials are interactive puzzle levels that teach you concepts of using LittleBigPlanet 3's tools to get the most out of your budding creations. These 3-5 minute levels have you interacting with pre-made gadgets and objects made to build levels, and then they have you make them yourself by the level's end. These are a great deal of fun, and the more interactive approach is much appreciated and welcomed.

The Popit Academy levels are interactive tutorials full of stimulating, puzzling scenarios.
LittleBigPlanet 3 has come a long way since its launch. While the game won't crash on you as much as it did, there are still problems with unlocking some trophies, some progression-based glitches towards quests, and other technical mishaps. The frame-rate isn't always cooperative in staying solid, sometimes chugging along to ridiculously low levels for brief periods of time, usually at the start of levels and especially when you're logged in online. The visuals themselves are pleasant to look at, but it's obvious that this was a cross-gen release. You won't be dropping your jaw at any graphic-related thing in the game. You'll save your jaw-dropping for some of the cool sections of levels that the developers have crafted instead. The voice acting is animated and energetic-- full of charm as well. The new tunes for LittleBigPlanet 3 aren't the most inspiring (though I love the ones featured in Shake, Rattle, and Roll), but they fit the moods of each level quite well.

SackerPhillip returns to save the day!
Offering some new goodies into the mix like new gadgets, adventure hubs, and three new playable character types, LittleBigPlanet 3 is a game that successfully continues the winning formula that Media Molecule had laid down. It's just that the game doesn't do too much to stray away from that, which might put off some returning players to the series. If the idea of creating levels appeals to you with the easy-to-use Create Mode, then you'll definitely find yourself spending a great deal of time with the game. For everyone else, the pre-made levels from the developers are some of the best in LittleBigPlanet's history, and the online community continues to create some really special stuff. If you are cool with some occasional hiccups, then LittleBigPlanet 3 is a satisfying platforming purchase on a system lacking much in the way of family-focused games.

[SPC Says: B-]

Super Mario Run and the Devaluation of Gaming

Super Mario Run released this past Friday on the iOS App Store in a wide variety of countries. It was downloaded nearly 25 million times in its first four days and currently holds the number one position on the App Store in many territories. However, while somewhat a success, this didn't stop Nintendo's stock price from falling after Super Mario Run's release, regardless of how fickle investors and the stock market are. A main complaint about the game is its $9.99 price. However, a game on any other platform (i.e. not mobile) would be comfortable with an asking price like this for a game with as much content as this, say on Wii U or Nintendo 3DS, for instance. The disparity between the console/handheld market and the mobile gaming market is tremendous, and the desire of mobile consumers for games to be cheap and/or free is one that hurts the medium immensely.

One of major things that disturbs me about the people complaining about the pricing of Super Mario Run is that they seem that they would be more satisfied if the game was free but riddled with microtransactions. It appears that a pricing model where players would be able to play a level or two, exhaust a play bar of some type, and then either wait for the bar to fill back up after some-odd amount of hours or pay to get more lives and time with the game.

This makes me confused because I thought microtransactions were seen as a cancer to gaming. It's one of things that puts off a lot of gamers to mobile gaming. Going after whales (i.e. those who spend ridiculous amounts of money on otherwise free mobile games) was not Nintendo's M.O. Sure, its investors and stockholders would love for Nintendo to nickle and dime players because they don't really care if consumers are screwed over. They just want their bottom line improved, and their pockets made fuller and richer, but Nintendo made it clear what the pricing strategy was. Thus, it's strange how many gamers would have preferred it if Nintendo went with a more typical pricing formula.

With a $10 one-time-only purchase, the full version of Super Mario Run is available. There's no need to wait for some annoying play bar to refill so you can continue playing the game or keep putting money into the game. That was Nintendo's intent to not con consumers. If you think the $10 price tag is too much, that's not the fault of Nintendo. It's the mobile market to blame here, where sizable games with tons of content and features are demanded by mobile consumers to either cost pennies or to be free. The latter is usually what this market desires.

It's the mobile market that has continuously devalued games, making consumers feel entitled to cheap games no matter how much content and how much care was put into them. It is a market where people would rather spend dozens upon dozens of dollars on microtransactions and more plays instead of having a one-time cost that would give them the entirety of the game to play whenever they want (except on a subway or in an airplane-- those are no-nos thanks to the always-online requirement of Super Mario Run, a subject for another day). It's a frontier that is quite disheartening and more so very scary.

We had people who paid for Monument Valley when it released a few years back on mobile (for a very low price, by the way), and then these same people felt cheated and furious because the developer dare add an expansive amount of content to the game in new levels for a tiny fee in order to make some money from the game's development. How dare they! How dare a developer ask for money for months, maybe years of work!

When we have people wishing Nintendo had decided to stuff countless microtransactions instead of giving a full experience on the iPhone or iPad, it really shows how screwed up the mindset of mobile consumers and how crazy the mobile marketplace truly are. The majority of negative reviews of Super Mario Run complain about the game costing money. That's how bad it is on mobile-- people really do feel entitled to get everything free from the hard work, blood, sweat, and tears developers of all types making these types of games. And I'm talking about smaller devs who are nowhere near the behemoth size of Nintendo.

While Pokemon GO was a success for Nintendo in that it got a lot of people re-energized with Pokemon, buying Nintendo 3DS systems for new and old Pokemon games-- something the late president of Nintendo Satoru Iwata wanted and why Nintendo went mobile in the first place-- it is of course yet to be seen if Super Mario Run will have such an effect on consumers. Regardless of whether you think Super Mario Run is a success, worth the asking price, or even a quality game, it's rather disappointing that a good sect of mobile gaming consumers want nothing for something, no matter how special, fun, or worth the price it is.

Poochy & Yoshi's Woolly World (3DS) New Features Trailer

I'm looking forward to the Nintendo 3DS version of Yoshi's Woolly World, entitled Poochy & Yoshi's Woolly World, if for no other reason than to having an excuse to play through the adventure all over again. Yoshi's Woolly World on Wii U usurped Yoshi's Island's position for me as best Yoshi game. It'll be nice to revisit the game. This trailer from Nintendo UK's YouTube channel shows off some new features for the 3DS version of Yoshi's Woolly World. Check it out below.

Monday, December 19, 2016

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs - "Christmas Is A-Comin' " Edition

Christmas is this Sunday. Therefore, this is the last edition of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs before that special day of family-bonding, gift-giving, and celebrating the birth of Jack Lord or something to that effect. Some kind of lord. Anyway, this week we have lined up five winter-esque themes featuring some of most popular characters in gaming: Mario, Sonic, Donkey Kong, Mega Man, and Kirby!

Starting off is a song from the Sega Genesis version of Sonic 3D Blast. We then dip our toes into chilly waters with a theme from Mario Party 3. Next up, Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest shows us why it's one of my favorite game soundtracks of all time. Mega Man 7 follows, and then Kirby Air Ride ends the festivities for now.

Click on the VGM volume name to hear each song. As always, the VGM Database houses every VGM volume ever recorded in this weekly segment on SuperPhillip Central. Now, let's get on to the music!

v1291. Sonic 3D Blast (GEN) - Diamond Dust Zone Act 1

Although the Sega Saturn and PC version of Diamond Dust Zone Act 1 in Sonic 3D Blast sounds much more Christmas-y, it was already represented in a previous edition of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs. That said, the Genesis rendition is more well-known. It was also featured in remix form in Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games for the Wii U.

v1292. Mario Party 3 (N64) - Chilly Waters

Chilly Waters is the very first board in Mario Party 3, the third and final installment of the Mario Party series on the Nintendo 64. It features penguins, snowmen, and a frozen lake smack dab in the middle of the entire board. The song is one you can sway to the left and right to as you listen to its jolly, party-like sound.

v1293. Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest (SNES) - In A Snow-Bound Land

The irony of the song title "In A Snow-Bound Land" is that all of the levels that this song is featured in from Donkey Kong Country 2, my favorite in the DKC trilogy (as cliche a choice as that is), are set in icy caverns rather than snowy wonderlands (i.e. snow-bound lands). Still, it's a perfectly chill and ambient track like many others from Dave Wise's godly DKC 2 soundtrack.

v1294. Mega Man 7 (SNES) - Freeze Man Stage - Iceberg Area

There is a wide range of ice-themed Robot Masters, all starting with the OG, Ice Man from the original Mega Man. In Mega Man 7, Freeze Man takes on the role of the ice-themed Robot Master with his frosty stage set in the arctic tundra. He's the Robot Master recommended to take on first, if memory serves correctly. Even if it doesn't serve correctly, Freeze Man is pretty easy to take out with just the Mega Buster regardless.

v1295. Kirby Air Ride (GCN) - Frozen Hillside

Slip, slide, and ride in this icy track in Kirby Air Ride, a cult classic from the Nintendo GameCube. If you're looking for an atypical racer with a sensational soundtrack, Kirby Air Ride is definitely a game you should look into, given you can stomach the secondhand market price for the game. Frozen Hillside exudes freezing cold temps as you breeze through this winter themed course.