Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Unpopular Opinion 6: Games SPC Liked That Many Did Not

Have you ever been on the unpopular side of the equation? Sure, you have. We're all gamers, right? Cheap joke aside, I'm actually referring about having an opinion towards a game that is more positive of an outlook than most. That's where the start of SuperPhillip Central's Unpopular Opinion series of articles took root, setting the stage to allow me to talk about games that I liked that either are extremely polarizing or just considered poor games overall in general. Do you have your own games that you're on the minority in opinion of?

Past installments of The Unpopular Opinion can be viewed with these links:

The Unpopular Opinion
The Unpopular Opinion 2
The Unpopular Opinion 3
The Unpopular Opinion 4
The Unpopular Opinion 5

Paper Mario: Color Splash (Wii U)

Ever since Paper Mario: Sticker Star on the Nintendo 3DS, the Paper Mario series has strayed from its partner-centric turn-based battles, heavy story focus, and traditional RPG design. Sticker Star was no doubt the change of the Paper Mario series that strayed the most from the winning formula. While Sticker Star was still enjoyable for me, I find the Wii U's Paper Mario: Color Splash to be a stellar entry in the series. While original characters weren't represented--instead it was a myriad of Toads of various outfit colors as typical Super Mario Bros. series characters--there was a larger focus on story and absolutely hilarious dialogue and story segments. Sure, the card battle system still centered around using the right item card or Thing card at the correct time against bosses, and most battles were merely a means to get through the game to the next humorous part of the game, the puzzles involved, the exploration featured, and the memorable world, setting, and characters made Paper Mario: Color Splash a colorful delight to SuperPhillip Central.

Super Bomberman R (NS)

There wasn't too much to choose from retail-wise when it came to the Nintendo Switch launch back in early March. Sure, you had the immense blockbuster of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but if you wanted a multiplayer release, you didn't have much in the way of options at the time--at least on store shelves. Super Bomberman R from Konami not only filled that niche well and saw the return of Bomberman to gaming, but it managed to sell quite well. Critically, the game was filled with issues, such as weird camera angles, limited multiplayer options, hard AI, and the like, but SuperPhillip Central enjoyed the game regardless. Fortunately, most of the issues I found with Super Bomberman R have been fixed via patch. The ability to move the camera away from being diagonal with the action, more multiplayer choices, AI that you can set on multiple difficulties that don't read your controller inputs, and new, free DLC in special maps and characters were all included. Now's the time to return to Bomberman's own return to gaming!

Yoshi's Story (N64)

While it's true that on SuperPhillip Central's Top Five Yoshi Platformers list the Nintendo 64's Yoshi's Story is only ranked higher than the critical and commercial flop, Yoshi's Topsy Turvy on the Game Boy Advance, Yoshi's N64 expedition is an actually good game all the same. No doubt a lot of the criticism around Story's initial release was that it was coming directly off of the entry beloved by fans, Yoshi's Island, but removing that comparison out of the equation, Yoshi's Story presents charming visuals, the ability to choose the game's difficulty by either finding and eating all 20 melons per stage or just consuming all fruit you find, multiple play-throughs as you can only choose one of four stages in each world each time you play, and other enjoyable aspects. Of course, the things that distract from fully loving the game include opportunities to miss melons in levels (resulting in no possibility to complete that level perfectly), a rather low difficulty challenge-wise--especially with bosses, and a huge step down in musical variety from Yoshi's Island (sorry, had to bring Yoshi's Island back into the equation again somewhere here!). Otherwise, Yoshi's Story may not have been the sequel gamers and critics wanted out of Nintendo after Yoshi's starring role on the Super Nintendo, but it was an appealing game all the same.

Disney Epic Mickey (Wii)

Disney Epic Mickey had a lot going for it at first: a project from the mind of Warren Spector, one of the forces behind Deus Ex; a dark, steampunk art direction as seen in the concept art; and for diehard Disney lovers, the return of Oswald the Rabbit. Then, sadly, reality stepped in to crush many gamer hearts. For one, the game was releasing on the less powerful Wii, a system that could only hope to bring 1/8th of the awesome concept art to life in game form; and two: it just wasn't a polished game. So, I know what you're thinking, "Phil! What could you honestly like about Disney Epic Mickey after all this soul-crushing disappointment?" My answer would be that Epic Mickey had plenty of good ideas, and it's just that they weren't executed to their fullest potential. I'm referring to things like the paint and thinner mechanic, the choices in the game at certain parts of the story that overall didn't really do anything, and the quests, which were oftentimes locked off as you progressed through the game. Also, the platforming in general was tight, the worlds that are fun to explore, and the personality put into the game. No, Disney Epic Mickey has more than its share of compromising problems, but the positives outweighed the negatives in this particular case.

Crash Nitro Kart (PS2, GCN, XBX)

Crash Bandicoot is in the minds of both mainstream and veteran gamers thanks to the excellent remasterings of Crash Bandicoot 1-3 on the PlayStation 4, attesting to the fact that Crash still has it in terms of nostalgia, popularity, and hype, evidenced by its sales figures. It's important to note that even though Crash 1-3 and, of course the marvelous Crash Team Racing, are tremendous games, later ones that didn't involve Sony or Naughty Dog weren't all awful. For example, how about Crash Nitro Kart--a game that definitely had influence from Crash Team Racing, including the formula, the structure of the story mode, the modes, and similar kart handling! Crash Nitro Kart had excellently designed levels with creative opportunities to take daring shortcuts, pass by opponents, and make any racer regret getting on the same racetrack as you! Though not featuring as many courses as CTR, Crash Nitro Kart did have some new tricks up its collective sleeve. Perhaps the game was unfairly compared to Crash Team Racing, which to be fair is only one of the best mascot racing games of all time, but don't sleep on the opportunity to give Crash Nitro Kart a chance.

Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier (PS2, PSP)

After a small absence, Jak and Daxter returned, but this time to the small screen. Well, the small screen in the sense that it first released on the PlayStation Portable before shortly after getting ported to the PlayStation 2 where players hopefully had a bigger TV than their PSPs. Regardless, original developer for the series, Naughty Dog, had since moved far away from Jak, Daxter, and the world they created (and also the edgy crap from Jak II and on that they felt was needed). Thus, a different developer took the role of creating the fourth chapter in the series, The Lost Frontier. Many find this a lesser entry in the Jak and Daxter franchise for various reasons. Some thought it didn't have the same stakes as the original games, some didn't like the lower budget compared to the PS2 trilogy, while others were stupid in thinking that if Naughty Dog didn't grace the game with their amazing, ungodly talent (don't get me wrong--they make great games, but they are far from perfect), then it wasn't a good game. On the other hand, I enjoyed this bite-sized outing with Jak and his wisecracking ottsel companion, running and gunning, blasting away at baddies, and even flight mission segments that were fantastic and broke up the action.

Castlevania Judgment (Wii)

With the recent release of its own limited Netflix series, Castlevania is once again on the minds of many, after being in MIA status for several years. There is no better time to talk about one of the more frowned upon Castlevania games in the series than now! Let's get all of the stuff from Castlevania Judgment that I agree was bad out of the way first: the character redesigns were oftentimes laughable, the implementation of motion controls was terrible (though one could use the Classic Controller for much better precision), and the camera could certainly be more of an enemy than the character you were fighting. However, there were still aspects about Castlevania Judgment that I really enjoyed, such as the character roster and variety, the story mode, the visual for the time (and for the Wii, of course), the rockin' remixes of past Castlevania themes included in the game, the fighting in general (albeit basic), and smaller things that added up to a 3D arena fighter than I overall liked--liked, not loved.

Killer7 (PS2, GCN)

Do you remember the Capcom Five? It was initially a group of five exclusives from Capcom set to release solely on the Nintendo GameCube. Whether a failure of communication or poor planning, only one of these titles actually became exclusive to the GameCube and it was a commercial and critical bomb (P.N. 03), one was cancelled outright (Dead Phoenix) and the others were either given late ports with added content (Resident Evil 4 and Viewtiful Joe), or released at the same time as is the case with Killer7. Killer7 was a psychological thriller with quite polarizing opinions about it. A blend of first-person aiming and shooting with third-person exploration, Killer7's uniqueness laid in its insane story and limited movement capabilities. Instead of being able to roam around, players were forced to move along predetermined paths through levels. Regardless of criticisms to the game, Killer7 has since received a bit of a cult following, as well as it bringing director Suda 51 to a grander audience with clout than ever before in his career.

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