Friday, March 3, 2017

Top Ten Home Console Launch Games of All Time

The Nintendo Switch launches today (or rather at some stores, launched at midnight), and a new generation of Nintendo goodness is now available. There's no doubt that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the big game to look into when picking up a Switch. This made me wonder about other home console launches (read: not handhelds), and what launch titles were the best, most memorable, and/or most important at the time.

10) Sonic Adventure (DC)

We begin with the Blue Blur, and despite this game laying the foundation for many of the poor 3D outings that Sonic starred in, Sonic Adventure was Sega and Sonic Team's attempt at bringing the azure hedgehog into three dimensions. While the gameplay doesn't necessarily hold up today, Sonic Adventure was no doubt a game that was important for the Dreamcast launch, and it established a working formula for the 3D games that would continue on to present day. Sure, most 3D Sonic games outside of Colors and Generations aren't exactly masterful, but it's foolish to think that Sonic Adventure didn't do a lot for the Dreamcast's success or isn't an important game for one of gaming's most beloved characters.

9) Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II (GCN)

The Nintendo GameCube launch was rather awesome. You had the charming and innovative Luigi's Mansion which served as a good showpiece of the hardware from Nintendo, but another showpiece was from the now-defunct Factor 5. The studio crafted not just an absolutely stunning technical marvel that still holds up visually today, but Factor 5 created one of the Star Wars series of games's best entries ever with Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II. At the time, circling around the legs of an AT-AT in the Battle of Hoth never looked or felt so good, nor did soaring along the Cloud City of Bespin to shoot down enemies. Star Wars battles both from the original trilogy and some additional battles outside the films all added up to one phenomenal launch game for the GameCube.

8) Call of Duty 2 (360)

While not the most important first-person shooter to launch with a console, Call of Duty 2 was no doubt an important game for two reasons: 1) It gave Xbox 360 owners a magnificent shooter to enjoy in case they didn't find Rare's Perfect Dark Zero that appetizing (and many didn't), and 2) It started a snowball effect that led to the massive success of the Call of Duty franchise for Activision that the publisher is still basking in to this day, over a decade later. This World War II shooter showcased the Xbox 360 hardware well, and its cinematic gameplay led many to be absolutely wowed by the campaign. Call of Duty 2 was indeed a stellar launch title.

7) The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii)

Despite also launching on the Nintendo GameCube as well, Wii launch adopters got to play the newest in The Legend of Zelda series, Twilight Princess, a full month earlier than those awaiting the GameCube release. Perhaps not as important a launch title as many of the other games on this list, what makes The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess a prime candidate for the top ten home console launch games of all time is the fact that it's such a stellar Zelda game. The dungeons are some of the series's best, the darker tone was refreshing after The Wind Waker, and besides the opening story sequences lasting a bit too long, the game was a fantastic adventure for those who had just bought a Wii.

6) Halo: Combat Evolved (XBX)

Alluded to in Call of Duty 2's entry, Halo: Combat Evolved is what I pick as the most important FPS game to launch with a console. Really, one could argue that without Halo at the Xbox's launch that the Xbox brand might not have survived to make it to the 360, or at least the Xbox name would be far from the relative powerhouse and competitor to Sony's PlayStation that it was with the Xbox 360 and it is today to a lesser extent with the Xbox One. It's not just because that it was an Xbox exclusive that Halo helped the system so greatly. It's also because Halo is just a tremendous FPS full of incredible firefights to be had both online and off.

5) Soul Calibur (DC)

Along with Sonic Adventure, the other Dreamcast launch title that really packed a punch was Namco's splendid 3D arena, weapons-based fighter Soul Calibur. This was one of the games that made many drop their jaws in admiration of the awesome visuals and fluid combat and animation. The fighting system and engine themselves were incredibly deep, offering an abundance of strategies, moves, and combos to make every fight as exciting as the last. Soul Calibur's Dreamcast appearance would be so popular that it would spawn into a multiplatform franchise, hitting the PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox, and then later on the PlayStation 3 as well as the Xbox 360. Soul Calibur was important for the Dreamcast launch as much as it was a positively exceptional fighting game that remarkably still holds up today.

4) Super Mario World (SNES)

Mario's first foray into 16-bits was not as revolutionary as his prior home console launch game or even the home console launch that came after the Super Nintendo, but Super Mario World isn't on this list due to its importance. Instead, it's due to it being one of the best games of all time. Compared to past Super Mario Bros. games, Super Mario World was a much more open-ended title, offering more secrets than ever before, including hidden exits in levels leading to new locales and levels on the world map, and even a totally hidden special world. Super Mario World was a marked improvement over past Mario games and a successful evolution in the tried and true formula.

3) Wii Sports (Wii)

Perhaps you're not a fan of this Wii launch title or even the system itself, but there's no questioning the immense impact that Wii Sports had on the gaming world. It was the pack-in game that single-handedly sold the Wii to both gamers and first time players, and made the system next to impossible to find on store shelves. The beauty and essence of Wii Sports is in its simplicity. It's easy to convey the fun of the game by just watching people play. With tennis and baseball, it's as simple as swinging the Wii Remote with proper timing to hit the ball. With bowling, it's as easy as performing the motion to roll the ball down the alley, hopefully to nail all ten pins for a strike. Wii Sports was not just a game as much as it was a phenomenon, a fun one at that.

2) Super Mario 64 (N64)

Mario continues to amaze and impress on this list. The Nintendo 64 only launched with two games in North America, but Super Mario 64 was such a phenomenal and revolutionary game that it more than made up for the Nintendo 64's lack of launch games regardless. There had been 3D games before Super Mario 64, but none had ever seem as masterfully crafted as Mario's first 3D outing. Players had a host of interactive playgrounds to run, jump, and master all of Mario's moves in-- from outside Peach's Castle to the first major world in the game, Bob-Omb's Battlefield. I remember how much hype surrounded the Nintendo 64 and Super Mario 64, and I more fondly remember how much both the system and the game successfully met that level of hype.

1) Super Mario Bros. (NES)

Number one on our list is here for two major reasons: 1) Its importance, and 2) How great it is of a game. The Nintendo Entertainment System launched in the States after the famed video game crash from several years earlier. Super Mario Bros. was the game that launched with the system that brought in a new generation of players into the hobby as well as showed off a new type of gaming experience that was never seen before. The simplicity of the game meant anyone could play it, but the challenge was there to encourage players to keep going even after seeing the "Game Over" screen a seemingly infinite number of times. Super Mario Bros. is one of the most important games of all time, so it only makes sense that it would be number one on this list of best home console launch games.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Review Round-Up - February 2017

Learning lessons from Sticker Star, Paper Mario: Color Splash was a fantastic
adventure and is SuperPhillip Central featured game of February 2017.
Despite being a short month compared to the rest of the year, SuperPhillip Central managed to score eight unique reviews for February. The general theme of the month was color, and that was exhibited well with a slew of bright and bouncy games for the most part.

The month began with a retro review to get folks excited for Bomberman's return after a long hiatus. The game played was the cel shaded GameCube delight, Bomberman Generation, earning a B grade. The Wii U game turned Nintendo 3DS port, Poochy & Yoshi's Woolly World, followed, crafting its way to a B+. The odd game out theme-wise, but no less a fantastic game, Titanfall 2, got a B+ grade as well.

We then returned to our month-long color theme with the delightful Red's Kingdom (C+), and then had some tank warfare of the cartoon variety with Tank Troopers (B-). Following that was a duo of games each providing a different take on a background color-switching mechanic, Hue (C+) and the fantastic Runbow: Deluxe Edition (A-). Finally, Paper Mario: Color Splash painted the town red... and blue... and yellow... to surprisingly great effect, getting a B+.

Bomberman Generation (GCN) - B
Poochy & Yoshi's Woolly World (3DS) - B+
Titanfall 2 (PS4, XB1, PC) - B+
Red's Kingdom (iOS, Android) - C+
Tank Troopers (3DS) - B-
Hue (PS4, XB1, PC, Vita) - C+
Runbow: Deluxe Edition (Wii U) - A-
Paper Mario: Color Splash (Wii U) - B+

Yoshi's Woolly World returned, but in handheld form, and giving Poochy
a costarring role as part of SuperPhillip Central's color-themed month.

Central City Census - March 2017

Welcome to a new month here at SuperPhillip Central! Like months usually begin here, we have a new Central City Census and Review Round-Up series of posts to go through, starting with the former. Let's see the results from last month's poll!

We only got half the number of votes compared to January, so that was unfortunate, but I do really suck at remembering to remind folks to vote no matter the month! I guess I was really sucky this past month!

Regardless, February's Central City Census tried to measure readers' hype towards the Nintendo Switch through whether folks were intending to purchase one. The majority are, whether if they've already pre-ordered, are trying to get one at launch, or will eventually get one, probably when launch issues have cleared up and more games are out.

Time for March's Central City Census question! This month, SuperPhillip Central asks your opinion on which console manufacturer has the most appealing first party games to you. Poll closes at the end of the month. I'll try to make more consistent reminders for readers to vote this month.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Paper Mario: Color Splash (Wii U) Review

Time for the final review of February! It's also one of the final big games for the Wii U, as well continuing this month's theme of colorful games. It's Paper Mario: Color Splash, and it's time to give this bright and bouncy game the SuperPhillip Central judgment!

Paint, color, and adventure are in the cards for Mario's final Wii U outing.

There is no denying that many fans of Mario and particularly the old school Paper Mario games were fuming at the changes the developers of the series made starting with Paper Mario: Sticker Star on the Nintendo 3DS. Battles were borderline meaningless, the story was bare bones, and the game's puzzles and level design were about as obtuse as a game could get. Thankfully, the developers took the criticism of Sticker Star to heart, and while the Wii U's Paper Mario: Color Splash isn't the type of traditional Paper Mario experience old fans would like, it's a marked improvement over Sticker Star and just a fantastic game in general.

Right away from when you first insert the game disc into your Wii U, load up the game from the system menu, and are greeted with the title screen, you'll find yourself amazed by the high-definition visuals of Paper Mario: Color Splash. The game was one of the most visually impressive games of last year with its bright, vivid, and colorful graphics. Paper Mario was already a looker on past consoles and handhelds it made an appearance, but it looks better than it ever has (and amazingly so) on the Wii U in jaw-dropping HD. The environments, the characters, and the effects like the smattering of paint that splashes from Mario's hammer upon a super successful hammer attack in battle all look wonderful. Everything is devised up of paper and cardboard, making this world so engaging on the eye to gaze upon.

Paper Mario: Color Splash's visual identity is simply splendid.
The exhilarating presentation doesn't end with just the visuals. The music is also absolutely fantastic. It sports the typical range of classic Mario tunes like the Super Mario Bros. main theme and the underground theme, but also other themes not used as much, such as Super Mario Bros. 2's overworld theme and the rarely remixed Super Mario Land ending theme, as heard in the Roshambo Temple victory themes. But it's not just the familiar Mario tunes that make Paper Mario: Color Splash's soundtrack so special. The original tunes are absolutely amazing to listen to, offering real instruments, satisfying melodies, and splendid arrangements. It was one of SuperPhillip Central's soundtracks of 2016 for a reason.

Thankfully, even on hot days like this, Paper Mario never has to worry about sunburns.
Paper Mario: Color Splash begins with Mario and Peach receiving a mysterious letter from Port Prisma. The letter reveals itself to be a completely stolen-of-color Toad. This sends the pair to Port Prisma to investigate, finding the previously colorful locale to be almost entirely of devoid of color. It isn't limited to Port Prisma either, as the problem emanates throughout Prisma Island, and it's probably no real surprise who the culprit is either. However, the game's story is complemented well by its humor, which had me smiling or full out laughing more than any other game I can remember in recent memory. The humor is sometimes dry, sometimes self-deprecating, sometimes referential, sometimes slapstick, but always smartly done. Nintendo Treehouse did a tremendous job with localizing Color Splash to make for a highly humorous and downright funny game without needing to succumb to relying on cheap humor like memes and grating pop culture references.

Paper Mario: Color Splash uses a course progressing system just like Sticker Star to proceed through the game. Each course you go to has different puzzles and problems to solve in order to reach the highly desirable Mini Paint Stars, used to unlock new courses on the world map of the game. Some of these Paint Stars are a bit lame, as they are located nearby another in the same course. Because you get kicked out of the level once you collect one Paint Star, that means you have to go through all the way through the same course just to reach the same location where a second Paint Star is located. Still, this problem isn't too bothersome and doesn't happen too much. It's just notable when it does.

One of countless Mini Paint Stars that need to be collected by Mario and his companion Huey.
Also like Sticker Star, Color Splash uses Things, which are ordinary, everyday objects that intentionally clash with the visual style of the game, being more realistic 3D models instead of made of paper or cardboard. A big issue with Sticker Star was how obtuse some of the locations to the Things were, as well as the game being completely mysterious as to when and where to use certain Things. Like many problems with Sticker Star, Color Splash fixes this issue by sometimes giving players full notice when a specific Thing card will be needed. Furthermore, a particular Toad at Port Prisma's dock will even give hints as to what Thing card is necessary for the next location in the story you need to go to, as well as a hint on where to find the Thing in question. You can even use a nearby Toad to turn previously collected Things into Thing cards without having to go to the original course and location you found it. These are major changes that are extremely helpful.

This Fan Thing has been found...
...and then can be used to help out this shipwrecked Toad.

Another issue with Sticker Star was how battles felt trivial, as winning them didn't do much of anything besides waste previous stickers to use for boss encounters. This is remedied in Color Splash. Like past Paper Mario games, battles are much more active than they are passive like they are in typical turn-based RPGs. Performing actions like offense moves and blocking is done with timing the pressings of buttons. For instance, using a Jump card requires five successful button inputs made just before Mario makes contact with an enemy in order to deal the most damage. While Mario loses HP when damage, enemies lose color when they get attacked. You see, as enemies take damage, their color diminishes, starting from the bottom. The closer they are to being defeated, the more the white that begins at the bottom reaches their top until they are defeated.

When he's tired of using his feet, Mario lets his butt do the attacking.
Instead of using stickers in battle like in Paper Mario: Sticker Star, Mario uses cards in Color Splash. However, like Sticker Star, cards can only be used once before they are depleted from Mario's arsenal. That said, unlike Sticker Star, cards are much more easily collected. They're found in item boxes, found from painting colorless spots, and readily available in Port Prisma's card shop, where spending coins isn't a big issue because coins are so easy to collect in Color Splash. On many occasions in the game, don't be surprised if you have the maximum amount of coins you can possibly hold since coins are so easily available.

This Shy Guy may have been defeated, but he lives on in Mario's paint supply.
Battles serve a worthwhile purpose in Color Splash, where, as stated, they didn't in Sticker Star. Completing battles gives you little paint hammers from fallen foes that when collected, slowly fill up a hammer gauge. When it's fully filled, you receive an increase in the maximum amount of paint Mario can hold. Paint is not only used to paint colorless spots in courses, but it's also used to paint color-deprived cards in battle, increasing their attack power and overall effectiveness. There's plenty of strategy involved in whether you want to revitalize a colorless card, making sure you're rationing your total paint supply to the best of your ability.

Depending on the card used, the timing of your button presses varies.
Paper Mario: Color Splash offers a plentiful amount of fun in its 30-40 hour run time. Simply following the story and beating the game is enjoyable, but Color Splash sports side content to add to the longevity of the experience. For one, you can donate cards collect along Mario's journey to a secret museum found in Port Prisma that takes Battle, Enemy, and Thing cards. You can also try to paint all of the colorless spots in each course (the game keeps track of the percentage you have colored in a given course, as well as plants a gold flag on the world map next to the course you have painted 100% of its color-devoid spots). There are also Rock-Paper-Scissors themed Roshambo Temples of which there are eight throughout the game to beat. While some of the encounters are annoyingly random, it's an easy way to make bank and the only way to earn Koopaling Enemy cards.

Colorless spots as seen in the background need Mario's special hammer to fill them up.
Despite fixing most of the problems that plagued the still somewhat enjoyable Sticker Star, Paper Mario: Color Splash isn't at a loss for problems. For one, instead of wholly original characters as seen in the first Paper Mario, the GameCube's Thousand-Year Door, and the Wii's Super Paper Mario, what you get in Color Splash is a whole healthy heaping of Toads as the major NPCs. Rarely are there even Toads with discernible visual traits to them like sunglasses or scarves, so this can very much bring down some players' experiences. It didn't with mine as the humor was so good regardless, and I liked seeing other familiar characters from the Mario mythos have personalities in-game.

While you won't be seeing too many original characters, 
their wacky antics and dialogue more than make up for it.
Also, some segments of Color Splash are annoying if only because they are sequences where failing them is an instant game over, bringing you back to the title screen. Some sequences I didn't know what to do and had little time to figure it out before seeing the words "Game Over" in front of my face. Finally, some other segments of Color Splash wear thin, such as the constant moving up and down between floors to solve the paranormal problem in Dark Bloo Inn, as well as a certain high seas section in the game that outwears its welcome. Other than those problems, Color Splash is a wondrous and really sensational adventure.

Paper Mario: Color Splash may not be the Paper Mario game that longtime, devout fans of the original games want (far from it), but for those like me who don't mind the insistence of Nintendo to stick with this new formula founded in Sticker Star, Color Splash is a mighty fine game that's well crafted, full of wit, charm, and personality, and possesses clever puzzles, interesting level designs, and has packs a punch in the adventure department. Color me surprised with how impressed I was with this delightful and colorful adventure.

[SPC Says: B+]

Yooka-Laylee (Multi) Glitterglaze Glacier Trailer

Playtonic Games has a new trailer revealing the snow world of Yooka-Laylee, Glitterglaze Glacier. Oh, such lovely alliteration! Banjo-Kazooie fans like myself have a lot to ogle over, but thankfully, Yooka-Laylee seems to have an identity of its own too. The game launches April 11 in both physical and digital forms.

Puyo Puyo Tetris (NS, PS4) Back to Basics Trailer

Sega of America has just shared a new trailer for the April release of Puyo Puyo Tetris, the first time in ages (har-har, get it?) that Sega has localized a Puyo Puyo title for the West. This trailer showcases the basics of the game, as one might expect from the trailer title. Puyo Puyo Tetris comes out for both Nintendo Switch and the PlayStation 4 near the end of April.

Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns (3DS) Launch Trailer

The latest farming simulation of the cute and colorful variety arrives on Nintendo 3DS today with the launch of Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns. Plant, garden, become a fashionista, raise livestock, court a possible suitor, and more! Watch this trailer showing off just a sampling of what Story of Seasons' latest entry has to offer.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Runbow: Deluxe Edition (Wii U) Review

As promised, I end my birthday with a bang with the second of two reviews, and what better way to celebrate a birthday than with a party... game! Like Hue before it, we have another game with a color-switching mechanic. However, this one is totally involuntarily and, as stated, is a party game as well as a platformer. It's Runbow, but not the digital version-- no, the retail release from this past November, Runbow: Deluxe Edition!

Runbow, party of up to nine? Your fun is waiting.

13AM Games was a brand-new indie studio when they released Runbow back in 2015 on the Wii U. It saw moderate success, so much so that a year later the game received a special retail release. That physical version of the game is Runbow: Deluxe Edition, and it's all the fun of the Runbow experience without taking up room on your Wii U hard drive!

Runbow at its core is a fast and frenetic 2D platformer that feels great to play. What separates it from other indie darlings of the platforming variety is the game's constant color switching mechanic, where the background routinely shifts between different colors. When the screen shifts colors, say from red to yellow, what platforms were yellow have now disappeared into the background, and what platforms were red, previously removed, appear to platform on. Initial levels bounce slowly between two colors while later challenges task you with running through obstacle courses that routinely shift between a multitude of colors at a rapid pace. This background color-changing mechanic not only forces you to be aware of where the visible platforms are, but it also forces you to be cognizant of when they will vanish and where new ones will appear.

This multiplayer match of survival is just as hot and heated as the lava here!
Despite its poor sales, the Wii U happily established itself as the local multiplayer machine when compared to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One (though that isn't to say that those systems lack games for local couch play). Runbow cheerfully leaps into the local multiplayer library of the Wii U, offering up to nine players locally with the use of Wii Remotes, Nunchuks, Wii Classic Controllers, the Wii U Pro Controller, and of course the Wii U GamePad.

Local multiplayer's competitive offerings sport four unique modes. You get standard races where the goal is to foil your opponents with or without the aid of items to reach the level's goal, a trophy. You also have the wicked and wild king-of-the-hill style mode, which sees each opponent trying to stand on a level's platform for a specific amount of time (though this does not need to be done all in one mounting of the hill). Then, there is pure survival, where opponents attempt to slam others off the level into lava or some other type of hazard, and the player left standing is the victor. Finally--and this is the mode that unlike the other competitive multiplayer modes, cannot be played online-- is Defeat the Color Master, where the GamePad player does the background color-switching themselves, doing their best to foil his or her opponents run to the goal by tricking as well as tripping them up.

Don't worry, you can very much become the queen of the hill too.
Outside of those competitive modes, there is the opportunity to play cooperatively in the Adventure mode. You can also play this mode by oneself, which for some of the level designs, the mode works best this way. Regardless, whether alone or with a friend (three or more is usually a recipe for disaster-- though a fun disaster), Adventure mode comes complete with over 120 levels (including the DLC levels of Satura's Space Adventure) set across several grids. Since levels are usually less than a minute to complete, deaths aren't annoying despite putting you back at the start of your run.

It's a rainbow stampede of colorful characters all vying for that prestigious trophy.
The sense of progression in Adventure mode is nice and nonlinear, having adjacent levels on the grid open up next to the one just completed. If a particular level proves too much of a challenge currently, you can try a different level and path to the opposite corner of the grid's starting position. At this corner is a boss level, quite similar to most of the traditional levels only there's a boss to smack at the level's end.

Other than running for the goal, there are two other level types, though rarer in appearance: one where you take out a set number of enemies, and one where you need to collect a certain number of trinkets.

It's just fine and dandy to simply complete each level, but you also can earn up to three stars based on your completion time of each level. As rewards such as achievements and bonuses like concept art are unlocked through acquiring stars on levels, it's a good motivation to try your best and master the Adventure mode.

Don't just complete Adventure mode levels-- race to the finish to score those wonderful three stars!
Achievements and art aren't the only types of unlockables in Runbow: Deluxe Edition either. Performing certain tasks unlocks a host of indie and downloadable game all-stars, sort of like a Super Smash Bros. of indie characters. Whether it's Commander Video from the Bit.Trip series, Gunvolt from Inti Creates' Azure Striker Gunvolt, Freedom Planet's Lilac, Rusty from Image and Form's SteamWorld series, or an abundance of other characters who are purely visual in difference (possessing different animations as well as funny taunts to annoy your opponents), the amount of different characters both familiar and new to play as is really cool.

This familiar cast of characters is just half of the indie faces available to unlock in Runbow: Deluxe Edition.
The Adventure mode isn't the only single-player or cooperative mode available. Once you think you've become an expert at Runbow's massive amount of challenge, the game will prove your thinking wrong with the Bowhemoth mode. This mode has you running through increasingly more difficult chambers, one after the other without the ability to save. Making it to the finish is quite the challenge, and doing so with limited deaths or in a fast time (both things that aren't mandatory to do, but they are for unlocking certain content) are even more arduous of tasks. You're a near Runbow master if you can stay strong and persevere the Bowhemoth's challenges.

As stated, part of the fun of Runbow is how simple it is. That goes for the controls as well, which are as pick-up-and-play as any game I've recently played. There are but three actions in Runbow: moving, jumping, and punching. You can double jump and use your punch as a final boost either upward or to the side. Though the punch can see your cooperative buddies occasionally throwing shade at you for hitting them into a pit. However, this uppercut move is great for defensive reasons, such as getting extra height or rescuing yourself with a last second save. The only issue with the punch is that it's so easy to double tap the punch button that you might do a dashing punch when you don't want to and at an inopportune time.

Keep an eye on the background in order to gauge which platforms will be safe to jump on and off of.
What separates the original version of Runbow and this Deluxe Edition? Well, obviously other than one being digital only and one being a physical disc with a voucher to digitally download the peppy salsa soundtrack, the Deluxe Edition has all the individual DLC packs included without multiple separate downloads. You're technically paying the same amount of money whether you get the digital version and all the separate DLC packs or the physical Deluxe Edition with everything included. The only big differences are freeing up some much-needed space on your Wii U's hard drive and the included voucher for the soundtrack.

I've read that the original version of Runbow initially suffered from performance problems that greatly affected the frame-rate, something that would be seriously annoying for a precision and timing-based platforming game like this. However, and for at least the Deluxe Edition, these performance problems have been completely ironed out. No frame-rate issues of any kind were experienced through my 10+ hours with the game. The only concerning part of Runbow, regardless of which version you get, is that the online isn't too popular anymore. Definitely make sure you have friends or family members to play with.

Runbow: Deluxe Edition takes everything players loved about the original Wii U exclusive and makes it available in physical form. For those who were new to the game like me, then you'll get a bevy of awesome content, crazy multiplayer, and a tremendous amount of laughter. While the Adventure and Bowhemoth modes won't last you too terribly long, Runbow: Deluxe Edition definitely deserves a space in your Wii U library, especially if you don't already own the original digital release.

[SPC Says: A-]

Hue (PS4, XB1, PC, Vita) Review

February isn't going to end with a whimper. Much like my birthday today, it's going to end with a bang! Tonight we start with the first and second of three color-themed games to round out the month! The first is right here, and it's a game from the indie studio Fiddlesticks. It's Hue, available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita (both cross-buy), Xbox One, and Steam.

Shades of brilliance color this puzzle platformer.

In Hue, you play as the titular boy who is in search of his mother who was a researcher in the field of color at a seemingly prestigious university. Her research allowed her to create a ring that granted her the ability to see color in their otherwise monochrome world. There is some good news and there is some bad news for Hue. The bad news is that the ring has been fractured into eight pieces, each representing a different color. The good news is that Hue's mother has left behind a series of letters to inform Hue of her work as well as encourage him on his journey. For players, her letters also wax philosophical, asking questions for players to ponder like "do we all see the same color when we say we see red?"

Starting off, the entire world is in monochrome. (Totally unlike this screenshot.)
Hue is a mix of puzzles and platforming, sometimes one more than the other. Through a series of linear rooms, players are tasked with solving environmental puzzles and completing platforming challenges. However, it's not just as simple as that, of course, as there's the fragments of his mother's ring that Hue frequently comes across. Each fragment grants Hue the ability to change the background of his current room, so if there's a series of aqua blocks in his way, Hue can change the background to the same color to pass by the otherwise impenetrable obstacle.

As you can guess, starting off, Hue is rather easy. After all, you have just one color choice to change the background. As the game progresses, new colors are added into the fold, so by the end of the game you're switching between multiple colors of the eight total available in Hue. Changing colors is performed by tilting the right analog stick, which brings up a color wheel. By pushing the stick towards a color and letting go, the background changes to the color selected. Unfortunately, there is some frustration with this setup. It's all too easy to push the analog stick towards a color, and then when you let go, the cursor can hit an incorrect color when the analog stick reverts to its default position. While this isn't too annoying early on, when you're tasked with timing the switching of colors with immense precision, especially in a room that takes a long time to complete, a wrong color pick can send you back to the beginning of the room. This can waste minutes of your time and all your previous work in that room is for naught! Not cool.

As evident by the amount of colors, Hue is still early in his journey here.
Hue doesn't gain any other abilities besides being able to switch the color of the background in his world. While his main ability stays the same, the obstacles and hazards in Hue greatly change things up, constantly throwing new mechanics in each section of the game. There are a multitude of things to consider, such as boxes to push, buttons that need to be weighed down, spikes, rolling boulders, lasers, bounce pads, and more. Each is generally a different color, so you're switching between colors on the fly at a constant pace. By the end of the game, all of these types of hazards and obstacles find themselves combined together to create some truly tricky puzzles that demand concentration and encourage experimentation.

Hue's longevity is a bit of an oxymoron. There really isn't any to be found. Bonus collectibles in the form of 28 beakers can be gathered for those wanting the trophy for it, but other than that, there is nothing to be found replay value-wise. Once the initial 4-6 hour journey has been completed, the only reason to return to the game is to enjoy the story again and play through the puzzles. Most will probably find one play-through enough, though.

This particular room requires switching between colors and
jumping almost simultaneously after to the next suspended box.
The presentation seen in Hue goes for an artsy style. The voice acting of Hue's mother as well the second character who speaks in the game are masterfully done, spoken with soul instead of sounding halfhearted. The score of the game adheres mostly to piano melodies, often soft and lending itself to the environments. Speaking of which, Hue sports a lovely style of silhouette characters and objects, as well as black walls and floors. As you can imagine, the colors seen here in the game pop out wonderfully. Thankfully for those with an inability to distinguish between colors somewhat or at all, there is a color blind option available, which puts different symbols on top of each color, whether in the color wheel or on obstacles.

A special color blind option is available for those needing it.
Though lacking in longevity as well as replay value (and containing a color-selecting control gripe), Hue was an engaging experience for me. I enjoyed the brief tale being told, and my mind was put to the test a lot of the time when my platforming abilities weren't. Then, there were times when I had to be quick with and master the switching of colors to get through particularly tougher rooms in the game. While the asking price may be too high for what you get, Hue is a clever puzzle platformer that will challenge just as much as it delights.

[SPC Says: C+]

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs - "SuperPhillip's Birthday Bash" Edition

I don't like to toot my own horn (aw, hell-- TOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT!!!), but today I celebrate my 31st birthday, and with that, SuperPhillip Central arrives with five special themes to commemorate the occasion. Sure, I was going to use these five VGMs regardless, but why ruin the spectacle of the moment?

The recently released Gravity Rush 2 leads us off with a jazzy battle theme before handing it off to Final Fantasy XI. Then, we turn our attention to Okamiden. Following that is some funk (the good kind) from Dreamcast classic Jet Set Radio. Lastly, we roll on through with a catchy song from Katamari Forever.

Hey, you! Yeah, you! Click on the VGM volume name to hear the song on YouTube! Finally, check out the VGM Database for all past VGMs featured on this weekly recurring segment. Now, let's get on to the music!

v1341. Gravity Rush 2 (PS4) - Combat II

Released last month, Gravity Rush 2 was part of the amazing kickoff of game releases for 2017 that continues into March! It's astonishing that we even received a sequel to Gravity Rush in the first place, so Kat fans, savor this sequel as much as you can. I'll help by sharing this wonderful piece of music from the game, one of the themes that plays during Gravity Rush 2's battles.

v1342. Final Fantasy XI (Multi) - Distant Worlds (The Black Mages Version)

This rock version of Final Fantasy XI's Distant Worlds comes from The Black Mages' third album of arranged Final Fantasy tunes. The Black Mages was founded by then-series composer Nobuo Uematsu. This version of Distant World starts off mellow, but by the end, it turns into a hard rock masterpiece. It gets particularly awesome here at my favorite part of the piece.

v1343. Okamiden (DS) - Spirit Suppression

Though not as excellent or as revered as its original counterpart, it was both surprising and amazing that we got to see a sequel to Okami. This sequel was Okamiden on the Nintendo DS, a handheld that saw a robust lineup of games, perhaps the best handheld system lineup in history. Regardless, Spirit Suppression is one of the battle themes played during Okamiden, offering a tense track while you deal with spirits sinister and shocking.

v1344. Jet Set Radio (Multi) - That's Enough

The original Jet Set Radio released on Sega's last home console before turning third party, the Dreamcast, a magical machine full of creative and innovative games. Jet Set Radio was part arcade skating game, part platformer, and all awesome. This permeated into its soundtrack that had all original funky tracks, such as this one, That's Enough. It would receive a remix in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed in the Jet Set Radio series-inspired Graffiti City track.

v1345. Katamari Forever (PS3) - Rolling Star

We end this edition of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs with a catchy ditty from Katamari Forever, the PlayStation 3 exclusive entry in the Katamari Damacy series that celebrates the franchise's history. Sure, it got long in the tooth much like the Super Monkey Ball series, a fellow ball-rolling series, though of a different type, but like that franchise, Katamari Damacy retained its fantastic tradition of great, memorable music.