Saturday, March 18, 2017

FAST RMX (NS) Review

It's time for SuperPhillip Central's first Nintendo Switch-exclusive review! FAST RMX is based off of a Wii U exclusive. With more tracks, vehicles, and improvements, is this a must-have racer for new Switch owners? 

There are F-zero chances that the developers wiped out on this futuristic racer.

When it comes to fast, futuristic racers, many gamers probably first think of Nintendo's F-Zero or PlayStation's WipEout. The focus here is more on the former, as Nintendo console owners have been clamoring for a new F-Zero from the big N for over a decade now. Since Nintendo isn't in the market for a new blazing fast, futuristic racer as of yet, other developers have taken to the cause. A little over a year ago saw the launch of Shin'en Multimedia's FAST Racing Neo for the Wii U. It was an exquisite but insanely challenging racer made more impressive by the small size of the team working on it. Now, with Nintendo's new console, the Switch, Shin'en is back with an improved version of FAST released digitally right at launch. Despite being familiar for Wii U players, FAST RMX offers enough newness and improvements to be more than worth downloading.

FAST RMX sports several modes, though mostly due to rushing to launch the game with the Switch's release, a time trial mode is noticeably absent from the game. Regardless, the primary single-player mode is Championship. This is a series of unlockable cups, ten in all, set across three different speed types. Set up for more bite-sized play sessions, as well as a nice way of making losing a cup at the last race not as much of a pain as it was in the original, the cups include three races each instead of the original's four. The total amount of tracks is a series high of 30. 

Look out below! I'm landing on the track wherever anyone's there or not!
The structure of Championship mode is interesting, as one would think that the difficulty would only increase when changing speed classes. For instance, Subsonic is the slowest of the classes, and it is also the easiest. But the level of challenge actually changes as you play through a speed class' series of cups. The beginning cups, even on the fastest speed class, are relatively easy to get first place in and stay with the front of the pack, but by the final three cups, I found myself seriously struggling to keep up with first place. I basically needed to run a perfect race just to stand a chance. Thankfully, the placement of rivals in FAST RMX aren't set in stone, meaning that your rival in first in overall points can sometimes slip up and get sixth in a race, giving you the overall points needed to win. Even still, you just need to get at least third overall after three races to pass a given cup.

Collect boost orbs to increase the amount of expendable energy in your boost meter.
Another fortunate aspect of FAST RMX is that when compared to the original, FAST RMX offers a much more forgiving difficulty. In the Wii U game, if you crashed even once (maybe twice if you were lucky or good enough), you pretty much surrendered your chance for decent placing in a race. That is no longer the case in FAST RMX. 

FAST has some similarities to games like F-Zero and WipEout, but it's also possesses originality to the futuristic racing genre and concept. The main thing that distinguishes FAST from the competition and its inspirations is the color switching gameplay system that has you pressing one button to shift your vehicle's aura from blue to orange and back again. This is of importance because there are multiple stretches of track that are covered in one of these colors. If you cross over a blue patch of track while possessing a blue aura, that patch serves as a means to give you a great boost. Likewise, if you accidentally have an orange aura on a blue patch, then you're slowed down. It's with smart switching and shifting of your vehicle's aura that makes the difference between keeping up with the pack as well as potentially winning the race and falling behind while ending up with a poor finishing place. 

Go fast through jungles, deserts, arctic lands, and more in FAST RMX.
There are also energy orbs strewn along parts of each of FAST RMX's tracks, giving your vehicle boost energy that can be used at any time during a race. Generally, it's smart to stock up on these and use them in portions of the track where the blue and orange boost patches don't exist. Smart boosting is particularly needed (even flat out required) to keep up with the AI in harder difficulty cups and speed classes. Boosting into a slower moving vehicle causes them to spin out, costing them a precious second or two of time, and when you're competing in a race where going as fast as possible is necessary, then that can ruin a race for them.

The 30 tracks in FAST RMX are mostly taken from the original Wii U game's vanilla version and its later included downloadable content. There are also completely new tracks. Because the tracks are full of twists and turns as well as patches of blue and orange that can come unexpectedly out of nowhere, learning each track is of extra importance in doing well. A map in single player is available to at least know what turns are coming up, but this isn't wholly helpful due to the speed of which your vehicle is going. It's sort of hard to take a glance at a map when you're pretty much always needing to pay attention to upcoming turns, boost patches, and the placement of boost orbs.

FAST RMX's tracks run the gamut of locales and tests of controlling your blistering fast vehicle. This speed is absolutely amazing, but this can result in one issue with the track design: crashing into obstacles that suddenly appear before you. With learning the tracks, this doesn't become as big of an issue, but there is one track, Iceland, that has everyone racing along a pipe. This structure has various gates, pillars, and even mechanical creatures that can come from out of nowhere, resulting in crashes. Memorization isn't really helpful since the vehicles can slip and slide all over, and it can be hard to make heads or tails of where you are while spinning around the pipe.

Don't worry, my AI friend, those pink lasers are totally not harmful. (Secret: They are harmful.)
Regardless, the various vistas in the tracks are truly stunning, and some even support secondary paths, many of which are excellent shortcuts. Some tracks have insane jumps that require careful control to land safely, others have swaying sections of track, a corridor with three giant fan blades, sections where purple lasers intermittently fire onto the track, and another where a giant mechanical spider mech slams its legs into the ground, hoping to cause havoc to any vehicle that unluckily slams into it. 

Outside of Championship mode for solo players, there is a mode more familiar to F-Zero fans, Hero mode. This mode features you choosing from one of the 30 races, and trying to get first place on a mirrored version of that track. The biggest caveat is that your boost meter is also your life meter, so carelessly using energy to boost will most likely result in destruction once your meter is empty and you brush up against a wall or another vehicle. Fortunately, your meter can replenish with the collection of boost orbs and being the right colored aura on a boost patch. 

Learn a lesson from my AI opponent here, keep calm and race on,
or else you might end up crashing, costing you precious seconds!
A speedy racer is impressive, but it's not so much if the handling of the vehicles isn't there. Fortunately, in FAST RMX, it definitely is. Controlling each vehicle is a little looser than in F-Zero, but it works overall. Boosting and switching between auras is as simple as pressing a button for each, and the back shoulder buttons help in correcting one's course. Perhaps the only thing I don't like with FAST RMX is how on some turns (usually ones at a right angle to the ground) your vehicle will be on the left or right side of the screen with no change to the camera angle (like having it behind your vehicle and turned with the track). This makes some turns more difficult to achieve than they would otherwise be, especially when there's a boost pad you'd like to run over.

Multiplayer is a necessary function of any kind of racing game, and for FAST RMX what multiplayer it has is nice and serviceable. It's great to have up to four players sharing a TV screen through local play (though I wouldn't recommend it doing four players in handheld mode due to the limited screen space of the Switch), and it all runs at a steady frame-rate. Online is less of a good thing, as there is no current way of guaranteeing you'll play with friends like in private lobbies. (That should also be coming with the patch that includes the omitted Time Attack mode.) Additionally, there's some pretty noticeable lag, such as seeing on your screen that you crossed the line in a different place than you're actually awarded. Then there's occasionally having to watch an entire race unfold before you can join in the next race. These issues add up for a less than stellar online multiplayer experience.

FAST RMX is a beauty of a game that somehow manages to stay at an amazing frame-rate. The game is absolutely stunning in screenshots and only more astounding to the eye in motion. This is not-so-secretly one of the best looking Switch games so far. The music is a nice combination of rock and electronica, though you probably won't be humming any of the songs after you've stopped playing, as they aren't particularly memorable. (Though I do like the track intro theme, as well as Shin'en's use of F-Zero GX's announcer for them.) Overall, FAST RMX is a truly impressive visual package that doesn't feel or look undercooked at all.

In still screenshots, FAST RMX looks amazing. In motion, FAST RMX looks phenomenal.
Despite some online issues and the current lack of a time trial mode, FAST RMX is a formidable racer that is packed with content. Whether played by your lonesome online or off, or with a group of friends, FAST RMX is a must-have for anyone looking for a game to complement their most likely Zelda: Breath of the Wild purchase. Race on, speed freaks. Race on.

[SPC Says: B+]

Friday, March 17, 2017

System-Exclusive Game Reviews Bring Out the Worst in Gamers Take #7603: Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Gaming is a hobby and industry that should be celebrated, especially now as we're in the middle of an absolutely stellar first quarter of 2017, packed with stupendous games such as For Honor, Nioh, NieR: Automata, Gravity Rush 2, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and yes, Switch launch title and final major Wii U game, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

However, despite the embarrassment of riches for gamers, some in this particular sect aren't happy to leave it at that. No, they have to continue their tribal-like console warrior attitudes and pissing contests, pitting exclusives against one another to try to make the other side feel bad (but mostly to make themselves feel good for buying one expensive electronic toy over another). I'm looking at you, Horizon: Zero Dawn and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (shock and awe at both being major first-party exclusives). 

If you've been following The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on Metacritic (and if you have routinely, then perhaps you should come up with a better hobby), then you may have noticed that it changed from one astronomically impressive score (98) to a lower yet still astronomically impressive score (97). This was because one reviewer, Jim Sterling, thought that the game was enjoyable but didn't find it to be the amazing game that many members of the press agreed upon. No harm no foul, as Mr. Sterling is entitled to his opinion, and more importantly, he more than backed up his points and opinions well with suitable evidence. As someone who hasn't dived deep into Breath of the Wild yet, but has dealt with the weapon system a little, I can see how weapon degradation and having to constantly switch between weapons would be annoying.

But that's not really the issue here. The issue stems from the reactions to the review. This isn't any new thing, but social media has allowed whiny manchildren to have an even greater audience that isn't just limited to message board forums and comment sections to spew their console warrior bile and disgust. A sect of Zelda fans took the 7/10  review score (which is a score that is still positive, as was what was the important part of the review-- the actual text) from Jim Sterling personally, erupting with high furor. Sterling's site was temporary down due to a DDoS attack. The anger was palpable-- how dare Jim Sterling go against the grain and lower what a highly impressive (and overall pointless) Metacritic score to a slightly (like, REALLY slightly) less impressive (and still overall pointless) Metacritic score?!

This isn't just limited to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. We've seen portions of gamers get angered in the past when games they've been anticipating (usually console-exclusives) don't get the high review scores they demand. Whether it's Twilight Princess's infamous 8.8, Uncharted 3's 7.0 from Eurogamer, or an Uncharted 4 petition that pleaded with Metacritic to take down a low score (one that was extra embarrassing when a voice actor involved with the game retweeted it), it doesn't really matter the rationale of reviewers towards giving the games a given score, all the matters is the score itself. After all, it's much easier and quicker to say "my game that I'm disturbingly emotionally attached to got a 95, while your game that you're disturbingly emotionally attached to got a 93" than saying "This game was praised for its stirring narrative, high quality voice acting, and combat system, but was criticized for its repetitive level design." I mean, who uses the latter when numbers are so much easier to compare?!

Some gamers, like Link, just want to watch the world burn.
It's baffling, really, because Metacritic scores are merely to be used to get a general feel for how a game is. It's in no way anything objective, as the opinions that are reviews from critics are subjective by their very nature. So when a swath of gamers get all hot and bothered when a game's score by a reviewer doesn't match what they envisioned (and bonus embarrassment points if the gamers in question haven't even played the game likewise in question), it's just pitiful to watch.

That's but one side of the equation, however. There's a portion of people who have been waiting for the supposed "honeymoon" to be over with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. As if the currently 89 critics listed on Metacritic who gave the game universal acclaim were either so obviously bought and paid for by Nintendo or had so much nostalgia for Zelda that it twisted their opinion of the game (despite this Zelda being totally unlike any other in the series). These particularly salty people get bonus points too if they believe that any negative review written and published by a site is a "true" review and not one by the bought and paid for press. What's so wrong with a game being heralded by critics? Isn't a good thing that Switch owners have a fantastic game for launch? Why should we think people are being paid off? Instead, why don't we read the reviews (and not just eye the scores) and see why the game is so well regarded?

If you find yourself relishing in the fact that Horizon: Zero Dawn doesn't have a higher
Metascore as Breath of the Wild, your priorities need changing (as does your bulb).
The point here aside from that both sides are varying degrees of ridiculous is that allegiances to consoles and particular games is disturbing behavior. Thankfully, there are a good portion of gamers in the middle. They neither raged at their computer screen at a lower-than-perfect (but still good) review and score, nor did they don tinfoil hats at the supposed massive conspiracy to give the new Zelda one of the highest Metacritic scores of all time. 

I have to remind myself that for all of the people who spew garbage on message boards, comment sections, and social media because yet another first-party exclusive has gotten the review treatment, that there are sane gamers in this hobby we share. Because if I don't, then I will go as completely unhinged and as mentally, developmentally stunted as the gamers that embarrass this hobby whenever their particular console of choice exclusive game doesn't get the review score they wanted.

Sonic Mania (Multi) Flying Battery Zone Reveal Trailer

Sonic Mania has a new classic zone apart from the iconic Green Hill. It's Sonic & Knuckles' Flying Battery Zone, one of my favorites from the Sega Genesis game. With familiar features and remixed ones, this zone is shaping up to be quite the platforming adventure. Some slight bad news, however, is that Sonic Mania has been pushed back to summer. To put some good news on top of that, if any franchise could use delays for quality reasons, it's Sonic! Here's hoping Sonic Mania turns out to be the exciting and well done platformer is so far appears to be!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Blue Rider (PS4, XB1, PC) Review

This Thursday sees a second review on SuperPhillip Central. This game released last year in the West, but it now sees a release in Asian territories as of this month. It's the white knuckle twin-stick shooter Blue Rider, and despite its colorful appearance, this is no easy game to beat! See why with my review.

Make way, Peter Fonda--This certainly is no easy rider!

Developer Ravegan's Blue Rider lulls you into a false sense of security with its initial easy first level and bright, vivid, and cartoon-y colors. Then, the second level comes, and you're faced with a stiffer challenge, but still rather doable for most players. By the third level, Blue Rider takes your butt to the cleaners, beats it black and blue, and questions your abilities as a gamer. Was I ever good at games? Did years of hand-holding and tutorials make me soft? Or is Blue Rider just deceptive in its looks and turns out to be one of the most challenging games I've played in a long time?

Blue Rider is a twin-stick shooter in a colorful world devised of nine stages. Starting the game presents you with no story, no plot, and no tutorial to speak of. You get greeted with the a picture of a controller showing what each input does. It's very simple and concise: use the left stick to move in conjunction with the right stick to rotate a full 360 degrees as you explore and shoot through the levels. You use the front shoulder buttons to get a short boost of speed, and the back shoulder buttons for primary and secondary weapon shots respectively.

Oh, I see you, first level, and how you make Blue Rider seem like it's going to be a leisurely time...
As stated, the first stage of Blue Rider is quite easy overall. It's relatively linear with very few side attractions to see. Enemies mostly shoot single bullets that easily avoidable while you unload a steady stream of bullets into your adversaries to vanquish them. Later levels then come in to make you seem foolish for thinking you were going to play a game without much challenge. Really, once the first level is over and done with, the difficulty of Blue Rider makes itself immediately apparent with more enemy types to worry about and bullets being spammed from all directions. It's not hard at all to find yourself surrounded.

...And then you turn boys immediately into men soon after.
Then there are the bosses that hide behind special doors, sort of like a twin-stick shooter version of Mega Man. Once these doors open and you enter inside, the most challenging portions of Blue Rider make themselves known. The first boss, a mech that fires different types of shots, increasingly more difficult in size, shape, and speed as its health lowers, isn't too taxing of a battle. However, then you face off against more demanding battles that ask more of your as a player. From a mechanical scorpion that shoots its tail at you while pelting the arena with bullets to a trio of worms that wish to make your escape from the fourth stage all the more seemingly impossible, these battles demand much from you to survive them.

The boss battles are a highlight of Blue Rider, and some of the most challenging parts of the game.
Thankfully, beating a stage means that if you die (and you WILL die), you don't have to start the game from the very first stage. You can begin from the last stage you reached. However, Blue Rider encourages starting from the beginning stage as you'll be much stronger to take on enemies in later levels. And don't even get me started on trying to run through the game's nine stages in one go while doing tasks like finding and destroying all three relics in each stage as well as beating all enemies in every stage.

As you might have surmised by now, Blue Rider is indeed a hard game to succeed at. But part of it is not all on the player. The vehicle that your pilot has the unfortunate problem of having too much inertia so it drifts slightly upon every movement of the analog stick. This is fine at first, and makes lining up shots a bit more challenging than it should be, but it gets very annoying when you're engaged in battles where enemies litter your surrounding area with bullets in true "bullet hell" fashion. It makes accidentally overcompensating and drifting into a stray bullet quite easy. Due to your limited health and how rare extra lives are (only being acquired at certain overall point totals), death becomes much easier than it should be.

Wonderful explosions. (Hey, they're wonderful as long as they're not your own ship, am I right?)
Furthermore, stages are rather involved affairs. You can go up to 15 minutes slowly moving through them because you don't want to find yourself in a situation where you're surrounded. Slowly picking off foes from afar while avoiding bullets is a smart thing to do. However, many bosses have attacks that can be one hit kills. There's nothing more maddening than carefully running through a level for 15 minutes only to arrive at the boss, make one mistake, and end up dying, having to restart the level from the very beginning. This doesn't even factor in that the view of Blue Rider is zoomed in a little too much, making it so on many occasions you'll be shooting at enemies that are just off the screen. Plus, it can be troublesome to be aware of enemies off screen that are attacking you. Nothing like backing up into a bullet being shot from an off-screen adversary.

As if your palms weren't already sweaty enough, now you're inside a volcano.
Despite these problems in both severe difficulty and level length, I overall enjoyed my time with Blue Rider. Even when I played through a full stage and ended up getting killed instantly by one stray boss attack, I felt encouraged and motivated enough to press on. Sure, I doubt I'll make it through the game's nine stages any time soon, but I feel that my time with Blue Rider was well worth it. Those easily frustrated should look towards an alternative experience while those who like a good (but sometimes unfair) challenge, should have lots to like about Blue Rider.

[SPC Says: C+]

 Review copy provided by eastasiasoft.

Ys Origin (PS4) Review

A certain new console from a certain big company behind a certain popular plumber released early this month, but SuperPhillip Central's focus right now for its first review of March is Ys Origin. This PlayStation 4 port was handled by DotEmu, and overall, the port turned out okay. Here's the full review of the PS4 version... then later on this month we'll dive into that certain new console!

This could be the start of something big.

...And it is... somewhat. The Ys series may not have the same level of clout or popularity in the gaming world as RPGs like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, but it has survived and thrived with a dedicated fan base of players both in Japan and on this side of the world. As the title suggests, Ys Origin is a beginning tale that sets the series into full motion. This is a game long before the pursuits and adventures of the series' main hero, the redheaded Adol Christin. The original Ys Origin launched 12 years ago on PCs in Japan. About four years ago, XSEED Games finally localized the game for Western markets. Now, DotEmu brings the game to a home console for the first time with this PlayStation 4 port. It's overall imperfect even when compared to XSEED's initial offering, but it's worth a look regardless.

Ys Origin has you taking on the role of one of two characters that you can select from right from the get-go of the game, either the close quarters, axe-wielder Yunica Tovah or the magic-using Hugo Fact. Your character is a part of a search party that enters a foreboding structure known as The Devil's Tower. The search is to find a pair of missing goddesses that entered into the tower for unknown reasons. Meanwhile, there is a nefarious and pure evil group wishing to not just harness but to unleash the demonic energy from something called the Black Pearl, and they interact with our heroes throughout their climb up the tower.

Regardless of who you select to play as at the start of the game, the main journey plays out the same. Only there are different conversations between characters as well as a slightly changed order of bosses to take on. The main discrepancy between the two characters is how they play. Yunica is a hard-hitting, close-range wielder of an axe. Her attacks are slow, but they do some significant damage. Meanwhile, Hugo uses a volley of light energy to attack foes, requiring constant presses of the attack command to unleash each series of shots. Along each characters' adventure, they'll come across specific items granting wind, thunder, and fire skills. While Yunica's wind skill involves her spinning her axe like a whirlwind, Hugo's wind skill gives him a temporary shield that can be used to deal damage to nearby foes as well as slow his descent across small distances.

Sometimes a wizard just needs a breath of the outdoor air.
Each characters' unique ways of attacking means that players can and will practically have to change up how they tackle the various battles they face, whether typical enemy onslaughts or battles with bosses. In addition to Yunica and Hugo, a third playable character is available once the initial two character stories have been completed. Note: This is unlike the XSEED Games Steam version, which only required players to beat one of the two stories to unlock the third. This may sound extremely tedious-- playing through the same game thrice-- but three things keep Ys Origin from growing stale quickly. First is the gameplay variety in how each of the three play. Then, there's their individual tales shining more light on the overall story. Finally, there's the ability to play on different difficulties, making enemies harder and boss battles all the more brutal.

For those who haven't played either the Japanese original or XSEED's localized Steam version, Ys Origin plays similarly to Ys games like Oath in Felghana and Ark of Napishtim and not like the more modern Ys Seven and Memories of Celceta. Hugo and Yunica are able to jump freely, meaning there's a focus on both combat and platforming.

And sometimes an apprentice knight... needs a smell of a pool of blood? Wait. What?
Ys Origin totally takes place with The Devil's Tower. Your goal is to move up its 25 floors to the very summit. Despite the idea of this Ys occurring in one place, the theme of each section of floors is different. One is a watery passage with some flooded parts to contend with (requiring finding vases filled with energy for your oxygen meter, lest you wish to drown) while another is themed after desert ruins complete with quicksand and sand slides.

Areas of the tower mostly have you attacking and defeating foes, who don't drop money but instead skill points. These skill points or SP can be used at various save statues to grant permanent boosts to things like decreased MP consumption, the increase of how much SP you gain from a defeated foe, a decrease to how much damage certain terrain like lava or spikes gives you, etc.

Well, you didn't expect them to roll out the red carpet
and let you ride an elevator to the top of this tower, did you?
Ys Origin is less about puzzle-solving like games of its type and more about exploration. Yes, there are some doors that need unlocking, but it's usually as simple as stepping on a nearby button or at most, lighting up several surrounding torches. Exploration not only comes from finding the necessary path of progression, but also discovering plenty of secret areas where and treasure chests are stored, housing things like boosts to your character's skills, new equipment, ore that can be refined to strengthen your weapon, and HP-increasing elixirs.

You know a major segment of the tower is almost over when you reach a giant sealed door requiring a medallion of some kind to fit inside it. Sure, you can occasionally lack the necessary medallion you need, forcing you to backtrack through the current segment, but the areas aren't overwhelming at all in size. Even if you have to return to a previous area of the tower, the ability to fast travel between save statues makes backtracking painless. This makes things like finding the required medallion or key to a door you can't get passed all the less annoying.

I always found myself giddy with excitement when a medallion door
presented itself because that meant a cool boss fight was on the other side.
These medallion doors lead to the tower area's boss, and if you're familiar with the Ys games, then you know what to expect; awesome encounters that are not only amazing in spectacle but battles that will push your action-RPG skills to the limit. Boss battles present you with patterns to learn, openings to find in order to attack the enemy, and the requirement of patience. Merely slashing or striking with no regard will generally end in death quite quickly. Due to the fact that there is no way of healing your character in battle, these climactic encounters require you to pay attention, endure, and most importantly rely on their own skills to overcome. Even through death, a simple hit of the "Retry" prompt will return you to the battle, and if you wish to live to fight another day, when you reload your save, you can fast forward through any preceding dialogue.

You may die once or twice (or ten) times, but finally taking down a tough boss is a great feeling.
Ys Origin originally released near the end of 2006. It's obviously now 2017, so there's no question that what was a dated-looking game then is an even more dated-looking game now. Despite this, everything from the main characters, to the enemies, and to the 3D models of the environments all look well and good. The level of detail isn't tremendous, but what there is here in Ys Origin is pleasant on the eyes. Something that will never be dated is the fantastic score, once again showcasing the Ys series' penchant for awesome soundtracks. Whether it's a pumping theme that plays as you're pushing yourself to survive a particularly tough boss battle or a more melancholy tune that plays during an emotional scene, Ys Origin satisfies with its sound.

However, the work that DotEmu has done in bringing Ys Origin from the PC to the PlayStation 4 isn't without problems. A big one is the occasional crashing of the game, so make sure if you're participating in a grinding session to either level your character up or to accumulate SP, that you remember to occasionally go back and save your progress so you don't lose precious time. Then there's the ridiculously small HUD, which uses tiny icons and even tinier font. This was the type of game I had to sit closer to my TV screen than I would have liked. Smaller issues include some audio and graphical glitches. These don't ruin the experience, but they do lessen the quality of the port.

If you've been waiting for a reason to replay or play Ys Origin for the first time, then this PlayStation 4 port, while greatly imperfect, is still a worthy choice, especially if you want the ability to play it on the go when the PlayStation Vita port releases this May. (Both versions are cross-buy.) While the problems presented in this port make for a less than stellar experience compared to XSEED's Steam version, you still get a fantastic action-RPG for your PlayStation systems while you wait for Lacrimosa of Dana later this year.

[SPC Says: B]

Review copy provided by DotEmu.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Underrated Games With Even More Underrated Soundtracks - Part Five

SuperPhillip Central habitually checks out underrated and overlooked games throughout the year, and every Monday we post music from various video games. So the idea came years ago to combine these idea into one new series of articles: Underrated Games With Even More Underrated Soundtracks! We're now on our fifth installment since beginning some time ago. Part five of this series looks at underrated gems like the recently released Gravity Rush 2, Paper Mario: Color Splash, and a Wii U launch title, Nintendo Land.

To check out past parts of this article series, here are some convenient links for you:

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four

Gravity Rush 2 (PS4)

We begin with a game that if I hadn't already owned it, the soundtrack would have pushed me to do so. That's how fantastic Gravity Rush 2's soundtrack truly is. The music of this very overlooked early 2017 PS4 exclusive is composed by Kohei Tanaka, whose resume is as long as it is impressive. Such composition credits include his work on the PS1 cult classic Alundra, as well as working on anime like a little known title called One Piece. Tanaka-san brings his embarrassment of composition riches to Gravity Rush 2 with a lot of playful themes on top of more rock and jazz focused numbers. Gravity Rush 2 itself is a much improved sequel to the PlayStation Vita original, offering better gameplay and control. If you're looking for a game with lots of charm and personality for your PS4, Gravity Rush 2 is that game.

Paper Mario: Color Splash (Wii U)

Speaking of charm and personality, you get that sevenfold with Paper Mario: Color Splash. You also get one of the funniest games on the Wii U and recently released in general. Color Splash is a marked improvement over the base gameplay found in the Nintendo 3DS's less than well received Sticker Star. It brings forth a reason to participate in battles, it offers more direction with its puzzles, and you'll seldom be frustrated as to what you need to do next. Then there's the music, which like Sticker Star is quite catchy and memorable. Color Splash has one of my favorite soundtracks of last year, taking familiar themes and giving them a clever twist, as well as wholly original compositions that stand up to any other pieces in the game. By virtue of releasing near the end of the struggling Wii U's life, Paper Mario: Color Splash didn't receive much fanfare from the gaming community, but don't be mistaken-- the game is well worth checking out if at least not listening to its stellar soundtrack.

Nintendo Land (Wii U)

Nintendo Land didn't exactly have the greatest reveal. With a lackluster appearance of gameplay and no fireworks to speak of, Nintendo Land and consequently the Wii U in retrospect were doomed from the start. Nevertheless, Nintendo Land itself is a really entertaining party game with 12 attractions all based around Nintendo franchises, such as Mario, Zelda, Pikmin, and more. Many of these have multiplayer components to them, and they showcase the Wii U's asymmetric gameplay where one player uses the Wii U GamePad while other players use the Wii Remotes. Each side is doing a different gameplay task, hence the term "asymmetric gameplay." If it's still not clear, don't worry. It's hard to explain perfectly, and that's part of the reason why the Wii U itself was hard to market. Regardless, Nintendo Land isn't just special as a party game; its soundtrack is a collection of familiar remixes of Nintendo franchise music.

Rayman Legends (Multi)

Rayman Legends is a similar game like Rayman 2 before it in the case that Ubisoft just can't help but port it to every system under the sun. The Wii U was the original, and that was ported to the PS4 and Xbox One. Then, the Vita got its own version. Now, the Nintendo Switch is due up for what Ubisoft is calling the "definition edition." Whether or not the version of Rayman Legends is the definitive one or not, what you're going to get is platforming nirvana with a side of charm, humor, and gorgeous art using the Ubi Art game engine. The music is also quite nice, offering a boisterous orchestra to accentuate all the action. Pretty much everything about Rayman Legends is well crafted and makes for an engaging experience, particularly in multiplayer and particularly if you own the Wii U version which delivers some of that asymmetric multiplayer I was talking about in the Nintendo Land blurb.

MadWorld (Wii)

MadWorld was quite the interesting game. It was unapologetic in its violence and crude humor, and it was the Wii of all consoles, a platform known for its more family friendly content compared to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Despite this, Platinum Games' MadWorld ended up being a really fun game even with its somewhat repetitive gameplay. That wasn't what players jumped on first, however. No, it was the game's showcase black and white art style which accentuated all the red blood that would pour from enemies. The soundtrack is all original rap and rock music, and damn awesome ones at that. Sure, songs like "come with it" are a bit too vivid and detailed with their violent imagery and wording, but it's all catchy and it all fits the game really well. It says something when I can enjoy a game's soundtrack despite not having a major love for rap music. Whatever the case, MadWorld was an underrated gem in the underrated library of the Wii.

Mega Man X8 (PS2, PC)

After some stumbles in the Mega Man X franchise with Mega Man X6 and then the failed attempt for the X sub-series to enter 3D with Mega Man X7, it was a greatly pleasant surprise to discover that Mega Man X8 was a winner of a game. Sure, it had its own problems like two of the eight Maverick stages being vehicle-based and not traditional platforming stages, but overall, Mega Man X8 was a good game. Like X7, Mega Man X8 used fully 3D polygonal models instead of 2D sprites, and this was used to nice effect with some levels wrapping around themselves, fully using 3D depth and the like. The soundtrack continues the Mega Man X sub-series' penchant for excellent music. Most of X8 is hard rock, as you can see-- er... hear-- by these examples provided below.

The Disney Afternoon Collection (PS4, XB1, PC) Announcement Trailer

Six classic NES games in one collection. It's The Disney Afternoon Collection. I remember coming home from elementary school and watching the afternoon block of Disney cartoons, and then begging my mom to get the games associated with them. With all new features and content for a low, low price, The Disney Afternoon Collection is going to be a worthwhile pickup for any retro gaming fan.

Monday, March 13, 2017

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs - "Dancing (And Fighting) in the Streets" Edition

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs generally marks the beginning of each week of content on the site. That tradition continues with a new edition with music that will have you wanting to get up and dance! ...Or at least bob your head up and down as you listen to them.

We start out with Capcom's Street Fighter V. Then, we listen to two really catchy tunes, one from Paper Mario: Color Splash and the other from Kirby: Planet Robobot. The fighting isn't done, however, as Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden rocks us out afterwards. Finally, Wild ARMs 5 rounds out this wonderful edition of great music.

As a friendly reminder, just click on the VGM volume name to hear the song represented, and check out the VGM Database for all 1350 previous VGM volumes seen on this weekly SuperPhillip Central segment! Now, let's get on to the music!

v1351. Street Fighter V (PS4, PC) - City in Chaos - Round 1

We start with a fighter that was pure awesomeness to play at launch. It's just that Street Fighter V launched with so little substance to it content-wise. This led to the game doing less sales than Capcom would have liked. Beyond that, Street Fighter V has shaped up to provide more value for players, and both its visuals and stellar soundtrack make for a solid presentation regardless.

v1352. Paper Mario: Color Splash (Wii U) - Ruddy Road

Next up are two games that have soundtracks that seldom fail to make me smile. The first here is Paper Mario: Color Splash, which turned out to be a really good game that I greatly enjoyed. Ruddy Road is the first destination Mario heads to after his initial arrival on Prisma Island. Its song incorporates the Super Mario Bros. main theme motif while offering an original arrangement and melody of its own. Catchy is understating this song!

v1353. Kirby: Planet Robobot (3DS) - Gorgeous-Go-Round

Moving from one joyful game and song to another, Kirby: Planet Robobot rocked the Nintendo 3DS last summer with a sensational platforming adventure. Gorgeous-Go-Round is played during casino levels in the game. Kirby will take on playing cards, billiards tables, and more on his journey through these levels. Like Paper Mario: Color Splash's Ruddy Road, Gorgeous-Go-Round is fantastically catchy and is a terrific feelgood song.

v1354. Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden (3DS) - Menu

Unfortunately the sound quality on this song isn't as high fidelity as the others. There exists MP3 versions that sound better, but they haven't been bestowed a YouTube video. Regardless, this rocking theme with a marvelous guitar riff at the beginning greets players who start up the oft overlooked Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden. Unlike many current Dragon Ball fighters, this one used hand-drawn sprites instead of polygonal models. It's definitely worth picking up, especially since you can now find it on the cheap.

v1355. Wild ARMs 5 (PS2) - When the Heart Ignites

While not a soundtrack by longtime series composer Michiko Naruke, Wild ARMs 5's soundtrack still maintains its delightfully wild western spirit. With this theme, When the Heart Ignites, you get a healthy dose of rambling guitar, whistling, and then some electric organ. Hey, if you're going to shake things up, then why not go all the way?