Saturday, April 1, 2017

Welcome to Центральный SuperPhillip!

We've tried to hide this for many years now, but like a certain country's administration, everything is falling apart. All the lies, all the revealed connections... SuperPhillip Central has clear ties to Russia, so we are no longer hiding it. Welcome to Центральный SuperPhillip!

At Центральный SuperPhillip, you will get all the editorials, news, reviews, and previews that honor the greatest comrade of all, Vladmir Putin, who helped SuperPhillip Central win last November's poll for best video game enthusiast site featuring the initials SPC. It was an upset to say the least, and sure, we didn't win the popular vote, but we did win the vote that mattered-- the Putin vote.

Центральный SuperPhillip is definitely not Putin-g you on here, and don't you dare think this change to the site will only be for today! (Oh, and we're just learning the Russian language here, so forgive us, Master Putin, if we got our name wrong!)

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (NS, Wii U) Review

We conclude the month of March with a game that I think will define this generation and even the genre its a part of. It's a game that fixes so many things wrong with the open world genre, making a final game that is just fantastic. It has its problems, but the latest Legend of Zelda game, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, is an astonishing game through and through. Here's SuperPhillip Central's review.

A game that breathes new life into The Legend of Zelda franchise

A new Nintendo home console is here, and with it is one of the biggest games to ever come out for a Nintendo system launch: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Yes, it's also on the Wii U, but as that system has had its life support pulled out, most gamers have moved on to the Switch. A new Zelda hasn't really been a gaming event for a long time. Now, with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, not only is a gaming event, but the game is one of the best Zelda games in the series 30+ year history and one of the most amazing open world games of all time. Am I spewing hyperbole here? Read on and see why I think I'm not.

Breath of the Wild begins with Link waking up in a dank and dark chamber from a deep slumber. A familiar voice calls to him, urging him to wake up and move forward through the chamber. There, Link acquires the Sheikah Slate, a tool that will allow him a vast number of different abilities as the beginning of the game progresses.

From there, the cave door opens and the world of Breath of the Wild reveals itself in all of its splendor. Despite being an open world game, you as the player are limited to where you can go at the start. The game begins at the Great Plateau, and without a means to get down from there safely, you're temporarily stuck there. Nonetheless, the plateau is large and is bigger than many overworlds of past Zelda games such as the openness of Ocarina of Time's Hyrule Field or the large but segmented overworld of Twilight Princess, so there is plenty to explore.

Link faces a brave new Hyrule in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
However, the main goal at the start of the game is to talk with a mysterious old man, which has a direct feel to the very first Zelda game. This is a common theme throughout Breath of the Wild, a feeling of familiarity with a tremendous feeling of newness. The hooded old man eventually tells you about climbing a tower and activating it with Link's Sheikah Slate. In doing so, towers all around the world, far beyond the reach of the Great Plateau rise up from the ground, as do many shrines, the first four (the only ones in the Great Plateau), the old man asks you to recover treasure from in exchange for a paraglider. This paraglider will allow Link to travel to areas beyond the plateau.

While there are four similarly-themed dungeons, the over 100 shrines
make up the most of the puzzle-solving in Breath of the Wild.
My best description of a shrine is a miniature dungeon that has the same blue aesthetic as every other shrine in the game (of which there are over 100) that you must solve one large puzzle or a series of puzzles in order to reach the end. At the end, you're rewarded with a Spirit Orb that, when four have been collected, can be traded at various spots in Breath of the Wild for additions to Link's health or stamina gauge.

The first four shrines in Breath of the Wild not only give Link the requirements needed to trade the old man for his paraglider, but they also give Link all of the necessary functions of the Sheikah Slate to solve the puzzles and challenges of other shrines. From remote bombs in both round and cubed form to the ability to use Magnesis to move steel objects around, the Sheikah Slate is Link's one stop shop for useful abilities instead of having different abilities associated with different items like past Zelda games. The other abilities of the Sheikah Slate that Link earns include the ability Cryonis, used to make frozen pillars rise from liquids like water and oil as a means to cross rivers, and Stasis, used to temporarily freeze objects in place. Many of the abilities have multiple uses, too. You can use Stasis to freeze a platform to have a ball roll down it instead of having the ball weigh the platform down so much that the ball falls. Likewise, you can freeze a barrel and then attack it multiple times with your sword. Each strike will make the barrel fly farther when the stasis period ends.

Magnesis is one of a handful of insanely useful abilities the Sheikah Slate bestows Link.
It's needed to solve this particular shrine.
It's absolutely amazing how many different ways each power from Link's Sheikah Stone can be utilized, and it's with great applause I give to the developers for coming up with so many puzzles built off a handful of powers (though the gyro-based tilt puzzles do more harm than good). Many of the shrine puzzles have multiple ways of solving them as well. A particular electric-based shrine had me moving metallic barrels and boxes to serve as a conduit, creating a charge from one central location to various other locations with each one opening up a different door. However, instead of just using the available barrels and boxes, I was also able to just drop metallic weapons in a line to create a flow of electrical energy from the central conduit to another location, opening a doorway that way. Experimentation is very much encouraged in the world of Breath of the Wild.

Speaking of which, I haven't even gotten into speaking about the world itself. It's immense and massive in scope, but that wouldn't mean diddly squat if it wasn't interesting enough to explore. Not only does it not suffer from being uninteresting, the world of Breath of the Wild is a delight and pleasure to explore. It's also extremely open ended. Once you get the paraglider and are told what your major mission is, you can either opt to head straight to the final boss and beat the game, or you can go the recommended way of following the story. The former is nigh impossible with Link's current amount of hearts, weaponry, and armor, but it IS possible (if you can even make it there alive). Doing the latter allows Link to accumulate and amass a collection of stronger armor, weapons, and build both his health and stamina. Even if you follow the story, you can decide to face the final boss at any time, and after the initial trip to a certain village, your mission story-wise opens up to have you go to anyone of four locations. Through completing the major objective at one of the four given locations, the final boss's power weakens. Doing all four weakens the final boss considerably to take him on and give Link a fighting chance.

With the world in Breath of the Wild, producer Eiji Aonuma stated that if you see a mountain, you can go there. That is most definitely true in the final product. In most open world games, when you are pitted against a mountain, you're stuck with either going around it or looking like a fool trying to jump up it (usually futilely as well). In Breath of the Wild, Link can climb basically anything, as long as the wall, whether a mountain, cliff, building, etc. isn't too steep and isn't too wet and slippery from rainfall. Of course, not only does the topography matter, but so does Link's stamina. Like The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Link has a stamina gauge that depletes when he runs or climbs. When climbing, if the gauge empties, Link loses his grip and falls. When running and it empties, Link slows down to a saunter and needs time to recover his gauge. Finally, when swimming and the gauge depletes, Link drowns, losing a bit of health when he's transported to a nearby shore.

Make sure you find some ledges to rest on when climbing towers like these.
 Ubisoft has led a bad example with its open world design in many of its games. Usually when one thinks of the word "tower" in an open world title, the thoughts aren't usually positive. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild's towers are handled well. Many of them are puzzles in themselves as to how to successfully climb them. Some require a good deal of stamina from Link to reach the top, others require some thought on how to reach them. I recall one such tower being surrounded by painful thorns. I then thought, "Okay. How do I reach this baby safely?" I had two options (at least in my mind at the time): 1) I could light the thorns ablaze with a fire arrow, or 2) I could find a higher elevation and use the paraglider to float down over the thorns and grab onto the tower. Since I lacked fire arrows since I was early in play-through, I did option #2. Finding a nearby hill that overlooked the tower was pretty easy due to the ability to press in the right stick to use the Sheikah Slate's scope. There, I could press the A button to set down a pillar of light as my destination (something that is extremely helpful whenever you see a suspicious or noteworthy place in Hyrule that you want to reach or want to go to later). I then headed to the hill, leaped from it, and glided my way to the tower.

Activating a tower reveals all of the geography in that given region, including all area names, such as nearby forests, rivers, lakes, and other points of interest. It helps you get a lay of the land. You still have to do the exploring for shrines, notable areas, and the like.

Link uses the Sheikah Slate here to activate this tower.
In my tower anecdote I talked about using the Sheikah Slate as a scope and a means to mark interesting locations I saw with a point of light. You can do this while looking through the scope, or you can bring up the map and directly place markers on the map. Different icons like stars, skulls, treasure chests, and more can be placed to help you remember where they were for if you didn't have the necessary equipment at the time or just to want to investigate later.

Traversing Breath of the Wild is a lot of fun, and there are a multitude of ways in which to do so. Obviously there's on-foot through running, climbing, and such, but there are also other ways. A notable one is gliding across the world by using the paraglider from a tall height and then gliding along the sky, slowly to the ground.

Would this be a bad time for Link to realize that he hates heights?
Aw, who cares! Paragliding is loads of fun!
If Link's got a case of acrophobia, he can stick to the ground and sneak up slowly and stealthily (emphasis on slowly and stealthily) on various ride-able animals like horses, moose, or rams and jump on them. You'll need to calm them down as, you know, normally animals don't take it too calmly when someone out of the blue jumps on their backs and rides them. Trust me. By soothing them, you'll eventually get them to settle down, and with improvement in how you ride them, they'll learn to trust you more and more. At various stables sprinkled around Hyrule, you can register horses, so when Link whistles, you can call on your faithful, trusty steed instead of walking. Additionally, in hilly areas of Hyrule, Link can hang ten and jump on shield. Yes, you read that right. Link can shield surf down grassy hills and snowy slopes. Cowabunga, Link, you crazy mother...

Attagirl. Link soothes this wild and untamed horse.
Exploration is key in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Beyond simple pleasures like coming across ore that you can mine and sell or finding a treasure chest, there are many hidden shrines in the environment. You're given a shrine indicator early in Link's adventure that pulsates when you close in on a shrine. Many are in some rather tricky locations while others are in plain sight. Some require the discovery of an NPC to start a quest that eventually reveals the shrine after solving some form of environmental puzzle or simply fulfilling that NPC's needs. Other NPCs have desires as well, whether they sit in established towns, of which there are plenty in Breath of the Wild, or are out in the wilderness. These side quests have some nice rewards as well. Even if they didn't, so many of the characters you meet across Link's quest are a charming and endearing as any in past Zelda games. They provide a great deal of character to the game world.

Furthermore, there are glowing spots throughout Hyrule that when interacted with by Link will reveal some of his memories and encounters with characters from his past. Obviously there's the big one, which most series fans should know (and those who can read the title of the franchise), but there are also other characters that Link interacted with so many years ago. These story sequences bring some back story to Link's adventure, and they're quite welcome.

Warning: The only major story spoiler in this review (I think) is that Zelda is in this game.
Finally, the world of Hyrule sports 900 Koroks throughout its expanse and immense stretches. While it's totally unnecessary (or even worth it) to find them all, in finding some you'll get some very beneficial rewards. Many are found from interacting with suspicious elements in the environment, such as seeing a ring of rocks that is missing one, find a nearby rock, and putting it in the missing space to have a Korok appear and give you one of its seeds. Alternatively, you can pass over a twirling flower and have it spawn a flying target. Popping it with an arrow with have a Korok appear as well. There are many other ways Koroks appear in the world, and getting their seeds is massively helpful.

Although there are friendly faces like the various people of Hyrule and the Koroks around, the world in Breath of the Wild is a dangerous place. Enemies thrive in Hyrule and roam the land in both small and large forms. Enemy goblins often set up camps throughout the land, and if Link isn't careful, they'll take him out with a few swipes of their clubs or shots from their bows. (And some enemies will even take Link out in one shot. That's the world Link inhabits.) You can sneak up on enemy camps, taking a bow and attempting to pick off some foes from far away before the melee attackers get wind of you, or you can perform my early tactic of running from foes, dropping bombs behind you and detonating them as the enemy chases you.

With only four hearts and weak armor, perhaps it wasn't a smart idea to engage with this Bokoblin gang.
When all else fails, close quarters combat is an option, though a really silly one if you're just starting off. As I stated, many enemies can take Link out with one hit, especially with the paltry three hearts that Link starts the game with. Melee combat, whether with swords, clubs, spears, or whatnot, has been fine turned compared to past 3D Zelda games. There is still the ability to target a foe and try to circle around them, but this time, other enemies won't just stand there and let you take out their comrades. Enemies are smart in Breath of the Wild and will crowd around you if need be to take you out. Enemies you have a lock on will also move around you, too, as well as leap back to avoid your sword strikes, spear thrusts, club swings, and any other melee weapon you attempt to attack them with.

Bring it on! The more the merrier for Link's blade. (Just remember that it can break easily, Link!)
Combat is more than just wildly thrashing at foes with a weapon. In a move to make players use lots of weapons, weapons break in Breath of the Wild, something that can be annoying at times. You're encouraged to pick up weapons, and weapons are readily available so you'll never be needing to actively search for one when you're all out. That isn't really ever a worry. Instead it's the opposite. You'll usually have so many weapons that you won't have room to pick any more up. This is the major annoyance I have with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. So many times I'll be in the world or in a shrine or dungeon, come across a treasure chest, open it, find a sword or whatever, and have to put the weapon back in the chest because I have too many. Then, I go to the inventory screen (something many players will be seeing constantly) and have to decide which one of my weaker weapons to drop in order to open the chest again to pick up that new weapon. Thankfully, I talked about finding Koroks, which are the way to add new inventory slots for weapons, bows, and shields. However, playing with the inventory screen was a big part of my Breath of the Wild experience in the early going regardless.

Moblins are some of the toughest regular enemies for Link to take on.
Nevertheless, monsters are smart, so you and Link need to be smart, too. Like in Ocarina of Time and other games where you can lock on to enemies, you can jump to the side to avoid attacks. This is made more important in Breath of the Wild, as if you time your dodge or evasion (either to the side or by jumping back), you get the opportunity to unleash a flurry of attacks on your foe. This not only saves your weapon from degrading as much as by just button mashing, but it takes enemies down faster. You can also catch a foe while your shield is out so when an enemy attacks and you press the button right when the attack connects, you can stun the foe, also allowing for some time to attack them.

Foes for fightin', just how Link likes 'em!
As stated, Breath of the Wild's version of Hyrule isn't the friendliest place around. Not only can monsters take you out rather easily, but so can the elements. For the weather, storms can rage in an instant, meaning if you're wearing any metal equipment, you better take it off, 'else you'll find yourself shocked to death by a lightning bolt. Different regions of Hyrule have different temperatures as well. Areas to the north and high up in the sky are positively frigid while sun-soaked deserts and volcano areas are absolutely hot to a dangerous level. This requires Link to dress and drink for the occasion. Various armor have effects that assist in not only defense from enemies, but the elements as well. In addition to different armor, Link can eat and drink a variety of dishes and elixirs to provide him with cold or heat resistance.

There are some particularly fierce foes Link can discover while venturing through Hyrule.
Cooking is a big aspect of Breath of the Wild. Link can find ingredients all over Hyrule, whether it's apples from trees, flowers from the ground, meat from animals, objects from fallen enemies, bugs and insects, and more. At various cooking pots around the land, Link can combine up to five ingredients to create a smorgasbord of helpful dishes and elixirs. Many have a great variation of effects, such as restoring lost hearts (and adding temporary yellow ones to Link's health), raising his attack, defense, or stealth, as well as making him less vulnerable to heat or the cold, or even electricity.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a huge game, but it somehow manages to not be overwhelming. Sure, there's over 100 hours easily that you can get lost in the expanses of Hyrule, but the menus keep track of everything-- shrines, quests (story-related, shrine-related, and side-related), as well as main dungeons completed, regions filled out, Koroks found, et cetera, et cetera. If you forget where you need to go for a specific quest or its details, you can just go to the menu, hit the quest you're concerned about, and get everything you need to know, including the whereabouts about the quest-giver (as the time of day effects where NPCs are). So even when you have a place you want to go in mind and you get constantly side-tracked like me by going, "Ooh! That place looks interesting. I think I might go there for a few moments... [this turns into two hours getting distracted from that place to another place, to another, to another, etc.]" you won't lose your mind.

The art style makes The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild a treat for the eyes.
Breath of the Wild is a visually pleasing game, offering a style that is a mix that is part cartoon-y like The Wind Waker and something more realistic like Twilight Princess. The mix is an art style that is absolutely stunning most of the time, showcasing how even non-powerhouse hardware can deliver exhilarating beauty. Being able to stand atop an extraordinarily high mountain and see miles upon miles in the distance is nothing short of amazing to me. The postcard and picture perfect moments in Breath of the Wild are some of not just Nintendo's best, but gaming's best. Style over power indeed.

Even in Hyrule a dog is man's best friend.
Unfortunately, Breath of the Wild isn't perfect performance-wise. There are some frame-rate drops that can be slight in some cases while severe in others. For a brief second, Breath of the Wild offered moments where I thought the game had completely froze before returning to normal. This usually was brought about by a big enemy being felled into a ragdoll situation such as Moblins.

On the sound side of the game, the latest Zelda is much more subdued than the bombastic scores players of the series are most likely used to. Subtle piano harmonies are mostly heard throughout the game when exploring while battles, towns, and events in the game have specific melodies with much more to offer. The music isn't in-your-face as much as past Zelda games, but it's delightful all the same and a good approach for Breath of the Wild overall.

While certain things like weapon degradation, limited inventory, and tilt-centric shrines do more harm than good for the game, overall The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild successfully reinvents a series with amazing results. It doesn't just make The Legend of Zelda franchise noteworthy again; it makes The Legend of Zelda franchise important enough that game developers will be taking notes on and being inspired by this game much like they did with the original Zelda on the NES, A Link to the Past, and finally Ocarina of Time. Zelda is fresh again. Zelda is new again. And while Zelda as a series seldom failed to be awesome, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is what gamers and critics will look back on as one of the genre and industry-defining games of our time.

[SPC Says: A]

PlayStation 4's First Quarter is One of the Best Quarters in Gaming History

After a sluggish start with not much in the way of must-have games (instead, many of the titles were simple remasters), Sony's PlayStation 4 has quickly acquired an amazing library of games. Last year saw the likes of titles like Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, Ratchet & Clank, The Last Guardian, and that's just from Sony's own studios. Third party wise there were games like Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Battlefield 1, DOOM, Titanfall 2, Overwatch, Dishonored 2, and Watch Dogs 2. Meanwhile, on the Japanese side of the third party equation, the land of the rising sun finally seemed to be getting a handle on HD development with games like Final Fantasy XV, Dragon Quest Builders, Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth, Dark Souls III, World of Final Fantasy, and more.

Those games were spread out across 2016, and it turned the PlayStation 4 something for PlayStation enthusiasts to something that all gamers should own. While it's not at the level of the PlayStation or PlayStation 2, the PlayStation 4 continues to amass an amazing catalog of games.

This brings us to this year. Already the PS4 has a killer lineup of software, and that's in just one quarter of the year. I'd like to take a moment to talk about each of the more prominent releases in the PS4's 2017 thus far.

Persona 5 (also on PS3)

Let's start with the most recent of releases, Persona 5. According to Metacritic, not only is it the highest rated PS4 game of 2017 so far, but it's the second highest rated game in general of the year so far with only The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild outperforming it. Mighty nice company to keep. Following a Tokyo high school student, Persona 5 takes the gameplay from a school setting where the Social Link system from past Persona games returns to intricate dungeons full of creatures to battle and exploration to enjoy. Persona 5 has been a much hyped game ever since it was announced so many years ago. Now that the game is here and the acclaim is pretty much universal, the joy of playing Persona 5 with be heightened immensely.

Horizon: Zero Dawn (PS4 exclusive)

After not impressing many with the studio's PlayStation 4 launch game, Killzone: Shadow Fall (except when it concerns visuals), Guerrilla Games knocked one out of the park with Horizon: Zero Dawn, a game that not only brings a neat take on the open-world action/adventure genre, but it also brings a successful new franchise for the PlayStation brand and a great new character in Aloy. Taking on and hunting mechanical beasts in lush forests and rugged mountains make for a game that one can simply get lost in, if the intriguing story doesn't do it for you (which it should). Just like many other games on this list, Horizon: Zero Dawn received critical acclaim across the board.

Nier: Automata (also available on PC)

The original Nier was not well received by many critics. However, Nier: Automata's release was like night and day compared to the original. Where the original Nier was met with criticism for its clunky gameplay and odd mechanics, Automata received positive acclaim for its engrossing narrative, immensely satisfying combat system, and something that usually trips up a lot of games but didn't with Automata, a variety of different gameplay types. Platinum Games struggled somewhat with development of the game, but not only did Nier: Automata end up being a stellar game, but it resulted in being well received by both critics and consumers.

Nioh (PS4 exclusive)

Team Ninja gained a good deal of redemption after struggling with the latest chapters of the Ninja Gaiden franchise. Nioh is a hack and slash action game with some similarities to the Dark Souls franchise. Players control William, a European samurai, who takes on supernatural spirits with the game's stupendous, skill-based, and tough-to-master combat. Many ideas from Dark Souls are taken from the series, such as the harsh penalties of death and the aforementioned challenging combat that is much more than simple button-mashing. Nioh was a pleasant surprise that came out of nowhere for many PlayStation 4 owners and gamers alike, and it's worthy of looking into.

Resident Evil 7 (also available on Xbox One and PC)

After the (depending on who you talk to) atrocity that was Resident Evil 6, Capcom was forced to go back to the drawing board and come up a refresher for the series. That refresher turned out to be the amazing Resident Evil 7, turning the series on its head, adding old elements that fans of the series have grown to love with new elements. Such a new element was a first for the series, a first-person viewpoint. Not only was Resident Evil 7 a magnificent mix of old exploration and new gameplay, but it brought back the scares of earlier games in the series.

Yakuza 0 (PS4 exclusive everywhere but Japan)

The Yakuza series is an open-world series of games that goes for a smaller scale than the "bigger is better" approach many open-world games take. With this approach, the Japanese borough the series takes place in feels like its own detailed character with lots of stuff to do inside. Yakuza 0 is a prequel to the series, offering a glimpse in the past before the events of other titles in the series. One could make a slight comparison combat-wise to the River City Ransom series, where players can use a variety of combat styles to battle opponents, such as an agile boxing style or a weapon-based fighting style, for instance. Yakuza 0 managed to beat Sega's sales expectations, making it a happy success story.

MLB The Show 17 (PS4 exclusive)

Take yourself out to the ballgame and enjoy a new season of The Show while you enjoy the new season of MLB that begins this Monday. Two new modes are introduced this time around: Pave Your Path, where you get choose how your career blossoms through specific choices made throughout the season, and a brand-new Retro Mode that brings all the fun of The Show with an old school twist. The same excellent simulation-like gameplay of past Shows are here for any baseball fan, no matter how engaged with the sport they are, to enjoy. Another year of Sony's MLB The Show brings another year of excellent baseball gameplay and great reviews.

Gravity Rush 2 (PS4 exclusive)

Kat returns in a game that many thought would never happen due to the low sales of the original Gravity Rush (due to being stuck on the PlayStation Vita). However, Sony showed how willing they are to take chances with its software (if allowing The Last Guardian to be developed for so long didn't already give that away) and decided to greenlight a sequel to Gravity Rush. With improved mechanics, a bigger more beautiful world made better in HD, and an influx of new and inspired gravity gameplay, Gravity Rush 2 is a unique and wondrous action game in the PS4 catalog.

Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8: Final Chapter Prologue (PS4 exclusive)
Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix (PS4 exclusive)

With these two collections of Kingdom Hearts games, one can get the whole Kingdom Hearts franchise experience on one console. Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8: Final Chapter Prologue brings the previously Nintendo 3DS-only entry of the series, Dream Drop Distance, into high definition glory. No more playing the game on a tiny screen. The other parts of the package delve into some of the backstory of the series. Meanwhile, 1.5 + 2.5 feature Final Mix versions of Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II, as well as Re: Chain of Memories and Birth by Sleep. With this collection you'll not only get a generous supply of awesome action-RPG action, but also a total mind screw of a story to try to make some semblance of sense out of!


This is but a selection of the goods that the PlayStation 4 has delivered game-wise to owners this first quarter of the year. The fantastic part of this is that the PS4's catalog is only going to get better this year with releases like Uncharted: Lost Legacy, Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy, Wipeout HD Collection, PaRappa the Rapper, Injustice 2, Star Wars Battlefront II, and many other games that have yet to be announced (E3 is but a couple months away!). Whatever your hunger is for a type of game, the PlayStation 4 probably has it now.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Top Five Video Game Doctors

Doctor, doctor. Give me the news. I got a bad case of loving you! Well, not in a romantic sense, but more in an admiration one. Today is National Doctors' Day, so it only makes sense that SuperPhillip Central somehow turn this day into an article of some kind. What better way to do this than a topic that we've yet to delve into, the most memorable video game doctors! While most of us wouldn't trust our lives with these characters, they are worthwhile all the same. If this list is missing some of your faves, let everyone know in the comments!

5) Dr. Nefarious (Ratchet & Clank series)

The comically inclined and seriously unhinged Dr. Nefarious is a robotic scientist who absolutely loathes organic lifeforms (or "squishies" as he calls them). In his first appearance in the Ratchet & Clank series, Up Your Arsenal, he vowed to turn all organic lifeforms in the Solana Galaxy into robots, and set his master plan in motion. Thankfully, the duo of Ratchet and Clank put an end to that plan before it could reach its conclusion. Dr. Nefarious has a bad temper, and has been known to break down in mid-bout of anger, then broadcasting a soap opera from his antenna, requiring his butler Lawrence to slap him back into commission. And who doesn't love Dr. Nefarious when he just lets loose and screams a shrieking "LAWRRRENCE!!" I certainly do! Nefarious is a hilarious character, whether he's facing off against his rivals or teaming up with them as seen in Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One. For the latter, he made it worth playing through that less than stellar game.

4) Dr. Neo Cortex (Crash Bandicoot series)

Dr. Neo Cortex is Crash Bandicoot's primary rival as well as being his creator. He has all the touchstones of a mad scientist: ridiculous plots for world domination, insane creations, and a general disgust for humanity and all life. Although he usually acts to serve his own ends, in Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped, it's revealed that he's being ordered around by the all powerful Uka Uka. Despite generally being confident and brave in appearance most of the time, Cortex checks his spine in and the shop and turns absolutely chicken when danger comes his way (such as having to confront Uka Uka in a scene in Warped). When he's not plotting Crash Bandicoot's demise, he's sometimes joining Crash's cause (as seen in Crash Twinsanity) or taking out his frustrations on the road in games like Crash Team Racing, Crash Nitro Kart, and Crash Tag Team Racing.

3) Dr. Mario (Mario series)

It's unknown if Mario obtained a legal medical license, but he doesn't really need one when he's kicking, punching, and smashing opponents off the screen in a match of Super Smash Bros, which he's been in three of the five releases (Melee, 3DS, and Wii U). When he's not letting off steam from a hard day at the office, he's doing miracles in the realm of medicine, fighting off viruses with a healthy dose of colorful pills. It might not be Tetris, but it's pretty close in the fun factor. Sometimes he gets his brother Luigi in on the fun and they tag team dangerous viruses together. After all, all doctors have to follow the Hippocratic Oath, even ones in the Mushroom Kingdom! Though maybe the name of the oath isn't quite the same name in Mario's world...

2) Dr. Light and Dr. Wily (Mega Man series)

I'm cheating a bit with this penultimate pick of the most memorable video game doctors, but both come from the same series and both worked together in the past. Both Dr. Thomas Light and Dr. Albert Wily were colleagues, working on furthering research in robotics. Despite Wily's own success in the field, he always had a buried jealousy towards Dr. Light. In the very first Mega Man game, Dr. Wily steals the six robots that Dr. Light created, turning them evil. Ironically, the robot that Dr. Wily didn't take due to believing he was too weak for his grand scheme, a young robot named Rock, would be weaponized by Dr. Light into Mega Man, eventually defeating Dr. Wily, a process that would repeat itself time and time again. And that didn't matter how many groups of eight Robot Masters or castles Wily created. You gotta give Dr. Wily and his wiggling eyebrows credit for persistence at the very least, as well as creativity for building Robot Masters based off of themes like mermaids, vacuums, and race cars!

1) Dr. Eggman/Robotnik (Sonic the Hedgehog series)

However, if we're talking about pure persistence, then there's no doctor of equal persistence than Dr. Eggman (originally known in the West as Dr. Robotnik). Whether he's building badniks, capturing animals and forest friends to turn into robots, creating a surplus of machinery to connect to his small travel pod to face off against his rival Sonic at the end of every zone, or whatever, Eggman never backs down. Sure, he can run with his proverbial tail between his legs after suffering a really big loss at the end of a Sega Genesis/Mega Drive Sonic game, but he always comes bouncing back eventually. Even when he's upstaged by a more powerful villain as seen in modern Sonic games (except really Sonic Colors and Lost World), Eggman still leaves his mark. I mean, we're talking about a dude that can somehow finance the construction of giant Death Star-like mechanical eggs and interstellar amusement parks. Eggman's greatness is helped by the fact that he has kept the same voice actor for over a decade now, Mike Pollock, who brings a tremendous amount of personality to the character. He's so good at his job that when the Sonic X cast was replaced by a new roster of voice actors in 2010, only Pollock was carried over. Now, it's hard to imagine Eggman being voiced and portrayed by anyone else.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Greatness Comes in Threes: Best Trilogies in Gaming - Part Four

It's purely coincidental (though I'd love to take credit for the timing) that on the third day of the work week of this third month of the year that we see a new edition of Greatness Comes in Threes, where SuperPhillip Central looks at the best trio of related games-- some looser with the definition of "trilogy" than others.

The trilogy-- in movies it's a common occurrence with hugely successful blockbusters whether it's Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Toy Story, or Back to the Future. Trilogies are also pretty common in gaming as well, but at the same token, an actual good trilogy is a completely different matter. This article series details some of the very best trilogies that our hobby and industry have been able to create in its much shorter lifespan.

Check out the previous three parts of SuperPhillip Central's look at great gaming trilogies with the following links:

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

The Witcher Trilogy:

The Witcher (PC)
The Witcher 2; Assassins of Kings (360, PC)
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (PS4, XB1, PC)

Based off the book series by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, The Witcher trilogy started with BioWare's foundation with the original game in late 2007. All of the games star Geralt of Rivia as the main character, aging with each release. Since 2007's original Witcher, CD Projekt RED has taken developmental duties of the series, creating both The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. With The Witcher 2, the combat of the original was completely overhauled by CD Projekt RED, making for battles that felt even more rewarding than BioWare's offering. Both The Witcher 2 and The Witcher 3 received critical and commercial acclaim with the latter being one of the most celebrated open world games ever created. The 2015 release saw itself honored with countless Game of the Year awards and nominations (some even calling it the best RPG ever made) as well as two expansion packs, further packing an already content-rich game with even more gameplay goodness.

The BioShock Trilogy:

BioShock (360, PC)
BioShock 2 (PS3, 360, PC)
BioShock Infinite (PS3, 360, PC)

BioShock is a series that has had many ups and downs. The first game was a revelation for many players. The beginning of the game, swimming in open sea surrounded by a fiery plane crash, paddling towards a lighthouse, and then taking that memorable first glance at the underwater metropolis of Rapture are the types of moments that stay with many gamers. The second game was a direct sequel, though not as well regarded. Lastly, BioShock Infinite took the series to the sky with the impressive city of Columbia. The series shares many elements to System Shock 2, hence some likening it to a spiritual successor. Between using guns and melee weapons in addition to supernatural powers in the form of plasmids and vigors, the combat and means to come out on top in battle were plentiful. Then, there was the overarching story in each game that makes for a unique and wonderful set of games. Recently released in The BioShock Collection for current consoles and PC, one can relive the BioShock trilogy again, or if you're like some gamers, play it for the very first time.

The Halo Trilogy:

Halo: Combat Evolved (XBX, PC)
Halo 2 (XBX)
Halo 3 (360)

"The Halo Trilogy" has other names as known by the Halo fan base. Whether you know it as "The Halo Trilogy", "The Original Halo Trilogy", or even "The Bungie Trilogy), the first three Halo games are some of the most influential console first-person shooters to have released. It single handedly made the Xbox a competitor in the home console market as well. Halo: Combat Evolved (2001), Halo 2 (2004), and Halo 3 (2007) were events for the Xbox brand and for fans of the FPS genre. Halo 2 and Halo 3 particularly because 2 was a much awaited sequel and Halo 3 for not only being the first Xbox 360 exclusive Halo release, but also for closing out the story arc as started in the original Halo. Entertaining two generations of Xbox owners, the first Halo trilogy is definitely up there for one of the best trilogies ever seen in gaming.

The Prince of Persia Trilogy:

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (PS2, GCN, XBX, PC)
Prince of Persia: Warrior Within (PS2, GCN, XBX, PC)
Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones (PS2, GCN, XBX, PC)

The Prince of Persia franchise made a reappearance after many years in hibernation. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time brought the Prince back with a modern take on the franchise in full reboot form. Sands of Time introduced a rewind mechanic that worked in saving the Prince if he made a wrong jump. This was performed by using the Prince's Dagger, which could also be utilized to freeze and slay enemies. Warrior Within took the series in a less-than-appetizing, trying-way-too-hard-to-be-edgy direction (and just in general being in poor taste), though the gameplay didn't suffer from this. The Two Thrones brought back a more grounded and charming package, offering the same superb combat and platforming action seen in previous titles. Ubisoft successfully brought its classic franchise back into the modern era and did so with marvelous results. There are good reasons why this trilogy is so fondly thought of.

The Spyro the Dragon Trilogy:

Spyro the Dragon (PS1)
Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage! (PS1)
Spyro: Year of the Dragon (PS1)

Before Insomniac Games was busy with lombaxes, Chimera, and submarines, they were toiling away on a magical series of 3D platformers starring a precocious, young, purple dragon. That dragon was none other than Spyro. The ability to run, jump, attack, collect gems, rescue his fellow dragons, and take flight through the colorful worlds of the duo of PS1 classics is something many gamers who grew up on the O.G. PlayStation will always have fond memories of. Each game introduced something new, whether it was Spyro 2's ability to swim and climb ladders or Spyro 3's four new playable characters. Unfortunately, like Crash Bandicoot, Sony Computer Entertainment lost the publishing rights to the Spyro series, and from one mediocre game trying to cash in on Spyro's legacy to another, Spyro hasn't seen the best of days. Unlike Crash, however, Spyro's fate seems stuck with Activision's Skylanders series, which while a great series, it isn't what longtime fans who played Spyro's original adventures want. Maybe Spyro will get his spotlight back if the Crash remaster does well for Activision!

The Super Star Wars Trilogy:

Super Star Wars (SNES)
Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (SNES)
Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (SNES)

With the new trilogy and a whole host of new Star Wars universe films underway, let's look back at the original trilogy of Star Wars films... with one of the earliest trilogies of Star Wars games! All three Super Nintendo Star Wars games tell the tale of the series through abbreviated scenes, and levels do their best to stick to the plot of the movies. Some wiggle room was allowed, of course, to make certain smaller scenes stretch out to bigger levels. Not only was Luke Skywalker playable, but different levels gave players control of Han Solo and Chewbacca. Outside of traditional action-platforming, there were various vehicle levels as well. The Super Star Wars games are known for their devious difficulty, and they even received Wii Virtual Console and PlayStation 4/Vita releases in 2009 and 2015 respectively. If you want a taste of old school difficulty while enjoying an interactive take on the Star Wars original trilogy continuity, you'll definitely discover that and more with the Super Star Wars trilogy of games.


Now that you've read some of SuperPhillip Central's picks, what gaming trilogies are your favorites?

LEGO City Undercover (PS4, XB1, NS, PC) Vehicles Trailer

Get behind the wheel of one of over 100 unique vehicles in the open world-based LEGO City Undercover. This once Wii U exclusive comes to more platforms so more players get to try out what I think is the best LEGO game yet. With the developer's promise of improved loading times and co-op play, LEGO City Undercover seems better than ever. It launches April 4 here in North America.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Mario Sports Superstars (3DS) Review

Here's a new review for a game that lacks the typical charm of a Mario sports game, but it offers five sports with enough depth to make for a nice package and fair price. It's Mario Sports Superstars, and it's SuperPhillip Central's next review.

Parts of this game take the super out of Superstars

Mario Sports Superstars is an interesting case. You'd expect a game with Mario and the gang attached to it to be wacky, arcade-like in gameplay and tone. Instead, what you get with Mario Sports Superstars is a game that sticks rather closely to the idea of realism. Well, as realistic as plumbers and giant walking turtles hammering home runs can possibly be. Regardless, I'm focusing more on realism towards how the sports play. Outside of some special shots that set the ball ablaze when kicked, this collection of five sports in Mario Sports Superstars play it pretty straight and safe.

The two teams take to the soccer (for us Americans) or football (for everyone else) field.
Mario Sports Superstars comes with five unique sports; soccer, tennis, golf, baseball, and the odd one of the bunch, horse racing. I only say "odd one" because when you think of typical sports, "horse racing" generally isn't one of them. Instead, I would think of hockey or basketball or something. Anyway, the five sports each have a basic set of features. Each gives you a basic tutorial on the controls of the game once you first enter that sport. Afterwards you can select to play a given sport with some customization in a free play style mode against the AI, or take on AI ranks in a tournament style mode. This has you going through the Mushroom, Flower, Star, and Champion's Cups, competing against more difficult AI players as you go along.

With the score tied and the game heated, this at-bat might make all the difference.
After the Star Cup is beaten, you earn a new character (a lame one and only for that particular sport), and after the Champion's Cup is completed, you earn the star version of the character or characters you played as (a version with beefier stats of your character). This is rather lame as well as you only earn the star version of the character for that sport. You must play the other sports and win the Champion's Cup in those to earn the star character in each. Alternatively, you can opt to buy Amiibo card packs to hope you get lucky to nab the cards to unlock the character you want to get a better version of.

Alongside free play and tournament modes, there is one bonus mode per each sport that has three difficulties each. Passing the final difficulty means unlocking the other secret character in that particular sport, and it's another uninspired pick.

There is also multiplayer available for all sports. All players require a copy of the game and a system in order to enjoy local play. Otherwise your only option to play with humans is online either with friends of with strangers. The problem with the latter is that players can disconnect from matches and there are no consequences for them and no reward for you. This makes the longer sports to complete a session in the game like soccer and golf especially annoying when you're about to win after having invested a good chunk of time, only to have the losing player intentionally disconnect. This robs of you both the win and your time.

Tennis's gameplay is taken directly from Mario Tennis Open. If it ain't broke...
Moving on from the feature list of each sport and their multiplayer, let's talk about the actual sports. Players who have tried Mario Tennis Open and Mario Golf: World Tour will be familiar with both the tennis and golf gameplay of Mario Sports Superstars. In fact, it's basically unchanged, save for the Mushroom Kingdom-styled features like wacky courts and courses and fun items. Like I said before, pretty much all of these sports are played straight. Tennis does, however, have the chance shots of Mario Tennis Open, which is enjoyable to play. (There's even an option to turn chance shots off in free play matches for a more grounded experience.) Meanwhile, golf possesses four courses of nine holes each, but these have no personality to them whatsoever. What's been done with both tennis and golf essentially is that the gameplay has been ripped directly from Mario Tennis Open and Mario Golf: World Tour but none of the charm has.

Golf is just like Mario Golf: World Tour. With the same post-hole
animations but without the rest of the personality.
Baseball isn't complex like your traditional sports sim despite possessing the realism of the sport without the wackiness of a game like Mario Superstar Baseball on the GameCube or Mario Super Sluggers on the Wii. On offense, you have the choice between swinging with B, a typical swing, or A, a power shot. Knowing when to use which and keeping the ball in your targeting box means all the difference between getting on base and getting an out against your team. Defense is limited, especially against the AI, as you can only pick one of a few pitches and move left to right as to where you wish to aim. The AI on higher difficulties will seldom, if ever, swing at a ball outside the strike zone, so you're left throwing balls that they can hit-- which they usually do. It's infuriating at best to see your lead dwindle to nothing because of the AI, which is a problem with other sports as well.

Could the Green Magikoopa of all players be the MVP?
Soccer is accessible in its tutorial, but it also offers a lot more depth in its gameplay if you wish to search for it (as seen in the Pro Tips section that each sport has). Passing, shooting, goal kicks, corner kicks, throw-ins, and the like are as realistic as you'd expect. It's even 11-on-11, which I've read is common for the sport (I'm an ignorant American here). The only "out there" addition to soccer is how the soccer ball slowly charges with energy. When it's at maximum capacity, a team captain or co-captain can harness the energy to unleash a special shot. For Mario, the ball is set ablaze and does an upward arc over the goalie and into the net. For Bowser, if he charges his shot up, the ball with slam into the goalie, taking the goalie and the ball and blasting it into the net.

Pom Pom will need all of her Koopa-like reflexes to stop this shot.
Finally, there's horse racing. Regardless of my confusion with its addition, it's good it's here as it's a great deal of fun. The four cups in horse racing offer three unique tracks each. Rather than separate yourself from the pack, it's best to use another horse's slipstream, as if you were a NASCAR rider (sorry for the totally American analogy here-- I'm ignorant towards horse racing as well which I know there is the Kentucky Derby, but still). By using another horse's slipstream and then having smart use of boosts and special dashes known as Star Dashes, then winning becomes natural.

I feel sorry for Bowser's horse as it has to carry all of that weight.
Despite lacking the charm and wackiness of typical Mario sports games, I found some enjoyment from Mario Sports Superstars. For a system lacking traditional sports sims and more realistic sports experiences, Superstars is a nice overall package. Sure, the AI becomes infuriatingly cheap in later cups in baseball and soccer in particular, character and star character unlocks are lame, and the online multiplayer's answer to disconnects is nonexistent, Mario Sports Superstars offers a good package of sports (with enough depth to them) for a solid price.

[SPC Says: C+]