Thursday, April 6, 2017

Let the Good Names Roll: Great Credits Sequences in Gaming - Part Five

The staff roll, otherwise known as the credits of video games. This is where not only do we see all the names of the folks who worked on the game you just beat, but perhaps something special to go along with it, whether it's an overview of your adventure, the cast of enemies in the game, or something else. This article delves into some of the very best and most memorable staff rolls/credits sequences in video game history. From old school classics to modern marvels, part five of this expanding list continues to bring the excellent staff rolls. Click on the game title to see the credits sequence described. Check out all past editions of these periodic looks at great staff rolls with these links:

Doom (PS4, XB1, PC)

We begin with the explosive 2016 entry in the Doom series, simply titled Doom. Its campaign is a nonstop thrill ride that takes players from the red surface of the planet Mars to the red underworld of Hell while blasting enemies and searching for secrets. Doom's finale brings an awesome credits sequence that showcases fantastic imagery of characters in action poses as the names and roles of the Doom staff enter into the scenes. It's absolutely impressive and just as exhilarating as the campaign itself. ...Okay, maybe not JUST as exhilarating, but exhilarating to watch all the same!

Titanfall 2 (PS4, XB1, PC)

Speaking of excellent FPS campaigns, Titanfall 2 has a masterful single-player campaign that moves from the agile and mobile running, gunning, and jumping as Rifleman Jack Cooper to the high octane Titan battles in the cockpit of BT. When the final mission has been completed, Jack Cooper takes off his helmet and receives a hero's welcome from his fellow soldiers and comrades. Following this is a run-through of the cast doing various poses, showing off each character and who voiced them. Running at nearly ten minutes in duration, lengthy credits sequences usually bore me, but since Titanfall 2's has such interesting visuals throughout it, the minutes almost fly by. Oh, and who doesn't like that tease at the end?

Killzone 2 (PS3)

Though the majority of this game's credits are displayed against the same kind of visuals, various cubes and squares, it's the first minute or so of Killzone 2's credits that amaze. Showcasing some incredible editing and visuals in the form of overlays, overviews of maps, environments, characters, and guns, Killzone 2's credits are a stunning display of technological wizardry. The way everything materializes is damn impressive, and the subdued black, red, and grey color scheme is phenomenal in action. Sure, the rest of Killzone 2's staff roll is not much to talk about, but it surely says something when the credits of the game give such a great first impression that it makes the whole credits package ultimately worthwhile.

flower (PS3)

flower is an artistic delight and an adventure that speaks to its players in numerous ways. The credits are just as mesmerizing as the game itself. It follows the player's colorful flower petals as they waft through the wind, breezing through each staff name. The grassy hills under the moonlit sky offer a soothing, calming, and relaxing display that is almost therapeutic as the flower petals fly through the air, as if they were dancing. The end of the credits raise from the background behind numerous points of light. The whole sequence is a bit surreal but oh so satisfying to sit and play through.

Sonic Generations (PS3, 360, PC)

Sonic Generations was the 20th anniversary game that SEGA's blue mascot deserved. After a string of less of than stellar 3D entries (aside from a select handful), Sonic Generations paid brilliant homage to the blue blur, and so did the game's credits sequence. The staff roll features a visual and audio history of Sonic the Hedgehog, namely the entries and levels portrayed in the adventure. From the original Sonic the Hedgehog's Green Hill to Sonic Colors' Planet Wisp, the full array of levels from the game show themselves off in their original forms from their original games. The medley that seamlessly transitions between each theme is also well done. What you have at the end when all is said is done is a truly notable way to cap off a truly great game.

Mario Superstar Baseball (GCN)

After Mario's windup and pitch in a Field of Dreams-like baseball diamond, we get this rockin' staff roll. And what better time to showcase Mario Superstar Baseball with Major League Baseball back in season! Colorful animated silhouettes perform various actions, such as Yoshi catching a falling baseball with his tongue and Wario diving for a ball too early (and suffering for it with the baseball smacking right into his head), while a cheesy but awesome theme shouting the proclamation of "Let's play baseball!" It's so delightfully cheesy that you-- unless you're extremely self-conscious-- can't help but smile along with and tap your toes to. Let's play baseball indeed.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

All-Star Franchises, Underrated Entries - Part Ten

If you've been around SuperPhillip Central for a little while (it's still okay if you haven't, so no harm done), then you know that I like talking about underrated and overlooked games. I've done various series on the subject. However, most of the time, the games mentioned in these articles are from wholly new or overlooked franchises themselves.

There are also a multitude of series that I can think of that have one, two, or a handful of games in it that aren't viewed as highly as the others, whether just or not.

These ideas are where the concept of All-Star Franchises, Underrated Entries comes from, and since part nine (it's amazing that we've reached the tenth installment!), I've come up with six more underrated entries to big-time franchises, some bigger than others. If you'd like to see past parts of this long-running series, check them out here:

Paper Mario - Paper Mario: Color Splash (Wii U)

Our first game has come up quite a lot in the past month here at SuperPhillip Central, whether it's underrated games with even more underrated soundtracks or Wii U games I'd like to see get a second chance on the Nintendo Switch. There are very good reasons for this. Paper Mario: Color Splash might not have been what fans of the turn-based antics of the series wanted, but if you make peace with Color Splash not being a typical RPG, then you'll find a game that was charming to its very core, a game that possessed insanely clever dialogue, a game with enjoyable puzzles to solve, and a game with battles that, unlike its predecessor Sticker Star, actually were worthwhile to engage in. It being released so late in the Wii U's life made Paper Mario: Color Splash a game that many gamers overlooked as their attention turned to the Switch.

Sonic the Hedgehog - Sonic Riders (PS2, GCN, XBX)

It's no secret that Sonic the Hedgehog's transition to 3D from his 2D roots has not been an easy one. That's putting it lightly. However, there are various 3D Sonic games that play rather well and some are even fantastic. Several spin-off games featuring the blue blur are also quite good or at least serviceable. That is what the hoverboard racer Sonic Riders is, a game that released during the PlayStation 2, GameCube, and Xbox generation of gaming platforms. With three types of hoverboards: speed, power, and air, players could use each hoverboard type's specific specialty to take shortcuts and paths that other hoverboard types couldn't. The roster of racers was a wonderful combination of well known Sonic friends as well as some surprising SEGA stars, and the races were fast paced and loads of fun. It all added up to a speedy supersonic racer fitting for the blue hedgehog.

Ratchet & Clank - Ratchet: Deadlocked (PS2)

Make no mistake that while I feel Ratchet: Deadlocked is an inferior game to the preceding Ratchet & Clank trilogy of PlayStation games due to its focus on pure shooting over platforming, multiplayer, and needless desire to be darker, the game remains an entertaining third-person shooter with much of the charm the series is known for. Deadlocked began with Ratchet, Clank, and gadget-maker Al being abducted and forced to compete in an interstellar deathmatch with their survival on the line. Missions were decently varied, though they could have used a little less repetition, and the controls were as tight as ever. Shooting felt fun, and while the story was darker (for some reason both Naughty Dog and Insomniac felt their respective platforming franchises needed to be edgier, totally losing the plot of why the games were popular in the first place), the humor of the series was maintained. Ratchet: Deadlocked was a nice break for the tried and true formula established for the Ratchet & Clank series and ended up being entertaining.

Metal Gear - Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops (PSP)

After several games taking on a different gameplay approach than most Metal Gear Solid fans were used to, Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops returned to the classic action-stealth gameplay that made the series such a well known quantity. Working well with the portable approach of the PSP, the game is divided up between bite-size missions, requiring the player to not only recruit allies but also to form squads. Each soldier had their own highs and lows in what they could contribute to the squad, such as some being better at providing intel to the squad than others who might be more proficient at healing ailing squad members. Due to it being on a handheld with struggling software sales (at least in the West) instead of on a home console, Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops isn't as popular as other entries in the Metal Gear mythos, but don't be like a tranquilized soldier and sleep on this game, as it's quite the action-packed, squad-based superstar.

Castlevania - Castlevania: Harmony of Despair (PSN, XBLA)

From one Konami-owned property to another, we move on from Metal Gear and look towards the Gothic would of Castlevania. Like Portable Ops, Castlevania: Harmony of Despair sported an atypical approach to its mother series. This time around the game focused on multiplayer to be done in short bursts. Harmony of Despair offered a handful of levels each with multiple rooms to fight enemies and find items in, all ending in a boss to take out. While the Xbox Live Arcade version strictly limited multiplayer to online, the PlayStation 3 version offered both online and local multiplayer. Sure, Harmony of Despair wasn't a traditional Castlevania by any stretch of the imagination, but with so many entries prior to this one emulating Symphony of the Night, it was nice to have a change for once.

Resident Evil - Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles (Wii, PS3)

Light gun and on-rails games generally don't amass a lot of content, but that changed with the duo of Resident Evil games in that style for the Wii and later the PS3. Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles made multiple changes from its predecessor, The Umbrella Chronicles, and these improved the experience, such as having players have their own separate health bars, giving players an easier time at nailing head shots, and full customization of weapons. The game featured multiple scenarios, from familiar stories like a retelling of Resident Evil 2 and an abridged version of Resident Evil: Code Veronica's events to two scenarios starring Leon Kennedy and Jack Krauser from Resident Evil 4 based in South America that reveal how Krauser turned on his country and gave into Umbrella. There is a lot of stuff to do in The Darkside Chronicles and the challenge is great enough to make for a super satisfying rail shooter worthy of any fan of Resident Evil or the genre in general.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Top Ten Wii U Games That Deserve A Second Chance on the Switch

The formerly Wii U exclusive LEGO City Undercover hits store shelves today. Not only is it available on Nintendo's new console, the Switch, but also the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam. This made me wonder about what other games from the Wii U's lineup would be deserving of a second (or in some cases third) chance on the Nintendo Switch, as Mario Kart 8 is also one such title that was locked to the system but is getting an updated version on Nintendo's newest system. So let's take a look at ten Wii U titles (and yes, there are ten worthy Wii U titles to make a top ten list like this) that deserve a second shot at popularity with a Nintendo Switch version. (Note: Many of these games actually sold well on the Wii U, so the second chance I want them to receive would give them even more popularity for a much wider audience.)

10) Kirby and the Rainbow Curse

We begin with a game with a glorious clay art style that is the successor to the early Nintendo DS hit, Kirby: Canvas Curse. It's the Wii U's Kirby and the Rainbow Curse. Unlike most of the games on this list, Rainbow Curse used the Wii U GamePad exclusively for its touch-based, drawing gameplay. You drew lines to guide Kirby around and poked the pink puffball to increase his speed as you maneuvered him through obstacle courses filled with enemies to beat and puzzles to solve. Kirby's sole Wii U outing would have to use the Nintendo Switch in handheld form only due to being touch-centric, but this time around the screen would display the game in much more gorgeous higher fidelity, making for a game that would be great on the eyes on both the TV screen and tablet screen.

9) Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

Taking the specific Captain Toad-centered levels of Super Mario 3D World and making an entire game out of them, you moved Captain Toad (and later Toadette) through a series of puzzle levels, interacting with the environment of each to reach the Power Star in it. Along the way, you could pick up three diamonds as well as try to beat the level with a specific requirement in order to go for 100% completion, a really fun goal. Like many Wii U games from Nintendo, the art style and characters were abundantly charming, and the gameplay kept players thinking and reacting fast to solve all of the challenges Treasure Tracker posed to them. Some of the Wii U GamePad-based segments, such as the first-person mine cart targeting, would need to be altered to work with the Switch, but all in all, Captain Toad and Toadette deserve another chance to shine as brightly as the Power Stars they both coveted.

8) Xenoblade Chronicles X

With Xenoblade Chronicles 2 supposedly releasing at the end of the year (but I wouldn't be surprised to see a Western release slip into 2018), what better time to release this marvelous open world RPG to the masses while they wait? The one positive thing about the Wii U is that Nintendo built up an arsenal of games that many consumers didn't get to play because they never owned the system. If Sony can get away with releasing their last gen offerings on the PS4, why can't Nintendo? That's where I think Xenoblade Chronicles X would fit in as an offering for those who never got to become engrossed in the massive world that X delivers and does so very well.

7) Paper Mario: Color Splash

Releasing late in the Wii U's life as most of the gaming world's attention turned to the hype train that was the Nintendo Switch, Paper Mario: Color Splash may not have been the classic turn-based RPG experience that were in the origins of the Paper Mario franchise, but the game still brought a tremendous amount of charm, incredibly well crafted worlds to explore, smartly done puzzles instead of the obtuse ones from Sticker Star, and one of the funniest, well-written games I've played in a long time. Even the lesser parts of Color Splash were worth playing through just to keep enjoying the seemingly endless charm and humor of the game. Plus, battles were finally worthwhile.

6) Pokken Tournament

A Pokemon fighter?! What took so long, Nintendo and The Pokemon Company (specifically the latter)?! Pokken Tournament combined the familiarity of the Pokemon series with the 3D fighting gameplay of the Tekken series, and this explosive combination was a great deal of fun. The arcade version continues to go strong with the inclusion of three new Pokemon fighters not seen in the Wii U version (at least not yet). It seems like it would breathe new life into the console front of Pokken Tournament with a Nintendo Switch port with the new characters and even more DLC included. After all, Pokken Tournament is a really well done fighter, and it deserves more time in the eSports arena.

5) Star Fox Zero

This was a controversial review on SuperPhillip Central, as I didn't agree with folks lamenting about the controls of the Wii U original. I found it really playable once the admittedly high barrier of entry was leaped over. That said, if retooling the controls to make a more enjoyable Star Fox experience with an improved Nintendo Switch version of Star Fox Zero would give the game and the series more popularity and fanfare, then I'm all for it. I wonder how certain parts of the game would work, what with not being able to fly one direction while targeting at a foe by looking at another direction, but I'm sure Nintendo could find some kind of balance. They are pretty good at developing solutions for gaming problems, as their history shows.

4) Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

I never thought Donkey Kong Country 2 would be usurped as the top DKC game in the series for me. Nintendo and Retro Studios somehow did just that by not only creating my favorite Donkey Kong Country game with Tropical Freeze, but also by creating one of the best 2D platformers of all time. This is a shared opinion with a fair portion of the gaming community. That's why Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze with all of its ingenious level design, action platforming set pieces, challenging difficulty, and lovely David Wise-composed soundtrack deserves to be played by as many gamers as possible. It'd be a shame if Tropical Freeze was stuck on the Wii U.

3) Super Mario Maker

This game, a creation tool for making 2D Mario levels, actually already had a second chance to shine with Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS, but it was gimped in functionality (such as no online level sharing, a big part of what made the Wii U original so successful). Despite this, the 3DS version sold well. Regardless, I'd love to see Super Mario Maker's full Wii U version given a port to the Switch as a series of tools that are constantly updated-- sort of like its own service that continues to see updates on the Switch instead of multiple iterative sequels. The online level sharing would be included, of course, unlike the 3DS version, granting new life to Super Mario Maker with a Nintendo Switch version.

2) Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

There are rumors of Super Smash Bros' Wii U outing getting a Nintendo Switch release, especially in the early dats of Nintendo Switch news and rumor-mongering. That supposed enhanced port would receive all of the Wii U content as well as the Nintendo 3DS stages updated. We all know how well the Smash Bros. series does, and it did well on even the Wii U, so it seems like a given for there to be a Switch port while we wait for an all-new entry in the series. Heck, even with a Switch port with the Nintendo 3DS stages, that would be more than worthy of being the only Smash Bros. release for the system. Regardless, just imagine the multiplayer with the portability of the Switch. You could smash your bros from anywhere!

1) Bayonetta 2 

SEGA seems to be hinting at a Steam Bayonetta release with a timer, but it seems because of Nintendo's involvement with the sequel (published and provided funding) that Bayonetta 2 will remain a Nintendo system exclusive. Most people didn't buy the Wii U, a fact that has been made clear earlier in this article. It would make sense for Nintendo's investment to get another shot with what I would think (but I really don't want to assume) would be a quick and easy Nintendo Switch port of Bayonetta 2. It's one of the most fantastic character action games around, and Platinum Games did a magnificent job with it. Like many games on this list that didn't do so hot sales-wise, it'd be a shame if a game of this magnitude and quality was stuck on the Wii U.


Speaking of which, which Wii U games stuck on the system would you like to see put on Nintendo Switch the most?

Monday, April 3, 2017

Review Round-Up - March 2017

Like Link in this stunning artwork, The Legend of Zelda series climbed to new heights with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, SuperPhillip Central's Featured Game of the Month.
Because SuperPhillip Central's April Fools shenanigans from the weekend, we're just now getting to the Review Round-Up, your monthly look at the reviews written and published to the site over the past month. March saw six individual reviews for lots of games and systems, including the all-new Nintendo Switch!

The beginning of the month saw the origin of the land of Ys-- Ys Origin, to be exact. Its enjoyable action-RPG combat and platforming got a well deserved B grade. Following that was a fun, colorful, but deviously difficult 360 degree shoot-em-up, Blue Rider, which earned a C+. FAST RMX was SuperPhillip Central's first Nintendo Switch review, blazing onto the system for a B+! Then, Bomberman came back from hibernation for an imperfect but still enjoyable game with Super Bomberman R, getting a satisfactory C grade. Mario Sports Superstars split its focus to five sports, and while it was a jack of all sports, it was master of none, earning the overall package a still enjoyable C+. Finally, SuperPhillip Central's Game of the Month and the Nintendo Switch's killer app, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild dazzled this reviewer much like it dazzled most of the gaming world. I gave the game a superb A grade. Stay tuned for April's batch of reviews, including one big game that I'm covering almost a year after its release, long after the hype. I hope it holds up!

Ys Origin (PS4) - B
Blue Rider (PS4, XB1, PC) - C+
Super Bomberman R (NS) - C
Mario Sports Superstars (3DS) - C+
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (NS, Wii U) - A

Meanwhile, Mario and the Mushroom Kingdom gang took to the field,
 diamond, court, course, and racetrack in Mario Sports Superstars.

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs - "Double Your Platinum, Double Your Fun" Edition

It's Monday morning here at SuperPhillip Central, and it's time to make your work week start on a good note-- quite a few good notes! In fact, so many notes that they make up five different great pieces of video game music!

This edition of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs begins with a double dose of Platinum Games. We begin with Nier: Automata and then kick it into high gear with Transformers Devastation. Following that is another rockin' theme, but this time it's from the underrated PlayStation 2 gem Gitaroo Man. Finally, two RPGs, one classic and one modern, Chrono Trigger and Tales of Zestiria, wrap up another awesome edition of the VGMs!

Just click on the VGM volume name to hear the song, and check out the VGM Database for all past VGM volumes featured on this weekly recurring SPC segment. Now, let's get on to the music!

v1366. Nier: Automata (PS4, PC) - Song of the Ancient Atonement

Our first Platinum Games-developed piece of goodness comes from the most recent release on this edition of the VGMs, Nier: Automata. The game isn't just one of the best rated games of the year, but it also sports a sensational soundtrack. This theme I hand selected is a rousing arrangement of a theme heard in the original Nier, which unlike Automata, didn't receive as wide of critical acclaim. Still, if you're curious, check out the original Nier as well, available on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

v1367. Transformers: Devastation (Multi) - Decepticon

The other Platinum Games title represented on SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs is a licensed game, Transformers Devastation. Instead of a stirring orchestral and vocal theme, we have a riveting rock and roll piece of music. Hear the shredding of the guitar as you obliterate Decepticon scum in this quality Transformers game.

v1368. Gitaroo Man (PS2) - The Legendary Theme

Going from two well known games to a gem in the PlayStation 2's wide range of quality software, we have Gitaroo Man, a quirky and eccentric rhythm game with music by Japanese band COIL. The Legendary Theme has a nice beat to it, rockin' melody, and is just mellow in general. If you have the desire to rock out, look up a copy of Gitaroo Man for the PS2 or check out Gitaroo Man Lives on the PSP (a port of the PS2 original).

v1369. Chrono Trigger (SNES) - The Epoch - Wings of Time

Chrono Trigger is a game about going through time, and that's really what SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs is all about, listening to music through time. Well, we won't be going into the future that much, save for games that may release in Japan before the rest of the world maybe. Anyway, this theme from Chrono Trigger takes us back to a simpler time in gaming, long before message board, forums, YouTube comment sections, and rampant toxicity within the hobby.

v1370. Tales of Zestiria (PS4, PS3, PC) - Fight Between the Wind and the Blinking Sky

Let's wrap up this edition of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs with another RPG, but one that isn't quite as influential as Chrono Trigger. Tales of Zestiria served as an anniversary title for the Tales of series, and it delivered a stupendous soundtrack! If you need any proof, listen to this stellar battle theme. A joint soundtrack effort by Motoi Sakuraba and Go Shiina, Tales of Zestiria's music is pure bliss!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (NS) Souped-Up Trailer

With Mario Kart 8 Deluxe being released at the end of the month, Nintendo of America has put on its YouTube channel what appears to be the game's commercial in North America. Basically a quick checklist of all the new features from the game including new characters and the revamped Battle Mode, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe looks to be the ultimate Mario Kart experience that one can take on the go.

Central City Census - April 2017

Welcome back from April Fools' Day where SuperPhillip Central really wasn't associated in any way with Russia (save for the few views this site gets from the country every month). We're back as SuperPhillip Central, and we're back to business! With that back to business attitude, let's look at the results of last month's Central City Census!

March 2017's Central City Census asked of you guys which current console manufacturer has the most appealing first party games. The vote was one of the closest seen on the site in a good while with Nintendo just barely edging out Sony. Two titans of franchise-holders, for sure!

This month's Central City Census asks about your controller-breaking habits. Have you ever broken one intentionally, and if so, how many times? The poll will be closed at the end of the month!