Friday, September 1, 2017

Review Round-Up - August 2017

Taking what's old and loved about the classic Sonic games and adding in something new and fresh
into the equation, Sonic Mania easily cast a shadow over any attempt Sonic Team had made before. 
I might have missed my self-imposed deadline for one last review for the month (that one will be posted later tonight), but August 2017 saw nine reviews all the same. It was both a retro and indie themed month of reviews. Beginning the indie part of the month was Infinite Minigolf and Death Squared, which were both impressive enough to earn a B grade. Another indie game, but this time on mobile devices, had lots of inspiration from old school Mario games. This mobile game was Pauli's Adventure Island, only given an average grade (C) due to it not offering enough replay value and being a bit rote (but it being a free download with fun gameplay made that okay in the end).

From there, SuperPhillip Central went down the retro road art style-wise with Slime-san (B+) and the ode to late 80's and early 90's pop and gaming culture with Retro City Rampage DX, roaring onto the Nintendo Switch with a terrific A- score. The Pic-A-Pix-like Piczle Lines DX was a delightful puzzle game, getting a B-, while Nintendo's only game to be featured in this month of reviews, Flip Wars, didn't have enough content or serviceable online to give anything but a slightly above average C+ grade to.

Finally, SuperPhillip Central rounded out August with the Game of the Month, Sonic Mania, a return to greatness and form, and I awarded the game a more-than-worthy A grade to the game. The last review of the month wasn't a wholly new game in its series like Sonic Mania was, but it still brought back classic Mega Man gameplay to the market in compilation form in Mega Man Legacy Collection 2, earning a B.

Infinite Minigolf (NS, PS4, XB1, PC) - B
Death Squared (NS, PS4, XB1, PC) - B
Pauli's Adventure Island (iOS, Android) - C
Slime-san (NS, PC) - B+
Retro City Rampage DX (NS) - A-
Piczle Lines DX (NS) - B-
Flip Wars (NS) - C+
Sonic Mania (NS, PS4, XB1, PC) - A
Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 (PS4, XB1, PC) - B

Mega Man's more modern entries took him from graphical evolution to back to the basics in no time flat!
Experience all to offer in Mega Man Legacy Collection 2, featuring Mega Man 7 - 10!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 (PS4, XB1, PC) Review

Two reviews close out the month of August here at SuperPhillip Central. The first review is tonight with this in-depth review of Mega Man Legacy Collection 2. Here it is for all readers and passersby to enjoy!

Mega Mania: Part Deux

Despite including six full games in its previous collection of Mega Man games, this time around, Capcom merely offers four games within its newly released Mega Man Legacy Collection 2, including Mega Man 7, Mega Man 8, Mega Man 9, and Mega Man 10 (the latter two games featuring all of the downloadable content from their original releases last generation). What --  you can't even include Mega Man & Bass as a bonus here, Capcom?! ...Calming down here, also featured in the collection are art galleries, sound tests, and extra challenges separate from the game menus, offering stage remixes, boss rushes, and Buster-only runs for earning medals and comparing your best times with the world via leaderboard.

Unfortunately, what Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 lacks even from its predecessor's catalog of games is some tools that would help modern gamers that aren't so skilled or hardwired in playing these deviously challenging games (well, not so much Mega Man 8). The original Mega Man Legacy Collection offered save states where you could save your progress literally anywhere, so if you died, you could just load up your save from its state and return playing from there. Instead, what is offer is much more limited, such as being able to return to a handful of specific points in levels and something titled the "Legacy Mode" which cuts down how much health you lose when you take damage. These replacements are nowhere near as helpful or desirable as the previous collection's options. They become even more disappointing omissions when you have certain games in Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 that supply you with an extremely limited number of checkpoints, where losing all your lives means starting fresh in the level. Most seasoned players will not have a problem with this, but it will no doubt be a turn off for those lacking as much skill as needed for these games.

As for the games themselves within the collection, let's start off with the earliest game in Mega Man Legacy Collection 2's roster of games. Heck, it only makes sense, right? Mega Man 7 was the classic Mega Man's only mainline entry on the 16-bit Super Nintendo -- so not counting the Japanese-exclusive Rockman & Forte. Mega Man 7 isn't a widely regarded game due to how different it plays and feels. For instance, the sprites are much larger, and the screen space is much more limited compared to the Mega Man games before it.

In Mega Man 7, Dr. Wily is back to being back to being back (etc.) to no good!
Regardless, Mega Man 7 has a lot going for it. The colorful visual style of the series up to that point had never looked better and more vibrant, and the upgrade in hardware allowed for more awesome visuals and graphical effects. Mega Man 7 is the first Mega Man game to have a regular requirement of returning to levels to discover new power-ups. Mega Man 5 had the letters, yes, but you could get those on the first try through its levels.

Moving on to my favorite game in the collection, Mega Man 8, which saw the Mega Man series as a whole move from Nintendo systems to Sony and Sega platforms due to Nintendo's decision to stick with cartridges for its Nintendo 64, a decision that would attract other third party developers over to other platforms.

Of course, beauty isn't everything, but I still love Mega Man 8 otherwise regardless.
Mega Man 8 is partly my favorite due to its general easiness in difficulty, while offering a good level of challenge, and partly due to nostalgia. It was the first classic series Mega Man game I had ever beat. Despite these things, other notable features that I really get enthused about Mega Man 8 is the vibrant and colorful art style the game uses, the woeful but so-bad-it's-good voice acting along with its better production values that the jump to the CD format assisted with greatly, and the game having the most longevity of any mainline game. I'm, of course, talking about hidden bolts in each level, in many of which you need to return to previously beaten levels to reach or find them with new Robot Master weapons acquired. The Robot Master weapons aren't just tools of destruction, but many could be used as means to reach and access new areas of level.

If you look to the sides, you'll notice an alternate border you can choose while playing Mega Man 8.
Sadly, Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 uses the PlayStation build of Mega Man 8 rather than the more impressive and rare Sega Saturn build. Not only did that version feature better visuals and sound, but also extra content in the form of the return of two Robot Masters, Cut Man and Wood Man.

Then, comes Mega Man 9 which unlike 8 before it has a much stiffer, brutal challenge to it compared to every other game in this collection. That's just one of the reasons why it's close to my least favorite mainline Mega Man game. From its "Gotcha! You're dead!" cheap moment and its fetish to make the game harder by throwing a cavalcade of spikes anywhere and everywhere in the game's levels, Mega Man 9 is not enjoyable for me, personally, to play. Cheap deaths don't result in fun; they result in an artificial difficulty, especially when you're forced to play long sections of level all over again just to get to the hard part at the end of that section and die from touching an awkwardly placed spike trap.

This Robot Master certainly brought the heat to this battle.
On the good side, Mega Man 9's selection of weapons is one of the series' best with pretty much every one of them having a beneficial use to take out foes instead of just having usefulness against a particular Robot Master. Mega Man 9's in-game shop also eases the burden with the ability to purchase (with the bolt currency found in the game) helpful items like extra lives and energy tanks to make it easier to endure the more sinister designed sections of levels. It decided to forgo the current path of modern Mega Man games by going completely retro, back to its roots in all of its NES-styled glory.

Finally, there's Mega Man 10, which released shortly after Mega Man 9 -- perhaps too shortly as it tried to jump on the popularity of Mega Man 9 but felt like more of the same. Mega Man 10 does offer an easy mode unlike Mega Man 9, but this feels too insulting as it covers many spike traps and other dangerous jumps, making once challenging levels completely lacking in any difficulty. Still, the general difficulty of Mega Man 10 is ratcheted down compared to 9, and it's a more welcoming game for that. The addition of playing as Bass brings more replay value to Mega Man 10 as well.

Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 brings the player many choices in how the various games are displayed and how they can be controlled. Each Mega Man game here can be played in its normal resolution, a more stretched out format, and formats that put borders around the screen space, all themed after the current Mega Man game being played (there's a selection to choose from). The button configurations for each game are available to be customized. For example, I put the dash button to Circle and the special weapon button to Triangle in Mega Man 8, just the way I used to play it in middle school. So, overall, there is an admirable range of playing each game in the collection the way you desire whether with presentation in mind or with regards to controls.

Not only can you adjust the border, but you can also adjust the screen size for each game.
While Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 may remove its migraine-preventing "save whenever you want" feature from the previous Legacy Collection and add a undesirable substitute instead, I can't really shame this second compendium of Mega Man titles down too much. It's but twenty dollars, offers four excellent Mega Man games, plenty of bonuses, and is just a good deal in general. If you're easy to get irritated, then maybe just stick with the original Mega Man Legacy Collection with its "save anywhere" functionality. For everyone else, Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 is worth it to see how far the series evolved from its NES days... and sort of de-made itself back into its NES days soon after.

[SPC Says: B]

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle (NS) Launch Trailer

What was once a ridiculed idea before the game was even supposed to become announced (thanks, leakers), Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle was fully revealed in an official capacity at E3 2017. Frowns turned upside down into a great positive feeling towards the game, earning it many Best of Show awards at E3. Now, Team Mario and Team Rabbids' unique and still unbelievable crossover releases on the Nintendo Switch today with Nintendo of America posting the game's launch trailer on its YouTube channel. Enjoy!

Monday, August 28, 2017

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs - "To Be This Good Takes AGES" Edition

After the release of Sonic Mania, I was hit with a twinge of nostalgia for other games from a take-charge, bolder, and braver Sega. Quite unlike what the publisher has become now. Thus, we're going to deep dive into some classic Sega games, as well as celebrate the recent release that inspired this special Sega edition of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs!

Beginning with a speed boost like none other, Sonic zooms onto the VGMs with his latest offering, the fantastic Sonic Mania. We then go back in time with the rest of our entries--whether carefully and cautiously easing around those turns in Sega Rally Championship, taking flight to bring the fight to the enemy in Afterburner II, or bringing us to Sega's final home console, the Dreamcast, with Cyber Troopers Virtual-On Oratorio Tangram and Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future.

Just a weekly reminder that you just need to click on each big and bold link to hear each VGM volume in its entirety, and like I say every week as well, check out the VGM Database for all past VGM volumes ever recorded in this segment. Now, let's get on to the music!

v1456. Sonic Mania (NS, PS4, XB1, PC) - Lava Reef Zone Act 2

Let's blaze a trail into the land of awesome video game music with the most recent of Sega's releases, ironically a throwback to classic 2D Sonic the Hedgehog games, Sonic Mania. This game packed twelve zones with four entirely new ones and eight remixed zones taken from Sonic 1, 2, 3, Knuckles, and CD. The remixed zones not only changed the level design up and added new mechanics into the mix, but they also presented new arrangements of familiar zone themes. There are so many brilliant ones to choose from, but for now I'm going leave you with the sultry electric guitar of Lava Reef Zone's second act.

v1457. Sega Rally Championship (SAT) - Desert Replay

Despite originally releasing in the arcades, in which Takenobu Mitsuyoshi (best known for his work on the music and vocals of Daytona USA) composed the music for. When Sega Rally Championship went from a cabinet at arcades to being ported to Sega's newest console at the time, the Sega Saturn, for use in homes and apartments, it arrived with an all-new series of songs composed by Naofumi Hataya, who has worked on the Golden Axe franchise, the NiGHTS series, and various more modern Sonic the Hedgehog games.

v1458. Afterburner II (ARC) - Afterburner

A retro anthem for the ages, the Afterburner theme is a familiar one that still pops up unexpectedly in old school Sega fans. Afterburner II's version of the series' theme pumps the intensity up even more. While Afterburner II would release on other platforms, I gotta give it up to the terrific arcade original version.

v1459. Cyber Troopers Virtual-On Oratorio Tangram (DC) - High On Hope

Around the announcement and even to the release and beyond on Nintendo's ARMS, many retro gamers picked up on the similarities between ARMS and Sega's Dreamcast game, Virtua-On. Those debates are for some other site, as I'm just here to talk about the Virtua-On's amazing music--though, now that I think about, that IS one thing already I can agree Virtua-On shares with ARMS.

v1460. Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future (DC) - Aquamarine Bay

Rounding out this Sega-centric edition of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs, we listen to a soothing, stunning track from the Sega Dreamcast's Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future. Sadly, while Ecco did save the future in the game, his future as a known personality in gaming wasn't defended so easily.

Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS) Samus is Back on 9/15 Trailer

The excitement towards Metroid: Samus Returns' September 15th release date builds with what appears to be North America's TV commercial for the game. Finally--and as the trailer suggests--Samus is back and raring to go in one of her first original adventures in a loooong while! Here's hoping the combined efforts of Nintendo and MercurySteam's partnership turns out well!

Everybody's Golf (PS4) Launch Trailer

A day ahead of its release in North America, this launch trailer for Everybody's Golf (formerly known in the territory as Hot Shots Golf) was posted by the official PlayStation YouTube channel. It may be short, but it sure is sweet. Check it out below.