Friday, November 3, 2017

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (NS) “Close Call” Trailer

Have an adventure in the land of Skyrim around the house, or take your adventure with you on the go with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on Nintendo Switch. Nintendo has published an all-new special commercial for the upcoming November 17, 2017 release under its "Close Call" series of television marketing ads.

Dragon Ball FighterZ (PS4, XB1, PC) - Story Trailer #1

Namco Bandai has published a lot of character and gameplay trailers for the upcoming January 26, 2018 release Dragon Ball FighterZ, but now we have our first look at what the story of the game amounts to. A new original android is the villain this time around, and it doesn't look like she has any good intentions to go around.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Review Round-Up - October 2017

The month of Halloween dug up some treats with indie darling and SPC Game of the Month SteamWorld Dig 2.
The month of the year that features Halloween has passed, which means it's time for another Review Round-Up as we head into the last two months of 2017. The months just fly by, don't they?

Things kicked off with one of my favorite indie games in a long while, SteamWorld Dig 2, digging up a terrific A grade. Continuing the indie theme, three more digital downloads were reviewed: Yono and the Celestial Elephants (C), Squareboy vs. Bullies: Arena Edition (D), and Earth Atlantis (C+).

Moving on from digital-only releases, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions earned itself a wonderful A-. Finally, two fighting game reviews posted on Halloween night, Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 and Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, both scored a B- for varying reasons.

SteamWorld Dig 2 (NS, PS4, PC, Vita) - A
Yono and the Celestial Elephants (NS, PC) - C
Squareboy vs. Bullies: Arena Edition (NS, Vita) - D
Earth Atlantis (NS) - C+
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions (3DS) - A-
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 (NS) - B-
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite (PS4, XB1, PC) - B-

The Capcom crossover returned this month to SuperPhillip Central with Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite (PS4, XB1, PC) Review

Our final fighting game of Halloween is Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, which also just so happens to be the final review of October for SuperPhillip Central. Stay tuned for the October 2017 Review Round-Up tomorrow, by the way! Here are my thoughts on the latest Marvel and Capcom fighting game crossover.

The fate of two worlds depends on you.

Of all of the fighting games that come out from Capcom, my favorite has to be the crossover ones between Capcom and other companies. I have a fondness for Tatsunoko vs. Capcom on the Wii, particularly. Now, a returning crossover sees a new game in its historic fighting game series, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite. From lackluster demos to bad impressions from the media, is there any chance for Infinite to actually be good?

Compared to past Marvel vs. Capcom games, Infinite has a much slower pace to its fighting. This presents a more strategic flow to battle rather than the super fast and fluid fighting of the previous entries in the Marvel vs. Capcom series. However, a new system has been added to complement the slower style of combat in the form of the Infinity Stones, not-so-coincidentally a big part of the narrative in the most recent Marvel blockbuster films.

Infinite moves from a 3 on 3 battle system to a 2 on 2 system. While the lack of an extra character to choose from for your team is a disappointing one, what it overall amounts to is giving you an added amount of strategy in choosing an Infinity Stone to equip to your team that will play well with their combat styles. These Infinity Stones augment abilities, restore health to characters, and more. Choosing which one to use for the given battle can be a stark difference between victory and defeat, especially if you're playing against a skilled opponent.

After many cries and urges for his inclusion, Mega Man X is finally on a Marvel vs. Capcom roster.
The controls of Infinite are relatively beginner-friendly, as each face button is assigned to a weak and strong attack, either a punch or a kick depending on the particular button pressed. All fighters have the same button combinations for attacks, which is also something nice and accessible for newbies. After all, Marvel vs. Capcom hasn't really been a friendly game for beginners compared to other fighting game franchises on the market. However, with all moves using simple button combos that are similar across all fighters, there's less necessity to remember different button configurations and more emphasis put on concocting killer combos. Setting up your opponent for a multiple hit combo is simple enough in easier difficulties, but as the challenge ramps up, you really need to learn how opponents will be impacted from your attacks so you can continue your combo in the right direction. Otherwise, you'll open yourself up to be attacked yourself.

A great thing about Infinite is that while it's accessible to new players, there is a markedly deep game here for series veterans and those wanting more advanced tactics. The more involved combat tactics allow you to really get inside your mains and preferred fighters, coming up with pro-level strategies that a beginner could only dream of plotting out and performing.

Thankfully, if you're not a seasoned vet, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite comes supplied with multiple modes to get into the fighting system before engaging in battles online, where no doubt most players' energy and time will be put in to. The most helpful of these modes is Training, where you learn the basics of battle and start out with simple button combos to use against an AI opponent. Each combo completed is a mission finished. You can learn the ins and outs of Infinite with some overview tutorials or do character-specific tutorials, teaching you the most pronounced and effective combos for that particular combatant. This is terrific for some deeper learning of and training with a fighter you might want to main. If you're a more casual player like myself, you might just want to check out the introductory set of tutorial missions for each character to get a taste of what's available, as these combos can get very complex with both the button combinations and specific timing windows required for them.

Our two combatants zero in on one another for what is sure to be one exciting fight.
What Street Fighter V lacked when it originally released was a Story Mode, and Capcom seemed to have learned a lesson on this itself by including a mode within Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite. Not much background is involved with the story to help players understand why folks in both Marvel and Capcom universes are together, but the story involves heroic forces made up of characters like Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Mega Man X, Chris Redfield, and more taking on a new villain, a merge of Marvel's Ultron and Mega Man X's Sigma with the super powerful Ultron Sigma. After suffering a defeat by Ultron Sigma's hands, the resistance regroups and comes up with a plan to acquire the Infinity Stones, the only means to overcome their joint foe.

The story itself isn't too engaging plot-wise, but what really saves it for me is all of the clever interactions and banter between both Marvel's heroes and Capcom's. Though the latter understandably doesn't have as much importance due to Marvel being a household name and Capcom... well, being Capcom. Still, when you get scenes involving Spider-Man, Resident Evil's Chris Redfield, Dead Rising's Frank West, and Final Fight's Mike Haggar exploring a subterranean area owned by the Umbrella Corporation, it's pretty cool to see. While the story won't last you long, maybe 3-4 hours for most players, it is worthwhile to play through once, but maybe not again.

One of the biggest qualms many longtime fans of the Marvel vs. Capcom series have with Infinite is its roster selection, and I'm of the opinion that the complete roster has both pros and cons. To get the negatives out of the way, there are few completely new additions to the roster, as most are simply brought back from the previous game. Furthermore, a completely notable absence is that of the X-Men due to Marvel and Fox battling out rights for the characters, hence their exclusion in Infinite. It's still pretty lame to have a Marvel fighter without the likes of Wolverine, Magneto, and more included even if the legal situation is present.

Thor's mighty hammer vs. the Hulk's powerful fist: Which will come out the victor?
However, on the positive side, past Marvel vs. Capcom games had a lot of fighters that played similarly to one another. With Infinite, this issue is no longer pronounced at all. Each fighter presents their own combat style and combo potential without feeling samey compared to other additions on the roster. While the limitations on the Marvel side are disappointing, Capcom added enough of their own characters to make up for it decently enough. Of course, I expect more people would rather have the likes of Deadpool and Storm rather than the likes of Mega Man X and Darkstalkers' Jedah. Still, DLC is coming for those who want it, but the sickening part of that is that the characters of this first season were ready before Infinite even came to market, so your mileage may vary on if you feel it's worth supporting such a business practice.

Moving on from roster-related disappointment to the disappointment seen in the visuals, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite does not continue the series' trend of impressive graphics. The backgrounds, though highly detailed, don't offer much visual engagement to the player, and especially the character models are a severe dislike to me, particularly the faces. Capcom already received a lot of flak for their interpretation of Street Fighter's Chun-Li, which was later remedied, but at the same time, the other characters' faces and expressions are a bit jarring at best. These type of faces make you wonder what is exactly off with them, which isn't a judgment I expected to ever say coming off brilliant looking entries like Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and then later on 3 and its Ultimate version. Even the music is less than stellar, offering ruined electronic versions of classic character theme songs. Overall, one can surmise that the budget for Infinite was unfortunately mightily toned down for this sequel.

Dante and Rocket Raccoon go out guns blazing. Could it have ended any other way between these two?
Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite gets the most important piece of a fighting game right, the actual fighting. It's everything else that seems a bit sub-par. Sure, the Story Mode is fun to play through once merely for the interactions between Marvel and Capcom all-stars, but the budget put into that mode could have gone to make the whole of Infinite better, such as creating a more interesting roster. Still, the content is there for those who want it and online play runs as expected for those who will desire to be the very best, or just rage quit a lot. Whichever, right?

[SPC Says: B-]

Dissidia: Final Fantasy NT (PS4) Overview Trailer

Let's continue this night of fighters with a question: Are you ready to learn even more about Dissidia Final Fantasy NT? Square Enix has you covered with this special overview trailer discussing character types and summons particularly. With four main character types, 20+ characters, and what looks like awesome 3-on-3 fighting, The Dissidia: Final Fantasy's home console debut is shaping up to a winner when it launches exclusively on the PlayStation 4 on January 30, 2018.


Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 (NS) Review

It's an evening of fighting games this Halloween night. Things start off with this review of Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, as released on the Nintendo Switch last month. Stay tuned for more fighting game goodness later tonight, but first, here's SuperPhillip Central's review of Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 for Nintendo Switch.

Preserve the past while forging a hopeful future

Dragon Ball is back and in a big way as of late. A new anime that continues the adventures of Goku and crew marches along with Dragon Ball Super, and a jaw-dropping new fighting game for the series is due out early next year with Dragon Ball FighterZ. Before looking completely into the future, Nintendo Switch owners recently got in on the Dragon Ball fun with a port of 2016's Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2. Does being able to relive parts of the Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball Super anime series, as well as being able to grind on the go (or on the toilet) make for a worthwhile game for Switch owners?

Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 returns the story to a familiar concept. One very reminiscent of the first Xenoverse. Once more Towa and Mira are at it again, altering events within the Dragon Ball Z chronology to ensure the bad guys win. It's up to your avatar and Trunks to serve as the front lines of the Time Patrol, fixing various complications caused within the events of the game. Do you remember that one part on Dragon Ball Z during the Saiyan Saga where both Vegeta and Nappa turned into Great Apes? Well, that didn't actually happen, but with Towa and Mira's meddling, it does in Xenoverse 2's story. That's but one of the many alterations within the game. Xenoverse 2's story mode chronicles changes from Dragon Ball Z's Saiyan Saga all the way up to Dragon Ball Super's Frieza arc.

Battle like you've never battled before, Goku and Vegeta; The tournament crowd demands it!
Your avatar character is a custom creation made by you using various pieces of other Dragon Ball characters. Before you get down to the nitty-gritty, you first choose from one of five races like Human, Saiyan, or Namekian, for instance. Everything from the gender and color of your character's hair and skin to the sound of their voice can be customized.

Once you finish customizing your avatar, you're thrust into Xenoverse 2's new setting, Conton City, a much larger and less tedious place to travel around in than the original's Toki Toki City. However, on the Nintendo Switch version this overworld where all of Xenoverse 2's points of interest are interconnected chugs along at an inconsistent frame-rate at best. Still, it's a negative performance effect that doesn't mean much unless you're really sensitive to frame-rate. In my case, the stuttering didn't bother me whatsoever and I quickly learned to deal with it.

Looking pretty fly there, chief!
Conton City itself is home to an exhaustive list of things to do. The Time Nest houses the means to continue along with story quests while a counter in the westernmost part of the main city is where Parallel Quests can be tried out. As you progress in the story, more Parallel Quests unlock, bringing quests with varying scenarios, all of which never happened on the show. Whether it's battling Saiyan after Saiyan one after another, taking on the Ginyu Force in West City, or eliminating seven Cell Jr. enemies before taking on the head honcho Cell afterwards, the quests follow the same overall goal: beating the hell out of your opponents.

All Parallel Quests have secondary objectives (albeit hidden from sight) that when completed, introduces more fighting to the current quest. New opponents might appear yearning to fight or defeated ones might take a never say die attitude with you. Although failing a Parallel Quest after satisfying the primary objective but not finishing the secondary objective means you still complete the quest, it also means you won't be able to get an Ultimate Finish on that battle. This condition usually means better post-battle prizes and grades. Though the grade system itself in Xenoverse 2 doesn't generally follow any logical reasoning. One fight with a mediocre performance can give you the best grade, a Z, while a fight you thought you did well on nets you a B. The prizes you earn come in the form of items, costume pieces for your avatar, new moves to equip to your avatar, and money. Moves and costume pieces are the rarest to obtain, so even if you get an Ultimate Finish on a particular Parallel Quest, you're not guaranteed a rare item. In fact, there can be some annoying grinding involved to get desired items, but not nearly as bad as what was seen in the original Xenoverse.

Enter into some of the most memorable battles in Dragon Ball Z history... and some that never happened.
These Parallel Quests can be played offline with two other AI partners to assist you, or they can be played online with opponents the world over. Just don't expect to matched up all too quickly with people in the lobby. That said, once you're locked into a battle, everything runs steadily without much in the way of stuttering or lag, which was really great and satisfying to see in motion. Outside of Parallel Quests, multiplayer online battles are also available in both ranking and standard bouts. Meanwhile, local multiplayer can be played on one Switch with two controllers. The characters you've unlocked through normal play are the ones available to you, and with over 40 to choose from, the roster of fighters is quite impressive. (Alternatively, you can download a free code to unlock all characters instantaneously, but of course not the DLC ones that cost money.)

Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2's combat is mostly unchanged since the original game, but it still runs as fluidly on the Nintendo Switch with this port. Instead of up to eight characters on screen at once, the more limited hardware power of the Nintendo Switch results in only up to six characters being able to battle simultaneously. The Switch's Pro controller or Joycon grip work wonderfully with the game, granting the same experience as the earlier versions of Xenoverse 2 on the Switch's competing platforms. There's one face button each for weak and heavy attacks, one button to rise up while holding down the left stick results in your character lowering to the ground. one shoulder button blocks while the other provides a boost of speed to jet across the ground and through the air to get in the face of opponents, and holding down ZL, ZR, or a combination of the two presents a list of special moves that can be used (each assigned to a face button) as long as you have enough Ki energy to use them.

A boot to the gut will make even the strongest of fighters let out some serious air.
Ki is displayed on the HUD with an orange bar divided up between rectangles. It depletes as special moves are used, even if they miss their intended target (which is easy if you're just spamming them as there are few moves with actual homing capabilities). To restore it, you can either use an Energy Charge move, use a Ki-replenishing item, or deal damage to an opponent. Another bar on the HUD is the stamina gauge which is a series of blue rectangles that get used up each time you teleport behind your opponent, usually used to evade melee strikes and getting caught in a combo. Stamina also decreases when blocking. When the gauge is emptied completely, your character becomes dazed, and if they were blocking, their guard is broken, leaving them open to enemy attacks.

Xenoverse's 2 battles are just hectic as the anime they're based off of, just without any filler involved. Sure, you still have chatty characters like heroes cheering their teammates on or giving them words of encouragement while villains taunt your ability, but it's all in good fun. My only real gripe with battles is the unwieldy camera, which can obscure the view of players, especially when nearby objects like trees and buildings, and it does very little to help out when surrounded by enemies. Behind-the-back attacks happen more often than I would like, and with Xenoverse 2's camera these become a lot more frustrating when they happen (which is one problem that unfortunately reappears from the OG Xenoverse).

I'm glad Cell evolved from his first form. In this form he has a monstrous case of pinkeye.
Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 has a ton of content to it. From all of the quests -- both story and Parallel -- to training with the over 20 teachers in the game to learn their exclusive moves, leveling up your character's stats in any way you like, and doing battles online and off, Xenoverse 2 kept me coming back for more long after my avatar gave Towa and Mira a history lesson (and that lesson was "don't f--- with history". Performance in the Conton City hub isn't spectacular (in fact, it's not good at all), but in battles where it matters, it's aces. If you have yet to check out Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 and want to hype yourself up for the continuing adventures of Goku and friends in Dragon Ball Super or the upcoming fighter Dragon Ball FighterZ, this game will keep your hype in check. There's no need for Switch owners to call upon Shenron with the Dragon Ball to make a wish. An excellent Dragon Ball game is right here for them with Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2.

[SPC Says: B-]

Monday, October 30, 2017

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs - "Scary Good VGMs" Edition

A new batch of VGMs is here for you to snarf down like Halloween candy. The best part of that? There's no trick-or-treating from house to house required. You can still wear a costume as you follow along with this article, however.

SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs has video game music this week that's so good, it's scary. Moving on from last week's 1500th VGM volume, we start fresh with two huge games and Game of the Year contenders, Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. From there, Fire Emblem Warriors takes us on an exciting trip on through the battlefield with a rockin' cool remix of a Fire Emblem: Awakening theme. The spooks are then in great supply with a theme from Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, and lastly, Mighty Gunvolt delivers some modern old-school goodness.

As a reminder, click on the VGM Database for a history of this article series in VGM volume form. Now, let's get on to the music!

v1501. Super Mario Odyssey (NS) - Jump Up, Super Star!

SuperPhillip Central will of course be covering Super Mario Odyssey in review form shortly, and I'll try to keep that review as limited on spoilers as possible -- no worries! As for now, we begin this new frontier of VGMs with the signature piece of Mario's latest 3D adventure, Jump Up, Super Star! This theme is a first for the series, a fully vocal piece of music, and it's sung by the character of Pauline of Donkey Kong fame. It's all comes full circle, huh?

v1502. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (NS, Wii U) - Hyrule Castle

We go from one Game of the Year contender on the Nintendo Switch to another with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, also available on the Wii U as that system's final hurrah. Hyrule Castle is the final destination for Link, but this time around he can face Ganon at any time -- true to the developer's words of breaking Zelda series conventions. And boy, did Breath of the Wild ever do that in a multitude of ways! Hyrule Castle's theme is forlorn at times while triumphant at others, a great atmospheric sound for Link and the player who controls him to become fully prepared to face Ganon.

v1503. Fire Emblem Warriors (NS, N3DS) - Prelude (Ablaze)

Rock onto the battlefield with this theme from Fire Emblem: Awakening, the very first Nintendo 3DS entry in the Fire Emblem franchise. It's included as a part of the Fire Emblem Warriors soundtrack, a game incorporating the casts of Fire Emblem: Awakening, Fates, and Shadow Dragon in an intense hack and slash Dynasty Warriors-style game. The game makes the already fantastic music of the Fire Emblem series rage on even harder, perfect for commanding one's troops to victory.

v1504. Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon (3DS) - Gloomy Manor

What would a Halloween eve edition of SuperPhillip Central's Favorite VGMs be without a taste of the special day? Well, it would still be worthwhile, but it would miss that special touch. Here's a level theme from the absolutely amazing Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon for the Nintendo 3DS, a great game to play around this time of year for kids and kids at heart alike (and just those who enjoy engaging gameplay and superb design in general). Join our plucky hero Luigi as he investigates the strange phenomena in not one but five different mansions.

v1505. Mighty Gunvolt (3DS) - School

A small game released as a complementary piece to Azure Striker Gunvolt, Mighty Gunvolt features the characters from Mighty No. 9, Azure Striker Gunvolt, and Gal*Gun. It's a simple, bite-sized 2D platformer with an old school 8-bit aesthetic to it. Included is a retro chiptune soundtrack as well, and the intro School stage happens to be my favorite from the package, as it's so chipper and cheery.

Monster Hunter: World (PS4, XB1, PC) PGW 2017 Trailer

Monster Hunter: World has also received a new trailer at Paris Games Week, and this one in particular focuses on the PlayStation 4 build, showcasing an exclusive beta and Aloy playable character model. The game itself is shaping up to be the ultimate Monster Hunter experience for fans. Monster Hunter: World releases January 26, 2017.

Marvel’s Spider-Man (PS4) PGW 2017 Teaser Trailer

Spider-Man, Spider-Man... No, I'm not singing the theme song. More like ruminating about all the Spider-Man games of the past that just missed the mark in some way (or worse, completely missed the target). With Insomniac Games of Ratchet & Clank and Sunset Overdrive fame at the helm for this new Spider-Man game (exclusive to PlayStation 4), I have high hopes that this one will be in the upper echelon of games featuring the iconic webhead.

God of War (PS4) PGW 2017 Gameplay Trailer

Kratos may have a son now, but he's not the type to lounge around watching football on Sundays and picking his kid up from soccer practice. Instead, he and his son are on what is set to be an epic adventure and fantastic entry in the God of War franchise. Due out 2018, God of War has this new trailer from the PlayStation Paris Games Week conference.

Shadow of the Colossus (PS4) Paris Games Week 2017 Trailer

Relive Shadow of the Colossus or play it for the first time in this sublime-looking remake of the PlayStation 2 classic, rebuilt exclusively on the PlayStation 4. If you thought taking down colossi was nerve-racking before, I imagine you haven't seen anything yet. As we await the release of this 2018 game, Sony's Japan Studio remains hard at work on it. Seems like the work put into the game is making it something truly spectacular for PS4 owners next year.

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds (PS4) Paris Games Week Trailer

The expansion to a game that for me is a contender for Game of the Year, Horizon: Zero Dawn releases in a couple weeks with The Frozen Wilds. Explore the uncharted icy tundra with new creatures and new tactics to take them down. For owners of the original game, this is downloadable content, but for those new, a special retail package with both the original Horizon: Zero Dawn and The Frozen Wilds comes out soon.