Monday, October 1, 2018

Luigi’s Mansion (3DS) Face Your Fears Trailer

Like a ghost that just won't stay dead, the Nintendo 3DS line is still alive and kicking, receiving new games. Luigi's Mansion is an updated port of the 2001 GameCube launch title, and on October 12th, 3DS players will be able to enjoy the game and share the scares wherever and whenever they want with this portable version. Check out the North American TV commercial for Luigi's Mansion for Nintendo 3DS below.

Review Round-Up - September 2018

Marvel's Spider-Man from Insomniac Games is one of the PlayStation 4's
 premier exclusives and is one heck of a web-slingin' ride.
SuperPhillip Central posted another four reviews for this time around, and they were all unleashed on the very last weekend of the month. We began with two arcade racers but of two decidedly different types. The Crew 2 delighted with its amazing open world that was a blast to drive, splash, and soar through, earning it a B grade. Meanwhile, a top-down cartoon-ish arcade racer in Chiki-Chiki Boxy Racers just didn't have enough content to justify a purchase, getting a C-. Next up, Super Bomberman R blasted its way onto the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Steam, and it was hardly a dud, getting a B grade. Finally, SuperPhillip Central's Game of the Month, Marvel's Spider-Man turned out to be one of my favorite superhero games of all time, and definitely my favorite Spider-Man game yet.

Check out every review ever posted on SuperPhillip Central with the SPC Review Archive!

The Crew 2 (PS4, XB1, PC) - B
Chiki-Chiki Boxy Racers (NSW) - C-
Super Bomberman R (PS4, XB1, PC) - B
Marvel's Spider-Man (PS4) - A-

No matter what vehicle you got behind the controls of, The Crew 2's version
of the continental United States was all yours to explore.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Marvel's Spider-Man (PS4) Review

Here's one final review to round out the month of September, and it's a bit of a doozy. Marvel's Spider-Man is a PlayStation 4 exclusive that absolutely dominated the conversation in the gaming world in both acclaim and sales when it released earlier this month. Now, that the smoke has cleared and the dust has settled, how does Insomniac Games' take on Spider-Man fare? The [albeit non-definitive] answer awaits in my review.

The Amazing or the Spectacular Spider-Man? Why not both?

To say there hasn't been a really good Spider-Man game yet would be a bit of a falsehood. For their time, games like Neversoft's PS1 Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, and also my personal favorite, Ultimate Spider-Man, were good games that were well regarded. Heck, many Spider-Man games remain well regarded. That notwithstanding, to say there hasn't been a really good Spider-Man game in a while would have some truth to it. This is where Ratchet & Clank, Resistance, and Sunset Overdrive developer Insomniac steps in with the full backing of Sony. The end result is a masterpiece of a superhero game, though flawed in several ways, that is more than worthy of the Spider-Man name.

Insomniac has done an astonishing job at creating its own Spider-Man universe with Marvel's Spider-Man. The story is paced rather well, and it delivers one of the finest interpretations of Peter Parker and Spider-Man I've seen. The story beats kept me interested and engaged, and the story in general managed to pull me in and made me care about all of the characters involved. I pumped my fists in the air when I overcame a challenge as Spider-Man or Peter Parker, I gasped when one of the many twists of the story took place, and I even got a little emotional with the ending.

The voice acting is superb, and Yuri Lowenthal nailed his dual role of Spider-Man and alter ego Peter Parker. The raw emotion that comes from his voice in certain scenes in the game--heck, now just him, but the entire cast--is just truly mesmerizing. It all lends well to Insomniac's created universe, as does the humorous quips by Spider-Man and character interactions that I couldn't help but smile and sometimes even laugh out loud at. I'm particularly thinking of the right-wing Alex Jones-like J. Jonah Jameson personality who still has an ax to grind against Spider-Man, but it results in some excerpts from his radio show that are some of the funniest bits of dialog within the game.

Manhattan is your virtual playground, so play and swing away!
Insomniac's universe in Marvel's Spider-Man, too, shines brightly due to another character within the game. I'm not talking about a someone, but instead a something. I'm talking about the open world setting of Manhattan, and it's Spider-Man's and your playground to explore, and it's absolutely a blast to do so with all of our friendly neighborhood superhero's moves and abilities. From traditional web-slinging (well, as traditional as something called "web-slinging" can be) and running up the sides of buildings, to zipping across rooftops and above city streets with webs, Spider-Man knows how to get around the hustling and bustling island of Manhattan.

Spider-Man, Spider-Man, runs on whatever a spider can.
You will, also, as the controls are quite intuitive and easy to learn. To web-swing, it's as simple as holding down the R2 button as you move by a building or other object that a web can attach to (and can support the webhead's weight). When Spidey's swing is at its maximum height, you can jump to reach higher places, whereas if you jump while mid-swing, you'll gain a lot of distance and speed at the same time. A combination of both can have you jetting around Manhattan in no time.

Nevertheless, you will want to stop and smell the roses occasionally. I don't mean literally smelling roses here, but instead, taking part in all of the activities and side missions that slowly open up as you make progress in the game. Though, it is true that many of these seem a bit too rote and stuck in the past when it concerns open world games--such as turning on police surveillance towers as a means to reveal all of the side stuff you can do in a given Manhattan district. Others come across as busywork, like stopping crimes within town, which boils down to beating the snot out of a gang up to no good.

While all of the side activities aren't that riveting, some do shine. While it's nothing we haven't seen a hundred times in past open world games, there are collectibles sprinkled around the city. These reveal their locations to the player from the aforementioned surveillance towers so they aren't maddening to find. What makes them so special is that they delve into Spider-Man and Peter Parker's backstory, as they're items that Spidey discovers in the many backpacks placed around town. There are also landmarks throughout Manhattan that you can take pictures of as well. These backpacks and landmarks do a terrific job of further expanding upon and building the world within the game.

However, my favorite side activities would have to be the research stations left behind by Harry Osborn. These are interesting because they're the most varied. With taking out enemy bases and completing challenges from a certain villain in the game, you pretty much know what to expect gameplay-wise. With the research stations you're doing a variety of tasks, and no two are ever the same. These are Marvel's Spider-Man's side activities at their most intriguing. One has you swinging through smog clouds to collect data samples while another has you following a pipe to discover the source of a leak. They also expand upon the world and are more than the same old, same old that makes up most of Spider-Man's optional activities.

NPCs hand out side missions like candy, but these aren't as sweet of experiences as they could be.
Well, I say "optional", but by completing crimes, research stations, taking out enemy bases, collecting backpacks, and so on, you earn tokens that are required to spend on new gadgets, upgrades for said gadgets, and new Spider suits. It's really to your benefit to try to collect as many tokens as possible by doing as much side content as possible. After all, most tokens types are only available in specific varieties of side missions, and outfitting Spidey with one of over 30 different Spider suits, each with their own special ability, is too cool and enticing of a deal to pass on.

That's all just one piece of Marvel's Spider-Man. There's a whole other piece to it, and that comes in the form of combat. Combat in Spider-Man is most similar to Rocksteady's Batman: Arkham line of games. It's combo-based, but Spidey has many more options available to him due to his mobility, agility, and webbing prowess. You can start beating down a group of goons, traveling between each enemy by web, and effortlessly dispatch a group of foes quickly. Of course, like games are wont to do, the challenge ramps up when different enemy types are introduced. Some hold shields that you must punch and then slide between the carrier's legs to perform an attack to their exposed back. Others don't have much pugilistic pride, opting to use firearms of the pistol, machine gun, and rocket launcher variety. It becomes a bit of a juggling act, but thankfully, the webhead has his good ol' Spider Sense that emits white lines around his head as an indicator that it's time for the player to dodge an attack.

"I'd tell your boss The Kingpin that no amount of money is worth getting your butt kicked by Spider-Man."
The amount of possibilities in combat is really amazing, and this is helped in part due to new gadget unlocks that open up as the game progresses. There's the standard web shooter that needs to be shot multiple times to ensnare an enemy, but at the same time, its supply regenerates rather quickly. Then, there's the trip wire webbing that when an enemy crosses its path, the wire grabs onto them and webs them up against whatever the wire was attached to. Spidey is indeed one crafty inventor, having everything else from drones to electrical webbing that can turn on power in dark areas as well as shock enemies temporarily. Using a mix of Spider-Man's pure physicality, webbing, and gadgets makes for some truly emergent gameplay. 

Here's webbing in your eye!
Spider-Man himself gains focus energy as he successfully attacks enemies and builds up a combo. The higher of a combo he gains, the faster his focus gauge increases. When it fills, Spider-Man can perform a devastating finisher that immediately takes out any enemy it connects with. Tougher enemies than your standard foes, such as brutes, require two filled gauges to use a finisher on. Apart from using focus energy to unleash creative and visually fascinating finishers on foes, you can also use focus energy to recover Spidey's health mid-battle. This can be a literal lifesaver in particularly challenging encounters where Spider-Man's fighting off ten or more enemies at once who all want to get his number. ...And I don't mean to take him out on a date--merely because they want to take him OUT.

Unlike this baddie on the right, most enemies won't just stand there while you beat up on their buddies.
That notwithstanding, brawn and brute force won't always be what the situation calls for. Sometimes Spider-Man will have to use some stealth to take out an area or roomful of enemies without being detected. Thankfully, Spidey is perfectly suited for such scenarios. When playing as Spidey, you can take out foes silently through a multitude of means, such as take-downs from the air or from the ground. Of course, you don't want to let yourself get spotted by a foe whose pal you just wrapped up in webbing and is now hanging upside down from a ledge.

Spider-Man--in one of many of the available, special unlockable
suits--surveys the area before picking off each foe one by one.
Clicking in the right stick brings up another Batman: Arkham series-inspired game mechanic, Detective Mode. Here, you can see through Spidey's eyes and determine if taking out a foe is either safe or dangerous. If it's the latter, you're going to get caught if you try taking the foe in question out. This Detective-style mode also has many uses outside of stealth sections, offering views on points of interest and enemy weaknesses.

Didn't see that one coming, did you? That said, Spidey definitely saw you going.
Marvel's Spider-Man is a gorgeous game in all aspects. The way the windows of buildings shimmer when the sun shines directly on them, the way tree branches sway to and fro in the wind, and the immense draw distance available to players, particularly while Spider-Man is perched on the highest building in Manhattan are all spectacular sights. The amazing detail each character possesses is also something I can't help but gush about. Sure, some faces approach "uncanny valley" levels, but overall they look expressive, animate well, and are just impressive beyond words... save for the ones I just wrote.

Despite some side missions and optional activities being less than inspired, as well as stealth sections that mess with the pacing of the game a little bit, Marvel's Spider-Man is without question the best Spider-Man game I've had the pleasure and joy to play. Without delving too much into exaggeration, it might also be the best superhero game I've ever encountered. Never before have I felt more enamored with a superhero video game and felt more like Spider-Man thanks to his myriad tools, abilities, and ways to interact with the world--no matter if I was dispatching a gang of the Kingpin's men or just web-swinging through Times Square. Insomniac's vision of the Spider-Man as a series, the world, characters, and mythos shines brightly and is a testament to the original thought that the property was in good hands when it was given to the developer to create a Spider-Man game. It's a game that both casual and veteran fans will enjoy--as well as anyone else who just loves an amazing and spectacular video game.

[SPC Says: A-]

Super Mario Party (NSW) Shadows Trailer

Coming to the Switch this Friday, October 5th is Super Mario Party, the latest in the long-running party game series. It's a bit of a refresh for the series, hence the name change, and Super Mario Party is set to go back to the basics in more ways than one. SuperPhillip Central will have a review for everyone this upcoming month, so get ready to party hearty, everybody!

Super Bomberman R (PS4, XB1, PC) Review

Time to set the fuse for a brand-new review on SuperPhillip Central. We go from one party game to another with Super Bomberman R's appearance on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam. Here's the SuperPhillip Central review.

We're blasting off again!

Super Bomberman R originally released on the Nintendo Switch as one the console's few retail launch titles. Decidedly, it was released in a rather clunky and undesirable state--missing many modes, lacking multiplayer options, and just devoid of a good deal of overall content in general. However, through a lengthy series of free updates and patches, Super Bomberman R has gone from a game that wasn't up to the Bomberman name to one that most definitely is. Now, the game sees a PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC port with all of the patches and content updates up to the release of the game already included on the disc, in addition to some platform-exclusive characters. Will a new series of console owners have as much of a blast with Super Bomberman R as their Switch companions?

Super Bomberman R has a short and not really that sweet story mode to it that is fully voiced with static comic-style cutscenes. The voice work straddles the line between being cute and being totally obnoxious, depending on the character. Regardless, the campaign can be played with two players, though you'll need strong teamwork and communication skills, as you can accidentally catch one another in your bomb explosions. The story itself spans seven worlds including a brand-new one that was added later to the Switch version, Planet Bomber, and has its own side story after the events of the original campaign.

Never bomb alone in the seven worlds of the campaign mode. Play it all locally with a friend.
There are ten levels per each world, save for the sixth that served as the final boss before the addition of Planet Bomber DLC. The first eight levels present you with an objective such as defeating all enemies, stepping on a specific number of switches to unlock the goal, and leading a handful of NPCs safely to the end of the level. The ninth and tenth levels pit you against one of the Dastardly Bombers in what starts off as a one-on-one battle and then turns into a full scale fight against the Dastardly Bombers' transformed versions.

These Dastardly Bombers are more smartly programmed than they are smartly dressed.
The solo battles against the Dastardly Bombers are a bit tougher than I would have liked. They're programmed to escape pretty much any situation save for times where I got completely lucky or just walked through them, dropping a bomb on both sides of a given Bomber, trapping them. The big boss battles fare better, and these are quite enjoyable, though you will find yourself dying a bunch trying to learn their attacks and discover their weak points.

A defeated Dastardly Bomber will make one last ditch effort
to destroy you by transforming right before your eyes.
At the end of each world, your point total is calculated based on how many lives you have left based on the difficulty you chose, and how many item pickups you gathered. You are then awarded up to three stars for completion and proficiency. The more stars you earn, the more money you get which can be used to purchase a whole host of content in the Shop menu. These goodies range from new characters, new "hats", and new stages. Many of these are modeled after Konami characters from series as popular as Metal Gear, Castlevania, and Contra to lesser known series like Rumble Roses and Goemon (though I'm quite sad to admit that Goemon is under the "lesser known series" moniker here).

Aside from the story mode that will take players anywhere between 3-5 hours to complete given the difficulty chosen and their levels of skill and success, the main event to any Bomberman game is most definitely the multiplayer. "I'll take 'The Most Obvious Things Phil Has Ever Said In A Game Review' for $200, Alex."

Multiplayer doesn't disappoint either. The traditional, standard rules apply with four player battles either against local friends and AI or online friends and randoms. Battles can be customized to your liking, dialing up the difficulty of computer-controlled opponents, selecting how many wins a given player needs to be the overall victor, whether sudden death occurs--where when there's one minute remaining, spikes fall from the ceiling and make the battlefield smaller and smaller until one player is left, whether revenge carts and/or skulls are on, and so forth.

There's no time to be fickle with blowing everything and everyone up, so bombs away!
Rather than sticking to story mode to gain money to buy stuff from the Shop, you can also play multiplayer matches to earn money. However, this is where Super Bomberman R falters a bit. It's a serious grind to save up money to buy characters and more interestingly for multiplayer battles, new arenas. When each arena costs about 4,000 to purchase and unlock and you only get 150 or so for each multiplayer match, you're going to be playing a ton of matches just to afford more arena types for a fresher multiplayer experience. Characters are cheaper, thankfully, but they're still costly at around 1,000 apiece. Just imagine if this were like the Switch version at launch and multiplayer battles gave you nothing money-wise. A shiver just went down my spine!

Online multiplayer in Super Bomberman R is a rather sad sight. Not because it doesn't work well--it does--but you'd have to take my word for it, as the online for the game is quite dead. You thought the Switch version took a long time to find a match? You ain't seen nothing until you try on the PlayStation 4. It's a true shame because there's little as entertaining in a game as blowing randoms up (oh, heck--I usually blew myself up) in explosive deathmatches.

Super Bomberman R's arrival on new systems brings all of the content and patch updates from the Switch version with it. (You can thank us Switch owners for beta testing for you guys!) Each new system gets its own share of an exclusive character. PS4 owners get the Ratchet & Clank Bomber, Xbox One owners get the Master Chief Bomber, and Steam players get the P-Body Bomber. Throw in all of the previously mentioned new modes, features, and Konami-themed characters, and you have a robust roster of bombing goodness in Super Bomberman R.

Exclusive to each platform, these new Bombers are ready and raring to go.
While finding a match online is a serious dud, when Super Bomberman R is played locally, the fuse is lit for an absolute blast of a party. Story mode might be more of chore than I would have liked, sticking to the older games' story mode design, but overall, Super Bomberman R drops the bomb with its arrival on new systems, giving PS4, Xbox One, and Steam players an explosive good time.

[SPC Says: B]

Chiki-Chiki Boxy Racers (NSW) Review

We move from an arcade racer with realistic graphics to an arcade racer with decidedly less than realistic graphics. In the wee hours of the night SuperPhillip Central covers the Switch's Chiki-Chiki Boxy Racers. Here's my review.

A name that's fun to say, a game that's fun to play

Chiki-Chiki Boxy Racers is a top-down racer hearkening back to the days of Super Off-Road and R.C. Pro Am, to name a couple. You race around circuit tracks, using the analog stick to steer in the direction you wish to drive. It's as simple as holding down to drive downward, left to drive to the left, diagonally to drive diagonally, etc. This is all the while competing against up to seven other opponents, avoiding hazards like walls and oil slicks, and going over boost pads to get a quick shot of speed. Apart from skimming over boost pads, you can also collect boost energy from item capsules to gain a burst of speed upon hitting the X button.

Well, it's not called Chiki-Chiki Boxy Racers because everything is made up of spheres!

There are three locales in Chiki-Chiki--City, Jungle, and Beach--and each possesses five events total to tackle. As you get gold in one event, the next opens up within the same locale. This is until you clear all four races and earn the opportunity to participate in a Grand Prix event, where you race all four previous tracks one after the other. As you can probably expect from such an event, the player with the most points at the end of all four races is the champion.

While you're playing through Chiki-Chiki Boxy Racers and getting gold trophies on each track and Grand Prix, you unlock new vehicles. There are over 20 total to have in your arsenal of automobiles. Each has different stats for handling, turbo, max speed, acceleration, and so forth. Vehicles run the gamut from sports cars and sedans to trucks and tractors.

With their opponents right behind them on this part of this beach course,
the race leader is feeling some "pier" pressure.
Aside from the 12 tracks and 3 Grand Prix events in Chiki-Chiki Boxy Racers, you're limited in what else you can do as a solo player. You'll quickly unlock all of the aforementioned vehicles in less than an hour, as the AI doesn't put up much of a close race for the most part. The little else there is comes in the form of mini-games that task you with getting as high of a score or as quick of a time as possible.

Now, these mini-games are pretty creative, offering things like driving over concrete--trying to paint over every single patch of ground possible quickly--or something as simple as attempting to get as many goals in a vehicular soccer game as possible against an empty net. There is also the option to play online against friends and randoms, but considering how dead the online was when it was free, I shudder to think about trying to find anyone to play Chiki-Chiki Boxy Racers with now that the online is gated behind a Nintendo Switch Online subscription.

No inklings, just raw horsepower! Cover as many tiles in your paint color
 as possible before time expires in this mini-game.
Local multiplayer doesn't fare much better either, and it's for the silliest of reasons. The competitive mini-games don't suffer here, and they're actually a lot of fun with another player. It's when you get to the traditional racing that the experience goes awry. Players in local multiplayer share the same screen, and since tracks don't just fit all on one screen, there's obviously some form of split-screen multiplayer, right? Wrong.

Instead, Chiki-Chiki Boxy Racers has it where all players must stay on the same screen together. If someone straggles behind, they're put a short distance behind the player in first place. Maybe this is obvious, but that can result in some really lame and unearned comeback victories. It got to the point where my local multiplayer pal just stopped racing seriously until the final stretch, and then he'd get transported close to me after being too far back and pass me for the victory. Neither of us enjoyed ourselves with this, and it's baffling to both of us why the multiplayer was designed this way.

Chiki-Chiki Boxy Racers is a fun game--don't get me wrong. However, it's substantially small amount of content and little replay value make for a game that's difficult to recommend. The halfhearted way multiplayer was implemented cuts the legs out from under this otherwise enjoyable arcade racer. While Chiki-Chiki Boxy Racers could have crossed the finish line in first place, it instead gets caught with a flat tire on the homestretch.

[SPC Says: C-]