Thursday, August 1, 2019

Bad Boss Battles in Gaming History - Part Nine


  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order (NSW)
  • Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (PS1, PS4, XB1, NSW, PC)
  • Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled (PS4, XB1, NSW)
  • Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)
  • Killzone 2 (PS3)

Exactly one week ago, SuperPhillip Central took a look at some of the best boss battles in games. Now, the site takes a decidedly different approach with some truly terrible boss battles. After all, you've got to take the good with the bad, the yin with the yang, and any other cliche that you can come up with. These bosses can be frustrating, unfair, poorly designed, no challenge, or are otherwise--and most important of all--just not any fun for varying reasons.

Check out past installments of Bad Boss Battles in Gaming History with the following links, and then check after the jump for this edition's picks.

Review Round-Up - July 2019

SuperPhillip Central's Game of the Month for July 2019, Super Mario Maker 2,
opened up infinite possibilities but was held back by lackluster online multiplayer. 
SuperPhillip Central keeps on keepin' on as the site pushes through the sweltering summer months and heats things up itself. The month of July 2019 brought with it five unique reviews to the site.

Starting us off was Furwind, a charming little indie pixel art platformer that delighted enough to earn its C+ grade. Following that was our game of the month, Super Mario Maker 2, creating levels and a case for its A- grade. Another Nintendo Switch exclusive followed, but of a decidedly much different type with Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order. It received a B-. Finally, we rounded out with the month with two arcade racers, one that brought back Retro Reviews with Asphalt Injection (C) and one brand-new game, Rise: Race the Future (B-).

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

Furwind (NSW, PS4, PSV, PC) - C+
Super Mario Maker 2 (NSW) - A-
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order (NSW) - B-
Asphalt Injection (Vita) - C
Rise: Race the Future (NSW) - B-

The Avengers and many, many more assembled for Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order,
a fun game with one chaotic local co-op camera.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Rise: Race the Future (NSW) Review

On the eve of a new month, SuperPhillip Central delivers unto you one final review for July. It's VD-Dev's Rise: Race the Future, and SPC has a full review of this futuristic arcade racer right here, right now.

Rising to the arcade racing occasion

In its relatively short life, the Nintendo Switch has become home to a lot of racing games of a lot of different types. Some sport realism while others aim for an arcade feel. VD-Dev's Rise: Race the Future is of the latter group, and what it lacks in some features one would expect from a 2019 title in the genre, it more than makes up for with as a visually stunning racer that is both fun to play and rewarding enough to attempt to master.

Rise: Race the Future sees you speeding along circuits on both land and see. On land, your tires grip the surface of the track, allowing you to attempt to navigate each track's twists and turns, while when you're on water, your tires fold up Back to the Future DeLorean-style and it results in a much looser ride. Unfortunately, the "Race the Future" part of the Rise's full title fails to be utilized in any real way other than this.

Speaking of which, thank goodness I'm not driving Back to the Future's DeLorean--
I'd be back in the past by now by virtue of going 99 MPH!
Speaking of a looser ride, one of the major points of contention I had with Rise: Race the Future is its handling. It doesn't pull many punches, and will severely punish you for racing with reckless abandon. It takes some getting used to in order to become properly acquainted and comfortable with how slippery the handling can be. At first, I was slipping and sliding around each circuit, finding myself literally spinning out of control. However, after about a half-hour, give or take, of practice (and some better vehicles that I unlocked), I was effortlessly drifting around curves, speeding through straightaways, and taking turns like a champ.

Roads? Where we're racing we don't need roads. I'm not counting all of the times
we actually will be racing on roads, though.
That said, it's far too easy for racers to get turned around by the impact of other cars. While a gentle graze won't spin you around, if you're pushed enough on either the front or rear half of your car, you're going to get turned around. What's worse is when you finally get yourself back in position and facing forward and another car comes, spinning you back around in the process. Some... unflattering words were let loose from my mouth when these incidents happened, as they usually end any chance of coming in first in a race, but Rise: Race the Future was entertaining enough that I persevered and continued.

After the initial learning curve, you'll be taking actual curves like a pro.
Rise: Race the Future sports three modes to it. The most inspired and enjoyable of the trio is the Challenges mode, which puts you up against a series of events that task you with completing goals in each to earn points and credits. These tally up to allow you access to new vehicles and future seasons, each containing new events. Some challenges are as simple as coming in first or second, while others require a heftier amount of skill, such as never being overtaken, racing without boosting, beating a specific race or lap time, drifting a certain distance, and even a challenge lifted straight from the movie Speed where you have to keep your car over a specific speed limit. Of course, that's without the whole "car exploding upon failure" part. These challenges and events add unique stipulations to what could be perceived as otherwise repetitive races.

In order to "stay in first position", one has to GET in first position, so hurry up, slowpoke!
I mention the word "repetitive", as while Rise: Race the Future has 32 different circuits to race on, these are merely taken from bits and pieces of four themed locales: a tropical jungle, a rugged canyon, a snowy mountainside, and a waterfall paradise. It's the same looking four environments, just with different paths of the wider locale cordoned and blocked off with barriers, so it does get a little tiresome seeing the same sites and landmarks repeatedly. That said, Rise: Race the Future does offer varying weather and time of day conditions to attempt to mix things up, like sunset, rain, and fog, for instance.

Aside from the Challenges mode, there is a Grand Prix-style Championship mode, full of various circuits to compete for the top total amount of points by a given championship's end. Perhaps knowing how easy it is to get turned around in races, the developer made it so you can retry a given race if you do poorly on it rather than have to restart the championship from its very beginning. As these championships can last nine circuits total, this is a VERY welcome feature.

I'm seeing red. No, not because I'm currently in 5th place--but because
all of our cars are currently matching the crimson color.
This brings up the final mode, which showcases an issue with Rise: Race the Future. It's the Time Attack mode, and throughout this review so far I've brought up what features and modes Rise has, but I haven't talked about what the game lacks. One of these omissions really puts the damper on the time trial fun, and that's the total lack of online leaderboards. There's no way to compare times with the world or with your friends other than posting your times on social media and such, which is by no means optimal.

Furthermore, and perhaps this was to keep the game running at its steady 30 frames per second, Rise: Race the Future has zero multiplayer whatsoever. A racing game like this begs for some heated human competition, so the fact that this is not a feature--frame-rate be damned--is a bit disappointing. Still, with the amount of single-player content available--from the amount of circuits to the number of events available--it's not too painful of a loss.

VD-Dev's Rise: Race the Future brings a satisfying and rewarding arcade racer to the Nintendo Switch at an affordable price point (just over $16 USD). The absences of online leaderboards and especially multiplayer hurt the overall package, and the steering and handling takes some practice to get one's head around. However, with a copious amount of solo content and a gratifying racing experience for those who get over the initial hump of learning the ins and outs of its controls, Rise: Race the Future should not be missed by those yearning for a circuit-style arcade racing experience on the Switch.

[SPC Says: B-]

A review code was provided for this game.

Concrete Genie (PS4) Release Date Reveal Trailer

The absolutely jaw-dropping PlayStation 4 exclusive Concrete Genie has a finalized release date of October 8th this year. View the stunning visuals and captivating concept of the game with this short but sweet release date trailer for the game.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Asphalt Injection (Vita) Retro Review

It's been a long time, but Retro Reviews are back on SuperPhillip Central! The only difference is that a game only need be five years or older to qualify as retro instead of being a gen or two old. Regardless, Asphalt 9 is coming to the Nintendo Switch sometime soon, so I took that news and decided to check out one of the Asphalt series's many portable offerings in the meantime. Hence, here is SuperPhillip Central's retro review of Asphalt Injection for the PlayStation Vita.

Doesn't kick quite as much asphalt as it could.

The Asphalt series is no stranger to mobile devices--now with the series up to its ninth numbered installment. With the launch of the PlayStation Vita, Ubisoft and Gameloft joined forces to put the series on the platform with Asphalt Injection. Considering one can play the Asphalt games on mobile for free, there wasn't much of an incentive for launch Vita owners to invest in Injection for a full $30 entry in the series. That said, now the game is available for a much cheaper price--especially on the used circuit--Asphalt Injection is a competent and worthwhile enough arcade-style racer to check out if you've got the need for speed and already exhausted the roster of other racers on the portable PlayStation Vita platform.

Asphalt Injection comes stocked with fifteen different races that each have five unlockable versions to them. From the humble beginnings of speeding through the canals and into the Hollywood foothills of Los Angeles to the highly technical city and winding countryside circuit of Hong Kong, Asphalt Injection will take you on a racing journey around the world in its unique locations. Each track sports multiple shortcuts and alternate paths, some more obvious than others, to help shave seconds off your lap times as well as get the jump on opponents.

Who needs to go on a Ferris wheel when you're in a much more exciting ride?
The main draw to Asphalt Injection, especially as online is pretty much impossible to find anyone to play with, is the single player campaign mode. This puts you in twenty increasingly more challenging series of five events each. Some are simple races and time trials, while others are elimination-style races, one-on-one duels, drift challenges, police pursuit missions, and events where you try to cause as much destruction as possible--whether by ramming into other opponents, making them wipe out, or smashing into roadside obstacles.

Drifting isn't just great to negotiate a track's twists and turns; it's also great to earn extra cold, hard cash!
The campaign is already jam-packed with races and events for any purchaser of Asphalt Injection to get enough longevity out of, but the optional goal of earning up to five stars per event makes it that there's even more racing goodness that can be squeezed out of the game. Stars are earned for completing events beyond the minimum requirements, and beating side tasks, which range from not crashing too much, drifting a certain distance, or performing enough knockdowns--which are imposed crashes you cause on other opponents' cars.

Speaking of cars, there's a pretty solid selection of different cars to choose from. All, however, handle the exact same. The only difference is each car's top speed. The more expensive cars that unlock and become available for purchase obviously have the higher top speeds, which are pretty much mandatory to win later races. The fact that cars all handle similarly to one another can be interpreted as a good thing and a bad thing. Bad that a basic sedan handles the same as a full-fledged racing rig--which isn't the most realistic thing in the world--but good that there isn't a learning curve when switching from car to car. The latter is something you'll do a lot during the game as you earn enough money to purchase new cars and trick them out with upgrades to boosts, steering, acceleration, and more.

What a sweet ride. Could do without the Nickelodeon orange, though.
The racing itself of Asphalt Injection obviously leans more towards a casual arcade feel than anything realistic, and that is something one would expect from a series which has roots in mobile gaming and is trying to appeal to the pick-up-and-play masses. While there is the option for tilt controls and using the Vita's rear touch controls as a paddle shift of sorts, I was more comfortable using traditional analog controls, especially when the more technical and trickier of tracks entered the picture.

Asphalt Injection's handling feels nice for the most part, but when it comes to drifting, it can be hard to exit from said drifts. This turns into some slipping and sliding across the circuits, which can also lead to unintentional crashes. As for crashes, the way the game can pretty much flip a coin on whether your car crashes completely against a wall or simply bumps off it, can be a bit frustrating. Frustrating, too, is that Asphalt Injection employs a crash cam when you "knock down" another opponent. It takes away you control of your vehicle entirely, and I've had it where after the crash cam gives me back control of my car, I wind up conveniently colliding my front end into oncoming traffic.

Some events pit you against one other racer for one driven duel.
Visually, when compared to other launch titles on the PlayStation Vita, Asphalt Injection doesn't really make the best impression. It's not an ugly game, by any stretch of the imagination, but it doesn't evoke any excitement whatsoever. On the audio side, you're greeted by a female voice over who does a nice job of introducing each track during their openings, but she gets rather grating as you do the actual races. I didn't particularly care to be chastised for not being able to see an oncoming driver around a blind turn and told that I "deserved" to crash. Meanwhile, the music selection is a mix of serviceable techno and electronic music, fitting for the genre but not too amazing.

Not exactly a visually stunning PlayStation Vita game, is it?
If you're going to play Asphalt Injection in 2019, just know you're going to be playing it for the single player experience. Well, that is, unless you can find someone willing to play online with you, and with even more luck, if you can find someone to play locally via ad hoc play. For a solo game and for a cheap price, Asphalt Injection has a good deal of fun to it, but it's more a game for those who have already exhausted the more prominent and positively received arcade racers in the Vita's library. As is, Asphalt Injection has some solid track design, a great deal of solo content, and strong enough gameplay to be worthwhile enough to check out.

[SPC Says: C]

New Super Lucky's Tale (NSW) Trailer #2 - "Meet Lucky!"

Spyro isn't the only 3D platforming mascot hitting the Switch this fall. Lucky of Super Lucky's Tale and now New Super Lucky's Tale for the Nintendo Switch will be presenting an argument as to why you should check out his bright and bouncy game when it arrives November 8th. Check out this brand-new trailer for the currently Switch-exclusive update of Super Lucky's Tale.