Friday, November 29, 2019

River City Girls (PS4, XB1, NSW, PC) Review

I hope those who celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday enjoyed their bounty. Now, allow SuperPhillip Central to provide you a weekend bounty of content starting with this review, its first after SPC's big, historic 900th review. We turn to a game from Arc System Works and Wayforward that released earlier this fall, River City Girls. Let's get our fists and feet ready to fly with the SPC review!

High school girls in a low stakes beat-em-up adventure

High school misfits Kyoko and Misako are ditching class, but this time for good reason--they're on the hunt for their supposedly missing boyfriends in River City Girls by Arc System Works and Wayforward. With beautiful 2D sprite-work, engaging beat-em-up combat, and a somewhat funny script, River City Girls makes for a goofy spin-off to the River City Ransom series, much like Double Dragon Neon was to the Double Dragon series.

River City Girls tells its tale through various means, whether it's manga-inspired, hand-drawn cut-scenes, anime-inspired cutscenes, or simply through character portraits. Every piece of major dialogue is spoken, though some voice acting is better than others, and that "some is better than others" goes for the game's humor as well. More times than I'd like to admit, I found myself letting out a loud sigh or rolling my eyes at certain jokes, and part of that is just how obnoxious pretty much every character in the game is (especially the voices of the main heroines at times).

Misako is the snarky one while Kyoko is a tad ditsy.
Following the River City Ransom series' structure, Kyoko and Misako find themselves moving around a nonlinear set of scrolling screens, taking out enemies of all types and sizes, completing quests for characters, and unlocking new sections of the city to explore. 

Around town, a multitude of shops feature food and items that not only heal our heroines when consumed, but when they're used for the first time, they give a permanent stat increase. Both characters can also equip various accessories that can help out in a pinch, such as equipment that takes out specific types of enemies more efficiently, equipment that increases the likelihood of enemies dropping more money upon their defeat, among many others. Other shops include dojos that teach Kyoko and Misako new moves to use in battle, some of which require regenerating SP to use, and many of which require certain character level milestones to use at all.

Looks like Kyoko is going to have to save up her allowance if she wants to buy more than one game,
and by "save up her allowance", I mean beat the crap out of more enemies and take their money.
Combat is enjoyable in River City Girls, offering a myriad of means to dispatch foes, whether with bare fists and kicks in both light or strong forms, special moves learned in the dojo and from characters leveling up, or by picking up various weapons littered about the game--from yo-yos to baseball bats, benches to trash cans, and guitars to baseballs. Enemies don't simply stand there and take a beating--they of course dish back damage as well. When a foe is getting set to attack, it's a wise idea to get out of harm's way, or better yet, block. 

Well, those enemies that just got launched into the air certainly aren't grounded yet!
With proper timing right when an enemy makes contact with the player, a block can stun that enemy, opening them up to a tried and true offensive assault. Enemies can also be grabbed, thrown into other enemies (weapons can also be tossed at enemies), and kicked and stomped while they're lying on the ground helpless. In certain scenarios, enemies can be recruited with the press of a button once they plead for their lives.

This enemy might be begging for mercy, but Misako is going to act like
a high school football coach to a poorly performing player and bench him instead.
Despite battles being fun, River City Girls falls into the trap that many games of its genre do--it can become quite repetitive. This in part due to the countless times that the game requires you to backtrack through areas to complete quests, but another part is that as the game rolls on, enemies take quite a beating before they're finally defeated. This adds to some tediousness with the combat. '

However, boss battles do break up the small amount of monotony that players can possibly, occasionally face with River City Girls, and these battles feature bosses with set patterns, life bars that make them change up their patterns as they lose portions of their health, and unfortunately, some unwanted jumps in difficulty. That said, these bosses are generally enjoyable, such as one that is a master of the dark arts, who is satisfying to beat down while avoiding his magic There's also another that performs a Guitar Hero-like attack on the stage, which features five different tracks that scroll harmful notes down them that our heroines much jump to evade. 

Bosses offer a reprieve to the occasionally repetitive flow of River City Girls.
River City Girls isn't too long of a game, maybe clocking in at around five hours. That said, after the initial run through the game is complete, there's various options to choose from there, such as a New Game+ option where your items, character moves and levels, and such carry over to this second run of the game. Additionally, there are two unlockable characters to play as, a Hard mode to go through, and a mode that any beat-em-up worth its cost desperately needs, co-op for two local players, where friendly fire can be turned on or off. Further, there are side quests to complete in the game, 25 hidden statues sprinkled throughout River City to destroy and 25 cats to collect, and 100% completion to reach, so there is plenty of extra content that Arc System Works and Wayforward collectively mustered up into this $30 package.

And I would say that between the gorgeous sprites and detailed backgrounds, the mostly amusing combat, the fun enough script, and plentiful bonus content that River City Girls is indeed worth its $30 price tag. While I won't find myself continuing to return to this type of beat-em-up as much as say, a more linear, focused type like Double Dragon or even a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game, I did like my time with River City Girls regardless. The humor's hit and miss, the game can grow a bit repetitive, but as a whole, the River City Girls kick butt.

[SPC Says: C+]

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 (PS4, XB1, NSW, PC) Release Date Trailer

Just in case you'd like me to cut to the chase and give you the release date without you having to watch the trailer, One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 will launch on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC on March 27, 2020. Now that you know that important piece of information, take a look at this action-packed trailer for the game to help hype you up even more than you might be already!

Luigi’s Mansion 3 (NSW) "Hotel Getaway" and "Gear Up!" Trailers

Now, on to a game that SuperPhillip Central HAS already covered and reviewed, the splendid and Game of the Year-caliber Luigi's Mansion 3. Nintendo has posted a pair of quick 30-second trailers for the game, so check each of them out in one nice and neat location below.


New Super Lucky’s Tale (NSW) Accolades Trailer

While SuperPhillip Central won't be covering New Super Lucky's Tale until the end of the year, I can provide a trailer showing off some of the positive feedback from critics towards the game. Between the releases of Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair, A Hat in Time, and now New Super Lucky's Tale, the Nintendo Switch has accumulated quite the collection of platformers recently!

900th Review! Resident Evil 2 (PS4, XB1, PC) Review

We've finally reached another new milestone, gang! SuperPhillip Central arrives at its 900th unique review in its 11 year history! This 900th review is a big one, too--call it a biohazard in the form of a review! It's Resident Evil 2 from earlier this year, and it's a game that is too good and too terrifying to miss! Find out why with this super special SuperPhillip Central review!

Unraveling a conspiracy in Raccoon City? It takes two, baby.

It's time to take a return trip to Raccoon City, an initially bustling mountainside metropolis now teeming with the undead and biohazards alike. Resident Evil 2 receives an amazing overhaul--ditching the fixed camera angles of the original, but still classic game--and bringing in a over-the-shoulder camera in its stead. That's not all that Capcom gives players with this remarkable remake, either. Apart from the glorious eye candy that are the visuals, Resident Evil 2's 2019 revised version brings with it some splendidly satisfying gameplay changes and story beat alterations as well, making for a fantastic revisit to Raccoon City and a truly terrifying title. Do you think you know what to expect with Resident Evil 2? Think again.

Resident Evil 2 (2019) tells two revamped tales that intertwine. One of these tales stars Leon Kennedy, a rookie cop reporting for duty on the worst possible day to do so, and the other playable character being Claire Redfield, a college student in search of her brother, Chris. Playing through the stories of the two presents mostly unique cutscenes and scenarios, but the two do find themselves scouring and scavenging the same areas of the game: the police station, the sewers, and a final area. The only difference is that parts of the former are locked off depending on which character you choose to play as. You'll eventually want to explore the other character's campaign to get a full, fleshed out version of the game's events and story, and beating one character's campaign unlocks a second campaign that tells the full story and gives the real ending.

That said, having Leon and Claire live to tell their stories is a challenge all to itself. Each of the three separate sections of Resident Evil 2 are crawling with zombies, dangerous enemies, and other horrific nightmares that can't wait to cut a run short. Yes, there are plenty of locations to save your data in the form of typewriters in safe rooms--those lovely rooms that always grant Resident Evil players with a sigh of relief--but elsewhere, Raccoon City isn't the nicest place to explore.

Is it too late to mention that this review's screenshots aren't entirely all-ages appropriate?
For instance, the first major area of the game, the Raccoon City Police Station, is infested with zombies. They're also zombies of a hardy stock, requiring plenty of bullets to take down. In later difficulties, it's just better to shoot one in the head to stun them, and then quickly run past them to avoid confrontation and avoid wasting precious ammo. More so than ever in a modern Resident Evil game, being smart with your ammo and equipment management is key for survival. Ammo and health items do not fall from trees and appear in an overly generous fashion. It's quite possible to make the ability to progress highly unlikely due to having no ammo available to you. 

There's also managing your inventory to worry about, as you'll need to pick up various objects to open doors, solve environmental puzzles, and otherwise make progress. Everything takes up precious space and slots in your inventory, such as guns, combat knives used to stagger enemies as well as serve as a "getaway" item if a zombie grabs onto you, healing items like first-aid sprays and medicinal herbs, as well as all of the ammunition and rounds you find. Hip pouches lessen the worry about inventory management, as they add slots to your arsenal, but you simply can't go around picking everything up you find littered throughout the game either.

Okay! Okay! Next time I'll book an appointment!
Resident Evil 2 first has players exploring the police station, venturing from room to room, acquiring keys in the form of "key items" and literal keys, solving puzzles, and eliminating or otherwise avoiding enemies to make progress. An insanely helpful map reveals room locations and names, whether you've visited them or not, and whether you've ransacked every item within said rooms. Of course, you have to find the maps to get a full view of the current area you're in, but with proper investigation of your surroundings, this is seldom a challenge. What IS a challenge is learning the environment, learning how to get from point A to point B in the most efficient and safe way possible, and overcoming each challenge, whether a puzzle or a horde of zombies in your path, to the best of your ability. Part of what makes Resident Evil 2 so horrifying and tense is that you're always one slip-up or mistake from dying, so you're always needing to be on full alert. 

This goes even for diehard fans of the original game from 1998, as Capcom has made some new gameplay alterations to keep even those players who know the original Resident Evil 2 like the back of their hand on their zombie-weary toes. For one, zombies like to play dead a lot. They can appear incapacitated on the ground, but they can quickly rise up or latch onto your character's leg. They can bust open doors (except in safe rooms, of course), surround you, and gang up on you quite easily. It was truly terrifying to open up a door, enter into the other side, and find poor Claire grabbed onto by a bloodthirsty zombie, tearing its grisly teeth into her flesh seemingly of nowhere. You can bet I jumped when that happened!

Another new change occurs midway through the investigation of the police station. This so happens to be a favorite of mine, and that's Mr. X, a giant, golem-like, silent but deadly type that marches through the police station. He is indestructible, and loves a chase. When his heavy footsteps resonate and vibrate nearby, you can tell he's close and you should be quite careful. Mr. X hits hard, and it's obviously for the best to completely avoid him and run away. This can make exploring the police station a bit difficult when in the claustrophobic rooms and hallways of the compound, Mr. X blocks your path, requiring you to find another way around him to reach your destination, but the ever-present dread that I felt when Mr. X arrived in the game was such an almost perverse pleasure and certainly satisfying challenge.

Claire, meet Mr. X. Mr X, meet Claire.
Resident Evil 2 has multiple difficulty settings to play on, and these greatly alter the experience. The easiest difficulty, Assisted, gives you less damage taken from enemies, auto-regenerating health at times, and the option to turn on auto-aim to make aiming at enemies much easier. Meanwhile, the hardest difficulty, Hardcore, can have zombies and bosses kill you in less than two hits, more aggressive zombies, needing to use scarcely found typewriter ribbons in order to save your progress, and a much faster Mr. X to worry about in some portions of the game. 

Utter abominations await players down in the sewer depths.
Along with the multiple difficulties, the different campaigns: Leon's initial run, Claire's initial run, Leon's second run and Claire's second run (the latter two both being the "true" ending of the game), offer noticeably contrasting experiences as well, as I've touched on a little earlier in this review. The second run of Leon and Claire's individual campaigns start off in new locations, sport new and/or altered cutscenes, and have a much different key item and enemy locations. Completing these in a fast enough time unlocks some great bonus goodies, too, such as infinite ammo weapons to help out with later difficulty runs and purely aesthetic alternate costumes for Leon, Claire, and the occasional other playable characters.

TAG! You're it! 
Resident Evil 2 nails its horror atmosphere with some of the most haunting, chilling, and just foreboding environments I've encountered in a game. The particularly dark hallways and rooms where the only light source was my character's flashlight were a highlight, as I never knew what I was going to encounter, and sometimes when I did find what I'd encounter, I "noped" the hell out of there! 

There's plenty of creatures that go bump in the night in the hellish town of Raccoon City.
The zombies are especially graphic to each and every gory and macabre detail. The way they drag their feet and lurch towards you shows stellar animation, and the way their vertebrae, muscles, and flesh drip with blood as your blast holes in their bodies or shoot open their heads, revealing an unsettling but still appreciable splash of blood, gives off some insane graphical work by Capcom.

Resident Evil VII had brought the Resident Evil franchise back to its former glory days, and now with Resident Evil 2, the series has ushered in a brand-new golden age. Resident Evil 2 is a sensational remake in every sense of the word. Capcom didn't rest on its laurels by just upgrading its graphics and gameplay--it totally reworked the game to modern game standards, and the end product is without question one of the best games released this year. Resident Evil 2 isn't just good--it's scary good.

[SPC Says: A]