Friday, January 17, 2020

Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot (PS4, XB1, PC) "Vegeta" Trailer

With Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot releasing today on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, Bandai Namco Entertainment has provided what is essentially a launch trailer for the game. You can bet that after all of the trailers shared on SPC that the site will have a full review of DBZ: Kakarot shortly enough. In the meantime, check out this new trailer!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince (PS4, XB1, NSW, PC) Review

There's magic in the air and a potential for puzzle-solving, so that must mean only one thing--it's time to review a new Trine game! Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince launched on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Steam late last year, and now SuperPhillip Central conjures up this review for the game.

A game that plays more like a dream than a nightmare

The Trine games are a series of puzzle-platformers with some light combat involved. That said, the main focus is on solving environmental puzzles--getting from point A to point B while attempting to stay alive in the process. The first two Trine games were 2.5D titles and were fairly well received. Trine 3 came along and introduced 3D, and while the effort was of a high quality, the overall game was not, featuring plenty of bugs and glitches as well as an abrupt and disappointing cliffhanger ending. Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince returns to the series' 2.5D roots while not completely forgoing features found in its 3D predecessor. What the game ends up being is one of the best entries in the Trine series yet.

Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince tells the tale of an eponymous prince who against the wishes of the Astral Academy, dabbles into some dark magic via a spellbook. This book preys upon the Prince's nightmares and turns them into reality, causing massive damage to his home castle, and resulting in the Prince running away from home. The heroes of the Trine--Amadeus, Pontius, and Zoya--reunite for the sole purpose of tracking down the Prince along his trail of nightmares and returning him to the Astral Academy. Most of the story is told through spoken dialog during gameplay, but the 3D engine from Trine 3 is also used to implement some engaging and entertaining cutscenes to share bits of the story as well. The voice acting is rather pleasant, using English accents for each character, and it's all quite natural sounding.

If you've played a Trine game previously, then you'll feel right at home with Trine 4. If not, then this game is still a perfect jumping in point, not just for gameplay reasons but the aforementioned story is self-contained anyhow. You start playing as each of the three Trine heroes individually in their own levels, and these serve as tutorials.

Amadeus the Wizard can use his powers of levitation to make platforms in a pinch.
Beginning with Amadeus the Wizard, you learn how to move objects around such as boxes and wooden planks and also how to conjure your own boxes to use as platforms and to hold down buttons. With Pontius the Knight, you learn how to roll on spherical objects, stomp downward, reflect projectiles with Pontinus' shield, and engage in basic combat against a puzzle-themed boss. Finally, with Zoya the Thief, you learn how to swing from hooks, tie a rope to two grappling points to build a makeshift bridge, and fire arrows at various targets. These three tutorial levels show off a host of methods to complete the puzzles and challenges that await when the heroes rejoin forces in the fourth level of the game.

Whereas Zoya the Thief can connect two grappling points with ropes to serve as a bridge of sorts.
Trine 4 plays out across over 15 unique levels that progressively get more devious and challenging with what the game asks of you to solve in the puzzle department. Boxes must be moved to hold down switches and reach higher platforms, spikes and other types of hazardous chasms must somehow be crossed, and doors must be opened via various means and methods.

Meanwhile, Pontius the Knight can use his shield to deflect flaming fireballs such as these.
As the three heroes of the Trine progress in their adventure, new skills and abilities are learned. Oddly, these don't come naturally. Instead, they just appear seemingly out of nowhere as the game requires it with no story or lore reason for new abilities popping up. It's weird to suddenly get the ability to conjure two boxes at a time in the middle of the adventure with no rhyme or reason when that ability would have helped previously in the journey. Still, it's understandable why these abilities unlock slowly and not all at once--I just would have liked to have a valid story reason for them to be locked instead of just being available seemingly at random otherwise.

Apart from being able to conjure more boxes, Amadeus learns the ability to conjure steel balls, allowing him to cross spike-filled chasms unharmed by rolling on these summoned spheres. Meanwhile, Zoya gains various elemental arrows, perfect for freezing and unfreezing things like moving platforms and other machinery in place. Then, there's Pontius, who can learn an ability that allows him to summon a glowing shield to be held in place, great for being a second point to reflect light or water off of to solve puzzles.

Zoya's favorite genre of music? Rock and roll, of course!
Aside from the tutorial levels, each level possesses three unique collectibles in the form of letters, treasures, and knickknacks. These all require some involved investigation and exploration in levels to find them, and the latter two are generally locked behind room-contained puzzles that must be solved with some smart thinking to overcome them. Finding these rooms is a challenge all to itself, and really, that's a theme of Trine 4--and just the whole Trine series in general. The designers are great at hiding things, and while sometimes it's because it's difficult to see things in the occasionally garish environments, most of the time it's due to the fact that they're well placed.

Trine is a series that tests players' mental mettle, and Trine 4 is no different here.
When you're not solving puzzles and performing platforming, there are set spots in levels where you do quick combat with a room full of nightmare enemies. This is a part of the Trine series that is generally weak, and it's no different with Trine 4. Combat is clunky, ungraceful, and inelegant as ever, and it's disappointing that nothing has really changed here. Attacks have no weight to them, hit detection isn't perfect, and combat just feels shoehorned in like usual.

On the more positive side, Trine 4 implements many of the quality of life features found in its predecessor, Trine 3, such as for instance having players conjure up boxes and planks as Amadeus via the press of a button rather than the slower process of drawing out shapes like in Trine 1 and 2. Additionally, no longer do players of the completionist variety have to scour entire levels to see where missed experience bottles are located. Instead, experience bottles are listed by checkpoint, so if you missed any, you'll get a general idea of where they are. Of course, they're still hidden in some tricky spots even with this knowledge! These experience bottles or vials can then be spent on upgrading the Trine heroes' abilities. Zoya's arrows can cause more damage, Pontius' stomp can freeze enemies, and Amadeus can levitate enemies when enough experience is earned.

Zoya's arrows have a multitude of uses aside from attacking and assaulting foes.
One of the most enjoyable parts of the Trine game is being to play with friends either locally or online, and this multiplayer trend continues with Trine 4. Puzzles change their makeup depending on how many players are active in the game. As one can imagine, it takes some serious communication to solve puzzles together, as everyone needs to do their part. Players can switch between characters on the fly, just like when playing solo, and just like solo play, it's required to get through each level. Many times you'll find yourself having to switch between characters quickly just to solve a given puzzle in a level. While more players makes puzzles more difficult, it also makes traversing levels easier. Though I'm not sure if the way my brother and I levitated boxes and planks, repeatedly grabbing them once they stated falling, and raising them higher to reach inaccessible platforms was the intended way the designers had of completing some of the puzzles in the game. Probably not.

Depending on the amount of players, puzzles need to be solved in slightly altered ways.
Trine 4 is a gorgeous game, much like all past entries in the series, so this also keeps another series tradition going. Some environments are a bit too radiant, making it hard to distinguish between platforms as well as safe and hazardous locations in levels, but overall, the game looks stunning. The environments range from glorious to breathtaking in their detail and beauty. There is some clipping problems to be found, and the occasional glitch did happen, especially backgrounds flickering, but all in all, Trine 4 is a competent technical package.
If you needed any further proof of Trine 4's gorgeousness, here you are.
While Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince does not really revolutionize the series in any measurable way, it does succeed in bringing the series back to a comfortable place--back to 2.5D and back to its normal, high quality. The QOL improvements brought over from Trine 3 make for a more enjoyable, less stressful and tedious experience, and overall makes for a puzzle-platforming adventure that is in many ways the best that the Trine series has ever been.

[SPC Says: B+]

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Toughest Tasks in Gaming History - Volume Five

Gaming can be a very rewarding hobby when you challenge yourself to tackle a truly tricky task and overcome it, becoming victorious. The Toughest Tasks in Gaming History series of articles on SuperPhillip Central was started because I wanted to check out some deviously difficult achievements, trophies, and just plain old challenges in gaming that many deem--including myself--to be some of the hardest to complete within our shared hobby. If you've completed any of these, you can claim to be a more superior gamer than most.

Check out past installments of the Toughest Tasks in Gaming History with these links:

Volume One
Volume Two
Volume Three
Volume Four

Now, let's get to the five newest tasks added to this ever-growing list!

Earning the Unlimited Ammo Rocket Launcher and Minigun - Resident Evil 2 (PS4, XB1, PC)

With Resident Evil 3 releasing on April 3rd, and the immense hype behind that game, why not take the opportunity to look back at the remake that proceeds it with Resident Evil 2? That's exactly what we're going to do to kick off this edition of Toughest Tasks in Gaming History.

Now, to get this immediately out of the way, getting the Unlimited Ammo Rocket Launcher for Leon and Unlimited Ammo Minigun for Claire is simple enough by purchasing an unlock code. However, I'm talking purely about earning them through standard play without a code. In order to do so, you have to get an S+ rank in Hardcore Mode, the most difficult and intense mode in Resident Evil 2, in both Leon and Claire's campaigns. This means clearing the game within a couple of hours with a maximum of three saves, and doing so without using any other unlimited ammo weapon save for the Combat Knife.

In a mode where death is all too easy with deadlier enemies that can withstand more damage, a faster and more powerful Mr. X, and less storage space, trying to just beat the game on Hardcore is difficult enough--much less trying to do so with just being able to save three times at most, where any death can send you stumbling back to a previous save from a while back. The timid need not apply with attempting to unlock these powerful, ultimate unlimited ammo weapons legitimately.

Become "Worthy of Legend" - Devil May Cry 5 (PS4, XB1, PC)

As the old adage goes, "Patience is a virtue", and you'll definitely need all of the patience you can muster when attempting this particular challenge. The "Worthy of Legend" achievement requires players of Capcom's Devil May Cry 5 to achieve an S-Rank on all 21 missions in the game. Not just that, but this has to be done on all difficulties in the game, save for the ultra-hard Heaven or Hell mode.

What makes this achievement so challenging is that: 1) It's an extreme time-sink of a task, and 2) You have to get S-Ranks on all 21 missions of Hell and Hell mode, too, where enemies have tank-like durability, requiring masterful play to take down. This is in stark contrast to your character who dies by one hit. "Worthy of Legend" is more than just a moniker for this particular achievement--it's a testament to one's ability as the ultimate Devil May Cry 5 player. Learn enemy patterns, practice as much as you can, and then face your demons (both figurative and literal game-wise).

Acquire All Rainbow V's - Viewtiful Joe (PS2, GCN) 

Continuing and ending our streak of Capcom titles, we go back in the past for a more retro pick this time around with the fantastic--no, better yet--VIEWTIFUL, Viewtiful Joe for the Nintendo GameCube and PlayStation 2. Like Devil May Cry 5, with the task of acquiring all Rainbow V's, you're essentially trying to S-Rank each and every section of level in all seven chapters of Viewtiful Joe. However, to be rewarded with unlimited VFX powers--the abilities that allow our hero Joe to perform insane combos, enter mach speed, slow motion, and other awesomely viewtiful abilities--you simply have to get all Rainbow V's on one difficulty as opposed to several.

The most difficult part about this is that you only get checkpoints between whole chapters and at midpoints of chapters--meaning that you otherwise are required to have completely perfect runs. You need to keep your combo going, you need to earn enough points, and you can't take damage, as one hit or one less-than-perfect grade in a scoring category will ruin your Rainbow V run. Throw in bosses that must be defeated quickly and efficiently--also without damage--and you have one seriously tough task ahead of you!

Getting the "Golden Try" Tonic - Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair (PS4, XB1, NSW, PC)

There are over 60 tonics in Playtonic Games' Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair, and these unlock new abilities for Yooka and Laylee, as well as in-game bonuses such as screen effects. To earn the Platinum trophy in the PlayStation 4 version of the game, or all of the achievements in the Steam and Xbox One releases of the game, you have to collect all of the tonics in the game. Well, except for one, which is saved for purely the most dedicated of the dedicated of Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair players.

This "Golden Try" tonic is unlocked by playing through the eponymous Impossible Lair. This final level of Yooka-Laylee's sophomore adventure can be played at any time, but the more Bees you collect throughout the game, the more "hits" you get. Simply clearing the 20+ minute lair with every Bee in the game is already a bit of a herculean task, but try doing so without any Bees AT ALL. In order to earn the "Golden Try" tonic, which turns Yooka and Laylee golden, you must clear the Impossible Lair by doing just this. No Bees to help you whatsoever. As I stated, the Impossible Lair is tough enough as it is, but giving it the old college try for the "Golden Try" tonic? Save that for a player more patient than I!

Become "The People's Chimpion" - Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD (PS4, XB1, NSW, PC)

We move on to our final game and challenge spotlighted on this fifth volume of Toughest Tasks in Gaming History. It's from a game that I skewered quite a bit in my review, but the challenge still remains. It's earning "The People's Chimpion" achievement/trophy in Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD.

In order to accomplish this task, a player must successfully clear each and every world within the game without using a continue. While you can play from the very beginning of the game and rack up a comfortable amount of lives, once you start hitting the latter half of the game, stages go from pleasant and fun to a pain and an annoyance. The bosses at the end of each world get a special shout-out for being able to ruin otherwise perfect runs due to their poor cameras and dodgy hit detection. Still, if you can somewhat overcome this seemingly insurmountable challenge, then you aren't just a Monkey Ball Master, but you might just be a bit bananas for being up to doing so!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Resident Evil 3 (PS4, XB1, PC) Nemesis Trailer

It turned out to be quite the macabre morning today! With the earlier post of DOOM Eternal's new trailer, we also have this new trailer featuring Nemesis from Capcom's Resident Evil 3 remake. If you thought Mr. X from Resident Evil 2 was scary, you ain't seen nothing yet! Resident Evil 3 releases on April 3, 2020.

DOOM Eternal (PS4, XB1, PC) Official Trailer 2

A new trailer for DOOM Eternal was revealed this morning, and it shows off some story aspects of the game as well as lots of titillating footage of its single-player campaign, which is sure to please. DOOM Eternal launches on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on March 20, 2020 with a Switch version coming down the pipeline as well in the future.


Monday, January 13, 2020

Concrete Genie (PS4) Review

Let's start this new week of content on SuperPhillip Central on the right foot with a brand-new review. Concrete Genie came out this past October, and SPC finally gets around to reviewing the game. Check out my thoughts on Concrete Genie with this full review.

Your wish for a unique and touching game is Pixelopus' command.

Some games are short, but are more than worth their price of admission by virtue of just being amazing and unique experiences. Pixelopus' Concrete Genie is one of those games. Like the murals and creatures that our hero can masterfully and magically paint onto the walls of the town of Denska, Concrete Genie is a work of art, exuding a high level of polish and quality.

In Concrete Genie you play as a bullied teen named Ash, an artist that favors to draw in his sketchbook and who yearns for the days where his hometown of Denska was a happening, beautiful place instead of the dilapidated, empty, and scummy eyesore that it is currently. Taken over by darkness and negative energy, Denska seems doomed to its fate, as does Ash who constantly gets teased and picked on by a group of misfits. In one encounter they tear up his sketchbook in a scuffle, sending the pages flying to all corners of Denska. While Ash's short term happiness is ruined, when he stumbles across a magical paintbrush, able to create living mural-like creatures, it appears that in the long term that Ash and Denska's futures as a whole look brighter than ever before.

Concrete Genie is a terrific journey and a heartfelt one at that-that gives each character in it more dimensions than the creatures that Ash can summon with his paintbrush. This is particularly important for the batch of bullies that Ash continuously contends with throughout the game, and the adventure all ends for everyone on an especially poignant, feelgood note.

Behold--the power of creativity!
Ash's paintbrush has plenty of uses to it, as it can conjure art by pointing at walls, holding down the R2 button when doing so, and utilizing the PlayStation 4's motion controls to aim while drawing. If you have an issue with using motion controls, then an alternate right analog stick control setup is available instead. Most walls can be littered with colorful and gorgeous graffiti, but you're limited only by being able to use a set series of patterns when painting as opposed to freestyle. Each main area of the game, which there are four, has a set of landscape patterns to use. With a stroke of the magical paintbrush, hanging lights of mushrooms jingle downward, trees rise up from the ground, an aurora illuminates the wall, and glistening stars light up what were once barren walls.

Denska begins as a dull, drab and desolate place in Concrete Genie,
 so seeing its revitalization throughout the game is glorious.
Really, there is fantastic fun to be found in covering every conceivable wall you can in various patterns to create your own enchanted landscape murals which brighten the once dull city streets. Of course, though, there is a goal to be found in Concrete Genie as well, as and the main one is finding walls containing hanging strands of non-functioning lights on them. With a stroke of the brush on these walls, the lights change from off to on. When all of the walls with light strands on them have been painted, that building is officially finished. Paint all of the walls with light strands on them in a particular zone to complete that zone. Finish all zones in an area to complete that area.

I wish I may, I wish I might, to paint these walls to turn on these lights.
It is completely possible to do a limited amount of work in Concrete Genie by just painting each required wall with light strands with any old pattern and moving on. But, as I said, it's enjoyable and worthwhile to channel your inner Michelangelo and paint the town to create lush, vivid, and colorful landscapes all over to make Denska even more breathtaking than it'd otherwise be. (Well, Michelangelo is known best for a work of art on a ceiling and not a wall, but you get my drift.) Concrete Genie is a tool for expression despite it being covered up under the guise of an adventure game.

The creativity you can channel also works when creating creatures from set locations in Denska. Like with painting walls, you're limited to a set amount of features for creature creation, but even so, there is a wide assortment of tails, wings, horns, and such to create some truly brilliant creatures. Depending on the color of the creature you make, they have different powers and abilities. Red creatures conjure flames, yellow creatures can conduct electricity, and blue creatures blast out wind. All of these abilities are used to solve simple environmental puzzles around Denska. Creatures can be called by holding the L1 button which calls on them, but they must have a means to reach Ash. Creatures cannot jump between walls, so they need a route that is full of interconnected walls. Several of the puzzles in Concrete Genie have you moving blocks and boxes to create new pathways for your created creature companions in some crafty and creative ways.

Thanks for your help, buddy! You've earned your paycheck for this week, for sure!
That said, even though there is some worth to making some art out of painting up and illuminating the walls of Denska and putting forth care into creature creation, there is no real reward for doing so other than purely personal satisfaction. You aren't judged or scored by your artwork, which is a nice thing for a more relaxing experience, of course, but for an already short game of only seven hours, it's quite easy to just feel the need to rush through. I'm sure plenty of players will do just that, especially as the Platinum trophy is quite easy to achieve.

A late-game ability allows Ash to skate around on paint. Totally radical, dude!
Regardless, when you're not creating creatures or painting the town with all sorts of dazzling displays, you're engaging in some other types of gameplay, such as Uncharted-like climbing and platforming, as well as stealth-like gameplay in actively avoiding pursuing bullies. Even then, there is no penalty for falling from too high of a spot or entering the muddy murk that is Denska's waters, as you're merely placed back to where you fell off or in. Being caught by the bullies just results in getting Ash tossed in a dumpster to simply continue his quest of artistry.

It's a brave new Denska, but there's more to do!
Aside from that, there is plenty of exploration to be found in Concrete Genie. Missing pages from Ash's sketchbook need to be chased down and caught, special paintings need life brought back into them, and special genie memories to solve. The latter two require a specific combination of landscape graffiti to complete them, and it just works out that because of this, they're completely optional to do within the game.

While there's a canvas--if you will--full of painting gameplay to enjoy, the late game of Concrete Genie introduces combat where Ash must take on Dark Genies. While the stakes are high story-wise (which I won't spoil why in this review), they aren't so much when it concerns gameplay. Instead, they're rather tedious, as they require you to chase down each enemy, unleash a flurry of paint attacks, and then slowly creep up to the Dark Genie to calm them down and restore them to their former spunky and sweet selves. The combat overall seems nice on paper, but it's executed in a less than exciting way, despite its attempt to keep the game feeling fresh.

Battling Dark Genies in unfortunately the weakest part of Concrete Genie.
Despite its budget price and retail presence, Concrete Genie is a game that flew under the radar of many PlayStation 4 owners. As you can see from my review, that's a darn shame--for those who missed out on the game. As is, Concrete Genie is another jewel in Sony's first-party crown and only further enhances the quality of the roster of exclusives the PS4 possesses. That said, Pixelopus' showing isn't a total success with some forced combat that doesn't engage as much as I would have liked, and its brevity may turn off a lot of potential players. Nevertheless, for those looking for an abundantly creative, bold, and special title for their PlayStation 4, you don't need to rub a lamp to encounter this genie. You just need to pick up Concrete Genie instead.

[SPC Says: B]