Friday, April 24, 2020

Trials of Mana (NSW, PS4, PC) "Your Adventures Begin" Trailer

The remake of the once-Japan-exclusive Trials of Mana is now available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Steam. This remake improves upon much more than the visuals, though the gorgeous graphical overhaul might be reason alone to take a peek at the wondrous world of Trials of Mana. Stay tuned for a full review from yours truly in the coming weeks right here on SuperPhillip Central!

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King (NSW, PS4, XB1, PC) Review

We move on to SuperPhillip Central's next review with a pair of animated classics with some video game classic adaptations put into one stellar-produced package. It's Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King. Here's my review.

You ain't never seen a Disney collection like this!

Back in the nineties, seemingly every animated Disney movie saw some kind of video game adaptation. With live remakes of Aladdin and The Lion King now released, the trio of licensor Disney, publisher Nighthawk Interactive, and developer Digital Eclipse found a great opportunity to bring back both video game adaptations of those movies animated originals from 1993 and 1994 respectively and place them into one collection. While the collection of Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King itself is of a high quality, the actual games themselves aren't.

With the Disney Classic Games collection, you get multiple versions of Aladdin and The Lion King, with the former getting the most TLC. Aladdin has the original Genesis version (the Super Nintendo version is not included due to being developed by Capcom while every other game was created by Virgin Games), a special never-before-commercially-released and incomplete trade demo that's cool to see what was changed from the final release, and a final cut version. The final cut version of Aladdin is described by an in-collection prompt that states that this is the version of the game the developers would have released had they received more dev time. It fixes various bugs and also corrects the camera to display more real estate in front of Aladdin, so less accidental run-ins with enemies and hazards you couldn't see coming occur.

Aladdin gets the drop on this palace guard foe.
Meanwhile, The Lion King comes roaring into this collection with the original Super Nintendo and Genesis versions. Unlike Aladdin, there are no final cut versions or demos to be found, which stinks because The Lion King needs all the improvements it can get. That's despite being an audio and visual charmer and delight.

Young Simba is ready to pounce on this unfriendly beetle baddie.
Not mentioned yet, but both Aladdin and The Lion King also have Japanese versions available, as well as classic handheld versions in both original grey-scale Game Boy and 8-bit-colored Game Boy Color versions. They're worthwhile as things to satiate one's curiosity, but the feat of playing them is an entirely different thing altogether. Though I must say it's rather awesome to see how well The Lion King's stampede scene transitioned to the small screen, taking on an overhead perspective as opposed to a faux-three-dimensional one.

Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King features more than just the obvious, which woul be the various versions of Aladdin and The Lion King games. The collection features a whole host of behind-the-scenes content, including a brand-new Aladdin retrospective made specifically for this collection with interviews from various key staff, as well as character sketches and art for both games. Meanwhile, The Lion King brings with it its version of behind-the-scenes footage, though taken through video from 1994. A true blast from the past!

For me, Aladdin is the star of the collection, and not just because it's had the most content and care attached to it. It's just a better game overall, though both it and The Lion King suffer from hit detection issues. It's Aladdin, however, that fares better in that department, even if attacking with our "thief turned prince" hero's dagger isn't all it's cracked up to be. Between leaping through Agrabah's streets and rooftops to the wonderful chiptune rendition of "Prince Ali" to speeding through a fast-scrolling, breakneck-paced, hesitate-and-you're-toast ride on a magic carpet, Aladdin does not disappoint.

Attacking foes head-on like this with Aladdin's dagger is a bit clumsy, so when I could
 I opted to chuck apples at enemies to dispatch them.
Now, The Lion King? That's a totally different story. The game's just not good, regardless of whether it's the Super Nintendo version or the Genesis one. Whether you have to navigate a maze of monkeys that toss you about in Can't Wait to Be King, scale a waterfall by leaping on small, ever-descending logs in Hakuna Matata, or rush to escape from pursuing one-hit-kill boulders in Simba's Exile with no checkpoints in sight, it seems like The Lion King was developed to annoy the player as much as possible with its design. Now, I can very much appreciate the gorgeous 16-bit visuals on display with colorful vistas, immaculately detailed and animated characters, and the impressive voice clips, but the rest I can put in my own form of exile.

I can badmouth The Lion King's gameplay execution all I want,
but there's no questioning the game's quality when it concerns its amazing presentation.
Thankfully, taking a cue from The Disney Afternoon Collection, also a Digital Eclipse developed compilation, both games include an immensely helpful rewind feature, where you can hold down the left shoulder button to backtrack in your current run and redo jumps or entire sections of level. That made getting through The Lion King slightly less of an aggravation. Just slightly, mind you. Despite being able to use a rewind feature, achievements--both in-game and platform-based for PS4, Xbox One, and Steam users--do not become unavailable, so feel free to use this feature as much as you'd like. Yes, you may get less of a feeling of accomplishment when beating these games on their multiple difficulties, but remember that games of this era were notorious for being difficult to make players rent them repeatedly from places like Blockbuster so feel free to stick it to the man!

There's also the awesome ability to watch a full play-through of either game, and jump in and start playing right from any point. Level selects (though these do disable achievements), sound tests for both games, and a multitude of screen-resizing options round out this satisfying collection.

Various image scaling and visual rendering options are available to get exactly the kind of experience you want.
As a collection, Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King is top shelf material with a lot of love poured into the bonus materials and added features, and is more than worthy of representing the beloved animated classics they're adapting in video game form. As games themselves? Well, it's a compilation of games that's half good and half not. I'll just say that The Lion King isn't the "mane" attraction here. At its current price of $20 for a physical release and cheaper for digital, if you have any semblance of love for either movie or fond memories or nostalgia of either game, you'll find something to appreciate with this well put-together package.

[SPC Says: C+]

Monday, April 20, 2020

Super Mario Maker 2 (NSW) "World Maker Update" Trailer

Just when I think I'm nearly done with Super Mario Maker 2, Nintendo pulls me back in! In case I needed another excuse to add to my 200+ hours of game time with Super Mario Maker 2, a brand-new, meaty, final update is coming to the game. The biggest feature includes a World Maker, allowing you to link up to 40 courses across eight maps to create your own Mario game. Alongside this much-desired feature includes new power-ups and enemies, including the Koopalings! Super Mario Maker 2's World Maker update arrives on April 22nd!