Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Double-Dipped 2: More Games I've Purchased More Than Once Over the Years

Care for seconds? Exactly two months ago, I debuted a new article series right here on SuperPhillip Central: Double-Dipped! Here, I go into some detail about video games I've bought at least twice and tell you a little about my history with the games. With a second edition happening this morning, you could say that I'm double-dipping on the Double-Dipped series of articles! How meta!

I have six more games that I've done the (dis)honorable duty of buying more than once, but if you need to catch up on the first entry of Double-Dipped, look no further than this link. Now, with that out of the way, let's get to episode two!

Resident Evil 4 (GCN, PS2, Wii, PS4)

Let's start with a game that is my most bought game of all time! It's none other than one of my favorites I've ever played, despite its dark subject matter (I prefer more sunshine and rainbow fare, personally). Regardless, it's Resident Evil 4, and being one of my top ten games of all time, I'd be amiss if I didn't mention this bad boy on this article series. It's not just the fourth mainline installment in the Resident Evil series, but it's also a game I've purchased FOUR times!

You may ask, "Phil, what is your malfunction? Why buy the same game four times, even if it's one of your favorites ever?" The answer is this: each release I bought introduced something worthwhile to pick up a new version. The first time I bought the game was in 2005 and that was because, duh, the game was brand-new. The PlayStation 2 port that later released added new content in the form of a Ada's Assignment (thankfully Shinji Mikami's head is still intact with the rest of his body). Then, the Wii version--my favorite of the bunch--added motion control aiming and various gesture-based movement for quick-time events. Finally, the PlayStation 4 entry brought my favorite survival-horror game into HD with trophy support. Although Resident Evil 4 isn't the scariest of entries, seeing how many times I've purchased and played the game across all platforms is truly terrifying--even to me!


We go from repeated trips to the unfriendly Spanish countryside to a hellish version of Mars with DOOM's 2016 outing. The first time I played DOOM was on the PlayStation 4, and I absolutely had a blast with the game--ripping and tearing with both delight and glee, as well as uncovering each level's myriad secrets. The multiplayer, too, was a joy to play, focusing on deathmatches either solo or with teams. Then, DOOM surprisingly got announced for the Switch, and all my ripping and tearing could be brought along with me on the go. Sure, the visuals were caked with a Vaseline-like sheen, but it was otherwise DOOM in all its glorious, gore-filled splendor.

As much as I adored DOOM 2016 and bought the game twice, I doubt I'll do the same with the Nintendo Switch port of DOOM Eternal, for the simple fact that I am not in love with the multiplayer of Eternal as much as I was with the original DOOM. While I appreciate the new approach with two demons against one Doomslayer in Eternal, I'm just not thrilled with playing through that again. Plus, I just prefer the original campaign of DOOM to its sequel--though both game campaigns are great.

Saints Row: The Third (PS3, NSW, PS4)

Resident Evil 4 was a quadruple dip, but here's a game that is close to rivaling it--and it's not even a particularly favorite game of mine. It's just one that I enjoy playing through now and again, and like RE4, each version I buy introduces enough newness that it's overall worth it. I'm referring to Saints Row: The Third. Whether it's the original game, in which I earned every trophy in the PlayStation 3 version, or enjoying the game either docked or in the manner that sold me on the Nintendo Switch version: portable play, I saw myself returning to the gang-riddled streets of Steelport more times than I expected! The latest version of the game is a remastered one, and on the PlayStation 4 it's rather well done. In some aspects, it's more of a remake than a remaster, with its amazingly detailed environments and characters when compared to the original.

Super Bomberman R (NSW, PS4)

Bombs away! A launch title for the Nintendo Switch, Super Bomberman R was an enjoyable but overall disappointing return of Bomberman. The gameplay was smooth enough, but issues with the camera and a lack of content made for some buyer's remorse from this reviewer / blogger. However, the game would receive a steady flow of free DLC and an abundance of patches that would properly upgrade the game to tiptop shape. The camera was fixed, the AI in battle mode was made less frustrating and cheap, and the amount of content in both single player and multiplayer was boosted considerably. After having sold off Super Bomberman R's Switch version, I was now having seller's remorse! Thus, I picked up the game on the PlayStation 4, and further thus, my history of being a double-dipper continued with yet another game. What a blast!

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (Wii U, NSW)

Much like Captain Toad and his confidante Toadette, I was certainly ready for adventure. But no, not just once--twice, in fact! The Wii U original Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker brought the diorama-style bonus stage concept from Super Mario 3D World and turned it into a full fledged game, perfect for sessions both lengthy and bite-sized! Of course, Treasure Tracker was much more fleshed out, featuring copious amounts of tricks, twists, obstacles, enemies, and puzzles to solve in its miniature diorama levels. The main goal of collecting each level's Power Star was as clear as one of these prized trinkets shining in the night sky, but side goals and optional collectibles made for some fun replay value as well. The Nintendo Switch version brought with it a trio of new levels--and since launch, even more via paid DLC--but my main reason for picking up the game again was for the same reason I got a lot of Wii U games turned Switch ports: because I prefer to play on the Nintendo Switch hardware!

Hot Shots Tennis (PS2, PS4)

Wow! We're already at the final game on this second installment of Double-Dipped! Let's make it count, shall we! Hot Shots Tennis originally launched on the PlayStation 2 back in the day, and on the PlayStation 4, it launched as a digital title through emulation. Unfortunately, Sony opted not to continue this practice and cut it off really early in the PS4's life--closing the door for other titles to potentially be ported and emulated. Still, it was Hot Shots Tennis in a higher resolution and with trophy support, and the game had its original's tried and true gameplay. It was ultimately a winner in my book, and one that I routinely return to in order to get a match in here and there. It's also mighty challenging against the AI, as one failed serve or backhand could result in the game giving YOU the backhand--right across your unsuspecting face! Hot Shots Tennis is one of the rare games in which the second time around I had to get it digitally as opposed to my preferred method as both a collector and lover of all things retail, physically.


That wraps up this second edition of Double-Dipped! Which games have you bought more than once, whether on the same platform or not? Let me know in the comments section below!

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Star Wars Episode I: Racer (PS4, NSW) Review

We move on to SuperPhillip Central's second review of July. We've already gotten tricky in an urban setting, but now we're going to speed through the stars and planets aboard podracers with Star Wars Episode I: Racer, particularly the newly released port from Aspyr Media. Is this port worthy of exclaiming "Now THIS is podracing!"? Let's find out with the SuperPhillip Central review.

Go, Podracer. Go, Podracer. Go, Podracer, Gooooooo~!

Originally released in May of 1999, Star Wars Episode I: Racer takes players behind the cockpit of a high-speed, high-flying podracer just like in the famous high-stakes scene from the first Star Wars prequel, The Phantom Menace. This newly released version comes from Aspyr as well as an "if it ain't broken, don't fix it" type feeling to it. The tried and true podracing action is present and accounted for, but if you're looking for a sizable upgrade and update to the 1999 original, you won't find it here.

Star Wars Episode I: Racer features four grand prix events that takes players through a gamut of races--over 20 across a handful of planets. Because races take place on similar planets, don't be surprised to come across familiar, recycled parts of track. This doesn't happen too often, but it is noticeable as well as understandable. Races can last upwards of seven minutes long, and they feature an abundance of alternate paths and shortcuts that are both fun and rewarding to find. As races are completed by coming in the required position, you unlock new podracers to play as along with their vehicles. I personally found sticking with Anakin Skywalker as my favorite, but the list of unlockables is rather lengthy, including a special mirror mode that opens up after completing all 20+ races in the game.

Speeding through the canyons of Tatooine is a great way to unwind after a rough day at the office.
Piloting your podracer is simple enough, though I did notice that there was some obscurities in the controls. While the menu does show you the button layout and controls for each action on the PlayStation 4 or Nintendo Switch controller, it fails to fully explain certain concepts. For instance, boosting is said to be performed by--on the PS4 controller at least--pressing the X button. Fine enough, but what the game fails to tell you is that first you must hold the analog stick forward long enough to charge enough energy to then hit the X button to perform a boost. Of course, you can't boost forever, as holding down the button too long will result in your machine overheating, and then catching fire.

But there is also something to be said for chilling out in the mountains as well.
I mentioned that controlling your podracer is easy, but this gets thrown out when it concerns various tracks' anti-gravity segments. These have you piloting your machine through tunnels at a high speed while your vehicle flies through the air. It's way too easy to brush up against an obstruction like an asteroid, resulting in your machine crashing in a fiery blaze and costing you valuable time. Fortunately, these sections are used sparingly throughout the game and are limited to just one planet's series of tracks. It's just that when that planet showed up during a grand prix, you can bet I grimaced a bit.

Anti-gravity... the bane of my Star Wars Episode I: Racer existence!
Back to the subject of the game not explaining boosting well, there's also another part of Star Wars Episode I: Racer that isn't overly clear. This regards purchasing parts and picking them up from the junkyard. There's no mention of how purchasing mini droids will clean up old parts bought from from the junkyard or how the whole setup works. It's something that I had to go to an outside source--in this case, GameFAQs, to discover for myself. A mild complaint if there was ever, especially since the Internet is so easily accessible, but still a complaint nonetheless.

When it concerns this port, Aspyr didn't put too much extra TLC into it, aside from boosting the frame-rate and resolution to a mild amount. It's a better looker compared to the Nintendo 64 original, but at the same time, the graphical push also reveals some of the newfound ugliness of the environments as well. Thankfully, you'll be flying through them a little too fast to notice that much. That said, what is unavoidable is looking at the graphical nastiness that are the batch of racers, seen before and after each race. These monstrosities are rather repugnant to look at, and are Star Wars Episode I: Racer at its worst when it comes to visuals. The pre-race cutscenes that introduce each planet the race takes place on possess a low frame-rate, almost quaint in how sluggish these scenes are.

Split-screen is present for local multiplayer mayhem.
Sound-wise, Star Wars Episode I: Racer features plenty of music from John Williams' excellent score from The Phantom Menace, though the original developers lay a little too heavily on Duel of the Fates. Yeah, the theme is a brilliant and tense one, especially with that ostinato, but there's a bit of an over reliance on it. Though you DO get a wholly symphonic version as well as a symphonic + vocal version to enjoy, alongside a myriad of other themes from the first prequel film. The voicework is well done, whether it's Jake Lloyd as young Anakin Skywalker or pre-race commentator and "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" vet Greg Proops' planet introductions. Overall, the sound is rather superb in Star Wars Episode I: Racer.

What you see (and what you hear) is pretty much what you get with Aspyr's take on Star Wars Episode I: Racer. Sizable upgrades and major updates are not the main attraction here, as there aren't really any to speak of. Instead, you get the basic podracing package on more desirable hardware in a higher definition and a better frame-rate. More importantly, however, the game runs as wonderfully as it has ever run--or in this case, raced, and it's still worthy of a play to this day.

[SPC Says: B]

Aspyr Media provided a code for the purpose of this review.

Paper Mario: The Origami King (NSW) North American Commercial

A TV spot with more paper puns than you can fold creases at, Nintendo shared its North American commercial for its upcoming game Paper Mario: The Origami King. The game launches exclusively on the Nintendo Switch on July 17th! Are you planning on picking up this visually pleasing game?