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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Favorite Tunes #34: Horror Edition

I'm not one to celebrate Halloween but I know a lot of other people love this spooky holiday. So I thought I'd devote this edition of Favorite Tunes to horror-inspired themes. As you might expect, there's some Castlevania tracks, but they don't dominate the list.

Beast from the East Mix 2 - Biohazard 2 ReMIX ~met@morPhoses~

Biohazard is the name that Resident Evil goes by in Japan. I've never really been a huge Resident Evil fan. The only game I ever played was the remake of the original Resident Evil on the GameCube. I couldn't get used to the blocky controls and quit after I got killed by that dog that jumped through the window. That said, I do think it has some nice character designs and some creepy music. Beast from the East Mix 2 is from an arranged Resident Evil 2 album. The first time I heard this track was on the now defunct GamingFM on the modern radio station. It's been one of my favorite Resident Evil songs ever since.

The Trick Manor - Super Castlevania IV (SNES)

A remake of the original Castlevania with some new material added for good measure. Thankfully, Simon can now jump off stairs. He can also whip in more than one direction. One of the earliest SNES games, Super Castlevania IV is impressive on many levels. It still looks and sounds fantastic and some oft he graphical effects pulled off, particularly in the fourth stage, are quite a marvel. The opening section of the level is standard fare but about once you get indoors, either the room or the entire castle begins to rotate. To keep from falling into spike pits you have to use Simon's whip to grab onto the hooks. I can still remember being caught off guard by this area years ago. This game's audio made great use of the organ but it really shines through with this track.

Dark World - Final Fantasy VI (SNES, PS, GBA)

Never played Final Fantasy VI? Spoiler alert: The bad guy wins. Not forever, but at the midway point in the game, he scores a huge victory over the heroes that has disastrous consequences for the entire planet. Most RPG villains spend the bulk of the game trying to take over the world. Unlike most of those big bads, Kefka actually succeeds. Under Kefka's rule, the once lush green World of Balance is literally reshaped into the World of Ruin, a world where much of humanity has given up on life having either joined Kefca's cult or committed suicide. The world map theme that played in the the World of Balance, Terra, a track that inspired hope and encouragement, is replaced by Dark World, a tune that reflects the hopelessness and despair that has fallen over the planet. Dark World will eventually get replaced by Search for Friends once you get your new airship, but if you go back to Narshe, you can hear Dark World again. At this point in the game, Narshe is now abandoned of all townsfolk and overrun with creepy critters.

Haunted Graveyard - Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts (SNES)

Mario and Arthur have much in common. Both are heroes that have trouble keeping their lady friends from being abducted. But while Mario's quest gets difficult as he progresses, Arthur's is mind numbingly brutal from the get-go. Not only is the road to saving Prciness Prin Prin a nightmarish one, it's one that has to be traveled twice. In each Ghost 'n Goblins game, the player has to beat the game twice in order to save Arthur's lady love. At least in Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts you have a double jump, though that new move hardly makes things any easier. This is by far my favorite version of the Ghouls 'n Ghosts main theme.

Shade Man Stage - Mega Man 7 (SNES)

The first 16-bit Mega Man game set in the classic series, Mega Man 7 gets quite a bit of flack for not being nearly as tight as the 8-bit games. The sprites are larger to be sure, but Mega Man 7 is hardly an awful game. Shade Man has got to be one of the coolest looking robot masters in the classic series, complete with clever stage design and a haunting musical theme. If you hold B while selecting Shade Man's level, you'll hear an alternate version of the Stage Select them. In addition to this, Shade Man's level theme will be changed to the Ghosts 'n Goblins main theme played with Mega Man 7's instruments. Since Shade Man's level was one big shout out to Capcom's Ghosts ' Goblins series, throwing in the music from that series seemed like a natural Easter egg to hide here.

Screamer - House of the Dead: Overkill (Wii, PS3)

My personal favorite entry in the series, House of the Dead: Overkill has a very Grind House feel to it. Bad voice acting has always been a staple of the series, but Overkill actually has good voice work. That's a bit ironic since Overkill never takes itself seriously. There's lot of funny back and forth banter between protagonists Issac Washington and Agent G and so many F-bombs that it makes a drunken sailor's mouth seem clean by comparison. Overkill has a marvelous soundtrack to go long with the solid on rails shooting. Much of it is funk based, the game isn't afraid mix things up. Screamer is definitely on the horror side in the audio.

Factory Tour - Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards (N64)

"What? Scary music in a Kirby game? You're crazy." If that's what you're thinking you've probably never played a single Kirby adventure. Despite the game's cute characters and brightly colored levels, the Kirby games have enough nightmare fuel to last a lifetime. Shiver Star is the obligatory ice world in Kirby 64 and it's heavily implied to be planet Earth. What makes one wonder that? You can see what each planet looks like before you visit it. Shiver Star contains continents that look exactly like the ones seen on Earth. It even has a single orbiting moon. Shiver Star looks to be a post-apocalyptic Earth, frozen over by what was more than likely some man-made creations. The boss of Shiver Star is HR-H, a huge transforming mech that fires deadly lasers and missiles. During the fight with this boss you can seen plenty of tall buildings in the background. One of the areas that Kirby goes through is a mall. So there are plenty of areas that resemble human environments, but there's not a single human to be found. Then you've got this factory next to the mall full of conveyor belts, instant death crushers and strange creatures behind glass. Shiver Star is one of the creepiest places in a Kirby game. I love how you can hear gears moving during this track. This track was including in the compilation soundtrack CD in Kirby's Dream Collection.

Bogmire - Luigi's Mansion (GCN)

Luigi, searching through a mansion full of ghosts to rescue Mario. You gotta give Luigi props for going through that whole ordeal, especially since he was terrified. I'm not ashamed to admit that I was spooked a few times during my play through of Luigi's Mansion. A random ghost messing with me here and there, knocking out some of my coins. But the biggest scare came from my encounter with Bogmire. If I recall, I nearly fell out of my chair in the cut scene that introduced him. Took me a few minutes to take him down, too.

Picture of a Ghost Ship - Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (PCE)

There are three different versions of Castlevania: Rondo of Blood. One is on the PC Engine and is hailed as one of the greatest Castlevania games. Another is on the SNES and is a stripped down version of the PCE game, which gets it a lot of criticism. The other is on the PSP along with an unlockable version of Symphony of the Night under the compilation title Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles where it was remade. The PCE version is on the Wii's Virtual Console and it was one of the first games for I downloaded for that system. It has branching paths and that old-school Castlevania difficulty. It took me numerous tries to pass the game's first three stages. Currently, I'm still stuck on the Ghost Ship level.

New Messiah - Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge (GB)

I've only played one Castlevania game on the original Game Boy, Castlevania: The Adventure, even by the series standards, it was painfully slow and clunky. I'm fairly certain I traded that title in shortly after I purchased it. Castlevania: The Adventure was remade as a Wii Ware title where it was actually a good game. It used arranged versions of numerous Castlevania tracks, including New Messiah from Adventure's sequel, Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge. Even on the Game Boy, this tune was quite fast paced and the composition is highly impressive.

Monday, October 29, 2012

No Wii U at Launch for Me

When Nintendo divulged more info on the Wii U, the successor to the Wii, I, like many was thrilled. I planned to pick up a Deluxe Wii U set on launch day. The likes of Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Bros. U were two games I was very much looking forward. That's right, was. Sadly I won't be able to bask in the glory that will be Wii U launch day mania because I won't be picking the system up on day one.

So what gives? Why the change of heart? It isn't like I suddenly decided I didn't want one, though with everything I already have to play the thought of passing on the Wii U at launch crossed my mind several times. The simple face of the matter is, I didn't pre-order a Wii U when everyone started tacking pre-orders so now there's no way I'll be able to secure a console. I refuse to go from store to store, searching in vain for Nintendo's new console. And there's no way I'm gonna fork over some insane amount of cash to get one off eBay from someone that was fortunate enough to get one.

Am I disappointed that I won't be getting a Wii U? Certainly. There's nothing quite like taking part of a console's launch, being one of the gamers that owns the system on the first day. The last Nintendo console I bought at launch was the GameCube.I didn't have the GameCube pre-ordered, so I stood outside Toys before the store opened with a group of people and I still able to get a system. I picked it up with a memory card, Luigi's Mansion, Super Monkey Ball, and Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II. It was very much a fun-filled Sunday afternoon, and I look back on that day with great fondness.

Much as I'd like to get a Wii U on November 18th, I just can't do it because I wasn't smart enough to pre-order one right away. The first few months of the Wii U could be the Wii all over again. Nintendo could never keep those things on the shelf. No matter what video game or electronic store I went to, the Wii was always sold out and this was when I wasn't even looking for one. Nintendo has always had name brand recognition on their side and in the six years that have followed, the Wii became a very popular house hold name. Who's to say the Wii U won't have the same smashing success?

So even though I won't be able to take part in the Wii U's launch, I still look forward to hearing stories and impressions on the games from my fellow gamers, even if reading about them may make me a bit bummed. I do hope the launch isn't crazy and people keep their cool, but desperation tends to bring out the worst in greedy folks so that may be wishful thinking. Everyone, be happy and safe on launch day. I may not be playing the Wii U but I'll still have something to keep me busy.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Currently Paying #3

Maybe it's because this year is Kirby's 20th anniversary, but I've been a major Kirby kick lately. The little pink puff is getting a lot of play time.

Kirby's Return to Dream Land

Seeing videos on YouTube (been watching TheRunawayGuys) got me thinking I should go back and complete the Extra game on Kirby's Return to Dream Land. If you've never played the Extra mode, it's significantly tough than the normal game. Your life bar is cut in half, bosses look different and have additional attacks. And the Another Dimension gray areas? That wall is constantly on you to the point where you may need to shoot something at it to get if off your back.

I play with my nieces from time to time and with my oldest, we actually cleared The Arena. The Arena is a lot of fun, but it's much easier when compared to the one in Kirby Super Star. There were only 13 battles to fight in this version when compared to Super Star's 19. Still, it's a really nice boss rush and since we cleared it, player one can now go through The Arena as either, Meta Knight, King Dedede, or Waddle Dee. That's a pretty nice reward for clearing it. Though I do think I owe a good chunk of the victory to Spark because after a second rough through by myself, I was able to finish without too much trouble. Maybe I'll try to beat The Arena with different powers.

Kirby Super Star Ultra

Yeah, I'm also playing my second favorite Kirby game on my DSi. Ultra adds a lot of new features and brand new games to the point where many consider it superior to the original. I'm 86% finished overall with the games. I went back and got all the Copy Deluxe powers on Milky Way Wishes and I found 39/60 treasures on Great Cave Offensive. Games I haven't finished are Helper to Hero and The Arena, which is just as difficult in this game as it is in the SNES original. I believe you unlock The True Arena for finishing The Arena, which has even more bosses like Galacta Knight and Marx Soul. I was soooo close last night. I got all the way to Marx and almost had him beat but lost my helper and my Copy power.

Still Playing: Kirby's Dream Collection Special Edition, Kirby Mass Attack, Mario Kart 7, New Super Mario Bros. 2

Favorite Tunes #33: Boss Themes

Sometimes in the world of gaming, you get a boss that looks tough, but turns out to be a huge letdown. But it's not always so bad, especially when you have an excellent theme to go with the battle. It's even better when the boss keeps you on your toes. Enjoy some of my favorite boss themes.

Vs. Marx - Kirby Super Star (SNES, DS)

By Blopa1987

The first time we lay eyes on Marx, a cute little jester-like being resembling a Goomba, he fills us in on the story of the final unlockable game in Kirby Super Star, Milky Way Wishes. The sun and the moon of Pop Star are fighting. In order to make them stop, Kirby must collect power from the Dream Springs of nearby planets in order to summon Nova, who can grant any wish. The wish was to make the sun and moon stop fighting but just as Kirby is about to make the wish, Marx pushes him out of the way and instead wishes for complete control of Pop Star. Marx was playing Kirby from the very start. He got the sun and moon to fight and he got Kirby to do his dirty work for him. Once Marx gets his wish, he transforms into a hideous bat-like creature with a creepy laugh. Marx is famous among Kirby fans for being the manipulator that he is and for his battle them. Years later, Magolor would pull Kirby's strings in the same manner that Marx did in Kirby's Return to Dream Land.

The Evil Lord Exdeath - Final Fantasy V (SNES, PS, GBA)

Exdeath isn't as developed a villain as other in the series, but I still like him anyway. I mean, how many mages in the Final Fantasy series are wearing armor and fight as if they were knights? Whenever he shows up, he slaps the party members around just fort he fun of it. This isn't Exdeath's battle theme, but his standard theme that plays whenever he appears on the scene. When you hear the first few notes of this theme, you know something bad is going down.

Ultimate Koopa - Super Mario 64 (N64, DS)

Bowser was quite the pushover the first two times you fought him. But for round three, the kid gloves come off. It isn't as easy to to grab Bowser by the tail as it was before, and when you do manage to throw him into the bombs twice, the battle arena reshapes itself into the form of a star, which makes landing that third and final hit much more difficult. I personally feel this is one of the best final battles in the Super Mario series, if not the best. I wasn't expecting a organ to be blaring during the fight, but it made for a great grand finale fight piece.

Theme of Seven Force - Gunstar Heroes (GEN)

Under any list of awesome video game bosses, Seven Force is generally always somewhere on that list. Piloted by Green, former member of the Gunstars, the mech known as Seven Force can transform into seven different forms such as a phoenix or a pistol. If you're playing on the Expert difficulty, you'll face all seven of Seven Forces deadly transformations. So great is Seven Force's popularity, that he's been used and referenced in other Treasure games like Alien Soldier and Astro Boy: Omega Factor. His boss theme ain't too shabby, either.

Doomsday Zone - Sonic 3 & Knuckles (GEN)

Get all the Chaos Emeralds (just the Chaos Emeralds. Super Emeralds aren't required) and you'll get to play the final zone of Sonic 3 & Knuckles, the Doomsday Zone. In what is one of the most memorable boss battles of the entire Sonic series, Super Sonic flies through space in pursuit of Dr. Robotnik who has the Master Emerald, the source that keeps Knuckle's home, Angle Island afloat. You have to maneuver Super Sonic so the missiles Robotnik shoots at him hits the cockpit of Robotnik's flying mecha. You also need to collect enough rings to keep Sonic's Super form active so he doesn't die. As cool as this final battle was, it was responsible for setting a standard that would continue in later Sonic games where Super Sonic could only be playable during true final boss battles, much to fan's annoyance. Though with Sonic 4 and Sonic Colors, this trend seems to have come to an end.

Yell Dead Cell - Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (PS2, XB)

Casting aside Solid Snake in favor of newbie Raiden was a bold move, one that fans still whine about to this day. I personally had no qualms with Hideo Kojima's decision to place Snake in the mentor role and Metal Gear Solid 2 is actually my favorite Metal Gear game. It's the only one I've beaten on every difficulty setting and gotten every dog tag. The members of Dead Cell were even more screwed up the the Fox Hound crew from the first Metal Gear Solid, but they had a much better battle theme, which was reused as one of the tracks to be played on the Shadow Moses battle arena in Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

Boss B - Star Fox 64 (N64)

Fox McCloud and his crew spoke in incomprehensible gibberish in the original Star Fox on the SNES. When Star Fox 64 rolled around, you could clearly hear every word that was said without having to look at the text to understand them. The gameplay was also a lot smoother and the auto targeting system worked liked a charm. Of all the boss themes in Star Fox 64, Boss B sounds the most intense. The way the drums are pounding like crazy, it makes you feel like you're in for the fight of your life. Star Fox 64 received a visually updated port on the 3DS with arranged music, and it's not too shabby but I still prefer the original score.

The lord God - Capcom vs. SNK 2 (ARC, PS2, XB)

Capcom may not be the company that it used to be, but I can look back on their past efforts and smile. Capcom vs. SNK 2 is one of my favorite games in Capcom's crossover series, bringing together even more characters from both company's sizable roster. This intimidating piece of music plays on the final boss, Ultimate Rugal. Rugal has always been a force to be reckoned with, but in this game, it was taken up to eleven.

My Name is Songi - Legend of Legaia (PS)

While waiting for the release of Final Fantasy VIII, I picked up Legend of Legaia in early 1999. I greatly enjoyed the combat system of fighting with martial arts as opposed to the usual swords and such that a great deal of RPGs use. One of the three playable characters, Gal, had a rival in Songi, who has one of the most incredible boss themes I've ever heard. There's quite a build up before it gets to the main chorus, but that build is almost as awesome as the main chorus. The soundtrack version of this theme is sadly, not looped so this is one of those rare instances, where I'll link an extended version.

Wily Battle - Mega Man IV (GB)

What would you say if I told you that the best Mega Man Classic battle theme lies not in the console versions but one of Game Boy games? Don't believe me? You probably haven't heard this theme then. Despite using bosses from the console games and some shrunk down versions of those robot master stage themes, there was some original music and it gave the console versions a run for their money, Wily Battle being one of those themes. Fans certainly have taking a liking to this song as it's been used in a number of Mega Man ROM hacks. I'm hoping the rest of the Mega Man Game Boy titles make it to the 3DS eShop.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Wii Review: Kirby's Dream Collection Special Edition

System: Wii
Genre: Compilation/Platformer
Developer: HAL Laboratory
Publisher: Nintendo
Release: Sept. 16, 2012 USA / EUR TBA / Jul. 19, 2012 JPN
Players: 1-4
Controllers Supported: Wii Remote, Classic Controller, GameCube Controller
Rated: E for Everyone 10+

20th anniversaries are certainly cause for celebration. After all, not every character is fortunate enough to last for 20 years. Thankfully, Kirby's massive popularity has allowed him to endure for so long. Kirby's Dream Collection Special Edition is Nintendo's second compilation anniversary release on the Wii. 2010's Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition was simply a re-release of 1993's SNES Super Mario All-Stars, and as fun as those games were, Nintendo easily could have included a few more Mario platformers. Heck, even the extras were sorely lacking with a booklet that had tidbit info at best and a 20 track soundtrack CD, which consisted of 10 actual songs, while the remaining 10 tracks were sound effects. With that in mind, it's not hard to see why some fans would approach Kirby's 20th's anniversary collection with skepticism. Well, put your mind at ease because Kirby's Dream Collection more than makes up for the quick cash in that was Super Mario Bros. 25th anniversary anthology. Kirby's 20th birthday bash packs six Kirby adventures and a copious amount of bonus content. This really is a dream collection.

As with any compilation release, the most important features are the games. Kirby has stared in various game genres throughout his lengthy career, but the primary focus on Kirby's Dream Collection are his platforming exploits and they do not disappoint.

Kirby's Dream Land was Kirby's debut game for the Game Boy. If you got into Kirby games after this one, you may be a bit put off on how Dream Land works. In this title, all Kirby can do to defend himself is suck up his enemies and shoot them back out as stars. At only five levels, this is the shortest game on this set. It's also the easiest. But if you fancy a challenge, you can try the Extra Game. Good luck. You're gonna need it.

The six games of Kirby's Dream Collection.
Where it all began. *Starts humming
Green Greens*

The second game, Kirby's Adventure on the NES is a much bigger in scope. In this game there are seven worlds to explore and Kirby's trademark Copy Ability was birthed here, giving Kirby a plethora of powers to experiment with. Kirby's Adventure is also notable for being the game to show players that even in a kid's game, things aren't always what they seem as evidenced by Dedede's actions this time around. Despite being one of the earliest Kirby title's it's still adored by fans and for good reason.

Kirby's Dream Land 2 introduced Kirby's animal pals, Rick, Coo and Kine who have different abilities based on what Copy Ability Kirby is carrying when he uses them. Dream Land 2 is also the first game in what fans have called the Dark Matter Trilogy. There aren't nearly as many Copy Abilities in this game as there were in Kirby's Adventure. This is also one of the more difficult Kirby games to complete 100% because it requires more than just finishing the game with all the Rainbow Drops.

Ironically, Kirby Super Star is a collection of various Kirby games, seven main games and two sub games. Among them being Spring Breeze, an abridged remake of Kirby's Dream Land but giving Kirby is Copy Ability. Gourmet Race pits Kirby in a race against Dedede to eat as much food as possible while staying ahead. Gourmet Race is also responsible for spawning one of the most catchy and most remixed songs in the history of video games. The Great Cave Offensive has Kirby searching for Treasure in a huge underground cave. Great Cave Offensive has something of a Metroid feel to it and some of the treasures you unearth pay tribute to other Nintendo franchises. Dyna Blade takes Kirby through five levels to stop the rampaging bird that's destroying Pop Star's crops. Revenge of Meta Knight sees Kirby assault the masked knight's warship, taking it apart section by section all on a time limit. Milky Way Wishes has you hopping across different planets and does away with the standard Copy Ability in favor of the Deluxe Copy Ability where you get to keep Copy powers forever. The Arena, unlocked by completing all of the main adventure games is one of the toughest challenges in a Kirby game essentially being one big boss rush mode. Kirby Super Star is one of the biggest contributors in the Kirby series, giving Kirby hats with his Copy Abilities, adding additional moves to every Copy power and allowing for Helpers to be created that can be controlled by AI or another player. It's also the first Kirby game to introduce blocking. To this day, a lot of fans tout Kirby Super Star as the greatest Kirby game.

Being beaten up by Kirby? Just another
day for Whispy Woods.
Kirby's animal pals were almost called
"minions." True story.

Kirby's Dream Land 3 is the second game in the Dark Matter Trilogy and introduces more animal friends like Chuchu, Pitch and Nago. Gooey, seen in Kirby's Dream Land 2 becomes a playable character and can be controlled by the AI or a second player. Being released after Kirby Super Star, this game plays a lot slower and doesn't come anywhere close to featuring that game's many innovations. It plays similarly to Kirby's Dream Land 2 and your Copy Abilities are quite stripped down. Still, it's a fun entry in the Kirby series and has impressive crayon-like drawn visuals. Getting all the Heart Stars required to fight the true final boss will more than likely have you seeking out a guide.

The sixth and final game on this disc is Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. This is the final game in the Dark Matter Trilogy and a fitting conclusion to the saga. Kirby 64 features 3D graphics but plays in 2D making for a 2.5D game. Kirby 64 is much more slow paced than any other game in this collection. Kirby moves slower and even his dashing isn't as fast as it was in Kirby's Adventure. Kirby's flight time is limited, which will probably be off putting at first. Your main objective is to collect the Crystal Shards to save Ribbon's home planet Ripple Star from Dark Matter. These shards are scattered all over numerous worlds and many require the use of a combined Copy Ability to access them. You can combine different powers to make some pretty sweet combos. Cutter mixed with Bomb gives you exploding ninja stars. Double Rock turns Kirby into a walking statue that can kill almost anything in sight. There are also some pretty useless combos as well like Fire and Ice. Half the fun of Kirby 64 comes from experiment with all the different combinations. It's a really fun mechanic, one that needs to be brought back.

Even without all the extra content from
the DS version, Kirby Super Star is still
a fantastic game.
Picking one animal friend over another
causes the ones that get left out to frown.

All the games function like Virtual Console titles. So if you're playing Kirby Super Star and need to stop playing, you can exit out and when you come back, you'll pick up right where you left off. Since N64 Virtual Console games work differently, you can't continue this way from Kirby 64, but since that game saves your progress of every stage and shard you've collected, it's not that big of a loss. The downside of this game's functionality is that the only way to get back to the main menu is to reset with the Wii Remote.

So Kirby's Dream Collection has a great selection of games with not a single dud in the lot. Fortunately for us, HAL didn't decided to call it a day from there. Under the Kirby History section lies the interactive timeline. This lets you move Kirby through different years showing the years that each Kirby game came out. And by "each Kirby game," I mean every single Kirby game to released from 1992 to 2012. There's even a video containing gameplay footage of each game. Heard of Kirby Tilt 'n Tumble but never played it? Look under 2001 and view the video. You can even flip and tilt the box art for each game. It's the little touches like that that make this compilation so great. There's also trivia of real world events that happened over the last 20 years. I only expected to find Kirby info here. But finding out when the DVD format was announced and what year the Human Genome Project was completed are some pleasant bonuses. Another nice touch is being able to play any of the six playable games from the interactive timeline. If you're under the year 2000, you can select Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards and play the game from there.

Kirby makes everyone look adorable.
Even murder.
Get educated on your Kirby history as
well as real world trivia.

A colorful 45 page Kirby's 20th Anniversary Celebration Book comes packed with this collection for you to flip through in between Kirby games. Inside you can find info on every single Kirby game, including the ones that weren't part of this collection and the numerous spin-off titles. Prior to looking through this book, I had no clue it was possible to get a hole in one on each and every hole in Kirby's Dream Course. You'll also spot some sketches that prior to this collection's release, weren't available anywhere else. It's far more detailed and informative than Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition booklet ever was.

There's more. Kirby games have some of the cutest, catchiest, most hummable tunes known to man. You can listen to a large variety of these songs on the 45 track Compilation Soundtrack. Music from the six Kirby games on Kirby's Dream Collection is present, but this soundtrack goes far beyond those games. Music from Kirby Air Ride, Kirby's Dream Course, Kirby Canvas Curse, Kirby's Epic Yarn and numerous other games. The last three tracks on the disc are arrangements of Kirby themes, exclusive to this disc. Even better, you can watch the HAL musicians perform track 44, Crash! Gourmet Race ~ Green Greens in the Kirby's History section under 2012. The music selection on this disc is essentially a silver bullet aimed at Mario's shoddy 25th anniversary soundtrack offering.

Take a break from the Kirby games and
watch a few episodes of Kirby: Right
Back at ya!
If you couldn't get enough of the challenges
in Return to Dream Land, 10 new ones
await you.

Stuffed yet? Well, make room for desert. Inside the Kirby's History section under 2002 are three episodes of the anime series, Kirby: Right Back at Ya! These are from the 4Kids dub so the option to watch in Japanese in English subtitles isn't available. But even so, I quite enjoyed these episodes and it was a bonus I was not expecting, especially when this collection is already packed with so much Kirby goodness.

Wishing to atone for his past transgressions, Magolor has built Kirby a new set of challenge stages, ten to be exact. These are each set up like separate worlds from a Kirby platformer and each one concludes with  race against Magolor. Like the challenges in Return to Dream Land, mastery of each power is required to earn the best medal. One challenge even makes use of Kirby's move set from Super Smash Bros. Brawl. And just when you think you've finished this mode, two more challenges unlock on the final world in the form of EX challenges. You gotta love HAL for always including such cool extras in their games.

Kirby's Dream Collection Special Edition feels like an apology for botching Super Mario Bros. 25th anniversary. But even if that isn't the intent, Kirby certainly deserves all the attention that's been showered upon him for his 20th birthday. Could more games have been added? Sure, but the six we got make for a solid lineup and this collection is packed with so much extra content that's its almost too much to take in. Developers and publishers looking to put out milestone anniversary game collections, I hope you were taking notes. Kirby just showed you all how it's done.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Downloads #14

It's been forever since I downloaded something off the Wii's Virtual Console service and in doing so, I made my first Club Nintendo purchase. For just 100 coins I was able to pick up Pilotwings for the Virtual Console. I was going to purchase this game eventually, but since I have well over 700 Club Nintendo coins, I figured I'd use the coins instead of use points from a Wii Points card.

Pilotwings (SNES)

I was playing my physical copy of Pilotwings earlier this year and I actually managed to pass two license tests. I didn't get a perfect score but after being blasted by those uptight instructors, it was nice to see them change their tune.

To my knowledge, this offer for Pilotwings is still going on for Club Nintendo members. So if you don't have Pilotwings for the Virtual Console and want to get a great, cheap gift, by all means, head on over to Club Nintendo's website and cash in your coins and get the code so you can pick up this game. I really wish Pilotwings 64 would come to the Virtual Console.

Latest Purchases #38

This post was supposed to be up a few days ago. Blog posts have slipped somewhat because of my work schedule and sleep has been a harsh and bitter mistress for me. Well I'm off work for the next two days so I'll be able to catch up on sleep and posting.

Two gaming magazines are going the way of the Dodo Bird this year, Nintendo Power and Nintendo Gamer. While I knew about Nintendo Power ever since I was a kid, Nintendo Gamer wasn't brought to my attention until a few months ago. During routine visits inside Barns & Nobles, I saw Nintendo Gamer in the magazine section and flipped through a few issues. Seemed like a pretty cool mag. I was surprised to find out that it was coming to an end. In fact the issue pictured above is the final issue. I really like the hand drawn artwork featuring Nintendo characters. I really wish I'd know about this mag sooner. I probably would have been a regular reader. The latest issue of Nintendo Power had a particularly heart-wrenching letter from the editor to read. I'm really gonna miss this mag when it's gone in December.

The Toon look is one of my favorite Zelda art styles. I picked up a Toon Link plush about a year ago, so I was more than willing to add more Toon style Zelda themed collectibles to my collection. These in particular are from Phantom Hourglass. These came inside those capsule balls so it can be difficult to see which figure you're getting. I thought I had Tetra but instead, it turned out to be Linebeck. Despite those tiny holes being difficult to see through, I was able to spot enough gray to know that I did nab the Phantom Guardian, but the things shield is tough to position so he can hold it.

Linebeck and Phantom Guardian aren't the first Phantom Hourglass figurines I've purchased. Months ago I picked up one for Link. Again, I was able to look through the holes and see a good chunk of green, so it was easy to see that it was Hyrule's hero. I just never got around to mentioning that I had him so I figured I'd do that in this post. There's a picture of him below.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Favorite Tunes #32: Platform Edition

It's music from one of gaming's finest genres, platformers in this edition of Favorite Tunes.

Rock Solid - Conker's Bad Fur Day (N64)

Originally titled Conker's Twelve Tales, Conker underwent a huge overhaul. No longer a cutesy platformer, Conker's Bad Fur Day featured foul language aplenty, tons of sexual themes, and a plethora of crude humor. It ended up being a fine platformer but due to aforementioned content and Nintendo's firm family friendly policies at the time, advertisement for the game was limited, which was a contributing factor to poor sales. Conker's BFD isn't just one of the best looking games on the N64, it's one of the best sounding games to boot. Rare always knew how to work magic with the N64's sound chip, as evidence with games like Blast Corps, Jet Force Gemini and Banjo-Kazooie. Rock Solid could be blasted at an actual dance club, which is fitting because in the actual game, this song is played at a dance club.

Planet Wisp Act 1 - Sonic Colors (Wii)

Sonic games were improving on the consoles with Sonic Unleashed, a game that wasn't perfect but was leaps and bounds better than the train wreck that was Sonic 2006. Sonic Colors further improved blue streak's reputation with solid 3D platforming and tons of 2D sections reminiscent of the early Genesis titles. Colors also boasts one of the best soundtracks of all the 3D Sonic titles, with different arrangement of the act themes. Lots of fans love Planet Wisp Act 1. One listen to this tune and it isn't hard to figure out why. It's incredibly soothing. There's also a portable version of Sonic Colors on the DS, but it's far outclassed by the Wii version.

Exotic Pyramid - Kirby's Return to Dream Land (Wii)

A game 11 years in the making, Kirby's Return to Dream Land is Kirby's triumphant return to the traditional style of Kirby gameplay on Nintendo consoles. It may not be as visually impressive as Kirby's Epic Yarn (a splendid game) but RTDL is easily the better title. The soundtrack is packed with remixes of classic Kirby themes and lots of brand new music. Raisin Ruins is the obligatory desert world in RTDL and of all the sand levels I've played in platformers, this is definitely one of the funner sand filled lands to romp through. There are a number of themes that play in Raisin Ruins but Exotic Pyramid is certainly the most lively of the bunch.

Snow Overworld - Super Mario 3D Land (3DS)

If there's a Nintendo handheld, you best believe that soon or later, Mario will be there. In the case of the 3DS, thankfully, it was sooner rather than later. The 80$ price drop on the 3DS helped move units, sure, but Super Mario 3D Land was even more incentive to pick up the portable. It's not only one of the best selling 3DS games, but the fastest selling portable Mario. I'm not terribly fond of ice levels in platformers, but they weren't too shabby in 3D Land. That hummable Snow Overworld theme certainly didn't hurt.

Sky Station Galaxy - Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)

I'm in the camp that feels that Super Mario Galaxy 2 isn't quite as good as the first Super Mario Galaxy. Even with all the left over ideas that Galaxy 2 used from the first game, it still seems like a heavy feeling of deja vu. This isn't to say I think the game is no good. Quite the opposite. The second Galaxy title is a fantastic platformer and a wonderful entry in the Super Mario series. There's some reused music in Galaxy 2, but thankfully not nearly as much as New Super Mario Bros. 2 reused themes from New Super Mario Bros. Wii. The Mario Galaxy Orchestra was brought back to compose music and the new tunes were every bit as good as what we'd heard in the first game.

Boulder - Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (PS)

For a time, Crash was Sony's unofficial mascot. These days, Crash can be found on nearly every console and handheld and Sony seems to be doing just fine without him. The first Crash Bandicoot game is known for it's absurdly high difficulty and that's even if you aren't going for 100%. Developer Naughty probably caught wind of this because Crash Bandicoot 2's challenged was toned down considerably. Without doing a 100% run, I managed to finish the game in about a day and half, much to my surprise. But despite the game being easy, I still enjoyed Crash 2. During the snow levels, if you weren't running from a huge polar bear, there was a boulder hot on your heels.

The Windmill Song - Klonoa: Door to Phantomile (PS, Wii)

Originally released on the PlayStation in 1997, Klonoa was a remarkable 2.5D platformer, staring the titular hero who used his ring known as the Wind Bullet to pick up foes and throw them at other enemies or use them as a boost to perform a double jump. The game also had a shocking ending that many were not expecting from a game of this caliber. The game would be re-released on the Wii in 2009 under the name Klonoa with the visuals receiving a fresh coat of paint. Music in both the Wii and PS version is exactly the same, and for fans of the original, that's probably a good thing. It may be kind of difficult (and pricey) to find a copy or the PS original so you're better off downloading it off the PSN or picking up the Wii remake.

Sea of Serendipity ~ Lums of Water - Rayman Origins (PS3, 360, Wii, Vita, 3DS)

Do you have a snoring problem? You might wanna get that fixed. Otherwise you might end up waking the dead, cause a sorts of problems for everyone around you and have to go off on a crazy adventure with your buddies through gorgeous, well designed but brutal stages. Don't take my word for it. Ask Rayman and his pals. Rayman Origins is one of the best games of 2011 that few have played and it breaks my heart. The game can now be purchased on the cheap so I highly recommend you pick up this challenging platformer.

Treasure Trove Cove - Banjo-Kazooie (N64)

A straight-laced bear teamed up with a smart-mouthed bird? That's gotta be the craziest idea for a team up I've ever heard. And yet, Rare managed to make it work. While heavy on the collecting, Banjo-Kazooie was such a fun game with wondrous worlds to explore that all the Jinjos and jigsaw puzzle pieces really didn't bother me. The game's second world, Treasure Trove Cove takes place on an a beach so it naturally has theme that reminds one of fun in the sun. Just stay clear of the shark.

Primordial Ooze - Ape Escape (PS)

Apes have escape and it's up to you to nab them all. Thankfully, they aren't flinging their fecal matter at you, but due to the helmets they wear that increase their intelligence, you may wish they did. Originally released on the PlayStation, Ape Escape was remade on the PSP with some enhancements like smoother visuals and remixed music. The music in the PSP version is quite good, but I'm one of those old fogies that prefers the original audio.