Archive for the ‘N64’ Category


Thursday, March 27th, 2008

I don’t remember the story at the beginning of Glover having any words, but I think it went something like this: there’s this wizardy guy with a pair of magic gloves. He performs some spell or other that goes awry which causes his gloves to blow off, one of them to become evil, the wizard’s six magic crystals to be blown across creation, and the wizard to be transformed into a water fountain. So it’s up to the remaining good glove to track down the crystals, defeat the evil glove, and restore the wizardy guy back to his wizardy self.

These six crystals, as it happens, are scattered throughout the six worlds connected to the wizardy guy’s wizardy tower. Inside each of the worlds is an assortment of stages and a boss fight that you have to endure to get your crystal back. The heck of it is, though, that you get the crystal on the very first stage of each world and have to take it to the goal while collecting ‘garibs’. Garibs are mysterious cards that are mysteriously floating all over the levels. Collect all the garibs and you get to fight the boss of the world. Beat all the worlds and you finish the game. Pretty predictable stuff.

Now it would be neato keen if Glover, being an ambulatory glove, could put the crystal in some kind of ‘inventory’. But it seems that he lacks pockets… or pants to put pockets on… or legs to put pants on… or… etc. So he can’t really carry the thing, but he can change its forms. He can change it into a rubber ball, a bowling ball, a little steel ball bearing, or its true crystal form (which gets you bonus points, but is very breakable). Which is fortunate because you have to use the various forms to get all of the garibs floating around all over the place.

Now, I thought it would be pretty awesome to play a game that consisted of, essentially, controlling Micky Mouse’s disembodied hand. And it was, for a couple of hours. Eventually, though, you have to jump up on top of the ball and ride it around like some kind of clown at a circus. This is fine in most cases, but when you do that in this game, your controls suddenly switch around backward. So you’re going along on your ridiculous gathering quest when all of a sudden down is up, up is down, left is right, and my controller became embedded in the wall.

Well, it would have been if my walls at the time weren’t made of plywood.

Super Mario 64

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

I have to admit, I was pretty blown away by the Nintendo 64. I never really had a Playstation, and although Star Fox and Stunt Race FX were both pretty good, they suffered from a huge framerate issue. So to have a game that ran in full glorious 3D without without looking more like an interactive slideshow was pretty attractive to me.

I was looking forward to the Nintendo 64 release for months upon months. Ever since I played Killer Instinct 2 and heard the machine proclaim that it was coming to my home (glee!) in ‘1995′ I would seek out any and all information I could get about the system, and since there wasn’t much Internet back then, it didn’t take very long.

Eventually, though, my local Toys ‘R’ Us got several demo units in along with the flagship game, Super Mario 64. I, of course, had to investigate. It turns out that they had five units in the store to play on. I and three of my buddies monopolized four of them for the better part of the morning through early afternoon on multiple consecutive Saturdays. I suppose that might have been somewhat insensitive to the kids waiting in crowds behind us, but that’s one of the advantages of having a driver’s license: first dibs.

The game, though it seems kind of generic now, is to guide Mario through a series of worlds, all represented by paintings in the castle, to get a series of stars and keys. You need these to proceed since they open up new doors to go through.

The game itself is put together really well. It’s still very close to the style set forth in Super Mario World, which is a massive adventure with very little dialog to get in the way. You just hop in, and start trying to figure out how to rescue the Princess without thinking too hard, which, truth be told, is nice sometimes.

I would play this game a lot. So much, in fact, that I would end up wearing out the control stick on my first controller. The game is surprisingly long and the stars you have to find are each hidden in some unique places, most not exactly obvious. It’s kind of odd to think that a game that essentially has you running around a freaky world that doesn’t always make too much sense for the sole purpose of collecting things can be a load of fun, but it is.

And with that, I think I’ve gushed enough for one day… Where did I put those paper towels…?


Friday, March 7th, 2008

I actually probably wouldn’t know anything about Jetpac if I didn’t play Donkey Kong 64. In that game, Cranky Kong tells you about a ‘real game’ you can play if you meet certain requirements. Do so, and you get… erm… ‘treated’ to one of the games from Rare’s storied past.

Jetpac tasks you with using your handy dandy jet pack to fly around a level infested with aliens. You have to assemble your ship, and then fuel it up by collecting fuel that mysteriously appears around the screen. There are also goodies to collect for points, and aliens to shoot for more points (which also has the side effect of thinning their numbers so they’re easier to avoid).

It should be fairly apparent that I don’t have some kind of bias against old games in favor of new games. I kept hearing about how awesome this game was, but it just didn’t click with me. Maybe those English folks have different tastes in games than I do, or maybe it’s a large elaborate joke that I don’t really get. But I played this game inside Donkey Kong 64 just long enough to get the requisite 5000 points to unlock whatever it was that I was supposed to unlock and then went off to play something that was a bit more fun, like Fold the Shirts From the Clothes Dryer.

Star Fox 64

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

I was never sure if Star Fox 64 was a sequel or a reimagining of the original game. They both feature you, as the titular Star Fox, along with your flight-buddies of a frog, a rabbit, and a blue falcon (no, not that Blue Falcon) have to save the solar system from an exiled (and criminally insane) evil-genius-monkey-scientist. I remember at the end of the original game blowing up a giant cube with Andross’s (the monkey) face all over it. I assumed that meant he was dead. But I’ve assumed lots of things in the past, mostly incorrectly.

The game goes along a lot like the original Super NES offering. You and your three buddies fly along a landscape. You end up doing all of the fighting enemies, finding hidden routes, and that kind thing. Your buddies are apparently way smarter than you and they don’t actually do much of anything. They very very rarely ever shoot anything, probably so they don’t raise the ire of the enemy pilots. Though sometimes an enemy will tail one of your buddies anyway and you have to rescue him before he gets shot down.

If you can manage to keep your friends alive, they don’t really help that much, but they do talk to you. Your guys are constantly chattering with each other and with the enemies. I thought that was pretty awesome, since I was led to believe by Sony’s hype engine that Nintendo cartridges wouldn’t have the room to have such things on them. Even though every review of the game bemoaned the fact that although there was a ton of voice-work in the game, that it didn’t sound crystal-clear (a.k.a. CD quality). To me it sounded more like staticy radio communications, you know, since they were talking over radios. So it was fine.

Also introduced in this game was a tank and a submarine to pilot. The tank being far less lame than the sub. In fact, I liked driving the tank around almost as much as driving the plane around. But the sub? I like to pretend that the lone submarine level doesn’t exist anymore.

What really gets this game going, though, is the multiplayer. You and three friends can get together and play with whatever combination of tanks and flying machines you choose and fight it out until only one is left standing. This makes for some pretty intense battles, if your friends are any good at the game at all. You also have the option of playing the mode while on foot and carrying bazookas, but that’s just dumb. You’re a smaller target, yeah, but kind of vulnerable without wearing an armored vehicle of some sort.

I would end up playing this game a whole lot. Which is kind of weird, since I normally don’t really like flying games. I suppose I was just entertained by the… ’snappy’ banter between the characters. That and the fact that they were actually talking instead of making generic animal noises.

Oh! And that it came with the new-fangled Rumble Pak that vibrated my controller whenever I took damage in game. That was pretty amazing at the time, though it’s pretty ‘meh’ these days.

Good thing that Rumble Pak had other uses later on.

Wave Race 64

Saturday, March 1st, 2008

Looking back, I’m not sure why I bought Wave Race. I don’t really get into racing games that much, and I certainly don’t know anything about Jetskis. I guess I was just mesmerized by the neat water effects and the NOT AT ALL ANNOYING announcer who repeats the same half-dozen clips every few seconds and is completely un-turn-off-able.

The game is, then, about racing personal watercraft around various courses. Each one has its own water conditions, layout, and setting. You and a few other schmucks get to ride around, trying to pass the giant balloons on the proper sides. See, if you pass the balloons on the wrong side too many times, you lose. If you go outside the track boundaries, you lose. And if you don’t finish the race fast enough… erm… you lose.

The difficulty in controlling the Jetskis is all over the place. It’s tough to get traction on water, so you’re always slipping and sliding around all over the place. You have to learn the nuances of the control scheme like briefly letting off the gas, turning, and then jamming on the gas again when you hit the proper angle. Once you finally master that little nugget, you get thrown into courses where there is actual turbulence in the water. These make giant waves that throw you into the air, throwing off your course, killing your momentum, and making you lose. You’re supposed to be able to somehow press a direction on the control stick and you will go through the waves… or skip over the tops of them… or something else entirely. I don’t really know because I couldn’t ever do it properly. I would do pretty well until the weather kicked in, then I just couldn’t handle the ridiculous amount of directions and buttons, and balloons, and announcers required to win any races, so I didn’t win very many. And if you’re not winning a racing game, or even getting any better at its special brand of esoteric controls, then you need to move on to something else.

So I did.

The New Tetris

Saturday, February 16th, 2008

For the most part, Tetris is Tetris. But something compels me to keep buying the incremental upgrades. Maybe it’s that I can’t stand to have a game system that doesn’t have some version of Tetris on it, I don’t really know.

What makes this Tetris ‘New’ are three new play mechanics: hold pieces, t-spins, and ‘bonus squares’. Hold pieces are just that: you can swap out the currently falling piece for the one in your ‘hold area’. You can hang on to that long piece until you really need it, or any number of strategies. It’s so handy that I’m surprised it hadn’t been done before.

T-Spins are a little harder to describe, but basically you take a T piece and just before it hits home and is cemented in place you rotate it so that it fits where you normally couldn’t move it. this causes all of the pieces below the t-spin to crumble into pieces and fill in the holes left over from Tetris-gravity.

The squares, though, there’s where you have the chance to get ‘bonus lines’. Basically what you have to do is to make a 4×4 square out of the falling pieces. If your square is homogeneous, you get a mono-square, if it’s heterogeneous, you get a multi-square. Clear lines that include parts of the squares and your lines get multiplied, more points for the harder to make mono-square, of course. You also get a bonus for performing a tetris, and that can be multiplied as well, for all kinds of lines all around!

One of the kind of neat things about this game is that you use the lines that you win in the various modes to construct ‘wonders’ of the world. Every time you hit a milestone you get a new wonder with some interesting factoids and a new background and musical score to go along with it. The only problem I had was that to unlock all the wonders you had to clear 500,000 lines total. On a good day I can get about 2000 lines in a session. That means I have to play about 250 sessions. Each of those sessions takes me about an hour. So, rather than sink 250 hours into the game, fun as it is, I kind of quit playing it after I got a new system and a new version of Tetris to distract me. I keep telling myself that I’ll pick it back up one day and get the rest of those wonders, and maybe one day I’ll believe it.


Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

The ending of Banjo-Kazooie fairly strongly hinted that there would be a sequel. In fact, it outright showed some pictures and told you that the stuff in them will be in the next game. One of the things in the ending that was really intriguing, at least to me, was that there were some items in the first game that were completely unaccessible, but the ending showed clips of Banjo collecting them, hinting that they would be used somehow in the next game.

A couple of years later I bought the sequel, eagerly anticipating getting the tantalizingly out of reach items from the first game and then somehow use them for goodies in the second game, but it was not to be. The feature was axed from the game, and without any word from the developers nobody really knows what the plan was or what kind of things were to be unlocked. Ah well.

It turns out, however, that the second game in the series is fun in its own right, so that lessened the blow considerably.

Banjo-Tooie is a lot like the first game. You take control of a bear and the bird that lives in his backpack and have to get puzzle pieces to progress, sometimes getting transformed into various creatures to do so, and the story culminates with a battle with Gruntilda (the villain of the first game) and her sisters. Only this time the duo can separate, gaining new moves, and you can occasionally control Mumbo (the witch doctor from the first game).

Oh, and occasionally you get into an area where the bear wields the bird like a shotgun, shooting eggs from her mouth. Which I found to be kind of out of place, but not off-puttingly so.

I liked this game about as much as I did the first one, and was pretty disappointed that Rare kind of quit making this series (though rumblings of a third game are starting to make the rounds). And if the only problem that I can find is that it didn’t link up with its predecessor like it was supposed to, then I’d say that’s pretty minor and still a winner.

War Gods

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

If it wasn’t for a friend of mine’s obsession with Mortal Kombat, I probably wouldn’t have given War Gods a second look. But he rented it one weekend and brought it over, because it was hyped as being a bigger, badder, and bloodier version game. Now I wake up every morning thankful that the experience is over.

The game was so bad that I don’t remember that much about it. I’m pretty sure it’s my brain’s selectively blocking out the atrocious game to save my sanity.

The story? I don’t remember and can’t be bothered to look it up. You just need to know that there is a variety of fighters all trying to pummel each other to death for an unknown reason. Then they get to perform progressively more ludicrous ‘finishing moves’.

Play control was horrible. The game looked like someone vomited on my TV. The characters and story were completely ridiculous. I’m sure there were some reasons to like this game buried in there somewhere, but I was unable to unearth them.

Mario Kart 64

Saturday, January 5th, 2008

I absolutely loved the original Mario Kart game. I played it until my controllers wore out. So it was pretty well a given that when a new game in the series came out, but this time in glorious 3D, I was all over that action.

The game is a lot like its 2D predecessor, you take your favorite Nintendo-themed character around some courses in a race against other Nintendo characters. The better you finish, the more points you get, and after the circuit is over, the racer with the highest score wins. It’s all pretty straightforward, and nothing’s really changed that much.

I didn’t like this game as much as the original. Sure, the 3D was great, but the control left a bit to be desired. When I turned left or right the back end of the kart would kind of slide instead of a hard turn. But the power slide was refined a bit, which was a bit of a tradeoff, I suppose. I still got some enjoyment out of it, though, which is the important thing.

Blast Corps

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

I only played Blast Corps twice, both times were when a friend rented the game and forced me to come over and check it out. My memory of the game might be a bit fuzzy, then. But from what I remember of the game you take control of a demolition crew who has to wreck everything in the path of a truck hauling a particularly powerful bomb. See, the truck’s somehow gone out of control and if it collides with anything it blows up, destroying civilization (and, more importantly, ending the game).

You get to go around the various regions in the truck’s path, using whatever vehicles have been left at your disposal, and destroy enough buildings that the truck can go through unscathed. Then you have the option of trying over for a faster time, destroying everything in the region, or moving on to the next.

I would have probably purchased this game if I’d had the opportunity. Unfortunately, since I didn’t actually play it until after it had gone out of print, I didn’t really seize the opportunity to do so. So, now all I have is the occasional video to remember the game by.