Archive for the ‘N64’ Category

WCW vs NWO World Tour

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

Since I do enjoy the Wrestling Arts, I give the occasional game that tries to recreate the experience a try, but they all typically have the same problem: you and someone else have to mash buttons as fast as you can, and the person that mashes them the fastest gets to do his move. Which makes marathon play sessions rather uncomfortable. But this one’s different, it features one of the most entertaining referees I’d ever seen, the late Mark Curtis.

There was an updated roster to reflect whatever flavors were popular around the time that the game came out, plus a ton of wrestlers from some overseas promotions that I’d never heard of before. Which actually leads me to believe that the whole game was originally full of non WCW wrestlers, but that the developers just kind of reworked some of them to look like the wrestlers from this side of the pond, but kind of ran out of wrestlers after a couple dozen.

I would only play this game one time, a friend had rented it and decided that I just had to play it. So we made time with two other guys and had at it for a couple of hours… with the game. And after a few hours, once our arms started to get sore, we packed it in. And I haven’t had anything to do with this game since, it was just kind of unremarkable.

Mario Party

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

Since the Nintendo 64 has four controller ports on it, it makes sense that you would eventually get some games that would make use of them all. And since I didn’t actually own Goldeneye, the first four-player game that I would spend any significant time with would turn out to be Mario Party.

Mario Party is a series of mini-games tied together by a overarching board game of sorts. See, you and three players take turns rolling a die and walking around the board. After all four players have moved they all go to play a mini game where coins are the prize. You use the coins to buy Stars, which are the main currency of the game. Whoever has the most stars at the end of the game is the Superstar, a.k.a. the Winner. There’s a little more to it than that, but you get the idea.

This game isn’t actually all that fun unless you’re playing with at least one other person, and each person you add bumps up how much fun you can have. There’s just nothing like having a close match between real, actual people. Especially when you steal their coins and stars at the last minute to win. Mwahaha!

Some of the mini games require you to rotate the control stick as fast as you can. Which sounds good in theory, but it quickly becomes apparent that the best way to do that is to mash your palm down on the stick and rotate it quickly around. This leads to two things: severely worn out/broken controllers and wearing a hole into the palm of your hand.

I played this game a whole lot, and although I never actually injured myself playing this game, I guess a lot of people did. Enough that Nintendo had to settle a lawsuit and give out some padded gloves to people who just couldn’t, you know, take a break now and again.

Superman 64

Monday, May 19th, 2008

Games where you get to play as Superman should be awesome, but they’re not. Frankly, I’m amazed that you can have a guy that is real strong, real fast, nearly invulnerable, can fly, can see through things, and has other powers that manifest when needed, that you can base a video game on, and then somehow make it an absolute chore to play.

Superman 64 takes place in the Superman universe that was portrayed in the cartoon show of the 90’s. The story is something about Lex Luthor having trapped Jimmy, Lois, and… someone else in a virtual reality environment, and Supes has to find them. How does he find them?

By flying through rings, or carrying something while flying through rings, or some other menial task. And to add to the… special flavor of this game, whenever you fail at something and start it again you get treated to the same voice-clip, “Then there’s no time to waste!”

The flying is just about the most uncontrollable thing that I’ve ever tried to do in a video game. I got immediately frustrated at it, and I couldn’t stomach playing the game for longer than five minutes. And, thankfully, I didn’t feel obligated to play this game any longer than that. I only played this game one time in a demo station at my local electronics store. And, I’ve got to say, it’s a good thing that the controller was bolted to the display, otherwise it might have sailed across the store and become lodged in the screen of the display laptops.

It’s the kind of game that I wake up some mornings and breathe a sigh of relief that I didn’t actually pay any money at all to play this game.

Castlevania 64

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Castlevania games, even though they look pretty different from each other, are a lot the same. They all have something to do with Dracula, someone related to the Belmont family line, and whips. But, it’s not as kinky as it sounds.

Every single Castlevania game I’ve played has been Good Times ™, with the exception of this one. It stars you, as one of the Belmonts (I forget which one) or some girl with magic hands. And you have to guide him or her to kill off Drac and his minions.

Since I like some good whipping action, I chose the Belmont as my character, and started in on the game. I made it through the first area outside the castle with not too much difficulty, but when I made it into the castle I had two big problems. One was that whipping in 2D space is pretty easy. Whipping in 3D space is really hard. I had a really hard time aiming my whip slashes, and that made it hard to kill things (though the enemies had no such problems). The other problem, which was huge for me, was that due to the wonky camera angles in the game, I had a big problem judging where the ends of platforms were. This, admittedly, wasn’t that big of a problem until I got to a place where there were bottomless pits. Then it turned into a significantly larger problem. Especially once I got to a place where I’d fall into a pit, then suffer a setback, then spend fifteen minutes getting to the same hole, which I’d misjudge again, and then get set fifteen minutes back AGAIN. Then I took the game out of the 64 and haven’t yet put it back.

Donkey Kong 64

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

I thought the original Donkey Kong Country game was pretty good, but I never got any of the sequels. They were a whole lot like the first one, or so I understood, but they each expanded the universe a little bit. Eventually, though, I got a system with snazzy new 3D graphics, and after I had that for a while, a new game set in that Donkey Kong universe came out. So I gave it a shot.

Donkey Kong 64 is a lot the same as the older Donkey Kong Country game. It still stars Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong searching around their home island for bananas stolen by King K. Rool. Only this time, they do so in three glorious dimensions! Oh, and they have three more Kongs to help them this time around.

See, to progress in this game, you need to fight the various bosses that are in each of the stages. To get to the boss you need to collect a certain number of bananas that are scattered all over the stage. There are 100 bananas per Kong per stage, and you need increasing numbers of them to proceed. The kicker is that although you can see all the bananas, you can’t collect bananas that belong to the other Kongs. So you have to traipse through each stage at least five times to get enough bananas to fight the boss. But that’s not all!

You also have to find and collect Golden Bananas to open up new stages. These you get for doing certain Kong-specific tasks in every stage. But, it’s just more collecting. If you like running around giant 3D stages and gathering stuff, then this game should give you your fix.

But who are we kidding? The real reason anyone got this game was because of the Monkey Rap.

Yeah, the Monkey Rap was pretty hilarious. And the boss fights were pretty awesome, but all of the mind-numbing collecting in between the awesome bits was really really tedious, and kind of made the game feel artificially lengthened. Especially toward the end, when you unlock the whole Kong family, and then have to go back to the first few stages and collect a few hundred bananas that you couldn’t get to before. Bleh.

But the game also hides within its depths versions of the original Donkey Kong game and Jetpac. And even though Jetpac wasn’t anything special, Donkey Kong was a nice surprise.

I keep thinking that I want to play through this game again, but I just can’t work up the motivation to collect the few thousand bananas that would entail.

Goldeneye 007

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

It’s true, I’m one of the few folks that bought a Nintendo 64 and didn’t buy Goldeneye. The game that I heard time and again was the greatest game on the console. The game that I still hear about today when fans talk about what game they’d most like to see on the Virtual Console or Xbox Live Arcade. Of course, neither of those things is likely to happen, and that suits me fine.

Goldeneye follows the plot of the Goldeneye James Bond movie, which I also haven’t seen. But the gist of the game is that you go through the various parts of the movie through the eyes of Mr. Bond himself completing whatever ridiculous objectives are thrown in your way.

I played the demo of this game a few times, and just couldn’t get into it. The big problem that I had was that the controls were a little wonky. I just couldn’t wrap my head around trying to move around with one thumb and aiming with the other. I just found it clunky, and not a lot of fun when I was dieing all the time.

But people assure me that it’s the finest Nintendo 64 game ever made. That it’s the best example of blocky guys shooting each other with heavy artillery you can find on the console, or possibly any console before or since. Which are both statements that I can’t really endorse, at least not while my palm lies here ungreased.

Pokémon Stadium 2 GS

Sunday, May 4th, 2008

Pokémon Silver was a pretty good sequel to a pretty good game. A pretty good game with a pretty good companion game. So it only followed that Silver would have a companion game of its own.

Pokémon Stadium 2 is largely the same as the previous Stadium game, but with a few additions. Most of them are pretty minor, but the one that I was most interested in was the academy. There you were presented with lots of information on just about every aspect of the Pokémon universe. You have charts to show you what’s weak to what. You have lessons on all kinds of battling and breeding techniques (with some canned examples!). As well as detailed profiles of all of the little monsters. You’re going to get more information there than you every thought you’d need to know.

Like the prior game, you don’t get a lot out of this unless you have the accompanying portable title to go with it. It’s designed to be a companion game, so if you judge it purely on its own, then it kind of falls short; there’s just not that much for you to do in it. It’s only when you link to your portable full-on adventure game do you really get the full benefit of this game. And if you do, then it’s really fun and informative. Otherwise you’re going to have that blank “Is this all there is?” look on your face about ten minutes into it.

Pokémon Stadium

Monday, April 21st, 2008

Pokémon Blue was a pretty good game. I really liked playing through it, catching all of the monsters and formulating strategies. But I got kind of bored after a while. The crux of the game is battling your little monsters, and since I didn’t have any regular opponents (i.e. real life opponents) and didn’t really want to start the game over and lose all of my progress, I was pretty well stuck.

A while later, though, and all that changed.

Pokémon Stadium is a lot of things, but primarily it’s a pretty 3D interface to your generic pokémon battling. See, when you fight in the Game Boy game, you just get a static picture that might waggle around a little, but pretty much doesn’t do much. This game, though, has your hordes of monsters rendered in glorious 3D fighting it out. And as an added bonus, you get to transfer the team you’ve slaved over on your portable system to the 3D system. And you’ll have to do just that to get the full enjoyment out of this game.

The game throws several dozen scenarios at you to test your battling mettle, which is pretty nice… if you like that kind of thing. You have to have a special affinity for managing statistics and probabilities to really have much success at these battles. I only kind of do, so I only kind of had success at the battling. But it was an ever-present challenge, so that’s something.

The other thing you could do to break up the constant battling was a collection of minigames. Which are mostly kind of lame, but are a reasonable distraction for a while.

I liked this game a lot. I liked trying out my different combinations of monsters, and I really liked being able to use the enhanced organization features that this game offered (the organization feature of the Game Boy version was pretty much nonexistant). But, since you really needed to have the Game Boy version to get the full enjoyment out of it, I can see why a lot of people wouldn’t have played it.

Harvest Moon

Monday, March 31st, 2008

Harvest Moon is a little odd for a game. It’s more like a kind of ‘life simulator’. The premise is that you’ve inherited a farm and have to do some work on it to get it productive. Along the way you interact with the folks in the neighboring village to build relationships. So you have to strike a balance between working on the farm to gain an income and going to the town to have a social life. Just like Real Life(tm).

A typical day will have you collecting eggs, milking the cows, plowing the field, watering the crops, harvesting the crops, going to the town for supplies, checking out the local town events and, if you have time, try to woo a wife.

It’s actually kind of tough to balance time in this game. Time goes by incredibly quickly. While you’re building up your farm you’re going to run out of daylight every day, then the town’s going to be closed and you just have to go to bed. After a while, though, once you start piling up a good income and the farm becomes self-sufficient you can go into town and make nice with the mayor, or do one of the festivals, or give gifts to the girl of your choice to try and court her and start a family.

It’s kind of weird how the game starts off so slowly and then ramps up to something interesting. I was tempted to give up after a while of just planting a few plants and pulling a few weeds before bed. But you just have to give it a little time, then the little charms start to slowly leak out of it until you’re so busy doing stuff that you’re going to lose track of it all.

I guess the only bad thing is that the story has a definite arc. After you get done with it you can keep playing to try and get your farm built up, but that’s about it. It’s more fun to go back and start again to try and change the outcomes of the different relationships, and to try to make your farm be better.

And no, it’s not really all that exciting, but it is oddly soothing and relaxing, and not like my own life, which is pretty awesome.

Fighters Destiny

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

As a rule I don’t really care much for 3D fighting games. I’m more of an old-school 2D fighting game fan. But I was somehow mysteriously drawn to Fighters Destiny anyway.

Probably most of the reason for that is that the game is a little different than most fighting games I’ve played. In those games you and your opponent beat on each other until one of your life bars is gone. You then do this in a best 2 out of 3 contest to determine a winner. This one, though, has you scoring points to win. Each time you incapacitate your opponent you get a certain amount of points which depends on how you finished them off. You get more points for more difficult KOs, of course. Get enough points and you win!

One of the things I didn’t like about this game was that you had to actually earn the better special moves for your guys by finishing the game with them. What that means is that if I go to someone’s house who has the game, but hasn’t finished it with the same characters that I have, then I might have my strategy compromised. Kinda lame.

The other thing is that you really need another person to play this game against. The computer is just a little too good, so training against it was just an exercise in frustration. I didn’t have a regular opponent who was willing to play this game, so I did do a lot of losing to the computer, and that gets kind of old after a while.

But I did have fun in the mode where I got to fight against a bipedal cow. And though the challenges to unlock most of the hidden characters were well out of my skill range to do, I still got a good couple of weeks out of this game, which is more than I can say for some of my more unfortunate decisions.