Nintendo 64

[last updated: 06-MAR-2010]

Banjo-Kazooie

RATING: 3/4

WHEN: Summer 1998

Fun times. (also yes i'm terrible at picture choosing)


It's difficult to say much about the game that hasn't already been said. I mean, it's large and expansive, there's variety in level themes, abilities and challenges, there's personality... it's a pretty rad game! I personally feel the game flows better than Super Mario 64 - towards the end of that the levels got rather gimmicky and weren't much fun to actually revisit, whereas Banjo, although it has less worlds, they're better fleshed-out and with much more see and find in them. It also helps that you're not kicked out of the stage after every Jiggy you find.

The only real downside, as minor as it is, is that a completed save file doesn't offer you much. Super Mario 64 still has all the missions available and you can aim for faster times on completing them, but Banjo-Kazooie has no means of revisiting them besides starting a new file - which isn't that bad, but wading through the comparatively dull levels like Mumbo's Mountain so you can reach, say, Mad Monster Mansion, is a bit of a slog. Still, it's a very enjoyable game and I'd recommend checking it out.

| return to top |


Completion: 100%.

Banjo-Tooie

RATING: 3/4

WHEN: Summer 2001

Fun times two.


[NEW!] Sometimes it astounds me that Banjo-Tooie was made after Donkey Kong 64. After a game that disproportionately huge, how would you ever make another game in the same genre again? Tooie expands upon the original, offering more abilities, more items and larger worlds, but never feels bloated by the additions.

Having covered the basic principals of themed worlds in the first games, the worlds of Tooie are a mixed bag. Some of the worlds are very rich, vast, and truly beautiful, and feel as if they could have fit more than a mere ten Jiggies into them... and some just feel rather uninspired, as if they'd run out of imagination. The latter half of the game suffers from this, as the very samey-looking Terrydactylland is followed by the painful-to-navigate Grunty Industries, and the final world is Cloud Cuckoo Land, a world with a "random" theme, making for a very abstract and uncomfortable layout. After the show-stealing Jolly Roger's Lagoon, everything else kind of pales in comparison.

There are a variety of new moves, the most notable the ability to shoot eggs of various properties, and Banjo and Kazooie can now split up (one could argue that the first-person-shooter segments are a bold new move, but there's so few areas featuring it it's actually rather forgettable). This increases the non-linear nature of the game - the first one had very few (if any?) instances of having to return to an old world with a newly-learnt ability, but this one frequently forces you to revisit old locations with new moves, really increasing the sense of exploration and discovery. On the other hand, it does render a lot of stuff not as useful as it could be - the eggs aren't quite as widely-used as you'd think they are, and there are several instances of stumping yourself on a puzzle simply because it requires you to use the the move you'd least expect. Who thought the test of strength would force you to shoot a grenade at it?

There's a lot of emphasis on mini-games this time, and the sheer abundance of them can get quite tiresome, especially when you have to play the same game several times just to earn a single Jiggy. Mind you, some of them are actually very fun, though not to the extent where they distract you from the main game. It's minor praise, but I appreciate how the game allows you to replay many parts of the game after it's finished - bosses, movie scenes, mini-games, it can all be accessed. Given how vast the game is and how Kazooie forced you to start the entire game from the start should you so much as want to fight Grunty again, it's a welcome gesture.

It's a very good game, but I do think Kazooie is the more rounded of the two. Tooie is incredible, but a lot of the worlds just lack the charm and depth of the original, and sometimes it just feels like it's trying too hard to be big and impressive, when the comparatively small scale and streamlined feel of the original felt so much more admirable.

| return to top |


Completion: Still a number of Jiggies to get.

Blast Corps

RATING: n/a

WHEN: 1997

Typical Rare: Fun, but becomes bogged down with frustration as it goes along.


[no review]

| return to top |


Completion: No.

Bomberman 64

RATING: 3/4

WHEN: 1997/1998

An interesting shift into 3D, although the levels can drag on for a bit.


Would you believe this was my entry into the Bomberman series? I saw a preview in an issue of Nintendo Official Magazine and fell in love with the looks of it, and just had to get it. No regrets!

Quite simply, the previous Bomberman games were 2D, 4-directional stuff where the main goal was to kill all the enemies or wipe out every target. This is 3D, 8-directional stuff where the main goal is to create the exit via solving puzzles, whether it's simply working out how to progress through the level, destroying targets or raising bridges and whatnot. The first level of the first world is a simple affair of activating switches, while the third level of the second world involves draining water to open new areas and using it to pour into a pot and raise the staircase to the exit. Sometimes you just try to explore a labyrinthine area to find the exit, which can actually be difficult if you don't know where to look, especially with the dodgy camera that likes to obscure things from sight.

And that's ignoring the fact there's a story! A very barebones, basic, not exactly great story, but it's there and it had fascinated years ago. It's really just an excuse to work in bosses who function the same as Bomberman himself, except with force fields, missiles and ninja skills, which I can't complain about at all. And there's also giant dragons and whatnot, which help add variety, and certainly make the game more entertaining than the NES one.

Since the levels are now more expansive, multi-floored and not just restricted to a grid, battle mode has undergone heavy changes. The most major thing is that the bomb explosions are no longer like + signs, but are circular; this kind of ruins the feeling of "I'm safe over here wait shiiiiiit" as a bomb you thought had short range was proven wrong, especially since to stand anywhere near a bomb is dangerous. It goes through walls! A lot of people didn't think fondly of this significant change, but I personally think it's great; the 2D games put too much emphasis on the soft blocks "creating" the field, so when they were gone you were left with a barren arena. Bomberman 64 has the stage create the stage, as it should, and the blocks are just there for items.

The lasting appeal of Bomberman games are always questionable, but 64 actually manages pretty well; the battle mode rocks, and although the single-player is only twenty four stages long, they're large and complex and feature five gold cards to collect, a hundred of which are necessary for progress to the final world. Not to mention there's costume pieces to collect and use in battle mode, and although they don't actually change a thing for the game, it's a pleasant little extra.

To be honest, the only things that prevent the game from getting a higher rating are how the hard mode doesn't change a significant amount, and the lack of co-operative. I'm fussy.

| return to top |


Completion: 100%.


Further reading: Check out the Totally Bombastic Bomberman Shrine Place!

Bomberman Hero

RATING: 2/4

WHEN: Oct 1999

Generic platformer.


Instead of continuing the gameplay of Bomberman 64 (which rocked), this turns Bomberman into a generic platformer. It is fun at times, and there are some stages involving modes of transport that mix things up (including Louies! but they're not that fun), but at the roots, it's just a basic platformer.

And it's not even a basic platformer with a Bomberman theme. The most it has to do with Bomberman is him being the main character and others celebrating at the end, the use of bombs to attack, and Bagular (or Buggler or Burgler or whatever he's called) being the final bad guy. There's also a really stupid plot that doesn't even try to hide that it's ripping off Star Wars.

As I've just repeated numerous times, it's a generic platformer, and it's nothing more than that.

| return to top |


Completion: Need perfect scores and all orbs.


Further reading: Check out the Totally Bombastic Bomberman Shrine Place!

Buck Bumble

RATING: 1/4 (needs reassessment)

WHEN: Summer 1999

Is it so hard to make a 3D game that isn't all about exploration and vast landscapes? Seriously, sometimes they aren't for the best.


Buck Bumble sounds like a great concept. Mutant insects are causing havoc, so a badass bee with guns and his own rap song comes along to serve them an ass whooping. Gameplay consists of being dropped into a large, expansive level, and having to follow objectives (usually kill all enemies), which is hard not only because the levels are huge, but also because you don't have lock-on, the baddies like to move around fast, and the levels all tend to look the same. Combined with clunky controls, horrendous fog, a fluctuating frame rate, and a boring 2-Player mode, and the general disappointment of such a concept going to waste, it's not good at all. I'm sure if it were something like Panzer Dragoon I would've loved it, but alas.

| return to top |


Completion: No.

Bust-A-Move 2 Arcade Edition

RATING: n/a

WHEN: 2000

NOTES: Gift from a friend.

Eh.


[no review]

| return to top |


Completion: No.

Castlevania

RATING: n/a

WHEN: 1999/2000

Looks decent to me, at least.


[no review]

| return to top |


Completion: Steve completed it.

Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness

RATING: n/a

WHEN: 2000

Same applies. Emphasis on "same".


[no review]

| return to top |


Completion: Steve completed it.

Chameleon Twist

RATING: 2/4

WHEN: Summer 1998

Feels like one of those gimmicky SNES platform games, made 3D on the N64. To see that as criticism or a compliment is your choice!


Chameleon Twist can be described as a generic platformer with a TWIST (lol), as you're apparently a chameleon and can use your comically long tongue for things like pole vaulting, grabbing onto and swinging on poles, as well as eating enemies and spitting them out. While this concept sounds it could result in some devious puzzles, it's a very simple game. If there's difficulty involved, it can be blamed on sloppy level design and the camera. There's a multi-player battle mode which, surprisingly, is a heap of fun, and even my friends whom are put off by such queery ass games like this enjoyed the battle mode heartily.

It's a rather plain affair, but I feel the need to note that one of the enemies in the game is a floating custard cream biscuit with arms and googly eyes.

| return to top |


Completion: Need all crowns.

Conker's Bad Fur Day

RATING: 2/4

WHEN: 2001

Multi-player is the way to go.


I admit: I haven't played the single-player mode much. I either watched or played small segments, but not all the way through. I've played multi-player too many times to count, and damn is it a hell of a lot of fun! But single-player?

Single-player is disjointed and awkward and not a whole lot of fun. It keeps up with Rare's traditional 3D platformers by awarding you an item (money) for completing tasks, but half of the time they're fairly obnoxious (firing at wasps with a turret repeatedly until you can return a beehive) or force you to repeat certain steps multiple times just to make progress, such as the feeding quests with the rat and Batula. Then throw in the fact that the humour in movie scenes fluctuates throughout, the story is inconsistent and you just can't skip anything, and it all becomes a bit of a chore.

Multi-player, on the other hand, is heaps of fun. Several modes, all of them fun (with the exception of Tank, which is the most boring shit ever) and cheap computer characters all add up to a good use of an hour or two with some buddies.

| return to top |


Completion: 100%.

Diddy Kong Racing

RATING: n/a

WHEN: 1997

3D platform game elements should stay in 3D platform games.


[no review]

| return to top |


Completion: I have no idea.

Donkey Kong 64

RATING: n/a

WHEN: 2001

Haven't played.


[no review]

| return to top |


Completion: No.

Earthworm Jim 3D

RATING: 1/4

WHEN: 1999/2000

Eh.


Earthworm Jim makes the jump from a 2D sidescroller to a 3D collect-a-thon-via-wacky-objectives, just like every other platformer person in existence. It was more the content rather than the basis that made Earthworm Jim stand out, so I suppose it's forgivable. Right?

Having had a cow land on his head and render his in a cartoon-equivalent of a coma, Jim's marbles have been scattered, rendering his intelligence (if any) to zilch, so he'd got to collect them all, as well as gather up the golden utters so the Cow of Contemplation can open up doorways in his mind, thus allowing him to progress further in his quest to become sane again. Thus, you explore the four areas of his mind: Memory (a war zone between cows, porcupines and poultry), Happiness (a land of food, including BAKED BEAN LAVA), Fear (your typical horror stages), and Fantasy (the wild west), and set about searching, exploring and following orders. Happiness, for instance, requires you to free an obese Elvis from Fatty Roswell's prison and get him back to Greaseland, while Happiness demands you retrieve the briefs of a chicken colonel; as in, literal underpants briefs, not plans. Hilarity!

Jim is armed with Big Red Gun, the ability to whip and roll, and can pick up a variety of items along the way, ranging from a tin of beans that act as a temporary jump boost via means of farting; a gnome gun, a six shooter, an egg firing sniper rifle, and more. A majority of the guns are merely more powerful and just for decoration, and some like the gnome gun are particularly hard to aim with, so a majority of the time you're better off just sticking with your usual armament.

To say the humour from Earthworm Jim comes from how nutty everything is is just stating the very bloody obvious, and the same persists here, though with more corny gags and puns thrown in, thanks to the prevalence of actual conversations, what with the objectives and all. However, while the series has always had gross humour - frickin' world of snot and Queen Slug For A Butt, you guys - this one seems to offer it in larger offerings, thanks to the addition of small details in plentiful amounts. Every enemy you shoot and kill will have particles fly off them, whether it's just sparks or little orbs, but in a large number of cases it's your typical cartoon bones. Yeah, it can be funny, as made obvious by the death of Allen O'Neill in , but here it shows up so much that it becomes almost gratuitous. Porcupine soldiers spewing out thirty out of them before expiring? Sure, okay. Mutant chicklets doing the same? Eh. An innocent hamster being whipped to death and exploding into giblets and bones? That's just not on.

Similarly, the 2D games worked great because they looked like cartoons! Detailed, fluid and characteristic animation with increasingly bizarre settings, all with a touch of class and charm. That works superb in 2D animation. It doesn't translate quite as well to 3D, especially in the early days when this was released. Jim has no mouth, nor any expressions beyond having one eyelid lowered, and although everything is animated with bounciness and cartoon-like movements, they move too jittery and look too jaggedy to be anything less than off-model. Mutant chicklets? What should be funny comes across as just... weird, and the jerky animation potentially escalates that to off-putting. The characters in Fantasy are all done with over exaggerated Looney Tunes style wild west caricatures, but thanks to those details being lost to clashing polygons and wonky textures, they can come across as rather disturbing, and their inevitable deaths via being blown up or crushed by safes just seems more like putting a sick dog out of it's misery rather than genuine slapstick.

Boss battles are more like boss competitions, as yes, although you do "fight" a familiar Earthworm Jim villain (except for Fatty Roswell; god knows who he is), it is not by means of a violence duel or a battle to exhaustion. Instead, you ride on pigs on an arena of mud, and have to collect marbles. Collect them all, you win, but since the boss is also trying to collect them, you exchange missile to stun them and make them drop some of the glorious orbs, thus heating up the duel. They're very long-winded, and although interesting, having to do them four times in the game just isn't that fun, really. Kind of like the rest of the game, I guess.

The game has nice intentions, I suppose, but it just never really goes out of it's way to be plain ol' fun and not bogging you down with mediocrity. Objectives are a pain because they're so long-winded and monotonous that you almost want to skip them in the middle of doing them. Platforming is a pain because the camera never zooms out far enough for you to see clearly, and turning it is VERY slow. Shooting bad guys, somehow, is a pain thanks to the sloppy weapons and how long some of them take to die, plus the camera. The game's just a pain!

Super Mario 64 is great and all, but honestly, I hate it for making collect-a-thons the hip thing to do. Crash Bandicoot is the only one who got the 3D platformer without collecting crap to be any good, if I recall!

| return to top |


Completion: Need last few udders.

Goldeneye 007

RATING: n/a

WHEN: 1997

daaaaaaamn


[no review]

| return to top |


Completion: Need to unlock cheats, second secret level and 007 difficulty.

Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards

RATING: 2/4

WHEN: July 2001

A step backwards.


Three years since a Kirby adventure, and it feels like a mighty step downwards. Gone is the 2-Player of Kirby's Fun Pak/Super Star and Dream Land 3, the intriguing scenery and characters are missing in action, and the level design has left the building. The levels mostly consist of flat stretches with something to jump over occasionally with nothing interesting to look at to relieve the monotony, and there isn't even the antics of a multi-player mode to make things fun. There is a 4-Player mini-game mode, but seriously, mini-games, who plays those for long?

On the bright side, although the list of abilities have been severely reduced, you can now combine two abilities to produce a new one, expanding the selection. They may not be as unique as Yo-Yo or Bird, but at least it's an amount. Also, the game being 3D is both good and bad. While it gives more depth and makes otherwise bland levels a little more pretty, it has a habit of not showing enough of the screen or being too close at times.

The game can still be enjoyable, but really, it's just a major step downwards from Kirby's Fun Pak, which no other game has yet to live up to.

| return to top |


Completion: 100%.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask

RATING: n/a

CONSOLE: GameCube

WHEN: Jul 2004

NOTES: Part of The Legend of Zelda Collector's Edition.

Haven't played.


[no review]

| return to top |


Completion: No.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

RATING: 3/4

WHEN: December 1998

A smooth transition into 3D.


[NEW!] Whereas Super Mario essentially become a whole new entity in its transition to 3D, the Legend of Zelda stays pretty much the same - you roam a world map, go to dungeons, solve puzzles, beat bosses, and so on. The core gameplay makes a smooth transition, but it's the new 3D environments that really bring the game to life. The sole town in A Link To The Past didn't feel like a town so much as just a place to do sidequests, and I personally found exploring the overworld in Link's Awakening to be a hideous chore, but Ocarina of Time finally makes the word seem... natural. With NPCs that have more than two frames of animation, they can be seen going about their normal lives to the best abilities an N64 can muster, and obviously since the areas are now 3D, they look like vibrant and interesting places with all manner of nooks and crannies to explore, rather than just a flat backdrop to traipse across. The game really looks good.

Tackling the dungeons is similarly enjoyable, especially in part to how different it is exploring them in the third dimension. Items such as the bow and the hookshot become so much more appealing when you're in control of them from a first person perspective. Because the game no longer uses the overhead see-everything-in-the-room view of the 2D games, there's almost a slightly spooky vibe about most of the dungeons - although they do technically have music, it primarily consists of atmospheric noise, and creatures such as the Wallmaster are much more frightening when their shadow is the last thing you see before you're treated to a scene of Link being forcibly pulled through the floor, screaming. Touches like that are pretty neat!

So, yeah, the dungeons remain fun.

The problem with the game, however, is that it really wants you to pay attention to the story. I'm up for a good story when I want to, but frankly, I play Zelda for the dungeons. Having to wade through long, slow-moving, unskippable text that often includes slow, unskippable movie scenes to go along with them is not my idea of a good time. I like the owl dude, but the fact he gives you the option of repeating every damn word he says is just a needless dick move, and he's off my Christmas card list because of that. The game as a whole can be slow-moving at times; like my brother's recollection of Final Fantasy VII, that game doesn't become good until you leave Midgar, and Ocarina doesn't truly pick up for me until the first three dungeons are finished, but in that time you've got all manner of farting about to do; thankfully, child Link's areas are all in close vicinity of each other, but after that it's not until you get Epona that traversing the world map becomes less of a slog - and even then, as nice as it is, it's a bit damn big.

Regardless, it's an enjoyable game with plenty of stuff to do, and I'm sure the constant 10 out of 10 scores its received throughout the years mean everyone's probably played it by now.

| return to top |


Completion: Need last few heart pieces; otherwise totally finished.


Further reading: Also included on The Legend of Zelda Collector's Edition.

Lylat Wars

RATING: 3/4

WHEN: 1997

Pretty damned awesome.


Also known as Star Fox 64, I bought this without the knowledge it was a sequel, and didn't buy the sequel until about three or four years later. Despite having tons of dialogue and numerous movie scenes, the game is essentially an arcade game with fancy features like split paths and so on. It results in a pleasant change of pace from the likes of Super Mario 64, and is a lot more easier to pick up and play. The downside I find is that the multi-player isn't anywhere near as good as it could be.

| return to top |


Completion: Need to unlock on-foot multi-player and James McCloud.

Mario Kart 64

RATING: 2/4

WHEN: 1998

Not quite there, but pretty good.


Mario Kart 64 was once the party game on the N64 for us, and we'd play late into the night firing shells at each other and driving off the edge of the skyscraper battle course with one balloon just to see who would lose first. And sometimes one of us would brake before falling off and everyone would shout at them. Fun times!

Everyone knows what Mario Kart is, so explaining it or even complimenting it would be redundant. So, to use that phrase I love so much, "my nags include" the lack of Koopa Troopa, the accuracy of the Red Shells still being terrible (especially for the Spiny Shell, which more often than not will plonk into a wall before it can actually start dishing out pain), how the chances of re-entering the race after being squished is only slightly better than the previous game, and how the computer players are no longer cheap.

The opponents in the first game would throw whatever they could at you, turn invincible at the dirtiest moment and even after being clobbered and sent to last place, they'd just zoom back behind you to continue their torment. The computers don't do that in this. They still do the zooming, but the use of items is less devious, so the game feels a lot easier.

The game is still pretty damn fun, though, but it's yet another N64 game plagued by a slow PAL frame rate, and I only noticed it recently. C'est la vie.

| return to top |


Completion: 100%.

Mario Party

RATING: n/a

WHEN: 1999

The best.


[no review]

| return to top |


Completion: Totally.


Further reading: I wrote reviews of the individual mini-games. Don't ask me why.

Mario Party 3

RATING: n/a

WHEN: 2001

Not very memorable.


[no review]

| return to top |


Completion: Only with Wario.

Mario Tennis

RATING: 1/4

WHEN: Nov 2000

Not bad, but not necessarily good either.


For whatever reason, despite never having much of an interest in the sport and not caring about Mario Golf, I was ecstatic about the release of this game, and thoroughly loved it when I got it. The multi-player didn't even compare to Mario Kart or Mario Party, but I loved it.

Playing it now? Not very good. It's okay, but it doesn't really make the tennis game genre any better, as it still suffers from the various flaws, like the game being easy when you are the one to serve, but once the computer does it they've usually got a guaranteed Game. And starting a charged move is incredibly risky, as it practically bolts you to the floor and the button for cancelling it is never handy, and once you realise "oh snap I won't hit this one" it'll have gone right past you. And nobody ever remembers the button. No walkthrough I've read mentions it, but I swear it's in the manual!

And just like all of the Mario sports games I've played, there's a distinct lack of Mario themes. There's a mode where you can hit item boxes and throw Koopa shells at each other, but that's it. It wouldn't be so bad if the game were good on its own, like Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour, but it isn't really. Positive things to say about it? It introduced Waluigi, and reintroduced Birdo, who was given an adorable voice in this game before being restricted to only WHAH-WOW.

| return to top |


Completion: Probably still stuff to unlock.

Mischief Makers

RATING: n/a

WHEN: Autumn 1997/1998

Pretty neato.


[no review]

| return to top |


Completion: Need 'A' Ranks.

Mission Impossible

RATING: n/a

WHEN: 2000?

Looked a bit crap, really.


[no review]

| return to top |


Completion: No idea.

Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon

RATING: 3/4

WHEN: 1998

Just plain fun.


[NEW!] A very fun adventure game with a simple yet engaging feel to it. There's lots to like about the game, from its rich and colourful graphics to the joy of exploration; even its ridiculous storyline involving a shogun duo wanting to transform Japan into a stage for their song-and-dance shows is a hoot.

You take control of Goemon and friends, a group of do-gooders of various backgrounds who save the day just because. They all control very nice and smoothly, and there's a refreshing removal of the adventure-game-standard inventory system: each character has one unique weapon/tool and one special ability, saving you the hassle of juggling through lots of items like in Zelda, though otherwise they all play identically. Some characters do feel comparatively useless due to how their abilities aren't used much - Ebisumaru's camera is only mandatory for one dungeon, one plot item and a couple of incidental rooms, and all of the special abilities are used shockingly little... though when there's only four characters to play as, it's not exactly a big deal.

I've little to no experience with the original Ganbare Goemon games, but I am familiar with the basic structure of town -> level -> dungeon -> repeat pattern, and Starring Goemon is no different. The dungeons are fun, fast-paced and straightforward - they're structured and play closer to 3D platformer levels than the likes of Ocarina of Time, what with that game's inability to jump, which actually does more to make you feel more engaged when just exploring the dungeons. Having Link automatically jump or climb just by tilting the control stick is convenient, but it sure doesn't feel involved. A lot of the game is spent exploring the Japanese countryside to reach the next area, and it's actually surprisingly enjoyable, mostly in part to the colourful environments and bouncy, peppy music. However, sometimes it's rather vague to know where to go next... and on one occasion, rather than hinting towards where your next destination is, Yae explicitly says you should visit the fortune teller who tells you where to go. A poke at open-ended gameplay, or sloppy design? It's arguable! There are at least four or five towns in the game, but you have to backtrack to one in particular, Zazen Town, about five times over the course of the game, while there's only one other town in the game you'd got a plot-driven reason to return to.

While half of the boss battles simply involve your normal characters (and are rather uneventful), the other half invoke the usage of the giant robot Impact, who begins by charging up his fuel gauge and ammo supply by rampaging across the Japanese countryside. It then moves into a first-person brawl with the enemy robot where you can punch and fire pellets of money, and given the pattern-driven flamboyant motions of the enemy robot, it's almost like a first-person Punch-Out!!. While these segments are entertaining, they feel very limited as you're limited to only aiming, punching and shooting, and can only attack when the enemy wants you to (you can, in theory, weed its health down with the money bullets, but that's slow, impractical and just plain boring). Later bosses feature lots of attacks that are mildly tough the first time, but eventually become padding in between segments of actually being able to attack. For this reason they're very long and can get tedious very quickly - they do change tactics once their health has been halved, but I'd rather have a tough yet short battle instead of one that's mildly tough, but quickly becomes a chore.

There's a few quirks in the gameplay such as oddball jumping physics while running across slopes or moving platforms, and a rather vague and unhelpful map system, but given the game's relatively short length (I got through it in about six hours) it's never much of a hinderance, and despite the faults of the gameplay, the richness of the game's world really helps improve it for me. The characters are quirky and have strange, disjointed dialogue that implies that the translators tried their damndest to salvage any joke, no matter how terrible, from the undoubtedly inpenetrable Japanese references. The graphics, even in their primitive polygonal nature, have a very quaint charm to them, both from the stylised Edo-era environments and the oddball character designs; I'd struggle to imagine the game with anything other than blocky, abstract townspeople and enemies.

It's not as sophisticated or as in-depth as Ocarina of Time, but if you're looking for an entertaining N64 adventure, you can hardly go wrong with Mystical Ninja.

| return to top |


Completion: Need all Lucky Cats.

Paper Mario

RATING: 2/4

WHEN: Autumn 2001

Now that's my kind of RPG.


Since Europe missed out on Super Mario RPG, this was the first Mario adventure-quest game we got. Fun fact!

Paper Mario is one of those RPGs that are aimed towards "beginners," with a lot less emphasis on stats and equipment, and Mario is the only true character; his partners have no access to items or their own health bars, if they get hit then they become inaccessible for several turns. The main heart of the battle system lies in Action Commands, wherein pressing the A Button at the right time (or other such actions) will either deal more damage or protect Mario from attack. It gets you more engaged in the battle, which is a problem I find with a lot of RPGs, as they mostly just boil down to choosing the same commands over and over. Why aim for strategy when I can get results? The battle system is very fun, if a little lacking (later games would spice things up, such as The Thousand Year Door making your allies into proper characters with unique health bars, Mario & Luigi adding more interesting offensive items, and so on), but it's where the heart and soul of the game lies.

Mario's equipment consists of a pair of stomping boots, a hammer (which get periodically upgraded throughout the game), and a plethora of badges. Badges are basically the all-purpose replacement of weapons, armour and other items, and have all kinds of purposes - they can give Mario new attacks, increase his defensive power or extend his health bar, generate more money from fights, or simply change the sound he makes when he jumps. While I like complexity, I also like cutting the crap and giving me the good stuff, and that's what badges supply. The main problem I personally felt, however, was the limitations you were given. When you level up you can choose to extend your HP, your FP (Flower Points, for special attacks) or your BP (Badge Points). Your BP only goes up to 30, which isn't bad, but I didn't feel like I could customise Mario quite as much as I wanted to; it's better than letting it be unlimited and making Mario become a grossly overpowered kill-beast (see Sonic Battle for precisely that situation), but when it's the only customisation the game has to offer, I just wished for a little more freedom. The sequel does expand upon it, though it comes with its own problems.

So, yeah, the battle system is pretty rad. What about the rest of the game? Well... it's very hit and miss. Mario RPGs from this point on are seen as very silly and comedic affairs, but this particular instalment is very dry; Bowser is played as a legitimate threat and there's a lot of wishing and hoping upon the heavens for a solution and blah blah traditional RPG crap. There's a few amusing parts such as Peach reading Bowser's diary and the silly murder mystery in Shiver City, but they almost feel tacked on, as if the developers realised "wait, crap, this game needs a personality, doesn't it?" It's not bad and I was amused by it when I got it, but now it's a bit flat.

No, the real problem with the game is that it's fairly slow-going, and about half the areas you go to are mind-numbingly dull. The Koopa Bros. Fortress, the pyramid, Shy Guy's Toy Box... the Mario series usually prides itself on its colourful, vibrant atmosphere and plethora of wacky locations, but the areas in the game feel very... lifeless. The towns are all nice and pleasant, but they only make you wish the rest of the game were like that. Flower Fields and Shy Guy's Toy Box, in theory, are the most "alive" of the dungeons, but they're also the most obnoxious, primarily because of their irritating music and the fact that their themes are crap; not to mention that Flower Fields requires a scavenger hunt before you can gain access to it, which is a nuisance if you hadn't gotten the items by that point. Delaying my progress for a silly reason isn't a good way to win me over!

Where the game shines is its presentation. The whole story is played out like paper craft, the characters existing as 2D sprites and the areas existing in 3D, with buildings unfolding down as you enter them. It's a really nice effect, but the story never truly relies on it; the game could very well have been traditional 3D and it wouldn't have made a difference, but I think that's why it's interesting. The N64 was rather rife with 3D that didn't age well (I'm looking at you, Mario Party!), so emphasising very nice 2D graphics is the way to go. The sprites have dynamic lighting and shading, for crying out loud! How can I not like that? The music is... well, the basic vibe they go for is fitting, but it's very bizarre music, with very oddball instrumentation and tunes that seem to hop, skip and jump all over the place. The instrumentation does make them stick in your head, but their qualities as actual music is rather dubious.

The game has some good elements and some that are pretty dreadful, but I don't think any of the Mario RPGs ever quite reached "excellent" in my eyes (I need to re-evaluate Mario & Luigi!). The Paper Mario games aren't bad, but they're not without a wide share of problems, which is a pity since the basic groundwork is pretty good.

| return to top |


Completion: Finished.


Further reading: One of many games I played in 2009

Pilotwings 64

RATING: n/a

WHEN: 1997

Has its charm.


[no review]

| return to top |


Completion: Need Gold medals.

Pokemon Snap

RATING: 2/4

WHEN: Nov 2000

Interesting, but still doesn't make Pokemon any more "my thing."


I don't know what I was thinking when I bought this. My Pokemon fascination was dying down, the game was extremely expensive (50. Used.), and come on, Pokemon Snap, I wasn't expecting gripping or long lasting gameplay. I did enjoy it while I played it, and it is a unique little game. Interacting with Pokemon to get the best photo, or simply funking up their sh9it, it's an amusing distraction, but in the end isn't terribly fulfilling or worth playing. It is an interesting concept, though.

| return to top |


Completion: Pretty much.

Pokemon Stadium

RATING: 1/4

WHEN: 2001

Mini-games are decent, but that's about it.


Instead of being a 3D game that everyone wants, Pokemon Stadium is more or less an expansion pack of sorts, with a large number of additional challenges and battles, as well as mini-games, a 3D Pokedex, a 4-Player battle mode, and the ability to play the game on your TV. It's a joy to see the Pokemon in three dimensions, and the modes offer some variety, but considering it's just endless battles and no actual adventure, it got dull for me pretty quickly. If anything, it was nice to play Pokemon with an N64 controller, and the mini-games were fun.

| return to top |


Completion: Got up to Gym Leader Castle, Celadon Gym, Trainer 1. I think.

Quake II

RATING: 1/4

WHEN: 2000?

I'm just not a fan of FPS games that spend more time looking for the exit than shooting dudes.


It's an okay game. The single-player is pretty boring, the multi-player is fast-paced but seems to take forever to find your opponents (the fact everything is ridiculously dark adds to that factor), and the controls are very sensitive. Plus, the graphics are awful in my opinion; what is up with the horrendously jerky animation? It's 1999, people. On the bright side, the frame rate is very consistent and always at a great level, which is an advantage over numerous other N64 FPS games.

And maybe I'm just swayed by popular opinion, but I simply find Goldeneye 007 and Turok 2 better. Turok 2 has the bonus of it's levels actually looking different and MUTANT DINOSAURS, while Goldeneye has the bonus of, you know, being awesome in every way. bias bias bias.

you happy now galv >:U

| return to top |


Completion: No.

Rat Attack

RATING: 3/4

WHEN: Oct 2000

It's got the arcade feel!


Rat Attack is weird. Alien rats Washington and Jefferson are aiming to conquer the world with an army of not-alien rats, and only a group of felines known as the Scratch Cats can stop them. And they do so by rounding them up with little square things and eraticating [sic] them on pads.

It's very arcade-like, fast-paced, simplistic and easy to learn. However, the graphics and sounds are ugly, it's not terribly long, and despite essentially being an arcade game, it lacks co-operative multi-player, and instead has some confusing, unenjoyable modes that nobody would play. Another downside is that after the game is completed, you unlock two new characters, Atomicat and Pearl, but with Pearl there is simply no reason to play as anyone else, as she's the best character in the game. Seriously.

To summarise, it's fun and arcade-like, but doesn't have enough lasting appeal. It's worth a look, at least.

| return to top |


Completion: Finished.

Rayman 2: The Great Escape

RATING: n/a

WHEN: 1999/2000

Can't remember much.


[no review]

| return to top |


Completion: Need last few yellow things.

Snowboard Kids

RATING: 2/4

WHEN: 1998

Hampered by PAL.


An interesting change from the typical go-cart racing gameplay that's been done to death, Snowboard Kids takes the totally radical freestyle flip dawg sport and throws in your usual zany characters, wacky items and cliffs to fall off.

Although there's only six characters, three brands of board and nine levels, it remains fairly entertaining for a while and can get rather tough at some points. However, the races are fun, but the speed of the game in the PAL versions really drags them out, making last last at least five minutes for what is a short course with no more than five laps. Seriously, I just can't get over how looking back at these games how much we were gypped.

| return to top |


Completion: Totally.

Star Wars: Battle for Naboo

RATING: n/a

WHEN: Summer 2001

Yawn.


[no review]

| return to top |


Completion: I think so.

Star Wars: Episode I Racer

RATING: 1/4

WHEN: 1999

I spent more time worrying about what cameo alien would pop up than my opponents.


Amusing story about this game: One dreary Sunday, I was very bored. Very, very bored. So I got this game and I was occupied for months and months and not as bored! Then I didn't play it any more and when I play it now I wonder how I found it so amusing.

In a nutshell, it's a licensed F-Zero, except without competition. Yes, there are twelve racers on the course, but don't expect to see any of them after the first lap. It takes until the third or fourth cup before they start having a larger presence, which is also when the tracks start becoming deviously winding and twisty, but the problem is... it's boring.

See, like , you can boost at the expense of your health, which is represented by your engine conditions. You can boost for as long as you want, but the heating of the engines riles up as you do so until they catch fire or explode, which is where the pit droids come in. If your engines are scraped or beaten up, they'll repair them at the expense of your speed lowering as they do so. Since boosting only really causes problems when it overheats or crashes badly, you can essentially breeze your way to victory, so long as you know how to handle that hairpin corner. Wait, did I say hairpin corner? Those don't exist in the game!

Yes, at the beginning of the game the courses are very straight forward and only feature a scant number of heavy turns, but as you progress they become vaguely more demanding until it's just tight turn after tight turn, and it looks difficult. The problem is since pod racers aren't traction based of anything scientific like that, your ways of dealing with hazards are limited. You can drop speed and turn, which also reduces the speed you turn at. You can hold Z and turn, which keeps you going in the direction you were at before pressing Z but turning in your direction, which allows for sharpness but is ultimately took clunky to work with because it still means you're streaking towards the wall.

It does offer a better "oh shit what am I going to do now!" feeling, but since death is frequent and unpunished aside from a second-or-two delay before revival (which means nothing due to how lax the enemy competition is) it never really means a whole lot. Which is a shame.

One of the many reasons F-Zero is awesome is the music. One of the many reasons Episode I Racer bores me is that there's only like three pieces of music in the game, and one for all races. That one piece is nearly silent during the first two laps, and then becomes mildly audible during the last one, which means the most you'll be hearing are the alien taunts of the racers. I admit that I frequent hammer the R button while racing just to hear them spout nonsense and give the game a bit of noise, because the movie's race did well on it's own with no music; this just makes it all that more lonely.

The pod racing is meant to be hardcore experts-only shit in the movie and related fiction, but this just turns it into a lonely cruise through barren lands, only a couple of hours into it that things start getting mildly intense. Pod racing is competitive and bloodthirsty, but the only one who can do that in the game is Sebulba, whose flamethrower needs a good thirty or forty seconds next to a stationary opponent for it to actually kill them. Back when I had more patience for lesser quality, this entertained me rightly, but now it just feels inherently broken.

| return to top |


Completion: Finished.

Star Wars: Rogue Squadron

RATING: n/a

WHEN: 1999

Good stuff.


[no review]

| return to top |


Completion: I think so.

Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire

RATING: n/a

WHEN: 1997

NOTES: First game!

Entertaining.


[no review]

| return to top |


Completion: On Normal.


Super Mario 64

RATING: n/a

WHEN: 1997

NOTES: First game!

It's a great game and all, but Mario is a slippery sonuvabitch. Look out for me mentioning this a million times when I make a full review!


[no review]

| return to top |


Completion: Totally

Super Smash Bros.

RATING: 3/4

WHEN: 1999

Low budget and simple, but I love it.


It's amusing to see that Super Smash Bros. Melee, a game the fighting game community either loves or pulls wobblers over for how it's a disgrace to fighting games or whatever the hell it is they complain about originated from this experimental, rough-looking little game. I avoid those communities at all costs, y'see. Not a big fighting game fan! You see, my problem with fighting games if that they're too complex. Why do I have to angle the joystick all over the place and push buttons just to do a jumping uppercut? This character is meant to have been training in the art for years, thus it should be common knowledge for him, and therefore only require a single button, am i rite???

Super Smash Bros. realises this and makes it so attacks are done not by three buttons of varying degrees of force, but by simply tilting the control stick in a direction and pushing a button. But since that would normally mean there'd be lots of hadouken spamming, the arenas are more built for platforming with some weapons and traps thrown into the mix, so the game likes like the old Namco arcade game, The Outfoxies. Except with Fox karate kicking Yoshi in the face.

There are only twelve characters and nine stages, plus three bonus stages, but I've had many more times fun with this than Capcom vs. SNK 2. The fact that it's built more as a platforming engine wrapped around a fighting game suits me down to the ground, and how easy it is to pick up and play compared to the aforementioned which has all kinds of combos and specials to learn just suits me a lot better. On one hand, I greatly admire the complexity and diversity of all those epic fighting games, but on the other hand, I just prefer stupid brainless fun.

| return to top |


Completion: 100%.

Tom & Jerry: Fists of Furry

RATING: 2/4

WHEN: 2000/2001

Actually not that bad, believe it or not!


Fists of Furry is a bit like a 3D Super Smash Bros., although with no attacks other than a punch-punch-kick combo and lots more emphasis on weaponry. As in, using your punches and kicks is pointless and a waste of time, as why use fists when you throw champagne bottles or washing machines at people?

A more literal comparison would be to Power Stone, although I've never played it, I can only imagine it's like this. There are nine characters (which is relatively small for a fighting game, but considering they all play the same and the only other character they could've had was Mammy Two Shoes then no big deal) and a small bunch of arenas (although a few of them are simply the same level again with different hazards, items and time of day), and a whopping three modes: Single-player, versus, and a team mode where your next character is brought in after your first one snuffs it.

Even though it's only 2-Player and incredibly shallow, it can be pretty fun, especially in the team mode if you give the controller to somebody else when you've been toasted, but as a single-player game, it can be rather crap. The computer intelligence is highly predictable, and follows the Super Smash Bros. Melee tactics of heading straight for a powerful item whenever it appears, even giving up a chase when one appears. Thus, if you act quickly, you can just get behind said weapon and punch it at them, and keep repeating until you can finish them off with kicks and punches. Unless they've got invincibility shields. Then run. RUN FOR THE LOVE OF GOD RUN.

Just like Sonic R, the game is unbalanced, clunky and barebones, but there's fun to be had in the right circumstances. Just not all the time, though.

| return to top |


Completion: Totally.

Tonic Trouble

RATING: 1/4

WHEN: 2000

Best way to start the game: A clunky, awkward sliding scene where it took me several tries before I realised where the exit was!


Tonic Trouble is one of those games that I bought, I played, and then just kind of stopped playing as I didn't really have much reason to continue playing.

The primary problem with Tonic Trouble is that it is a typical 3D platformer in that you run around, jump on things and collect a metric shitload of items and collectables. I, personally, am not a big fan of the genre, although I used to be, and I admit the likes of Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie are pretty awesome despite my bias. However, one of the reasons they are superior is ultimately a very small one, but means a lot: You know when you're progressing. I played Tonic Trouble for an hour, and wasn't really sure if I was back in the hub or in a different area or what. I wasn't ordered to collect anything in particular, although I was given hints regarding avoiding toasters and repairing a popcorn machine, but it wasn't telling me if I should go through the portal or explore some more to collect things, even though only two items were described for me, and neither sounded terribly important to progress.

So with no idea what to collect or where I was, how is one meant to play the game? The wacky characters don't even help the game in any way, which is almost a shame.

| return to top |


Completion: No.

Turok: Dinosaur Hunter

RATING: n/a

WHEN: 1997

An intriguing bit of genre history. Bit of an acquired taste, though.


[no review]

| return to top |


Completion: Finished on Easy (didn't assemble the Chronoseptor).

Turok 2: Seeds of Evil

RATING: n/a

WHEN: 1998

I've never played single-player.


[no review]

| return to top |


Completion: No idea.

Wetrix

RATING: 1/4

WHEN: Spring 1999

Amusing, but not that great. GRATE GRAFIX though.


I'm not sure why I bought Wetrix. I'm not a puzzle game fan nor did it look terribly appealing, yet I went out and bought it, and unsurprisingly, never played it all that much.

I think the fact I'm not sure what you're meant to do has something to do with it. Your task is to build pools for water to rest in, and then dilute it with fireballs, and then there are rubber ducks, rainbows, bombs and ice cubes involved, and I wasn't exactly sure what the big score rackers were meant to be. In Tetris it's pretty clear that making lines are the goal, and four lines at once are where you get your big points, but Wetrix has so much crap going on at once that it all becomes a bit of a muddle. It doesn't help that there are tons of dangers as well! You have to worry about your water overflowing, there being an earthquake with too much land put down, random ice cubes dropping down that don't do much, missiles that create holes and all sorts of rubbish. It just causes unnecessary complications.

Interestingly, the game seems to work really well as a discussion creator. I've played the games with friends over, and we all suddenly get into a long, amusing conversation about various things. I think the fact the game looks pretty trippy has something to do with it. You're creating a world against a sky that looks like the Mona Lisa! Whoa.

| return to top |


Completion: No ending.

Yoshi's Story

RATING: 2/4 (needs reassessing)

WHEN: 1998

It's okay, but kind of killed the 2D platformer genre, much to my dismay.


Yoshi's Story is one of those games that's really hard to defend. The fact it was meant to be a sequel to Yoshi's Island means it has a lot to stand up to, and there's only twenty four stages, six of which you only go through on one play through (and a quick play through can be twenty minutes). The bonus rounds are gone, the egg throwing dynamics are simplified, the level designs are very generic, the goal is to eat thirty pieces of fruit instead of finding the exit, and there only five bosses in the game; one of which you defeat by eating.

How do I defend it?

Well, like a lot of things, I don't really. I mention the flaws and then go on to ignore them, repeating that I still like the game for some totally terrible reason. Yoshi's Story is a game meant for the littlest, tiniest babies and doesn't try to hide it. The graphics are done like a children's craftwork, and essentially the entire soundtrack is cutesy remixes of a lullaby in varying ways, ranging from jingling to "wubba wubba"ing. Each world ends with hearts imploding from the map and Yoshis singing about how happy they are.

My defence?

I play it when I want something simple. Something that won't make me tear my hair out in frustration. When I want to play a game but am in a state of mind where I fear a game with actual challenge would make me a very pissy individual, I turn to Yoshi's Story.

Whether that's a compliment or not is up to you.

I accept it as it is; it's a kids game. I kind of like the musical style, and the sheer happiness of the game is almost absurd, but it grieves me how it could've been. The fact it was meant to be a sequel to Yoshi's Island means it should've been awesome. We should've gotten the height of 2D graphical evolution, as well as a wide variety of dynamic, interesting levels. We should've gotten more transformations and exciting bosses that would've rocked your world. We should've gotten gaming ecstasy. In 64-bits!

We got a 2D item-collecting game, where the hardcore "challenge" is to just collect only melons.

I accept the game as it is; as a way to ease my mind. I would love to accept it as a step-up from greatness. That was not what we got.

| return to top |


Completion: Finished.