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Short reviews of all the Nintendo 64 games I own (In progress)
#1
All of the reviews are up now, but I still want to add to some of the completed reviews, so not all of them are as complete as I'd like them to be. Still, it's a pretty good list now I think, if not quite as complete as I want it to get.


Notes - I mention when games are available on other platforms. If I say nothing, the game is N64 exclusive as far as physical releases go (that is, I mention any PC, PS1, DC, etc. versions, but don't always mention Wii Virtual Console releases.). Most of the games that I have are exclusives because the N64 had a lot of exclusive games. The list is largely in alphabetical order, but I ignore that for series, so I have the three Rush games together and in order, for instance, and the Cruis'n games listed in release order.

I will list whether games save to cartridge or controller pak (memory card) because N64 controller paks don't hold much, and I think that it's important to know whether you'll need one for your game because of how much of a pain it can be. As a result I will also list how many pages each controller pak save game uses to save. Remember that each controller pak has 123 pages (blocks), and can have a maximum of 16 notes (files) saved to it. I also list if games have Expansion Pak support or not. I won't bother listing everything with Rumble Pak support, because most games from mid '97 on support it, and it's not that big of a deal either way.

Also, this list is a work in progress. I only have reviews for A to C so far, and some of these need improvement. I also do not have all Expansion Pak games marked yet.

Finally, review length and game quality have no relations, here. Don't assume that I think games are better just because I say more about them, it's rarely true. I say more about games that I have more to say about, or ones I think are lesser-known, mostly; it's nothing to do with quality.

Total - 144 games (I think, if I counted right)
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007: The World Is Not Enough
- Good FPS from later in the N64's life. Good graphics, good gameplay, fun levels. The game is a blatant Goldeneye clone from Eurocom, but they did a fairly good job of it and the game's a pretty fun one. In high res this game really does look quite nice, this game probably has some of the best graphics in an N64 FPS. You have a nice variety of weapons and items to use too. This is a good game, recommended for N64 FPS fans and anyone who liked Goldeneye, particularly Goldeneye's single player mode (I haven't played this in multiplayer, so I don't know how it compares.). The game has great level designs as well, and every mission has the multiple objectives, gadgets, enemies, and trickery you expect from a Goldeneye sequel. The game plays even better than it looks, I would say. Note that the PSX title of the same name is from a different developer and is completely different, and worse. Four player multiplayer. Expansion Pak support. Controller Pak saving (2 pages).

1080° Snowboarding
- I like this game less than many people, but it is okay. I don't know, I just find it a little boring... I've never stuck with it long enough to finish the game, and it's a pretty short game. It is a quality game though. The graphics are reasonably good. I wish that it was more of a racing game, though -- while there is one-on-one racing, 1080 has a strong focus on stunts, and I don't find stunts as fun as I do racing, in snowboarding games. Also, as I said, this game is short, probably even shorter than something like Wave Race 64. People who love it will find plenty of replay value I'm sure, but still, it won't take long until you see everything. Oh, even if I don't love this game nearly as much as many people did at the time, it's still better than most any Playstation or Saturn snowboarding game. Two player multiplayer. Oncart saving.

AeroFighters Assault
- This is the closest thing the N64 has to a flight sim, and it's thoroughly mediocre and disappointing. It's an arcadey flight combat game probably closer to Rogue Squadron than a flight sim, which would be fine if the game was actually fun. Unfortunately, it's not. The graphics are average, and the game simply isn't much fun. It's a fairly short game, but it gets frustrating later on and probably isn't worth the time. This is a sequel of sorts to the great early to mid '90s shmup series Aero Fighters, but unfortunately this game is nowhere near as good as those, genre shift aside. At least the two player versus mode is okay. Two player multiplayer. Oncart saving.

Aero Gauge
- Futuristic racing game where you fly through the air, instead of just hovering or driving on the ground. The graphics aren't very good, and look pretty outdated for a 1998 release. Lots of pixeley textures, the N64 can do much better than this. There's a lot of fog, too. The game has some good sized areas, but with all that fog around you really can only see what's close to you. They could have done better than this. The menus and interface are stylish and cool looking, though, and the music's fairly good, so some elements of the presentation are done well. This game got mostly poor reviews, and I can understand why, it is a flawed game. One thing to know is how to boost start; the game doesn't tell you how, you need the manual or internet, and you will never win a single race if you don't boost start every single time (hold down A+B before the race begins, let go of B after the announcer says 'set'). Turbo around corners (A+Z with left or right to powerslide; after powersliding let go of A and Z and then press A again to hopefully boost, if you did it right) is also important. There are no weapons or items in this game, and the six tracks are on the short side. The game mostly tries to make up for that with its very high difficulty level, which somewhat succeeds -- this is not an easy game. Unfortunately, the main result is just that it gets quite frustrating. I kind of like the game anyway, because flying racing games aren't very common and the game does some things right and is some fun to play, but I am a huge futuristic racing game fan. Non fans of the genre are unlikely to like the game, I think. Two player multiplayer. Oncart saving, with controller pak support for ghost saves (93 pages per ghost; like Mario Kart 64 the cart can't save any ghosts, only controller paks, and it takes most of a controller pak to save one.). Do not have a controller pak plugged into controller 1 unless you're using it to save replays.

Aidyn Chronicles: The First Mage - This epic RPG was a late N64 release in 2001, got poor reviews, and was forgotten. Unfortunately this game will never get the sequel that the title suggests there should be. While Aidyn Chronicles has some serious bugs (it can corrupt your save files, for instance! ALWAYS keep backups!) and is in some ways a deeply flawed game (if a character dies they're dead forever; make use of the save anywhere feature and save often, loading if anyone dies. Apparently they were going to have resurrection, but it was too buggy so it was removed late in development. Also, the character art is pretty bad.), Aidyn Chronicles is also a great game unlike anything else on the N64. The game is a complex, deep Western RPG, and it is a slow paced game as well, so it will take a long time to get used to the game and even longer to finish. The world is large and fun to explore -- I love the big overworld, the N64 does fairly large worlds well and the system is being used well here. There's a lot to explore, and finding your way around and finding the secrets is great. The controls are great. I particularly like the use of the analog stick and C-buttons in the menus, it works very well. The detail put into the game really is impressive, from the magic system to the world to the game design. The combat engine was inspired by Quest 64's, except it's improved here. The battle system is a good, strategic system where all characters appear on a map, with movement circles. You move your characters around, attacking the enemies with weapons or magic when in range. You do more damage attacking enemies from behind. Magic requires reagents, so you can't just cast spells as much as you want -- you have to be judicious about your use of magic. Spells early on aren't just fireballs and stuff too, you'll need to think more in this game. Your starting spells are things like shield, vs. necromancy, weakness, and strength -- useful spells, but subtle compared to fireballs or even Magic Missile. It works though. Enemies are visible in the overworld, so there are no random battles, which is fantastic. The story isn't incredibly original, but it's a good epic story of your hero's rise. And for once, no burning village; the hero sets off on his journey for a reason that is just as good, but is a little more unique. Yeah, despite its big problems, I really like this game. Just be warned, it is long and slow. Oh, and the framerate is pretty slow, though steady, particularly in High Res mode. This bothers some people, but not me; at least it's steady and doesn't jump up and down. The slow pace of gameplay also helps make the framerate matter less. Overall, Aidyn Chronicles is an incredibly ambitious games, in some ways one of the system's most ambitious games. It fails as much as it succeeds, and is very much a love or hate game, but if you can get into it you might get hooked for a long time. I think it's good. Expansion Pak support (use High Res mode!). Controller Pak required to save (28 pages per save file). One player.

All-Star Baseball '99 - Decent baseball game from Acclaim from 1998. Decent gameplay and graphics, it's a fine baseball game for its generation. This was the first of three N64 All-Star Baseball games. I'd like to play this more, but don't have enough memory cards to have one dedicated just to this game... Controller Pak required to save (107 pages).

Armorines: Project S.W.A.R.M. - Acclaim FPS. It got mediocre reviews, unlike Acclaim's other N64 FPSes, the Turok series. This is Acclaim's only N64 FPS that also was released on the Playstation (the first two Turok games had PC ports, but not PSX), but reviews of that port say that it's quite a bit worse than the N64 version. I believe it, the game, clearly running on the Turok engine, uses the power of the system and wouldn't downgrade well. I actually think this game is decent, despite the reviews. I love N64 FPS controls, Turok-style FPS controls are the best console FPS controls ever, in my sure to be lonely opinion. Armorines is a straightforward, linear FPS running in the Turok engine, where you shoot lots of bug alien invaders, solve some simple puzzles as you explore each area trying to figure out how to progress to the next one, and then shoot more bugs and move on. It's simple, but fun enough that I can defintely enjoy myself, and the graphics are reasonably nice though not the greatest. You can play as a male or female character, which is cool. The game has four player versus mode multiplayer, and a two player co-op option in the campaign, which is awesome. Expansion Pak support. Controller Pak required to save (1 page).

Army Men: Air Combat - Army Men Air Combat is a port of the Playstation game Army Men Air Attack. It is improved over the original version, with four player multiplayer, better graphics, and more. This series was 3DO's attempt to take on EA's Strike series, and I think it worked pretty well. This is probably one of the best Army Men games, and I like the game. You fly around, in a top-down perspective where you do not have actual 3d control (no control over height you're flying), shooting enemies and turrets, picking up powerups, etc. Graphics are nice enough, game is a lot of fun. The only real negatives are that it's a bit easy and too short, but it's fun while it lasts. I like this game more than the 4th gen Strike games, in fact, though it's a closer fight versus the 5th gen ones. None of those have a four player mode though... Four player multiplayer. Controller Pak required to save (1 page).

Automobili Lamborghini - Titus's first N64 racing game, Automobili Lamborghini is their second Lamborghini game, after Lamborghini American Challenge on the Super Nintendo. The game has nice graphics for a 1997 N64 game, but bland, generic gameplay that probably won't hold most people's interest for particularly long. The game has six or so tracks, a decent number for the time, and four player splitscreen, which is nice. There's only a somewhat barebones single-player game -- choose difficulty and tracks and go -- but while somewhat weak, it could be worse. Overall, the game is fun for a little while, but unfortunately it gets dull fast. There's not much variety here, average, mostly-arcadey controls and handling, and no special gimmicks to hold your attention. Still, it's not actually bad, just bland. I find the game fun for a while. Four player multiplayer, controller pak saving (7 pages).

Banjo-Kazooie - This game is one of the all-time classic 3d platformers, and it is indeed a great game. It isn't my favorite Rare 3d platformer, but it is a great one that deserves most of the praise it has recieved. The graphics are quite good, the game is well designed in both general game design and levels, and there's a lot to do. I do dislike how you have to re-collect notes and such each time you go into a level unless you get all of them, though. You can be in a level without a power you'll need to get all 100 notes, but you don't know it and start collecting them... only to realize some time later you wasted your time and will need to do it again later. It's quite annoying. Other than that though, this game is pretty good. Rare's first 3d platformer is still a great game. Like all of Rare's 3d platformers, BK has a lot of content and will take a good while to finish. It is also on XBox 360 Live Arcade, but I haven't played that version so I can't compare them. One player, on cart saving.

Banjo-Tooie - The sequel to the previous game, bigger and better than the first one in most respects. Tooie is a pretty good game. It doesn't repeat the first game's problems, and has some pretty cool levels too. It's not as original as the first game, though, and some people dislike the multiple characters you now have. I don't mind that, but I did find it kind of annoying at some points and haven't finished the game, despite owning it for many years (since 2002, precisely). The game has some framerate problems -- they simply tried too much for the unenhanced N64, I really wish that this game had had Expansion Pak support, I think it needed it. Some parts have some bad framerate drops. Still, the game is great overall. Like the first game it is also on XBox 360 Live Arcade, but I haven't played those versions so I can't compare them. Four player (battle mode and minigames for multiplayer), oncart saving.

BattleTanx - I did a thread about this game once. It's great fun, the first of 3DO's tank action games and is still well worth playing. While it's great overall, it does have some issues, most prominently the quite mediocre graphics. The game is short too, just like its sequel - this game won't take long to finish. There are only three kinds of tanks in the game, so there's not too much variety. The post-apocalyptic story is simple but effective, and it works as a setup. Multiplayer was the focus here, and it shows -- even the single player missions are all fought in the same levels as the multiplayer, large, square cities full of stuff to destroy and players starting at different points. The sequel would add much more level variety. Fortunately, it's still incredibly fun to drive around and shoot stuff. That's the core of Battletanx, and that's why it's great. Buildings crumble as you shoot them. Levels are large and a lot of fun to navigate and are full of enemies, obstacles, and buildings, many of which you can level. This game's good and well worth playing. Four player multiplayer (various versus modes). Controller Pak to save (1 page).

BattleTanx: Global Assault - The sequel to the above game, and better than it in every way. The story is better, there are a lot more tanks to control, the campaign is longer (though still short and easy), there are more maps, there is a much greater variety of level designs, there are more multiplayer modes and mission types in single player, there are more control options, and more. I really loved this game, it's one of the best multiplayer games on the N64, and yes, I know that's saying a lot. My only complaint is that I wish there was a sequel, because this game ends with a cliffhanger that was never resolved. Bah! 3DO did make some more vehicluar action games after this, the two WDL games from 2000-2001 (both PS1 and PS2 exclusives, quite sadly), but they are entirely separate story-wise and do not continue this plot. Still though, BTGA is fantastic. It would have been nice to see actual height differences in the levels -- there are tunnels you can go down, and little hills, but no real rolling terrain -- but really, this game's very good and extremely fun to play. Of the multiplayer modes, the two player co-op campaign is really cool, and for versus play BattleLord mode (it's Capture the Flag, essentially) steals the show. That mode's so great I rarely even touch the others. You can play against any mixture of four human and computer players, can play 2v2 with one human and one computer on each team, and more. There was a later Playstation version of the game, but it's got new, worse prerendered FMV CG story scenes, entirely redesigned, smaller and less interesting (but more numerous, though it doesn't make up for the problems) levels (completely different level maps), and more. It's nowhere near as good as the N64 version and is two player only. N64 BTGA has a two player co-op campaign, and four player versus modes. Play the better BTGA game, this N64 version. Controller Pak to save (1 page).

Battlezone: Rise of the Black Dogs - This isn't like the '80s arcade classic, but instead is the only console game based off of the late '90s PC strategy/action series of the same title. The concept is that it is the Cold War, and the US and USSR are fighting a secret war on the moon between forces they have landed there. Yeah, it's a cool concept. :) Activision tried to bring back Battlezone, but as a strategy/FPS/RTS hybrid, like some titles from 3DO and Microsoft such as Uprising. There were two games on the PC, but only this one on consoles, which is an original title and not a port. The game is simplified from the PC original, understandably, given that it is on a console and needs to use a gamepad instead of keyboard and mouse -- the PC games had complex controls, using lots of keyboard keys for various stuff. You can drive around and shoot enemies, but you also have to build a base, build units, and give them orders in your efforts to defeat the enemy. The controls work on the N64, but are complex and they will take a while to get used to. Once you do though it's a pretty good game. The graphics are just average, and there is everpresent fog in the not-far-enough-away distance, but they do the job just well enough to do. There is also a shooting-only arcade mode, but the strategy mode is the core of the game. Four player multiplayer. Controller Pak required to save (1 page).

Beetle Adventure Racing - This is a very popular classic racing game from Paradigm and EA. The game plays like a hybrid between San Francisco Rush and Need for Speed, and is about as great as that sounds. I think that the Rush series is better than BAR, no question, but BAR is pretty good too. The tracks, while few, are huge and lots of fun to drive around and explore. The tracks in this game are absolutely full of shortcuts, so it will take a good amount of time to learn each one. The games' visuals are good as well. The game has plenty of replay value due to its high difficulty level, point boxes to find hidden all over the stages, and more. The multiplayer mode is disappointing, though. Race mode is two player only; only the not-that-great battle mode supports three or four players. Too bad. Also, the tracks sometimes feel like they are too long for their own good. The game's great fun at first, but by the later tracks, the long race times make failures frustrating -- at times one mistake can force you to restart the race or more. I never finished this game because, as good as it is, I got tired of it after a few tracks. Still, with good graphics, good controls, and lots to do, BAR is a great racing game. Controller Pak required to save (4 pages). Two player only in multiplayer race mode, four players in battle mode.

Big Mountain 2000 - This little-known skiing/snowboarding game is actually my favorite winter sports game on the N64. The developer, Imagineer, made some of the N64's more mediocre racing games -- MRC, GT64, Rally Challenge 2000 -- but this one is genuinely good. All four games are somewhat lacking in content, but this one's more fun while it lasts than the others. Big Mountain 2000 is a port of a Japanese release from 1998, so the graphics are not exactly the equal of other N64 games from 2000, but I think that the great gameplay makes up for it. BM2k is a simple, straightforward, and racing-centric skiing and snowboarding game -- this is not an SSX or even 1080 style trick-centric game, but a game that really is about the racing, and that's how I like it. The controls are just about perfect, and are exactly the way I would want them to be for a game of this kind. There is a very minimal trick component, where you can do tricks off of specific jumps if you want, but it doesn't get you anything of note and there is no stunt mode. I am entirely fine with this; I always prefer race to stunt mode in 1080 and SSX games. Indeed, the half pipes are usually my most hated "tracks" in those games. The game is somewhat short, with just four mountains, but that's still one more course than Imagineer's first two N64 racing games have, and there are three races on each mountain, so the game's not TOO short. You have a normal race down the mountain, Downhill, and two different races where you need to go between the flags, Slalom and Giant Slalom. The two have different flag and path layouts for each of the races of course. There is also a reverse mode, after you beat the normal, and you can choose a character and skiis or snowboards, though I didn't notice much of a difference between the two. I got hooked by this game and played it quite a bit until finishing it. It's fun to just race down the mountain. Two player multiplayer. On-cart saving. (Yes, it's one of those rare third-party N64 games with on-cart saving! Imagineer's other three N64 racing games don't have it, for sure.)

Bio F.R.E.A.K.S. - Arcade port fighting game from Midway, also ported to Playstation. This game, released in 1998, was Midway's one of Midway's later 3d fighting games, and unlike most other Midway fighters that generation, this one actually supports saving, which is great. Only this and MK4 do (and the DC version of MK4, MK Gold, doesn't either!). Anyway, in Bio Freaks, you've got everything you expect from a Midway fighting game, plus more -- it has ridiculous character designs, decent graphics for the system, multi-tiered arenas, fatalities, etc. The characters can fly too, so uniquely, it's got both air and ground combat. All characters have both projectile and melee attacks as well. It is a 5th gen 3d fighting game, though, so it's not exactly anywhere near the mark 6th gen 3d fighters hit. It's a bit slow for instance, like so many N64 games. Still, for an N64 3d fighter, not bad. There is also an in-game moves list, which makes this game one of the only N64 fighting games with that awesome feature! The gameplay's only above average -- it definitely is not exactly balanced, which hurts, and it's a bit slow -- but the featureset in the game is pretty good, and it is unique and at least somewhat fun. Two player. Controller pak to save (3 pages).

Blast Corps - Blast Corps is an early N64 Rare game. The game is both original and brilliant, and, despite the many incredible games that Rare made for the system, still stands as one of their best. The graphics are poor, first gen work, but the incredibly fun gameplay makes up for it. In Blast Corps, you have to destroy all the buildings that are in the way of a runaway nuclear missile carrier which cannot stop. If it hits anything, it explodes. You control a variety of different vehicles in your destructive work. The game is essentially an action/puzzle game, and figuring out the fastest and best way to beat each level is both a lot of fun and very challenging. There are medals, and you unlock bonus stages, and the ability to try for platinum medals, if you manage to get all the gold medals. Good luck there, the difficulty is crazy. In addition to the destroying, there are also occasional bonus stages where you do other stuff such as flying around with a jetpack-like thing, and some racing levels where you do some top down racing. It's a great, great game. Controller pak or internal save. One player. Note that the game will give an error message ("foreign object detected in controller pak port" or something) if you have a rumble pak plugged in, and you cannot access the internal save unless you do NOT have a controller pak plugged into controller one. Also, if the space is available, the game will automatically make four 10-14 page notes on your memory card to save onto. How nice. So, before playing Blast Corps, make sure to remove anything from your controller's accessory port! One player.

Body Harvest - Body Harvest is an interesting N64 on foot and vehicular combat game from the same studio as Grand Theft Auto. The game suffered years of delays, originally being planned as an early N64 game but not coming out until 1998. It also saw a publisher change, as Nintendo dropped the game during development and it was picked up by Midway. Fortunately they kept the on-cart saving. In the game, you, a time travelling soldier, have to fight off a bug alien invasion. What it it about N64 alien invasions so often being bugs... Starship Troopers influence I guess? Anyway, these bugs aren't just attacking, they're attacking throughout time! So, use your time machine and save all of the affected eras from the bugs, one after another. The graphics are first-generation poor, and the controls are just okay. The main hook is that you can control many different kinds of vehicles during the game, different ones during each time period. Like in GTA (except before any 3d GTA games), you can jump in and out of the vehicles at will. It's a good game, but I don't love it and always lose interest after a while. I haven't actually gotten too far in this game as a result. One player, on-cart saving.

Bomberman 64 - Bomberman 64 is the first Bomberman game of four on the N64, and it is to this day still the only full, Mario 64-inspired open 3d world Bomberman 3d platformer. All Bomberman 3d platformers after it followed much more linear designs, and the Gamecube ones don't even have 3d multiplayer, just the usual 2d grid stuff. Bomberman 64 was different. The game is very, very difficult, too difficult I would say, but it's a very good game. I do need to say though, the graphics are mediocre at best. Don't expect a lot from this game. It's just good enough to get by, but nothing above that. It's clearly first gen work. My other main complaint is that there is an entire sixth world in the main game that you can only access by getting ALL of the golden tickets (this game's equivalent to Mario 64's stars). ARGH! Some of those tickets are very hard to get... I've never seen world six. It's pretty annoying, I've heard it's cool. :( Even so though, I like the game a lot. The levels are fun to explore and well designed, and there's a lot to do in the game. This game is pretty good. The bossfights are a challenge too, but often fun. The multiplayer is great, too. The maps are actually 3d, and instead of cross explosions like classic Bomberman, are circular like in the single player game. This is the only 3d Bomberman game where normal bombs explode in circular blasts in multiplayer mode; The 2nd Attack also has 3d arenas, but cross bombs (super bombs excepted, those have round blasts), and the two GC/PS2 games have, as I said, the classic 2d style of gameplay only for their multiplayer, though their single players are (poor, subpar) linear-path 3d platformers. Thus in both single and multi player, Bomberman 64 is an original game unlike anything else in the series. 3d platformer and Bomberman fans who haven't played it should try it. Four players. On-cart saving, though if you want to save a custom multiplayer character (a unique look for your multiplayer character, made up of parts you unlock in the main game), you'll need to save that character to a memory card, so you can bring it to a friends' and use it there, I assume. Each of those character files are one page.

Bomberman Hero - Bomberman Hero actually started out as a Bonk game. When I learned this suddenly this game made a lot more sense to me, because at the time I thought that Bomberman Hero was pretty strange for a Bomberman game. It has no multiplayer, it's linear and you just follow a path instead of wandering around larger worlds like in Bomberman 64, and you mostly throw bombs instead of just dropping them. Well, it didn't start out as Bomberman. The game's alright, with some fun linear-cooridor 3d platforming challenge and Bomberman 64-esque boss battles. The graphics aren't much improved over Bomberman 64, but oh well. It's not the game people expected it to be, but it's an okay to good game even so. Oh, this is the only N64 Bomberman game to be released on the Wii Virtual Console, for whatever reason. It's too bad the two Bomberman 64 games weren't. One player, on-cart saving.

Buck Bumble - Buck Bumble is a 3d flight combat game where you control a heavily armed bee. You fly around, killing enemies and doing missions. The graphics are okay at best, nothing special, and the gameplay's no competition for Factor 5's Star Wars games. It's a good game I guess, though not great. This game has lots of fog. Way too much of it really, given the only average graphics. The N64 can do a lot better than this. Even so, for anyone who likes flight combat games, Buck Bumble is probably worth a look -- there aren't too many games like this on the N64, and even if it could be a better, the game is okay and definitely will provide plenty of challenge. Indeed, this game isn't easy. It's also got multiplayer, something Factor 5 didn't attempt. Four players, controller pak to save (3 pages).

Bust-A-Move '99 - BAM '99 is a port of the arcade game Bust-A-Move 3. It was also on PSX and Saturn. Compared to the other versions, the N64 has a plus and a minus. On the good side, the game has an N64-exclusive four player splitscreen multiplayer mode. There's no music in 3 or 4 player mode, but still it's and awesome feature to have, and this is still one of only a very few BAM games with a 4 player splitscreen mode. On the downside, some people will like the cart remixes of the music less than the CD audio on other versions. I think the music's fine, though, and love this game. It's easily one of the N64's best puzzle games. I love the characters in BAM2, it's my favorite BAM cast. I like the music and graphics. I love that BAM3 has more modes and options than most other BAM games -- there isn't just a puzzle mode, a versus mode, and an infinite mode or something, like BAM1, but a total of eight different modes -- in Arcade Puzzle, Arcade Vs. CPU, Arcade 2-P Versus, 4-P Versus (separate because in this mode the windows are much smaller and there's no music; with just two people play in arcade mode, not here.), Win Contest (another versus mode where you see how many CPUs you can beat), Challenge (another puzzle mode, try to meet some specific conditions to finish the stages. You are graded, see how well you can do!), a collection of 1024 puzzles made by Japanese fans that are included on the cart, and puzzle edit mode where you can make your own. In the series, only BAM4 (PC/PS1/DC) comes close to this game in features, and it doesn't have a four player mode. There are multiple graphic sets in this game for the bubbles too -- the game as at least three different looks in different modes and stages. This game has a lot of content, for sure, and will consume you for many hours. My only real complaint is that the save file is insanely large. What in the world HAPPENED here? Why is it 64 pages? BAM2 for Saturn's file is about 64 blocks, and that's out of 500... in a 32KB memory space. This game uses 64 pages of 123 on a 256KB space. Featurewise the games are very similar -- both have a puzzle edit mode with 16 user-creatable puzzles (Saturn exclusive in BAM2, but present in all versions I think of BAM3; N64 certainly has it at least), etc. The N64 game does have more modes and unlockables, but that should only account for a little more space, not the exponential increase in comparison it has. This is really the only blemish on an otherwise exceptional, incredibly addictive game. It's annoying, but doesn't ruin the game. This is one of my favorite puzzle games of all time. Four player multiplayer, controller pak to save (64 pages).

California Speed - California Speed is a port of the Midway/Atari Games arcade game of the same name. The game is essentially Atari Games' take on the Cruis'n USA concept, and repurposes the San Francisco Rush engine to run a Cruis'n-ish point-to-point racer with more Rush-like handling. While only moderately popular, I liked California Speed quite a bit in the arcades back when it came out. It's a somewhat easy game, but being a cross of Cruis'n, which are fun games, and San Francisco Rush, which is my favorite racing game series, I thought it was pretty good. On that note, the controls do feel a lot like a Rush game. The cars handle a lot like Rush cars, so don't expect to be able to turn on a dime. You'll need to learn the courses and prepare. I really like the Rush series' handling, so I think this is great. Fortunately, as I said, this game isn't that hard, and the courses are mostly straightforward. The graphics are okay too. There is fog in the distance, unfortunately, but it's far enough away to not be too bothersome, and I love many of the environments you race through. There really are some great tracks in California Speed. Some of my favorites are the roller coaster section of one track (it's really one of the more distinctive things in the game, in my opinion), the mall you go through in another track (straight from the country to a giant mall...), the part where you seem to be driving inside a giant computer circuitboard, or the alien ship. Yeah, I love the track designs here, the designers did a good job. The graphics are about the same as Rush 1 or 2 on the N64, or perhaps slightly improved over those, so they aren't great, but once you get used to the style it looks okay. Easy or no I like this game a lot, it's just so much fun to drive through the levels. There is some challenge later on, too -- the game's got a solidly lengthy single player mode to race though, with multiple circuits and modes, and three different sets of vehicles too. There are three or four different championships and several difficulty levels, so there's plenty of content if you like the game like I do. I just wish it had on-cart saving like the Cruis'n games do. Two player multiplayer, controller pak to save (35 pages).

Carmageddon 64 - Carmageddon 64 is widely hated, and indeed loathed, but I actually like this game. I can understand why people hate it, but I think it is actually a decent game in some respects, and it definitely can be fun. Based on one of the later Carmageddon games for the PC, Carmageddon 64 may not be as good as the original PC Carmageddon game -- and it isn't -- but neither were Carmagedodon's sequels, and Carmageddon 64 is not anywhere near as awful as reported. Really, in plenty of ways it's a decent game. As usual with Carmageddon, there are three ways to complete each level -- either finish three laps of the race by going through the checkpoints enough time (as always in the series there are no finishing places, or positions recorded. If you finish at all you win.), crush all zombies in the level (harder than it sounds), or destroy the other three cars and be the last car standing (yeah, only four cars in the race). This last one is often the easiest way to win, and the computers are aggressive and attack eachother constantly, so that's their tactic too. If you're following the checkpoints, though, do know that the checkpoints are VERY touchy -- pay attention, it's easy to miss a checkpoint if you were too far from the marker. I've had multiple times where I reach the next checkpoint, only to be told to go back because I missed the last one. The game has only three environments, but all three are huge, and contain a variety of different courses. Each level brings you through different areas of the environment, through different routes, and more, so they do feel different. Each layout is marked with arrow signs that you must follow. I find it easy enough to stay on course, but there are no rails, so you do have to pay attention. The handling is pretty much standard Carmageddon handling, so it feels somewhat Rush-ish, but not quite as well done. Handling is tricky, and I find myself regularly running into walls, but I think the controls are solid, overall; I don't have a problem with them. In narrow paths like you're often driving through in this game, it's understandable that it'd be tricky to stay on the track. It can be done, just drive more carefully and get used to the controls. The button combination to heal up your car some -- hold Z and then press R to heal a little, or hold Z and then double-tap R to fully heal -- is quite important, you take damage easily and will need to heal frequently. Fortunately, though healing costs money, you usually have plenty. The graphics are decent, and there are a fair number of "zombies" to run over. Silly console censorship, they're supposed to be people... it's more fun running over humans, but oh well. Sometimes you can complete whole races without seeing the zombies, but they are out there, 80-160 of them per course. Often they're hiding, though in some courses you'll run across plenty of them to easily squish. Fun stuff. Carmageddon 64 is clearly a somewhat low budget game, and needed some more bug testing for sure, so I can see why so many people hate it, but no, this is NOT the worst game on the N64, not by a longshot. I'm not sure what kind of score to give it, I could almost see anything from a B to a D, but I do know I'm entertained and will be playing this game more. Two player, controller pak saving (1 page).

Castlevania - The first 3d Castlevania game, this game has a pretty bad reputation. While I will agree that the early N64 graphics don't look that good (the graphics definitely are the worst thing about this game), the gameplay is better than the graphics. However, the improved version below makes this game outdated for all but its most hardcore fans. I will describe the game, but considering that LoD is pretty much the same thing but better, there's not much reason to get this. On its own though, Castlevania is a fairly impressive achievement in some ways. First, as should be expected from Konami, the music is fantastic. In addition, the levels are large and well designed. Castlevania for the N64 has elements of 3d platforming, 3d action, and adventure gaming in it, and the platforming and adventure elements are done especially well. As an action game it's probably not above average, but the game's focus is elsewhere so that's fine, in my opinion. I love the adventure game elements, this game has a great sense of suspense sometimes and the puzzles in the game are often challenging and fun. The game follows multiple routes with the two characters, who share some levels but each play some the other character doesn't. The little girl (mage) character is way better than the guy with the whip, because his weapon is short range while she can shoot far, which is a huge help in a 3d game. There are multiple endings too, depending on how long you took to finish it. The platforming controls are pretty good -- your character will grab onto any platform edge you get anywhere near while jumping, so absolute precision is, thankfully, not necessary. Overall, flawed but good. One player, controller pak (9 pages) to save. The Japanese version has on-cart saving, but like all Konami N64 games it was removed from the Western releases because Konami are cheap and annoying, apparently.

Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness - I got this game in the mid '00s not expecting much, because of how much bad things I'd heard over the years about the N64 Castlevanias, but I was very pleasantly surprised, and I think this is a pretty good game. LoD is an improved version of the above title. Essentially, it is everything Castlevania for the N64 is, and more. It has better graphics, more stages, more playable characters, some level design changes, and more. The expansion pak support is an optional Hi Res mode; the framerate is lower, but the graphics look great. The graphics are improved over the first version even in low res mode, but high res is particulalry good looking. Many people dislike the slow framerate of hi res mode, but I think it's fine and always play LoD in high res. The new stages are great too. I love the new first level, on the ships; it's a better intro stage than that dark forest the original starts with (and that is level 2 this time), I think. Great boss too. The new characters change the game's progression. In LoD, first you play as Cornell. Cornell is a werewolf and is incredibly powerful; few bosses will be much of a challenge for wolf mode Cornell, so save your red gems for boss battles and then just destroy the bosses. :) This lets you focus on what's best about the game, the platforming and puzzles. Cornell is pretty cool, he's my favorite character in this game. This mode has only one ending and no time limit, and you go through all of the stages in the game. After you beat the game with Cornell, you unlock a second character. This guy has a time limit and has to find five children hiding in a certain set of stages you play through before time runs out. Do that and you unlock the original two characters from the first version, and can play through their two modes, much like the first game but with some minor changes here and there, so it won't be exactly the same experience, just similar. One player only, controller pak (17 pages) to save. Expansion Pak supported for a high-res mode. I always play with high res on, but people bothered by the framerate might want to disable it. The Japanese version has on-cart saving, but like all Konami N64 games it was removed from the Western releases because Konami are cheap and annoying.

Chameleon Twist - Chameleon Twist is a fun, but somewhat short and easy, 3d platformer. In this earlier N64 game (it's from 1997), you control a chameleon. Your character is a pretty cute big-head creature that only looks vaguely like a chameleon, but oh well. The main feature here is that your chameleon has a very long tongue, which you can use to grab onto things to swing yourself around, to attack, and more. The tongue mechanic is somewhat original and leads to some fun gameplay challenges, as you swing yourself around to figure out what to do. It's nothing deep and epic, but it is a fun little 3d platformer that I enjoy. Sure, the graphics are mediocre and it could be harder, but what's here is solid fun. Four player (multiplayer battle mode). On-cart saving (note that Chameleon Twist 2 does not have multiplayer or oncart saving, and requires controller pak save instead; reasons to prefer the first one!).

Charlie Blast's Territory - Charlie Blast's Territory is a small, low budget N64 puzzle game. It's a puzzle game of the "figure out how to solve it" variety, not the block dropping variety, and you have to figure out in each level how to destroy all the bombs, and thus the stage, in the 3d, tile grid design levels. You move Charlie around, pushing bombs to get them arranged correctly to blow up the stage with a single blow. The game is okay, but has a very simple look and you can tell that the cart size is small. The game's by Kemco, and is basically and N64 version of what was released on Playstation as "The Bombing Islands", except with the new character Charlie Blast as your character instead of Kid Klown and perhaps some different puzzles. One player. Saving is by password only. This is the only N64 game I know of with password-only saving. All others with password options also have controller pak support.

Chopper Attack - This is game is another Strike series clone on the N64, except this one is played from a behind-the-helicopter view instead of the 3/4ths overhead view of the Strike games and Army Men Air Attack. Despite the change in viewpoint, you have no more vertical control in this game than you do in those. That is, you have no control over vertical flying height. Once you accept that, this game's actually somewhat fun. You fly around, shooting enemies and turrets and buildings and such and accomplishing your objectives. Not bad. The graphics and sound are nothing special -- there are lots of big blurry textures here -- and nor is the gameplay really. Oh, and the game is short, it won't take long to finish. This game is average, but it's fun anyway. Despite the problems, it's an okay game overall. I never liked the 16-bit Strike games, but do like most of the 5th gen games of this style. One player, on-cart saving.

ClayFighter 63 1/3 - This is a fighting game, and the first of two N64 ClayFighter games. The game is okay, but not great. The graphics are amusing, in that ClayFighter style, and the 3d arenas are cool. There is 3d movement, so this isn't just a 2.5d game. I like that. There are combos, KI style, as well as special moves. THere are several hidden characters too, accessible by cheat codes. In addition to the ClayFighter characters, the other Interplay characters Earthworm Jim and Boogerman are also playable, which is cool. I don't like KI-style combo systems, but you don't need to know it to play this game. This isn't a great game, but it is stupidly amusing, which is about all you should hope for from something like this. Two player, no saving.

ClayFighter 63 1/3: Sculptor's Cut - This rental-only N64 game is somewhat rare and pricey as a result of its limited release, but I lucked into a cheap copy. Sculptor's Cut is a somewhat interesting modified version of the first Clayfighter 63 1/3 game. While the environments and characters are similar (all of the stages and characters from the first version return, and the story, such as it is, is not different), there are many changes, both minor and major. First, the game's now entirely 2.5d -- 3d movement has been removed, so gameplay is now on a 2d plane. That's disappointing, I liked the 3d movement of the first version. Now instead of having to maneuver people towards areas where stages change, you just push your opponent to the edge and you'll move in to them naturally. It makes stage changes easier, but overall wasn't a good change. On the other hand, four new characters have been added, which is great -- more characters is very nice, in a game like this, and the new characters are all great to see. But again on the other hand, there were yet more changes made in order to save space and simplify gameplay -- the KI-style combo system was mostly removed, leaving just moves, special mvoes, and super moves in place. Some returning characters have fewer moves, too. I never liked KI-style combo/combo breaker systems at all, so I think this was probably a good change (apart from the removed special moves), but I'm sure some people disagree. Overall, I don't know that this is worth the money -- there are as many negative changes as positive, and this is one of the pricier US releases. Still, it IS still to date the most recent Clayfighter game, and it does have four characters exclusive to this version, so series fans at least should certainly check it out. Fighting game fans who prefer 2d gameplay to 3d in their polygonal fighting games also might like this version more. Two player, no saving.

Command & Conquer - C&C for the N64 is a remake of the PC original, except with 3d graphics. The live action FMV cutscenes have been removed, of course, in favor of static images, text, and some speech. That is too bad, C&C series FMV is always entertaining stuff. There's also no multiplayer, and the game only includes the original campaign, not either of the expansions, which were never released for N64. There are four additional N64-exclusive levels, though. The actual game's the same, though, except in 3d instead of drawn 2d. The visuals actually look pretty good, particularly in high res mode. The game looks and plays better than I expected, I wasn't expecting it to be good at all but it's actually fun and works reasonably decently. You can zoom in and out, so you can hopefully get it to the size you want. Small units are always an issue in C&C games, with all that tiny infantry, but they do what they can here. The 3d graphical redo is interesting and makes the game different enough to be worth a look, even if the gameplay is the same, and that gameplay functions about as well as can be hoped for on a console controller with analog stick. C&C for the N64 may or may not be worth playing, but at least they tried something a little different. One player, on-cart saving, Expansion Pak support.

Conker's Bad Fur Day - Rare's last N64 3d platformer, Conker's Bad Fur Day was long in development but worth the wait. Conker has impressive graphics, though it does have some framerate issues like Banjo-Tooie likely because it doesn't use the expansion pak. It also has great platformer gameplay, with the usual good Rare level design. This game is less about collecting than Rare's other 3d platformers; the game does have some, you are collecting items, but it's more straightforward than Rare's other 3d platformers. This game is streamlined versus the previous ones. I'm not so sure the change was a good one, I like the other three more overall, but it does make for something different and is a pretty good game as well. What Conker is best known for, however, of course, is its mature theme. This game's M rating is well earned. The game has a later Xbox remake, but while the graphics on the Xbox are better, the game is actually censored more on that platform -- many swears that are unbeeped on the N64 (the game is fully voiced) are censored on the Xbox. The game is full of dark, British humor and just crazy situations, perhaps most famously the Great Mighty Poo. Normally I am not one for poop jokes, but that whole bossfight, with an opera-singing giant poo monster fighting against Conker, who you defeat by throwing giant toilet paper rolls at it, was pretty awesome stuff. Not everyone is going to like the adult nature of the game, and this is not a game for kids, but it's a very good game all 3d platformer fans should try. Thanks to the lesser censorship the N64 probably has the better version, though it won't be cheap. Four player multiplayer (various modes, many of them shooter-style; the XBox version has different multiplayer content, so the two are not the same in that regard), on-cart saving.

Cruis'n USA - Cruis'n USA is a port of the 1994 arcade classic and one of the most successful arcade racing games ever. While the home ports have been hated almost since the release of the first one, this game for the N64, the arcade machines always have been very popular, both in the Cruis'n and followup (from the same people) The Fast & The Furious arcade games. Cruis'n USA is a simple racing game where you drive along long, often wide roads, tearing across America in your quest to become the first racer to go from San Francisco to Washington D.C.. The game clearly has a strong Outrun influence, except newer and American-made instead of Japanese. The arcade game was fun, but there are flaws in this home port. The N64 version is a straight arcade port, with absolutely no added features. This means that you simply access the hidden cars via cheat codes, not unlocking, and once you've beaten the main race mode there isn't much reason to revisit this game except to try to improve your times in the courses. That's disappointing, because while fun this game won't last long. Also, the multiplayer is two player only. At the time though, the biggest letdown was the graphics, people were expecting it to be arcade perfect but it's definitely not. There's fog and popup too. Still, there's enough fun here to make it worth a few bucks, and this was a very early N64 release. Two player, on-cart saving.

Cruis'n World - Cruis'n World is the second of the three N64 Cruis'n games. The gameplay is the same as ever, as you race along roads all over the world this time looking at the scenery, avoiding traffic, and winning races. All Cruis'n games were better in the arcades, but if you like simple racing games from the Outrun school, the Cruis'n games really aren't that bad. I at least find them fun. Though it is true that they're simplistic and boring after a little while, they're fun while they last and good for plenty of return plays later. It's the best reviewed game of the series and probably is the fans' favorite Cruis'n game. This N64 version can't match the graphics of the arcade, but it does add a lot of great features when compared to Cruis'n USA for the N64. First, the single player mode was significantly expanded in this game. Instead of just racing through all the tracks and that's it, multiple variants of each track have been added. In arcade mode you just play through the arcade game, but in the new mode you play several different variants of each track. You have to unlock the hidden cars, which there are a few of, as well, which is a nice improvement versus the original. It's great to see Cruis'n with more content. The new four player multiplayer mode is great too, and the visuals have been improved. However, there still is fog in the distance. Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving.

Cruis'n Exotica
- Cruis'n Exotica is the last of the N64 Cruis'n games, and it has the most features, content, and options of the trilogy. It's a little less popular than World, though, for some reason. I think that Exotica is the best of the three, myself. I like some of the new options. It's good to have a Cruis'n game that will take longer to finish, if World greatly expanded versus USA Exotica greatly expands again. This time you have even more variants on each track, including drag races, which, if you do right, will earn you boosts you can use in the other tracks. In the Exotica mode, you race a drag race, circuit lap race, short race, and two part long race in each environment. You unlock hidden cars based on miles driven, too. It will take quite a while to unlock all of the cars. There are also several alternate graphics modes that can be unlocked, including one where everything uses negative colors and looks squished, and another one where everything is stretched out and crazy warped. It's hard to play in these graphics modes, but they're pretty amusing options. However, of course, the basic gameplay is as simple as ever. All Cruis'n games are simply about driving forward along the endless road, going as fast as you can, avoiding traffic, and trying to finish in first. They are very simple and straightforward racing games. Also, even in this third game there is still fog. I guess the system simply can't render farther out. Your vision goes far enough out for you to be able to see well, but things do appear in the distance and it is a little distracting. Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving.

Dark Rift - Dark Rift is a terrible 3d fighting game for the PC and N64 made by the same developer who had previously done Criticom on Playstation and Saturn. Trying to sell games by releasing your next game on different platforms which won't know of the kind of "quality" your games are, huh? I wonder if it worked... anyway, yeah, Dark Rift is bad. The game has okay graphics for its time, and it IS 3d and not 2.5d or something, but the gameplay is poor, the game is no fun, and the computer opponents are insanely hard. Seriously, beating this game once was a very, very stiff challenge, and not for any of the right reasons. The controls are mediocre, the enemy unfair, and you don't have much of a chance at victory. As far as N64 fighting games go, this is right at the bottom of the list, along with, or maybe even below (because that game might be even worse, but has more humor value) War Gods. Two player, no saving.

Destruction Derby 64 - DD64, the only racing game published and actually released by Looking Glass Seattle, is a somewhat interesting and fun, but flawed, N64 spinoff of Psygnosis' Destruction Derby series. This game shares the name and concept of the Playstation series, but has some important differences in gameplay and execution, some good and some bad. DD64 has eight tracks, four crash arenas, and a capture the flag arena, so there are a decent number of tracks. Graphically the game looks okay to good. The graphics are somewhat pixelated and grainy, but they look decently nice most of the time even so. The framerate feels a little low, too, but I did get used to it in not too long; still, I wish it was smoother. There is vehicle damage, which is fun to see. There could be even more (the doors don't seem tocome off...), but there's at least some. The most unique feature about this game is that instead of starting all the cars in a grid, the cars are started in three groups of four (or in one track two groups of six), at different points in the track and driving in different directions. In tracks with three groups, the player's group goes one way while the other two go the other. This concept is pretty cool, because it makes for a lot more crashing and banging than there would be if everyone was driving the same direction. However, having two groups going one way and you going the other unfairly breaks the game in your favor -- it's much harder for the cars in the two groups to compete, having only one group of cars to crash into instead of two. This design decision made a lot of the game pretty easy. In addition, once you die, the race ends in seconds -- no matter if you crashed out with 9 cars still going in the race and after only two checkpoints reached of the seven maximum allowed, it'll be done in instants and you'll do fine and maybe even win overall. It's kind of stupid, and makes most of the races FAR too easy through the first three of four circuits. Fortunately, the crash arenas, the one track with 6 cars in each direction, and the top difficulty level are more challenging, and the game is fun enough to be entertaining even if it's flawed. Driving around crashing into other cars is quite entertaining. I don't know if it's better than Destruction Derby 1 or 2 (far better graphics, but maybe not quite as good gameplay overall, and not nearly as hard), or the Dreamcast (but not PS1!) version of Demolition Racer -- it certainly can't match that great crash-racing game -- but even so it is a fun game. Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving.

Diddy Kong Racing - Rare's first attempt at a Mario Kart clone, DKR is a great game in its own right. The game's fully polygonal, unlike MK64, and has an extensive, challenging single player mode. Indeed, when I played this game back in 1999-2000, I found it TOO challenging -- I could never beat the first Wizpig battle at the end of the game, it's just insanely, insanely hard. There are a lot of tracks, a battle mode, decently good multiplayer, three vehicle types, andm ore. I love the planes, they're a lot of fun to fly around with. Overall, I think that Mario Kart 64, though much shorter, is a little bit better game. Even so, DKR is a fantastic, must-play title. There is a DS version, though it has a few changes; I haven't played it myself though. Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving.

Donkey Kong 64 - Unlike many people, I love this game. Indeed, DK64 is my favorite of the Rare 3d platformers on the N64. I got this game shortly after it came out in late 1999, and absolutely loved it. I played the game steadily through until I beat the game with every single golden bananna and got the best ending. DK64 has fantastic graphics, great level designs, a lot of variety, a huge number of things to do, a bunch of different fun minigames, unlockable versions of two classic games (Rare's Jetpack and Nintendo's Donkey Kong), and more. THere are five playable characters, and you do have to revisit each of the eight levels with each character, but you do different things with each one, so it works -- you're not just doing the same thing over and over, you're exploring new areas and doing new things with each character. Everything you collect with each character saves, so there's no repeat play required, unlike BK. The levels, characters, gameplay, graphics, music, bosses... everying about this game is just fantastic and among the best on the system. Four player multiplayer (battle mode; it's okay but kind of average), on-cart saving. Expansion pak required.

Doom 64 - Doom 64 is an N64-exclusive Doom game. It is not a port of the original Doom, but instead is a new game with an all-new set of 32 levels done by Midway. The graphics are great -- this game really looks quite good. The game's actually polygonal 3d, not raycasted fake 3d, so the environments actually look 3d, and can do things that Doom couldn't before like have a path you can walk on above another one, something impossible in the original Doom engine. The new levels have some challenging puzzles, lots of enemies, and impressive graphical enhancements versus the PC original. It's a challenging game, but rewarding. The game uses an atmospheric soundtrack, instead of the musical style of the original game, and while I do miss Doom's great soundtrack, the atmospheric sound does work well and fits the tense, dangerous world of Doom very well. Doom 64's biggest problem is the lack of multiplayer, which is quite unfortunate but isn't a deal-breaker. This game is definitely worth playing anyway. One player, password or controller pak saving (1 or 2 pages; if two or more pages are free it will create a 2 page file with 16 save slots, but if you have only 1 page free on a cart it will create a 1 page file with 8 save slots.)

Dr. Mario 64 - A late N64 release, one of Nintendo's last first party N64 games and a US-exclusive release on the N64, Dr. Mario 64 is a game many people never played. It wasn't released in Japan at all on the N64, though they did get a port of it in the Japan-only, but American (NST)-developed, Nintendo Puzzle Collection on the Gamecube, along with Panel de Pon 64 (the unreleased on the N64 Japanese version of Pokemon Puzzle League) and a new version of Yoshi's Cookie. As for the N64 version though, it's a great version of Dr. Mario that I think more people would love if they'd played it. This game's fantastic fun. The visuals remind me of Paper Mario -- the characters all look "flat" in the 3d map as they move around between stages. The game has a simple but good visual look, with plenty of style and good design. Actual gameplay is entirely 2d, an...
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#2
A Black Falcon Wrote:Banjo-Kazooie - This game is one of the all-time classic 3d platformers, and it is indeed a great game. It isn't my favorite Rare 3d platformer, but it is a great one that deserves most of the praise it has recieved. The graphics are quite good, the game is well designed in both general game design and levels, and there's a lot to do. I do dislike how you have to re-collect notes and such each time you go into a level unless you get all of them, though. You can be in a level without a power you'll need to get all 100 notes, but you don't know it and start collecting them... only to realize some time later you wasted your time and will need to do it again later. It's quite annoying. Other than that though, this game is pretty good. Rare's first 3d platformer is still a great game. Like all of Rare's 3d platformers, BK has a lot of content and will take a good while to finish. It is also on XBox 360 Live Arcade, but I haven't played that version so I can't compare them. One player, on cart saving.

The 360 version changed a few graphics, mainly "updating" the Rare logo (which is now still out of date, so I really hope they don't "update" it to their current abomination). The gameplay changes include better camera controls, proper implementation of "Stop and Swop", and changing note collection to be just like later games, all notes collected are permanent this time around. You listed it as an annoyance, so that solves it. I however would have appreciated "ghost" notes I could collect again and again, chiefly for the purpose of a "get them all in one go" run on each stage. There's certain ways stages need to be played in order to do that which were really challenging.

Quote:Banjo-Tooie - The sequel to the previous game, bigger and better than the first one in most respects. Tooie is a pretty good game. It doesn't repeat the first game's problems, and has some pretty cool levels too. It's not as original as the first game, though, and some people dislike the multiple characters you now have. I don't mind that, but I did find it kind of annoying at some points and haven't finished the game, despite owning it for many years (since 2002, precisely). The game has some framerate problems -- they simply tried too much for the unenhanced N64, I really wish that this game had had Expansion Pak support, I think it needed it. Some parts have some bad framerate drops. Still, the game is great overall. Like the first game it is also on XBox 360 Live Arcade, but I haven't played those versions so I can't compare them. Four player (battle mode and minigames for multiplayer), oncart saving.

As above, all Nintendo owned imagery was removed. Controls were changed in the same way as before, and stop and swop was properly implemented, and greatly expanded on to boot. In fact, between the two games, there's actually connectivity between them and Nuts & Bolts, but as yet no port of the GBA game (or, as I imagine, a 3D remake ala RE: Chain of Memories) so no interlocking there.

Quote:Blast Corps - Blast Corps is an early N64 Rare game. The game is both original and brilliant, and, despite the many incredible games that Rare made for the system, still stands as one of their best. The graphics are poor, first gen work, but the incredibly fun gameplay makes up for it. In Blast Corps, you have to destroy all the buildings that are in the way of a runaway nuclear missile carrier which cannot stop. If it hits anything, it explodes. You control a variety of different vehicles in your destructive work. The game is essentially an action/puzzle game, and figuring out the fastest and best way to beat each level is both a lot of fun and very challenging. There are medals, and you unlock bonus stages, and the ability to try for platinum medals, if you manage to get all the gold medals. Good luck there, the difficulty is crazy. In addition to the destroying, there are also occasional bonus stages where you do other stuff such as flying around with a jetpack-like thing, and some racing levels where you do some top down racing. It's a great, great game. Controller pak or internal save. One player. Note that the game will give an error message ("foreign object detected in controller pak port" or something) if you have a rumble pak plugged in, and you cannot access the internal save unless you do NOT have a controller pak plugged into controller one. Also, if the space is available, the game will automatically make four 10-14 page notes on your memory card to save onto. How nice. So, before playing Blast Corps, make sure to remove anything from your controller's accessory port! One player.

In retrospect, original games popped up a lot more often back then. Granted, Nintendo still tries new things every now and then, and Sony and MS seem to have put some money into supporting "unique" startups, but without a big name backing them, too many developers have to pick some variation of "retro" art style to get a game made these days. Heck even Inafune ended up having to go retro for two Megaman games just to get them made. It's a big shame Rare didn't do much bug testing on basic accessory compatibility though. Also, the graphics, even by N64 standards, aren't much to look at, so it's a good thing you're zoomed out and above the whole game. Still, fun and unique experience. Boom.

Quote:Castlevania - The first 3d Castlevania game, this game has a pretty bad reputation. While I will agree that the early N64 graphics don't look that good (the graphics definitely are the worst thing about this game), the gameplay is better than the graphics. However, the improved version below makes this game outdated for all but its most hardcore fans. I will describe the game, but considering that LoD is pretty much the same thing but better, there's not much reason to get this. On its own though, Castlevania is a fairly impressive achievement in some ways. First, as should be expected from Konami, the music is fantastic. In addition, the levels are large and well designed. Castlevania for the N64 has elements of 3d platforming, 3d action, and adventure gaming in it, and the platforming and adventure elements are done especially well. As an action game it's probably not above average, but the game's focus is elsewhere so that's fine, in my opinion. I love the adventure game elements, this game has a great sense of suspense sometimes and the puzzles in the game are often challenging and fun. The game follows multiple routes with the two characters, who share some levels but each play some the other character doesn't. The little girl (mage) character is way better than the guy with the whip, because his weapon is short range while she can shoot far, which is a huge help in a 3d game. There are multiple endings too, depending on how long you took to finish it. The platforming controls are pretty good -- your character will grab onto any platform edge you get anywhere near while jumping, so absolute precision is, thankfully, not necessary. Overall, flawed but good. One player, controller pak (9 blocks) to save. The Japanese version has on-cart saving, but like all Konami N64 games it was removed from the Western releases because Konami are cheap and annoying, apparently.

Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness - I got this game in the mid '00s not expecting much, because of how much bad things I'd heard over the years about the N64 Castlevanias, but I was very pleasantly surprised, and I think this is a pretty good game. LoD is an improved version of the above title. Essentially, it is everything Castlevania for the N64 is, and more. It has better graphics, more stages, more playable characters, some level design changes, and more. The expansion pak support is an optional Hi Res mode; the framerate is lower, but the graphics look great. The graphics are improved over the first version even in low res mode, but high res is particulalry good looking. Many people dislike the slow framerate of hi res mode, but I think it's fine and always play LoD in high res. The new stages are great too. I love the new first level, on the ships; it's a better intro stage than that dark forest the original starts with (and that is level 2 this time), I think. Great boss too. The new characters change the game's progression. In LoD, first you play as Cornell. Cornell is a werewolf and is incredibly powerful; few bosses will be much of a challenge for wolf mode Cornell, so save your red gems for boss battles and then just destroy the bosses. :) This lets you focus on what's best about the game, the platforming and puzzles. Cornell is pretty cool, he's my favorite character in this game. This mode has only one ending and no time limit, and you go through all of the stages in the game. After you beat the game with Cornell, you unlock a second character. This guy has a time limit and has to find five children hiding in a certain set of stages you play through before time runs out. Do that and you unlock the original two characters from the first version, and can play through their two modes, much like the first game but with some minor changes here and there, so it won't be exactly the same experience, just similar. One player only, controller pak (~18 blocks) to save. The Japanese version has on-cart saving, but like all Konami N64 games it was removed from the Western releases because Konami are cheap and annoying.

I should pick the latter of these up at some point. Hearing about it sounds like a very weird case of a game practically being released as a beta and then eventually releasing a "finished" version. Wish that would happen to Star Fox Adventures. That game looks better than a lot of Wii games but was otherwise very disappointing.

Quote:Conker's Bad Fur Day - Rare's last N64 3d platformer, Conker's Bad Fur Day was long in development but worth the wait. Conker has impressive graphics, though it does have some framerate issues like Banjo-Tooie likely because it doesn't use the expansion pak. It also has great platformer gameplay, with the usual good Rare level design. This game is less about collecting than Rare's other 3d platformers; the game does have some, you are collecting items, but it's more straightforward than Rare's other 3d platformers. This game is streamlined versus the previous ones. I'm not so sure the change was a good one, I like the other three more overall, but it does make for something different and is a pretty good game as well. What Conker is best known for, however, of course, is its mature theme. This game's M rating is well earned. The game has a later Xbox remake, but while the graphics on the Xbox are better, the game is actually censored more on that platform -- many swears that are unbeeped on the N64 (the game is fully voiced) are censored on the Xbox. The game is full of dark, British humor and just crazy situations, perhaps most famously the Great Mighty Poo. Normally I am not one for poop jokes, but that whole bossfight, with an opera-singing giant poo monster fighting against Conker, who you defeat by throwing giant toilet paper rolls at it, was pretty awesome stuff. Not everyone is going to like the adult nature of the game, and this is not a game for kids, but it's a very good game all 3d platformer fans should try. Thanks to the lesser censorship the N64 probably has the better version, though it won't be cheap. Four player multiplayer (various modes, many of them shooter-style; the XBox version has different multiplayer content, so the two are not the same in that regard), on-cart saving.

I think it's worth correcting matters about the XBox version. There is more censorship in it, but only the first time around. After beating the game, an option is unlocked to disable all the censorship, so the second time is less censored than the N64 version. Further, in what I consider something kinda funny since the 360 ports of other Rare N64 games were very minimalist in their improvements, the graphics in the XBox version were truly overhauled to take full advantage of the console. This was done by Rare as it was when MS first bought it, when they were working on Star Fox Adventures. As a result, the game looks absolutely amazing and is one of the XBox's best looking games with the same fur and grass rendering techniques used in SFA. Along the way, they added some more movie references, like converting a castle into a Van Helsing parody. At the same time, it's a good thing the game is funny on it's own, because movie references can only get you so far and less far as the movies become more and more dated (the big failing of the "Scary Movie" movies and spinoffs as well as, in my opinion, Robot Chicken). They also added some elements as well as taking away a few, mainly balancing difficulty throughout. Some dialog was changed, mainly for the sake of comedy, and there's a few other unexpected surprises. Also, yes, the multiplayer is completely different. It's a shame they didn't include the original multiplayer on top of it, but that's how it is. Fortunately the game supports system link, as Live support for original XBox games is gone. All in all, the XBox version really is a great version on its own, and considering how hard it is to find a cheap copy of the N64 game, a perfectly valid way to go. For the collector of fine Rare games, I recommend getting both.

Quote:Diddy Kong Racing - Rare's first attempt at a Mario Kart clone, DKR is a great game in its own right. The game's fully polygonal, unlike MK64, and has an extensive, challenging single player mode. Indeed, when I played this game back in 1999-2000, I found it TOO challenging -- I could never beat the first Wizpig battle at the end of the game, it's just insanely, insanely hard. There are a lot of tracks, a battle mode, decently good multiplayer, three vehicle types, andm ore. I love the planes, they're a lot of fun to fly around with. Overall, I think that Mario Kart 64, though much shorter, is a little bit better game. Even so, DKR is a fantastic, must-play title. There is a DS version, though it has a few changes; I haven't played it myself though. Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving.

Rare did for kart racing what they did for platforming. Mario Kart may have single player modes, but for anyone who's played this game, it's clear that they barely "count" compared to the full fledged adventure and story of Diddy Kong Racing. The single player design is lightyears beyond MK and course design is top notch in a way that I consider matching MK64's setup. That said, in terms of basic mechanics Mario Kart 64 wins, and as a result that's the one I always played with friends. Modern Mario Kart games like the latest 3DS still haven't come close to this game's single player design.

Quote:Donkey Kong 64 - Unlike many people, I love this game. Indeed, DK64 is my favorite of the Rare 3d platformers on the N64. I got this game shortly after it came out in late 1999, and absolutely loved it. I played the game steadily through until I beat the game with every single golden bananna and got the best ending. DK64 has fantastic graphics, great level designs, a lot of variety, a huge number of things to do, a bunch of different fun minigames, unlockable versions of two classic games (Rare's Jetpack and Nintendo's Donkey Kong), and more. THere are five playable characters, and you do have to revisit each of the eight levels with each character, but you do different things with each one, so it works -- you're not just doing the same thing over and over, you're exploring new areas and doing new things with each character. Everything you collect with each character saves, so there's no repeat play required, unlike BK. The levels, characters, gameplay, graphics, music, bosses... everying about this game is just fantastic and among the best on the system. Four player multiplayer (battle mode; it's okay but kind of average), on-cart saving. Expansion pak required.

I too loved this game. Time has tempered that opinion, but I still stand by my opinion that this game was vastly underrated. I should add that as time went on, the biggest problem I've found isn't the need to switch characters so much as the general "feeling" in a level of being "incomplete". So many areas in a level are cordoned off no matter who you are. If they had to go with multiple characters, there were better ways to pull it off. It probably would have been best if levels were designed around a simple mechanic of being able to switch characters on a whim. Other complaints revolve around the need to collect SO much stuff just to "see the ending", but generally in these games that's the last thing I actually want to see. I had no problem with all that stuff in the game I had to find.

Quote:F-Zero X - F-Zero X, the long-awaited sequel to the great SNES classic F-Zero, is a truly exceptional game and another one of my favorite racing games ever. I generally find it very hard to decide between F-Zero, F-Zero X, and F-Zero GX, but all three games are so outstanding that it doesn't really matter. F-Zero X does have a very simple visual style -- unlike most racing games that generation this game has a 100% smooth 60fps framerate, so the visuals are simple -- but the style does work, and the smooth gameplay means that any mistakes are your fault, not the game's. The game has a lot of tracks, even more cars, a random track mode that sets you up against randomly designed courses, and a stiff but beatable difficulty level. It's really exceptionally designed all around -- it's hard, but not F-Zero GX hard. I think X has the best difficulty balance of the three games, though while losing again and again to one of those racers that love to always stay just ahead of you you might not think so. :) But yeah, overall, fantastic. The music's okay to good too, though the machine-like "3-2-1-Go" voice is kind of weird. There's also a roulette option, in multiplayer, to let dead players mess with the ones still living... I think it adds a fun challenge to the game, I'd like to see more things like it in racing games. It is unfortunate that even two player multiplayer mode has only four total vehicles though -- Wipeout 64 for instance has a full field in 2-player mode, and only cuts it to four with 3 or 4 players. It hurts the 2 player mode, versus Wipeout. Still, overall, this is a fantastic game. Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving.

While I enjoyed F-Zero on the SNES, a true 3D sequel is what I needed to really love the game. The only disappointment is that they never did release the 64DD in America so I never got to use the custom track maker. Further, they never gave us that ability in later F-Zero games.

Quote:Jet Force Gemini - Jet Force Gemini is another Rare classic for the N64. Most people probably already know it, but it's a third person platform/shooter, with three playable characters, different routes for each character, and a good mix of shooting and platform action. The graphics are good as you expect from Rare, and the game's fantastic. About the only negative of note is that the game gets quite tough later on, and the final collection quest is unreasonably broad and annoying -- imagine if you had to get every single star before you could fight the final Bowser in Mario 64, for example. That's basically what JFG does. Yeah, it was Rare's love for collection quests going a little too far... apart from that, though JFG is an outstanding, must-play game. One of the system's best! Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving.

The biggest problem with JFG's collection quest for me wasn't that I had to get so much. It was that I had to comb over so much territory I'd already gone over with very little that was new to find all those things. Add in character switching JUST to get through a gate after passing through the SAME areas once again and it got old. I don't mind collecting, but give me something new to see while doing it. Also, give me a hint that "this will be on the test". I'd have started getting Tribals sooner if I knew they actually were recorded as saved.

Quote:Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards - Kirby 64 is Nintendo's second try at a sidescrolling platformer on the N64, and it's a good one. I do think the game is somewhat disappointing -- I was hoping that this game would be as great as Kirby 2 for the Game Boy, but it just isn't -- but still, it is a good, nice-looking game with some nice features. Kirby 64's best feature, expanded on from the "powers plus friends" combinations of Kirbies 2 and 3, is power combination. Kirby doesn't use friends for power combinations here; instead, Kirby can have two powers at once, and your ability will change depending on which two you possess. You have more than twice the number of combinations you did in Kirby 2, as a result. It works well and really adds something to the game. The game looks like a Kirby game, and plays a lot like Kirby 3, except with polygonal graphics. It's that Kirby 3-style gameplay that is the problem, though -- much like that previous game, Kirby 64 is a slow paced game. Kirby really seems to trudge along, and the good pacing of the three 8-bit Kirby platformers, or Super Star, is missing here. That hurts the game. I also disliked how most minibosses don't move -- they just stand still and attack you with something, which is kind of boring. It was fun that Kirby teams up with some other characters in this game, though, including Dedede, but unfortunately, the two player co-op modes that both of the SNES Kirby platformers had are missing here -- this is one player only in the main game. In addition, the amount of collecting has been substantially ramped up. Instead of six or so shards to find, like in Kirby 2. this game has over a hundred. As usual in Kirby platformers finishing the game is easy, but this collection quest is much more difficult -- some shards require specific power combinations not available in the stages they are in, so you'll need to get through several levels with the right power, without losing it, to get those. It adds challenge, but is annoying at times as well. The game's multiplayer mode consists of three somewhat Mario Party-esque minigames. One, the apple collection one, is somewhat boring, but the other two are fantastic. Hundred Yard Hop is very simple but ridiculously addictive fun in multiplayer, and the tile-dropping game is good as well. Overall, Kirby 64 is a decently fun game, but the slow gameplay, dpad-only controls (I know it's a sidescroller, but I wanted analog controls, like Goemon's Great Adventure has), and shard-collection frustration dragged it down. GGA is the better game overall, though I do love two of the minigames, and like the game. Four player multiplayer (three minigames only, main game is single player), on-cart saving.

I really enjoyed Kirby 64. Heck, it was a game I won in this very forum's old contest. That said, it isn't nearly as good as my personal favorite, Super Star. As you point out, Kirby moves slower, but that's something I can deal with. There's also the matter of Kirby's limited flying, and how to "compliment" that restriction, they built all the levels much flatter. I enjoyed the crystal hunt, but the game itself just wasn't quite as well polished. Add to that the lack of "hats" and even Kirby's "look" wasn't quite right. A great game with an inventive mechanic (note that to "make" that mechanic, they just cut out a large number of Kirby's traditional moves, most of them ended up being wrapped into combo abilities), but there are better Kirby games.

Quote:The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time - It's the best console game ever made. What more do you really need to say? OoT is as close to flawless as it gets. One player, on-cart saving.

Calling this the "best console game ever made" really stretches things for me. I have a hard time agreeing with that considering the vast bredth of games dismissed in a single sentence. Further, as I've collected more and more old PC and console games, I've found the distinction means very little to me. It was an incredible game that manages to stand up pretty well these days, and it invented a number of mechanics that have shaped how 3D games are made, but "best"? I still go back to Link to the Past and Link's Awakening, and have a hard time deciding which of those Zelda games is my favorite. I play Super Mario Bros. 3 at least once a year all the way through, and still consider it one of the best Mario games, competing POSSIBLY with Yoshi's Island and Mario World, but edging out ahead to me. As inventive as OOT was, the simple fact of the matter is I've had opportunity lately to watch younger gamers play some of these games for the first time. These kids had Ocarina of Time 3DS on one side and more recent Zelda games like Wind Waker, Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword on the other, and most of them said that they had a lot more fun with those latter games. Does that mean that Ocarina of Time is WORSE than Twilight Princess? Well, I'm not going to say that. I personally prefer OOT, but it does mean that yes, the Zelda series has made some strides in controls and overall "feel" of moving around since the N64 days, and that's what kids noticed. No, they weren't complaining about the graphics. They didn't just put it down 5 minutes in because it looked bad. They put it down partway through the second dungeon because they wanted to play more Skyward Sword. Admittedly, Skyward Sword to me is probably the game I'd place closest to taking the throne from OOT as my personal favorite 3D Zelda, but my point is our past can cloud us to certain things that fresher eyes can see. I wouldn't dismiss the opinions of kids so soon either. After all, we were all young when we first decided games like Mario were "awesome", and that kid is the one we're summoning up when we "remember" the games as being "awesome".

Quote:The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask - Majora's Mask, the sequel to OoT, is a somewhat controversial game, and rightfully so. While on the one hand it's regarded as one of the most original Zelda games, which it is, it also has some design decisions which can be hard to like. Back when I got this after it came out, I wasn't sure what kind of score it deserved, it's so good in some ways but so annoying in others. The problem is, the core of its uniqueness is also its biggest problem. The game runs on a time system, so you only have a certain amount of time before the moon crashes and it's game over. So, all of your actions are on the clock. No time to take your time and explore here. You do eventually find a song that doubles the amount of time you have, and it's absolutely vital, but still, time is an everpresent issue. For instance, if you run out of time in a dungeon, you'll have to go back to the start and start the whole thing over. I don't think I should even have to say how awful that is. Also, after you beat each dungeon, it changes the world -- so beating the ice dungeon melts a lot of the snow in that area, etc. The problem is, these changes reset when you go back in time, so if you want to see it without snow, you'll have go to through the dungeon AGAIN and beat the boss again too! Why would they do it that way? It's annoying! Similarly, when you reset time you lose all consumable items, so you'll need to get arrows, sticks, etc. all over again. Some stuff can be stored in the bank in town, but you can't always get back there, and you can't store everything. All of the repeat elements that I had to redo over and over got annoying. In addition, there are only four dungeons, an extremely small number for a Zelda game. Some are good, like the Stone Tower temple, but others are mediocre, like the water temple, and there are far too few of them. The combat in this game is easier overall than OoT, too, and you can get white-rimmed hearts (halves damage) midgame, instead of only at the very end like in OoT. So yeah, combat-wise this game is easier, and dungeon-wise it is half as long. The main balancing factor against those is that the game has many sidequests, which are kept track of in your quest book, and many of these are pretty difficult. This is where much of the challenge in the game comes from, and plenty of the fun as well. Also, it is pretty cool that each character follows a path through the three days you keep repeating, so stores are only open during the day, the postman makes his rounds, etc. It's cool stuff for a Zelda game. In addition, while the overworld is smaller than OoT's (which I did find disappointing), there is a LOT more stuff in it, so you'll probably spend more time in the overworld overall -- there's more to do. That's great. So, overall, MM is a mixed bag, with some great elements, like the living town and more detailed world, and some beautiful areas, like Ikana Canyon, but also a lot of frustration and questionable design elements. SOme people consider this one of their favorite Zelda games, but I've always had a much more mixed view of the game. One player, on-cart saving. Expansion Pak required.

I've said it before but I loved this game and part of what made it great WAS the deadly time limit. Our opinions are simply different on this, and I accept that. However, I should correct some things here. No, you don't need to beat the "entire" dungeon over again, just the boss. Once you beat a dungeon, a warp point is made teleporting you right to the end. It bears noting this in your review, as well as the fact that pretty much any thing that needs doing in the game nets you some sort of item that alllows you to skip to the next part next time you reset the clock. It's true that until you get to those points, you do need to do things over, but there's plenty of stuff one can make happen again and again much quicker the second time around. That said, losing arrows and the like on reset is something they never should have done. That didn't add a thing to the experience. I know it's just a disagreement of taste on one level, but as I've said before I can't help but feel you just stopped too soon when you reset. The biggest advice to make the game fly by I can give isn't even the reverse song of time. It's that you shouldn't reverse time until you complete whatever section you are in and get SOMETHING out of it, be it a quest item, a heart container, a mask or a song. If you play it that way, you should never find yourself needing to repeat some huge thing. Anyway, I personally loved all 4 of the vast dungeons in the game, but then again I always stuck around until I beat the dungeon. The first time through, I only ran out of time in one of them, the last of them, and even then I had gotten far enough to get the mirror shield which meant I barely had to repeat anything there and could continue off into the rest of that dungeon.


Quote:Mario Kart 64 - Mario Kart 64 is, in my opinion, still the game that all other kart racing games should be compared to. A substantial improvement over the SNES Mario Kart game, Mario Kart 64 is an exceptional masterpiece of game design. The tracks are all fantastic, the graphics are good enough, and the fun, particularly in multiplayer, is about as good as it gets. About the only flaw here is that the single player game won't take all that long to finish. Even so, it is a lot of fun while it lasts. Only the DS and Wii Mario Kart games rival this title's greatness, within the series. Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving. Ghost saves are controller pak only, 121 pages per ghost.

I loved this game, and for the same reason I loved F-Zero X. Their SNES incarnations felt like they were trying to do more than they could with Mode 7 and the N64 versions seem to "realize" the vision far better than the SNES ever could. It's why I never bothered with the GBA versions of either series. I hear they were actually pretty decent, but honestly it would have felt like taking a big step backwards to me. That said, I actually felt the Wii version was underwhelming and consider the Gamecube version to be superior. The DS version was nice, but I've decided the 3DS game is probably my current favorite. I recommend trying it if you haven't as they manage to work in all sorts of mechanics from across the series, including reintroducing the "hop" from the N64 game and the speed up coins from the SNES/GBA games.

Quote:Mega Man 64 - This is a very, very (three years later) late port of Mega Man Legends from the PS1. It's a solid, but unenhanced, port. All of the voice acting is still here, which is nice, but the failure to give the game true analog controls -- instead, the analog stick controls Mega Man as if it was a d-pad -- is a pretty serious letdown. This game released in 2001, over 3 years after the PS1 release... there's NO excuse for not giving the game analog controls, none! Apart from that though, the graphics at least do benefit from the N64's hardware features, and the game's the same. It's not very Mega Man like, and has little in common with the great platformer games, but on its own it's a decently fun game. I didn't go into this expecting very much, but while it definitely has its issues -- the controls, not being very Mega Man like in gameplay, not getting powers from bosses, etc -- as a standalone title it was more fun than I expected. One player, on-cart saving.

I heard they rearranged some things in the dungeons, but otherwise it's a straight port. I actually loved the two Megaman Legends games. It was a lot different from a normal Megaman game, chiefly in that it was an adventure game more like Zelda than a straight action game. That's kinda why I liked it. It's true that you have to get Roll to assemble your weapons instead of getting them from a boss, but otherwise I still felt like Megaman. There were a lot of fun things to do in the first one, with all sorts of mini-games and a collection quest to fill up a museum. Oddly, one of the "Team Rocket" type pseudo villians ended up getting her own game in "Misadventures of Tron Bonne", which I may check out at some point but I understand it's a very different sort of game. Honestly I'm not sure why she got so popular with a spinoff and a character in some of Capcom's fighting games considering her limited roll, but she did tend to make up a lot of the boss fights, so there's that. I also thought the light hearted tone was a fun diversion from the always-serious tone of the Megaman X series. It was interesting to see Megaman Juno make things a LOT more desperate really quick near the end of the game. The controls were tight and the enemies were well designed. While "puzzles" in Zelda-style games never seem to be nearly as well done as Zelda itself, I still say this was a very fun go at it. Megaman Legends 2 makes up for the control issues by using the analog sticks. I really was disappointed with the cancellation of Legends 3D...

This game started Capcom's really regretful retcon of Megaman's "normal" identity. At some point the US offices basically said "replace all instances of "rockman" with "megaman" and translators started applying that to all instances of "Rock" as his name period. So, instead of calling him "Rock" throughout the game, he's "Megaman" the entire time from start to finish, even unto the point where Grampa tells the story of naming the baby he found "Megaman", which just sounds awkward. Continue on to the remake of Megaman 1 where Megaman's original name is now "Mega" instead of "Rock". Yep, "Mega and Roll". Considering how well the story of Rock becoming the hero Megaman worked when it was first revealed in Megaman 4, the change in translation really came off as awkward.

One thing of note. Difficulty level was really weird in this game, in a way I haven't seen before or since. You didn't get "hard" or "easy" at first. You had to beat "normal" to get "hard" (which does happen sometimes), but in a really weird twist, you actually had to beat hard mode to unlock easy mode. That's frankly really bizarre. In easy mode, aside from getting money and health a lot easier, you also start with the "Omega" part for Megaman's buster, giving it perfect scores in all stats and essentually feeling like you are rapid firing fully charged mega buster shots. So going through easy mode was a cinch compared to hard, but at the same time, if someone has a completed "easy mode" file, know that that's the mark of true completion, apparently, because they had to go through "hard" to get there.

Quote:Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon - The first N64 Goemon game was also the first Goemeon game Konami released in the West in years. Yes, after skipping the last three SNES games, and the PSX ones, Konami finally bought the series here again on the N64. MNSG is a 3d action-RPG-platform game with a large open world, and it's a lot of fun. The graphics are simple and it looks very first gen, but then again it is from 1997, so it is first gen. The game also has some control issues -- this is a 3d game, but doesn't has OoT style lockon because that hadn't been invented yet (this is a year before OoT after all), so you're stuck with difficulty actually hitting your enemies, far too often. Hitting them in 3d can be tricky sometimes. However, the game is great even so. The large world is fun to explore, and there's plenty to find as well. It makes the game feel somewhat Zelda-ish, and this is before OoT, too! If you can look past the visuals and get used to the controls, MNSG reveals itself to be a great adventure, lots of fun from beginning to end. I do wish the game lasted a bit longer, but still, it's fantastic fun while it lasts. The overworlds, dungeons, Impact sections (complete with Japanese-language intro song!), bosses, and everything else have lots of character and are fun to explore through. So yeah, overall the game has a few issues, but it's a good game on the whole. One player, controller pak saving (16 pages). This one also did require controller paks in Japan, I believe.

I enjoyed this game. I got it along with Quest 64 (ugh) during the N64 days and this was the clear winner. It didn't come close to Zelda, but it was fun in it's own right and had such an insane feel to the whole thing that I couldn't help but enjoy it. I mean you're a crazy faced kid using a smoking pipe as a weapon with hair as big as himself together with a fat effeminate guy, a ninja girl, and some sort of Pinocchio guy in ancient Japan saving the world from Opera singing aliens and along the way you ride in a pop song spouting actor who's also a GIANT ROBOT. The game makes NO sense and I love it.

Quote:Perfect Dark - Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving. Expansion Pak enhanced, and required for the main game.

Another game I dove into for a long time when it came out. I even got the 360 remake. Goldeneye was the innovator, but this game perfected it, and as a result I consider it superior in about every way to Goldeneye, which is saying something. Unfortunately this game was released a little too late in the N64's lifetime to garner the sort of reputation that Goldeneye did, hence the "minimalist" remake where Goldeneye got the full treatment. I have little doubt it'd have taken off just as much if not more had the N64 been around a few years longer. The 360 version takes the time to fix the few flaws it had, such as frame rate issues and implementing a true online multiplayer experience. While the 360 version did update character models, there are some glitches in the cut scenes when someone's hands don't line up just right. Also, the mouths still aren't animated so the updated models are a little more jarring because of that. I'm not asking for the jaws to be rendered with their own polygons, but at least go the route of some early 3D games and make the mouth an animated texture. That worked pretty well in games like Mask of Eternity.

Quote:Super Mario 64 - One player, on-cart saving.
While OOT and Prince of Persia Sands of Time were big parts in shaping modern 3D games, Mario 64 is arguably the first one to truly "get" what the shift meant. Early Crash Bandicoot and a small handful came close, but Mario 64 was the first to finally establish that, hey, 3D games could be genuine GAMES, worthy of admiration and truly fun. Previous abortions like Bubsy 3D and Prince of Persia 3D showed that no one really understood how the look, feel, control, and VIEW of a 3D game ought to be. It was a big stumbling period where the average review of a new 3D itteration of a platforming series generally ended with "this game should have stayed 2D". In fact, the stigma of a 3D conversion lasted a LONG time after those failed attempts up to and including fears of how Metroid Prime would turn out. As a result, a few hidden gems were avoided just because of it. Mario 64's biggest failing is that it still had a few rough edges of it's own. The game's camera was an amazing innovation, but by today's standards is pretty clunky, not even allowing full 360 spins and instead having "dead ends" in the spin that require spinning back around the other way to get to the angle you want at times. All the same, what it did, it did well enough to be a truly amazing game that paved the way for all of Rare's platformers.

Quote:Super Smash Bros. - Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving.
Freakin' Smash Bros. N64 owners tended to have Goldeneye, Mario Kart, Mario Party, and THIS. Yes, even over Ocarina of Time and Mario 64, for the more "casual" multiplayer N64 owners, this got picked up really fast. No wonder. It's all of Nintendo's biggest stars together at last... to beat each other up. The original idea of a purely Mario cast just wouldn't have been as interesting. This game spawned one of Nintendo's most system selling series, with the later games dominating both Gamecube and Wii sales charts. Nowadays you mainly hear from Melee purists complaining about Brawl ruining everything, but back during Melee's rise the 64 purists complained about Melee. Heck, to this day I still find a 64 game purist dragging in an N64 to "put those youngins in their place" with "the only real Smash Bros.". Those peeps are simply amazing at this game. I still pop it in every now and then, as some of those level designs never had their like made in the newer versions.

Quote:Tetrisphere - Two player multiplayer, on-cart saving.

I got addicted to this game back during the N64 days. I've played a number of Tetris variants that mostly failed to capture the thunder of the original, but this one came close to me. The premise is simple: take block and move them around the surface of a sphere, matching them up to break apart sections until the core is revealed. To all those topologists out there, yes, this is actually mathematically impossible on the surface of an actual sphere, where you can't have squares of the same size across the entire surface that also all meet together perfectly along the edges. The game is actually a "cheat". What you are really doing is moving blocks along the surface of a toroid, or "donut" shape Along that sort of surface, lines perpendicular will still cross each other again but parallel lines never will, and so it really can be covered entirely with blocks of the same size meeting perfectly at their edges. To make it look like a "sphere", the game is rendered using a highly distorted "fisheye" effect, making the donut look like a sphere to the untrained eye, though one that appears "strange" in a way the uninformed could never put their finger on and generally summed up as "because it's digital". One could pick robot "characters" that basically determined the "stats" of your cursor, such as how fast it scrolled and how quickly it could "drag" blocks, or how many "levels" "up" the "sphere" it could "hop". That's a lot of "quote marks". I got obsessed with the game for a long while. I should play it again sometime to see how it holds up... "The New Tetris" wasn't nearly as "new" as this game.
"On two occasions, I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able to rightly apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question." ~ Charles Babbage (1791-1871)
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#3
I'll respond in depth later for sure, but hmm, you only have comments about the first-party stuff, Castlevania games, and Tetrisphere (Nintendo published but not developed)? You need to play some more lesser-known N64 games then, encouraging that is one of the reasons I've been working on this. :)
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#4
I've played a few others besides what I commented on, and I did mention Mystical Ninja. I just didn't see much to add. I have the N64 version of Resident Evil 2, and well, not much to say there. I have the Playstation version of Megaman Legends. I understand some dungeon layouts were altered for the N64 version. Not much to add there except I actually look back on that game and it's followup as good ones, overlooked just because they "weren't Megaman". Nope, they were Megaman Legends, their own animal.

It is true though. Mostly I got Nintendo and Rare games on that system. Generally they're the best ones for that system. There's a handful more I'd like to get in the future, like Mischief Makers, but I didn't see a strong enough case for the others. I generally don't like straight sports games for example. Also, I'm pretty much full up on racing games I'm willing to bother with. There are a number of 3rd party games up there I've played, either rented or played a friend's copy, and I got enough of an impression then. Others I got for other systems, like my Dreamcast version of Shadow Man (for the record, not really worth it, the game looks pretty much the same aside from frame rate being smoother).

I may give Aiden's Chronicle a try... though I wonder if it'll fit my tastes... Thing is, you tend to collect a LOT of stuff on a whim whether it's any good or not, so I didn't think of this as a "recommended" list.
"On two occasions, I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able to rightly apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question." ~ Charles Babbage (1791-1871)
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#5
Well, no, it's not a "recommended" list, it's a list of everything I own, and yes, I want to own a lot more N64 games too. I have many of the better ones, but I wouldn't mind eventually owning all non-sports N64 games... :)

There are two goals to this list of reviews, first to do it -- because I love the N64 and think it's worthwhile and fun -- and second to encourage people to play N64 games beyond the usual Nintendo and Rare stuff, because there ARE some good ones out there. Of course those are great, and I'm reviewing those too, but they're not the only good N64 games. It probably is true that this won't be the most critical list, because I like the N64 a lot and do like a lot of its games, but I do try to say in the reviews what I think of games. I don't entirely praise everything.

Oh, and as for racing games, the N64 version of San Francisco Rush 2049 is of course still to this day both my favorite racing game ever, and my most-played console game. It's also a game I still play regularly. I know there's also a Dreamcast version, but... it's fantastic too, but I like the N64 version more. But yeah, I love that game so, so much... it's still easily one of my favorite console games ever!

As for Aidyn, yeah, sure, give it a try. I don't know if you'll like it or not, but it's unique, for sure, and if you do like it it'll definitely last. Just make sure to save often and use a bunch of save files (despite their size). And have patience, you'll need it with this game. But it's like nothing else on the system, and not much else in the generation too, perhaps...
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#6
Posted an update -- reviews are present up to Space Invaders now.
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Dark Jaguar Wrote:The 360 version changed a few graphics, mainly "updating" the Rare logo (which is now still out of date, so I really hope they don't "update" it to their current abomination). The gameplay changes include better camera controls, proper implementation of "Stop and Swop", and changing note collection to be just like later games, all notes collected are permanent this time around. You listed it as an annoyance, so that solves it. I however would have appreciated "ghost" notes I could collect again and again, chiefly for the purpose of a "get them all in one go" run on each stage. There's certain ways stages need to be played in order to do that which were really challenging.
Seriously, having notes which reset every time, in a game where it can be possible to get a LOT of them in a stage before realizing that you need a power you don't have yet in order to get them all, is just unforgivably annoying...

Quote:As above, all Nintendo owned imagery was removed. Controls were changed in the same way as before, and stop and swop was properly implemented, and greatly expanded on to boot. In fact, between the two games, there's actually connectivity between them and Nuts & Bolts, but as yet no port of the GBA game (or, as I imagine, a 3D remake ala RE: Chain of Memories) so no interlocking there.
The GBA game never was supposed to connect to the N64 games, though, right? However, it was kind of neat that they finally got stop n swop in. :)

Quote:In retrospect, original games popped up a lot more often back then. Granted, Nintendo still tries new things every now and then, and Sony and MS seem to have put some money into supporting "unique" startups, but without a big name backing them, too many developers have to pick some variation of "retro" art style to get a game made these days. Heck even Inafune ended up having to go retro for two Megaman games just to get them made. It's a big shame Rare didn't do much bug testing on basic accessory compatibility though. Also, the graphics, even by N64 standards, aren't much to look at, so it's a good thing you're zoomed out and above the whole game. Still, fun and unique experience. Boom.
I think the "fewer original games now" thing is because of budget. You can do original ideas in small-budget indie download stuff, but high-budget console games need to be safe because of how much money the games cost to make... there have been so, SO many studio failures and mass firings this generation, and it's because of the serious risk developers are in if their games don't succeed. You can't afford to not have a hit anymore, which means safer and safer games, unfortunately.

Quote:I should pick the latter of these up at some point. Hearing about it sounds like a very weird case of a game practically being released as a beta and then eventually releasing a "finished" version. Wish that would happen to Star Fox Adventures. That game looks better than a lot of Wii games but was otherwise very disappointing.
Yeah, that basically is what happened, the second version is a fixed, complete version of the game as originally planned, essentially. It's definitely a good game worth playing, though pass on the first version, probably; they're too similar to make both worthwhile unless you really like the games.

And yeah, it'd have been nice to see an improved version of SF Adventures, sure... it certainly could have used it.

Quote:I think it's worth correcting matters about the XBox version. There is more censorship in it, but only the first time around. After beating the game, an option is unlocked to disable all the censorship, so the second time is less censored than the N64 version.
Really? I've never heard that, but most people who play the game are going to see it fully censored...

Quote:Further, in what I consider something kinda funny since the 360 ports of other Rare N64 games were very minimalist in their improvements, the graphics in the XBox version were truly overhauled to take full advantage of the console. This was done by Rare as it was when MS first bought it, when they were working on Star Fox Adventures. As a result, the game looks absolutely amazing and is one of the XBox's best looking games with the same fur and grass rendering techniques used in SFA. Along the way, they added some more movie references, like converting a castle into a Van Helsing parody.
I'd heard that the multiplayer was entirely replaced, but didn't know there were single player additions too, apart from the graphics. I don't quite know what you mean by "Rare as it was when MS first bought it", though... Conker for Xbox was a 2005 release, late in the Xbox's life cycle, and released well after two straight serious disappointments in Star Fox Adventures and Grabbed by the Ghoulies. Do you mean that this was from declining Rare, but from before MS basically finished them off? I guess that's true.

Quote: At the same time, it's a good thing the game is funny on it's own, because movie references can only get you so far and less far as the movies become more and more dated (the big failing of the "Scary Movie" movies and spinoffs as well as, in my opinion, Robot Chicken). They also added some elements as well as taking away a few, mainly balancing difficulty throughout. Some dialog was changed, mainly for the sake of comedy, and there's a few other unexpected surprises. Also, yes, the multiplayer is completely different. It's a shame they didn't include the original multiplayer on top of it, but that's how it is. Fortunately the game supports system link, as Live support for original XBox games is gone. All in all, the XBox version really is a great version on its own, and considering how hard it is to find a cheap copy of the N64 game, a perfectly valid way to go. For the collector of fine Rare games, I recommend getting both.
Given that I have it for N64, Conker is probably my least favorite of the four Rare 3d platformers for N64, and it's not cheap for Xbox, I've never had much interest in getting it... I probably would if I found a pretty cheap copy, though.

Quote:Rare did for kart racing what they did for platforming. Mario Kart may have single player modes, but for anyone who's played this game, it's clear that they barely "count" compared to the full fledged adventure and story of Diddy Kong Racing. The single player design is lightyears beyond MK and course design is top notch in a way that I consider matching MK64's setup. That said, in terms of basic mechanics Mario Kart 64 wins, and as a result that's the one I always played with friends. Modern Mario Kart games like the latest 3DS still haven't come close to this game's single player design.
Yeah, it is kind of too bad that Mario Kart has never tried to do a hub-based world, it'd be cool. Even Rare didn't their second time, though -- Mickey's Speedway USA doesn't have a hub world. Well, one of their two GBC Mickey kart racing games does, but only the first one; the second one drops it.

I agree though -- in terms of basic mechanics, and overall track design greatness, Mario Kart wins, but it's great that DKR has such an expanded single player mode, it keeps you playing in single player for a lot longer than Mario Kart 64 will.

Quote:I too loved this game. Time has tempered that opinion, but I still stand by my opinion that this game was vastly underrated. I should add that as time went on, the biggest problem I've found isn't the need to switch characters so much as the general "feeling" in a level of being "incomplete". So many areas in a level are cordoned off no matter who you are. If they had to go with multiple characters, there were better ways to pull it off. It probably would have been best if levels were designed around a simple mechanic of being able to switch characters on a whim. Other complaints revolve around the need to collect SO much stuff just to "see the ending", but generally in these games that's the last thing I actually want to see. I had no problem with all that stuff in the game I had to find.
I've never fully replayed DK64, but I have played a bit of it a few times, and it still seemed great... but yeah, it is true that I haven't tried to play the whole game again since finishing it in 2000 sometime.

As for the "cordoned off", thing, though, I just never had a problem with that. Each character has their own special powers, so you can only get to their areas with that character... it didn't feel like I was being "cordoned off", more that I was exploring the level again with someone else who can now go into new areas too. I do remember getting stuck a few times, and using a guide on occasion, but mostly I did it myself... I do admit that once I got it down to ~15 golden bananas left I did have to start looking things up online, though. The game doesn't tell you which ones you've missed, so it'd have been a complete pain otherwise to find the scattered ones I didn't have.

Oh, and I often appreciated being able to go somewhere else and do a different thing for a while, when I was stuck in one area. The game usually have plenty of different things you can do at any point, often in multiple levels, which is great.

Quote:While I enjoyed F-Zero on the SNES, a true 3D sequel is what I needed to really love the game. The only disappointment is that they never did release the 64DD in America so I never got to use the custom track maker. Further, they never gave us that ability in later F-Zero games.
I think I like the SNES, N64, and GC F-Zero games about equally... I've ever been able to decide which order the three games should go in, they're all such great, great games. (Of course, I hadn't really played F-Zero for SNES before getting the N64 game; I got it years later, in the mid '00s sometime, and absolutely loved it.)

I do certainly agree that it's unfortunate we didn't get the 64DD expansion, though, it'd have been pretty cool.

Quote:The biggest problem with JFG's collection quest for me wasn't that I had to get so much. It was that I had to comb over so much territory I'd already gone over with very little that was new to find all those things. Add in character switching JUST to get through a gate after passing through the SAME areas once again and it got old. I don't mind collecting, but give me something new to see while doing it. Also, give me a hint that "this will be on the test". I'd have started getting Tribals sooner if I knew they actually were recorded as saved.
The problem was that you needed 100% in order to fight the real final boss. That was the problem. And yes, that Kirby 64 does the same thing IS an important complaint about it too... it wouldn't be so bad in either game if you didn't need 100% to progress.

Quote:I really enjoyed Kirby 64. Heck, it was a game I won in this very forum's old contest. That said, it isn't nearly as good as my personal favorite, Super Star. As you point out, Kirby moves slower, but that's something I can deal with. There's also the matter of Kirby's limited flying, and how to "compliment" that restriction, they built all the levels much flatter. I enjoyed the crystal hunt, but the game itself just wasn't quite as well polished. Add to that the lack of "hats" and even Kirby's "look" wasn't quite right. A great game with an inventive mechanic (note that to "make" that mechanic, they just cut out a large number of Kirby's traditional moves, most of them ended up being wrapped into combo abilities), but there are better Kirby games.
Oh, gah, limited flight... I think I'd managed to block that from my memory, I hated it so much. I need to go back and add in to my review some bashing of that miserably terrible design decision, certainly... Kirby should ALWAYS have unlimited flight in a Kirby platformer. Always, no exceptions.

As for cutting abilities to turn them into combo powers, perhaps they did, but had any Kirby game had anywhere near 64+ powers before Kirby 64? I doubt it.

Quote:Calling this the "best console game ever made" really stretches things for me. I have a hard time agreeing with that considering the vast bredth of games dismissed in a single sentence. Further, as I've collected more and more old PC and console games, I've found the distinction means very little to me. It was an incredible game that manages to stand up pretty well these days, and it invented a number of mechanics that have shaped how 3D games are made, but "best"? I still go back to Link to the Past and Link's Awakening, and have a hard time deciding which of those Zelda games is my favorite. I play Super Mario Bros. 3 at least once a year all the way through, and still consider it one of the best Mario games, competing POSSIBLY with Yoshi's Island and Mario World, but edging out ahead to me. As inventive as OOT was, the simple fact of the matter is I've had opportunity lately to watch younger gamers play some of these games for the first time. These kids had Ocarina of Time 3DS on one side and more recent Zelda games like Wind Waker, Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword on the other, and most of them said that they had a lot more fun with those latter games. Does that mean that Ocarina of Time is WORSE than Twilight Princess? Well, I'm not going to say that. I personally prefer OOT, but it does mean that yes, the Zelda series has made some strides in controls and overall "feel" of moving around since the N64 days, and that's what kids noticed. No, they weren't complaining about the graphics. They didn't just put it down 5 minutes in because it looked bad. They put it down partway through the second dungeon because they wanted to play more Skyward Sword. Admittedly, Skyward Sword to me is probably the game I'd place closest to taking the throne from OOT as my personal favorite 3D Zelda, but my point is our past can cloud us to certain things that fresher eyes can see. I wouldn't dismiss the opinions of kids so soon either. After all, we were all young when we first decided games like Mario were "awesome", and that kid is the one we're summoning up when we "remember" the games as being "awesome".[quote]
Maybe I'll expand my OoT "review" there eventually, there is more I could say about it, sure. I mean, I do have my problems with it, such as how I've always disliked the Jabu Jabu's Belly and Forest Temple dungeons but liked the Water and Spirit Temples, or how outside of the towns there's so much less to do in the overworld than there is in LA. But still, it is my favorite console game... (note "console", though; Starcraft is my favorite game overall.)

As for it versus other Zelda games, though, I'm sure you remember that I don't like LttP nearly as much as that. I mean, after beating it on the SNES a couple of years ago I can now admit that it is actually a really good game, but still, I'd rank stuff like OoT, LA, TP, OoA, etc. above it for sure...

As for Skyward Sword, it is a great game, I agree, but I don't think I could put it above either OoT or TP; TP's my second favorite 3d Zelda. OoT has a better story than TP, and better characters (Midna's great, but the rest of the TP cast is lacking compared to OoT, and yes, that includes Link) too. I also love TP's huge world full of stuff to do. SS would be next, though, certainly above WW and MM.

Oh, as for dungeons, OoT has the hardest dungeons of any of the 3d Zelda games, I absolutely believe. WW of course is nearly challenge-free, but TP and SS are a little tougher and could have been hard, but they made some design decisions that make things a lot easier, like having you start from the door of a room when you die, instead of the beginning of the dungeon. That sure cut down on the difficulty. At least TP dungeons were hard enough to actually kill me once in a while, though... that never happened in WW. But still, I died quite a lot more in OoT than any of the other 3d Zeldas.

Oh, and yes, probably nostalgia is a factor here, I admit. Can't help it... but it is a great game.

[quote]I've said it before but I loved this game and part of what made it great WAS the deadly time limit. Our opinions are simply different on this, and I accept that.
Perhaps that's what made it great, but it's also the game's biggest problem.

Quote:However, I should correct some things here. No, you don't need to beat the "entire" dungeon over again, just the boss. Once you beat a dungeon, a warp point is made teleporting you right to the end. It bears noting this in your review, as well as the fact that pretty much any thing that needs doing in the game nets you some sort of item that alllows you to skip to the next part next time you reset the clock. It's true that until you get to those points, you do need to do things over, but there's plenty of stuff one can make happen again and again much quicker the second time around.
Sure, sure, so you don't have to redo everything in the dungeon, just go back to the dungeon, walk through all the rooms fighting enemies until you get to the point you were at, and pick up from there... I have heard that that's how it works, but described it that way anyway because that's only minimally better, and you still do need to redo stuff, which is really stupid.

Quote: That said, losing arrows and the like on reset is something they never should have done. That didn't add a thing to the experience. I know it's just a disagreement of taste on one level, but as I've said before I can't help but feel you just stopped too soon when you reset. The biggest advice to make the game fly by I can give isn't even the reverse song of time. It's that you shouldn't reverse time until you complete whatever section you are in and get SOMETHING out of it, be it a quest item, a heart container, a mask or a song. If you play it that way, you should never find yourself needing to repeat some huge thing.
The problem is that that's not how I want to play a Zelda game. With MM, the game forces me to always pay attention to the clock. I can;t just play; instead, I have to look at the time all the time, go for one specific goal, and try to do it, only to see whatever I accomplished wiped away (apart from that logbook entry) as soon as I reset time. It's just so, so frustrating. I hate the constant time pressure, and I hate not being able to just play the game, but instead being forced to have to play by the game's clock and stick to certain missions.

Oh, and some of those sidequests can get confusing, unless I use a guide to tell me what to do, which sometimes feels like cheating... heck, I know that when I first played the game I used guides sometimes in the dungeons, because I felt that much pressure to finish them in one try and not be forced to redo the things if time ran out. That is NOT good game design, regardless of how much exactly you have to replay the problem is that you have to replay so much at all!

Quote:Anyway, I personally loved all 4 of the vast dungeons in the game, but then again I always stuck around until I beat the dungeon. The first time through, I only ran out of time in one of them, the last of them, and even then I had gotten far enough to get the mirror shield which meant I barely had to repeat anything there and could continue off into the rest of that dungeon.
Last I checked, I was at the halfway point of the Stone Tower Temple. I'd quit in Ikana Canyon before reaching the temple, back in '01, but some years later got myself into the temple at last. There's a save point at halfway, when you flip it over, but I never bothered to go back and finish that temple, or the game. And as I said before, back in '01 at least, I had to use guides several times in the first three temples, to finish them without running out of time, my memories tell me that, though I don't remember any details.

Oh, and I do remember that the water temple was by far the worst of the four. I like the OoT water temple, it's actually one of my favorites in the game, but the MM one is not good.

Quote:I loved this game, and for the same reason I loved F-Zero X. Their SNES incarnations felt like they were trying to do more than they could with Mode 7 and the N64 versions seem to "realize" the vision far better than the SNES ever could. It's why I never bothered with the GBA versions of either series. I hear they were actually pretty decent, but honestly it would have felt like taking a big step backwards to me. That said, I actually felt the Wii version was underwhelming and consider the Gamecube version to be superior. The DS version was nice, but I've decided the 3DS game is probably my current favorite. I recommend trying it if you haven't as they manage to work in all sorts of mechanics from across the series, including reintroducing the "hop" from the N64 game and the speed up coins from the SNES/GBA games.
I have two of the GBA F-Zero games... as much as I love the SNES game, I think the GBA games are kind of bad. They made the games much harder to control; gone are F-Zero's great, simple, and easy to master controls, and in are much harder ones that take more skill. It's just not nearly as fun. As for MK for GBA, though, yeah, I haven't played that one either.

As form newer MK games, I'd play the 3DS game if I had a 3DS, sure... but yeah, the Wii and DS games are both fantastic. As for the GC one, I had a somewhat low opinion of it back during the GC generation, and never actually bought the game though I did play it a few times. I got it .. sometime last year, I think, and it's actually good, better than I was expecting. It's still the worst of the 3d Mario Kart games, but it is fun.

Quote:Mega Man 64 - This is a very, very (three years later) late port of Mega Man Legends from the PS1. It's a solid, but unenhanced, port. All of the voice acting is still here, which is nice, but the failure to give the game true analog controls -- instead, the analog stick controls Mega Man as if it was a d-pad -- is a pretty serious letdown. This game released in 2001, over 3 years after the PS1 release... there's NO excuse for not giving the game analog controls, none! Apart from that though, the graphics at least do benefit from the N64's hardware features, and the game's the same. It's not very Mega Man like, and has little in common with the great platformer games, but on its own it's a decently fun game. I didn't go into this expecting very much, but while it definitely has its issues -- the controls, not being very Mega Man like in gameplay, not getting powers from bosses, etc -- as a standalone title it was more fun than I expected. One player, on-cart saving.
You seem to have forgotten a comment on this one, if you had one... that's my review there. :)

Quote:I enjoyed this game. I got it along with Quest 64 (ugh) during the N64 days and this was the clear winner. It didn't come close to Zelda, but it was fun in it's own right and had such an insane feel to the whole thing that I couldn't help but enjoy it. I mean you're a crazy faced kid using a smoking pipe as a weapon with hair as big as himself together with a fat effeminate guy, a ninja girl, and some sort of Pinocchio guy in ancient Japan saving the world from Opera singing aliens and along the way you ride in a pop song spouting actor who's also a GIANT ROBOT. The game makes NO sense and I love it.
Yeah, it's a pretty good game, particularly for 1997 -- both the graphics and gameplay (lack of lock-on, I mean) are quite dated compared to OoT, but for a pre-OoT effort at something like that, it's actually pretty good. The silly story and crazy, fantasy-ancient-Japan world are great, too. As I said I do like GGA more, both because it's a better game (different genre, but better game) and because it's the one I played first, so I have a lot more nostalgia for it than I do this game, but once I played MNSG, I certainly liked it a lot once I got used to the graphics and iffy 3d combat.

Quote:Another game I dove into for a long time when it came out. I even got the 360 remake. Goldeneye was the innovator, but this game perfected it, and as a result I consider it superior in about every way to Goldeneye, which is saying something. Unfortunately this game was released a little too late in the N64's lifetime to garner the sort of reputation that Goldeneye did, hence the "minimalist" remake where Goldeneye got the full treatment. I have little doubt it'd have taken off just as much if not more had the N64 been around a few years longer. The 360 version takes the time to fix the few flaws it had, such as frame rate issues and implementing a true online multiplayer experience. While the 360 version did update character models, there are some glitches in the cut scenes when someone's hands don't line up just right. Also, the mouths still aren't animated so the updated models are a little more jarring because of that. I'm not asking for the jaws to be rendered with their own polygons, but at least go the route of some early 3D games and make the mouth an animated texture. That worked pretty well in games like Mask of Eternity.
I didn't get PD until I found it for $10, in Nov. '01 the same day I got my Gamecube... I wasn't an FPS fan, so I didn't buy those games for full price. Actually, I think the only FPS I ever paid full ($50 or more, I mean) price for was Return to Castle Wolfenstein, which I paid $55 for (for the PC) for some reason. I did like it though.

Anyway, as for PD, I did like it once I played it. I'd played through Goldeneye of course (borrowed it from a friend), and liked but not loved that game. On the note of Goldeneye, I think Goldeneye's good but somewhat over-rated. It was good for 1997 but isn't anywhere near as good as PD. Also, today, I'd much rather play any of the other three N64 FPSes of 1997 -- Turok 1, Hexen 64, or Doom 64 -- over Goldeneye. Of course, the fact that I own those three games but not Goldeneye does suggest that as well. :p

PD was better than GE for sure, though. Better graphics, better gameplay, better multiplayer, more options, better story and characters, and more. It ended up being pretty good, for a console FPS. And yeah, the N64 controller is still my favorite, for console FPS controls... I have of course never liked dual analog. I'm probably just about the only person who prefers Turok-style N64 FPS controls to that. :)

Quote:While OOT and Prince of Persia Sands of Time were big parts in shaping modern 3D games, Mario 64 is arguably the first one to truly "get" what the shift meant. Early Crash Bandicoot and a small handful came close, but Mario 64 was the first to finally establish that, hey, 3D games could be genuine GAMES, worthy of admiration and truly fun. Previous abortions like Bubsy 3D and Prince of Persia 3D showed that no one really understood how the look, feel, control, and VIEW of a 3D game ought to be.
You're right, Mario 64 set a new standard. I think that 3d games before it actually could be good -- there are some good examples of 3d games from before Mario 64 for sure! -- but it redefined 3d gaming, and exceeded everything that had been done before as far as 3d gaming went. I mean, I think Bug! is a great, highly under-rated game, but it's no Mario 64.

On that note though, I don't really like your examples, because I actually kind of like both of those games... I admit I've only beaten a couple of levels of Bubsy 3D, but it's actually not that bad. I BADLY wish it had analog controls, they'd help immensely, but I like the huge levels, the intense focus on challenging platform jumping, and more. The partially textured, partially shaded look looks pretty nice too, in retrospect, though I'm sure it hurt it in 1996, when people wanted textures. The controls are on the slippery side, but you get used to it, probably. It's not a great game, I guess, but I can see the effort they put into it, and I like more about the game than I expected, certainly.

As for PoP 3D, I haven't played the PC version, but I do have the improved Dreamcast port, PoP: Arabian Nights, and I think it's a pretty good game. It's very much like Tomb Raider, of course, and is a very slow, deliberate game, but it's a lot of fun, and is a serious challenge as well. I think it's a good game, and would rather play it than the newer PoP games, actually... somehow PoP: Sands of Time and its sequels just never caught my interest at all. They're radically different games, though, with less platforming, a lot less puzzles, and a lot more hack-and-slash action.

I must admit though, the more I play early Playstation and Saturn games, the more I get used to them. Well, some of them; others are still bad. But yeah, Mario 64 did redefine gaming, that is absolutely true. It's also one of the greatest games ever made.

Quote:It was a big stumbling period where the average review of a new 3D itteration of a platforming series generally ended with "this game should have stayed 2D". In fact, the stigma of a 3D conversion lasted a LONG time after those failed attempts up to and including fears of how Metroid Prime would turn out. As a result, a few hidden gems were avoided just because of it. Mario 64's biggest failing is that it still had a few rough edges of it's own. The game's camera was an amazing innovation, but by today's standards is pretty clunky, not even allowing full 360 spins and instead having "dead ends" in the spin that require spinning back around the other way to get to the angle you want at times. All the same, what it did, it did well enough to be a truly amazing game that paved the way for all of Rare's platformers.
Metroid Prime did end up way better than expected, yeah, avoiding pretty much all of the pitfalls that led many other series to fade in their transitions to 3d... indeed, incredibly impressive work in that game.

Quote:Freakin' Smash Bros. N64 owners tended to have Goldeneye, Mario Kart, Mario Party, and THIS. Yes, even over Ocarina of Time and Mario 64, for the more "casual" multiplayer N64 owners, this got picked up really fast. No wonder. It's all of Nintendo's biggest stars together at last... to beat each other up. The original idea of a purely Mario cast just wouldn't have been as interesting. This game spawned one of Nintendo's most system selling series, with the later games dominating both Gamecube and Wii sales charts. Nowadays you mainly hear from Melee purists complaining about Brawl ruining everything, but back during Melee's rise the 64 purists complained about Melee. Heck, to this day I still find a 64 game purist dragging in an N64 to "put those youngins in their place" with "the only real Smash Bros.". Those peeps are simply amazing at this game. I still pop it in every now and then, as some of those level designs never had their like made in the newer versions.
Most casual fans have Mario Party? I don't know, I'd guess that they'd have Madden and Tony Hawk, over Mario Party. But yeah, SSB is certainly one of the most popular N64 games, for any audience that owned the system, I agree. And it deserves it, it's a great, great game. Melee's the best game in the series, but while it's much more slowly paced than Melee or Brawl, and has a lot fewer characters, it's still a good game. However, like all SSB games, it's FAR better in multiplayer than single; SSB games rarely have much of any lasting value for me as single player games. Even in multiplayer, I remember many, many times in college where I wanted to play SSB(M, mostly) a lot less than many other people... still, they ARE quite good games. For a few matches at a time, preferably.

Quote:I got addicted to this game back during the N64 days. I've played a number of Tetris variants that mostly failed to capture the thunder of the original, but this one came close to me. The premise is simple: take block and move them around the surface of a sphere, matching them up to break apart sections until the core is revealed. To all those topologists out there, yes, this is actually mathematically impossible on the surface of an actual sphere, where you can't have squares of the same size across the entire surface that also all meet together perfectly along the edges. The game is actually a "cheat". What you are really doing is moving blocks along the surface of a toroid, or "donut" shape Along that sort of surface, lines perpendicular will still cross each other again but parallel lines never will, and so it really can be covered entirely with blocks of the same size meeting perfectly at their edges. To make it look like a "sphere", the game is rendered using a highly distorted "fisheye" effect, making the donut look like a sphere to the untrained eye, though one that appears "strange" in a way the uninformed could never put their finger on and generally summed up as "because it's digital". One could pick robot "characters" that basically determined the "stats" of your cursor, such as how fast it scrolled and how quickly it could "drag" blocks, or how many "levels" "up" the "sphere" it could "hop". That's a lot of "quote marks". I got obsessed with the game for a long while. I should play it again sometime to see how it holds up... "The New Tetris" wasn't nearly as "new" as this game.
Tetrisphere's great, yeah... I didn't know that it's actually a donut shape and not a sphere, though, that's pretty interesting information. The game's really nothing like Tetris, though; it's just another block-dropping game with Tetris's name pasted on it. Of course, that IS what it is -- the game was originally its own thing, and was being developed for the Jaguar, when Nintendo saw it and bought it up for the N64... well, they made a good choice, it's great! But yeah, it's not Tetris at all in gameplay.
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#8
I've done some more research on Tetrisphere. While it is indistinguishable mathematically from a torus, most likely in terms of programming they just put a distorted fisheye lens effect over a section of a large grid with wrap-around turned on. One thing you may notice is that "spinning" the sphere doesn't really "rotate" it in the way an actual ball would. Like, if you sit a piece on a real world ball and spin it from one side to the other, it should take the same amount of time to rotate into view as it does to rotate out of view, but that isn't the case on most tetrisphere maps. You can rotate a piece out of sight and it'll take a surprisingly long or sometimes near instant amount of time to rotate back into view. A better name would have been "Tetrigrid" perhaps.
"On two occasions, I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able to rightly apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question." ~ Charles Babbage (1791-1871)
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#9
A grid? I guess that's possible, with some strange camera angle that warps it to make it look like a curve... but yeah, I understand what you mean about the different amounts of time it takes to go around.

Hmm.. as for a name, "Reverse Tetrigrid", maybe, given that what you're doing -- digging through a pre-existing field -- isn't much like what you do in Tetris at all... as I said though, it didn't start out as a Tetris game so that makes sense, but the name is kind of just stuck on there, like with "Tetris Attack". (Of course, both games are fantastic, Tetris or no.)
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#10
Updated with reviews of all games.
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#11
Added Wave Race 64, because I'd managed to forget it in the original list.
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#12
I never much cared for Donkey Kong 64 taking characters that were rendered on what was at the time super high end 3D workstations and then redoing them on the limited graphics capability of the NES 64 seems like a major step backwards. If they had only kept the pre-rendered sprits and instead displayed them using the higher color debth of the NES 64 that would have been awesome.. But instead they took 40 steps in the wrong direction. Also the transition from plat former to First Person view also just ruined it for me.

As for the Mario games I couldn't agree more especially Mario party which was a hell of a good time.
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#13
How exactly did you expect DK64 to be a 3D game if they made the entire thing using 2D sprites?
"On two occasions, I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able to rightly apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question." ~ Charles Babbage (1791-1871)
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#14
Dark Jaguar Wrote:How exactly did you expect DK64 to be a 3D game if they made the entire thing using 2D sprites?
I didn't expect it to be a 3D game that the whole point. It's better as a plat former.
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#15
It is a platformer, and a great one.

Also, the SNES DKC games may have had graphics prerendered on SGI workstations, but the actual graphics you see are being drawn by the SNES, so it's not actually outdoing what the SNES can do or something... Nintendo's advertising back in '94 was a big disingenuous on that point. It worked of course, and the game looks fantastic, but it's not actually a 32-bit game on a 16-bit console, literally.

And anyway, DK64 looks great.
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#16
New Tetris? Read this.

http://home.comcast.net/~zphreak/Tetris.txt

It's a rant from one of the people who worked on the game.... encoded into the game itself. It's solid gold.
"On two occasions, I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able to rightly apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question." ~ Charles Babbage (1791-1871)
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#17
Dark Jaguar Wrote:New Tetris? Read this.

http://home.comcast.net/~zphreak/Tetris.txt

It's a rant from one of the people who worked on the game.... encoded into the game itself. It's solid gold.
Lol That's some pretty good stuff...
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#18
Three new reviews. I added them to the first post too, but I'm reposting them below as well.


Duck Dodgers starring Daffy Duck - Duck Dodgers is a 3d platformer from Paradigm, and it's their only attempt at the genre -- their other N64 games were all flight or racing games. The game makes me think a bit of games like Croc or Bugs Bunny: Lost in Time (both on PC/PS1) -- it's a fun, but somewhat unpolished, game with a very Looney Tunes graphical style. Now, I love the Looney Tunes -- it's my favorite cartoon series by far. Duck Dodgers is a fantastic character, too. In this game you play as Duck Dodgers, of course, and have to collect fuel and such and defeat badguys helping out in Marvin the Martian's latest plot to destroy the earth. This game is inspired by the original Duck Dodgers cartoons, and predates the newer Cartoon Network show, so unfortunately characters that series added, such as the Martian Queen, don't appear here. That's too bad, but the classic cartoons are great too. The characters that are here are all fully voiced, which is nice; all of the voice acting is well done, and it's great that Daffy has a voice. It really does add to the game. The game is somewhat linear, as in each world, you'll go through a succession of areas. Each area is somewhat small, so this game doesn't have the scale of the system's top 3d platformers. Still, while small, the areas do have some good design elements and nice visual touches; as I said, this looks like a classic Looney Tunes cartoon gone 5th-gen 3d. It would have been nice if they were larger, though; these areas really are Croc-small. That's okay though I guess, and I do love Croc. Anyway, the areas are connected together with doors. When you enter an area, the game will show on screen how many fuel items there are left in the area. These serve as the game's stars or such. The other pickup are some blue crystal things. These respawn when you enter an area, and collecting fifty will get you an extra life. Run out of lives and it's game over, of course. The game over cutscene is quite amusing. The game starts out simple, but quickly gets more challenging. The controls here are somewhat flawed -- you don't have perfect control over Dodgers like you do Mario, or a Rare 3d platformer character. Jumps can be hard to make, and I found myself frequently missing them. Distance can be hard to judge, and the camera is mediocre at best. You can move it around, but good luck getting a perfect angle while zipping along on a moving mine car. However, the underwater controls are fantastic -- swimming with Daffy feels natural, and it's much easier to control him underwater than it is above. There's also a tiptoe button while on land, with the matching Looney Tunes sound effects. Still, most of the game is on land and you don't need to tiptoe very often. The controls are another reason why I compared Duck Dodgers to the games I did earlier, in addition to the visual style and mostly-linear-sequence-of-areas game design. Managing to get where you want, or WHAT you want, in trickier jetpack sections can be frustrating too. It's unfortunate that the controls aren't better; this game's good, but because of the controls, and somewhat simple level designs, isn't a match for Rare's great classics on the system. Still, Duck Dodgers is certainly worth a look. It's a decent game that many 3d platformer fans probably haven't played, and even if it has some problems, it does some things right too. And of course, it's a voiced Looney Tunes game on the N64, which is great. This game's better than most of the 16-bit Looney Tunes games too, I would say. If the controls were better this game would be a definite recommendation, but as-is, I would say that it's probably mostly for genre, or series, fans. I am a big fan of both 3d platformers and Looney Tunes, so I do enjoy the game for sure, but if you're not, the frustrating controls might well drive you away. Oh, and it's not the longest game either, certainly; Duck Dodgers is a bit on the short side. One player, on-cart saving.

Milo's Astro Lanes - Milo's Astro Lanes is a bowling game, as the title suggests. However, instead of being earthbound, this is a futuristic bowling game in space. Each lane has a different design, with obstacles and tricks to learn on the course. So yeah, the game has a decent concept to make things a bit more interesting than average. The graphics are basic, with lanes floating in space and very simple, small hub areas to choose levels in. The game looks okay, but it's quite simple for the platform. There are powerup icons on the courses too, and part of the strategy of the game is learning the powerups and deciding when to use each one. The bowling action itself is done well too, though. The ball and pin physics all work as they should. However, this is a very difficult game -- even the very first matches will require very high scores to complete. The game may seem simple at first, but you'll need to be very good to get beyond the second match. I find it maybe a bit too hard, actually... it's frustrating to score well but still lose. Apart from that though, it's good. I imagine that people good at bowling will have a much easier time with this game; I'm not all that good at it, clearly. The computer cheats, too -- it adjusts its play to match, and slightly exceed, yours, during matches. This makes winning frustratingly difficult. I can't compare this to the other bowling games on the N64, though, because I haven't played the other two for the system. Four player multiplayer, Controller Pak saving.

Rally Challenge 2000 - Rally Challenge 2000 is Imagineer's fourth and last N64 racing game. Released in Japan in 1999 and the US in 2000, this game has the best graphics and most content of the four. Yes, it's an Imagineer racing game which actually looks decently good! Nice work. I like the graphics in this game; they're not amazing, but they're quite solid for the system. Each track looks different, and the car models are done well too. Rally Challenge 2000 has nine cars and nine tracks as well, so there's more content here than in their previous games. The tracks have no shortcuts, as you'd expect from a rally game, but they're all fairly well designed. There are no tracks anywhere near as bad as most of GT64's tracks, for instance, thankfully. I came into Rally Challenge 2000 with low expectations, because the game has average review scores of around 6/10, or maybe 6.5 on the high end, but it surprised me -- this game may not be great, but it certainly is fun! The racing is done well, controls are good, graphics are solid, and the track designs are good, too. The game does have some flaws that do hurt the game, but it is good overall. For modes, there are three -- Arcade, Championship, and Versus. Arcade mode was inspired by Sega Rally. Here, you choose one of three sets of tracks. In each set, you'll go through three tracks, doing one lap on each course, just like Sega Rally. Try to catch up to the computers and win -- and yes, like Sega Rally, it'll be quite tough. There are nine cars in each race, one of each of the nine in the game. The game will save your best lap time on each track. Arcade mode is fun. Versus mode works as you expect -- choose a track and go. The game does have four player support, unlike the other Imagineer games. Championship mode has more problems, though. The basic concept is your standard points-based championship that goes through all nine tracks and allows saving between races, so this mode is more involved than the others. You do three laps per race in this mode too, not just one. There's more added than just that, though -- this mode also adds car customization and car damage. Customization allows you to adjust four different sliders, for the gear ratios, tire type, etc. I have no idea what to do with these, I know nothing about such things (though there is a guide on GameFAQs with some good suggestions for what settings to use in the game; quite helpful). You can save three car customization settings. The car damage element is probably the toughest thing about Championship mode, though -- your car will wear down as you drive, so by the third lap your car will be harder to drive. Tire type does affect this, but it'll be there at least somewhat with any of them. Championship mode is, as a result, MUCH more difficult than Arcade mode -- while I've finished in the top three in all three Arcade mode championships, I can't get above seventh in Championship mode races. It's just brutal. Still though, this game is at least average, and is a fun game. Four player multiplayer, on-cart and Controller Pak (2 blocks) saving, both required. The on-cart part will save the options, car customization settings, and your best time in each track, but you'll need to make a 2-block file to save your progress in the 9-race championship mode.
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#19
Big update! I've gotten a bunch of N64 games over the past year-plus, and here are reviews of 16 new games. Yes, many of these reviews are longer than the ones in the original list. Hopefully eventually I make some of those longer, because plenty of those games definitely deserve more. :) Also when I have fewer games to cover at once, it's more tempting to write more about each one... and many of these are not the best-known titles.

New Reviews, Nov, 2013: A Bug's Life, Chameleon Twist 2, Custom Robo (J), Doraemon Nobita & The 3 Fairy Spirit Stones (J), Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Hot Wheels: Turbo Racing, Mario Party 3 (J), NBA Hang Time, Neon Genesis Evangelion (J), The Powerpuff Girls: Chemical X-Traction, Rampage: World Tour, SD Hiryu no Ken Densetsu (J) [SD Flying Dragon Legend], Sin and Punishment: Successor to the Earth (J), Tigger's Honey Hunt, V-Rally Edition '99, Xena: Warrior Princess -- The Talisman of Fate. The (J) after a title means that it is a Japanese import game.

A Bug's Life - A Bug's Life, from Traveller's Tales, is the first of two games from the longtime licensed-game developer for the N64. Unfortunately, while TT (now TT Games of Lego ____ fame) could sometimes make good games, their N64 ports were badly botched and subpar. Whether this game or Toy Story 2, both games have worse presentation, closer draw distances, lower framerates, and worse graphics on the N64 than they have on PS1. It's really, really sad. A Bug's Life is a 3d platform/action game based on the decent Pixar movie. The game is quite linear, and plays from a behind-and-above angle. It's not well thought trhough, and making jumps is much harder than it should be because of the horrible camera angles. If you had a problem with something like Croc, don't even think about trying this, because it's much, MUCH worse. The game is very linear, too; branching paths exist, but always dead-end. You throw stuff at enemies to fight, while wrestling with the bad camera of course. Very basic. There are some puzzle elements though, and they do add a bit to the game. Generally the puzzles are simple, as you figure out which things to use where in order to get to a higher area for instance, but I did like that element. In addition to the main story mode, there is also a Challenge mode where you ahve to do specific goals within a strict, and tight, time limit. Challenge mode is actually quite challenging, surprisingly enough, but mostly not for good reasons -- the objectives are not always clearly explained, the time limits are tight, and the bad camera makes success difficult. One other major problem is, as I said earlier, how bad the porting job was from the PS1. I imagine that this game isn't that great on the PS1 either, but this version is, unfortunately, worse. The FMV cutscenes are of course gone, replaced with still images. The framerate is bad, and I just couldn't adjust. Normally I have no problem with N64 framerates, but somehow this games' choppyness was just a little bit too bad. It's like the worse moments in Banjo-Tooie or Conker, except the whole game's framerate is like that, and there are no good graphics to explain the awful framerate away, either. Just bad programmers, sadly. Making this worse is a horrendous camera. It's really bad, and makes the whole game harder and much less fun. Play this game and then something like Mario 64 or Jet Force Gemini and you'll appreciate all over again how competent those sometimes-tricky camera systems are in comparison to this one! So yeah, this game is bad. Don't get it. One player, Controller Pak saving (12 pages). Also on PS1.

Chameleon Twist 2 - The second Chameleon Twist game is similar to the first one, but with slightly better graphics and new levels. This game feels a little more cheaply made than the first game, since the multiplayer versus mode was removed -- this is a single player only game, though you can choose to play as any of the chameleons from the first game during play -- and the internal save was replaced with controller pak only saving, but the base gameplay is the same, and it's still good. The graphics are still average at best, though. They may have improved a bit, but they're still second or third rate. This time the player characters look much more like chameleons, though. In the first game the "chameleons" are very cartoony figures that look little like their supposed form, but in this game they do look like chameleons, albeit cartoony ones. I like the new character designs. Chameleon Twist 2 feels something like a 4th gen third-party platformer, in that it has six big levels but is much more linear than platformers from Nintendo and won't last you nearly as long. Each of the six levels are long, with multiple sections followed by a boss fight, and the game has some challenging parts for sure. You do get a lot of health though, so you can make many mistakes before losing a life. Unless you care about how well you are doing (as you are rated at the end of each level) or whether you're finding the collectables along the way, beating the game probably won't take long. There is a little replay value in going back and trying to find everything, but it's limited. As before, levels are completely linear areas, often on platforms floating in space. This is a 3d platformer, but your path is mostly linear. Some areas may have multiple routes, but often those are just hiding places for collectables. I do like the level designs, though. The controls work similarly to the first game, so once again, the central focus is on your chameleon's long tongue. You can attach to things with the tongue, swing around, and more. Getting used to it is tricky, so practice -- you'll need it! Swinging with precision is central to the game. The training rooms can be tough, but you will need to have mastered the moves, with the tongue particularly, in order to get through the levels. As with the first game, you get used to it with practice. Overall, Chameleon Twist 2's structure, with the small number of big long levels, is dated, but the gameplay is fun. This is a classic, simple platformer. There aren't all that many 5th gen 3d platformers developed in Japan, but this series is. They are no match for the top N64 3d platformers, but are simple, fun games that 3d platformer fans should try. Expect a short game though -- there's not much to this one. Fortunately it's fun while it lasts. One player, Controller Pak saving (5 pages).

Custom Robo (J) - Custom Robo is an outstanding game which started a great and highly under-rated series. For anyone who has played the (US-released) Gamecube or Nintendo DS Custom Robo games, this N64 original is very similar, just in Japanese. The series' basic gameplay has been the same from the start, and it start off great. The Gamecube game is the best one in the series, since it is the only Custom Robo game with a simultaneous four player battle mode and those three and four player battles are really, REALLY fun, but otherwise, this game holds up very well. Custom Robo is a fighting game RPG, essentially. Each fight happens in a small arena. You move around the arena, and try to defeat your opponent with your weapons. You have three weapon types to use, a main gun, a missile weapon, and a bomb, each mapped to a different button. There are many types of each to unlock. You can also jump up, or dash forward. The games' graphics are average at best, but the game is extremely fast and fluid. If they compromised the graphics here to keep the framerate up, it worked! I was worried that this would be yet another slow-paced N64 fighting game, but it isn't at all. Fights in Custom Robo are just as fast and fun as they are in the Gamecube or DS games, and controls are better than the DS game too, since you have an analog stick. Normally I would talk about graphics after game modes, but it's very important to say how well the game plays. It makes the game great. Once you learn the moves, you can run around, jump and dodge attacks, charge enemies, use your three weapon types judiciously in order to leat the enemies into your fire (as the guns, missiles, and bombs each have different firing patterns and uses), and more. It's a great fighting-action game, one of the better ones around. Fighting is simple but great fun, and there is depth.

Custom Robo has three main modes, a battle tournament mode where you fight through eight or so opponents in your usual tournament game, a two player versus mode, and a story mode where you play through the RPG-ish main game. All Custom Robo games have an "RPG" mode like this one. Here you play as a young boy who is just getting into Custom Robo battles, battles fought between mini robots which you can customize with various parts. As you progress you unlock more and more parts for your robot, which with to make it better and try out new weapons. You don't really gain levels, but instead unlock parts. It is very unfortunate that this game wasn't released here, because it really is a great game and I'd like to know what the story is, too. Fortunately, Custom Robo is a fairly simple game, so even not knowing the language it is not hard to figure out how to play. As with the later games, the game mostly plays out in a city, and has a basic overworld map with the various places you can go, connected by paths, and the various areas (buildings, usually) once you go to them. As I said earlier the battles are entirely polygonal, but the environments youy explore as a person have sprite-based characters in polygonal worlds. They look okay, not great, but do use that Custom Robo style you also see in the later games. Occasionally you will need to wander around to figure out where to go, but none of the Custom Robo games have all that many areas, so it's not hard. The game doesn't even have a guide online worth mentioning, but it's entirely playable. The main language-barrier issue with the game is the part names. Instead of being able to figure them out by name, you'll have to try the parts out. That's alright, though, it's not too bad.

Overall, Custom Robo is a fantastic game. I was hoping that it'd be alright, considering how much I like the GC and DS games, but it exceeded my expectations, and I'm very happy to have gotten it. The game also has a Japan-only sequel on the N64, Custom Robo V2. I'll need to get it eventually. There's also a GBA game only released in Japan as well, though it's entirely 2d (side-scrolling battles and everything) and doesn't look quite as interesting as the other games. Regardless, the Custom Robo series is a great fighting/action/RPG game series, and I highly recmmend it, and this game. The US-released ones will probably be easier to find, but this N64 game is fantastic as well and is well worth tracking down! I actually got this game complete with the box, and it was worth it. It's not too expensive either. Two player multiplayer, on-cart saving..

Doraemon: Nobita & The 3 Fairy Spirit Stones (J) - This is the first of three 3d platformer Doraemon games on the N64. All three were only released in Japan, of course. With average graphics, not the best controls, and no really special gameplay elements, we didn't miss all that much here, but this game is moderately amusing if you like 3d platformers. The game does have a language barrier at first, but there is a good GameFAQs guide which can help with that. I recommend reading it if you don't know the language. Doraemon is not a complex game, as expected from a game based on a childrens' cartoon, but you do need to go from place to place and need to know what the menu options do. Doraemon and friends have to collect the pieces of the titular three spirit stones, which have been broken. The intro is far too long, for how simple the story is. In the game, you start out as Doraemon, but as you progress you can switch to Doraemon's human friends as you save (and unlock) them. Doraemon also gets a few new abilities as well. It's the usual stuff -- items to swim, fly, and such. The game has an overworld, from where you go into missions in the levels. You have to talk to a person then get the right item and go to the right place to reach each level, so a guide is helpful if you can't read Japanese, though the areas are not that large, so you'd probably figure it out eventually anyway. The levels themselves are each a linear sequence of rooms to get through. Each area has some jumps, enemies, collectables, invisible walls (argh), etc. This game is probably too simple and predictable; it's got nothing original about it, and the levels aren't large or complex enough to really grab me, either. The graphics are okay, but bland. It's quite average visually, just like the gameplay. It looks alright, but doesn't have the size, scope, or graphical quality of the systems' better 3d platformers. I was interested to try this, but the mediocre reviews I see of it online are, unfortunately, accurate. Still, I don't regret getting it; it's interesting to see one of the only N64 3d platformers not released in the US (there are these three and that's about it, the Taz game aside...). And even if the game is probably below average for an N64 3d platformer, it's still playable. I wonder if the sequels are any better. I'm not sure. At least it does have on-cart saving. One player, on-cart saving..

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys - Hercules: The Legendary Journeys is one of only two games based on Kevin Sorbo's Hercules TV show; the other one is a GBC game. So, it's a licensed game based on a TV show set in a fantasy version of ancient Greece. As it apparently is in the show this doesn't feel much at all like Greece, and has lots of medieval fantasy elements in it, but it's always that way, unfortunately. The game was also published by Titus, another bad sign. However, the game is actually okay! Yeah, I was surprised too. That's nice; I haven't watched the show before, myself, but did love Sorbo's next TV show, the sci-fi series Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda (which sadly never had a videogame; it should have). Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, though, is a 3d action-adventure game with beat 'em up-style combat and Zelda-inspired towns and adventure elements. The game has decent graphics, too. They aren't the best, and you can clearly see the Ocarina of Time influence in the games' graphical design, but they did a good job of making something that looks somewhat similar. The game does have fog, and I wish the draw distance was farther back, but it is enough to see where you are going, and the graphics are reasonably good. Just remember to center the camera behind you frequently. You play as Hercules at first, but eventually unlock two more characters you can switch between, or use in areas that the others cannot reach. This gives the game some nice variety. Hercules is slow and strong, Iolaus fast and agile, and Serena is better at ranged attacks (and is a centaur). The game feels different with each character, which is good. Enemies are definitely tougher with Iolaus than Hercules. The battle system does get repetitive, though; don't expect greatness here, just average stuff.

The game is linear in that you have to do things in order, but has puzzles and exploration along the way, as you would expect. You'll have to talk to people in the towns, solve some puzzles, and the like, in addition to going around fighting enemies and exploring. Talk to everyone! This is often necessary to progress. This game is not nearly as great as a Zelda game, but still, it's a fun little game. The game does have some parts where you have to find specific objects or people but aren't told specifically where to go, but just explore and talk to everyone again, that will usually help. Or use a guide, if you're really stuck; the game does have them. As I said earlier, though, the combat is nothing like a Zelda game. With Hercules, it plays much more like a beat 'em up. Hit the buttons to punch and kick the enemies (or hit them with your weapons), use basic combos to keep the hits going. Enemies all have health bars on them. You can ignore some enemies, but some you will have to fight, either to progress or in order to get drops (health, money, and such) you need. There are also bosses occasionally. Overall, this game is unoriginal, but it's alright. It's a decently average game (or maybe slightly above average? It's in that range, anyway), which is pretty good considering we're talking about a licensed game published by Titus. One player, Controller Pak saving (16 pages per save).

Hot Wheels: Turbo Racing
- Hot Wheels Turbo Racing is an okay futuristic racing game. The game is a Playstation port and looks it, unfortunately. This game also has some very narrow tracks. Perhaps that's being accurate to the license, but the best Hot Wheels games, such as Stunt Track Challenge, aren't like that. That is a newer game than this one, though. This game looks dated. As with many earlier polygonal racing games, environments feel small, too many tracks have walls cloose by on both sides as if this game was from years before it released, and the graphics are mediocre at best -- the N64 can do much better than this. But of course, this is only a PS1 port. Still, the graphics are below average for the N64. There aren't all that many tracks, either, and the game isn't fun enough to make me want to master them and unlock the hidden ones. The game does have some nice track elements, such as loops, curving walls, traps to avoid, and the like, though, so there is something interesting here. Each track will take a bit of practice to master, but even so this isn't that long of a game. The stunt system is another disappointment, though. It's kind of like Rush 2 or Rush 2049's, except without a dedicated stunt mode and with far fewer ways to get points; instead, you just get points for spins and flips and the like that you make during jumps during races. Spinnging a bit during jumps is vitally important because it can get you turbos, but it's nowhere near as fun, varied, or interesting to look at as Rush 2049's, or even Rush 2's. As for modes, you've got circuit championships in several difficulties, a single-race mode, and two player splitscreen. That's about it. Futuristic and arcade style racing games are one of my favorite kinds of games, but this one isn't particularly good at either. This game isn't really worth playing. Two player multiplayer, Controller Pak saving (28 pages). Also on PS1.

Mario Party 3 (J) - Mario Party 3 is the third Mario Party game, and it's pretty much the same basic thing as the second game, except with new minigames, new boards, and a few minor new modes. Unfortunately, since the US version of this game was the last game Nintendo released for the N64 before abandoning the system before its time, the US version is not cheap. I ended up getting this Japanese version in a lot with several other games (Doraemon, Flying Dragon SD). And... yeah, it's pretty much more Mario Party, just with a language barrier that makes figuring out how to play it a little harder. Once you do figure out how to get into the main game, though, it's the same Mario Party as ever. Well, minigame instructions are also in Japanese, but most games are simple enough to easily figure out. The new mode is a mode with very few minigames; instead, you go around and try to take as many of the board spaces as you can. Honestly though, it's kind of boring, since the minigames are the best part about Mario Party games. The main tables and minigames are fine, but I don't think this game is quite as good as Mario Party 2, language barrier aside. That game was quite an improvement over the first game, but this is pretty much more of the same. Also, as always, the game isn't very fun in single player mode. Mario Party and Wii Party games just aren't remotely the same when played single player, and Nintendo, Hudson, or the current series developers have never figured out how to solve that problem. This game certainly doesn't do that. So yeah, probably just stick with Mario Party 2, for your N64 Mario Party needs -- that game is cheaper. Four player multiplayer, on-cart saving.

NBA Hang Time - NBA Hangtime is a home port of Midway's third arcade basketball title. While Midway lost the NBA Jam name to Acclaim, they kept making games in the series, just under new names. The first of those was NBA Hangtime, and the second NBA Showtime (which I have for Dreamcast). Originally an arcade game, Hangtime was ported to multiple platforms (SNES, Genesis, GB, PS1, N64), but the N64 has one of the best versions. The game is classic NBA Jam, and has 2-on-2 arcade basketball, with that great NBA Jam gameplay that holds up so well. The graphics are quite good, too -- this game is sprite-based, and looks quite nice on the N64. Of course it has real sprite scaling, as you'd expect for a 5th gen platform. As a result, the game looks and plays great. However, some of NBA Jam T.E.'s innovations are sadly cut out of this version, however, which is a real disappointment; overall, I like T.E. more than I do Hangtime as a result. Most notably, turbo mode (2x, 3x, and 4x speeds), Hot Spots, and Power Ups are all gone. Also, T.E.'s quarter-based player replacemenet system is gone. INstead, you can only switch players at halftime, instead of each player. This completely gets rid of the slight strategy element T.E. had in having to manage your players' injury ratings (since the player on the bench healed up; remember that in T.E. there were only three players on most teams). Those first three mode removals are unfortunate, but that last change really is bad. I thought that the addition of injury ratings and quarter-based player replacement were probably the best thing about T.E. compared to the original NBA Jam. Why in the world did Midway remove it from their next game? That was a big mistake. There is one new feature, though, apart from the better graphics and the roster update: there is a player creation feature now. If you create players it'll take up some memory card space of course, but it's a nice feature to have. Midway's later basketball games would bring this feature back, though; it's not only in this game. Still though, despite its flaws, NBA Hangtime is a good game that is great fun to play, and I'd absolutely recommend it. It is a good arcade basketball game with some nice scaling 2d graphics and great gameplay. Unfortunately some feature cuts place it slightly below its predecessor in my opinion, but still, it's a very good game. Four player multiplayer, Controller Pak saving (7 pages per player file, more for create-a-player files). Also on Arcade, PS1, SNES, Genesis, and GB.

Neon Genesis Evangelion (J) - Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of the most popular anime series of the last couple of decades, or at lesat it's one of the best known in the West. It is a series about teenagers who fight in giant robot suits called EVAs, defending the Earth from monsters called Angels which are trying to destroy it. Well, that's just the story on the surface; below that there's a very complex story going on about the characters and Shinji (the main character)'s psychology that I won't get into. Evangelion was an interesting anime, I liked it. In Japan there have been many Evangelion games, but most were adventure or board/card games; only a few are action games, and this was the first of those (there have since been PS2 and PSP Evangelion action games). As such, back during the N64's life, this game became known as the "good Evangelion game", because it's the one that Western gamers could actually play. Is it actually a good game, though? Well... not really; it's a below average collection of minigames of sorts, sadly. The GRAPHICS, however, are absolutely incredible! Seriously, Evangelion is one of the very best looking games on the N64, and should be on any list of the best-looking N64 games. This game looks fantastic, the EVAs look extremely impressive. They even get the animations and expressions down perfectly. The games' presentation is also spot-on. The menus and cutscenes look like something straight out of Evangelion, and there are plenty of speech samples in this game, too. The music is also fantastic, and sounds just like the music from the show. The music is MIDI, so there aren't voices in the ending theme (which is used in the end-level screen, cleverly enough), but still, the graphics and music in this game are outstanding.

But that gameplay? Yeah, that is the weak link here. The many cutscenes during missions are flashy, and the ingame graphics good as well, but the actual gameplay isn't as good. The Story mode starts with several battles against Angels, 2.5d fighting game-style. You control your EVA, and can walk forward and back, do a weak attack with A, do a strong attack/grab with A+B plus a direction, block with B, or use your shield (AT Field) with C-down. The EVAs are huge, so the long delay between when you press a button and when something happens actually makes sense, sort of. I hope it was intentional, anyway. It is annoying and frustrating, but you'll have to get used to it. Timing is key in this game, both in the fighting missions and later. Attacks, blocks, etc. must be done at the right time to succeed, and the game is not forgiving. AT Fields are great, but you can only use it occasionally; the bar on the center-left of the screen tells you if you can use it or not. When trying to break through an Angel's AT Field with your own, alternate button presses on C-down and A if you want to succeed. The gameplay is simple, but hard at times. The first level isn't too bad, but the second one is quite challenging, even on "Easy". In addition to your and the Angel's health (on the upper left and right corners), you also have a sync ratio between your pilot and EVA. There's an extremely useful guide on GameFAQs that tells you which moves you can do depending on your sync ratio -- the lower it goes, the fewer moves you can use. Fortunately the game saves your progress at each match, but still, I'm sure some people have just given up at level two. I sure was tempted to. If you get past match two, the game starts varying what you do in each mission. You play as Shinji in most of the 13 (13.5 really) missions, but Asuka has two (2.5 really, since one is split into two parts) missions, and Rei one. There is a sniping level (very short), a rhythm-style level where Shinji has to synchronize with Asuka (I hate this stuff...), some levels entirely about timed button pressing, and more, though it does return to some fighting-style levels later as well.

However, regardless of mission type the gameplay is never better than average, and that's probably being kind. You don't fight all the Angels from the TV show, either. Since there are only 13 full missions, some are skipped over, unfortunately, probably for cartridge space reasons. There are multiple difficulty levels to complete, though, and the second and third difficulties do each have one more level on the end, versus Normal, to encourage you to replay the game a few times. You also unlock a mission-select option after beating the game on Hard. Given the mediocre gameplay, though, you may or may not want to do that. There is also Simulation mode, which basically is just a series of target-shooting tests. You choose any one of the five Children -- yes, here you can play as any of the five, including Kawada, Toji, and Rei, as well as the two from the Story mode. However, it really is just a shooting gallery, so that's a minor bonus unfortunately. These Angel target-shooting tests are pretty hard to get a good rating in, though, despite their simplicity. Try to hit the weak points if you want to do well -- it's not easy. Overall, whether NGE is worth getting or not depends almost entirely on what you think of the anime. The game is easily playable for non-Japanese speakers who know the series, since menus are in English, the story is the same as in the anime, and the controls are easy to figure out, but the lacking gameplay is a problem. I highly doubt that people who don't know, or don't like, the anime would have much interest in this game, apart from looking at the quite impressive graphics, but I do like the anime, so yeah, I do think this game was worth getting. This game could have been a lot better, but fans of the series, or those who want to see some of the systems' best graphics, might want to check this game out. It's not the cheapest import, but isn't one of the most expensive either, fortunately. I wouldn't want to pay the cost for a boxed copy, though; as cool as that box looks in pictures it probably isn't worth it. One player, on-cart saving.

The Powerpuff Girls: Chemical X-Traction - Based on the popular, and amusing, cartoon, this game was released in late 2001, and is one of the later N64 releases. However, the game is abysmal. Seriously, don't buy this, it's the worst game I own for the Nintendo 64 -- yes, it somehow manages to dethrone War Gods for that "honor!" This is a 3d fighting game perhaps somewhat inspired by Power Stone, but the designers were either incompetent or had no time to actually make a half-decent game, and the results are horrible. This game was also released on the Playstation, and this game feels like a down-port of that version, but oddly it seems to have released on N64 a month before PS1. On PS1 probably this game doesn't stand out nearly as much in its badness, since there are so many bad PS1 games, but games this awful almost never also released on the N64... but this one, somehow, did. This is a 3d fighting game where you fight in tiny little arenas. The game has six arenas and nine characters (the three Powerpuff Girls and six villains), but extends its single player game by not giving you the ending until you beat all 6 rounds with each PPG member. When it comes to gameplay, though, the game has very little in terms of move variety. You can punch, kick, block (C-left/right), punch or kick repeatedly to do a very basic "combo", jump plus punch or kick, and that's about it. You can also block, but it's hard to use, since it only blocks one hit, no more. This means that a block must be followed immediately with an attempted attack, or at least a jump, and you cannot block continuing enemy attacks -- you've got to try to get out of the way. What a bizarre design decision, and it's a bad one for sure. In a game where skill mattered that could potentially be interesting, but in this it's just frustrating. On that note, jumping is the only good way to get out of a "combo", when you are being hit by one. And by "combo" I mean "mashing one of the attack buttons repeatedly", because that's all you have to do to keep an attack going that only a well-timed jump or block plus jump or attack can get the victim out of. The AI will combo you a lot, so learn how to get out of them. This system gets very annoying, very fast, and is quite awful game design. Regardless, it's stupid and horribly designed. Why is blocking so hard in a game that otherwise involves almost no skill? It's bizarre! Also, you can try to throw objects in the arena at your enem (to stun them), but actually hitting them is hard, while they will hit you almost every time with the objects they throw. Argh.

The controls are also bad, because jump is mapped ONLY to the Z button, while L does nothing. So, if you want to use the D-pad, somehow you have to use it with Z, which is not going to be comfortable. Horrible design! The controls are not particularly responsive, either, I don't think. However, the graphics are reasonably nice, honestly. The arenas are very small, but somewhat detailed, and character graphics are okay. The music, however, is another story. On the N64, this game has only one music track, the Powerpuff Girls theme, which plays in the menu and during every match. Yes, really. The rendition of the song isn't that great, either. Unacceptable. Also, compared to the PS1 version, that version has a CGI intro video, while the N64 has a plain-text-only intro, without even any stills or something, like competent games would. And the text's font is so bad that I honestly couldn't read some of the words. Really. Also, there's more speech on the PS1 version -- on PS1, but not on N64 (in text or speech), there are silly little stage intro lines and it says the characters' names before the fight. Characters do speak furing fights though on the N64, for their moves and such. Also, the PS1 version supports memory-card saving. On N64, bizarrely, saving is password only, making this one of only two N64 games I know of with password-only saving (the other is Charlie Blast's Territory). However, the N64 version does have better in-fight graphics, thanks to its much cleaner graphics, so there is that. Overall, PPG:Chemical X-Traction is shamefully incompetent, horrible game for the N64. It may or may not be the overall worst game on the N64, but either way, it is definitely near the bottom of the list. Two player multiplayer, password save. Also on PS1 and PC.

Rampage: World Tour - Rampage: World Tour started Midway's rebirth of the Rampage series. The first Rampage, a popular '80s arcade game that was ported to the NES and other systems, didn't immediately get a sequel, but with this game, it finally got one. As in the original, you play as three monsters, and go around destroying cities. The monsters are humans who were transformed into monsters in science experiments gone wrong, and now you're getting your revenge on humanity by levelling all of its cities, from a 2d side-scrolling view. Yes, this game is entirely 2d. The graphics are okay, but aren't anything great, and use a pre-rendered style popular in the '90s. The game has a simple concept, but it's a simple series. You walk left or right, jump onto buildings to grab onto them and climb them King Kong style, and punch and kick them into rubble. There are human tanks, helicopters, soldiers, etc. shooting at you. Lots of hits cannot be avoided, as always in Rampage games; the series requires a little skill, but luck and endurance are more important. Rampage is a series which is fun for a little while, but gets old fast since there is never any variety whatsoever. World Tour tries to help that a bit with several different city environments, but the base gameplay never changes and does not require enough skill or strategy to not get tedious. It's always been that way in Rampage games, and it is here. However, it is a fun game for a while, and unlike in the arcade version of World Tour, or any version of the first Rampage, the console versions of World Tour do let you save your progress. That is great, and that's one reason to get this game for the N64 instead of just playing the emulated arcade version that was included in various Midway games and collections; there you'd have to play the entire long game in one sitting, which just is too boring to endure. As a result of that, the N64 version of Rampage: World Tour is still the best version -- it's the only one with both three player support AND saving. On that note, unlike the two-players-only PS1 or Saturn ports, N64 World Tour supports three player simultaneous play, which is great. The first Rampage was always a two player only game, but World Tour's arcade version had three player support, and this does as well. Overall though, Rampage: World Tour is a somewhat average game. The game is a good port of an average game. The game has a sequel released in the arcades, PS1, and N64 called Rampage: Universal Tour, but I don't have that one. There's also a final PS1-exclusive one, Rampage Through Time. Both games are basically rehashes of this game though, with the same gameplay but some new environments and monsters to play as. Finally, there's Rampage: Total Destruction for the GC/PS2/Xbox/Wii. It adds some new things to the series, such as isometric 3d gameplay (side-view-with-depth stuff, not full-roaming 3d); it's alright. It's still Rampage though, for good and bad. Rampage: World Tour is, ultimately, repetive, simplistic, and gets boring after a while. However, it's fun to wreck cities for a while, and the game does save, so sure, pick it up if you like this kind of thing and it's pretty cheap. Three player multiplayer, Controller Pak saving (7 pages). Arcade port, also on PS1 and Saturn. The arcade version is also included in Midway Arcade Treasures 2 and Rampage: Total Destruction.

SD Hiryu no Ken Densetsu (J) [SD Flying Dragon Legend] - SD Hiryu no Ken is Flying Dragon's sequel. This game is another Japan-only game, and it's got a big language barrier, because there is absolutely no English text in the game anywhere; it's 100% Japanese, with some Arabic numerals for numbers. Fortunately there is a guide for the game on GameFAQs. Use it! Otherwise figuring out what to do in the menus will be quite tricky. The game is fun enough to perhaps make it worth the effort, though, though it is unfortunately very easy. As the name suggests, though, this time there is only one gameplay mode, the cute-looking "SD" (super-deformed) mode from the first game; the "Virtual Hiryu" mode, with more realistic, Virtua Fighter-esque, graphics, is gone. In the first game, SD mode had 3d-dodge buttons, while Virtual mode did not, as in VF 1 or 2. This time, you can choose whether you want to be able to enable the 3d-dodge buttons or not. The feature is disabled by default, but I much prefer it on, and that's how I've mostly played the game. SD Hiryu has slightly better graphics and a better framerate than the first game, as well. For the most part it looks similar, but it runs a bit better, which is great; Flying Dragon does have some framerate issues. This game is not as smooth and well-playing as the best 5th gen 3d fighting games, but it is an improvement over the first game, which is good. The game plays alright, though even in "Hard" AI opponents are easy to beat, and in "Normal" I found myself winning almost every single round even on my first time playing the game. As far as modes go, there is a story mode which has you play as the series' main character guy only. The story is all in Japanese of course, and there isn't voice acting, but you can at least do the fights and maybe figure a few things out by what's going on. The GameFAQs guide gives you some story details as well. There is also a tournament mode where you fight the usual eight or so enemies, versus mode, options, training mode, and the like. As in the SD mode in the previous game, you can buy items with the money you win in the various modes. This adds an "RPG" element to the game, as you try to get the better items. Of course, all item descriptions are netirely in Japanese, but the FAQ does have an item list with descriptions, which is nice. The other main unlockable are alternate tournaments for tournament mode. In addition to the basic one, there are seven more unlockable themed tournaments you can get if you do specific things and have certain items. Not bad. There are more characters to play as in this game than the last one as well, and the Virtual-only characters have been brought over into this game, in new superdeformed forms of course. Overall, SD Hiryu no Ken is an okay to good game. It's slightly better than the first Flying Dragon overall, thanks to the improved framerate most notably. If you like Flying Dragon, definitely check this game out. However, it is easy, and do use that FAQ if you can't read Japanese. Two player multiplayer, Controller Pak saving.

Tigger's Honey Hunt - Tigger's Honey Hunt is a 2.5d platformer, and while it is quite easy, it's actually kind of fun. As the name suggests, in this game you play Tigger, the tiger from Winnie the Pooh. While most Winnie the Pooh games are basic educational games for little kids, though, this one is a real platformer, and yes, it's alright. The main game is, that is; the minigames are unfortunately horrible. Yeah, do NOT play this for multiplayer. In the main game, Tigger's Honey Hunt has you bouncing through a somewhat short quest as you, as Tigger, have to find Pooh's honey (sorry, hunney), since, as always, he messed up and spilled Pooh's honey. Your goal in each level is collecting enough of the honey to unlock the next stage. Tigger can jump, but also can bounce high on his coil tail. You'll have to explore each level reasonably well in order to get everything, though this is at its core a linear platformer. There are only nine levels, though, so this is a short game. Still, there's a little replay value if you don't manage to find all of the honey on the first try; this generally isn't that hard, but for the target audience here it's probably perfect. You also do get a few more abilities during the game that will have you going back to the earlier levels if you want to get all the honey. But even for adults, even if the game is far too short and easy, I found it a fun game. Tigger's Honey Hunt has decent to good graphics, too. You can tell that this is a multiplatform title and that it doesn't really push the N64, but still, it looks good. I like the graphics, you couldn't do 5th gen 3d Pooh characters much better than this. There aren't many 2d or 2.5d platformers on the N64, so it's great that this one was released. Unfortunately, the sound is weak. There is no voice acting in the cutscenes, so children will have to be able to read for this one (or have someone read it for them). On PS1 there are voices, but they didn't want to pay for a larger cartridge to fit them in this release, I presume. Too bad. Also the game is only a few hours long, with somewhat limited replay value. And last, those minigames really are bad. There are only three of them, and they are Simon Says, Rock Paper Scissors, and a really tedious "watch sticks float down a river" game. That's it -- pretty bad! Still, overall, Tigger's Honey Hunt is a fun little game. If it's cheap, it's worth checking out, I think. It won't take long to play through, and it's a simple, fun game while it lasts. Four player multiplayer (minigames only; main game is single player only), on-cart saving. Also on PS1.

Tsumi to Batsu: Hoshi no Keishousha - Sin and Punishment [Sin and Punishment: Successor to the Earth] (J) - Sin and Punishment is surely the best-known and most popular N64 game that was not released outside of Japan. The game is a rail shooter (of sorts) by Treasure, and it's a quite good game as well. The game even is fully voice acted in English. The anime-esque story is confusing, and the ending in this N64 version has some text-only Japanese in it, but still, it IS mostly in English. However, some idiots at Nintendo decided that they wouldn't release the game outside of Japan, despite how badly me and so many other people wanted the game, and that was that. This was the N64 import game I really wanted, but could not have gotten, or afforded, back then; I wouldn't even have a credit/debit card until the mid '00s, never mind a way to import games from Japan. So yeah, Nintendo was stupid. I ended up looking up how to play N64 games emulated just to play this game, but always wanted to own the real thing too. Even after I got a Wii, and picked up the US Wii Virtual Console release of the game, I still wanted the actual cartridge. Well, I finally got it, complete in box. It cost about $40 shipped, but that's what it costs now. I do think that VC releease cut the price of the game in half, though, which is good; it used to cost even more. It's easy to see why when you play the game, though. Sin & Punishment is not a perfect game, though, Most importantly, it's way too short -- there are only three levels, each made up of three stages. That's not many, and not all of the levels are equally great, either. However, when it's good it's very, very good, and that makes up for the flaws. The game also keeps me coming back to try to get better scores. This is a Treasure game, and it's got some depth to it to make players want to keep playing it, try harder difficulty levels, and get better scores. That's good, when a game is as short as this one is. Still, the game needed more stages. Only nine, and one of the last ones is a random side-scrolling stage which isn't quite as great as the rail-shooter levels are? Plus the last stage is just the final boss fight, no more. It's a long boss fight, but still, all in all the games' length is disappointing. As for modes, the game has a main story mode (with saving), difficulty selection, some minor hidden options to unlock depending on which difficulty level you beat the game on, a training mode to help you through the controls, and high-score tables for each stage and difficulty. There is multiplayer, if someone hits start on controller two, but it just lets controller two control the cursor and fire, nothing more. Pretty disappointing.

Sin and Punishment is a rail shooter, but it is not a conventional one. Instead of flying a spaceship forward, Star Fox style, instead this is more like Jet Force Gemini bossfights, or perhaps Wild Guns and such on the SNES -- you move a character on a 2d plane in front and can run or jump to avoid projectiles, while also moving a cursor around the screen to shoot at enemies. This game isn't a static-screen game, though; instead, you're usually moving forward. Sometimes the screen will stick for a while while you fight some tougher enemy, or a boss of course, but usually you're moving forward, either on the ground somewhere or on some flying platform. So, it is indeed a rail shooter. You use the analog stick to aim, and the C-buttons to move. R jumps, and A switches between lock-on fire (with lower damage) or aimed fire (with higher damage). The controls take getting used to -- learning how to use R with the C-buttons and analog stick all at the same time isn't easy. I honestly find the controls even harder to use on the Gamecube controller (with the Wii VC release), though. X or Y to move left and right, plus R to jump? Argh! Not comfortable. And I like the C-stick even less. So, even though the controls are kind of odd, I do think that the N64 version has the better control setup. It's easier to use the C-buttons plus R than the various GC or CC options. And yes, jumping is very important. Once you get used to it, the controls do work well, and the gameplay is somewhat unique and plays great. Indeed, the great gameplay is why this game is so good, despite the various issues the game has. As for graphics and sound, the graphics are good, but not really great. This game looks good, but the N64 can do better. Some stages, most notably 2-2, the flying battle against an enemy fleet, look great, but others are less impressive. I'd have liked to see more stages like 2-2. Still, overall the graphics are decently good. The art design is great, as well. I like the box-art quite a bit. Enemy and boss designs also are often pretty good. The music is reasonably good, and it's cool that the voice acting is in English. You probably won't remember the music after playing, though.

Returning to the story, in Sin and Punishment you play as two teenage resistance fighters, Saki (a boy) and Airan (a girl). They are led by Achi, a girl with mysterious powers and an unknown agenda. Monsters called "Ruffians" are attacking the Earth, and yet again things are not looking good for Japan. The resistance is fighting Ruffians, while other enemy forces are using Ruffian powers instead. They are a private military corporation here to crush resistance, I believe; I'm not entirely sure. At the beginning of the game, their troops wipe out some other resistance bases, leaving only the three characters to continue their fight. Achi has her own secrets, which you learn later in the game, but the story isn't really the main draw here; it's okay, if you like dark anime-esque plots, and when you when you can actually figure out what's going on, but it's not great. It would be nice if it made more sense without having to go read online about what was happening, though. Ah well. You play the first and third levels as Saki, and only the second as Airan. No, you cannot choose who you play as, it's all preset according to the story. That's too bad; the sequel (Sin & Punishment: Star Successor for Wii) lets you choose either of that games' two characters during the game. Better. That game has a LOT more content than this one, too, and probably is the better game overall. Still, the first Sin & Punishment is a great game. The game has some flaws, most importantly the short length but also the learning curve on the controls, the lack of good multiplayer, no character selection allowed, etc., but the action is fast and furious, the game design somewhat original, and the game fun and high quality overall. This is a good game, and I don't regret getting the N64 version. I've always wanted it, and now I finally have it. The game definitely is not perfect, but it is good. Two player multiplayer (limited), on-cart saving.

V-Rally Edition '99 - V-Rally is a European rally racing game that started on the PS1. While the PS1 game had the Need for Speed license put on it in the US, it wasn't originally a NFS game, and this N64 port doesn't have the license either. V-Rally Edition '99 is a late N64 port of the first V-Rally game. This port released not far off from when V-Rally 2, the much-improved sequel, released on PS1, but this has none of the second games' features, sadly. Instead, players will have to make do with all of the signs of a shoddy port; this may have released long after the PS1 version, but it sure doesn't look like the developers knew how to get much out of the system. V-Rally has some of the most "Playstation-like" graphics I've seen on the N64, with some pretty ugly polygon models and even attempts at PS1 pixelization; this game has some of the most pixelated N64 graphics I've ever seen, I don't know how they managed to make it look so bad. Impressive work there, I guess. There is also heavy fogging, since apparently these poor graphics somehow were all they could manage. Really, this game looks bad visually. As for music, there is none during races, something "simmish" rally racers do sometimes, to their detriment. The menu music isn't very good, but something would have been better than nothing, in-race. The gameplay is only slightly better. The game has 50 tracks, all one-way courses, just like the original had, but the gameplay is bland and unexciting, and as there are only seven actual environments for those tracks, the tracks blend together and feel similar. Great fun gameplay could make up for that, but this game doesn't have that, for sure. This is a common problem in more "realistic" rally racing games, but it does get repetitive. Car controls and physics are even worse, unsurprisingly. At first you'll skid on every turn, and the AI opponents are tough and those crash physics frustratingly floaty and defintely nothing approaching realistic. That's okay, since I prefer arcade racing games to sims, so I probably like this game more than I would a hardcore sim on a subjective level, but objectively it's no good, for sure. Try not to hit things or spin out on turns. It's not easy to learn how to control the cars in this game well, and it's absolutely not worth the effort either. If you want to play a great N64 rally racing game, play Rally Challenge 2000 or the two Top Gear Rally games; this one probably isn't worth it. You can do worse, but you can also do a lot better. Test Drive V-Rally (aka V-Rally 2 in Europe; this is no more Test Drive game than it is NFS), the Dreamcast port of V-Rally 2, is much better, for example; play that one. This game, however, has awful graphics and plays poorly too. There are worse N64 racing games than this, and it's arcadey enough that it can be okay once in a while, but there aren't really any good reasons to get this game for people who aren't trying to own every N64 racing game, as I am. Two player multiplayer, on-cart saving. Also on PS1.

Xena: Warrior Princess: The Talisman of Fate
- Xena for the N64 is a somewhat beat 'em up-inspired 3d fighting game based on the popular Xena TV show. The show was initially a spinoff of Hercules, except with a female lead, and like Hercules it's got very little to do with its supposed Greek/Roman-era setting, design-wise. Sorry, but as a history major, this stuff bugs me. But yes, as with Hercules, I barely ever watched this show, so I'm not really familiar with the source material outside of what I've heard about it. In the game you can play as eleven different characters from the series, including Xena, Gabrielle, and various others (no, not Hercules). This game is a full 3d fighting game, and you move around the arena with the stick (or dpad, but the stick probably gives better control). The four C buttons are your attacks, two punch/kick and two weapon attacks. Each character has a couple of baisc combos (two to four hits) and a few special moves, though not many. R and Z jump and crouch, which are useful since most distance attacks cannot hit crouching characters. Fire breath can, but not stuff like thrown weapons. You can also block while standing or moving backwards. A changes targets in multiplayer matches with three or four players. The game is simplistic, but winning in the later fights, or Hard difficulty, will require a bit of thought -- enemies will block, and you'll have to time your attacks well in order to get through the block. This can be frustrating at times, as the AI blocks constantly and then hits you the moment you try to attack sometimes, but I did get used to it after a little while. The game also has balance issues, and the moves and characters are not at all evenly balanced, unfortunately. It also can be difficult to tell exactly whether you can hit someone before you swing, because of the 3d arenas and how the characters are constantly circling around eachother, while the camera always stays in one static position in front of the arena. When the enemy is between you and the camera, it can get annoying. So yeah, the gameplay here is definitely nothing better than average, and probably is below average. Run around, whack at the enemy, try to time your hits right, hit the button a few times to do a short combo, rinse, and repeat. That's about all there is to the game.

The graphics and sound are okay, though. The characters are okay looking and do look like the characters from the show, and the audio is alright. The arenas are bland looking, though; there aren't any obstacles in them, and they aren't very large either since each one has to fit on a single screen. However, yes, this game has four player matches! It's pretty cool... except for the critical design flaw that the game only allows one AI opponent in any match, so it's impossible to play with more than two characters on screen in single player. That's very disappointing and is a real problem with the game. The game would be more fun with four-player single player matches. That is only one of the signs that this game was made on a tight budget. Another one is that after you win matches in the main tournament ("Quest") mode, there isn't any kind of victory screen, score screen, or anything. The announcer says that you win, and then it's straight to the next match with no interruption. It's kind of odd, I'm not sure if I've ever seen a fighting game quite like that. Also, in the tournament you fight all 11 characters, so it takes longer to get through than most fighting games, since in these games you usually only have 7 or 8 characters per tournament. Once you're done, though, replay value isn't that high, as far as the single player goes; this isn't a fighting game many people will keep returning to on their own. At least each character does have a (very short) custom ending, so there is that at least. Other than Quest mode, your only other options are single match (vs. 1 CPU or up to three humans), training mode, and options. On normal the game isn't that hard, but it's not a complete pushover either, which is good. You also unlock the ability to play as the boss after beating the game once, and there are a bunch of entertaining cheat codes too, such as a big-head mode for instance. Overall though, Xena: The Talisman of Fate is a very mediocre game, and is below average overall. It's somewhere between bad and mediocre, I think. It's probably much more fun in multiplayer (with three or four people particularly!) than it is in single player, though, so keep that in mind. Four player multiplayer, Controller Pak saving (1 block).
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#20
That Xena fighting game devolved into my friends and I just racing to input the "death by invisible birds" cheat before the other one could. We went back to Smash Bros.
"On two occasions, I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able to rightly apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question." ~ Charles Babbage (1791-1871)
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#21
I just expanded (doubled the length of) the Mario Tennis review in the OP, and added a couple of sentences to Beetle Adventure Racing's review as well.
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#22
Update for August 2015
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26 new game summaries. 25 are games I bought since the last update in late 2013, and one is a game I overlooked somehow before, Off-Road Challenge. 17 of these games are Japanese import titles, and only 9 US releases, so this is an import-heavy list. I have only actually beaten a couple of these games, so this is as much first-impressions as it is reviews, as usual for Game Opinion Summaries -- I cover everything I have. I know they're kind of long for "short-ish" summaries, but there's quite a bit to say about each game.

As always, I list the number of players the game supports, save type, and any supported accessories after the title, and other platforms the game is available on at the end of the review. Most of these games are N64-exclusive titles, though, so few of them have other platform listings.


64 Trump Collection: Alice to Waku Waku Trump World [aka Alice's WakuWaku Trump World 64] (J) - 1 player, saves to cartridge.
This is a card game collection with 13 different card games all on one cart. In addition to being able to play any of the games individually, the main mode is a story mode, where you play as Alice from Alice in Wonderland and face off against various characters from the story, one card game at a time. As with those games or Yoshi's Story, the game has a storybook look to it, with paper-cutout sprite characters in 3d environments. Matches take place in a variety of nice 3d environments, each one one page of the storybook you are playing through made into a full 3d environment. The game has great graphics that remind me a lot of Paper Mario or Dr. Mario 64's cutscenes, but this game actually released several years before either of those.

Of course, the story and game instructions are all entirely in Japanese, which makes playing the game a little harder for those who can't read the language. I highly recommend getting a complete copy of the game, because the manual has additional instructions for each game, and mentions English-language names for each cardgame, which is very helpful; ingame it's all Japanese script. The cardgames in the manual are organized in the order you will play them in the story mode, which is also quite helpful. In order, using the names as listed in the manual first followed by names the games are better-known as in parenthesis, the card games here are Shinkeisuijyaku (aka Concentration), Babanuki (aka Old Maid), Shichinarabe (aka Sevens), Speed, Doubt, Page One (a Japanese card game), Daihugo (aka Daifugo or Daihinmin; another Japanese cardgame), Seven Bridge, Poker (video poker, I think it is), Blackjack, Klondike [classic Solitaire; wrongly spelled as "Chrondike" in the manual), Freecell ("Freesell", the manual says), and Dobon (an Uno-ish Japanese cardgame).

So, the games are definitely an interesting mix with a good amount of variety, as far as card games go. Quite a few of the games were unfamiliar to me, but I eventually figured out the rules of each one. The ingame text explaining possible winning hand scores and such in Poker and Blackjack is, for some reason, English, unlike most of the rest of the text, so that's nice. Still, there is a definite language barrier, particularly for the games I wasn't familiar with. The game does have one other issue, other than the language barrier: 64 Trump Collection is single player only. That's an understandable problem, because card games rely on each person not being able to see the others' cards, but it's still unfortunate, this kind of thing is the most fun played against others. Still, this game was a nice surprise. I got it randomly because it was really cheap, and it ended up being pretty good. The visuals are particularly nice, and the gameplay is good. For a card-game collection 64 Trump Collection is better than most, it's not just Solitaire, Poker, and/or Blackjack like most card-game videogames are. Recommended, if you find it for a good price.


Baku Bomberman 2 (J) [Bomberman 64: The Second Attack] - 4 player simultaneous (in battle mode only), saves to cartridge. Baku Bomberman 2, released in the US as Bomberman 64: The Second Attack, is the sequel to 1997's Bomberman 64, which in Japan was known as Baku Bomberman. This is an okay game that disappointed me. But first, why get the import version of a US release? Well, as with Mario Party 3, the import was cheap, while US copies are quite expensive. There is a story in this game that I can't understand, but the gameplay is not too complex, so it's quite playable in Japanese. Baku Bomberman 2 changes things from its relatively popular predecessor. While Bomberman 64 was more of an attempt at a 3d platform/adventure Bomberman game, with large worlds to explore, missions for gold cards which are the games' version of Mario 64 stars, a very unique multiplayer mode with 3d arenas and round explosions instead of the usual Bomberman cross-shaped-lines explosion, and more, it was one of a kind. This game, sadly, is not more of the same. Bomberman 64 does have some flaws -- it's too hard near the end, you don't have a jump button, and teh graphics are mediocre at best, to name a few things -- but it is a good game overall, and I really liked the attempt to make a larger 3d adventure game out of Bomberman. Sadly, Hudson never attempted it again. While there are a couple of 2d Bomberman adventure-styled games, in Bomberman Quest (GBC) and Bomberman Tournament (GBA), Bomberman 64 (1997) is the only such game on any console. I really wish they had made more, but maybe Hudson just couldn't afford it or something. Bomberman 64 was followed up by the 3d platformer Bomberman Hero, which is fun but very different from standard Bomberman.

This game came next, and it's probably less interesting than either of its predecessors, sadly. It's much more linear and just doesn't feel as interesting to play as either Bomberman 64 or Hero. This game mostly just plays as a sequence of rooms. Enter a room, viewed from a side-isometric angle, kill the enemies, figure out the puzzles for how to proceed, and continue. While explosions are still round in single player, the multiplayer sadly ditches them in favor of classic cross-shaped explosions. Along the way you collect a variety of Pokemon-styled creatures that Hudson as putting in Bomberman games at the time; they are also in several GBC/GBA Bomberman games. This game is 3d, but the side view limits things when compared to Bomberman 64, and it's not a full-on platformer like Hero. It's an okay game, but my interest in it fades quickly, apart from a few fun moments here and there; I'd much rather play a more interesting game. Sadly, Bomberman games after this one wouldn't improve things -- the last two 3d-world Bomberman games, Generation and Jetters (for GC/PS2), are even worse than this game. Hudson was great in the '90s, but after two initial interesting efforts couldn't figure out how to improve on their ideas for 3d Bomberman, and it shows. This game retreats on many things from the first game, but isn't classic 2d Bomberman either. It feels generic, as you run around, blow things up, and progress. The multiplayer is similarly okay, but disappointing. Returning from Bomberman 64 are the 3d arenas, but they now have cross-shaped explosions instead of round ones, making hitting people a bit harder. I do like that the 3d arenas are back though, the two Bomberman 64 games are the only two games ever in the series with anything like them; Generation/Jetters ditch them entirely for 2d-style multiplayer. Classic Bomberman multiplayer is pretty good, probably better overall from that in Bomberman 64, but I like having the option to try something different. It's too bad that they abandoned this style in favor of only 2d multiplayer, after this game. Overall though, Bomberman 64: The Second Attack is an average game. It's decent and can be fun at times, but for the price the US version goes for I can't recommend it. Maybe do pick up the import if you see a cheap copy of it though (and modify your system to play Japanese games).


Bomberman 64 [2001] (J) - 4 player simultaneous, saves to cartridge. Bomberman 64, the Japanese game, is the fifth and final Bomberman game on the N64, and, releasing in December 2001, the last N64 game released in Japan. Unlike its predecessors on the platform, this game is entirely 2d, and uses no polygons at all, just sprites. This game is a collection of several 'minigames', I guess it might be best to say. That is, there are several modes, none of them as full-featured as Bomberman games that focus on that mode are. It's a cool collection, but I do find the sparse featuresets within each mode disappointing. The visuals are mostly nice, though; it's solid classic 2d Bomberman and looks good.

The first mode is classic Bomberman, single-player. In this mode, you go through a series of branching levels. Gameplay is classic Bomberman, with a square grid, with posts and then breakable blocks around them that your bombs will destroy. Your goal in each stage is to kill all of the enemies walking around. Many stages do scroll, so they aren't just one screen. The gameplay is great and is plenty of fun. I like the visuals too; Bomberman games changed their art styles regularly, and this is probably one of the better-looking ones. I like the look a lot more than the SNES games, certainly. The music is good happy stuff, too. The problem here is that it's over far too soon. There are only maybe seven to ten stages per game, so the playtime is very short; most classic 2d Bomberman games have at lest 25 levels. The game does have replay value because of the branching paths, though; you can see different stages each time for a while. Still, it's short and easy to finish. When you win, the game gives you your finishing time, and saves the top times in the records section of the menu. Each stage looks different, and the visual variety is nice. Still, I'd have rather seen a longer game, this is really short. It's not hard to finish a run through the mode in half an hour. At least it's quite fun and nice-looking while it lasts, though!

There is also a classic Bomberman multiplayer mode. You've got a variety of stages to play on, but all are similar traditional grids; there are no weird stages like those in Bomberman 64 (US) in this game. Of course it's also four players max, as opposed to the five in the Turbografx games or eight in Saturn Bomberman. Still, it's a great classic Bomberman multiplayer mode.

Next is a stripped-down version of Panic Bomber. Panic Bomber is the Bomberman puzzle game, and it's basically a Tetris knockoff. As in Tetris blocks drop down a well-shaped field, and you have to place them. Making it different are the bomb blocks, which can only be destroyed by lit bombs. This gives the game an element of Puzzle Fighter's crash gems to it. This isn't nearly as great as that game, though. Panic Bomber is a decent puzzle game, but it's not one of my favorites; it's a bit too hard to destroy the bombs, sometimes. Another issue is that this version is very simplistic visually, and has no modes. All you can do is single matches against either an AI opponent or other humans. It does have support for up to four player splitscreen, but the Turbo CD and SNES (both Japan-only releases; why Nintendo brought over the Virtual Boy version in 1995 for a US release but not also the SNES one I have no idea) have five player splitscreen, so that's nothing new, and those games have actual single-player story modes which this does not have. There are no choices for backgrounds either in this version, just one very plain one. SO yeah, Panic Bomber here is okay, but not as good as I was hoping.

Last but probably not least, there is a Bomberman Land-styled minigame collection. Bomberman Land was a series of minigame Bomberman titles that lasted from the late '90s to late '00s, starting on the PS1. None of the early titles in the series released outside of Japan, but we did get some of the later ones on the DS, Wii, and PSP. In this version, you play as Bomberman and wander around an amusement park. Each 'ride' is a minigame. There are maybe ten or fifteen of them here, far fewer than there would be in a dedicated Bomberman Land game, but it is the only Bomberman Land-style game on the N64, so there is that. The main issue here is that some games do have a bit of a language barrier because the instructions are in Japanese, but fortunately none of them are too complex, and I figured them out. Wandering around the little park is also fun, though it'd be better if I knew what the people are saying of course (language barrier...). This is the only mode with much of any Japanese text, but it does have a good amount of it. Still, I like having this. It's a fun little minigame collection. The full Bomberman Land games are better, but they don't come with as many other modes as this game; they're usually just that and usually also classic Bomberman multiplayer and that's it.

Overall, Bomberman 64 (2001, Japan) is a good game, but I was hoping for more. This game has a reputation for being 'the 2d N64 Bomberman game', and it is that, but it's also a collection of games, none of which are as full-featured as similar games on other platforms. It is nice that it compiles all of them together, and on a platform that doesn't have other versions of any of the games present here, though. The visuals are also nice, or at least they are everywhere other than the somewhat plain-looking Panic Bomber, and the music is good. It's worth getting for series fans or if you find it affordably.


Custom Robo V2 (J) - 4 player, but only 2 player simultaneous (2 v 2 with only 1 active at any one time) in multiplayer mode, saves to cartridge. This game is the second in a great series of 3d robot fighting game action-RPGs. The series kind of feels like a much better version of Virtual-On, with RPG elements. It's set in a future world where people solve many conflicts with matches fought in little arenas by tiny robots they control. I covered the first game previously, but now also have the sequel. Custom Robo V2 is the second Custom Robo game, and the last one on the N64. As with the first game, it did not see a Western release because Nintendo of America was stupid and didn't think that these great games would sell. We DEFINITELY should have seen at least one of them! We did eventually get the GC and DS games, but the first three should have had US releases as well, to help fill in some of those N64 software droughts. Gameplay-wise, Custom Robo V2 is very, very similar to the first game. Gameplay is just as great as before, and again running around in the arenas fighting feels fantastic. The graphics have been slightly improved, but the framerate is just as high, which is very important for a game like this. It's absolutely key to the greatness of Custom Robo that even the N64 games run fast and smooth! The new arenas aren't too different fro the old ones, though. Each game has new arenas to fight in, but all are fairly similar in being small-ish squares with various walls and such in them. The combat system is, as always, centered around three weapon types, a gun type you shoot, a bomb type you launch at an angle, and a slower rocket or mine type. You can also do damage with your running charge move. The game controls great, and there are a lot of different weapons to try out. Of course the names are all in Japanese, but it's fun enough to try the various ones regardless of language.

However, apart from the new story, which you won't understand anyway unless you speak Japanese, four player 2v2 tag-team multiplayer mode, and additional robot parts and arenas to fight in, it's basically the same thing as the first game. The controls are the same (good, but the same), the types of weapons are the same, and the story is similar though new. The limitations on the 4 player mode are particularly disappointing. One of the most fun things in Custom Robo for Gamecube are the four-player matches, and I'd have loved to see them on the N64 as well! Maybe the hardware just can't handle it, but still it'd have been great to see, four robots going around at the same time makes things more exciting than just two. Otherwise, this feels almost like an expansion pak, it really is more of the same. In the story mode, as with all five Custom Robo games, you play as a generic anime guy, they never let you play as a different kind of character. This is a different guy from the one in the first game, so it is a new story. As with the first game, your boy hero starts out just learning about Custom Robo, but eventually will go on to do greater things with his tiny little fighting robot. You are the hero after all! As far as a language barrier here goes, Custom Robo games are sort of RPGs so I don't understand the story, but the games have simple and linear structures, so regardless of language you can't get lost or confused for too long, you'll figure out where to go quickly. Again the game starts out in school, as with the first game; in this series, the GC title is the only one to break away from the school-centric story concept so common to anime. Overall, Custom Robo V2 is a great game, but it's so similar to the first game that I don't know if having both of them is really necessary. Definitely get at lest one, though! And both, if you love this kind of game.


Doraemon 2: Nobita to Hikari no Shinden (J) - 1 player, saves to cartridge. This game is a sequel to the first N64 Doraemon game. Of course, as in all Doraemon games, you play as Doraemon the robot cat, the popular childrens' manga and anime character. Doraemon 2 is a more ambitious game than the first one, which I covered previously, but for the non-Japanese speaker it probably isn't a better game. While the first N64 Doraemon game is a fairly basic 3d platformer with some adventure elements in the overworld, this time the game is a 3d platform/adventure game. The game has a sizable world to explore, better graphics than the first game, people to talk to and (overlong) cutscenes, and plenty of puzzles of both the inventory and jumping varieties. The camera is pulled overhead so the view distance is limited, but you can go to first person by hitting R, though you can't move in first-person mode. When you go to first person you see that there is no fog, you can see to the horizon. That's nice, but the environments are average at best for the N64, and probably aren't even that. The game looks okay, nothing more. Doraemon 2 has good controls and multiple playable characters, as you will sometimes play as the children instead of Doraemon. One important thing to know about Doraemon 2 is that it isn't an action game; you do explore a world, but there are no enemies wandering around it. The few enemies I've seen are ones you "fight" with inventory puzzles, not action combat. In the game you mostly wander around, find items and try to figure out where to use them, talk to people, and jump around. You often need specific items to progress. The game does have a day-night cycle, and you gradually lose health at night because the children are scared, so you'll need to find your way to a savepoint and rest when night comes. That's a nice, touch, is one of the few ways I've found so far to actually run out of health in this game. A combat element, like most other Doraemon games have, might have been good, but it does work as an adventure/platform game. Maybe there's something later? As far as I am though there isn't any combat command, you don't shoot by hitting a button or something. So maybe not.

Because of the more ambitious design Doraemon 2 is probably a better game than its predecessor, but it also has a much higher language barrier; figuring out what to do in this game is tough right from the beginning! The far too long cutscenes are even more boring when you can't read the text, either. Some bits are voiced, but there are a lot of text boxes. The game uses no kanji though, appropriate for the young audience the game is for. But for non-Japanese speakers, there is very little on the internet to help you figure out how to play the game -- there are a couple of videos of the beginning of the game, but that's all I found, and it's not helpful for long. This is a problem in a puzzle-heavy game like this one, figuring out what to do is frustrating. I haven't gotten all this far in this game, it's hard to keep playing when I have no idea what to do. One tricky bit early on involved having to find some items, one of which was hidden on a buildings' roof, somewhere I didn't think to look. People who can read Japanese will get more out of this game for sure, but I was a bit disappointed that it wasn't more of a 3d platformer. There is platforming in this game, but exploring the world gets boring when I'm just walking around in circles because I don't know what my objective is. Just trying to interact with everything and using every item everywhere gets old after a while. And while the game looks decent, and they improved things over the fairly basic-looking first N64 Doraemon game, this isn't a great-looking game for sure; the N64 can do much better than you see here. Still, Doraemon 2 is at average overall, anyway. I probably wouldn't recommend it to people unless they really like the series or can read Japanese, though. There is also a third game, which is supposed to be somewhat similar in design to this one.


F1 Pole Position 64 - 1 player, saves to controller pak (70 pages required). F1 Pole Position 64 is a poorly-regarded racing game developed by Human Entertainment and improved for Western release by Ubisoft. This is a simple and arcadey F1 game, without the depth, complexity, challenge, or quality of an F1 World Grand Prix or Monaco Grand Prix. It is also the one and only racing game on the Nintendo 64 that does not have a multiplayer mode. On any other console single-player-only racing games are quite common, but not this one, so its absence here really stands out. Still, the game is better than I was expecting for something that seems to score between 4 and 6 out of 10. This definitely isn't a good game, but there is some amusement to be found here if you like simple and straightforward racing games instead of sims. F1 Pole Position 64 has been improved over the original Japanese version, Human Grand Prix. According to IGN's review, Ubisoft added the official F1 license, all 16 tracks from the F1 season in '97, 22 real F1 drivers to race as with their real car designs, and all the branding and advertising from the real thing. They also improved the draw distance, apparently. However, the graphics are still bland and mediocre, and there is still some popup. This game has a fairly low polygon count, with very simple environments that lack detail. The textures, particularly of the omnipresent ad banners, are fairly good, though, they look quite clear. They're all for real companies, and presumably came along with the F1 license. 16 cars are in each race, and the game can put at least most of them on screen at once, which is good. The framerate is also solid and doesn't drop, though with graphics this simple I'd hope it would be. Audio, however, is poor -- the music is weak, and car engine noise annoying and whiney.

Gameplay-wise, F1 Pole Position 64 is easy to learn. Just turn at the corners and brake when near a sharper turn, that's about it. The game defaults to Easy AI difficulty, no car damage, and automatic transmission, so simplicity is the goal. You can turn up those settings if you want. There are also car settings to modify, so there is a bit of sim here. It's nothing too complex, but the settings affect how your car handles, so they do matter. You can also pit in during races, to replace tires and fill up on gas. The game doesn't have much in the way of good physics, things just bounce off eachother in a basic fashion. I found this game much easier than most other 3d F1 games; I finished 5th in my first race, and in races after that, except for one race where I managed to take too much damage with damage turned on (there isn't a good indicator I could see that I was in danger, annoyingly), I finished well in every race, on Easy, without needing any great skill. It's fun to be able to just play the game and do okay, and I'm sure turning up the difficulty would make the game harder, though people who want that probably should just play F1 World Grand Prix. The problem is though, this is still an F1 game, so races in the season mode are 10 laps long, and you need to do qualifying before that if you want to start anywhere other than last. That's all a bit boring. There is no music ingame either, as usual in F1 games, and the bland gameplay isn't exciting. It's not too hard, but it's not too fun either, doesn't look great, controls only okay and not beyond that, and sounds kind of bad. Combine that with the absence of multiplayer, and F1 Pole Position 64 isn't very good. All you can do here is play a season, single race, or time-trial, all as one of the 22 real drivers, there is no custom racer option, on the games' 16 real-world tracks. The problem with this game is that those wanting a good F1 sim won't play this because it's a simpler, arcadey game, while those who want arcade-style racing games will play more fun games like F-Zero X, Excitebike 64, Rush, or what have you. This is in a boring middle ground along with stuff like Automobili Lamborghini, but maybe worse than that game. If you want a fun, arcadey open-world racing game on the N64, I recommend getting Indy Racing 2000; it's good. Probably skip this game unless it sounds like fun to you. Still, it IS not quite as bad as I thought it would be, so there is that.


Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko - 1 player, saves to controller pak (1 block per file). Gex 3 is the third and last console Gex game, one of the many platformer series with a Sonic-style "cool" animal mascot. Gex's character may be Sonic-inspired, though, but the gameplay is different. The basic concept of Gex is that he's a TV-watching-obsessed gecko. So, each world in each Gex game is inspired by some type of TV show. The first game is a quality 2d platformer, but the sequels are 3d platformers. I covered Gex 2 in my PS1 Game Opinion Summaries list, but to recap, both games have very similar designs. The games have Mario 64-style hubs, with themed worlds branching out from there. Each world is themed after a type of movie or TV show, of course. This time, the first world is a snow level. Fortunately, the game is okay. Gex 3 is a nice improvement over Gex 2, which I didn't like very much. It is a similar game, but the graphics, gameplay, level designs, and objectives are all better. Gex 3 is only a bit above average, but Gex 2 doesn't reach average quality, so the improvement is welcome. The first level in this game is a lot more fun to play and explore than any level I saw in Gex 2. You've got a bunch of stuff to find, missions to attempt, and more, as in most 3d platformers of the era. Unfortunately, the controls hold the game back a bit. Even though you use the analog stick, you don't really have true analog control here -- instead, you can only move in eight or so directions. Apparently they did not fix the movement to account for having an analog stick on the N64, which is a problem in a genre all about moving around in 3d. Still, Gex 3 for N64 is a much better port than Gex 64, the N64 port of Enter the Gecko, was, by all accounts; I haven't played Gex 64, but it's supposed to be not very good, with a short draw distance, poor graphics, and more. The draw distance in this game is a lot better, and the graphics are improved all around. Graphically this game is no match for the better N64 3d platformers, but at least it looks decent, and even nice at times. The gameplay is about on that level as well. Overall Gex 3 isn't great, but it is a decent, slightly above-average game. After Gex 2 I was expecting worse. Also on PS1; this is a port of the PS1 original.


Goemon Mononoke Sugoroku (J) - 4 player alternating, saves to cartridge, Transfer Pak compatible (links to the GBC version of the game). Ganbare Goemon: Mononoke Sugoroku is a Goemon-themed board game with RPG elements which Konami released only in Japan in late 1999. There is also a Game Boy Color version of the game, though I haven't played it. I love the Goemon series, so I decided to finally get the last of the three N64 games, even if it is just a boardgame. The game has fantastic boxart with clay-style art of the characters and some of the monsters in the game. It's really nice. After playing the game though, it's not too hard to see why we didn't get this game; the game is decent, but it's just a boardgame, not a more full console experience. Digital boardgames like this often seemed to be more popular in Japan than the West. Fortunately, even though the game is entirely in Japanese, it's fairly easy to understand with a little bit of practice. The "Mononoke" in the title refers to monsters, and this game is all about fighting monsters, here seen in the form of the cards in a boardgame-RPG. There are still a few things I don't get, but most of the gameplay makes sense. First you choose a board, which there are only a couple of, and a character. All four of the standard Goemon characters are playable, and some others are unlockable. This game introduced a new costume for Yae; she now has a short kimono, instead of pants. I think I like the original costume more, but this is fine. The other three characters, Goemon, Ebisumaru, and Sasuke, look the same as ever. All characters are 2d sprites in this game, not polygon models like the previous two N64 Goemon games. They're fairly well done, and the game is well-polished visually for what is here, but the budget here clearly is a lot lower than its predecessors. The music is still fantastic as usual in the series, though. I love the Goemon series' classic-Japanese-style music. Still, I really wish Konami had made a third full-scale N64 Goemon game, instead of the not-great overly-serious 3d action-adventure game on the PS2 in 2000 and then those two mediocre PS1 2.5d platformers they tossed out in 2001... too bad. This is a good game, but some more variety and choice would have been nice. Each board has a circular path on it, so there are no branches, choices about where you go, or anything -- you just travel around in a circle endlessly until someone wins. That's a bit disappointing, some more interesting board maps would have been great.

Your goal in each game is to defeat your opponent or opponents. As in an RPG, each character has a health meter, and you lose health when you lose battles. To protect yourself, you can summon monsters and place them on spaces. Monsters take the form of cards, so when you land on a space you can only play the monster cards you actually have. There are also other kinds of cards, for direct attacks, healing, and such. You can equip cards on monsters, or use them on yourself. Cards with the sword icon can be equipped before a fight for a stat boost, while other cards can be used during a fight. Each turn you'll get some new cards. Battles are simple, you or a monster you summon fight against the opponent and/or their monster. Each monster has an attack, defense, and health rating, and the attacker goes first. Damage is attack minus defense, and the defender attacks back if they survived. The battle system is super simplistic, but at least it's not just Rock-Paper-Scissors such as Dokapon Kingdom for Wii, I don't like that game much because of how random the battle system is. If a monster is killed extra damage is applied to that monsters' player character, so you want to avoid losing monsters if you can. You want to avoid landing on enemy monster spaces, while hoping that the opponent(s) land on your monsters. Of course, a lot of this is random since die-rolls determine movement. I like the monster card art, some of it's pretty nice. In addition to card boosts, you can also move monsters around from one space to spaces nearby. You can even move them onto enemy monster spaces and attack them, which can be helpful. The more skill-based RPG side to the game makes this game different from something like Monopoly where once you've built hotels and such on a space they're stuck there forever; in this game you can move your "buildings" (monsters) around. Some spaces also have special functions such as healing you or your monsters, and you get money for each time you make a circuit around the board. For the most part though it's not too complex of a game, centering around choosing good places for your monsters to be, powering them up, and hoping that luck is on your side. Overall it's a good game, but winning requires a lot of luck; I do prefer more skill-based games. More boards, and more complex board layouts, would also have been very nice. Still, Goemon Mononoke Sugoroku is a fun thing to have and play once in a while, and is well worth it for series or digital boardgame-RPG fans. That box looks great, too. Also available on Game Boy Color; I'm not sure how similar that version is.


Jikkyo Powerful Pro Baseball 5 (J) - 2 player simultaneous, saves to cartridge. Powerful Pro Baseball, or Pawapuro, was for a long time one of Konami's more popular franchises in Japan. This series of super-deformed baseball games were well known for having challenging and deep gameplay beneath their cute graphical exterior, and this one is no exception. I haven't played this game as much as maybe I should for this, but it's not my favorite kind of baseball game. The game is an interesting hybrid of classic and modern baseball game design. On the one hand the game has a top-down, somewhat zoomed-in field view like that of most 3rd or 4th-gen baseball games, but on the other hand it has a fairly modern pitching/batting cursor interface. This is the second of five N64 Pawapuro games; only two games in the series have a US release, both MLB-themed games on the PS2/Wii. The game has all 12 teams and stadiums, and all the real players, from the Japan League circa 1998. There are a lot of features, modes, and options, and it's all in Japanese so for the non-speaker just figuring out how to do anything beyond a basic single match is a bit overwhelming. There are single matches (1p vs. cpu, 1p vs. 2p, or cpu vs. cpu), an options menu just for single matches; a character-raising mode where you train up a young player, adventure game-style (I haven't played this much because of the language barrier, but it's a series staple and is interesting); season mode; the ability to save a game in progress; and more. I'm not sure what all of the main menu options do, they're all in Japanese and there is no English-language help out there for these games. The game has okay to good graphics, each field does look different and the players are big-headed and cute. Arenas are 3d, with sprite-based characters. The sound design is even better. There is a quite excitable announcer, and lots of crowd noise and chanting too. I like the sound design here, it adds to the game.

The gameplay is tough as well -- you'll lose, badly, for a while until you figure out how to play decently. That is common in baseball games, though, because pitching and batting are very hard things to do, the hardest things people commonly do in sports. Pitching and batting just use A and the stick/pad. Presuming that you turn on analog control, which is recommended (seriously, why is d-pad only even an option?), for batting you move a batting cursor around with the stick. The pitcher has no indicator, but instead the ball goes where you are pointing the stick. For some reason, maybe it's an option I don't know about or maybe it's to be realistic, but left and right are reversed, so to throw to the right side of the plate you have to hold the stick left. Admittedly when pitching you do throw from the left to go right, and vice versa, but still, it's weird and not great. I do like the idea of holding the stick in the place you want the ball to go and then just hitting a button to pitch, though, it works well. My problem with pitching so far is that if there are any alternate pitches I can't figure out how to throw them, so it's always just one pitch type, which is annoying -- how do I throw offspeed, curveballs, sliders, etc., instead of just straight pitches? Once the ball has been thrown, an indicator appears showing approximately where it's headed, and the batter has a split second to move the cursor there and swing. As with pitching, there's just one button, no choice of normal or harder swing as some baseball games have. Getting your timing right is hard, as it should be. Overall the pitching/batting interface is alright, but could use some more features, unless I'm missing something under the big language barrier.

For fielding, though, I don't like it as much. I've never liked this style of top-down field view, and this game is no exception. I much prefer actually being able to see the field, so that I don't have to guess where to move my fielder. They do have an indicator pointing towards who you are controlling off screen, but it's not nearly as good as actually seeing the player. I know I say this every time about baseball games, but give me the Hardball series' perspective every time, over this stuff! And with 3d graphics, I know you could do something better than this basic overhead view. I'm sure some people would like the game because of this, but I feel the opposite, it makes the game harder and less fun. Honestly, I don't think I'll be playing this game enough to get good; the overhead perspective isn't great, and unless I'm missing something I really miss having alternate pitch types, compared to other baseball games. Batting works well, pitching is okay, the graphics are okay and sound is good, and there are a lot of modes and options, but I'd rather play something with more pitching options and better fielding. English-language menus would be a plus too, of course, for a game loaded with menus like this one is. For me, Pawapuro 5 is okay but not great.


Jinsei Game 64 (J) [The Game of Life 64] - 4 player alternating, saves to cartridge. Made by Takara, Jinsei Game 64 is one of two Japanese Nintendo 64 versions of the boardgame The Game of Life. For some reason, The Game of Life is a very, very popular boardgame in Japan. I'm not sure why; I do remember playing the game as a kid, but never thought it was THAT great, and haven't played the board game in quite some time. I don't think we own it anymore. I got this N64 version despite that because, well, I am trying to eventually get all non-sports N64 games, so I had to get it sometime. Honestly though, this might not have been worth getting; even though they do add some features to try to make this more than just a digital boardgame, it's boring and not much fun. In addition to the board game there are also eight minigames here, but they're mostly kind of bad. There is also a significant language barrier that is a real issue due to the choices you have to make during the game. The game would be a bit better if I could read the text, but at times it's tough to play in Japanese, if you care about what choices you make during the game.

There are a good number of modes available in Jinsei Game 64. You can play a normal game, play a game on a variety of different alternate boards, modify the order of things on a custom board, create a custom character to play the game with with a good number of options for hair, clothes, and such, and play the minigames outside of the main game. You can play with any mix of up to four human or AI characters, and the AI is reasobly challenging. By default, in the main mode you play a minigame each time characters land on the same space. All eight are for four players. You play them fairly often in the game, though, they aren't very good, and there are only eight of them, so this isn't as great an option as it sounds. While on the board the graphics are 3d, and each different board looks nicely different. The graphics aren't great, but at least they put some effort in to the game. The minigames are just basic 2d stuff, though, and don't look as good. Some require skill, but too many are just pure luck; really, if you're going to add minigames to your digital boardgame, don't make them just pure chance! There are also anime-esque 2d scenes for the life decisions, choices where you try to romance someone of the opposite sex, build your career, and such. I like the art style, it's stylized and kind of cute-looking.

In the main game, minigames aside, as in the boardgame on each turn you move via a spinner. Once you land on a space a menu opens and you have five options, all in Japanese. The top is to move, others are for various stats and such. Depending on where you land, you may play a minigame, make some of those life choice, or just end your turn. Your choices will change your character's stats, which affect how successful you will be, so as I said the language barrier is a real problem. The other main problem here is that I find The Game of Life kind of boring in any form; Jinsei Game 64 is okay, but I haven't finished a game of this yet not only because of the language barrier, but also because the game gets tedious fast. The mostly-bad minigames are also a disappointment. It might be better in multiplayer, but... just play the boardgame, or some better game. I do like the boxart, though, it's nice and represents the games' art style well.


Let's Smash (J) [also released in Europe as Centre Court Tennis, but I have the Japanese version because of how hard it is to play European N64 games on a US system] - 4 player simultaneous, saves to controller pak (7 pages per character file). Let's Smash is a tennis game from Hudson. This is an okay but flawed game thanks to difficult controls. Let's Smash has a lot of features and okay to good graphics, but the timing for hitting the ball is quite tight. Otherwise the controls are fine, and you have the usual options -- regular hit or lob, on separate buttons -- but that ball timing is a problem. It took a while before I managed to win a match because of how hard it is to get used to hitting back the ball. It's particularly bad when you use the default single-screen view and are on the upper half of the screen. The very tight timing reminds me of Namco's World Court Tennis for the Turbografx. Indeed, it would be very much like that interesting but frustrating nearly-impossible-once-you-leave-the-bottom-half-of-the-screen game if not for one major addition, different camera angles (on the C buttons). The game got a lot more playable once I figured out how to switch to the third-person-behind-the-character camera, which gives you a close-in view behind your character sort of like that in Mario Tennis for the Virtual Boy. It's much, much easier to hit the ball from there than the default classic-style overhead camera. Of course, though, if you want to play the game in multiplayer you'll have to get used to that camera... or just play Mario's Tennis for the N64, that might be the better option. That game doesn't have this issue, hitting the ball is easy in that game. If you do play it multiplayer, be prepared for it to take more than a few matches before everyone manages to figure out the correct timing for hitting the ball. The AI is quite tough as well, and can be hard to defeat. Visually Let's Smash looks okay, but, like most Hudson N64 games, it doesn't look great. Hudson never managed to master N64 graphics like Nintendo, Rare, Acclaim, or such did. This game shows improvement over early Hudson N64 games like Bomberman 64, but still looks only average. The characters look fine and the arenas decent, and the framerate is thankfully good, but nothing looks great for the system, the N64 can do better, an does in games like Mario's Tennis.

For options, Let's Smash has quite a few. First, you can play Tournaments. There are four options here, based on the four major championships in pro tennis, the British, French, American, and Australian Opens. This game doesn't have any official licenses, so don't expect any real players, but there are 16 players to choose from, half male and half female, and the ball bounces differently on clay, hard, or grass courts. There is a different arena for each open, and you try to go through a single-elimination tournament to make it to the top. You can choose in the options how many games each match should last. Next, you can do a single match on any court. Next, you can create your own tennis pro, a very cool option. You can choose gender and clothing, and unlike many games (but like in the PSP Hot Shots Tennis game) it isn't gender-resticted, so you can have male characters wear 'female' tennis outfits. Nice option. You can also choose the hairstyle and color, face, skin color, clothing, and stats (made difficult by the language barrier, all stat names are in Japanese; I just guessed and chose middle settings. I sure wish it was easier to play European N64 games on US systems!). You start with only one set of tennis clothes that you choose, but character creation mode isn't just about creating characters you can play as in tournaments, though you can do that. No, you can also train in some minigames, or play matches against AI opponents. The minigames aren't as elaborate as those in Sega's great Virtua Tennis, but they are challenging and can be fun. There is one where you try to target specific points on the ground, one where you try to bounce the ball off some targets as many times as you can, and two more. Each has different difficulty levels.

The main draw for this mode, though, is playing as your custom characters against AI opponents. In these single matches, you can play on a variety of real or fantasy courts in matches where you get a clothing piece from the winner if you win, or lose one if you lose. So yeah, it's like gambling, except that you can just turn off the game if you're losing and don't need to lose anything, if you have remembered to save recently of course. It's nice to see your clothing options grow as you win matches, though actually winning is, of course, difficult. The courses, outside of the four stadiums for the major opens, include a grassy field, a lava pit, an ice level (with penguins who get in your way as obstacles, and you can hit them to the other side of the court with your racket to make them bother the other person), an urban court, a somewhat wild west-themed desert, and more. I find the ones with obstacles the most interesting; there's nothing like that in the main tournaments! There is also a different announcer for each arena, or, for some reason, no announcer in the ice arena. Overall, Let's Smash is a decent to good game. It gave me a very poor first impression thanks to the games' overly-difficult controls, but after some practice I started liking the game more. Still, compared to Virtua Tennis on Dreamcast or Mario Tennis for N64, this game isn't nearly as good thanks to the difficult controls and only average graphics. Hot Shots Tennis for PSP also probably does the custom character thing better, as it has a full 'RPG-styled' mode. This game has character-building, but it's not a full RPG as you don't explore a world, talk to people, and the like, you just choose options from menus and play matches. Still, despite its flaws, Let's Smash was definitely worth getting. It's okay.


Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness - 4 player simultaneous (in battle mode), saves to controller pak (8 blocks). Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness is one of Namco's only games for the N64. This game and Namco Museum are the only games Namco itself made for the N64; Ridge Racer 64 was a first-party Nintendo title, by NST. 5th-gen Namco were, sadly, huge Sony supporters, but at least we on the N64 did get this quality title. After the success of Pac-Man World for the Playstation, Namco decided to make a Ms. Pac-Man game. This isn't a full 3d platformer like that game is, though; instead, it's more of a classic-styled, overhead-view action/puzzle title. This game is a polygonal 3d game, but almost feels "2.5" in that you mostly just move around on a flat grid. You can travel between upper and lower areas and the like, but it all plays from a pulled-back viewpoint. This gives it a much more traditional feel than the side-view isometric 3d platforming of Pac-Man world, though it's also a lot more approachable than the frustrating isometric platforming that game is loaded with. Between the two, I probably do have more fun with this one, but both are worth a try. I wish the N^4 had gotten a version of Pac-Man World as well, too bad.

The story here is forgettable; you, as Ms. Pac-Man, have to travel through time, thanks to a machine made by Professor Pac, to rescue the princess or something stupid like that. The time-travel mechanic allows each level to have a different theme, so you go through ancient Egypt first and progress from there. Your goal is always to just reach the end of the stage, but enemies, puzzles, and many dots to collect lie along the way. Levels are linear mazes, so you progress through a level, instead of just running around one big maze as in the original Pac-Man games. Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness is definitely on the easy side, but it's fun despite that. The puzzle elements add something to the game, as you do sometimes have to figure out how to get to some dots, by pushing blocks, using jump-cannon things which toss you to another point in the level, and more. Enemies are also a threat, unless you kill them with a Power Pellet. Figuring out how to progress usually isn't too hard, but the game does get more challenging as you go along, and the adventure is plenty of fun. You can also unlock harder time-trial versions of the levels after you beat them, and can play the original Ms. Pac-Man arcade game as well. There are also three multiplayer modes, though I haven't played them yet. This is a fun little game; I wish it was harder, but otherwise it's good classic gaming fun. This is a multiplatform game also available on PS1 and Dreamcast. The three versions look very similar, with the expected graphical differences -- the DC version looks the best, N64 in the middle, and PS1 the worst. I also have the DC version and it probably is a bit better than this one, but the N64 version is more than good enough to be worth getting.


Mysterious Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer 2
(J) - 1 player, saves to cartridge. Shiren the Wanderer 2 is one of Chunsoft's many roguelikes that they have released over the past 20-plus years. I'm not a big fan of the genre, but got this one anyway because it's interesting and is on the N64. I'm having issues with this game (how do you save???), but that's probably just me; anyone who can read Japanese certainly won't have a problem. Once the first Shiren for SNES was a success Chunsoft obviously knew they'd hit on a popular formula, and the company continues to make fairly similar games to this day. As with most of their earlier roguelikes, Shiren 2 is a Japan-only release. The game has good graphics, good gameplay, and lots to do. It's a great title, and I'm really not sure why it isn't better-known outside of Japan. There are very few mentions of this game and isn't even one single FAQ out there in English for this game, which is a real shame! One is badly needed. Just some basic thing explaining how the menus work would be fantastic, and something for item names would be even better, either in FAQ or translation-patch form. But if you stick with the game despite the language barrier, it's great classic Chunsoft Mysterious Dungeon roguelike fun. As usual you play as Shiren, the mysterious wanderer of the title. He is an adventurer in a fantasy version of traditional Japan, and is trying to help out a town beset by monsters.

As always in Mysterious Dungeon games, Shiren 2 plays from an overhead perspective, and when in dungeons the game is turn-based and you move on a grid. The game has sprite-based characters in 3d environments, and the look works well.
Visually Shiren 2 looks pretty good. The art style is somewhat rounded and cute, and I like the look of the sprites. The polygonal environments look good to great as well, this game has good art design. This is a good-looking N64 game. The music is similarly good and fits the traditional Japanese theme quite well. Combat works just like most any other Mysterious Dungeon game. When you move or attack so do the enemies, but they can't move otherwise. You can move one space at a time with the d-pad, or use fast movement with the analog stick or by holding B or Z. The fast movement is very useful. On each floor of the dungeons in the game your goal is to find the exit while collecting as much stuff as you can (while dealing with your tight inventory limit, you can only hold about 20 items), but the enemies will make that difficult to say the least; it may be easier than its SNES predecessor, but this is a hard game, probably harder than the third game, for Wii, is; Shiren 2 doesn't have any more forgiving modes. While you stay alive it can be fun enough, but then you die an lose all your equipped items and level, as is common in this genre; you only keep things if you beat the dungeon and put them in storage. Ouch! Honestly I've never liked this kind of harsh design, I prefer having a game where you don't have to continually redo things you have done before just because you died farther in to the game. Yes, I've mostly skipped over the wave of roguelikes the game industry has made in recent years. Add on top of that that probably because of the language barrier I still can't figure out how to actually save a game, and yeah, this game is a bit hard to play. Another key game design element makes that worse -- your main task in this game is to build a castle so that the locals in the town you're in can protect themselves from the hordes of monsters. That's cool, it's nice to have a task beyond just killing stuff and gaining levels, but you need to collect certain items for the castle, and better items will hold up better against monster attacks that apparently happen later in the game. This whole system is obviously somewhat impenetrable if you don't know the language. So, overall, Shiren the Wanderer 2 is a good-looking game which is fun to play, but the language barrier is significant and a real issue.

To be clear, If I could actually save my progress in this game, I'd say that it's a pretty good game for its genre. It definitely seems fun, and isn't as hard as the first game for SNES. So please someone, tell me what I'm doing wrong... the only menu options that quit seem to either (for one option) quit without saving, or (for the other) restart the game from the beginning. I don't see anyone to talk to to save, either. So yeah, what's going on here? I want to be able to play this game, and "play it all in one sitting" is not a good answer.


Nuclear Strike 64 - 1 player, saves to controller pak, Expansion Pak supported (for higher resolution graphics). Nuclear Strike 64 is the N64 version of the fifth and sort-of-final Strike game from EA. While the previous game, Soviet Strike, didn't release on Nintendo platforms, this one returned the series to Nintendo. There's sort of a sixth, but only if you count Future Cop LAPD as a Strike game -- it started out as one, but changed to an original title during development. I'd call it a new game, so this is the last game in EA's topdown-style flight combat sim series which was quite popular particularly on the Genesis and SNES. I have never have been a fan of this series, but I got Soviet Strike, the 4th game, for Saturn a few years ago and was surprised to find it kind of fun for a while, the series' usual too-high difficulty level aside. So, I thought that maybe I'd like this one too... but I don't know. It's still a Strike game, and as with all the Strike games, it's too slow and boring to be a good action flight game, but too action-oriented to be a good sim. But also, on the N64, the live-action-video cutscenes of the original PC/PS1 game are gone. Without the super-cheesy live-action-video FMV the game loses something. Gameplay-wise, the main changes in Nuclear Strike compared to its predecessor are that you now have a variety of tanks and a hovercraft you will control at times during the game, the graphics are better, and there's an improved on-screen compass/map telling you where you need to head. That arrow is helpful, it does indeed reduce time spent on the map as the back of the box claims, but the full-screen map is still essential. And visually, the N64 version certainly looks better than the PS1 version thanks to 3d that doesn't fall apart whenever anything moves. The textures are a bit blurry as usual, but the game looks nice. Still, that cheesy FMV is good stuff. As for the gameplay, the core gameplay is the same as usual for this series. It's still very hard and kind of boring. This game plays a lot like the previous one, but maybe with a closer-in camera. The game still plays on a flat plane, so you cannot move up or down, only around at a set level over the ground. You can shoot bullets and missiles and lower a winch to pick things up. You are not only fighting the many enemies in this game, though. Fuel and ammo are both very limited, and unless you are careful, use your weapons well, and know where the pickups are, you won't finish the mission. There are a nice variety of objectives along the way, but they usually boil down to destroying or protecting things. You also need to be on the lookout for fuel and ammo to pick up, of course. It's okay, but I get frustrated when I lose far into a mission; saving is limited, and I lose interest before getting good enough to beat a mission. Each game generally has only four or so missions, or maps, each made up of a series of objectives scattered around the level. Four is more than enough in games as hard as the Strike games are, and Nuclear Strike is no exception. Even though I did kind of like Soviet Strike, I still have not yet ever beaten a full mission in a Strike game, I believe; I did get most of the way through Future Cop LAPD, but that plays quite differently. Overall Nuclear Strike 64 is a good game that just isn't really for me. Also on PC and PS1; the best version is surely the PC version, but between PS1 and N64, you have to choose between better graphics and probably also controls (N64) or cheesy FMV (PS1).


Off-Road Challenge (actually already had but forgot to cover) - 2 player simultaneous, saves to controller pak. Off-Road Challenge is a point-to-point racing game from Midway. The game is an arcade port of a Midway arcade game, developed by Avalanche Studios. They didn't do a very good job, sadly. The game runs in the Cruis'n USA engine and visually looks sort of like that series. This game is a part of the Off-Road franchise, the third (or fourth if you include the Track Pack as a game) game in a series that began with the all-time classic early '90s arcade game "Ironman" Ivan Stewart's Super Off-Road. I absolutely love the original Super Off-Road and always have, but this game, sadly, isn't nearly as good; of the six point-to-point Midway racers on the N64, this one is the one I have played least. Off-Road Challenge is pretty much just a mediocre spinoff of Cruis'n, with off-road pickup trucks instead of cars, desert-only environments, only six tracks, 3d truck graphics, ugly graphics with a sometimes-poor framerate, and a far higher difficulty level. Returning from previous Off-Road games are turbo boosts and boost powerups to refill your boost. These powerups are small and a lot harder to pick up than they were in the original Super Off-Road, and yet you really need them to be competitive. The skiddy controls don't help here, either. I don't think I've ever actually finished first in a race in this game; it's frustratingly hard right from the start, and then gets harder.

Indeed, one major issue with this game, along with the visuals and sound, is that it is way too hard! The handling is average skiddy stuff, you slide around a lot. So, memorization is key, to learn when to turn on the courses to avoid the many obstacles littering each course and to try to stay on the road. The tracks are curvy and difficult, and I do like the bumpy, obstacle-filled track designs, but I don't like how hard getting the powerups is or the super-difficult AI. Still, moments like dodging a rock knocked over by a falling UFO or learning the correct route to avoid pitfalls in the track are kind of nice. However, perhaps because of the 3d vehicles, there are only eight racers in each race, only four trucks to choose from, and only six tracks in the game. That's a lot less of all three of things than you'll find in any Cruis'n game, and the tracks are no longer than Cruis'n tracks, so there isn't much variety here. Between races, as usual in the series there's also an upgrade system where you can upgrade your truck between races with your winnings. The championship mode saves your truck upgrades, so in order to compete later on you really need to have done well earlier in the game, so don't settle for 4th in that first circuit even though finishing harder is hard. YOu need to finish in 3rd in each race in the second circuit, and do even better than that later on, so mastering the tracks is essential. I haven't done it, sadly. The dune buggy is fastest, so it might be the best of the four vehicles available, but between the AI, the controls, and the rest, the game doesn't feel fairly designed. The AI usually just beats me, even when I do better time-wise... argh. I wouldn't be surprised if the AI cheats.

Visually, the graphics are below average, with some VERY large super-blurry textures, a sometimes-iffy framerate, and distance fade-in. Midway can, and did, do so much better than this! I know the tracks are full of bumps and hills, but still, this game looks worse than the first SF Rush game on N64, but actually released after it. The music is forgettable rock, and fails to loop after finishing the first time, so many races will end in silence. Not good. There are a lot of much, much better, and better-looking, N64 racing games than this. There's not much here to make me want to spend the hours it would take to actually finish this very difficult game. There are few modes, too. You can do a single race, a circuit where you go through all the tracks, and that's it. You won't find modified versions of the tracks here, unlike Cruis'n World or Exotica, and all other Midway N64 point-to-point racers have many more tracks than this game. Overall, Off-Road Challenge is disappointing. This is a downgraded port of an average arcade game, and even I can't entirely defend it, and I find the Cruis'n series fun. The game has no new ideas, some design issues, looks ugly and sounds bad, and I get tired of always losing. Instead of playing this game more and beating it, I'd rather play a better game. Off-Road Challenge is below average. Really, stick to the original classic Super Off-Road. Or for a similar 3d game, the best polygonal 'Off-Road"-style racing game from Midway doesn't actually doesn't have the franchise name on it -- it's 4-Wheel Challenge for the Dreamcast. That's a great game, a bit like this one but better. That game is also very tough, but that's the kind of hard that keeps me coming back! I wish this game was like that too, but it isn't. Arcade port (but N64-exclusive at home).


Puyo Puyo Sun 64 (J) - 2 player simultaneous, saves to cartridge. This game is a puzzle game in the popular and long-running Puyo Puyo series, then made by Compile -- this game is from before Compile shut down and Sega bought the rights to the franchise. Puyo Puyo is a match-four block-dropping puzzle game. The "blocks" here are called Puyos, and they're cute little bloblike things. They drop in pairs only; for those familiar with Sega's Puyo games, Compile's always have the puyos drop only in pairs. The larger shapes first ap...
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#23
Update for August 2015
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26 new game summaries. 25 are games I bought since the last update in late 2013, and one is a game I overlooked somehow before, Off-Road Challenge. 17 of these games are Japanese import titles, and only 9 US releases, so this is an import-heavy list. I have only actually beaten a couple of these games, so this is as much first-impressions as it is reviews, as usual for Game Opinion Summaries -- I cover everything I have. I know they're kind of long for "short-ish" summaries, but there's quite a bit to say about each game.

As always, I list the number of players the game supports, save type, and any supported accessories after the title, and other platforms the game is available on at the end of the review. Most of these games are N64-exclusive titles, though, so few of them have other platform listings.


64 Trump Collection: Alice to Waku Waku Trump World [aka Alice's WakuWaku Trump World 64] (J) - 1 player, saves to cartridge.
This is a card game collection with 13 different card games all on one cart. In addition to being able to play any of the games individually, the main mode is a story mode, where you play as Alice from Alice in Wonderland and face off against various characters from the story, one card game at a time. As with those games or Yoshi's Story, the game has a storybook look to it, with paper-cutout sprite characters in 3d environments. Matches take place in a variety of nice 3d environments, each one one page of the storybook you are playing through made into a full 3d environment. The game has great graphics that remind me a lot of Paper Mario or Dr. Mario 64's cutscenes, but this game actually released several years before either of those.

Of course, the story and game instructions are all entirely in Japanese, which makes playing the game a little harder for those who can't read the language. I highly recommend getting a complete copy of the game, because the manual has additional instructions for each game, and mentions English-language names for each cardgame, which is very helpful; ingame it's all Japanese script. The cardgames in the manual are organized in the order you will play them in the story mode, which is also quite helpful. In order, using the names as listed in the manual first followed by names the games are better-known as in parenthesis, the card games here are Shinkeisuijyaku (aka Concentration), Babanuki (aka Old Maid), Shichinarabe (aka Sevens), Speed, Doubt, Page One (a Japanese card game), Daihugo (aka Daifugo or Daihinmin; another Japanese cardgame), Seven Bridge, Poker (video poker, I think it is), Blackjack, Klondike [classic Solitaire; wrongly spelled as "Chrondike" in the manual), Freecell ("Freesell", the manual says), and Dobon (an Uno-ish Japanese cardgame).

So, the games are definitely an interesting mix with a good amount of variety, as far as card games go. Quite a few of the games were unfamiliar to me, but I eventually figured out the rules of each one. The ingame text explaining possible winning hand scores and such in Poker and Blackjack is, for some reason, English, unlike most of the rest of the text, so that's nice. Still, there is a definite language barrier, particularly for the games I wasn't familiar with. The game does have one other issue, other than the language barrier: 64 Trump Collection is single player only. That's an understandable problem, because card games rely on each person not being able to see the others' cards, but it's still unfortunate, this kind of thing is the most fun played against others. Still, this game was a nice surprise. I got it randomly because it was really cheap, and it ended up being pretty good. The visuals are particularly nice, and the gameplay is good. For a card-game collection 64 Trump Collection is better than most, it's not just Solitaire, Poker, and/or Blackjack like most card-game videogames are. Recommended, if you find it for a good price.


Baku Bomberman 2 (J) [Bomberman 64: The Second Attack] - 4 player simultaneous (in battle mode only), saves to cartridge. Baku Bomberman 2, released in the US as Bomberman 64: The Second Attack, is the sequel to 1997's Bomberman 64, which in Japan was known as Baku Bomberman. This is an okay game that disappointed me. But first, why get the import version of a US release? Well, as with Mario Party 3, the import was cheap, while US copies are quite expensive. There is a story in this game that I can't understand, but the gameplay is not too complex, so it's quite playable in Japanese. Baku Bomberman 2 changes things from its relatively popular predecessor. While Bomberman 64 was more of an attempt at a 3d platform/adventure Bomberman game, with large worlds to explore, missions for gold cards which are the games' version of Mario 64 stars, a very unique multiplayer mode with 3d arenas and round explosions instead of the usual Bomberman cross-shaped-lines explosion, and more, it was one of a kind. This game, sadly, is not more of the same. Bomberman 64 does have some flaws -- it's too hard near the end, you don't have a jump button, and teh graphics are mediocre at best, to name a few things -- but it is a good game overall, and I really liked the attempt to make a larger 3d adventure game out of Bomberman. Sadly, Hudson never attempted it again. While there are a couple of 2d Bomberman adventure-styled games, in Bomberman Quest (GBC) and Bomberman Tournament (GBA), Bomberman 64 (1997) is the only such game on any console. I really wish they had made more, but maybe Hudson just couldn't afford it or something. Bomberman 64 was followed up by the 3d platformer Bomberman Hero, which is fun but very different from standard Bomberman.

This game came next, and it's probably less interesting than either of its predecessors, sadly. It's much more linear and just doesn't feel as interesting to play as either Bomberman 64 or Hero. This game mostly just plays as a sequence of rooms. Enter a room, viewed from a side-isometric angle, kill the enemies, figure out the puzzles for how to proceed, and continue. While explosions are still round in single player, the multiplayer sadly ditches them in favor of classic cross-shaped explosions. Along the way you collect a variety of Pokemon-styled creatures that Hudson as putting in Bomberman games at the time; they are also in several GBC/GBA Bomberman games. This game is 3d, but the side view limits things when compared to Bomberman 64, and it's not a full-on platformer like Hero. It's an okay game, but my interest in it fades quickly, apart from a few fun moments here and there; I'd much rather play a more interesting game. Sadly, Bomberman games after this one wouldn't improve things -- the last two 3d-world Bomberman games, Generation and Jetters (for GC/PS2), are even worse than this game. Hudson was great in the '90s, but after two initial interesting efforts couldn't figure out how to improve on their ideas for 3d Bomberman, and it shows. This game retreats on many things from the first game, but isn't classic 2d Bomberman either. It feels generic, as you run around, blow things up, and progress. The multiplayer is similarly okay, but disappointing. Returning from Bomberman 64 are the 3d arenas, but they now have cross-shaped explosions instead of round ones, making hitting people a bit harder. I do like that the 3d arenas are back though, the two Bomberman 64 games are the only two games ever in the series with anything like them; Generation/Jetters ditch them entirely for 2d-style multiplayer. Classic Bomberman multiplayer is pretty good, probably better overall from that in Bomberman 64, but I like having the option to try something different. It's too bad that they abandoned this style in favor of only 2d multiplayer, after this game. Overall though, Bomberman 64: The Second Attack is an average game. It's decent and can be fun at times, but for the price the US version goes for I can't recommend it. Maybe do pick up the import if you see a cheap copy of it though (and modify your system to play Japanese games).


Bomberman 64 [2001] (J) - 4 player simultaneous, saves to cartridge. Bomberman 64, the Japanese game, is the fifth and final Bomberman game on the N64, and, releasing in December 2001, the last N64 game released in Japan. Unlike its predecessors on the platform, this game is entirely 2d, and uses no polygons at all, just sprites. This game is a collection of several 'minigames', I guess it might be best to say. That is, there are several modes, none of them as full-featured as Bomberman games that focus on that mode are. It's a cool collection, but I do find the sparse featuresets within each mode disappointing. The visuals are mostly nice, though; it's solid classic 2d Bomberman and looks good.

The first mode is classic Bomberman, single-player. In this mode, you go through a series of branching levels. Gameplay is classic Bomberman, with a square grid, with posts and then breakable blocks around them that your bombs will destroy. Your goal in each stage is to kill all of the enemies walking around. Many stages do scroll, so they aren't just one screen. The gameplay is great and is plenty of fun. I like the visuals too; Bomberman games changed their art styles regularly, and this is probably one of the better-looking ones. I like the look a lot more than the SNES games, certainly. The music is good happy stuff, too. The problem here is that it's over far too soon. There are only maybe seven to ten stages per game, so the playtime is very short; most classic 2d Bomberman games have at lest 25 levels. The game does have replay value because of the branching paths, though; you can see different stages each time for a while. Still, it's short and easy to finish. When you win, the game gives you your finishing time, and saves the top times in the records section of the menu. Each stage looks different, and the visual variety is nice. Still, I'd have rather seen a longer game, this is really short. It's not hard to finish a run through the mode in half an hour. At least it's quite fun and nice-looking while it lasts, though!

There is also a classic Bomberman multiplayer mode. You've got a variety of stages to play on, but all are similar traditional grids; there are no weird stages like those in Bomberman 64 (US) in this game. Of course it's also four players max, as opposed to the five in the Turbografx games or eight in Saturn Bomberman. Still, it's a great classic Bomberman multiplayer mode.

Next is a stripped-down version of Panic Bomber. Panic Bomber is the Bomberman puzzle game, and it's basically a Tetris knockoff. As in Tetris blocks drop down a well-shaped field, and you have to place them. Making it different are the bomb blocks, which can only be destroyed by lit bombs. This gives the game an element of Puzzle Fighter's crash gems to it. This isn't nearly as great as that game, though. Panic Bomber is a decent puzzle game, but it's not one of my favorites; it's a bit too hard to destroy the bombs, sometimes. Another issue is that this version is very simplistic visually, and has no modes. All you can do is single matches against either an AI opponent or other humans. It does have support for up to four player splitscreen, but the Turbo CD and SNES (both Japan-only releases; why Nintendo brought over the Virtual Boy version in 1995 for a US release but not also the SNES one I have no idea) have five player splitscreen, so that's nothing new, and those games have actual single-player story modes which this does not have. There are no choices for backgrounds either in this version, just one very plain one. SO yeah, Panic Bomber here is okay, but not as good as I was hoping.

Last but probably not least, there is a Bomberman Land-styled minigame collection. Bomberman Land was a series of minigame Bomberman titles that lasted from the late '90s to late '00s, starting on the PS1. None of the early titles in the series released outside of Japan, but we did get some of the later ones on the DS, Wii, and PSP. In this version, you play as Bomberman and wander around an amusement park. Each 'ride' is a minigame. There are maybe ten or fifteen of them here, far fewer than there would be in a dedicated Bomberman Land game, but it is the only Bomberman Land-style game on the N64, so there is that. The main issue here is that some games do have a bit of a language barrier because the instructions are in Japanese, but fortunately none of them are too complex, and I figured them out. Wandering around the little park is also fun, though it'd be better if I knew what the people are saying of course (language barrier...). This is the only mode with much of any Japanese text, but it does have a good amount of it. Still, I like having this. It's a fun little minigame collection. The full Bomberman Land games are better, but they don't come with as many other modes as this game; they're usually just that and usually also classic Bomberman multiplayer and that's it.

Overall, Bomberman 64 (2001, Japan) is a good game, but I was hoping for more. This game has a reputation for being 'the 2d N64 Bomberman game', and it is that, but it's also a collection of games, none of which are as full-featured as similar games on other platforms. It is nice that it compiles all of them together, and on a platform that doesn't have other versions of any of the games present here, though. The visuals are also nice, or at least they are everywhere other than the somewhat plain-looking Panic Bomber, and the music is good. It's worth getting for series fans or if you find it affordably.


Custom Robo V2 (J) - 4 player, but only 2 player simultaneous (2 v 2 with only 1 active at any one time) in multiplayer mode, saves to cartridge. This game is the second in a great series of 3d robot fighting game action-RPGs. The series kind of feels like a much better version of Virtual-On, with RPG elements. It's set in a future world where people solve many conflicts with matches fought in little arenas by tiny robots they control. I covered the first game previously, but now also have the sequel. Custom Robo V2 is the second Custom Robo game, and the last one on the N64. As with the first game, it did not see a Western release because Nintendo of America was stupid and didn't think that these great games would sell. We DEFINITELY should have seen at least one of them! We did eventually get the GC and DS games, but the first three should have had US releases as well, to help fill in some of those N64 software droughts. Gameplay-wise, Custom Robo V2 is very, very similar to the first game. Gameplay is just as great as before, and again running around in the arenas fighting feels fantastic. The graphics have been slightly improved, but the framerate is just as high, which is very important for a game like this. It's absolutely key to the greatness of Custom Robo that even the N64 games run fast and smooth! The new arenas aren't too different fro the old ones, though. Each game has new arenas to fight in, but all are fairly similar in being small-ish squares with various walls and such in them. The combat system is, as always, centered around three weapon types, a gun type you shoot, a bomb type you launch at an angle, and a slower rocket or mine type. You can also do damage with your running charge move. The game controls great, and there are a lot of different weapons to try out. Of course the names are all in Japanese, but it's fun enough to try the various ones regardless of language.

However, apart from the new story, which you won't understand anyway unless you speak Japanese, four player 2v2 tag-team multiplayer mode, and additional robot parts and arenas to fight in, it's basically the same thing as the first game. The controls are the same (good, but the same), the types of weapons are the same, and the story is similar though new. The limitations on the 4 player mode are particularly disappointing. One of the most fun things in Custom Robo for Gamecube are the four-player matches, and I'd have loved to see them on the N64 as well! Maybe the hardware just can't handle it, but still it'd have been great to see, four robots going around at the same time makes things more exciting than just two. Otherwise, this feels almost like an expansion pak, it really is more of the same. In the story mode, as with all five Custom Robo games, you play as a generic anime guy, they never let you play as a different kind of character. This is a different guy from the one in the first game, so it is a new story. As with the first game, your boy hero starts out just learning about Custom Robo, but eventually will go on to do greater things with his tiny little fighting robot. You are the hero after all! As far as a language barrier here goes, Custom Robo games are sort of RPGs so I don't understand the story, but the games have simple and linear structures, so regardless of language you can't get lost or confused for too long, you'll figure out where to go quickly. Again the game starts out in school, as with the first game; in this series, the GC title is the only one to break away from the school-centric story concept so common to anime. Overall, Custom Robo V2 is a great game, but it's so similar to the first game that I don't know if having both of them is really necessary. Definitely get at lest one, though! And both, if you love this kind of game.


Doraemon 2: Nobita to Hikari no Shinden (J) - 1 player, saves to cartridge. This game is a sequel to the first N64 Doraemon game. Of course, as in all Doraemon games, you play as Doraemon the robot cat, the popular childrens' manga and anime character. Doraemon 2 is a more ambitious game than the first one, which I covered previously, but for the non-Japanese speaker it probably isn't a better game. While the first N64 Doraemon game is a fairly basic 3d platformer with some adventure elements in the overworld, this time the game is a 3d platform/adventure game. The game has a sizable world to explore, better graphics than the first game, people to talk to and (overlong) cutscenes, and plenty of puzzles of both the inventory and jumping varieties. The camera is pulled overhead so the view distance is limited, but you can go to first person by hitting R, though you can't move in first-person mode. When you go to first person you see that there is no fog, you can see to the horizon. That's nice, but the environments are average at best for the N64, and probably aren't even that. The game looks okay, nothing more. Doraemon 2 has good controls and multiple playable characters, as you will sometimes play as the children instead of Doraemon. One important thing to know about Doraemon 2 is that it isn't an action game; you do explore a world, but there are no enemies wandering around it. The few enemies I've seen are ones you "fight" with inventory puzzles, not action combat. In the game you mostly wander around, find items and try to figure out where to use them, talk to people, and jump around. You often need specific items to progress. The game does have a day-night cycle, and you gradually lose health at night because the children are scared, so you'll need to find your way to a savepoint and rest when night comes. That's a nice, touch, is one of the few ways I've found so far to actually run out of health in this game. A combat element, like most other Doraemon games have, might have been good, but it does work as an adventure/platform game. Maybe there's something later? As far as I am though there isn't any combat command, you don't shoot by hitting a button or something. So maybe not.

Because of the more ambitious design Doraemon 2 is probably a better game than its predecessor, but it also has a much higher language barrier; figuring out what to do in this game is tough right from the beginning! The far too long cutscenes are even more boring when you can't read the text, either. Some bits are voiced, but there are a lot of text boxes. The game uses no kanji though, appropriate for the young audience the game is for. But for non-Japanese speakers, there is very little on the internet to help you figure out how to play the game -- there are a couple of videos of the beginning of the game, but that's all I found, and it's not helpful for long. This is a problem in a puzzle-heavy game like this one, figuring out what to do is frustrating. I haven't gotten all this far in this game, it's hard to keep playing when I have no idea what to do. One tricky bit early on involved having to find some items, one of which was hidden on a buildings' roof, somewhere I didn't think to look. People who can read Japanese will get more out of this game for sure, but I was a bit disappointed that it wasn't more of a 3d platformer. There is platforming in this game, but exploring the world gets boring when I'm just walking around in circles because I don't know what my objective is. Just trying to interact with everything and using every item everywhere gets old after a while. And while the game looks decent, and they improved things over the fairly basic-looking first N64 Doraemon game, this isn't a great-looking game for sure; the N64 can do much better than you see here. Still, Doraemon 2 is at average overall, anyway. I probably wouldn't recommend it to people unless they really like the series or can read Japanese, though. There is also a third game, which is supposed to be somewhat similar in design to this one.


F1 Pole Position 64 - 1 player, saves to controller pak (70 pages required). F1 Pole Position 64 is a poorly-regarded racing game developed by Human Entertainment and improved for Western release by Ubisoft. This is a simple and arcadey F1 game, without the depth, complexity, challenge, or quality of an F1 World Grand Prix or Monaco Grand Prix. It is also the one and only racing game on the Nintendo 64 that does not have a multiplayer mode. On any other console single-player-only racing games are quite common, but not this one, so its absence here really stands out. Still, the game is better than I was expecting for something that seems to score between 4 and 6 out of 10. This definitely isn't a good game, but there is some amusement to be found here if you like simple and straightforward racing games instead of sims. F1 Pole Position 64 has been improved over the original Japanese version, Human Grand Prix. According to IGN's review, Ubisoft added the official F1 license, all 16 tracks from the F1 season in '97, 22 real F1 drivers to race as with their real car designs, and all the branding and advertising from the real thing. They also improved the draw distance, apparently. However, the graphics are still bland and mediocre, and there is still some popup. This game has a fairly low polygon count, with very simple environments that lack detail. The textures, particularly of the omnipresent ad banners, are fairly good, though, they look quite clear. They're all for real companies, and presumably came along with the F1 license. 16 cars are in each race, and the game can put at least most of them on screen at once, which is good. The framerate is also solid and doesn't drop, though with graphics this simple I'd hope it would be. Audio, however, is poor -- the music is weak, and car engine noise annoying and whiney.

Gameplay-wise, F1 Pole Position 64 is easy to learn. Just turn at the corners and brake when near a sharper turn, that's about it. The game defaults to Easy AI difficulty, no car damage, and automatic transmission, so simplicity is the goal. You can turn up those settings if you want. There are also car settings to modify, so there is a bit of sim here. It's nothing too complex, but the settings affect how your car handles, so they do matter. You can also pit in during races, to replace tires and fill up on gas. The game doesn't have much in the way of good physics, things just bounce off eachother in a basic fashion. I found this game much easier than most other 3d F1 games; I finished 5th in my first race, and in races after that, except for one race where I managed to take too much damage with damage turned on (there isn't a good indicator I could see that I was in danger, annoyingly), I finished well in every race, on Easy, without needing any great skill. It's fun to be able to just play the game and do okay, and I'm sure turning up the difficulty would make the game harder, though people who want that probably should just play F1 World Grand Prix. The problem is though, this is still an F1 game, so races in the season mode are 10 laps long, and you need to do qualifying before that if you want to start anywhere other than last. That's all a bit boring. There is no music ingame either, as usual in F1 games, and the bland gameplay isn't exciting. It's not too hard, but it's not too fun either, doesn't look great, controls only okay and not beyond that, and sounds kind of bad. Combine that with the absence of multiplayer, and F1 Pole Position 64 isn't very good. All you can do here is play a season, single race, or time-trial, all as one of the 22 real drivers, there is no custom racer option, on the games' 16 real-world tracks. The problem with this game is that those wanting a good F1 sim won't play this because it's a simpler, arcadey game, while those who want arcade-style racing games will play more fun games like F-Zero X, Excitebike 64, Rush, or what have you. This is in a boring middle ground along with stuff like Automobili Lamborghini, but maybe worse than that game. If you want a fun, arcadey open-world racing game on the N64, I recommend getting Indy Racing 2000; it's good. Probably skip this game unless it sounds like fun to you. Still, it IS not quite as bad as I thought it would be, so there is that.


Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko - 1 player, saves to controller pak (1 block per file). Gex 3 is the third and last console Gex game, one of the many platformer series with a Sonic-style "cool" animal mascot. Gex's character may be Sonic-inspired, though, but the gameplay is different. The basic concept of Gex is that he's a TV-watching-obsessed gecko. So, each world in each Gex game is inspired by some type of TV show. The first game is a quality 2d platformer, but the sequels are 3d platformers. I covered Gex 2 in my PS1 Game Opinion Summaries list, but to recap, both games have very similar designs. The games have Mario 64-style hubs, with themed worlds branching out from there. Each world is themed after a type of movie or TV show, of course. This time, the first world is a snow level. Fortunately, the game is okay. Gex 3 is a nice improvement over Gex 2, which I didn't like very much. It is a similar game, but the graphics, gameplay, level designs, and objectives are all better. Gex 3 is only a bit above average, but Gex 2 doesn't reach average quality, so the improvement is welcome. The first level in this game is a lot more fun to play and explore than any level I saw in Gex 2. You've got a bunch of stuff to find, missions to attempt, and more, as in most 3d platformers of the era. Unfortunately, the controls hold the game back a bit. Even though you use the analog stick, you don't really have true analog control here -- instead, you can only move in eight or so directions. Apparently they did not fix the movement to account for having an analog stick on the N64, which is a problem in a genre all about moving around in 3d. Still, Gex 3 for N64 is a much better port than Gex 64, the N64 port of Enter the Gecko, was, by all accounts; I haven't played Gex 64, but it's supposed to be not very good, with a short draw distance, poor graphics, and more. The draw distance in this game is a lot better, and the graphics are improved all around. Graphically this game is no match for the better N64 3d platformers, but at least it looks decent, and even nice at times. The gameplay is about on that level as well. Overall Gex 3 isn't great, but it is a decent, slightly above-average game. After Gex 2 I was expecting worse. Also on PS1; this is a port of the PS1 original.


Goemon Mononoke Sugoroku (J) - 4 player alternating, saves to cartridge, Transfer Pak compatible (links to the GBC version of the game). Ganbare Goemon: Mononoke Sugoroku is a Goemon-themed board game with RPG elements which Konami released only in Japan in late 1999. There is also a Game Boy Color version of the game, though I haven't played it. I love the Goemon series, so I decided to finally get the last of the three N64 games, even if it is just a boardgame. The game has fantastic boxart with clay-style art of the characters and some of the monsters in the game. It's really nice. After playing the game though, it's not too hard to see why we didn't get this game; the game is decent, but it's just a boardgame, not a more full console experience. Digital boardgames like this often seemed to be more popular in Japan than the West. Fortunately, even though the game is entirely in Japanese, it's fairly easy to understand with a little bit of practice. The "Mononoke" in the title refers to monsters, and this game is all about fighting monsters, here seen in the form of the cards in a boardgame-RPG. There are still a few things I don't get, but most of the gameplay makes sense. First you choose a board, which there are only a couple of, and a character. All four of the standard Goemon characters are playable, and some others are unlockable. This game introduced a new costume for Yae; she now has a short kimono, instead of pants. I think I like the original costume more, but this is fine. The other three characters, Goemon, Ebisumaru, and Sasuke, look the same as ever. All characters are 2d sprites in this game, not polygon models like the previous two N64 Goemon games. They're fairly well done, and the game is well-polished visually for what is here, but the budget here clearly is a lot lower than its predecessors. The music is still fantastic as usual in the series, though. I love the Goemon series' classic-Japanese-style music. Still, I really wish Konami had made a third full-scale N64 Goemon game, instead of the not-great overly-serious 3d action-adventure game on the PS2 in 2000 and then those two mediocre PS1 2.5d platformers they tossed out in 2001... too bad. This is a good game, but some more variety and choice would have been nice. Each board has a circular path on it, so there are no branches, choices about where you go, or anything -- you just travel around in a circle endlessly until someone wins. That's a bit disappointing, some more interesting board maps would have been great.

Your goal in each game is to defeat your opponent or opponents. As in an RPG, each character has a health meter, and you lose health when you lose battles. To protect yourself, you can summon monsters and place them on spaces. Monsters take the form of cards, so when you land on a space you can only play the monster cards you actually have. There are also other kinds of cards, for direct attacks, healing, and such. You can equip cards on monsters, or use them on yourself. Cards with the sword icon can be equipped before a fight for a stat boost, while other cards can be used during a fight. Each turn you'll get some new cards. Battles are simple, you or a monster you summon fight against the opponent and/or their monster. Each monster has an attack, defense, and health rating, and the attacker goes first. Damage is attack minus defense, and the defender attacks back if they survived. The battle system is super simplistic, but at least it's not just Rock-Paper-Scissors such as Dokapon Kingdom for Wii, I don't like that game much because of how random the battle system is. If a monster is killed extra damage is applied to that monsters' player character, so you want to avoid losing monsters if you can. You want to avoid landing on enemy monster spaces, while hoping that the opponent(s) land on your monsters. Of course, a lot of this is random since die-rolls determine movement. I like the monster card art, some of it's pretty nice. In addition to card boosts, you can also move monsters around from one space to spaces nearby. You can even move them onto enemy monster spaces and attack them, which can be helpful. The more skill-based RPG side to the game makes this game different from something like Monopoly where once you've built hotels and such on a space they're stuck there forever; in this game you can move your "buildings" (monsters) around. Some spaces also have special functions such as healing you or your monsters, and you get money for each time you make a circuit around the board. For the most part though it's not too complex of a game, centering around choosing good places for your monsters to be, powering them up, and hoping that luck is on your side. Overall it's a good game, but winning requires a lot of luck; I do prefer more skill-based games. More boards, and more complex board layouts, would also have been very nice. Still, Goemon Mononoke Sugoroku is a fun thing to have and play once in a while, and is well worth it for series or digital boardgame-RPG fans. That box looks great, too. Also available on Game Boy Color; I'm not sure how similar that version is.


Jikkyo Powerful Pro Baseball 5 (J) - 2 player simultaneous, saves to cartridge. Powerful Pro Baseball, or Pawapuro, was for a long time one of Konami's more popular franchises in Japan. This series of super-deformed baseball games were well known for having challenging and deep gameplay beneath their cute graphical exterior, and this one is no exception. I haven't played this game as much as maybe I should for this, but it's not my favorite kind of baseball game. The game is an interesting hybrid of classic and modern baseball game design. On the one hand the game has a top-down, somewhat zoomed-in field view like that of most 3rd or 4th-gen baseball games, but on the other hand it has a fairly modern pitching/batting cursor interface. This is the second of five N64 Pawapuro games; only two games in the series have a US release, both MLB-themed games on the PS2/Wii. The game has all 12 teams and stadiums, and all the real players, from the Japan League circa 1998. There are a lot of features, modes, and options, and it's all in Japanese so for the non-speaker just figuring out how to do anything beyond a basic single match is a bit overwhelming. There are single matches (1p vs. cpu, 1p vs. 2p, or cpu vs. cpu), an options menu just for single matches; a character-raising mode where you train up a young player, adventure game-style (I haven't played this much because of the language barrier, but it's a series staple and is interesting); season mode; the ability to save a game in progress; and more. I'm not sure what all of the main menu options do, they're all in Japanese and there is no English-language help out there for these games. The game has okay to good graphics, each field does look different and the players are big-headed and cute. Arenas are 3d, with sprite-based characters. The sound design is even better. There is a quite excitable announcer, and lots of crowd noise and chanting too. I like the sound design here, it adds to the game.

The gameplay is tough as well -- you'll lose, badly, for a while until you figure out how to play decently. That is common in baseball games, though, because pitching and batting are very hard things to do, the hardest things people commonly do in sports. Pitching and batting just use A and the stick/pad. Presuming that you turn on analog control, which is recommended (seriously, why is d-pad only even an option?), for batting you move a batting cursor around with the stick. The pitcher has no indicator, but instead the ball goes where you are pointing the stick. For some reason, maybe it's an option I don't know about or maybe it's to be realistic, but left and right are reversed, so to throw to the right side of the plate you have to hold the stick left. Admittedly when pitching you do throw from the left to go right, and vice versa, but still, it's weird and not great. I do like the idea of holding the stick in the place you want the ball to go and then just hitting a button to pitch, though, it works well. My problem with pitching so far is that if there are any alternate pitches I can't figure out how to throw them, so it's always just one pitch type, which is annoying -- how do I throw offspeed, curveballs, sliders, etc., instead of just straight pitches? Once the ball has been thrown, an indicator appears showing approximately where it's headed, and the batter has a split second to move the cursor there and swing. As with pitching, there's just one button, no choice of normal or harder swing as some baseball games have. Getting your timing right is hard, as it should be. Overall the pitching/batting interface is alright, but could use some more features, unless I'm missing something under the big language barrier.

For fielding, though, I don't like it as much. I've never liked this style of top-down field view, and this game is no exception. I much prefer actually being able to see the field, so that I don't have to guess where to move my fielder. They do have an indicator pointing towards who you are controlling off screen, but it's not nearly as good as actually seeing the player. I know I say this every time about baseball games, but give me the Hardball series' perspective every time, over this stuff! And with 3d graphics, I know you could do something better than this basic overhead view. I'm sure some people would like the game because of this, but I feel the opposite, it makes the game harder and less fun. Honestly, I don't think I'll be playing this game enough to get good; the overhead perspective isn't great, and unless I'm missing something I really miss having alternate pitch types, compared to other baseball games. Batting works well, pitching is okay, the graphics are okay and sound is good, and there are a lot of modes and options, but I'd rather play something with more pitching options and better fielding. English-language menus would be a plus too, of course, for a game loaded with menus like this one is. For me, Pawapuro 5 is okay but not great.


Jinsei Game 64 (J) [The Game of Life 64] - 4 player alternating, saves to cartridge. Made by Takara, Jinsei Game 64 is one of two Japanese Nintendo 64 versions of the boardgame The Game of Life. For some reason, The Game of Life is a very, very popular boardgame in Japan. I'm not sure why; I do remember playing the game as a kid, but never thought it was THAT great, and haven't played the board game in quite some time. I don't think we own it anymore. I got this N64 version despite that because, well, I am trying to eventually get all non-sports N64 games, so I had to get it sometime. Honestly though, this might not have been worth getting; even though they do add some features to try to make this more than just a digital boardgame, it's boring and not much fun. In addition to the board game there are also eight minigames here, but they're mostly kind of bad. There is also a significant language barrier that is a real issue due to the choices you have to make during the game. The game would be a bit better if I could read the text, but at times it's tough to play in Japanese, if you care about what choices you make during the game.

There are a good number of modes available in Jinsei Game 64. You can play a normal game, play a game on a variety of different alternate boards, modify the order of things on a custom board, create a custom character to play the game with with a good number of options for hair, clothes, and such, and play the minigames outside of the main game. You can play with any mix of up to four human or AI characters, and the AI is reasobly challenging. By default, in the main mode you play a minigame each time characters land on the same space. All eight are for four players. You play them fairly often in the game, though, they aren't very good, and there are only eight of them, so this isn't as great an option as it sounds. While on the board the graphics are 3d, and each different board looks nicely different. The graphics aren't great, but at least they put some effort in to the game. The minigames are just basic 2d stuff, though, and don't look as good. Some require skill, but too many are just pure luck; really, if you're going to add minigames to your digital boardgame, don't make them just pure chance! There are also anime-esque 2d scenes for the life decisions, choices where you try to romance someone of the opposite sex, build your career, and such. I like the art style, it's stylized and kind of cute-looking.

In the main game, minigames aside, as in the boardgame on each turn you move via a spinner. Once you land on a space a menu opens and you have five options, all in Japanese. The top is to move, others are for various stats and such. Depending on where you land, you may play a minigame, make some of those life choice, or just end your turn. Your choices will change your character's stats, which affect how successful you will be, so as I said the language barrier is a real problem. The other main problem here is that I find The Game of Life kind of boring in any form; Jinsei Game 64 is okay, but I haven't finished a game of this yet not only because of the language barrier, but also because the game gets tedious fast. The mostly-bad minigames are also a disappointment. It might be better in multiplayer, but... just play the boardgame, or some better game. I do like the boxart, though, it's nice and represents the games' art style well.


Let's Smash (J) [also released in Europe as Centre Court Tennis, but I have the Japanese version because of how hard it is to play European N64 games on a US system] - 4 player simultaneous, saves to controller pak (7 pages per character file). Let's Smash is a tennis game from Hudson. This is an okay but flawed game thanks to difficult controls. Let's Smash has a lot of features and okay to good graphics, but the timing for hitting the ball is quite tight. Otherwise the controls are fine, and you have the usual options -- regular hit or lob, on separate buttons -- but that ball timing is a problem. It took a while before I managed to win a match because of how hard it is to get used to hitting back the ball. It's particularly bad when you use the default single-screen view and are on the upper half of the screen. The very tight timing reminds me of Namco's World Court Tennis for the Turbografx. Indeed, it would be very much like that interesting but frustrating nearly-impossible-once-you-leave-the-bottom-half-of-the-screen game if not for one major addition, different camera angles (on the C buttons). The game got a lot more playable once I figured out how to switch to the third-person-behind-the-character camera, which gives you a close-in view behind your character sort of like that in Mario Tennis for the Virtual Boy. It's much, much easier to hit the ball from there than the default classic-style overhead camera. Of course, though, if you want to play the game in multiplayer you'll have to get used to that camera... or just play Mario's Tennis for the N64, that might be the better option. That game doesn't have this issue, hitting the ball is easy in that game. If you do play it multiplayer, be prepared for it to take more than a few matches before everyone manages to figure out the correct timing for hitting the ball. The AI is quite tough as well, and can be hard to defeat. Visually Let's Smash looks okay, but, like most Hudson N64 games, it doesn't look great. Hudson never managed to master N64 graphics like Nintendo, Rare, Acclaim, or such did. This game shows improvement over early Hudson N64 games like Bomberman 64, but still looks only average. The characters look fine and the arenas decent, and the framerate is thankfully good, but nothing looks great for the system, the N64 can do better, an does in games like Mario's Tennis.

For options, Let's Smash has quite a few. First, you can play Tournaments. There are four options here, based on the four major championships in pro tennis, the British, French, American, and Australian Opens. This game doesn't have any official licenses, so don't expect any real players, but there are 16 players to choose from, half male and half female, and the ball bounces differently on clay, hard, or grass courts. There is a different arena for each open, and you try to go through a single-elimination tournament to make it to the top. You can choose in the options how many games each match should last. Next, you can do a single match on any court. Next, you can create your own tennis pro, a very cool option. You can choose gender and clothing, and unlike many games (but like in the PSP Hot Shots Tennis game) it isn't gender-resticted, so you can have male characters wear 'female' tennis outfits. Nice option. You can also choose the hairstyle and color, face, skin color, clothing, and stats (made difficult by the language barrier, all stat names are in Japanese; I just guessed and chose middle settings. I sure wish it was easier to play European N64 games on US systems!). You start with only one set of tennis clothes that you choose, but character creation mode isn't just about creating characters you can play as in tournaments, though you can do that. No, you can also train in some minigames, or play matches against AI opponents. The minigames aren't as elaborate as those in Sega's great Virtua Tennis, but they are challenging and can be fun. There is one where you try to target specific points on the ground, one where you try to bounce the ball off some targets as many times as you can, and two more. Each has different difficulty levels.

The main draw for this mode, though, is playing as your custom characters against AI opponents. In these single matches, you can play on a variety of real or fantasy courts in matches where you get a clothing piece from the winner if you win, or lose one if you lose. So yeah, it's like gambling, except that you can just turn off the game if you're losing and don't need to lose anything, if you have remembered to save recently of course. It's nice to see your clothing options grow as you win matches, though actually winning is, of course, difficult. The courses, outside of the four stadiums for the major opens, include a grassy field, a lava pit, an ice level (with penguins who get in your way as obstacles, and you can hit them to the other side of the court with your racket to make them bother the other person), an urban court, a somewhat wild west-themed desert, and more. I find the ones with obstacles the most interesting; there's nothing like that in the main tournaments! There is also a different announcer for each arena, or, for some reason, no announcer in the ice arena. Overall, Let's Smash is a decent to good game. It gave me a very poor first impression thanks to the games' overly-difficult controls, but after some practice I started liking the game more. Still, compared to Virtua Tennis on Dreamcast or Mario Tennis for N64, this game isn't nearly as good thanks to the difficult controls and only average graphics. Hot Shots Tennis for PSP also probably does the custom character thing better, as it has a full 'RPG-styled' mode. This game has character-building, but it's not a full RPG as you don't explore a world, talk to people, and the like, you just choose options from menus and play matches. Still, despite its flaws, Let's Smash was definitely worth getting. It's okay.


Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness - 4 player simultaneous (in battle mode), saves to controller pak (8 blocks). Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness is one of Namco's only games for the N64. This game and Namco Museum are the only games Namco itself made for the N64; Ridge Racer 64 was a first-party Nintendo title, by NST. 5th-gen Namco were, sadly, huge Sony supporters, but at least we on the N64 did get this quality title. After the success of Pac-Man World for the Playstation, Namco decided to make a Ms. Pac-Man game. This isn't a full 3d platformer like that game is, though; instead, it's more of a classic-styled, overhead-view action/puzzle title. This game is a polygonal 3d game, but almost feels "2.5" in that you mostly just move around on a flat grid. You can travel between upper and lower areas and the like, but it all plays from a pulled-back viewpoint. This gives it a much more traditional feel than the side-view isometric 3d platforming of Pac-Man world, though it's also a lot more approachable than the frustrating isometric platforming that game is loaded with. Between the two, I probably do have more fun with this one, but both are worth a try. I wish the N^4 had gotten a version of Pac-Man World as well, too bad.

The story here is forgettable; you, as Ms. Pac-Man, have to travel through time, thanks to a machine made by Professor Pac, to rescue the princess or something stupid like that. The time-travel mechanic allows each level to have a different theme, so you go through ancient Egypt first and progress from there. Your goal is always to just reach the end of the stage, but enemies, puzzles, and many dots to collect lie along the way. Levels are linear mazes, so you progress through a level, instead of just running around one big maze as in the original Pac-Man games. Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness is definitely on the easy side, but it's fun despite that. The puzzle elements add something to the game, as you do sometimes have to figure out how to get to some dots, by pushing blocks, using jump-cannon things which toss you to another point in the level, and more. Enemies are also a threat, unless you kill them with a Power Pellet. Figuring out how to progress usually isn't too hard, but the game does get more challenging as you go along, and the adventure is plenty of fun. You can also unlock harder time-trial versions of the levels after you beat them, and can play the original Ms. Pac-Man arcade game as well. There are also three multiplayer modes, though I haven't played them yet. This is a fun little game; I wish it was harder, but otherwise it's good classic gaming fun. This is a multiplatform game also available on PS1 and Dreamcast. The three versions look very similar, with the expected graphical differences -- the DC version looks the best, N64 in the middle, and PS1 the worst. I also have the DC version and it probably is a bit better than this one, but the N64 version is more than good enough to be worth getting.


Mysterious Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer 2
(J) - 1 player, saves to cartridge. Shiren the Wanderer 2 is one of Chunsoft's many roguelikes that they have released over the past 20-plus years. I'm not a big fan of the genre, but got this one anyway because it's interesting and is on the N64. I'm having issues with this game (how do you save???), but that's probably just me; anyone who can read Japanese certainly won't have a problem. Once the first Shiren for SNES was a success Chunsoft obviously knew they'd hit on a popular formula, and the company continues to make fairly similar games to this day. As with most of their earlier roguelikes, Shiren 2 is a Japan-only release. The game has good graphics, good gameplay, and lots to do. It's a great title, and I'm really not sure why it isn't better-known outside of Japan. There are very few mentions of this game and isn't even one single FAQ out there in English for this game, which is a real shame! One is badly needed. Just some basic thing explaining how the menus work would be fantastic, and something for item names would be even better, either in FAQ or translation-patch form. But if you stick with the game despite the language barrier, it's great classic Chunsoft Mysterious Dungeon roguelike fun. As usual you play as Shiren, the mysterious wanderer of the title. He is an adventurer in a fantasy version of traditional Japan, and is trying to help out a town beset by monsters.

As always in Mysterious Dungeon games, Shiren 2 plays from an overhead perspective, and when in dungeons the game is turn-based and you move on a grid. The game has sprite-based characters in 3d environments, and the look works well.
Visually Shiren 2 looks pretty good. The art style is somewhat rounded and cute, and I like the look of the sprites. The polygonal environments look good to great as well, this game has good art design. This is a good-looking N64 game. The music is similarly good and fits the traditional Japanese theme quite well. Combat works just like most any other Mysterious Dungeon game. When you move or attack so do the enemies, but they can't move otherwise. You can move one space at a time with the d-pad, or use fast movement with the analog stick or by holding B or Z. The fast movement is very useful. On each floor of the dungeons in the game your goal is to find the exit while collecting as much stuff as you can (while dealing with your tight inventory limit, you can only hold about 20 items), but the enemies will make that difficult to say the least; it may be easier than its SNES predecessor, but this is a hard game, probably harder than the third game, for Wii, is; Shiren 2 doesn't have any more forgiving modes. While you stay alive it can be fun enough, but then you die an lose all your equipped items and level, as is common in this genre; you only keep things if you beat the dungeon and put them in storage. Ouch! Honestly I've never liked this kind of harsh design, I prefer having a game where you don't have to continually redo things you have done before just because you died farther in to the game. Yes, I've mostly skipped over the wave of roguelikes the game industry has made in recent years. Add on top of that that probably because of the language barrier I still can't figure out how to actually save a game, and yeah, this game is a bit hard to play. Another key game design element makes that worse -- your main task in this game is to build a castle so that the locals in the town you're in can protect themselves from the hordes of monsters. That's cool, it's nice to have a task beyond just killing stuff and gaining levels, but you need to collect certain items for the castle, and better items will hold up better against monster attacks that apparently happen later in the game. This whole system is obviously somewhat impenetrable if you don't know the language. So, overall, Shiren the Wanderer 2 is a good-looking game which is fun to play, but the language barrier is significant and a real issue.

To be clear, If I could actually save my progress in this game, I'd say that it's a pretty good game for its genre. It definitely seems fun, and isn't as hard as the first game for SNES. So please someone, tell me what I'm doing wrong... the only menu options that quit seem to either (for one option) quit without saving, or (for the other) restart the game from the beginning. I don't see anyone to talk to to save, either. So yeah, what's going on here? I want to be able to play this game, and "play it all in one sitting" is not a good answer.


Nuclear Strike 64 - 1 player, saves to controller pak, Expansion Pak supported (for higher resolution graphics). Nuclear Strike 64 is the N64 version of the fifth and sort-of-final Strike game from EA. While the previous game, Soviet Strike, didn't release on Nintendo platforms, this one returned the series to Nintendo. There's sort of a sixth, but only if you count Future Cop LAPD as a Strike game -- it started out as one, but changed to an original title during development. I'd call it a new game, so this is the last game in EA's topdown-style flight combat sim series which was quite popular particularly on the Genesis and SNES. I have never have been a fan of this series, but I got Soviet Strike, the 4th game, for Saturn a few years ago and was surprised to find it kind of fun for a while, the series' usual too-high difficulty level aside. So, I thought that maybe I'd like this one too... but I don't know. It's still a Strike game, and as with all the Strike games, it's too slow and boring to be a good action flight game, but too action-oriented to be a good sim. But also, on the N64, the live-action-video cutscenes of the original PC/PS1 game are gone. Without the super-cheesy live-action-video FMV the game loses something. Gameplay-wise, the main changes in Nuclear Strike compared to its predecessor are that you now have a variety of tanks and a hovercraft you will control at times during the game, the graphics are better, and there's an improved on-screen compass/map telling you where you need to head. That arrow is helpful, it does indeed reduce time spent on the map as the back of the box claims, but the full-screen map is still essential. And visually, the N64 version certainly looks better than the PS1 version thanks to 3d that doesn't fall apart whenever anything moves. The textures are a bit blurry as usual, but the game looks nice. Still, that cheesy FMV is good stuff. As for the gameplay, the core gameplay is the same as usual for this series. It's still very hard and kind of boring. This game plays a lot like the previous one, but maybe with a closer-in camera. The game still plays on a flat plane, so you cannot move up or down, only around at a set level over the ground. You can shoot bullets and missiles and lower a winch to pick things up. You are not only fighting the many enemies in this game, though. Fuel and ammo are both very limited, and unless you are careful, use your weapons well, and know where the pickups are, you won't finish the mission. There are a nice variety of objectives along the way, but they usually boil down to destroying or protecting things. You also need to be on the lookout for fuel and ammo to pick up, of course. It's okay, but I get frustrated when I lose far into a mission; saving is limited, and I lose interest before getting good enough to beat a mission. Each game generally has only four or so missions, or maps, each made up of a series of objectives scattered around the level. Four is more than enough in games as hard as the Strike games are, and Nuclear Strike is no exception. Even though I did kind of like Soviet Strike, I still have not yet ever beaten a full mission in a Strike game, I believe; I did get most of the way through Future Cop LAPD, but that plays quite differently. Overall Nuclear Strike 64 is a good game that just isn't really for me. Also on PC and PS1; the best version is surely the PC version, but between PS1 and N64, you have to choose between better graphics and probably also controls (N64) or cheesy FMV (PS1).


Off-Road Challenge (actually already had but forgot to cover) - 2 player simultaneous, saves to controller pak. Off-Road Challenge is a point-to-point racing game from Midway. The game is an arcade port of a Midway arcade game, developed by Avalanche Studios. They didn't do a very good job, sadly. The game runs in the Cruis'n USA engine and visually looks sort of like that series. This game is a part of the Off-Road franchise, the third (or fourth if you include the Track Pack as a game) game in a series that began with the all-time classic early '90s arcade game "Ironman" Ivan Stewart's Super Off-Road. I absolutely love the original Super Off-Road and always have, but this game, sadly, isn't nearly as good; of the six point-to-point Midway racers on the N64, this one is the one I have played least. Off-Road Challenge is pretty much just a mediocre spinoff of Cruis'n, with off-road pickup trucks instead of cars, desert-only environments, only six tracks, 3d truck graphics, ugly graphics with a sometimes-poor framerate, and a far higher difficulty level. Returning from previous Off-Road games are turbo boosts and boost powerups to refill your boost. These powerups are small and a lot harder to pick up than they were in the original Super Off-Road, and yet you really need them to be competitive. The skiddy controls don't help here, either. I don't think I've ever actually finished first in a race in this game; it's frustratingly hard right from the start, and then gets harder.

Indeed, one major issue with this game, along with the visuals and sound, is that it is way too hard! The handling is average skiddy stuff, you slide around a lot. So, memorization is key, to learn when to turn on the courses to avoid the many obstacles littering each course and to try to stay on the road. The tracks are curvy and difficult, and I do like the bumpy, obstacle-filled track designs, but I don't like how hard getting the powerups is or the super-difficult AI. Still, moments like dodging a rock knocked over by a falling UFO or learning the correct route to avoid pitfalls in the track are kind of nice. However, perhaps because of the 3d vehicles, there are only eight racers in each race, only four trucks to choose from, and only six tracks in the game. That's a lot less of all three of things than you'll find in any Cruis'n game, and the tracks are no longer than Cruis'n tracks, so there isn't much variety here. Between races, as usual in the series there's also an upgrade system where you can upgrade your truck between races with your winnings. The championship mode saves your truck upgrades, so in order to compete later on you really need to have done well earlier in the game, so don't settle for 4th in that first circuit even though finishing harder is hard. YOu need to finish in 3rd in each race in the second circuit, and do even better than that later on, so mastering the tracks is essential. I haven't done it, sadly. The dune buggy is fastest, so it might be the best of the four vehicles available, but between the AI, the controls, and the rest, the game doesn't feel fairly designed. The AI usually just beats me, even when I do better time-wise... argh. I wouldn't be surprised if the AI cheats.

Visually, the graphics are below average, with some VERY large super-blurry textures, a sometimes-iffy framerate, and distance fade-in. Midway can, and did, do so much better than this! I know the tracks are full of bumps and hills, but still, this game looks worse than the first SF Rush game on N64, but actually released after it. The music is forgettable rock, and fails to loop after finishing the first time, so many races will end in silence. Not good. There are a lot of much, much better, and better-looking, N64 racing games than this. There's not much here to make me want to spend the hours it would take to actually finish this very difficult game. There are few modes, too. You can do a single race, a circuit where you go through all the tracks, and that's it. You won't find modified versions of the tracks here, unlike Cruis'n World or Exotica, and all other Midway N64 point-to-point racers have many more tracks than this game. Overall, Off-Road Challenge is disappointing. This is a downgraded port of an average arcade game, and even I can't entirely defend it, and I find the Cruis'n series fun. The game has no new ideas, some design issues, looks ugly and sounds bad, and I get tired of always losing. Instead of playing this game more and beating it, I'd rather play a better game. Off-Road Challenge is below average. Really, stick to the original classic Super Off-Road. Or for a similar 3d game, the best polygonal 'Off-Road"-style racing game from Midway doesn't actually doesn't have the franchise name on it -- it's 4-Wheel Challenge for the Dreamcast. That's a great game, a bit like this one but better. That game is also very tough, but that's the kind of hard that keeps me coming back! I wish this game was like that too, but it isn't. Arcade port (but N64-exclusive at home).


Puyo Puyo Sun 64 (J) - 2 player simultaneous, saves to cartridge. This game is a puzzle game in the popular and long-running Puyo Puyo series, then made by Compile -- this game is from before Compile shut down and Sega bought the rights to the franchise. Puyo Puyo is a match-four block-dropping puzzle game. The "blocks" here are called...
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