Virtual Pool 64

[youtube id=”_QSHD_GgZXw” width=”633″ height=”356″]

Virtual Pool 64

In terms of content alone, Virtual Pool 64 is a success.

The big issue is whether this huge amount of content and modes is worth wading through today.

If you’re a pool fan it’s probably safe to say that it is though. Despite the game’s slightly dated visuals it plays a fairly solid virtual rendition of the ball potting sport.

The controls are undoubtedly the most important element of the game – without feeling suitably responsive and solid the main meat of the game would be largely worthless.

So it’s good to see they’re not bad. Not perfect by any means, but workable enough.

Virtual Pool 64 - N64

Moving your cue (seemingly held by the invisible man) is done with the analogue stick. Adjusting the cue angle is done with the right C-button, while holding the R trigger helpfully allows you to see things from an overhead perspective.

Hitting the ball is a little odd though. You have to hold A, and then pull back the analogue stick, pushing it forward to strike the ball. The strength of the shot depends on how quickly you move the stick.

It’s unintutive at first, but eventually you get used to it. You can see what the developers were going for at least, attempting to recreate the cue movement with the analogue stick.

You can then start picking through the games many options and modes.

Virtual Pool 64 - N64

There are nine variants of pool to choose from, and you can play in one-off matches, tournaments and more for each.

Four of them are the same thing but with a different number of balls though.

3-ball, 6-ball, 9-ball and 10-ball all see you potting the balls in numerical order, with the person to pot the last one the winner.

I personally have always found this version of pool to be a tad unfair (you can pot all but one ball and still be the loser), but I know many people who swear by it.

For everyone else you have the reliable, trusted 8-ball mode, with the option to play it US or English Pub style.

Virtual Pool 64 - N64

If you don’t how this version of pool works i’m surprised you’ve managed to read this far into this revisit. Suffice to say, it’s the one version of pool you should think of when someone mentions the sport to you.

You choose a colour/ball type (plains or stripes) and you have to pot all your balls and the black before your opponent.

Straight Pool, on the other hand, is pretty much pot any ball on the table that you can up to a certain pre-set total. A little mindless, but fun enough.

Rotation sees you attempting to rack up a score of 61 before your opponent with 120 points available on the table. This is one of the less enjoyable variants.

Bank Pool is even more torturous, only allowing you to pot a ball if you hit the rail during your shot.

Virtual Pool 64 - N64

One Pocket is slightly more interesting, and sees you elect a pocket from the far end of the table which you must then try to hit as many balls into as you can. This one is like a hybrid of Hungry Hippos and pool, but it’s still not quite as good as that sounds.

That’s quite a lot to get your teeth into, and if you’re in the market for a pool game on the N64 (well, you might be) you won’t get much better than Virtual Pool 64.

Conker’s Bad Fur Day

[youtube id=”KYTMebSC-fk” width=”633″ height=”356″]

Conker’s Bad Fur Day

As i’ve said a few times before, buying N64 games back when I was a kid was expensive. Very expensive. With price-tags of up to £60 per title, I could only afford to buy a game once every blue moon.

It just so happens that one game I did end up paying full whack for was Conker’s Bad Fur Day – and I think I ended up getting my money’s worth.

Starting of development life as the sickeningly twee looking and kid-friendly Twelve Tales: Conker 64 – developers Rare made a complete u-turn, deciding to make the game an adult, swear filled romp instead.

It was an inspired move, and the game has a freewheeling charm that’s still refreshing today as a result.

Conker’s Bad Fur Day - N64

Unlike the bloated collectathon that was Banjo Tooie (released around the same time and also developed by Rare), Bad Fur Day is a more linear and focused experience – and has aged better as a result.

I say focused, but the game boasts such an eclectic mix of settings and genres it’s hard to keep up.

Starting off with a bright and colourful farmyard stage, the game then has you climbing a mountain of faeces, and then throws you into a prehistoric world – and that’s just for starters.

The game has a deceptively simple way of tying all these wildly different concepts together though, and that’s through the use of ‘context sensitive’ buttons.

Conker’s Bad Fur Day - N64

Simply put, these are pads which you can stand on, press B, and are given a relevant tool to help you in your current predicament. Whatever that may be.

Teetering on a thin walkway with bats attacking you? Press B on the relevant spot, and your fire off a flamethrower that sees those bats bite the dust within seconds.

Need to attacks a giant boiler’s brass testicles? Press B, and you can whack them with a pair of bricks.

A deviously simple way to inject even more unpredictability into affairs, these buttons are fortunately used reasonably sparingly – otherwise they have made the game’s design feel a little too amateurish.

Conker’s Bad Fur Day - N64

What’s really surprising when looking back at the game is how simple many of the challenges are, and how they sometimes only feel fresh due to how they’re set up.

An arena based combat section is nothing new for example, but riding a velociraptor and making it tear terrified caveman limb from limb is.

The game is also bolstered by some truly stunning bosses, and to list them all here would be to ruin the surprise.

One is much better known than all the others though, and is still as mad, operatic and quotable now as the day the game was released.

In terms of presentation Bad Fur Day is still impressive as well. The graphics may now appear a bit angular and fuzzy by today’s standards, but the full speech used in cutscenes and the quality of the game’s script still stands up.

Conker’s Bad Fur Day - N64

The humour is strictly lowbrow of course, and there are perhaps a few too many film references and parodies – but it’s genuinely amusing stuff for the most part.

The game’s flaws still stand out though, and against modern titles they look even worse than they did back in 2001.

The camera is very poor, and you’ll be wrestling with is by using the C-buttons a lot of the time. In terms of difficulty the game can also be very unforgiving, with the latter parts of the war section in particular being controller-smashingly unfair.

Another element of the game that is bemusing is the lives system. When you lose all your lives you see a game over screen, but once you’ve started up your save file you simply start from the latest checkpoint where you were before. What’s the point?

Conker’s Bad Fur Day - N64

It’s nonsensical design choices like this that can end up making the game feel a little dated, but they’re not enough to stop the game from being worth playing.

Conker’s Bad Fur Day is still a genuinely brilliant experience, and one that can be as frustrating as it is laugh out loud funny.

If you can persist through the occasional low-points the game offers up a mad-cap quest that hasn’t been seen before or since.

It’s just a shame that the game is so damn rare nowadays, mainly due to being released right at the end of the N64’s lifespan.

Gamer Profile: Ashly Burch

[youtube id=”WchqxXHUgW0″ width=”633″ height=”356″]

I really like games that are deceptively complex and that don’t hold your hand at all. One of my favorite modern games is Spelunky, as a point of reference. Harvest Moon is actually incredibly nuanced and difficult (I failed miserably the first time I played it), but — potentially unlike Spelunky — it’s an absolute joy to play no matter how well or poorly you’re doing. It does an awesome job of creating a simplistic but deep world that feels real and is filled with secrets and possibilities that aren’t apparent on the surface. Also, I think competing in festivals and courting a potential wife is empirically fun no matter who you are. ~Ashly Burch

Ashly-Burch_headshot

My favorite classic game: Harvest Moon 64

Boarderlands 2: Tiny Tina

On playing Tiny Tina in Boarderlands 2: As you might imagine, Tiny Tina is an incredibly fun character to play. I got the role because my brother — Anthony Burch — was brought on as the lead writer at Gearbox software and had me participate in a blind audition process. The team ended up picking me (hooray!) and the rest is history. Tina’s a really interesting character to play because, throughout the course of the main game and the DLCs, we’ve uncovered some pretty dark and sad aspects to her personality. Her insanity and energy is born out of trauma. She uses really elaborate coping mechanisms to deal with grief. But none of this detracts from how fun and absurd she is. I’ve got to explore a much broader emotional range than I anticipated with Tina. It’s been a really fun experience.

Ashly Burch Film Reel

Be sure to check out our other celebrity gamer profiles.

Five Video Games To Play In Summer

Summer_Games

When the temperature soars outside, there is only one thing to do – turn on the air-conditioner and grab a video game that will keep you cool and simulate that summer experience.

Wave Race 64 [N64]

Wave_Race_64
Grab your jet-ski and hit the waves. This early N64 title has realistic water effects and an array of differing environments and courses that will keep your heart racing. Play on your own or call a friend over, you will have an absolute ball. Bonsai!

California Games [Lynx]

california-GamesWhen you think of California, you think of sun, surf and lots of obscure sports, right? California Games on the Atari Lynx brings four events which will have you playing till the batteries run out. Connect the Lynx to a power outlet and have some fun in the sun.

Virtua Tennis [Dreamcast]

Virtua Tennis
With all the Grand Slams being in summer, it is perfectly natural to pull out your Dreamcast and start playing Virtua Tennis – the best tennis video game ever, period! Practice makes perfect, and the mini games are equally entertaining as blasting your opponent on clay, grass or even hard courts.

Summer Games II [C64]

Summer Games II
No summer games list can be complete without Epyx’s seminal favourite. From the triple jump to the cycling event, grab seven of your mates, a sturdy joystick and have some fun! Make sure you watch the closing ceremony fireworks – a perfect touch to a perfect game.

Out Run [PC-Engine]

Out Run
Jump in your red Ferarri, crank up the stereo, swing past your girlfriend’s place and hit the road. Feel the wind in your hair as you race down the highway to make it to the next checkpoint. Make sure you enjoy those cool and refreshing tunes along the way.

Well, there you have it. These are just a few video games to keep you cool this summer. Which video games will you play?

Gamer Profile: Jeff Lewis

Jeff Lewis - Vork - The Guild

Name: Jeff Lewis

Known as: Vork

Series: The Guild

Favorite Game: Battle Tanx (Nintendo 64)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXpmE2jx1_0[/youtube]

 Quote: It’s my favorite game because, even though the graphics are quite awful, I love tanks and the multiplayer version is soooo fun with a couple friends especially when you have these weapon pick ups you can get that are randomly spread throughout the map. I wish I could get it on xbox but I still don’t see it available yet.

My Favorite Games: Part 10

And so… we finally reach the end of My Favorite Games. As expected there’s lots of games I’m fond of that I couldn’t find space for, and I’m sure as Red Parsley wears on there will be many more to consider, and even replace some of the games already here. Nearly all these games come from my younger days and I enjoyed them all in their prime and continue to enjoy them now, but since the purpose of this blog it to help me discover older games I haven’t previously played, some new lists will undoubtedly follow. Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my lists as much as I have enjoyed writing them.

Wiz n Liz – MegaDrive (1993)

Wiz n Liz - MegaDrive

Also released on the Amiga, this frantic platformer is not very well known for some reason, despite receiving decent reviews in its day. That never stopped me from playing it to death on my MD though, and I still do! This is also a good example of how games don’t need to be remotely violent to be great fun – aside from a few bosses there’s not a single enemy in the whole game! The object is to rescue all the rabbits that were stolen from the amusingly-named planet of Pum. Collecting rabbits releases letters and fruits which can be used to spell out and then mix magic spells, and they release various other items too. There is a huge variety of magic spells, each of which has a different effect – some give you bonuses, some are mini-games, others are just for fun. With fantastic graphics and music, this fast-paced platformer is a criminally under-played gem (which also offers simultaneous two-player action) and I can’t stop playing it!

Goldeneye 007 – Nintendo 64 (1997)

Goldeneye 007 - Nintendo 64

Yep, sorry, but I had to include it! This was pretty much the first FPS I played properly and what an experience it was! Being a fan of the Bond films didn’t hurt either. In fact, I had just watched the Goldeneye movie before I first played this and, having been used to terrible movie tie-ins generally, wasn’t really expecting much from it. To my amazement, however, not only was it amazingly playable but it also stuck to the plot of the film too. That was unheard of! This fantastic game represents many firsts for me, notably my first use of a sniper-rifle which was awesome, as well as probably the first game I’d played where stealth and cunning yielded more rewards than charging in all-guns-blazing like a bull in a china shop! Goldeneye is probably more famous for its multi-player deathmatches than for its one-player game but it was the latter that kept me playing this, even when I got stuck in the damn jungle level!

Soul Calibur
– Dreamcast (1999)

Soul Calibur - Dreamcast

Being a big Sega fan, not many games made me prouder of being a Dreamcast owner than this one. Stunning graphics (which actually improved on the arcade game) and a equally stunning soundtrack were the icing on the cake of this ground-breaking game from Namco. It had a lot of flashy moves which weren’t too difficult to perform, a great range of characters, and flawless combat physics, but my biggest surprise was discovering the Adventure Mode which saw you travelling around completing various missions to unlock many treats in the game! Many were hoping for a good conversion of this game. What they got was so much better than the arcade original it defied belief! This is still the finest 3D fighting game I’ve ever played.

Operation Wolf – Arcade (1987)

Operation Wolf - Arcade

Out of all my many visits to the arcades of Hayling Island in the late 80’s/early 90’s, this was the game that received most of my money. It was my first experience of a light-gun game, and it was a hell of an intro! An Uzi with grenade-launcher? Yes please! The force-feedback on the gun made things all the more authentic and I just loved playing this over and over, even if I wasn’t very good at it and never managed to complete it. No game of its type ever ensnared me like this did, until Point Blank of all things arrived! Shooting the helicopters and trucks was always particularly satisfying. Of all the home versions, only the Master System version was much cop, but even that didn’t offer the tense atmosphere of this fantastic original.

Sonic 2 – MegaDrive (1992)

Sonic 2 - MegaDrive

Last and not least… as a Sega fan I can’t possibly leave out a Sonic game, and as most will probably agree, the series never surpassed the second MD game. Released after a MAJOR hype campaign, this was one of the rare games that actually lived up to expectations. It took everything that Sonic 1 started and added a whole lot more – bigger, prettier stages and more of them, a new character in Tails, two-player action, those famous tunnel-based bonus rounds, a bigger challenge… Some of the later Sonic games were good but none of them were ever as endlessly entertaining as this one. Going back to play this makes me sad in a way as it marks not only Sonic’s peak, but arguably that of Sega themselves too. Oh well, let us Sega fanboys remember the good times – even Nintendo fanboys must’ve been jealous of this one!

The End…

My Favourite Games: VI

Gran Turismo – PlayStation (1998)

Gran Turismo - PlayStation

There’s been a few landmark driving games over the years but I can’t remember any that had the impact that Gran Turismo had. Much of the adulation it received initially was earned by the near photo-realistic quality of its action replays, although this always confused me – sure they look good, but it’s the game that counts, isn’t it? Luckily, this aspect of the game was also ground-breaking in many ways. Featuring masses of real cars, numerous testing circuit-based courses, extensive car customisation options, and lots and lots of competitions, this was a driving game fan’s dream come true, and is still the series others aspire to. Many prefer one of the various sequels but this original is the one I always return to, mainly because I’ve never been too good at ‘simulation’ driving games but this game lets you keep boosting the power of your car until you’re more powerful than your rivals (the sequels brought in BHP limits for races)! My trusty Honda Prelude destroys all!

Super Metroid – SNES (1994)

Super Metroid - SNES

I can still remember buying this game second-hand in my local game/music store. I had little knowledge of it and, thanks to my prior Sega allegiance, I had never played the earlier Metroid games, but I had heard that it was supposedly something special. I really didn’t know what to expect so, upon playing it for the first time, proceeded with caution. What followed was one of greatest awakenings of my gaming life! I was initially wondering what was going on (no one reads instruction books unless they get stuck!) but was quickly immersed in the atmospheric, haunting world of Brinstar and all the other amazingly designed areas of Super Metroid’s world. Not many games have hooked me like this one did – I spent hours, days, weeks trying to uncover all the secrets and explore every square inch of its fascinating game world. In fact, given my love of this game, it’s nothing short of insane that I have yet to get around to playing the subsequent Metroid games!

Exhumed – Saturn (1997)

Exhumed - Saturn

Due to my lack of interest in modern gaming and PC gaming generally, there’s very few first-person shooters I’ve actually played – something which perhaps needs to be rectified – but this is one of the few exceptions, and a damn fine one it is too. Its set in and around Egypt which gives it the potential for a great story and lots of secret passages and traps, not to mention a fantastic atmosphere! It strikes the perfect balance between puzzles, exploration, and shooting and features a huge game world to play through, with new parts of older levels being continually opened up after the acquisition of new items and abilities. A superbly programmed game by the now sadly defunct Lobotomy Software which did things on the Saturn that supposedly weren’t possible.

Psycho Fox – Master System (1989)

Psycho Fox - Master System

My affection for the Master System has been well documented in these pages and this is one of my very favourite games for it. Sure, in mere screenshots it probably just looks like every other 8/16-bit platformer going – grass, desert, ice stages, formulaic characters, cute graphics, etc, but take the time to play it and you’ll find that it’s a lot more than that. Featuring four playable characters with unique abilities that you can switch between using ‘transformation sticks’, large stages with multiple routes, a perfectly-graded difficulty level, and lots of secrets, there’s plenty here to keep any fan of platformers happy for a good while. It is also home to several features that I hadn’t seen before, but which would later become commonplace in the genre, so for it’s time it was pretty original too. On top of all that, it has springy poles that can fling you halfway across the stage! Great fun and addictive as hell!

Ocarina of Time – Nintendo 64 (1998)

Ocarina of Time - Nintendo 64

To my shame this remains the only Zelda I’ve played properly (yes, I know!) – as much as I have enjoyed the few RPG’s I’ve played, I guess my attention span isn’t up to it! However, this game was one of the few I’ve actually bought full price on the day of release and it was worth every penny. Like Super Metroid, Link’s first 3D adventure draws you into its world completely and hours pass by without you noticing. Featuring lots of large areas and dungeons, many of which reveal new secrets every time you return to them, countless side-quests, dozens of characters to interact with, and a whole host of items and equipment to collect, some new, some old, this is about as immersive as videogames get for me. Now, I must get around to playing A Link To The Past!

 

F-Zero X

F-Zero X - Nintendo 64 Gameplay Screenshot

F-Zero X (1998)
By: Nintendo EAD Genre: Racing Players: 1-4 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Nintendo 64
Also Available For: Nothing
Download For: Wii Virtual Console

Despite being a highly accomplished racing game, the original F-Zero was perhaps most highly regarded for its admittedly impressive technical prowess. When news of a full sequel (F-Zero 2 was more like a ‘data-disk’) on Nintendo’s brand spanking new 64-bit powerhouse emerged, mouths began to salivate at the prospect of what wonders might befall gamers. However, when it finally arrived it wasn’t as instantly mind-blowing as many gamers were expecting. After the bar-raising the original did, a similar advancement was expected here, but the graphical detail was actually notably inferior to most of the other N64 games that had been doing the rounds, nevermind markedly better. This was apparently done on purpose by Nintendo so they could achieve a constant silky-smooth frame-rate of sixty frames per second. Their decision wasn’t met with much enthusiasm at first though. Was it worth the risk?

F-Zero X - Nintendo 64 Gameplay Screenshot

Questionable graphical detail notwithstanding, if there’s one thing that F-Zero X is, it’s bigger. Bigger and better than F-Zero in pretty much every area. The objective remains the same – to win races – but the courses over which this is done really are something else. One of the few criticisms levelled at the SNES game was that the courses were all completely flat. That situation has been rectified here and then some – I’m pretty sure there’s not a single flat course to be found in F-Zero X! They are all suspended high above the surface of their respective planets and their features range from gently twisting roads with slopes and the usual chicanes and hairpins to full-on roller coaster-style courses full of downhill plummets, uphill climbs, huge banked corners, corkscrews, massive ramps, loops, tunnels and everything inbetween!

F-Zero X - Nintendo 64 Gameplay Screenshot

The single player game modes available here include Grand Prix, Practise, Time Trial, and Death Race, and a majority of your time will most likely be spent on the first of these (in single-player, at least). Grand Prix’s are contested by thirty racers, each with their own distinctive ‘machine’, over one of the leagues. There are initially three available – the Jack, Queen, and King Cups, with each of them consisting of six courses. Points are awarded after each race based on your finishing position, from first down to thirteenth, and successfully winning the three initial leagues will open another one, the Joker Cup, which has six more courses. There is also a fifth and final league – The X Cup – but unlocking this takes a bit more work. It’s worth it though as it’s a test for even the most talented of racers as its courses are randomly generated each time you race so there’s no opportunity to learn them first!

F-Zero X - Nintendo 64 Gameplay Screenshot

The Practise and Time Trial modes are self-explanatory, although it’s worth mentioning that the latter lets you race against staff ghosts. This way you can see if you’re better at any given course than the people who actually designed it (and I’m sure a few obsessed individuals have devoted a lot of time to this pursuit)! The Death Race takes place on a basic course and sees the aggression level of each of the thirty racers cranked up a notch! Using your machine’s meagre attack moves (it can charge to the left, right, or perform a spin), the object is to take out as many opponents as you can while they all try to do the same to you (and each other). Another criticism the original game received was its lack of a multi-player mode. This is another area in which F-Zero X bests its forebear thanks to its fantastic Vs Battle mode where between two and four racers can compete at once.

F-Zero X - Nintendo 64 Gameplay Screenshot

One of the first things you’ll notice about F-Zero X is that it’s fast. Very fast. The Dash Plates make a welcome return here, as does the Super-Jet (or ‘Boost Power’ as it’s now called) and, unlike F-Zero where you only got one boost per lap, you can now use them as often as you want after you’ve completed your first lap. Each time you use it drains your machine’s energy though, so keep a plentiful supply of this by visiting the pit areas regularly. It seems that the various pilots have modified their machines since the last game too. They are faster anyway but you also now have the option of changing your engine settings by altering its top speed / acceleration ratio too. This combined with frequent use of the Dash Plates and your Boost Power, especially in conjunction with one another, can see your speed reach quite staggering levels, even hitting four figures on occasion (my current speed record is 1,527kph!).

F-Zero X - Nintendo 64 Gameplay Screenshot

There’s quite a lot to F-Zero X for an arcade-style racer but it would all be for nothing if the widely-criticised graphics kept gamers away. Personally though, I can’t see what all fuss is about! I asked earlier if Nintendo’s decision to sacrifice graphical detail for increased smoothness and speed was worth the risk. Well, in my opinion it was an excellent decision. The backgrounds may well be somewhat sparse but they are colourful and varied but that’s not hugely relevant anyway – the on-track action is so eye-meltingly fast, you’ll barely even get a chance to look at the backgrounds unless you come off the track and plunge into them! That said, it is impressive to see the horizon rolling around as the track meaders all over the place, or to be staring straight at the ground as you plummet down a collossal ramp (see the Fire Field screenshot!).

F-Zero X - Nintendo 64 Gameplay Screenshot

In addition to being really fast, each race is chock-full of action. The N64 throws the thirty racers, each in their own distinctive machines, constantly jostling for position, around the courses with apparent ease. A mere six of them are available to use at the start of the game (including those from the first game) but winning the various leagues gradually unlocks the remainder, each of which has differing grip, boost power, and body strength. They all look really nice too (plus you can change their colours!) and you can quickly build up genuine rivalries with many of their pilots, some of whom are more agressive than others. The game has a fantastic atmosphere which is helped considerably by the awesome rock soundtrack, featuring wailing guitars and thundering drums, and the courses that share names (but little else) with those in the SNES game are also graced with superb remixes (yes, including Big Blue!). It’s those courses though, that keep you coming back to the game.

F-Zero X - Nintendo 64 Gameplay Screenshot

Any game featuring jet-powered hovercars racing over tracks in mid-air is likely to feature lavishly-designed courses, and the opportunity here enabled the designers to really go to town! To this day, F-Zero X still features the best-designed courses I’ve ever raced on. Each of them is distinctive and memorable, and they really are thrilling to race on, something helped by the extremely precise controls afforded by the N64’s splendid analogue controller. Everything is so smooth and zooming along, weaving in and out of the other racers with pixel-perfect accuracy is exciting and great fun. There are also four difficultly level and, thanks to the X Cup, you’ll never run out of new courses to race on! The game builds up a fantastic sense of competition too, but there’s not really any one thing that makes this such a great game – it’s just a perfect blend of everything. Still probably the greatest racing game I’ve ever played.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-zcvM0b9VE[/youtube]

RKS Score: 10/10

Wave Race 64

Wave Race 64 - Title Screen

Wave Race 64 (1996)
By: Nintendo EAD Genre: Racing Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Featured Version: Nintendo 64
Also Available For: Nothing
Download For: Wii Virtual Console

Wave Race 64 - Gameplay Screenshot 1
As I recall, the mid-to-late-nineties saw a mini-craze for jet-ski racing games emerge. Most of the better ones were monstrous arcade behemoths complete with actual jet-skis to sit on and be thrown around by as you play. If one game can be singled out as starting this craze, it must be WaveRace 64, which ironically has never graced an amusement arcade (to the best of my knowledge anyway). This, the second game of the series after the lesser-known GameBoy outing, was initially unveiled in 1995 and released a year later alongside the Nintendo 64 itself. Having such a game as a launch title alongside Super Mario 64, amongst others, you could be forgiven for thinking that it would be somewhat over-shadowed, but many gamers revelled in the amazingly realistic water-based racing action offered by Miyamoto-san’s other launch title, and with good reason.
Wave Race 64 - Gameplay Screenshot 2

 

Wave Race is obviously set in the world of jet-ski racing. There are four riders available for you to choose from (whose names you can change if you so desire) and each has their own Kawasaki jet-ski. These vary in their handling, acceleration, grip, collision stability, and maximum speed, and you can also customise each machine’s settings. Once a machine has been selected, there are four play modes to choose between – championship, time trials, stunt mode, and two-player versus. There are nine varied, circuit-based courses to race through and each race lasts for three laps, although this can be changed on the options screen. As was becoming common around this time, some of the courses are locked to start with too, but more on that later!

Wave Race 64 - Gameplay Screenshot 3

It’s not just racing you’re required to do around these courses, however. Each course has many buoys strategically positioned around it which you must steer round slamon-stylee – go round the left of yellow ones and round the right of orange ones – while continuing to hold off your opponents. Each buoy successfully passed increases your engine power level, which has five stages. The higher the level, the faster you go. If you miss a single buoy, however, your engine power level will fall back down to level zero. If you think that’s harsh, miss more than five of them and you’re automatically disqualified from that race and must start again! The perimeter of each course is marked by pink buoys. If you should stray outside the boundary, the ‘Course Out’ counter will begin. Unless you return to the course within five counts, you will be retired. There are also numerous obstacles positioned around the courses like crates, logs, and abandoned boats, and some of them feature tunnels, alternate routes and hidden shortcuts.

Wave Race 64 - Gameplay Screenshot 4

As mentioned earlier, most of the courses are locked at the start of the game and the only way to access them is to race in the championship mode. You are able to practise first in a small area called Dolphin Park, but once you feel ready, it’s time to race! There are three different difficulty levels, but only one can be chosen for your first championship – normal. This mode is contested by three other riders over six courses. Your finishing position earns you points and if you have most points after all six courses have been raced, you can then move up a level. If you can then end up on top after the seven courses of the hard mode, the ultimate challenge awaits- the expert mode. This mode is contested over eight courses (all of them except Dolphin Park). Win this mode and you win the game!

Wave Race 64 - Gameplay Screenshot 5

As the difficulty level increases, so will the speed of your opponents, as well as the number if buoys and other obstacles on each course. If, however, you manage to finish the game, thereby unlocking all the courses, they will be available to race on in the other game modes. Time Trial mode allows you to race on any of the courses minus the other racers. There are still three difficulty levels and the object is obviously to get the fastest lap and course times possible. The Stunt Mode also allows you to select any course, this time including Dolphin Park. The emphasis here, however, is not so much on speed but on points, which are obtained by performing various stunts and tricks using the ramps if any are present on your chosen course. If there’s not, you’ll have to create your own ramps! Different stunts will obviously give you different scores, but you are also judged on your accuracy.

Wave Race 64 - Gameplay Screenshot 6

Courses in Stunt Mode are also populated by numerous rings. Passing through one awards you with fifty points and each one you pass through consecutively following that will increase your score by a further fifty points. Some of the rings are even submerged. These can be passed through by performing a submarine dive, which is done by pointing your jet-ski’s nose downwards when jumping from a ramp. If done correctly, you will hit the water nose-first and travel underwater for a short distance. This technique is also useful for avoiding some of the obstacles that litter the courses, particularly in the expert mode. The last way to earn points is by the amount of time you have remaining when you finish the course. Each tenth of a second gives you five points.

Wave Race 64 - Gameplay Screenshot 7

Like so many arcade style racers, WaveRace is an immediately enjoyable and playable game. This is thanks, in part, to its simplicity, but to give that all the credit would be detracting from the game’s other excellent features. Most notable among these is the authentic way in which the jet-skis behave on the fluctuating ferocity of the water. The physics are spot-on which makes for some exciting racing but the machines also handle well and the slalom style of play is both original and makes things more interesting. If there’s one aspect of WaveRace that’s more famous than any other, though, it must be the incredible graphics. It’s not hard to see why they garnered such attention either. The races are set at different times of day and the colour of the water changes accordingly. In normal light it’s clear blue but at sunset it’ll be orange or pink and at night, black. Whatever colour it is, it looks stunning and surprisingly close to the real thing and behaves in a convincing fashion too – many maintain to this day that it’s the most impressive water in a game ever!

Wave Race 64 - Gameplay Screenshot 8

Discounting the water, Wave Race’s graphics are still no slouch by any means. There’s some excellent lens-flare, some awesome reflections on the water, and some nice effects such as the odd dolphin or killer whale swimming past, but it’s the courses that impress the most. Each of them looks distinctive even though they are all water-based, and most are set in interesting locations. Besides the obligatory sandy beach type courses there is a course set in a marshy area complete with ducks and reeds, and a course where you race around a giant tanker, for instance. This is also a pretty loud game! The best way to describe the music would probably be as bright, cheerful, summery music – the kind of stuff you’d expect to find in a game with a setting such as this one. The sound effects, while not particularly plentiful, are equally superb. The jet-ski engine noise is perhaps the loudest sound effect ever heard in any game. My N64 is connected to my hi-fi and when the jet-skis are revved, the graphic equaliser is permanently at maximum! Other effects are realistic such as impact noises, and there are two announcers – one female one on the presentation screens and an enthusiastic yet somewhat repetitive one is also vocal throughout play.

If there’s one thing that you can pretty much always rely on Nintendo for, it’s the very high quality of their games. The presentation here is of outstanding quality and the game really is an amazing experience. What with the lush graphics, relaxing music, the water constantly splooshing and tossing you around, you can almost feel the spray in your face! It’s not all superficial either, the game is immersive and thrilling to play and is one of the few videogames I’ve played which is more of an experience than a mere game. There really isn’t any bad points here. The only possible criticism you could level at it is that it’s so good you’ll probably have seen all it has to offer in an alarmingly short period of time, but it’s so enjoyable to play that even if it didn’t have a top-notch two-player mode, you’d still keep returning to it for years.

RKS Score: 9/10

My Favourite Games – Part 2

Well, much of today has been spent in the fruitless pursuit of an obscure Japanese game and an emulator to run it on. I’m starting to think it’s impossible to find the combination of desired game rom and the relevant emulator, despite the help of couple of good chaps from Retro Gamer forum. Anyone know how to emulate the Sharp X-1, or the NEC PC-98, or goodness know which other previously unknown 25-year old Japanese computers?! Oh well, I’m sure I’ll figure something out!

And so, to continue with the fairly unremarkable list of my favourite games, numbers 6 -10… Behold!

Super Mario World – SNES (1992)

Super Mario World

Proclaimed by many to be the greatest platform game of all-time, who am I to argue? After spending all of the preceding generation as a Sega fan-boy, I really didn’t want to like this game, but I finally relented and got myself a SNES along with this game, and I was soon converted! Despite looking far less flashy than a certain blue hedgehog’s debut on the rival Mega Drive, this game soon proved to me that looks aren’t everything! I can still remember the first time I completed it, I was so proud of myself but my parents didn’t even care about my achievement! Consisting of a sprawling 96 levels (many of which are secret), I felt justified in being proud of myself too! Despite its size, it never failed to consistently introduce new and creative features either, not least of which was Yoshi, now almost as famous as Mario himself, but the game was just so enjoyable to play through, and has so many nice touches. Has it ever been bettered? Not in my opinion…

Star Fighter – 3DO (1996)

Star Fighter 3DO

Now here’s one that most people haven’t even heard of, nevermind played! I bought this from the 3DO clearance bin in my local second-hand games store towards the end of the 3DO’s brief life for a mere £5, or something like that. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I loaded it, but then came one of just a few genuine ‘wow’ moments in my gaming life! It was the first free-roaming 3D flying game I had ever played, and it was amazing! Sure, visually it’s looking pretty ropey nowadays, as all early polygon games are, but back then it was a revelation! Originally an Acorn Achimedes game, this spruced up version is, at its core, a mission-based 3D combat game, but it’s not just an out-and-out blaster, no siree! Strategy plays a big part too, especially during later missions, and there’s so much to do. Star Fighter was way ahead of its time; I’ve still not played anything else quite like this, and I’d dearly love to! If you want to try it out though, just steer clear of the horrifying Sega Saturn and Playstation versions!

F-Zero X – Nintendo 64 (1998)

F-Zero X N64

Along with Burnout 2, this is easily my favourite racing game of all-time. Nintendo took the controversial decision of reducing the graphical detail in the game (especially backgrounds) in order to keep it running smoothly at 60fps. Was it worth it? You’re damn straight it was! This could be the most exciting, edge-of-the-seat, sweaty palms, racing game ever made! Racing at speeds of up to 1500kph over courses that often look more like rollercoasters, I’m sure you can imagine why too! There are over 20 varied courses, each race is contested by 30 distinctive racers, and there’s even a four-player battle mode, so there’s no danger of getting bored anytime soon either. Simply the fastest, most exciting racing action to be found anywhere!

Space Station Silicon Valley – Nintendo 64 (1998)

Space Station Silicon Valley N64

This is another under-appreciated classic which I discovered thanks to the short-lived magazine, Total Control. I can’t even find any reference to that magazine with a quick Google search, but I’m glad it did exist or I may never have played this game! It’s a 3D platform/puzzle game in which you control the microchip of a malfunctioning robot called Evo, damaged when the ship he was on crashed into the titular space station it was meant to be landing on! Populating this space station are many robotic animals, which you can take over by leaping into them. Each animal has unique (and often very strange) abilities and, using them, you must perform set mission objectives (also often very strange) before you can move onto the next. It’s a highly original, creative, and funny game in which you never know what’s around the next corner!

The Revenge of Shinobi – Mega Drive (1989)

The Revenge of Shinobi Mega Drive

Or Super Shinobi, as it’s known in Japan, and this was the version I first played. When visiting my good friend, Stu’s, house one day after school I was excited to see that his brother had a gleaming new imported Japanese Mega Drive sitting in his room. It wasn’t long before Stu and his brother, Darren, were demonstrating the power of this new console, and this was the game they used to do it. And it worked! The awesome intro sequence, the breathtaking graphics, the now legendary music… I was still used to my Sega Master System and trusty Speccy at this time, so the effect this game had on me was profound, and it still holds a lot of good memories for me. And after all these years, it’s clearer than ever that this wasn’t all window dressing either, it still plays like a dream. Still the best game in the Shinobi series if you ask me!

Next five to follow tomorrow…

The Gift of Giving

giving a gift box
giving a gift box

The Gift of Giving

Something about Christmas brings out the good in all of us, encouraging us to help others that are less fortunate than others.  Sometimes, we are the ones that receive the help.

This year, ObsoleteGamer.comEOGamer.comGirlgamer.netHard4Games.comUOForums.com, and UOHomeDecor.com are reaching out to you to give to a family in need.

Imagine loosing everything you had in a fire.  Imagine the Christmas tree, presents, keepsakes, mementos, clothes, gone a  little more than a week before Christmas.  Your five member family made it out of the home with their lives and only the clothes on their back.  This is what happened to the Conley Family of Flint, Mich., this past weekend.

Their 4-year-old son, Rylee, lost his Nintendo 64 and Donkey Kong game in the fire, a game he absolutely loved playing with his family.

The Conley children, Riley, age 4, center
The Conley children, Riley, age 4, center

Seeing as it’s Christmas, all of us at the above mentioned sites want to reach out and help this family and provide them with a gift for their son.  So our sites have teamed up in an effort to reach out to our readers during Christmas time to acquire the following items for the family before Christmas:

  • Limited Edition Wii (The 25th Edition Red One)
  • Donkey Kong Country Returns for the Wii
  • 3 Wiimote + Chuk bundles
  • Wii Charge Station Quad

Our goal: To raise at minimum $500 before Dec. 22 to purchase and deliver these items before Christmas to this family.

To make a donation towards the purchase of these items, please click here.

Conley family photo
Conley family photo

Once the purchases have been made, I will scan copies of the receipts as well as take pictures of the boxes etc. being shipped to the family.  I will also be trying to contact a local group up there to perhaps have them deliver it and get pictures to show the family receiving it.

Personally, I’d like to raise up to $1,000 so the family can have the gifts and extra cash in this time of need.

Donations for this Christmas gift are being made to my Paypal account.  I have been a verified Paypal User for many years.  In addition, I also have a Paypal Debit card, which will allow me to easily access and purchase the items without any transfer delays.  My past history with donations for causes is well known.  If anyone questions my integrity, please feel free to follow up with the Sara Routh family who received the money donation to bring Sara home for the Big Bang event this summer.  You can see this here for more info.

Other Donations are being sought and accepted as well.  If you do not want to donate through us, you can read the following and donate directly to the family.  Below is a request from a family member for the Conley Family:

Please HELP! My aunt’s house burned down today! They lost everything in a fire!!

Sizes: boys 4t or 5t, women XL top, 14 pants, womens size 5 & 2, & mens Pants: 28-30 Shirt: small/medium. Please send donations to:
Laurie and Ryan Conley
c/o Don Sorensen
3354 Lynne Ave.
Flint, MI 48506.

Thank you!!!

Please help this family to have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year despite this tragedy.

My Favorite Games: Part 9

It looks like the R3Play report will have to wait a day or two, the pictures are a pain in the arse to upload and my opportunities to do so are limited. There’s really not a great deal to see anyway, unless you were there and want to see if you can spot yourself! So in the meantime… continuing with My Favourite Games, here’s the penultimate list:

Blast Corps – Nintendo 64 (1997)

Blast Corps - Nintendo 64

This was Rare’s first game for the N64 and what a start! It would also end up being the first in a long, amazingly successful run for the company on that console which many said rivalled that of Nintendo themselves, and with titles like this on offer it’s hard to argue. The premise was simple – a truck with leaking nuclear missiles has been set on a straight path to a safe detonation area. Your job is to demolish everything in its way. Yes, it sounded awesome and happily it played awesome too! Featuring eight unique vehicles custom-built for the express purpose of destroying stuff including three robotic suits, there can’t be anyone who didn’t enjoy the mayhem offered by this game, and the stages were punctuated by time trial stages which featured yet more vehicles and usually involved a race of some sort. Amazingly playable, superb fun, and a thoroughly unique and brilliant soundtrack too!

Fantasy World Dizzy – Spectrum (1989)

Fantasy World Dizzy - Spectrum

Poor old Dizzy seems to be the subject of a lot of vitriol among certain sections of gamers but I, and I’m pretty sure many others, loved his flick-screen, budget-priced adventures. They were available on most other computers of the time but the Spectrum is where the Dizzy games were most at home and it’s here that I played them. The first two were great but the Oliver twins really hit their stride with this third game. Featuring the largest gameworld yet, a broader variety of locations, a more forgiving difficulty curve, hidden secrets, and perhaps most importantly, the introduction of The Yolkfolk, Dizzy’s third adventure put many full-price releases to shame! It would also be the final game in the series to be handled by the Olivers and later games suffered as a result.

Magical Flying Hat Turbo Adventure – MegaDrive (1990)

Magical Flying Hat Turbo Adventure - MegaDrive

Psycho Fox has always been one of my favourite platformers and I was disappointed it never got a sequel, so imagine my joy at discovering that its creators, Vic Tokai, had released a similar game on the MegaDrive! This splendidly-named game had many of the features of Psycho Fox (including, perhaps most importantly, the bendy poles) and wrapped them up in a different setting. Replacing our collection of useful animals here is a boy wearing the ‘magical hat’ of the title, which doesn’t really let him fly but it does enable him to float, Bomb Jack style. Magical Hat was released in the West too, but with a radical overhaul of its graphics and theme. The renamed Decapattack instead uses a cartoony-horror theme and is still a great game, but I prefer this Japanese original any day of the week.

Shinobi – Master System (1987)

Shinobi - Master System

This first Shinobi game may have eventually been a little overshadowed by Revenge of Shinobi on the MegaDrive but it’s still a fantastic game, and this Master System version is my favourite. It’s impressively faithful as a conversion whilst also making life a bit easier for us by adding a life-meter as opposed to the one-hit deaths of the arcade game. It does suffer a bit from sprite-flicker (although you could say that about most MS games) but that’s pretty much the only criticism you could level at this classic run n gunner with its five, dual-plane, ninja-infested stages. It’s unquestionably the best game of its type on the system and still plays as good as it ever did. Now if only I could beat that damn final boss!

Starflight – MegaDrive (1991)

Starflight - MegaDrive

Those who know me will be aware that my favourite game of all-time is Star Control 2 on the 3DO, but if it wasn’t for Starflight, I may never have even discovered it! I’ve only ever played the MD version which arrived some five years after the PC original, but it certainly appears that this is where some of the inspiration for SC2 came from. It too is an epic space-exploration game featuring tons and tons of star systems containing varying numbers of explorable planets and features alien races, some friendly, some hostile. It’s not on the sheer scale of SC2, with less stars, less aliens, etc, and doesn’t have the hours of speech or top music of Toys For Bob’s great game, but, considering when it was made it’s arguably even more impressive. Starflight is an engrossing and original adventure and one that it’s still easy to get sucked into today.

I’m not really in an R3Play mood at the moment, so the last part of what will be my Top 50 Favourite Games will be posted tomorrow! 🙂

Snowboard Kids 2

Snowboard Kids 2 Cover
Snowboard Kids 2 Cover

Snowboard Kids 2 review by metalfighterriku

Overall score:
7.5 out of 10

Overview:

Snowboard Kids 2 is a fun party racing, mario-kart-style game, with a cute story mode and tons of cool options like unlockable boards, costumes, and characters.

The storyline for SBK2 is simple: Some stupid bratty green demon kid named Damien is wrecking havoc around Snow Town, and it’s up to a bunch of snowboarding 10-year olds to stop him!

SBK2 hosts the same cast of characters as the original, such as Slash, Jam, Linda, Tommy, and Nancy, but also adds a few new characters like Wendy and Damien. Each character has different attributes: speed, trick, and all-around, giving them advantages or disadvantages in certain courses and even boss stages.

The game consists of racing through 12 crazy courses, taking snowboarding off the slopes and into jungles, houses, and even outer space! In story mode, you occasionally run into a boss stage, where you race against or battle a boss character to keep it from reaching the finish line.

There’s also a variety of cool items, power-ups and weapons to use throughout the courses. There’s fan propeller that speeds you up, and a rocket that shoots you super fast for a short period of time. Some weapons send your opponent tumbling over, like the bomb and the glove, while others can immobilize your opponent for a few seconds, like the frying pan that flatens everyone and the parachute bomb that suspends a character in midair.

In order to use weapons and items you need money to purchase them. You can get money by collecting coins that are scattered around the course or by doing tricks. There’s also an item you can use to steal money from your opponents, but can be really annoying when used against you.

The story mode let’s you walk around Snow Town, which is basically a small strip of random buildings. There’s a board shop where you can purchase new boards using the money you acquire from racing the course. There’s also a schoolhouse, where you can change your character, an internet cafe, where you can view all the characters, course, boards, and songs you’ve unlocked, and there’s even a paint shop, where you can change the design on your board.

Snowboard Kids 2 is available for N64 or its emulators.

Fun Factor:

Its super cuteness, bright colorful cute big-nosed characters, and simple cartoon-style party racing gameplay is what makes this game fun to play!

Difficulty:

The game is simple but can be quite challenging when a massacre of items and weapons are being used against you. The boss fights in story mode can be difficult and sometimes annoying, especially when they scatter debris for you to trip over. Some characters use special boards in certain stages, making it difficult to pas them without the aid of a special board. After beating story mode, it gives you the option to play it on expert. I found the dinosaur in Crazy Jungle to be extremely difficult in normal mode, even with the dragon board, so I imagine on expert it is probably impossible.

Replayability:

Very high. I played this game over countless times because its a simple racing game with not much thinking to it.

Music:

8 out of 10. One of the things I love about SBK2 is the music. All of the course tracks are catchy and fun to listen to. Some of my favorites are Jingle Town, Linda’s Castle, and Turtle Island. There’s even a channel in Wendy’s Internet Cafe, in story mode, that let’s you listen to all these wonderful tracks!

Graphics:

7 out of 10.  For its time, SBK2 had awesome graphics. The characters were a bit polygonal but cute, smooth, and colorful. The background enviroments looked flat, but everything else was nicely done like the buildings and the water. One stage had flying fish and there was even a stage where you snowboard on a giant piano that made sounds when you jumped on it. Really cool!

Control:

The controls were very easy to understand. You start off a bit slow but then pick it up quickly. Speed characters are more difficult to maneuver than trick and all-around type characters. Doing tricks was also very easy to do, depending on which direction you have the joystick when holding down and letting go of the A-button lets you do different tricks.

Conclusion:

If you’re into racing games like Mario-Kart and Diddy Kong Racing and aren’t really big on graphics, but love cute looking characters in cartoony environments, then you should check this game out!

About us in general

Obsolete Gamer Title Picture

A group of us decided to get together to create a website that would have honest, down-to-earth no-nonsense reviews on new and old games for PC and all other systems.Read More