Banjo Kazooie

Banjo Kazooie

Format- N64

Genre- 3D Platformer

Banjo Kazooie-N64

I mentioned this in an earlier post, but I think Banjo Kazooie’s a bit of a classic.

When I hear people doing retrospectives on the subjects of N64 or developers Rare however, they usually dismiss the game as a turgid collectathon.

That is completely and utterly wrong in my opinion. So without further ado, here’s my hastily assembled defence for this unfairly maligned 3D platformer…

Banjo Kazooie-N64

This was my first title for the N64, and as a result I naturally have a bit more affection for it than others might do. This doesn’t mean that I think it’s flawless though – just that most of the game’s faults are blown mostly out of proportion by its critics.

First, there’s the criticism that the game is only really about collecting items. Balderdash. Although there are far more items to bag than in, say, Super Mario 64, there really isn’t a suffocating amount so that it dilutes the actual gameplay.

This was arguably a problem in Banjo Tooie where you had several different egg types – but the original has no such issues.

Banjo Kazooie-N64

Next, the Rare staple of sticking a pair of eyes of an object is dismissed as a lazy form of characterisation. The game may go a little further than needs to at times (Loggo the toilet i’m *shudder* looking at you), but Banjo Kazooie is primarily aimed at younger players, and in that context this process is quite charming.

The same goes for the garbled voices. I like them dammit! They fit into the feel of the game perfectly.

The way people moan about these googly eyed and strangely voiced characters you’d think the game was attempting to be a piece of high art. It’s not, so this criticism is more than a little unfair.

Finally, the large move-set of the game comes in for a fair bit of stick. It’s a criticism I can actually understand – compared to the simple but deep skill set of Mario, Banjo and Kazooie’s moves seem a little less natural.

Banjo Kazooie-N64

I personally don’t mind it, but other players may not like the way the game has more attack and jump types than is really necessary. A little streamlining might not have gone amiss.

In the standout parts of the game, the worlds you explore are nearly all wonderfully varied and lovingly designed. Each world is standalone, with different enemies and wildly different challenges in each one. They’re small but have a whole lot of things to do in them.

The game’s piece de resistance is definitely Click Clock Wood. A hugely ambitious multi-season romp, it stands out from the rest of the game every time I play it.

The other worlds are all fairly tight and well designed, but then this world comes out of nowhere and dwarfs them all. This world is the high point of the game, and in my view, the entire Banjo series. I haven’t finished Nuts and Bolts though, admittedly.

Finally, the game looks gorgeous. For an N64 game it still wows me, and I can’t see the game becoming out-dated or unplayable for a long time yet. The 360 hi-res version looks nicer still. The music is also great. Sure, it’s a probably a little too lively for some, but it’s catchy as hell and fits the game to a tee.

I probably haven’t convinced or indeed unconvinced anyone with the previous spiel, but it’s good to get it off my chest nontheless. Tomorrow – something a little more obscure.

Killer Instinct Comeback?

Killer-Instinct-SNES-Gameplay-Screenshot-Box

Killer Instinct Comeback

Could there be a Killer Instinct remake or sequel in the future? That is the questions being asked after it was discovered that Microsoft has renewed the trademark for the classic fighter. Killer Instinct was originally released by Rare for the SNES in 1994 and featured some incredible combo’s that you could chain together and even connect to your finisher, your ultimate. Also, in its arcade version, was one of the first games to use an internal hard disk drive alongside the games ROM. This was due to the pre-rendered sprites created with Silicon Graphics and the pre-rendered movie-like backgrounds.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dR-7TO_LD0[/youtube]

Now before you get all excited about a sequel, the original announcement came from Xbox Live so there is a good chance KI is getting a HD release for XBL Arcade. However, that is fine with us as well. We will keep on top of this and let you know when we learn more.

Killer Instinct

Killer Instinct - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot

This week we have another gem added to the list. Killer Instinct was Nintendo’s answer to other fighters out there and a true classic game. They were very successful with it although the franchise was long abandoned, we can still look back at this game and see what Nintendo did right.

Killer Instinct - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot

The music is quite catchy for a fighter game. There might not be classic tunes like from Street Fighter 2 but there is something special that came with this game and that’s Killer Kuts. It’s a disc with remixed music of the game!

The graphics are beautiful. The SNES looked to be in its limits when this was released. The game has a 32bit feel although it’s being run in a 16bit console. All I can say is that this was the shit back in 1995!

Killer Instinct - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot

In this game you have to find your favorite fighter and master him or her. You better learn all the finishing moves, combos, and of course the Ultras! The gameplay is very easy to learn so anyone can pick up and play. The next level comes to when you increase the difficulty and decide to take people on the arcade. Of course, that was a 90s thing.

Killer Instinct - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot

Like any fighter, this game is awesome to play against another friend. Have a fighters party and take on all your buddies in a tournament. I can go on and on….it also helps if you have a grudge against a friend and want to kill him via-video games. That works!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dR-7TO_LD0[/youtube]

So to conclude, the game is a classic that should not be forgotten. With such memorable characters, great fighting engine, and lots of replay value you can’t go wrong with Killer Instinct! An absolute must have for any retro gamer!

Battletoads

Battletoads - Gameboy - Gameplay Screenshot

Hmmm what do you get when you put one of the toughest games on the NES in a portable handheld? The toughest portable handheld game! Not hard to figure out huh? But to be perfectly honest it’s not one of the hardest handheld games but still tough and very high on the list. Battletoads brings you the toads in a portable adventure most likely to its NES counterpart rather than the SNES one(yuck what a disappointment). Hmmm anyways, this game brings you the toads and well from my personal experience racking up extra lives is quite easy on this certain game.

Now, I know that you can do it the same way in the NES and SNES versions but the screen leaves you a limited amount of room which in the end result leaves you with less space to move around. Do you understand what I’m trying to tell you? Well, to conclude you have a better chance of hitting the falling birds to rack up extra lives….congrats you just passed Battletoads 101!

 

Battletoads - Gameboy - Gameplay Screenshot

Overall, you will get a game that challenges you and keeps you coming for more! You have the great music that keeps you on your feet and well the monsters which you beat up in the most hilarious ways. It’s ok if you haven’t played a toads game before because this would make a great introduction to the series even though there aren’t that many toads games to begin with…..To this day I asked why weren’t there more toads games….I could sure use them right about now….then again that Battletoads phone call prank wouldn’t be that funny because yes they would have Battletoads on stock…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nog6qXg7Nkg[/youtube]

 

I sure hope you can pick this adventure up for your handheld…hell even use the emulator with a big screen! You can’t go wrong with the toads…they will just piss you off and make you come for more in the end!

Cobra Triangle

Cobra Triangle - Gameplay Screenshot

Cobra Triangle (1988)
By: Rare Genre: Overhead Racing Players: 1 Difficulty: Hard
Featured Version: NES First Day Score: 168,250
Also Available For: Nothing

One of the reasons I decided to start covering this genre of games is that it’s one I’ve enjoyed immensely in the past, but so far this enjoyment has been limited only to a handful of titles. There are still many I haven’t actually played before, so what better excuse to start? For the third game in the feature, I thought I’d take a look at one that tried to do something a little bit different. Enter Rare. This NES-exclusive is a bit unusual for an overhead racer for several reasons. Not least of these is the fact that it’s single-player only! That’s right, the feature that is often the main appeal of games of this nature is entirely absent! Do not despair, however – much has done by our ever-reliable friends at Rare to ensure the longevity of this, one of their first forays into the racing genre and, for a change, it features not cars but speedboats!

Cobra Triangle - Gameplay Screenshot

It’s a scrolling, isometrically-viewed affair which only shows a small part of any given course or arena at any time, rather than the more common single-screen racers. One reason for this is that it’s not even a racing game at all! In looks and style you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s one, as I did before I played it for this feature, but there’s not a great deal of actual racing going on here. The game consists of 25 ‘missions’, and on initial evidence, all seems normal. The first mission sees you racing along a river amidst other speedboats, but rather than racing them, it seems the object is to shoot them with your boat’s onboard cannon! In the next mission you must race up a straight waterway jumping ramps to grab airborne items. Next you must safely dispose of some mines while opposing boats try to stop you, then you have to navigate an obstacle-strewn stretch of river while fighting the current. Other missions include protecting swimmers from enemy boats, jumping waterfalls, and shooting targets.

Cobra Triangle - Gameplay Screenshot

Every few stages you are also faced with a boss. These take the forms of giant sea-monsters such as serpents or crabs! Of course, as well as accommo-dating enemy speedboats, the various waterways also feature additional hazards. These include sharks, logs, whirlpools, ramps, electrical shockwaves, and gun turrets on the river banks. Luckily, not all the luck is going against you. The numbered Pods carried by some enemy speedboats can be collected to power-up your ‘Cobra Class Speed Boat’, equipping it with turbos, cannon upgrades, higher top speed, missiles, or a forcefield. These power-ups are collected in a Gradius style, i.e. you can save up the Pods you collect and choose which power-up you want. The more Pods you collect, the better upgrade you can choose. You’ll probably need them all!

Cobra Triangle - Gameplay Screenshot

My playing of this game for this review represents my first extended session on an NES game ever! This is because, for those who don’t know me, I was a big Sega fanboy back then and fiercely loyal to my Master System! I was obviously aware of the NES and many of its games, but I didn’t play them. Cobra Triangle is, however, one of the ones I’ve always wanted to play, thanks in no small part to the review in C&VG and the glowing recommendation that accompanied it. Now that I’ve finally played it, what do I think? Well, as I said earlier, it’s not really what I was expecting – I thought it was basically a water-based equivalent of Super Off-Road! But nonetheless, it’s good fun, original, but tough!

Cobra Triangle - Gameplay Screenshot

Graphically, Cobra Triangle is fairly average in my view. Granted, I have little to compare it to from personal experience but things look pretty basic here. Backgrounds are largely featureless and pretty repetitive, although both they and the water do change colour every few missions (the ice level looks nice). The sprites are pretty nicely drawn, though a bit small, and their animation is somewhat lacking. They all look similar from what I’ve seen too, and there’s a bit of flicker when things get busy. The bosses aren’t bad though – they’re pretty big and have a bit more animation than the smaller enemies. The music here is fairly uninspiring too, unfortunately, and not memorable at all. Sound effects are fairly varied but pretty minimal. And if I hear that Goddamn ‘hit-by-a-whirlpool’ noise one more time I’m going to smash something. Anything.

Cobra Triangle - Gameplay Screenshot

In fact, the game in general is really difficult and pretty frustrating. Some missions are easier than others but things gets insanely tough later on. For example, if it wasn’t for the benefit of being able to save my game position on the emulator, it would’ve probably taken hours just to get past the waterfall stage. You have to take a run-up to make it over the waterfalls (for there’s not just one!) but the ramp is small and usually moving from side to side. On top of that, there’s often whirlpools before the ramps which throw you off course! It does get ridiculous at times, but it’s not all bad – the mine disposal stages are good fun, as are the boat shooting runs. I just wish all the missions were a little more forgiving!

Cobra Triangle - Gameplay Screenshot

Despite the average presentation in this case, Rare usually pull out all the stops when it comes to design and gameplay and it’s no different here. The game is full of original touches and its very notion is unique – I’ve not really played anything like it before or since. To be honest though, original or not, I just didn’t enjoy playing it that much which is a shame as it could’ve been such a great game if it wasn’t so damn difficult!

RKS Score: 6/10