In the world of awful games, one title will often be raised: Superman 64. You'll often hear about its terrible graphics or awful controls, but up until today, I had never been subjected to it. I was tasked to see how long I could play it before I couldn’t take it anymore.
Clocking Out is our new feature which pits one of our writers against a bad game and sees how long they can last. It's a test of endurance, willpower, and foolhardiness. There have been first hours in the past where our writers wanted to give up before it was over, but now they can admit defeat and clock out whenever they'd like.
Every Monday morning since the Wii craze began in November 2006, the Wii
Shop Channel has been updated with new downloadable titles to purchase.
The Virtual Console, one of the Wii's few enticing tidbits to core
gamers at launch, promised to make all our favorite classic games
through the N64 era available on one piece of hardware. Things started
out strong for the VC, which reached the 100-game milestone just over
six months after launch. It seems Nintendo just couldn't keep that pace,
however, as the first seven months of 2010 have seen less than twenty
new retro titles. With obvious Nintendo classics like Star
Fox, Yoshi's Island, Pilotwings 64, and Excitebike 64 still waiting to
be let loose -- in addition to the many unseen third party games worth
revisiting -- it seems far too early for the Virtual Console to receive
less than one title a week.
The future of the Virtual Console was looking bright in 2007, however, when Nintendo decided to make the N64 import classic Sin & Punishment available outside of Asia for the first time. It seems Treasure always planned a western release, as all the voice acting was performed in English (with Japanese subtitles), even in the original Japanese cartridge. The rumor is that a dried-up N64 market in 2000 made the niche developer think twice. In a rare showing of extra effort on Nintendo's part, Sin & Punishment was the first of a small collection of games formerly exclusive to Japan to make it to the Americas. It probably didn't take that much effort, though, since the only translation required was in the main menu and tutorials. The original Japanese subtitles persist even in the localized version.
I'd always planned on putting down the $12 to try Sin & Punishment at some point, but I figured the recent release of Sin & Punishment: Star Successor for the Wii makes this as good a time as any. Might as well snag the N64 game for some context, right? I downloaded the game with the intent of completing a first hour review for our readers, but it seems there isn't a whole lot to talk about beyond that first sixty minutes, so this has been upgraded to full review status. Lucky you!
Sometimes, nostalgia has the habit of biting back. Hard. Ten years ago,
Perfect Dark was released on the Nintendo 64,
and along with The Legend of
Zelda: Majora's Mask, capped off a great system by pushing it way
past its limits. I gobbled this game up when it was released by
throwing parties in my parent's basement and putting off getting my
driver's license for another month. GoldenEye 007 was a great first-person
shooter, but we were ready for some Perfect Dark.
Ten years later, and Perfect Dark is ported to Xbox Live Arcade. I was a bit worried: how would a pre-Halo first-person shooter play against its modern day brethren? In my opinion, while GoldenEye was the console shooter breakout hit, Halo had set the standard for how they should actually play. Its control scheme is still used to this day, and imagining myself strafing with the C-buttons gives me the shivers.
For only $10 though, it was a hard bargain to pass up. Here was a game that I coughed up $59.99 + tax before I even had a job, I could easily hand over 800 Microsoft Points for a trip down memory lane. My friend Jim also bought the game, and we decided to take the journey together, playing through the single player campaign via online co-op (imagine doing that ten years ago on the Nintendo 64!). While we had both played the original, I was the more die-hard fan and had pored countless hours into my multiplayer character. We started up, with him playing as the lovely Joanna and me as the blonde no-named sister.
Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber is a mixed game, and has had mixed reviews. Some hold it as the holy grail of RPG/Strategy gaming, while others find it about as entertaining as a box of rocks.
I’m of the former. When I saw this game in Nintendo Power, and read about it, it was all new to me. I never played its SNES predecessor. But it looked so awesome. Being an RPG fan, and desperately wanting a reason to play my Nintendo 64 other than to play Super Smash Bros. or Star Fox. The game Quest 64 left a terrible taste in my mouth and made me desperately want a Playstation for some good RPG games.
Talk about an adventure in licensing, Beetle Adventure Racing was released a few months after Volkswagen's New Beetle car was launched and featured a garage of cars filled with just variations on the Beetle. I'm not sure if there's ever been a racing game quite like this, sure Gran Turismo is overflowing with licensed vehicles and there are even games like Corvette Evolution GT or Ford Racing, but none of them take one single car and create an entire game out of it. But this isn't your typical licensed racing game, it's San Francisco Rush starring German family cars. The levels include Inferno Isle, Wicked Woods, and Coventry Cove; sounds more like Diddy Kong Racing now, and yes, there's a four player battle mode.
Beetle Adventure Racing was released in 1999 on the Nintendo 64. I really enjoyed the game the couple of times I played it, as a few years later I was vacationing at Mackinac Island and my friend and I stopped into a local video game rental shop. As I mentioned in my Mercenaries review, there is no better place to pick up great games for great prices than at obscure little stores out in the middle or nowhere. Beetle Adventure Racing and Blast Corps were sitting on the shelves going for a few dollars apiece, easy decision for me. My friend picked up NBA Hangtime if you're curious. While our hunt for cheap copies of Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger never panned out, we still snagged some fun games.
So let's continue our month of licensed games with quite the odd one, here's the first hour of Beetle Adventure Racing.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was released 10 years ago this week for the Nintendo 64 and 3D adventure gaming has never been the same. Topping many gamers' all-time favorites list and sitting atop at Game Rankings, Ocarina of Time currently reigns as the unofficial Greatest Game of All-Time. I remember quite well my anticipation for this game ten solid years ago and that it actually did live up to the hype.
How much more can be said about this game that hasn't already been said? Well, no one has just played the first hour before and wrote a review just on that, so let me be the first. I'll be playing the original Nintendo 64 version, as there have been at least a Gamecube and Virtual Console port so far.
Pilotwings 64 is a flight simulator and one of the original launch games for the Nintendo 64. The game doesn't feature any standard flight simulator vehicles such as fighter planes or a Cessna single-engine, but more unique craft like the gyrocopter and hang glider. There is a lot of interaction with the environments such as photographing landmarks and even some battle-themed stages pitting you against giant robots. The game was really overlooked when it was released even though there was only one other Nintendo 64 game available at the time, but of course, that game was none other than Super Mario 64. Let's take a look at the first hour of the other launch title, Pilotwings 64.
Turok: Dinosaur Hunter was the first first-person shooter on the Nintendo 64 and the start of a series that is known for its ups and downs. The game is about Turok, a Native American who is sent through time to save the world and is loosely based on a comic book series of the same name. If you think this sounds a little like Prey, and you might not be too far off in some terms (interestingly enough, these games actually started development around the same time, except Turok was released in 1997 and Prey was released in 2006...). Since Turok was released on the Nintendo 64 before Goldeneye 007, there wasn't much to compare it to except for PC shooters, so reviewers at the time absolutely loved it. I can't say I'm quite as much of a fan, however.
A few weeks ago, a new Turok game was released on the PC and newer consoles, simply called Turok. This is the first new game in the series in almost six years, but after a little reading, it appears it has nothing to do with the original games. Maybe that's a good thing, but let's take a look at the first hour of Turok's foray into video games.
Jet Force Gemini is a Nintendo 64 third-person shooter game released by Rare in 1999. Looking back, it seems like such an odd game: twins Juno and Vela fly around in a space ship and save furry creatures from the evil empire. But when I think about it more closely, Jet Force Gemini really seems like the ultimate Rare amalgamation of their other Nintendo 64 games - Goldeneye 007, Banjo-Kazooie, Perfect Dark, and Conker's Bad Fur Day specifically. That collection of animal fur and blood and guts really comes together on this cartridge.
The game also has some interesting history during development. I used to read IGN very closely and I remember the day when some new character art was released and the twins went from being bland to sexy. Now it seems like they did this just so they could give Vela boobs, but I suppose breast sells and that's their right. Anyways, now you know all of Jet Force Gemini's exciting history (there wasn't much to cover), so let's get right into the review.
Diddy Kong Racing was Rare's answer to Mario Kart 64, which had come out earlier that year. Of course, no one had actually asked for another kart racer on the Nintendo 64, but Rare saw it as an opportunity to start the marketing machine for their future franchises, namely Banjo-Kazooie and Conker (yes, that Conker). They also packed in a bunch of other lame, no-name racers to fill the void - and thus, Diddy Kong Racing was born. The first hour of racers is typically much like the rest of the game, race, race, and race some more. So this will be very indicative on how Diddy Kong Racing (and its DS remake) fares as direct competition to Mario Kart.
Before I even start the main game, I notice a few things: it has been a few years since I've held the Nintendo 64 controller and this thing sure feels weird. It's very light and plasticky, and of course the three prong design definitely makes it one of the oddest looking around. It's also not terribly comfortable compared to more recent controllers, and even the SNES before it. Anyways, on with the first hour of Diddy Kong Racing.