system Index T
Tetrisphere
Grade: D
Publisher: Nintendo (1997)
Posted: 2003/2/25

screenshotThis puzzle game is innovative and nice looking, but as I discovered, that doesn't mean it's fun to play! Once again Nintendo is milking its Tetris cow, but this attempt falls flat. In the aptly named Tetrisphere, you manipulate a rotating sphere covered with layers of Tetris pieces. By sliding them around and placing them flush with pieces of the same shape, you can make them all explode in various chain reactions. Your ultimate goal is to reach the core.

In terms of graphics, Tetrisphere is well suited for the N64. The sphere rotates smoothly and the chain reactions are very satisfying thanks to the crisp explosive sound effects. The thumping techno soundtrack is okay but not exceptional. Despite a nice overall presentation, the gameplay fails to live up to Tetris standards. It's too complicated, there's a serious learning curve, and I hate how pieces tend to replenish themselves. Unlike other Tetris variations that are relentlessly addictive, Tetrisphere gets more boring as you play. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Jigsaw (Philips CD-i)
Tetris 2 (Super Nintendo)
Tetris Attack (Super Nintendo)
Flip Out! (Jaguar)
Tetris (Nintendo) (NES)

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater
Grade: B+
Publisher: Activision (2000)
Posted: 2014/5/8


screenshotI reviewed this game with my friend Brent who happens to be a world-renowned Tony Hawk expert. First we took some time to play the original Tony Hawk's Pro Skater (Playstation, 1997) as a basis of comparison. The results are clear: Tony Hawk plays perfectly well on the Nintendo 64 yet pales to its PS1 counterpart. The music quality is slightly degraded and the controls are not as tight. The graphics employ smoother textures, but this takes its toll of the framerate, causing the game to run noticeably slower.

That said, this edition of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater is still the same fun, madly-addictive game. Controlling famous skateboarders you'll grind rails in malls, schoolyards, and warehouses, trying to rack up points and collect items before time expires. Catching big air lets you string together elaborate combinations of flips, spins, and grabs. Button mashing gets the job done for beginners, but you'll need to develop better technique to conquer all of the challenges.

Adding to the fun is an edgy soundtrack of classic punk tunes that will really get your pulse pounding. The high score screens are a nice touch, encouraging you to try just one more time. For what it's worth, this cartridge has a snazzy blue shell. It's not the best version of the game, but it is classic Tony Hawk so you really can't go wrong. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Tony Hawk's Pro Skater (Dreamcast)
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 (Playstation 2)
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater (Playstation)
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 (Playstation 2)
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 (Dreamcast)

Top Gear Overdrive
Grade: B
Publisher: Kemco (1998)
Posted: 2016/6/12
Rating: Everyone

screenshotWith its fantasy tracks and big air, Top Gear Overdrive calls to mind Beetle Adventure Racing (Electronic Arts, 1999) and San Francisco Rush: Extreme Racing (Midway, 1996). You begin with a modest yellow Volkswagen bug, earn money to soup it up, and eventually trade it in for something sportier. The championship mode is divided into seasons, each offering a set of interesting track locations set in cities, swamps, canyons, and snowy mountain peaks.

The courses can be hard to follow the first time through, and the foggy split-screen mode doesn't help matters. Each track contains several semi-hidden shortcuts that can give you a serious leg up on the competition. With an underpowered car you'll need to rely on these shortcuts just to make any progress!

The first time you play Top Gear Overdrive I'd recommend visiting the options menu. Setting the "high-rez graphics" to "full" will substantially improve the look of the game, although the scenery still looks a little soupy. Cranking up the brightness option gives Overdrive more of an arcade look. Be sure to adjust the controller configuration unless you want to fiddle with those annoying little yellow arrow buttons.

After some initial frustration I found Overdrive to be a hard game to put down. The races are short and the races are intense! There's nothing worse than leading the pack during the last lap, only to clip a guardrail and go up in flames. Keep an eye out for fuzzy icons on the road that award you with money or turbo boosts. The boosts are surprisingly weak but you'll need every advantage. You have to finish in the top four not only to clear a course, but to keep any money you collected during a race.

Overdrive has some major clipping issues, and after one jump my car went right through the road, sending me into some sort of polygon netherworld. There are definitely some issues, but that didn't stop Top Gear Overdrive from being one of the more addictive Nintendo 64 games I've played in recent memory. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Diddy Kong Racing (Nintendo 64)
San Francisco Rush: Extreme Racing (Nintendo 64)
Off Road Challenge (Nintendo 64)
Wacky Races (Dreamcast)
L.A. Rush (Playstation 2)

Top Gear Rally
Grade: D+
Publisher: Boss Game Studios (1997)
Posted: 2017/3/5
Rating: Kids to adults



screenshotWhen I fired up Top Gear Rally the game warned me other data had been detected on the controller pack and I may not have enough room to save my progress. Are you telling me it couldn't figure that out for me? I thought computers were supposed to be good at math? Anyway, you can tell a lot about a game by its arcade mode. It that doesn't win you over the rest of the game probably doesn't stand a chance.

You begin with only a single track (coastline) and two cars. Playing Top Gear Rally is an underwhelming experience. The scenery looks drab with non-distinct landmarks and washed out colors. And my car is so slow! It says I'm going 100 MPH but it looks more like 30! The two-player split-screen mode is so plodding it takes forever to complete a single lap!

There's a selection of weather conditions to choose from (snow, rain, fog, night) but these seem designed to obscure the game's draw-in problems. In the rainy jungle you can barely see the road! The championship mode is playable but compromised by lousy AI. You're racing against 19 other drivers yet you'll only see two cars (at most) on the screen at a given time. After a while I realized I was really only racing one "pace car" with the others serving as token milestones.

The action improves as you unlock peppier cars but the controls feel squirrely. To initiate a power slide you quickly tap the brake as you round each corner. Maintaining control is key - if your car turns around you might as well restart. Fortunately arcade physics allow you to bang into walls without losing much speed. The game is at its best when you're just on the cusp of losing control. I don't hate it but Top Gear Rally never gets beyond steering a boxy car around a blurry world. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

If you like this game, try: Speed Devils (Dreamcast)
Test Drive V-Rally (Dreamcast)
Rally Challenge 2000 (Nintendo 64)
Rallisport Challenge (Xbox)
Championship Rally (Lynx)

Turok 2: Seeds of Evil
Grade: F
Publisher: Acclaim (1998)
Posted: 2024/6/18
Rating: Mature

screenshotThe first Turok offered a boldly original premise: dinosaur hunting. This sequel takes a different tact and ends up feeling like a half-baked Quake (Nintendo 64, 1998). This time you're fighting dino-men in ancient ruins and spaceships. Your goal is to activate portals, protect energy totems, and rescue children. It begs the question, why would anyone want to play this?

The first stage is almost unbearable with its endless switches, and dark, narrow passageways. At least they give you a flashlight. Your main adversaries are genetically-engineered dinosaurs which look like generic lizard men. The stages are large in scope but cookie-cutter to-the-max. The expansive pak makes enemies appear sharper but also a lot more angular. The medieval scenery is drab and redundant.

Turok 2 subjects the player to lots of tedious first-person platform jumping, and it's less forgiving than the first game. Too often the box you need to jump on is an inch too high! The only thing worse than first-person jumping is first-person swimming, and this time your air supply is limited. Joy! When you hit one of the many switches, you'll hear a door opening but have no idea where it is.

The second stage starts off like gangbusters as you commandeer a horned dinosaur equipped with a freakin' rocket launcher. Goring enemies up close and bombing them from a distance is a blast, but the hardware struggles to keep up with the carnage. The explosions are terrific but the stuttering framerate, laggy controls, and fuzzy textures will give you a splitting headache.

The four-player split-screen mode would seem like a nice bonus, but its dark, muddled graphics are hard to stomach. Sudz was frustrated that he couldn't kill Chris despite shooting him repeatedly. "C'mon! - I can see his organs on the ground!!" Gratuitous gore aside, Turok 2: Seeds of Evil was a major misstep, sending this franchise back to the Stone Age. © Copyright 2024 The Video Game Critic.

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1 to 4 players 

If you like this game, try: Dino Crisis 2 (Playstation)
Nova Blast (Colecovision)
Turok: Evolution (Xbox)
Turok: Dinosaur Hunter (Nintendo 64)
Dino Crisis 3 (Xbox)

Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion
Grade: B-
Publisher: Acclaim (2000)
Posted: 2024/6/18
Rating: Mature

screenshotThe original Turok: Dinosaur Hunter (Acclaim, 1997) was an innovative first-person shooter featuring realistic prehistoric creatures. Turok 2: Seeds of Evil (Acclaim, 1998) was less memorable with cut-and-paste stages and generic dino-soldiers. Turok 3 feels like more of a modern-day adventure with varied environments and sophisticated puzzles.

The opening cut-scene serves up quite a twist as our hero Turok is killed - offscreen, of course. This leaves it up to two selectable Native American warriors to take up the mantle, each of which offers a unique playing experience. Danielle is more agile, with the ability to grapple and jump high. Joseph is better suited to specialized weapons like the sniper rifle.

The opening stage features a dark, dystopian city. With stormy weather, shadowy alleys, and flashing police lights, it just oozes with atmosphere and intensity. The police have cordoned off most of the city and twisted creatures from other dimensions prowl what's left. The police are actually more deadly than the monsters because when they shoot they do not miss!

Enemies like the gray spider-zombies are positively terrifying. I love their death animations, especially when they take one final lunge in your direction. There's a ton of gore in Turok 3, with ample spurting blood and heads getting blown off. That's not something you see every day on a Nintendo console. The shattering glass effects are also very pleasing.

The controls are decent and I love how you can pick up any item by simply walking over it. Likewise you hit any switch by walking up to it. Still, the first-person jumping is as annoying than ever. When you land on some narrow platform you're terrified to even touch the controls because you may be a pixel away from slipping off the edge.

The campaign is best played on the easy setting, as it offers an auto-aim mechanism and creatures that go down with few shots. After an enemy dies you can see its soul drift up into the air. The action is tight, with short stages that always have some new and exciting to offer. The subway scene where you need to duck between the roaring train cars is particularly suspenseful.

Later stages like the military base and junkyard are less compelling, but at least you get to experiment with some really novel weapons. For example, the "cerebral bore" burrows into the brain of an enemy before exploding like a grenade! Talk about delayed gratification!

The multiplayer might be comparable to Goldeneye 007 (Nintendo, 1997) on a technical level, but the weapons are confusing and the arena layouts dull. Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion gets by on the strength of its riveting campaign. The graphics are sharp, the soundtrack ominous, and being able to play as two unique characters adds variety. © Copyright 2024 The Video Game Critic.

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1 to 4 players 

If you like this game, try: Turok: Dinosaur Hunter (Nintendo 64)
Nightmare Creatures (Playstation)
Wario Ware Twisted (Game Boy Advance)
Goldeneye 007 (Nintendo 64)
Carrier (Dreamcast)

Turok: Dinosaur Hunter
Grade: C
Publisher: Acclaim (1997)
Posted: 2024/6/18
Rating: Mature 17+ (violence, blood and gore)

screenshotIt's easy to see why Turok: Dinosaur Hunter was such a hit in 1997. First-person shooters were the rage on PCs but just starting to make inroads in the console market. Turok also capitalized on the dinosaur craze set into motion by the Jurassic Park films. Turok himself was an intriguing leading man, being a Native American armed with a bow and tomahawk.

The game is thrilling from the start as you find yourself in a dense jungle with gates, strange totems, and waterfalls. The natural sounds and bongo drums strike a primeval tone, with occasional growls instilling a sense of paranoia. In the distance is an ever-present "fog" but this works in the game's favor, as enemies look ominous emerging from the haze.

It's downright alarming the first time you see a fluidly-animated raptor running toward you. When shot, the manner in which it struggles and contorts on the ground is amazing. We're talking Jurassic Park quality here! Turok packs quite a few dinos along with other prehistoric creatures including a sabertooth tiger.

You also have to deal with enemy soldiers, and while they seem unnecessary, their reactions when shot are priceless. If you're a fan of the Willhelm scream, you'll love these guys. Sometimes when shot they'll scream hysterically as blood spurts from their neck. Gamers in 1997 were a bloodthirsty bunch.

One thing I dislike is how enemies materialize from thin air, almost arbitrarily. The giant beetles are especially annoying since their shells are impervious to your shots when they are sitting still. Shooting innocent creatures like a warthog or calf will dispense health power-ups, reminiscent of the thieves in Golden Axe (Genesis, 1989).

Although PC gamers would scoff upon them, the controls are serviceable enough. The thumbstick is used to look around and the right bumper jumps. Using the four yellow arrow buttons to move isn't as bad as it sounds. At least you can strafe! The trigger swings your tomahawk, but this weapon is almost immediately replaced by a pistol, followed by a shotgun, etc, etc.

My biggest issue with Turok is its first-person jumping. There's quite a bit of it, and sometimes you're required to leap considerable distances between narrow platforms. The controls are highly forgiving but it's still rather disorienting. The expansive stage layouts also leave much to be desired with portals that teleport you all over the place. Thank goodness for the map overlay, available via the left trigger.

Turok is not always so easy on the eyes. Dark scenery makes it tough to spot narrow crevasses and when your "spiritual invincibility" kicks in, the psychedelic colors make it impossible to tell what's going on. Despite its flaws however, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter feels unique and refreshing. It's got a first-rate cheat system and a manual with an old-school comic you can read in the backseat of a car! It may look prehistoric today, but Turok still deserves a shot. © Copyright 2024 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

If you like this game, try: Jungle Strike (Super Nintendo)
Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion (Nintendo 64)
Donkey Kong (Intellivision)
Turok 2: Seeds of Evil (Nintendo 64)
Jurassic Park III: Park Builder (Game Boy Advance)

Twisted Edge: Extreme Snowboarding
Grade: C-
Publisher: Midway (1997)
Posted: 2008/2/27
Rating: Everyone

screenshotConsidering Midway's track record of producing flashy arcade games, it's amazing how Twisted Edge turned out looking so butt ugly. I actually had to put in my 1080 Degree Snowboarding (Nintendo 1998) cartridge just to reassure myself that the Nintendo 64 was indeed capable of playing good-looking games! When you first turn on Twisted Edge, you're warned that "you don't have enough room on your controller pack to save", but don't believe it! The warning only applies to saving "ghost" data, which consumes an insanely large chunk of space. In fact, minimal space is required to save your progress and scores.

Extreme Snowboarding's characters are dark and indistinct, and the courses tend to have a dreary, washed out look. The developers clearly got carried away with the system's "smoothing" effects, transforming everything into a fuzzy mess. Not only is the scenery shrouded in fog, but even the mountain backdrops look blurry! Does Twisted Edge's gameplay compensate for its shoddy visuals? Almost!

The responsive steering controls make it a pleasure to carve into the icy tundra, and you can easily adjust the position of your body in mid-air. The rumble feedback is effective, especially when skidding along ice patches. Although the courses are definitely bland, I like how they tend to be wide open and easy to follow. You can perform tricks off ramps, but they don't serve much of a purpose besides causing you to wipe out. Performing holds is easy enough, but executing flips require complex button combinations - which I found bizarre.

Twisted Edge's championship mode offers a decent challenge for the solo player, but the split-screen mode is an affront to all people with sight. Twisted Edge's equally horrendous soundtrack consists of whining guitars, and you'll want to shut that garbage off immediately. Twisted edge is certainly extreme - if by "extreme" you mean lame! For better snowboarding action on your N64, stick with 1080 Degree Snowboarding. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 player 

If you like this game, try: 1080 Degree Snowboarding (Nintendo 64)
1080 Degree Avalanche (GameCube)
Sled Storm (Playstation)
Snowboarding (Playstation)
Cool Boarders 3 (Playstation)


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