007: The World Is Not Enough
Publisher: Electronic Arts (2000)
(EA, 1997) was an institution on the Nintendo 64, but you don't hear much about its sequel. The World is Not Enough delivers a superb campaign and rich multiplayer split-screen modes. The missions are more polished and cinematic than Goldeneye and the character models are lifelike. They actually have voices this time, although they sound somewhat muffled. The cut-scene exposition is painfully dry but the missions themselves are pretty intense. They involve rescuing hostages, defusing bombs in a subway, pursuing villains on a pier, and infiltrating an exotic villa. The most exciting stage takes place on ski slopes where you blow up fuel dumps and gun down enemies while careening down the mountain. I love it! I also appreciate the attention to detail; when you shoot a picture on the wall, it falls down. I find it really difficult to avoid shooting fleeing hostages - that's something I need to work on. Unlike Goldeneye's roundish health meter, World gives you a more conventional health bar. Selecting items is awkward. The x-ray goggles seem cool until you realize enemies behind walls can see you too!
What the hell? I was worried about the missions that forbid you from killing guards until I realized it was still permissible to beat the living [expletive] out of them! What a relief! The multiplayer lets you deploy CPU-controlled "bots", allowing you to play solo (always a plus). The arenas are bright and spacious, set in small villages, snowy mountains, and the MI6 Headquarters. My friends who were very critical of Goldeneye found this game to be a pleasant surprise. The soundtrack may not be as catchy as Goldeneye but it still maintains a high degree of intensity. When it comes to old first-person shooters, I'd have to say The World Is Not Enough has held up better than most. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Save mechanism: controller pack
1 to 4 players
1080 Degree Snowboarding
Publisher: Nintendo (1998)
Clearly the best snowboarding game for the N64, 1080 Degree Snowboarding also beats the pants off of anything you'll find on the Playstation. This game does just about everything right! There are a nice variety of modes including match races, time trials, slalom events, long jumps, half pipes, and "contests" that mix up the challenges. The graphics are superb, with awesome mountain backdrops, icy ridges, and blowing snow that looks so real you can feel the chill! I actually had to wear a hat, ski pants, and ski boots just to review this game. Most of the six courses are fairly realistic, and even the more unusual courses never go completely over-the-top like those in SSX
(Playstation 2, 2000). The trails are more narrow than other snowboarding games, but it's not a problem since analog stick provides just the right degree of control. The sound of crisp snow crunching under your board is awesome, and I like the way snow flies as you slice through it. One negative aspect of the game is the soundtrack, which dishes out some of the most repetitive crap
I've ever heard in a video game. Also, I noticed that some characters have trouble nailing their landings even after performing simple tricks. Otherwise 1080 is a phenomenal title that's hard to put down. A nice two-player split screen mode is included and the cartridge automatically saves high scores. Before SSX came along, nothing could touch this. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
All-Star Baseball 2000
Publisher: Acclaim (1999)
Widely considered the premiere baseball franchise for the Nintendo 64, All Star Baseball is vastly overrated
. This 2000 edition plays a decent all-around game, but it's hardly what I'd call exciting or addictive. Granted, All Star Baseball is easily the best looking
baseball title for the system. Its graphics are sharp and well defined, with realistic stadiums and players that resemble their real-life counterparts. Die-hard fans will easily recognize the distinct batting stances and pitching motions of their favorite players. All Star Baseball's animation could be more fluid though. Players move realistically during the action, but when the play is over they revert to robot-like stances. My buddy Eric and I used to have a field day doing hilarious impersonations of these guys. I especially hate how runners stop abruptly at first base instead of overrunning it. The well-designed control scheme makes it easy to get started right away. You can run down fly balls and toss the ball between bases with ease, but the trigger-controlled base running system can be tricky. Perhaps most impressive is the way you can adjust your slides
going into bases to avoid tags. The game has just about every option you could imagine, including a nifty four-player mode with a special screen that lets you to map the players to each position. All Star's presentation looks like a real telecast, but the two-man play-by-play is sparse, and they tend to repeat phrases like "that fast ball made him look silly
". The instant replay feature is handy, but it often reveals serious collision detection issues on the field. All Star 2000 has no glaring flaws, but I found its cursor-based pitching and batting to be slow and tedious, and I hate having to wait for the catcher to throw the ball back to the pitcher. The computer AI is pretty weak, making it very easy to strike out CPU-controlled hitters. Saving your season consumes almost an entire memory pack. Baseball purists will appreciate All Star Baseball's realism, but casual gamers may doze off long before the seventh-inning stretch. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
All-Star Baseball 2001
Publisher: Acclaim (2000)
The tagline of All Star Baseball 2001 is telling: "The only
new Nintendo 64 baseball game this season!" When that's the best thing you can say about your game, that's not
a good sign! With little incentive to innovate, it's not surprising that this 2001 edition is practically identical to the year before, albeit with updated rosters. The graphics are exactly
the same, with zero effort made to improve the stilted animation or questionable collision detection. You'd think they could have at least
incorporated overrunning first base! The most substantial difference is the red color of the cartridge. I did take a slight interest in the new "easy pitching" and "easy batting" options, hoping they would make the game faster and more arcade-like. But instead they made the batting feel more like a guessing game, and it wasn’t long before I returned to the old, tedious cursors. All Star's pace is slow, and games take too long to play. The commentator constantly refers to home plate as "the dish", which is about the most annoying expression I've ever heard. All Star Baseball 2001 is clearly a case of Acclaim "mailing it in", making this a highly questionable "upgrade" for owners of All Star Baseball 2000. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Army Men: Sarge's Heroes
Publisher: 3DO (1999)
I like the idea of controlling toy plastic army men in a video game. I can easily recognize the various types of soldiers and their distinctive combat stances from my childhood. The fact that the combatants are only toys allows for a certain degree of levity you wouldn't normally associate with a war game. Enemy troops literally melt
under the heat of flamethrowers, and the comical dialogue includes stuff like, "It's only a plastic wound Sarge!" Sarge's Heroes challenges you to a series of brief missions against the evil "tan" army. A typical scenario involves locating an injured soldier and escorting him to safety. Along the way you'll encounter well-fortified strongholds, wandering tanks, and even minefields. The action is viewed from behind your soldier, and an auto-aim mechanism helps you pick off enemies. Holding down the right trigger provides a alternate first-person view, but it's so clumsy that you'll want to save it for the heavy artillery. In addition to its generic battlefields, Sarge's Heroes incorporates fantasy stages that place you in a bathroom, living room, and garden (remember, you're just a little toy). You might expect these stages to be a barrel of laughs, but their comic potential is completely squandered. The camerawork in Sarge's Heroes is absolutely horrendous. When you turn, it automatically swings to face your new direction, but not without a substantial lag that results in many undeserved deaths. The graphics are shabby, marred by heavy fog, boxy buildings, triangular mountains, and flat, cardboard trees. The controls become less responsive as the action heats up, and the collision detection also goes to hell in hand basket. I don't think I ever truly knew the definition of heinous
until I attempted Sarge's split screen model, which is a pointless mess. 3DO's first Army Men 3D
(Playstation, 1997) game was decent, but once they started pumping out cannon fodder like Sarge's Heroes, the series quickly degenerated into joke material. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Asteroids Hyper 64
Publisher: Activision (1999)
Asteroids for the Nintendo 64 doesn't suck quite as much as its Playstation counterpart (1998), mainly because of there are no load screens or boring
full motion video clips. But if you thought the asteroid rocks were hard to see in the Playstation version, wait until you get a load of these black rocks rotating over equally dark backgrounds. Were the developers trying
to make the asteroids invisible? Perhaps they wanted to make the game more difficult? Well, it didn't work, because I can play this thing all day even on the so-called "hardcore" skill level. The graphics are only average, but slightly better than the Playstation edition. Your missiles are better defined (white circles), and when your ship takes a hit, it explodes into an impressive fiery ring. And wait until you see the UFOs in this game. Man, these things are so huge
, it's hard not
to shoot them! Asteroid Hyper 64's visuals take a backseat to its explosive audio effects. Asteroids make thunderous crumbling noises as they split, making them all the more satisfying to break up. Unfortunately, advanced levels are littered with those [expletive] regenerating "crystal" asteroids, which all but ruin the fun. The idea of "regenerating asteroids" has got to be the dumbest, most ill advised
concept ever employed in a video game! What a colossal pain in the ass! It totally goes against the grain of what made the original arcade hit so much fun. You'd think that Activision couldn't go wrong by updating a classic like Asteroids, but predictably, they managed to F
it up. Big time. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Nintendo (1998)
As one of the more beloved games for the Nintendo 64, Banjo Kazooie took the Mario 64 style of gameplay and expanded it every which way. Banjo is a likeable honey bear and Kazooie is his smart-aleck feathered sidekick. Working together, they can execute an astonishing number of moves, ranging from your standard double-jump to the lightning-fast "beak bomb" attack. Fifteen moves are listed in the instruction manual, but they're introduced gradually over the course of the game to ease the learning curve. A helpful mole character appears in each stage to advise you, so you'll rarely get stuck. Your mission is to save Banjo's sister, held captive by an evil Witch named Gruntilda. Unlike the generic villains of most adventure games, Gruntilda is a very funny and interesting character. There's plenty of stuff to do in Banjo Kazooie, with expansive new areas constantly opening up. Our adventurous pair face their share of adversaries, but the strength of the game lies in it intelligent, thought-provoking puzzles, which are rarely frustrating and often quite satisfying. If there's one aspect where the game goes a bit overboard, it may be the item collecting. There are about nine sets of items to collect, and at times it seems downright gratuitous. Still, the game is well paced and fairly easy. The control scheme is intuitive enough, although you will encounter occasional camera glitches. When it comes to sheer production values, Banjo Kazooie is first class all the way. The graphics are outstanding, brimming with subtle details like cracks in rocks, shimmering water, and flowers blowing in the grass. The music, audio effects, and dialogue are expertly performed, although their childlike nature may turn off some mature gamers. All things considered, Banjo Kazooie is a terrific game that is adored by legions of fans. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
Publisher: Ubisoft (2000)
Not your typical Batman game, Beyond represents some kind of bizarre off-shoot of the comic book series where Bruce Wayne is an old man mentoring a young, spry new Batman. Robin is not in the picture due to some bizarre circumstances revealed during cut-scenes. The Joker is your primary foe, although you'll face several sub-bosses you've never heard of like Woof and Ghoul. Batman Beyond is weird as hell, but it gets by on its hard-hitting hand-to-hand combat and easy-to-grasp controls. The game is rendered with 3D polygons, but the side-scrolling fighting action is more along the lines of 2D brawlers like Streets of Rage
(Genesis, 1991). Most of the stages take place in high-tech facilities, and they're pretty boring. The 3D scenery is composed of clean textures and nice lighting effects, but plain metallic walls and stacks of boxes make for dull scenery. This game lacks the interesting illustrated details you find in 2D brawlers. Batman controls well as he goes up against generic thugs, robots, and creepy hyena-people. You can punch, kick, duck, block, jump, and brandish weapons. You have several outfits to choose from, each of which is suited to a unique play style. Personally I prefer the defensive suit with its super-effective shoulder charge. Fighting is satisfying because you can easily dish off a quick succession of hits, and enemies hit the floor with a resounding thud. The audio is terrific with its edgy guitar soundtrack and jarring explosions. Batman Beyond's primary flaw is its questionable replay value. You'll get several continues but no password, so each time you play it's back to the start! The game is pretty short with its five stages, and there's no score or rating to gauge your performance. Batman Beyond had some potential, but Ubisoft didn't put enough effort into this. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
Battletanx: Global Assault
Publisher: 3DO (1999)
With three friends on hand I anxiously loaded up Battletanx, bracing myself for some explosive multiplayer mayhem. But what ensued was more a sense of bewilderment than bedlam. The four-player split-screen visibility is downright horrendous
, and who came up with this crappy portal concept? I hate how tanks are randomly disappearing and reappearing all over the place. There's a wide variety of tanks to choose from but the fact that they all control differently adds to the confusion. Despite the bad first impression all was not lost. I gave the single-player campaign mode a try and it's actually not half bad! The missions are short and the battlefields are reasonable in size. Each mission has specific objectives (like rescuing people) but they largely boil down to blowing up everything on the map. And there's no shortage of firepower. A single mortar will blow out an entire building and the second shot will reduce it to rubble! And that's not to mention special weapons like swarmer missiles and lasers. Thunderous explosion effects add to the fun. The bland scenery isn't much to look at, consisting of truck stops, train yards, and ports. The night missions are a pain because it's hard enough to tell where shots are coming from. Still, the wanton destruction is habit-forming. So don't let the multiplayer blues get you down. Stick with the Battletanx campaign and you'll have a blast. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
Beetle Adventure Racing
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1999)
My recollections of this oldie are a little hazy, but if the "best times" records screen is any indication, my friends and I played the hell
out of this thing! I'm seeing the names of people I haven't talked to in ten years!
Beetle Adventure's arcade-style tracks were sensational
in 1999, and frankly they still look pretty good today. Mount Mayhem offers snow swept mountains and Metro Madness boasts a gorgeous shimmering city sunset. The Jurassic Park-inspired "Inferno Isle" features a harrowing route through an active volcano. There are plenty of unexpected surprises (like a hungry T-Rex) and even some "big air" moments. Your car selection is limited to Volkswagon Beetles of various color schemes. The controls are excellent thanks to the trigger/brake which allows you to execute power-slides with tight turn radiuses. The roads are heavily constrained with guardrails, rocks, and fences to keep you on track, and hitting them doesn't slow you down much. Since there's no damage modeling, it's often advantageous to sideswipe a wall or bump an opponent. The single player mode pits you against seven CPU cars, and it's addictive and challenging to unlock the tracks. Each race is three laps, and you'll want to be alert during that third one because the route will change unexpectedly. The two-player split-screen mode is less exciting because there are no CPU racers and the scenery is less impressive. This mode also exposes the game's most serious flaw, which is the inability to adjust the number of laps. Considering each lap can last up to five minutes, things can get boring if one person takes a commanding lead. Did the designers purposely make the tracks as long as possible? In some cases it seems they are "padded" with similar repeating sections. Crashing puts you back on track almost immediately, but occasionally you'll become stuck in a hopeless location - like on the wrong side of a fence! Shortcuts abound, but you should exercise extreme caution
before heading off the beaten path. More often than not you'll find yourself in no-man's-land desperately trying to find your way back onto the main road! The four-player battle mode is a nice bonus but it's hard to track your opponents. The multi-player modes don't live up to expectations, but the solo racing will not let you down. Beetle Adventure Racing has an arcade flair that stands the test of time. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
Save mechanism: Controller pack
1 to 4 players
Big Mountain 2000
Publisher: Imagineer (2000)
Being a sucker for snowboarding games, Big Mountain 2000 didn't take long to win me over. Its clean, natural-looking courses are a refreshing change from the fake rollercoaster-style trails popularized in games like SSX
(PS2, 2000). I'm all about getting close to nature. Big Mountain lets you choose between skis or snowboards. Courses include a day trail, a gorgeous sunset run, and a scenic night course complete with passing train. Varied terrain is nicely reflected through crisp sound and effective rumble effects. Steering feels good and I like holding the A button to carve the snow. The B button lets you jump and perform tricks but they aren't integral to the game. Free ride mode lets you explore branching paths, but the slalom modes are fun too, challenging you to pass through gates. You can play solo to level-up characters or go against a friend via split-screen. I really wanted to like Big Mountain 2000 but there's one blatant flaw that costs the game at least one letter. My friends were wondering why they kept falling down for no apparent reason. As it turns out, going too fast
causes your speed bar to flash, indicating you must slow down or crash
. Why in the hell
would anyone program something like that into a game? Another issue is the collision detection. You'll miss a tree by a foot and your boarder acts like he just slammed into a brick wall! I swear there were times when I hit a tree after I was already past it!
Making contact with any competitor causes you both to fall, which is a drag. Big Mountain 2000 captures the spirit of the sport but a few head-scratching flaws prevent it from reaching its potential. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: GT Interactive (1998)
Rating: Mature (animated blood and gore)
The Nintendo 64 isn't known for its one-on-one fighting games, so Nintendo must have been pretty desperate to allow this butt-ugly button masher onto their system. Bio Freaks is a futuristic brawler featuring fighters more machine than human, with metal spikes, buzz saws, jet packs, and machine guns jutting out all over their bodies. The eight combatants include the aptly named Zipperhead, a Duke Nukem-wannabe named Bullzeye, the flame-throwing Purge, the minotaur-like Minoteck, a vomiting monster named Ssapo, and an obligatory, scantily clad hottie by the name of Delta. The character models look fairly chunky, and their animation is equally unimpressive. Fighters seem to glide when they walk, and action is choppy. The enclosed stages have got to be the most boring arenas I've ever witnessed in a fighting game - there's really nothing to see. On a positive note, there are an ample number of moves, and the game comes with a handy special move sheet (all fighting games should come with those!). The fact that all the fighters can hover with jetpacks seems to have potential, but adds little to the gameplay. What's most surprising about Bio Freaks is the excessive gore. The blood isn't particularly heavy, but you can actually dismember
your opponent (although you probably won't even notice until the dust settles). Bio Freak's audio is painfully weak, with generic grinding guitars and voice samples I could barely discern. I've played worse fighting games in my time, but I try not to. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Nintendo (1997)
When it comes to guys, there's only one thing we like better than building stuff, and that's blowing stuff up! Thank goodness Blast Corps gives us guys an outlet for our primal urge to unleash destruction and mayhem. Each stage begins with a large truck carrying explosive materials slowly crawling up the screen. If it touches anything, it's game over, so you must obliterate all obstacles standing in its way. There are a variety of vehicles at your disposal, including a bull-dozer, dump truck, train, and an Ultra-man style robot. The buildings tend to crumble easily like they do in old Godzilla movies, which is satisfying. Alarming sound effects add a degree of tension as they increase in intensity as the truck approaches an obstacle. Blast Corps' control is generally good, although it can be clumsy when it comes to intricate operations like pushing TNT crates. What really
makes Blast Corps a riot is its incredible explosions. Sweet! Although most levels are well designed, you'll occasionally find yourself asking "What the heck am I supposed to do now?". All in all, Blast Corps is a highly original game that will satisfy real men with an appetite for destruction. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Save mechanism: Controller pack
Publisher: Hudson Soft (1997)
Rating: Kids to Adults
I've been on board the Bomberman train since Super Bomberman
(SNES, 1992) but this 3D version is off the rails. Adventure mode invites you to wander around maze-like levels, blowing up obstacles and slow-moving enemies to collect items. Just imagine Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
(Wii U, 2014)... if it sucked.
Bomberman 64 suffers from blurry graphics, cryptic objectives, awful controls, and an unweildy camera system. This game is a constant struggle. I got stuck in the very first stage because the final gem was obscured from all sides. That's bad design by any measure, but in the first stage?!
First impressions make it hard to enjoy a game like this, but rest assured you won't!
The graphics will make you cringe; those flat "steps" turn my stomach. The stages feature all the obligatory themes (water, volcano, snow) but tend to be claustrophobic with bombs raining down all over the place. Patrolling enemies like snowmen and fish people are slow and easy to blow up, but touching just about anything
in this game will cause you to spontaneously combust.
There's a weird pause when you walk through a doorway; is the cartridge is loading the next area? The controls are idiotic, forcing you to press two buttons at once
to perform the basic actions. Don't even attempt this game without instructions or a walk-through. Using the four yellow button to manipulate the camera is a headache as usual. Even the light, breezy soundtrack failed to sooth my growing rage. I tried battle mode with my friends which features open 3D battlefields that let you kick bombs diagonally and stun your opponents. While playable, it's plagued by slowdown and most stages are so convoluted you can't tell what's going on. Bomberman 64 is downright detestable. The fact that it someone thought it merited a sequel blows my mind. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Midway (1998)
California Speed features so-so racing action but awe-inspiring scenery. There are sixteen tracks in all, and what they lack in detail they make up for in sheer creativity. Most of the major California cities are featured, and each track is loaded with surprises. You'll be zooming down a normal stretch of highway and suddenly find yourself whizzing through a mall, giant computer, or UFO. You'll speed over aircraft carriers and around roller coasters. How in the world did they fit all of this crazy scenery into a cartridge? The attractive graphics and smooth frame rate make for an enjoyable ride, particularly the first time through. The racing aspect of the game is less exciting. The cars don't look so hot, and the roads are wide open with few obstacles (although there are a few shortcuts). The controls are limited to accelerate and brake, with no speed boosts or power-ups. The single-player mode is fun but limited in play value, and the two-player split screen mode is only fair. At least you get to see a picture of a fabulous babe when you win. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Software Creations (1999)
Rating: Mature 17+ (blood, gore, animated violence)
On paper Carmageddon sounds like a slam-dunk winner. You're racing around post-apocalyptic world smashing cars and running over zombies. How can this be bad? Oh it can be bad alright!
In fact, Carmageddon may just possibly be the disgraceful thing I've ever played. Let's begin with the gut-churning dreck
that's meant to pass for graphics. The textures in the game are so fuzzy you'll feel the need to put on glasses - even if you don't wear them!
The storefronts are best described as "smeared". Even the hazy skylines in the distance look blurry! The angular roads are strewn with so many barricades you can't even tell where the [expletive] you're supposed to go! How am I supposed to race "laps" when the track goes in five different directions? You know you're in trouble when you start seeing the message "wrong checkpoint". The first time I played the game I quickly found myself at the bottom of a lake
, searching for some means to escape. Then I noticed other cars milling around under there!
WTF? The controls are abysmal. You'd expect the analog steering to offer some degree of precision, but it's all-or-nothing as your car jerks abruptly from side-to-side. In addition to racing, you can "win" (and I use the term loosely) by destroying other cars. There are no traditional weapons like Twisted Metal
(PS1, 1995) but you can collect icons that unleash semi-automated attacks. The CPU opponents are utterly clueless, languishing in ditches and wedged hopelessly between rocks. Your third option is to mow down all the zombies, but locating all of these cardboard cut-out ghouls would take forever. Even watching them splatter into green goo is unsatisfying. The audio track is just a irritating jumble of beats and samples. The fact that this is a PC port explains a lot but it's still no excuse. Carmageddon 64 is such an atrocity it actually gives Superman
(Nintendo 64, 1999) a run for the money. If a friend ever asks you to play Carmageddon, be sure to punch him in the face. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Konami (1999)
Castlevania's transition to 3D was a little bumpy, but it's still a very respectable game (despite what most critics say). In the proud tradition of the series, the game features a vampire hunter storyline, better-than-average graphics, and haunting orchestrated music. You'll battle monsters with your whip, hit torches to reveal items, and make death-defying leaps. Castlevania gets off to a rip-roaring start in a forest outside of Dracula's Castle, where a violent thunderstorm knocks down giant trees in your path. Skeletons crawl out of the ground, and it's crazy fun to snap their heads off with your whip. The first boss appears unexpectedly behind the first gate, and his appearance is startling. He looks like the skeleton of King Kong, running around like a giant ape! It's pretty scary. Castlevania's gameplay drew me in immediately, but my enthusiasm waned as I was forced to deal with poor camera angles, deadly water, and control problems (especially around ledges). Your enemies are the usual suspects of skeletons and werewolves, but there are some bizarre surprises like skeletons on motorcycles. There's a lot of game packed into this cartridge, and Castlevania fans should at least give it a chance. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness
Publisher: Konami (1999)
Rating: Teen (blood, animated violence)
I recall critics referring to this as more of a remake than a sequel, perhaps because the original was not very well received. Apparently the developers didn't get the memo, because Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness has more of the same camera and control issues. That said, Legacy still has a lot to offer, starting with its graphics. Using the enhanced RAM and high resolution options delivers a superb level of detail with sharp lines and smooth polygon textures. If the cancelled Dreamcast Castlevania had ever seen the light of day, I suspect it would have looked a lot like this. The low resolution option delivers a slightly better framerate, but the game is perfectly playable at any setting. You'll assume the role of multiple characters, beginning with some white-haired metrosexual named Cornel who walks like he has a pole up his butt. The first stage takes place on a haunted ship, culminating with an encounter with a sea serpent. The platform jumping benefits greatly from the fact that you can grab and hold any nearby ledge. Unfortunately, some controls (like pulling yourself up) change depending on the camera position, leading to confusion. Your default projectile attack is effective, often more so than special items like axes, crosses, and holy water. You can transform into a werewolf, which intensifies your attacks. In addition to jumping and fighting, there are puzzles to solve. "Will you pull the lever?" Uhhh... yeah!
(Duh!) Legacy of Darkness automatically adjusts the camera based on the situation, but the system isn't foolproof. In one area you need to drop down several levels, and it's hard to tell which ledges you can safely step off of. Some stages are cookie cutter in design, making you wonder if you're entering new territory or retracing your steps. Otherwise the game is highly playable and there are a generous number of white gem "quick save" points around the game. Legacy is more action than horror, but I enjoyed the creepy bosses and raging thunderstorms. Having a Frankenstein monster chase you through a hedge maze with a chain saw is particularly scary. All the horror icons are represented like vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and the obligatory skeletons-riding-motorcycles-with-sidecars-and-machine-guns. Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness has its awkward moments, but its forgiving nature and fun atmosphere will help you see past its faults. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
Save mechanism: Battery
Command and Conquer
Publisher: Westwood (1999)
Like Warcraft, Command and Conquer is a real-time strategy game where you train soldiers, build structures, and ultimately conquer an enemy over a series of missions. I really enjoyed this game on the Playstation, and found the N64 version to be even better. The two main flaws with the Playstation version were its long load times and tiny, hard-to-make-out objects. Both have been addressed here. Obviously, since this is a cartridge the loading time is minimal. And thanks to the N64's sharp, high resolution graphics, the tiny soldiers are much easier to make out. The only things missing are the long video clips, which I could do without anyway. The analog joystick control takes a little getting used to, but the excellent music remains intact. Command and Conquer's missions are fun and challenging, and you can choose to play either side of the conflict. If you like strategy games, this classic will keep you engrossed for hours on end. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Save mechanism: Controller pack
Conker's Bad Fur Day
Publisher: Nintendo (2001)
When I first heard the premise of this odd game, I really didn't think it would work. Cartoon characters in an adult game seemed like a really bad idea, and Nintendo seemed to be the only game company left still concerned with offering wholesome, family-oriented games. Conker's Bar Fur Day is a pretty typical 3D adventure by Rare, except it features adult themes and bad language. To be honest, most of the questionable material is more juvenile than adult, with all kinds of toilet humor, fluctuation sound effects, gratuitous violence, and various depictions of human waste. I don't see the humor in all that, but some of the dialog, especially during the cut-scenes, is well written and surprisingly funny. You'll hear some bad words, but not the F word, which is bleeped out on numerous occasions. I was a bit under-whelmed by Conker's gameplay. You don't have a million items to collect like Donkey Kong 64, but it's often difficult to determine what you're supposed to do next. It's as if the game was designed to make you buy the strategy guide (imagine that)! Conker's gameplay isn't innovative at all, but its adult theme gives its a distinct edge. The graphics and sound effects are top of the line for the N64, and the background music is near Disney quality. Conker also features a wide array of multiplayer minigames, including a racing game, a tank game, and a first person shooter. While these are a nice bonus, they won't hold your attention for long. Conker is definitely a trip, but I don't think we need any more games like this. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Midway (2000)
As the third entry in this grammatically-incorrect series, Exotica may be the most over-the-top racer I've ever played. Its twelve locations include Las Vegas, Hong Kong, Korea, Alaska, India, Ireland, Tibet, Holland, Korea, and the Sahara Desert. You even get a few fantasy tracks like the undersea world of Atlantis, a dinosaur-infested Amazon, and the surface of Mars! My personal favorite is Hong Kong, with its elevated highways amidst a sea of buildings and colorful lights - it's pretty amazing. The controls are identical to its predecessor, Cruis'n World, but the "turbo" function has been relabeled with the more fashionable term "nitros oxide". The vehicle selection goes far beyond sports cars, including a psychedelic van, military jeep, and a forklift. Like previous entries in the series, the racing action is overly-forgiving, preventing you from veering off-course and immediately setting you back on the road after a wreck. While the gameplay hasn't changed much from the previous Cruis'n titles, the ample eye candy makes each race worth watching. Unfortunately, as with most early 3D games, Exotica suffers from severe "pop-up". The pop-up I'm referring to is buildings or mountains that suddenly appear as you approach, instead of scaling in from the distance. This detracts from some otherwise beautiful graphics. Along the same lines, certain parts of the scenery tend to repeat over and over to an annoying degree. Yes, this occurred in previous Cruis'n games, but it's far more obvious with Exotica's huge set pieces. Another annoyance is the preponderance of invisible walls, especially when you fly off of high jumps. Finally, computer opponents have a nasty penchant for bumping you off the road, and can make your life hell on the more narrow tracks. The one player game is pretty much limited to beating your previous times (saved to cartridge), but the split screen mode accomodates up to four players. Exotica may be a bit shallow compared to most modern racers, but there's still fun to be had. It's clear however, that the series had nowhere to go from here. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Nintendo (1996)
This much-anticipated early N64 title was delayed several times before finally being released to a lukewarm reception. It's not a bad
game, but doesn't fare well at all when compared to the Playstation's Ridge Racer (1995). In the spirit of Outrun, Cruis'n USA is strictly an arcade racer, with invisible "walls" that keep you on track, cars that bounce off each other like rubber, and the ability to recover from crashes almost instantly. Ten scenic tracks are strung together from San Francisco to Washington DC, and along the way you'll visit Beverly Hills, the Grand Canyon, cornfields in Iowa, and the city of Chicago. Each section has its own flavor, and I enjoyed the varied locations. Yes, there are "pop-up" issues, but it's only severe in the two-player split-screen mode. Cruis'n USA's racing action is fast and exciting as you jockey with competitors and swerve out of the way of oncoming traffic. Pile-ups are common, and even the CPU-controlled cars can have head-on collisions. At its best, Cruis'n USA feels like an early version of Burnout
(GameCube, 2002), but at its worst, it feels shallow and sloppy. The steering controls are twitchy, the physics is crazy, and the collision detection is hit-or-miss. Or maybe I should say "miss-or-miss". At one point I drove through
a whole row of redwood trees - something I hardly ever do in real life. Waiting for you at the various finish lines are some very hot but pixelated bikini babes (and a few shirtless dorks). The first thing you should do when playing Cruis'n USA is reconfigure the controls, because the default settings (Z to accelerate) are awkward at best. I also find it odd how the manual unfolds like a big poster. Was Nintendo trying to save money on staples? The game's soundtrack has been maligned in the past, but I don't mind it at all. The tunes have an understated quality, and the guitar-plucking "Deadwood Ride" is rather catchy. Cruis'n USA may not have lived up to expectations, but if you take it for what it is, you'll find this arcade racer to be quite an enjoyable trip. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Nintendo (1998)
This sequel to Cruis'n USA provides an exciting new set of tracks spanning the globe, including Hawaii, Japan, New York, Germany, Mexico, Egypt, and Moscow. New features include alternate routes, rumble pack support, turbo boost, and a four-player split-screen mode. Cruis'n World's controls feel more natural than its predecessor, with a default control scheme that actually makes sense. CPU opponents are far more aggressive this time around, attempting to bump you off the road at every opportunity. Like Cruis'n USA, the collision detection is erratic. The new tracks are colorful and attractive, but not as fantastic as I expected. Highlights include speeding through glass underwater tunnels in Hawaii, driving inside Egyptian pyramids, and careening along the Great Wall of China. Some tracks are surprisingly dull however. New York is a generic highway, Australia is a barren desert, and Kenya offers little more than dirt roads with occasional wildlife. The four-player split-screen mode is plagued by slowness and limited visibility, but at least the frame-rate remains smooth. If you enjoyed Cruis'n USA, this sequel is definitely worth your while. It's probably the best of the Cruis'n games for the Nintendo 64. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Destruction Derby 64
Publisher: THQ (1999)
Man's evolution began when he learned how to fashion tools from sticks, and ended when he learned how to smash expensive cars into each other. The original Destruction Derby
(Playstation, 1995) was fun but lacking in one critical area: multi-player! Destruction Derby 64 (DD64) addresses that shortcoming in a big way, and delivers some of the best racing action you'll find on the N64. You can select between wide-open smash-up-derbies or stockcar racing with cars headed in opposite directions around a track! The derbies are wild and exciting as cars plow into each other and the polygons go flying. Only one will prevail, but since your rank is determined by the damage you inflict, you'll want to be aggressive. Unfortunately, the scoring seems arbitrary at times ("I only got one point for that?!
") In stockcar races you earn points by reaching checkpoints in addition to taking shots at oncoming cars. The first few laps are utter chaos, but when you get finally get down to the last two cars, it becomes a bit of a stalemate. If both cars pass each other on a long track, it can be a while before you cross paths again. A radar display helps you anticipate crash opportunities, but there are too many colored dots on that damned thing. The controls are responsive enough, but I wish the emergency brake had been mapped to the trigger instead of the right shoulder. The quality of the tracks in a pleasant surprise. The seaside resort is absolutely beautiful, offering realistic lighting effects, scenic views, and rich textures. It reminded me of Ridge Racer
(Playstation, 1995). Other notable locations include the Louisiana Bayou and a gothic town at night. In the alpine ridge track, your tires slip realistically on snowy surfaces but grip well in tunnel sections, and you have to respect that level of attention to detail. The soundtrack is a series of hypnotic techno beats. A world championship mode will challenge the solo player and a split screen will accommodate up to four players. The frame-rate gets sketchy on the split-screen, it's still fun. Destruction Derby 64 is one of the few smash-up games that actually "gets it", and is sure to keep you and your friends entertained for hours on end. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Recommended variation: rookie, bowl
Our high score: 64
1 to 4 players
Diddy Kong Racing
Publisher: Nintendo (1997)
Diddy Kong Racing takes the outstanding gameplay of Mario Kart and expands upon it in a number of ways. In addition to cars, you can also race planes and hovercraft! The tracks feature tropical islands (always a favorite), snowy mountains, and even a prehistoric world. These scenic courses are well-designed and mercifully short, allowing for quick, action-packed races. Diddy Kong's graphics and frame-rate are gorgeously smooth, and the waterfalls and snow drifts look particularly appealing. The airplanes handle surprisingly well, but I found the hovercrafts a bit sensitive when it comes to turning. A single-player adventure mode lets you unlock tracks to use in the multiplayer modes, and it's madly addictive but never frustrating. Catchy tunes play throughout the races, including a few that sound like Christmas carols in the snow stages. With exciting racing action that places fun over realism, Diddy Kong Racing is a top-notch title for the Nintendo 64. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Nintendo (1999)
Donkey Kong 64 (DK64) plays like 3D platformers Mario 64, Gex, and Croc, but DK64 seems to have more
. There are more areas to explore, tons of special moves, multiple playable characters, and endless items to collect. DK64's huge virtual world is so beautiful it's almost a pleasure to become lost in it. The first small area opens up to a group of new areas, and each of those open up to more areas, and so on and so forth. Fortunately there are portals to make it easier to travel from one place to the next. If you enjoy the idea of collecting items, DK64 is your game. You'll need to find bananas of various colors, golden bananas, keys, coins, blueprints, and medals, just to name a few! To be honest, It gets to be a bit much after a while. Your enemies are fairly scarce and usually not too aggressive. DK64's visuals are some of the best you'll see on the system, and its audio is equally outstanding. The game certainly takes a substantial time investment to complete. The fact that you need to thoroughly search each level with each
of the five characters is bound to drain your will to continue. Still, DK64 has a lot going for it, starting with an outrageous
rap video introduction. You can save your game in progress at any time - a pretty nifty feature for a N64 title! Numerous mini-games are hidden within the main game, including the original Donkey Kong video game
, which is a real treat to play. I also have to credit the well-written instruction booklet - it's absolutely hilarious! Donkey Kong 64 is a quality title, so if you're not already burnt out on this type of game, be sure to give it a try. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.
Save mechanism: Battery
1 to 4 players
Publisher: Midway (1997)
Rating: Mature 17+ (animated violence, animation blood and gore)
I showed this game to a few friends, and their initial response was always the same: "Wow." Most console versions of Doom are derived from Doom 1 and 2 (PC), but Doom 64 is a whole new animal. You might call it Doom 2.5. By leveraging 64-bit technology it delivers the same style of first person shooting with better graphics and silky smooth animation. The stages tend to be very elaborate and the monsters have a sharp "clay-mation" look. A few new creeps have been added to the mix including the "pain elemental", and old standbys have been redesigned. Weapons include a double-bladed chainsaw that's not very practical for logging but mauls bloodthirsty demons like a champ. Doom 64's haunting music and echoing sound effects are effective. At first glance Doom 64 seems too good to be true, and it is. This is an incredibly dark game, and even with the lights out it's a struggle to see the corridors. Every now and then you'll locate a pair of "light amplification goggles" which brighten things up considerably, but the effect is short-lived. Excessive darkness combined with a slew of invisible monsters will result in you wondering why in the heck you're incurring damage. The high-tech stages are maze-like, and you end up moving in circles trying to figure out where to go. The default controls are unwieldy. Due to the N64 controller design you can't effectively use the trigger to shoot while using the shoulder buttons to strafe. A password is provided after each level, and you can also save your progress to a controller pack. Doom 64 may be a treat for fans looking for a brand new challenge, but casual players will find it more aggravating than fun. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.
Save mechanism: Password and Controller Pack
Publisher: Nintendo (2001)
It's hard to be critical of a game you can't stop playing. Dr. Mario 64 is so addicting, I think I could make a full time job
out of playing this! The graphics are simple, the music is so-so, and the sound effects are annoying, but tight controls and engrossing gameplay more than make up for these deficiencies. Dr. Mario is the type of game that appeals to men and women of all ages, and its four-player mode makes it an ideal party game. The gameplay is a variation of Tetris where you need to strategically place multi-colored "pills" to eliminate "viruses". It's the same Dr. Mario that's been released on the SNES (and NES), but this one contains more options and playing modes. If you enjoy puzzle games and you haven't tried Dr. Mario yet, you need to pick this up in a hurry. For the record, this is one of my wife's favorite video games of all time. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
ECW Hardcore Revolution
Publisher: Acclaim (2000)
What the heck is
the ECW anyway? I don't recognize any
of these wrestlers, but there sure are a lot of them (over 40)! ECW Hardcore Revolution certainly doesn't skimp when it comes to options. Not only do you get a huge selection both male and female wrestlers, but you can even create your own! The slew of playing modes includes a flashy "Pay Per View" mode (which requires a whole controller pack to save). ECW's matches are less impressive. The fighters are smoothly animated, but poor collision detection often causes fighters to pass through each other! The crowd noise is bizarre - either they're dead silent or going nuts. The fighters tend to repeat the same phrases over and over, usually "ouch!" or "ow!". The controls in the tag team matches are horrendous, and the matches tend to run far too long in general. This game initially impressed me with its extensive option list, but without any muscle behind its gameplay, ECW Hardcore Revolution goes down for the count. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Nintendo (2000)
Excitebike 64 is a fantastic motorcross game, boasting superb graphics, realistically animated bikers, and a selection of both indoor and outdoor tracks. After a slight learning curve, you'll feel in total control of your jumps, wheelies, slides, and stunts. And best of all, there's plenty of big air to catch. Excitebike's framerate remains exceptionally smooth even in the four player split-screen mode. The announcer is pretty decent, letting you know who's ahead and who crashed. A fun "season" mode lets you to unlock special tracks, and hidden goodies, including the original Excitebike (from the NES). If you are a motorcycle racing fan, look no further. © Copyright 2000 The Video Game Critic.