F-1 Formula One World Grand Prix
Publisher: Video System Co. (1998)
Publisher: Nintendo (1998)
An update of the old SNES game, F-Zero X is a futuristic racer featuring twisting tracks and fast action. This is what Wipeout should
have been. The tracks are super wide, so you can concentrate more on your racing and less on staying on the track! And with 29 other racers (!), you will
need the extra room. Unlike the flat tracks of the original F-Zero, these courses are loaded with loops, ramps, and tubes that twist every which way. It's not uncommon to lose track of which way is up! Going over huge ramps is especially thrilling because you have total control of your descent. Controlling your ride while careening through tunnels and around tubes is more difficult however. The track lengths are "just right", and much shorter than what you find in most racers. Another welcome feature is the lack of brakes - who needs 'em anyway? There are no power-ups, but you do have rechargeable turbo. Each character is illustrated in comic-book style, and the 30 futuristic hovering machines are customizable (although you'll need to unlock most of them). The sound effects aren't anything special, but the high-octane rock music suits the game well. F-Zero X's graphics are fast and smooth - even in the four-player split-screen. The scenery is very plain however, with few buildings or structures in the background. There are a few useless attacks, usually of the "spin-in-place" variety, but these are hardly worth mentioning. The addictive Gran Prix mode displays a "standings" chart after each race, and it's fun to ascend the ranks. F-Zero X is a very straightforward racer, and that makes it all the more engaging. I never cared for the original F-Zero, but this one is money. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Fighter Destiny 2
Publisher: Southpeak Interactive (2000)
Publisher: Nintendo (1997)
Save mechanism: controller pack
1 to 4 players
Hey You, Pikachu!
Publisher: Nintendo (2000)
Publisher: Midway (2000)
For the longest time I completely ignored the Nintendo 64 version of Hydro Thunder. After all, I already own the excellent Dreamcast edition. What could this possibly have to offer? Quite a bit actually! Far from the murky visuals and sluggish framerate I was expecting, this retains all the razzle dazzle and arcade flair that made the game so enticing to begin with. Given a selection of turbo-charged speedboats you'll blaze through awe-inspiring locations like a prehistoric lost world, the arctic circle, the Greek Isles, and the Far East. The eye candy is abundant and it's fun to uncover shortcuts and secrets. Instead of a watered-down version of the Dreamcast game this feels more like a remix
. I noticed a lot of cool effects and subtle details in the scenery I didn't catch on the Dreamcast. I will admit the turbo boost is less pronounced, undermining the game's sense of speed. Sometimes you'll ram an opponent and propel them further ahead
, which is bogus. High scores for all tracks are saved to controller pack and there's rumble pack support as well. The most surprising feature is split-screen support for up to four players - something lacking on the Dreamcast. The three and four-player modes are definitely sluggish but better than nothing. I just wish the game didn't abruptly end when the winner crossed the finish line. With three or four players, knowing who comes in second is kind of a big deal! I wouldn't buy Hydro Thunder for its multiplayer alone, but N64 fans craving pure arcade fun won't be disappointed. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Save mechanism: controller pack
1 to 4 players
Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine
Publisher: LucasArts (2000)
International Superstar Soccer
Publisher: Konami (1997)
Rating: Kids to Adults
International Track & Field 2000
Publisher: Konami (2000)
I've always had a thing for these four-player track-and-field games. The variety of events tends to even out the competition, so even if you suck at pole vaulting, you can make up for it in the 100-meter dash. When playing against friends, you'll experience some hilarious moments like long jumpers who land on their asses (missing the sand completely), and shot-putters throw in the wrong direction (including straight up). Track and Field 2000's tournament mode is composed twelve events, and they're slightly randomized which adds additional drama. Each is preceded by an elaborate tutorial depicting a virtual controller and a liquid-metal man (the T-1000?) acting out its commands. These cinematics may have looked impressive at one time, but they unfold too slowly and in some cases overcomplicate things. A few seconds would have been sufficient I think. On the field, the action is competitive and exciting. The athletes sport a decidedly angular look, but at least they have muscles texture-mapped onto their polygons. Their animation is lifelike, and they even react appropriately to their performances. Slow-motion replays provide some nifty camera angles, and professional-sounding PA announcers broadcast the introductions and results. My friends and I enjoyed most of the events, but there are a few clunkers in the mix. The weight lifting is ridiculously overcomplicated, the gymnastics is boring, and the lengthy swimming events are arduous at best. Clearly Track and Field 2000 could have been streamlined a bit, but that doesn't prevent it from being a worthwhile sports title. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
Jet Force Gemini
Publisher: Rareware (1999)
Save mechanism: battery
1 or 2 players
Ken Griffey Jr.'s Slugfest
Publisher: Nintendo (1999)
While its basic gameplay is almost identical to its predecessor (Major League Baseball Featuring Ken Griffey Jr.), Slugfest provides a serious upgrade in one key area - the graphics. The first thing I noticed was the game's slick new menu system loaded with a lot of new options. On the field the graphical improvement is amazing. Not only are the players much higher in resolution, but they also appear more "shadowy", adding subtle realism. Apparently the crowd had to be sacrificed to facilitate the visual upgrade, because they now look like blurry wallpaper. But while the player models are better defined, their bodies still sport the same odd, top-heavy proportions. Slugfest's audio features a two-man commentator team, but while they sound professional enough, they sometimes go several minutes without saying anything at all
. The best new feature is the "classic" mode, which does away with the tedious cursors in favor of simple, old-fashioned controls. It works wonderfully, and it's refreshing to just push the "swing" button instead of having to guess a pitch location each time. While Slugfest's developers were busy adding new features, I really wish they had included an instant replay system. After all, it's the 90's for Pete's sake!! While far from perfect, if I could only have one Nintendo 64 baseball game, Slugfest would probably be my choice. It has the slick graphics, simple controls, and non-stop action I look for in a baseball game. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Killer Instinct Gold
Publisher: Nintendo (1996)
Rating: Teen (animated blood and violence)
The first Killer Instinct was a good-looking, combo-happy 2D fighter for the Super Nintendo. This slightly updated version features better graphics but questionable gameplay. There are still ten fighters, but three have been replaced. The fire guy and the raptor have been yanked in favor of a barbarian and two generic females. I suppose they needed more women fighters, considering the original game only had one. Old favorites that remain include Jago the ninja, Sabretooth the werewolf, Spinal the skeleton, and Fulgore the cybernetic soldier. In terms of gameplay, learning the ins and outs of Killer Instinct Gold should qualify for college credit. The manual covers basic techniques, advanced, and master "fighting theory", which explain openers, auto-doubles, end finishers, throw reversals, combo breakers, linkers, juggles, pop-ups, top attacks, counters, pressure-breakers, ultra-breakers, and shadow combos, just to name a few! This has got to be the most gratuitously complex fighter ever made. No, you don't need to understand all of these things to play, but if you don't, matches tend to degenerate into button-mashing marathons. I found Killer Instinct Gold less enjoyable than its SNES cousin, and more prone to cheap attacks and sore wrists. Graphically, the characters look astonishing, and a few of the 3D backgrounds (like the castle) are somewhat interesting. The edgy dance music is good, but it's hard to hear over the loud sound effects. There aren't many good fighting games on the N64, and even fewer 2D fighters. Killer Instinct Gold serves its purpose, but didn't really advance the franchise too much. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Knife Edge: Nose Gunner
Publisher: Kotobuki System Co. (1998)
Knife Edge is a bland first-person space shooter that lets you take aim at targets while being automatically whisked through dingy caverns. Moving the crosshair with the analog stick feels awkward at first but I got the hang of it. The trigger engages rapid-fire, the A button activates lock-on weapons, and B unleashes bombs. It's possible to "dodge" slightly left or right via the yellow C buttons. At first Knife Edge seems moderately enjoyable as you careen through canyons at breakneck speeds while blasting flying ships and ground cannons. I like how holding the trigger fires non-stop. The explosions are crisp and satisfying. I have to smile when I see a poorly-worded message like "You have score 10000 point!!" Knife Edge sounds like a good old-fashioned shooter but it's got serious issues. For one thing the stages are just plain ugly
. Occasionally you'll fly over a desert or dark city, but most of the time you're just racing through featureless caves. The graphics are so dark and muddy!
There's no sense of geography so you won't even notice the branching paths through each stage. Even if you did you'd still be stuck with the same prolonged boss encounters. It's not hard to locate boss weak spots because they blink red when fired upon. The controls to switch special weapons (right trigger and B) are terribly awkward, and I could do without the frequent "commander updates". Knife Edge supports up to four players at once
but that's a dull and monotonous experience. You'll constantly lose track of your crosshair and you can't tell who shot what. The game is best played solo for high score. The problem is, after playing Knife Edge once you probably won't want to play it again. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
Our high score: 476,900
1 to 4 players
Knockout Kings 2000
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1999)
Knockout Kings attempts to be a realistic boxing simulation, for better or worse. It's nice to have real boxers and realistic moves, but most matches tend to be long and laborious. The impressive lineup of fighters includes Mohammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Lennox Lewis, and Evander Holyfield. The animation is smooth and lifelike, and a fine looking polygon woman in a swimsuit introduces each round. Knockout Kings impressed me at first, but then the bell rang and the fighters walked through
each other, that kind of took the wind out of my sails. As fights progress, the boxers get cut and bruised, and even wobble when weakened enough. Even so, they never really look tired, and tend to push each other away instead of "locking up" as they usually do in real life. The controls are a bit sluggish, especially when trying to block. The fighters look rediculous when sitting in their corners because there's no one else there! Where's their entourage?? The announcers sound terrific before the fight, but there's zero
commentary during the actual fight, and that really stinks. Once the bout is over you can view replays of the best punches and knockdowns, which I really enjoyed. Some of the judges' decisions may leave you scratching your head, like the time I knocked down Larry Holmes but lost the bout just because he landed more punches! I hate it when that happens. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, The
Publisher: Nintendo (1998)