Thanks to the miracle of cartridge technology there are basically zero load times. Pauses in the action are limited to waiting for a human player to select a play. The players are a little chunky and indistinct, but that trademark Nintendo 64 fuzziness serves to smooth over any rough edges.
This game is a pleasure to play with responsive controls and sensible camera angles. The play selection screen requires three buttons in a row, so you'll need to get used to using that yellow "down arrow" button in many cases. The intuitive kicking meter requires both skill and good reflexes.
While the lack of a half-time or post-game show is a bummer, Madden 64 will occasionally surprise you. When a player is seriously injured an ambulance will drive right onto the field a la Madden '92 (Genesis, 1991). For measurement situations the "chain gang" is called out onto the field, conveying a thoughtful sense of detail missing from modern Madden titles.
Madden 64's collision detection may be too good. When a running back merely touches a defender it's like hitting a brick wall. This makes it hard for your running game to get any traction. When passing, the receiver AI could be better. It's not rare to see a pass bounce off a player's back - or his chest. A soft touch works best.
What I enjoy most about Madden Football 64 is the classic commentary by Madden and Pat Summerall. Madden is the loose cannon ("Boom! That's how you get on a first name basis with dirt!") while the mellow Summerall offers more thoughtful observations ("From up here it looks like they're short"). One will chime in after every few plays, but I'd prefer to hear something after every play. As in real life, these guys left us wanting more. © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.
Remarkably, the game stumbles badly when it comes to graphics. Apparently the game employs some kind of "smoothed over" rendering technique that causes everything to look blurry and indistinct. Players mirror the mannerisms of their real-life counterparts, but their bodies tend to be extremely top-heavy. The animation is nice however, and the game consistently provides a good camera angle.
Still, MLB lacks the level of quality usually associated with a Nintendo title. There are some notorious bugs, including one that makes playing a season practically impossible. You'll witness bizarre occurrences like a runner from first being tossed out at second after a solid base hit. In a game at Camden yards, the attendance was announced at over 48,000, yet the stands were practically empty!
There's no instant replay feature, which is another major no-no for a modern baseball game. The lack of commentary is equally lame, although Ken Griffey does chime in on occasion. I was hoping Major League Baseball Featuring Ken Griffey would offer the same brand of fun as his SNES series, but its ugly graphics and numerous quirks prove otherwise. © Copyright 2006 The Video Game Critic.
Mario Golf is easy and fun, and with few lulls in the action you can whiz through eighteen holes in just a few minutes. Adding replay value are some nice bonus modes. "Ring mode" challenges you to hit the ball through rings in addition to making par. "Club slots" mode randomly selects your three clubs for each hole, forcing you to employ unusual strategies. In "speed golf" you must finish a course as fast as possible, and while it would have made for a perfect split-screen contest, it's one-player only (rats!). There's also a betting screen that lets you to challenge your friends for the longest drive or closest shot to pin.
Mario Golf is mostly good, but there are a few negative aspects. Lacking a manual camera control, it can be hard to tell where you're aiming, and the wire-frame grid that conveys hills and valleys tends to get in the way. The round ghost in the corner makes for a lousy wind indicator, since it's hard to tell which way he's facing. Finally, although fourteen characters and six courses are available, you'll begin with only four golfers and a single course, which kind of sucks. Still, this is a quality golf game that should keep you occupied for many lazy afternoons. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
The object is to collect the most stars, but you also collect coins, which indirectly help you obtain stars. Players take turns moving down paths on the board down that branch but eventually converge back together. Colored spaces trigger different events to occur. Once each player has taken a turn, all four players engage in a randomly-chosen mini-game. These games are preceded by simple instructions, and are usually a lot of fun to play. Many are based on classics like tug-of-war, hot potato, or musical chairs. Although a few rely on fast button mashing or rotating the joystick, none are particularly abusive on the controllers.
After a set number of turns, the game ends and awards "bonus" stars for certain accomplishments before determining the ultimate winner. Mario Party is most fun with four players, but if you only have two or three, the computer can control the other characters. The one-player mode is pretty lame in comparison. My friends enjoyed Mario Party, but some complained that it takes too long to play. Even on the quick setting, a game can easily exceed an hour and a half. If you have the attention span however, Mario Party delivers some terrific multiplayer mayhem. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
My main issue with Mario Tennis is its control scheme, which is far less intuitive than Virtua Tennis. Hitting combinations of the A and B buttons result in a number of various shots, including lobs (hit A then B), drop-shots (hit B then A), low slices (hit B twice), high top-spins (A twice) and smashes (A and B). And that's not all. You can "charge" your shots by holding in A or B, but unlike Virtua Tennis this causes you to "freeze" in place, and you'll have to press Z to "snap" out of it. The fact that the manual dedicates twelve pages to explaining the controls says it all.
Mario Tennis is fun and competitive once you get a feel for it, but even then the game lacks that natural "flow" of Virtua Tennis. One annoying feature is how the instant replay automatically kicks in after every shot! I don't think I've ever wanted to see any of those!
The game supports one to four players, and a tournament mode lets the solo player ascend the ranks. There's a doubles tournament included, but for some reason you can only play with a CPU partner - not a friend! There are a few wacky "bonus" games included, but these range from headache inducing (rings mode) to vomit inducing (tilting court). Mario Tennis is a quality title with a lot of bells and whistles, but I wish Nintendo would have shown a little constraint in the control department. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.
The outstanding controls make it easy to powerslide around corners and unleash weapons like baseballs and toy airplanes. Rumble effects can be felt when kicking in your turbo or riding over a rickety bridge. The courses showcase scenic locations from around the country including the Grand Canyon, the hills of San Francisco, and the casinos of Las Vegas. The tracks all tend to have that hazy look, and sometimes the track boundaries are vague. The Seattle and Chicago tracks have you doing laps in the sewer!
The laps are ideal in length - usually about one minute long - and there are some fun shortcuts. I noticed the city stages (including the docks of Philadelphia) tend to incorporate a lot of confusing 90 degree turns. The game waits a good 15 seconds before bothering to tell you when you're heading in the wrong direction (a "death sentence" according to my friend Brent). In terms of audio, it would have been nice had they recorded more than one voice sample per character. Hearing Mini squeal "weeeeeeeee!" every ten seconds will get on your nerves.
Still, the game is cheery and a lot of fun. Playing solo lets you unlock new characters and enable cheat codes. The four-player split-screen includes a battle mode in addition to races. The game keeps a running tally of wins for each player, even as you move from mode to mode! If you enjoy kart games Mickey's Speedway USA probably deserves a place in your collection. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.
The one player modes are less exciting, but they do allow you to unlock bonus cars which you can save and use later. The tracks convey a good sense of humor and attention to detail. The main problem with Micro Machines 64 has got to be its limited overhead view, which doesn't let you see much of the track ahead. If you go too fast, you may find yourself flying off the table before you even see it coming! As a result, success in this game is largely a matter of memorizing the tracks. Still, you can't beat Micro Machines for chaotic, multiplayer racing action. © Copyright 1999 The Video Game Critic.
On the downside, the fighters and stages have a lot less personality. The character models lack the subtle details of their digitized cousins, and their faces look blank and generic. The stages lack that dark, mysterious quality that made the original ones so fascinating. Not only do they lack detail, but they lack a sense of layering as well. The controls haven't changed, and scoring is facilitated by the unsatisfying "consecutive win" system used in the last few MK games.
One new element that's completely squandered is the use of weapons. How in the hell do you pick up one of those things?! Even in the rare case that you do, it usually gets knocked out of your hand before you even get a chance to swing it. The instruction manual contains biographies for all of the characters, but fails to mention any special moves or fatalities. Bogus! Actually the moves are available from the pause menu in the game, but only in practice mode. In terms of moving the series into 3D, Mortal Kombat 4 served its purpose but didn't do much else. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
The atmosphere is about right, but the environments lack the subtle details that fans of the series crave. I noticed that the live-motion video scenes of the PS1 version have been replaced with still frames and text. The control scheme is an absolute nightmare. You get all of the normal moves (two punches, two kicks, run, block), but there's an additional "turn" button. This was necessitated by the fact that you sometimes have to battle multiple foes at a time - one on each side. The problem is, this "turn" button is not particularly responsive and it's really awkward to use in the heat of battle.
Adding insult to injury, your character will sometimes turn on his own to facilitate a certain attack. The bottom line is that you always seem to be facing the wrong way, and it drove me up a wall. The designers would have done us all a big favor by just limiting the battles to one-on-one.
There are other problems as well. The jumping controls are inexact and the collision detection is horrible. You'll go to perform your trademark uppercut and half the time it will pass through the guy like he's a freakin' ghost. Combine unforgiving stage designs (pillar traps) with those awkward controls, and it's a recipe for frustration. It's a shame because with a little quality control this would have been a terrific companion to the series. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.
First off, there are no aggravating load screens to sit through. Next, the graphics are much more attractive with larger characters and more vibrant colors. It actually looks like they used some new digitized actors (Johnny Cage for one). Most stages exude that dark mysticism that defined the series, although a few of the urban locations (taken from MK3) are a lot less compelling (the subway comes to mind).
The menacing soundtrack is well done, but the voice samples sound extremely muffled and it's hard to understand what the commentator is saying. The controls map well to the N64 controller, although you're forced to use those little yellow buttons. The block button is easy to forget about until you reach more advanced foes in later stages. The run button however seems totally unnecessary.
In addition to the normal one-on-one modes, you can play 2-on-2 or 3-on-3. The 8-player tournament is a joke. How many times do you find yourself with seven Mortal Kombat players sitting around your house looking for something to do? One brand new element is the "aggressive" meter which feels like it was tacked on for the sake of adding something.
Likewise the "Brutalities" are dumb. It looks like the bones of 50 people are raining down! Finally, Midway only lists one special move per character in the instruction manual, which is pretty lame. Mortal Kombat Trilogy serves up enough spine ripping, skull-cracking goodness, but it isn't the end-all-be-all I was hoping for. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.