Nintendo 64 Reviews N

NBA Courtside 2 Featuring Kobe Bryant
Grade: B+
Publisher: Nintendo (1999)
Reviewed: 2003/2/25


screenshotIf you're looking for some hoops action for your N64, this is the only game you need to consider. Courtside 2 Featuring Kobe Bryant offers nice graphics, a truckload of options, and most importantly, engaging gameplay. The players look remarkably similar to their real-life counterparts, but the generic arenas are less impressive, lacking even bench players or coaches.

With the exception of an occasional hiccup in the frame-rate, Courtside's action is fast and fluid. The inside/outside game is well balanced, and you have plenty of moves at your disposal, including a crossover, quick first step, special dribbles, and pump fakes.

But what's most impressive are the fancy low post moves. You'll definitely want to take advantage of these, because dunks in traffic are denied on a regular basis. The game's AI is impressive, except players sometimes take their sweet old time getting up the floor when they should be hauling ass! Other issues include a tough, overly-complicated foul-shooting system.

The two-man commentary is limited, but I actually found these guys to be unintentionally funny at times. The normal simulation mode is great, but even better is the NBA Jam-style "arcade mode", featuring icons for 10-point shots, gravity-defying dunks, and players who can literally catch fire! Realistic enough for purists and wacky enough for casual players, I can highly recommend NBA Courtside 2. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

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1 to 4 players 

NBA Hang Time
Grade: D+
Publisher: Williams Entertainment (1997)
Reviewed: 2014/5/8
Rating: Everyone


screenshotAt a glance, NBA Hang Time seems to be a logical evolution of the NBA Jam (SNES, 1993) franchise. It's the same brand of two-on-two basketball action, except with sharper graphics, five-man rosters, insane new moves, and a create-a-player feature. Unlike the hideous SNES version, this edition features bright, crisp graphics that have "arcade" written all over them. In fact, this looks like a direct port of the arcade coin-op, complete with rotating high score screens.

It should have been the ultimate NBA Jam experience, but Hang Time falters again and again. The default controls are a joke! Who in their right mind thought it was a good idea to use the "A" button for turbo and those little yellow "C" buttons for the basic moves?! Thank goodness you can reconfigure the controls. Is a turbo button even necessary?

Players zip from one end of the court to the next, with bodies and balls flying all over the place. The court feels too small, and it's hard to tell what's going on when players bunch up. Goaltending appears to be perfectly legal. The new spinning dunks accompanied by that Tarzan yell are just plain cheesy. The CPU is cheap, grabbing the ball from your hands as you're about to dunk. When you manage to steal the ball, the CPU will steal it back before you even know what happened.

The all-important tag mode (which lets you control both players) is nowhere to be found, yet superfluous modes like "big head" and "CPU assist" come standard. I do like the R&B and rap music that plays in the background, giving the game a vintage 90's groove. If you're looking for some shallow arcade thrills, NBA Hang Time may be worth a shot, but don't expect any long-term satisfaction. © Copyright 2014 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 4 players 

NBA Jam 99
Grade: D-
Publisher: Acclaim (1998)
Reviewed: 2001/4/1


screenshotI was a huge fan of the original NBA Jam (Super Nintendo, 1993), but it's been easy to pass up the mediocre sequels Acclaim has been pumping out year after year. Still, when I saw NBA Jam 99 for $7.99, it was tough to resist. I soon discovered that the franchise has evolved from a simple two-on-two slamfest to a full blown five-on-five simulation. That transition was not entirely successful.

The original Jam was simple, fast and fun, with some of the flashiest graphics ever seen in a video game. NBA Jam 99, on the other hand, offers none of that. What it does offer is sluggish animation, awkward controls, and unspectacular graphics. The players don't look bad, but when they shoot or make a move to the basket, the action slows to a crawl.

The dunks don't look the least bit impressive and the controls are erratic. The shoulder buttons are used to cycle through the players, making it impossible to select any player quickly. The so-called "Jam Mode" is supposed to give the game an arcade flair, but it's saddled with the same problems as the normal mode.

Announcers Bill Walton and Kevin Harlan sound like Jesse Ventura and Marv Albert respectively, saying stupid things like "He's so fast you need to rub your eyes!". NBA Jam 99 does do a few things right. The players play to their actual abilities - you won't see a John Stockton dunk, or a Shaq execute a killer crossover dribble.

The foul shooting system is original, and I like how the referee actually tosses the ball to the shooter! It seems trivial, but details like that are missing from most modern basketball games. Frequent steals and blocks add unpredictability to the game, and I like how the ball rattles inside the rim. Still, by straddling the line between fantasy and realism, NBA Jam 99 probably won't strike a chord with too many b-ball fans. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 4 players 

NFL Blitz Special Edition
Grade: B-
Publisher: Midway (2001)
Reviewed: 2008/11/15
Rating: Everyone


screenshotI fell head over heels in love with NFL Blitz on the Playstation in 1998. Like NBA Jam (SNES, 1993) did years before, Blitz transforms its sport into an over-the-top, arcade bonanza. Instead of realistic animation and sprawling playbooks, you get non-stop action, over-the-top hits, and showboating galore. Hell, unsportsmanlike conduct is actually encouraged.

This N64 "Special Edition" follows the same formula, but what's so special about this? An updated roster and some lame mini-games? C'mon now! Oh well, I still had a ball beating the stuffing out of my friends and rubbing it in mercilessly. The controls are simple as can be (two buttons!), and you can play an entire game in about ten minutes!

The action moves at a torrid pace, but why is there an annoying five-second pause after each play?! You can use the opportunity to apply a late hit, but once the novelty of that wears off, the delay is just irritating. The player models look very angular (at least up close), but the bone-crunching tackles look great. I really like the simple kicking controls, but the collision detection between the ball and goal posts seems way off.

The commentator makes a lot of smart aleck remarks, but once he starts repeating things, you just tend to tune him out. I was very dismayed by the complete lack of a halftime show. Considering the menus are plastered with hot digitized cheerleaders, you'd think Midway could have come up with something. A few suggestive cheerleader poses would have been sufficient.

I enjoyed playing this game against friends, but facing the CPU isn't nearly as fun. He's cheap as hell, and since there's no marker underneath a CPU-controlled ball carrier, it's hard to tell who has the ball! NFL Blitz Special Edition is a fun lighthearted romp, but it feels like a big step down from the original. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

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1 to 4 players 

NHL 99
Grade: C-
Publisher: Electronic Arts (1998)
Reviewed: 2017/12/30
Rating: Everyone

screenshotNHL '94 (Genesis, 1993) set the standard for hockey games and you can tell NHL 99 tried to recapture a glimmer of its magic. It offers a similar high overhead perspective with crisp controls and non-stop arcade action. The viewing angle is optimal and the simple three-button control scheme makes it easy to pass, shoot, and body check. If not for the close-up replays you wouldn't even know the players are rendered in 3D. Unfortunately those tiny polygons take their toll on the gameplay.

Passes tend to be so lethargic the receiver sometimes has to double back to gather it. Shots on goal seem soft as well - even when you max out your shot meter. Some goals are so weak I wonder how they even got through. The erratic frame rate makes it hard to follow the action, giving the puck a "now you see it now you don't" quality. When someone scores you'll almost certainly want to watch the replay to see exactly how it happened. The line-changing overlays are so intrusive you could actually bring them up on purpose just to confuse your opponent.

Playing defense is the highlight of the game, with devastating body checks punctuated by crunching sound effects. The hilarious announcer gets so worked up he can barely contain himself. "Rattled his BONES!" "Leaves him in a crumpled heap!!" I like how the CPU goalie dutifully kicks out the puck so we don't have to suffer through annoying face-offs. The crowd looks like fuzzy wallpaper and the organ music is surprisingly muted. NHL 99 is okay by Nintendo 64 standards but it really can't hold a candle to NHL 94. Then again, few hockey games can. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 4 players 

NHL Blades of Steel 99
Grade: F
Publisher: Konami (1999)
Reviewed: 2012/3/27
Rating: Everyone


screenshotNintendo 64 hockey games were developed at a time when sports games were making that awkward transition from 2D to 3D. Finding a good balance of looks and playability proved elusive. To NES fans, the title of this game sounds appealing. The original Blades of Steel (NES, 1988) was a veritable institution on the NES, incorporating realistic graphics and arcade gameplay. This new edition retains the arcade style, but the graphics and playability are bad enough to make Mario Lemieux weep openly.

Each contest begins with a colorful light show and cut-scenes of rowdy fans who all look exactly the same (Attack of the bald white guys!). The players look sharp during the face-off, but once the camera pans out... yikes! Who in the hell just smeared Vaseline all over my television screen?! The players are pixelated blobs, and the "soupy" visuals make it hard to tell who has the puck.

I experimented with several camera angles, and settled on the overhead view. I say "settled" because they all pretty much suck. I like how you can put a lot of mustard on your shots, but the passing is seriously weak. Some passes actually come to a stop before reaching the receiver!

The B button pulls double duty as "shoot" on offense and "body check" on defense. The problem is, sometimes you'll steal the puck only to inadvertently shoot it the length of the ice! Ugh. The fights are just embarrassing. It looks like the two players are taking turns humping each other! I've seen some bad hockey games in my time, and Blades of Steel 99 is certainly one of them. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.

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1 to 4 players 

NHL Breakaway 98
Grade: D-
Publisher: Acclaim (1998)
Reviewed: 2012/3/27
Rating: Kids to Adults

screenshotOn the surface NHL Breakaway 98 looks like a pretty sophisticated hockey title. Its graphics are sharp and its list of features include "momentum-based checking" and a multi-year season mode. Remember the short-lived "glow-puck" used by Fox in its NHL telecasts of the mid-90's? The developers of Breakaway must have loved that, because the puck in this game is radioactive.

The controls incorporate moves you won't find in other hockey games like "block shot" and "skate backwards". Breakaway's control scheme however leaves much to be desired. The tiny yellow arrow buttons are used for basic moves like "body check" and "switch players". Those should have been assigned to the shoulder or trigger buttons, which are pretty much unused.

The graphics aren't bad but the frame-rate is wildly uneven. Also, it's too [expletive] hard to score! It seems like your player will often refuse to shoot the puck, as if he has Crazy Glue on his stick. That's frustrating. Fortunately executing one-timers is not a problem. The game has a few nice animations, like the net that occasionally comes loose. After playing a tie game I was amused to watch players party like it was 1999 or something.

The single-player experience is pretty boring thanks to a CPU who passes up most of his good shot opportunities. Penalties are called completely at random. The crowd boos constantly, and you can't really blame them. This is just bad hockey. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 4 players 

Namco Museum 64
Grade: C
Publisher: Namco (2000)
Reviewed: 2019/3/20

screenshotArcade compilations have become a relic of the past, which is sad. That's why I'm trying to nab every last Namco Museum I can get my hands on. I didn't even know this Nintendo 64 edition even existed until recently. Considering five volumes of Namco Museum were released for the Playstation, this cartridge feels somewhat paltry with just only six games and no extras.

Granted, you'll find most of the heavy-hitters including Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Galaga, Galaxian, Pole Position, and Dig-Dug. These ageless beauties look crystal clear and the analog stick feels like a little joystick (the digital pad works also). I'm surprised how well Pole Position has aged - it looks amazing! The Dig Dug screen scrolls up and down - something I never noticed in other versions of the game.

Namco Museum 64's title is misleading because there's no museum to explore and minimal customization options. Considering the lack of content I'm amazed the manual clocks in at 28 pages. Namco Museum 64 was more relevant back in the day when people only owned a single console. Still, there's something to be said for owning these arcade-perfect classics in cartridge format. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

Nightmare Creatures
Grade: B
Publisher: Activision (1998)
Reviewed: 2011/3/20
Rating: Mature

screenshotNightmare Creatures is a monster brawler that benefits from a dark, brooding atmosphere. Set on a foggy night in 1834 London, the quaint scenery and moody lighting practically steal the show. The narrow streets are dimly lit by old-fashioned street lamps, and all types of ghouls lurk in the dark alleys. Adding intrigue is an ominous soundtrack with some nice organ music.

For your character you select between a priest and a hot, shapely chick (decisions decisions). In the first stage you explore a cemetery with falling red leaves that convey a nice autumn vibe. It's great fun to see zombies crawl out of graves and werewolves lurch from the darkness. Other hideous beasts you face include gargoyles, hellhounds, flying harpies, faceless men in robes, and hulking "dockers" that look like blue apes.

The combat is button-mash city, with combos (accidental or otherwise) proving extremely effective. Precise timing lets you dismember foes, although I'm still trying to figure out how a roundhouse kick can slice a zombie in half! The graphics are smoother than the PS1 edition, but the lack of cut-scenes is glaring. Instead of a spooky mad scientist intro, there's just a bunch of creatures tussling in the streets as boring text scrolls up the screen. I'm not reading that!

The controls aren't anything to write home about. Turning around is a slow process, so it's fortunate you get a backwards attack. The overloaded control scheme incorporates awkward button combinations, and there's no camera control. It starts off well, but Nightmare Creatures gradually loses its luster as you work your way through it. Still, horror fans will probably want to give this dark adventure a chance. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 


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Screen shots courtesy of IGN.com, Lemon64.com, Moby Games, YouTube, Games Database, The ISO Zone