Nintendo 64 Reviews T

Tetrisphere
Grade: D
Publisher: Nintendo (1997)
Reviewed: 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 

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater
Grade: B+
Publisher: Activision (2000)
Reviewed: 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 

Top Gear Overdrive
Grade: B
Publisher: Kemco (1998)
Reviewed: 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 

Top Gear Rally
Grade: D+
Publisher: Boss Game Studios (1997)
Reviewed: 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.

Save mechanism: controller pack
1 or 2 players 

Turok 2: Seeds of Evil
Grade: F
Publisher: Acclaim (1998)
Reviewed: 2008/2/27
Rating: Mature

screenshotThe first Turok had a killer gimmick, and that was dinosaur hunting in the wilderness. This second edition feels more like a Doom clone, and I'm not sure why anyone would want to play it. The developers tried to make the stages more sophisticated, but inadvertently took all of the fun out of the game! Your goal is to protect "energy totems" on various planets. Man, could they possibly come up with a more boring premise? I doubt it!

The first stage is absolutely unbearable with its endless switches, portals, and dark, narrow passageways. Your main adversaries are lizard men called "dinosoids", and they're really uninteresting. And whose idea was it to incorporate those annoying mini dinosaurs who jump all over you? Yeah - that's fun (as if)!

Turok 2 makes you do a lot of platform jumping, but it's less forgiving than it was in the first game. Too many times you'll see boxes you think you can jump on, but they turn out to be just a millimeter too high! Your air supply is now limited when swimming, and that always sucks. When you hit one of the many switches, you'll hear a door opening, but you'll have no idea where it is.

Turok 2's graphics are worse than the first game. Your enemies are composed of large polygons that make them look terribly blocky. The scenery has a medieval quality, but it's not particularly attractive or distinctive. The controls are deplorable. There's a noticeable lag between when you move the joystick and when the screen responds, which is not acceptable for a frenetic shooter like this! Making matters worse is a choppy frame-rate that makes it hard to target even close enemies!

The four-player split screen mode was more than my friends could stomach with its dark, muddled graphics. My friend Scott was appalled that he couldn't kill Chris despite repeated hits and excessive blood. At one point he exclaimed "C'mon! - I even see organs on the ground!!" If you play Turok 2, you'll be hating life too. Seeds of Evil is an insufferable piece of garbage that set the franchise back to the Stone Age (or is that up to the Stone Age?) © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

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Save mechanism: Controller Pack
1 to 4 players 

Turok: Dinosaur Hunter
Grade: C
Publisher: Acclaim (1997)
Reviewed: 2008/2/27
Rating: Mature 17+ (violence, blood and gore)

screenshotIt's hardly the thrill it once was, but the original Turok still has its charm, offering an exciting brand of prehistoric first-person shooting action. Granted, it's hard to go back to these early first-person shooters with their fuzzy textures, imprecise controls, and heavy fog. But despite its technical limitations, I found myself intrigued by Turok.

The tutorial does a good job of explaining the controls, although few gamers will be pleased with having to use the four C buttons to move and R to jump. There's no crosshairs when it comes to aiming your gun or bow, but if a target is near the center of the screen, chances are you'll hit it. Two things that concerned me about the tutorial were its overemphasis on swimming and platform jumping. I never thought these elements made sense in a first-person shooter, and Turok did little to change my mind.

Although the platform jumping is more forgiving than most, it's still tedious enough to dock Turok a letter grade. Otherwise, the game is fairly enjoyable as you explore expansive outdoor wilderness areas while collecting items, unlocking new areas, and facing off against both man and beast. A handy map overlays the screen when you need it.

Turok is commendable for its raw violence. Upon shooting an enemy, the blood is excessive and the screams are crystal clear. Sometimes blood will squirt from a victim's neck as he keels over in agony. The raptors are pretty scary because they run straight toward you and the sound of their stomping feet is alarming. It's cool how a raptor's momentum will cause him to slide toward you after you shoot it. The manner in which they struggle and contort on the ground is equally amazing.

But not all of Turok's graphics are so easy on the eyes. The 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. Turok's audio is high quality. The jungle sounds and bongo drums strike a primeval tone, but they are repetitive. Likewise the roars and screeches that suggest nearby danger are way overdone. It's easy to see why Turok was popular in its time, but FPS games have evolved rapidly, and this one is looking its age. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

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Save mechanism: Controller Pack
1 player 

Twisted Edge: Extreme Snowboarding
Grade: C-
Publisher: Midway (1997)
Reviewed: 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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Save mechanism: Controller Pack
1 or 2 player 


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