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Extreme G 2 - All N64 Games

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On 12/04/2024 at 11:40 PM, Cube said:

Thankfully I'm not forcing myself to fully complete every single one. I'd go insane,

Wetrix


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  • PAL release: 29th May 1998
  • NA release: 16th June 1998
  • JP release: 27th November 1998
  • Developer: Zed Two
  • Publisher: Ocean (NA/PAL), Imagineer (JP)
  • N64 Magazine Score: 74%

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As Tetris set the standard for puzzle video games, other puzzle games try to have names similar to it. A water-based puzzle game? Of course it has to be named Wetrix. Wetrix is all about keeping water from falling off your square “island”, raiding the environment to keep it contained.

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Different “blocks” will fall down from the screen. Most of these are upwards arrows which will raise the land in that shape, along with water to fill up the enclosed areas you make. The goal is to keep as much water contained as possible, as if to much falls off the sides, you’ll get Game Over.

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There are other kinds of “blocks” as well. Down arrows will reduce the level of the land, bombs will blow up holes in the island that you’ll need to repair (on that note, don’t try to launch a bomb down a hole, the game will punish you for it), ice to freeze water and fireballs to get rid of some water.

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I can definitely see the appeal of Wetrix, but I really could not figure out how to do well at the game. There’s a bunch of different modes, including one where you can change settings to make the game even more difficult.

It’s not for me, but it’s a solidly made game.

Remake or remaster?

A new version would be nice, alongside a collection of the various Wetrix games on N64, Game Boy Color, Dreamcast and PlayStation 2.

Official ways to get the game.

There is no official way to get Wetrix.

I picked this up just a few days ago from a local game store by me! I had no idea what it was but at £7 I thought I'd give it a try. 

I really love it but I'm in the same boat as I can't figure out how to do well at the game :laughing: I'm LOVING it though so I will endeavour to do better!

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As it happens, I was buying some N64 carts for the shop, and one of the cart-only games I picked up was Wetrix... I might give it a try this week before someone buys it. :peace:

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Mike Piazza’s Strike Zone

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  • NA release: 18th June 1998
  • PAL release: N/A
  • JP release: N/A
  • Developer: Devil’s Thumb
  • Publisher: GT Interactive
  • N64 Magazine Score: N/A

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Not knowing the name Mike Piazza, the name made me think of bowling. Unfortunately, this is another baseball game, and by far the worst one so far on the N64. It’s definitely not helped by the horrific and extremely ugly graphics, either.

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In Strike Zone, there’s no indicator for aiming the bat. I’m not entirely sure you actually able to aim as I really couldn’t tell any difference when moving the analogue stick. This doesn’t help with hitting it though, as the strange angle used makes it very difficult to judge where the ball is.

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Fielding is also a mess, as it doesn’t change to the closest fielder until far too late and it feels like you’re just yelling at the players rather than directly controlling them.

There is a cheat where you can turn almost any hit into an instant home run, and the game can be amusing to see the unrealistic distances it produces.

Remake or remaster?

There’s much better baseball games.

Official ways to get the game.

There is no official way to get Mike Piazza’s Strike Zone

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On 4/16/2024 at 8:48 AM, Cube said:

c-right spins the board right while c-left spins the board up

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As if chess wasn't complex enough...

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On 16/04/2024 at 11:09 AM, Josh64 said:

I picked this up just a few days ago from a local game store by me! I had no idea what it was but at £7 I thought I'd give it a try. 

I really love it but I'm in the same boat as I can't figure out how to do well at the game :laughing: I'm LOVING it though so I will endeavour to do better!

 

20 hours ago, S.C.G said:

As it happens, I was buying some N64 carts for the shop, and one of the cart-only games I picked up was Wetrix... I might give it a try this week before someone buys it. :peace:

Now I want to play it again 😭

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1 hour ago, Ashley said:

Now I want to play it again 😭

Do you still have an N64 you can play it on? I could send you the cart only copy I have for cost price if you like? N-E discount rate. :peace:

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Nah I don't. Don't worry, I'm terrible at playing games so even if I wanted to do something I wouldn't get round to it for years. Thank you though. 

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Mortal Kombat 4

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  • NA release: 23rd June 1998
  • PAL release: 15th September 1998
  • JP release: N/A
  • Developer: Midway, Eurocom
  • Publisher: Midway (NA), GT (PAL)
  • N64 Magazine Score: 84%

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The big Mortal Kombat game for this generation of consoles, and this one brings the graphics into full 3D. After experimenting with a few styles of graphics and gameplay with their earlier N64 fighting games, Mortal Kombat 4 settles on polygon models that manage to capture the spirit of the 2D sprites pretty well.

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The gameplay also feels quite solid to me. It sticks to working from a 2D point of view with some slight 3D movement from dodging. One new feature is the ability to use items like rocks to throw at opponents, and each person can bring out a weapon with a special move (which the opponent can also use if dropped).

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There’s a few modes such as an endurance mode fighting random opponents, the standard arcade mode and some tournament options for multiplayer. The practice mode also gives you a move list, but this is only on a static screen and you can’t pin one to try.

This seems like the N64’s most solid fighter so far, although it doesn’t try to do anything special either.

Quote

The MK games have always looked a bit tatty, but this latest release is fast, its animation crisp and largely convincing. For a series renowned for its ugly countenance, to spawn such an aesthetically pleasing update is akin to, say, Frankenstein and Medusa having a kid who grows up to appear on Baywatch.

- James Price, N64 Magazine #20

Remake or remaster?

A Mortal Kombat collection would be good.

Official ways to get the game.

The PC version of Mortal Kombat 4 is available on GoG.

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Posted (edited)

Here's another genuine arcade port, a rarity for the console.

TBH though, this is a port that probably could've been better because it seems to have been ported from the PS1 port of the arcade PCB; and looks/runs more or less identically to the PS1 version.  It also runs at a rock solid 60FPS, just like the PS1 version, another rarity for the N64.

It lacks the FMV cutscenes of the PS1 version, instead sticking with the same real-time cutscenes as the arcade Zeus Board original.

I've never played it myself, but it seems like a solid enough port that could've probably been better.

A much more faithful and near perfect arcade conversion would later hit the Dreamcast as a launch title, under the moniker Mortal Kombat Gold.

Edited by Dcubed
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Cruis’n World


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  • PAL release: 25th June 1998
  • NA release: 30th September 1998
  • JP release: N/A
  • Developer: Midway, Eurocom
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • N64 Magazine Score: 38%

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While still nowhere near a good game, Cruis’n World has significant improvements over Cruis’n USA. It’s still an arcade-style racing game with a lot of courses, although this time it’s based across the world instead of just the USA.

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This gives us a much bigger array of visual variety. The visuals of the levels are very stereotypical, but it means the locations are very easy to identify and they all stand out from each other. The track design is also much more varied and isn’t almost entirely 4-lane roads. With the amount of tracks – including one on the moon – it’s certainly one of the stronger N64 racing games when it comes to tracks. There’s also a really nice variety in cars, mostly knock-offs of real ones, but also fun ones like a double-decker.

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Unfortunately, it’s all let down by the handling. One slight touch of the analogue stick and you swerve wildly across the road, with a drift that makes it even harder to control your vehicle. Winning is also very difficult because the other racers are so bad – they’ll often crash and you’ll end up in the pile up (well, more a bunch of cars spinning wildly in the air) as they block the road, letting the cars up front get ahead in such a way that you can be perfect for the rest of the race and not be able to catch up.

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I got fed up of this pretty quickly and resorted to using cheats. Strangely, the only track I won legitimately was one of the “expert” ones. It’s a shame because with better handling, it would be a very enjoyable game.

Quote

Cruis’n World, then, is better than its predecessor. But not by much. In fact, the difference between them is like the difference between a Lada and an Austin Allegro. Sigh.

- Tim Weaver, N64 Magazine #20

Remake or remaster?

A collection of the tracks and vehicles from these games with some better gameplay and handling would be an interesting package.

Official ways to get the game.

There is no official way to get Cruis’n World

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Hey look! Another arcade port! These are rare for the platform I swear!

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Dezaemon 3D
 

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  • JP release: 26th June 1998
  • NA release: N/A
  • PAL release: N/A
  • Developer: Athena
  • Publisher: Athena
  • N64 Magazine Score: 82%

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For the N64’s first sci-fi scrolling shooter, this is a bit of an odd one, as it isn’t a specific game, but rather a creation kit for making you own sci-fi shoot-’em’-up game. The software itself is quite complicated and isn’t easy to use, even with a translated manual and Google Lens – although I don’t think it’s the game’s fault.

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There is a whole host of editing features, you can modify textures, modify models, modify the level layouts with effects and enemies and even design your own music. There are a bunch if icons and I imagine you can do a fair amount with it once you got used to how it worked.

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The best I could do was do was some kind of takeaway food (the model is already in the game) shooting above water that moves around in waves. I did try to do a bit more, but I somehow accidentally reset all the custom data.

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Dezaemon 3D does come with a couple of built in games, presumably made using the creation software of the game as examples of what you can do. This is a vertical scrolling shooter and near the start you come across a boss and an immense amount of bullets, but the detail is quite impressive.

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The second game changes viewpoint depending on what stage you’re on, with a top down view on stage one and a side view on stage 2.

This is rather fascinating software, and it seems like it could do a lot.

Quote

So, as Solid Gear ably demonstrates, Dezamon is perfectly capable of producing a commercial-standard shooter. Of course, games design isn’t easy, and the average user might struggle to produce anything half as good, especially if they don’t understand the instructions, but given an English translation (stranger things have happened), and a lot of spare time, we’d just buy it for the music editor.

- Martin Kitts, N64 Magazine #19

Remake or remaster?

I don’t really know enough about games creation software to see how this sits now of if there’s anything similar available.

Official ways to get the game.

There is no official way to get Dezamon 3D

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Oh wow! Haven’t heard of this one before.  Looks quite cool and fairly robust for the time!

Pretty early attempt in the “Maker” genre too.  Surprisingly ahead of its time.

I can see why this never made it out of Japan, what with the traditional shooter being a dying/dead genre by this time outside of Japan, but it’s still a shame that it didn’t get the chance to garner a wider audience.

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Banjo-Kazooie
 

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  • NA release: 29th June 1998
  • PAL release: 17th July 1998
  • JP release: 6th December 1998
  • Developer: Rare
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • N64 Magazine Score: 90%

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Banjo-Kazooie is possibly my favourite game, something I utterly love. I play it around Christmas every year and never get tired of it. But why is this? What makes Banjo-Kazooie such a lovable game to play?

For starters, Banjo-Kazooie has a lot of character, from Banjo-Kazooie themselves to the worlds, settings and music. Even characters like Colliwobble (a giant cauliflower with googly eyes) has a magical style and charm to it. I think it’s Rare’s love for googly eyes, so much stuff has it, including boulders, blocks of ice and boxes of TNT. The world of Banjo-Kazooie is just alive in a joyful way.

Then you have the heroes Banjo and Kazooie. Banjo is a fairly straight character. For the most part he’s kind and gentle and wants to do good. If he was completely on his own, he may be a bit bland, but luckily his trust friend Kazooie lives in his backpack. Kazooie is rude, sassy and will mock anything. Together, it makes for great banter between them and other characters. And all dialogue is text with grunts, which helps make their world remain unique. I really hope any (if there are any) future games keep this as I’m not sure how I’d feel about proper voice acting.

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Banjo-Kazooie is a 3D collect-a-thon platformer, which doesn’t go overboard on its collectibles. Banjo and Kazooie have a lot of moves crammed onto a controller, but they all work really well. There are some slight niggles, like trying to change the camera while aiming an egg can activate your golden feathers, but the platforming itself feels extremely precise, with any missed jumps never feeling like the game’s fault. The camera also functions fine for the most part, but there’s a couple of areas with some forced angles that don’t work, such as the path to Mad Monster Mansion which is a narrow walkway that can be difficult to see.

There are 9 worlds in Banjo-Kazooie. These each have 10 jiggies to collect, 100 notes, two honeycomb pieces (which increase your health). One jiggy in every level will be finding all five Jinjos hidden in each level. The levels will be considered small by today’s standards, but I think that they are ideal. It’s a size where you can search for everything without tedium or growing tired of it. Each world has its own charm.

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Mumbo’s Mountain is a great introductory world. It’s a great introduction to how jiggies are hidden. Some are out in the open, some given to you by characters, some by activating switches and some by smashing things or just trying to shoot eggs into any hole you find. It sets you up for handling the later levels. It also introduces the important Talon Trot move, which allows you to use Kazooie’s legs to traverse steep slopes, and the layout of the level encourages heavy use.

Also here is the first Mumbo Skull. Enter here and you’ll find the crazy shaman Mumbo Jumbo. If you’ve found enough Mumbo tokens, he’ll cast a spell on you and you’ll turn into a termite. These transformations are another wonderful thing about Banjo-Kazooie. They’re not in every level so aren’t overused, but they turn you into different animals (or objects), which is required for certain jiggies. They’re all wonderful to use and are simply a joyous thing to have in the game.

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After Mumbo’s Mountain, we get Treasure Trove Cove, a beach level filled with crabs. Mambo’s Mountain also introduces you to a pound attack (using Kazooie’s beak), which is used here for enemies and tasks. Flying is also introduced, as Kazooie can use red feathers to fly around the map. Treasure Trove Cove is quite open, with a jiggy that encourages flying around it. There’s also a very scary shark in the water. It’s a really wonderful level.

Next up is the weakest part of Banjo-Kazooie: Clanker’s Cavern. It’s a murky underwater level, and looks fairly dull. I do like Clanker – a big whale that has been turned into a horrifying trash disposal monster, but is actually a nice but depressed individual, but there’s a lot of swimming in this level, including a very deep dive that terrified me as a kid. That said, I grow more and more fond of the level each time I play the game.

Bubblegloop Swamp swiftly returns to form, especially because of adorable crocodile Banjo. This level is split up into segments, and then croc Banjo can traverse new areas, including a fairly difficult minigame with Mr Vile, sneaky crocodile (although a move from a later level can make this easier if you wish).

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Then the wonderful wintery world of Freezeezy Peak, a level revolving around a giant snowman. One slight niggle for me with this is that you can’t finish the level initially, so I’d recommend a quick trip into the next level to grab the speed trainers, but it’s only a minor hassle. In Freezeezy Peak you get to climb the giant snowman’s scarf, have aerial fights with aggressive smaller snowmen, turn into a Walrus and take part in races – WAHEEEY!

From the snow straight to the sand of Gobi’s Valley. This is one of the more challenging levels, with pyramids, temples and sphinxes holding challenges you need to complete. One of these requires a perfect run with the speed boots, and still takes me multiple attempts each playthrough. That said, there is still a load of fun and charm.

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Up next is for some halloween fun in Mad Monster Mansion, a haunted house and grounds. Initially, I found this level to be incredibly daunting, but traversal isn’t as difficult as initially seems, and getting around the level is quite fun. There’s lots of rooms to explore and even a toilet to explore. Brilliantly, the toilet itself is also a character called Loggo. Oh, one thing I forgot to mention is that Banjo-Kazooie loves puns. Some people may pretend to groan at puns, but everyone loves them.

Rusty Bucket Bay is the penultimate level, with some very tough challenges. The water in this level drains your air much faster than previous levels, so even though there’s a lot of water, you only spend small stints in it. There’s lots of hidden rooms to find, with some fun and cute details hidden in them. The transformation in this level is also super adorable.

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And last is the seasonal Click Clock Wood. This is split into four “sections” that you open up over time, each is the whole world in a different season, and some jiggies require doing parts in each season, although if you fully explore each season before moving on, you don’t have to go back and forth. It’s lovely to see all the changes throughout the seasons.

Connecting these together is Grunty’s tower. Grunty is an evil witch who wants to make herself beautiful (by stealing the beauty from Banjo’s sister, Tooty, who became a staple of all future Banjo games…either that or she was relegated to a missing person’s poster and forgotten about). You explore the tower, finding jigsaws to fill in with the jiggy pieces you collect to open the main worlds. There are also 10 jiggies hidden here, which require you to hit a switch in each level to reveal (except for one, which is given to you at the start of the game).

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And once you get past all the levels and go to defeat Gunty, it doesn’t go straight into a boss battle (that comes later), instead you have to complete Grunty’s Furnace Fun, a trivia board game where you have to answer questions about the game (or complete some mini games from previous levels). These questions could be about Grunty herself, pictures of places in levels to identify, trivia about characters or identifying sound and music.

Music. That’s a very important part of what makes Banjo-Kazooie work. Composer Grant Kirkhope did an absolutely phenomenal job of creating some tunes that you will be humming for the rest of your lives. They also work with the levels extremely well, adding to the magical experience. The music will also vary slightly based on different locations of each level or going underwater, all with perfectly smooth transitions between them. The music to Banjo-Kazooie is simply heaven for your ears, and will put a smile on your face for the entirety of your playthrough. Even other people in your house will start humming the tunes.

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Replaying Banjo-Kazooie takes between 6 and 10 hours, although this will be a lot longer the first time. It’s a great length for annual revisits and is an extremely well-contained piece of media. You can follow it by its sequel, Banjo-Tooie (as I do every few years), but it works extremely well on its own. The entirety of the game is just full of joy, accompanied by very happy tunes and a sense that everyone working on the game was enjoying themselves.

There are two versions of this game, the original on N64 and a remaster version on Xbox. I highly recommend the Xbox version, as the better controller design helps a lot, and the widescreen HD image is much nicer to see. The main other difference between the two is that the Xbox version is easier, as it saves what notes you have collected. In the original, you need to collect all 100 in one go, which I believe was mainly due to memory limits on the N64 and not the original intention.

Banjo-Kazooie is my perfect game.

Quote

And stop playing you won’t. You can always tell when you’ve got a great game on your hands: when it starts to warp time. 16 straight hours of Banjo, leaving only for calls of nature – we had food and drink brought in.

- James Ashton, N64 Magazine #18

Remake or remaster?

The Xbox remaster is pretty great, although releasing on more platforms and a few fixes and refinements would be great.

Official ways to get the game.

Banjo-Kazooie is available on Xbox One/Series and is included in Rare Replay. You can also rent it on Switch via Nintendo Switch Online

Re-releases

2008: Xbox Live Arcade

2015: Rare Replay

2023: Nintendo Switch Online (Subscription Only)

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Posted (edited)
16 minutes ago, Cube said:

including an impossible minigame with Mr Vile, sneaky crocodile (although a move from a later level can make this possible).

Fixed that for you. (Also, the way you phrased that, you wouldn't happen to be aware of the traditional song that's sung at AGDQ when this game shows up there?)

But anyway, Banjo-Kazooie is easily one of the N64 greats, even if I do prefer Tooie in almost every regard. And it's great that a new generation of Nintendo players have discovered the game thanks to the one-two combo of Smash Ultimate and NSO. It's a very special game.

Edited by Glen-i
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2 minutes ago, Glen-i said:

Fixed that for you. (Also, the way you phrased that, you wouldn't happen to be aware of the traditional song that's sung at AGDQ when this game shows up there?)

 

Yup, it's a reference to the song. I can occasionally beat Mr Vile, but do still occasionally get the Turbo Trainers.

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Posted (edited)

This really is a very special game.  One of the N64's absolute finest and arguably one of its most important titles.  It's basically the quintessential Rare game and it exhudes quality from start to finish.

It's also perhaps the N64 game steeped in the most mystery, owing to its protracted and tumultuous development cycle.  As most of you probably know, the game started out as Project Dream, beginning development shortly after DKC2 shipped, moving over from the SNES to the N64, then eventually changing from a pirate themed action RPG into a 2.5D quadscrolling platformer and then into a full 3D platformer modelled after Super Mario 64 in response to that game.  As such, there is a lot of cut and unused content, including perhaps the most famous example of unused content in gaming history (and the one that sparked my own interest in development changes/cut content in general), Stop N' Swop.  The TCRF page for this game is a veritable treasure trove cove of facinating info that is well worth a peek!  I can't overstate how much this game facinated me as a kid, and the countless hours I spent trying to explore and discover all of the secrets and mysteries in this game and its sequel are ones I'll forever treasure.  It's kind of a shame that the whole Stop N' Swop thing wasn't allowed to happen, because could you even imagine what utter magic could happen if Rare were allowed to go ahead with it and allow all of their various N64 games to link together and unlock stuff in each respective cartridge? The amount of broken cartridge ports would rival even the amount of control sticks broken by Mario Party 1! :D

I mean, I don't really need to wax much more poetic about this game.  You all know it and you all love it, and for good reason.  It's a masterpiece spawned from chaos.  I do prefer the sequel for its ridiculously ambitious, almost Metroidvania like interconnected world design (an idea so good that Metroid Fusion stole it wholesale ;)), but I can see why people might prefer the first game.  It's much smaller and much more approachable, far less overwhelming (I mean, BT expects the player to have already played BK so much that it outright gives you BK's entire endgame moveset from the outset!) and also more digestible.  You could easily 100% this game in less than 10 hours your first time through and that's a nice length, not too much of a good thing; while BT is easily 20+ hours your first time through.  I have to be careful not to spend too much time talking about BT here when we're supposed to be talking about BK, but really, you must play BK first before touching BT, I can't stress this enough; the sequel fully expects you to have at least rolled credits on the original BK first (to the point where BK's secret ending outright announces that a sequel is coming, and even gives it its final name of "Banjo Tooie" right there and then!).

Oh yeah.  Did you know that Banjo Tooie hadn't even been announced yet before Banjo Kazooie launched? What an incredible mindblowing thing to hide the announcement of a sequel with full title and even items and areas shown that would tie into the next game shown off in a secret ending! It was the Back To The Future Part 2 Ending of the video game world, only far more well received and exciting, instead of being the blatant cash grab that BTTFP3 was ;)  Sadly with the advent of the modern internet, things like this can't possibly have the same impact that they once did back in the late 90s, but it really does just exemplify how amazing the sense of discovery and secret hunting was in this game.  Like the Sandcastle Cheats, remember those? Most of them weren't even released by Rare until 2-3 years after the game came out, with some not even being discovered until decades later!  This game provides a better sense of mystery, wonder and discovery than any modern open world title could ever dream of doing.

Ok.  I'm gonna now take a bit of time to rant about the Xbox 360 version and why it's a terrible bastardisation of the original game.

First off.  What in the ever loving fuck have 4J Studios done to the font and HUD!?

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AHHHH!!!!! THOSE JINJOS PIERCE INTO MY SOUL!!!!

 

Ok, admittedly a minor gripe in the grand scheme of things, but holy shit is the new font and HUD so unbearably ugly! Utterly artless.

A bigger issue is the new "modern" camera.  Holy shit have they fucked it up something fierce! Why!? The original game's camera was near enough flawless! Now it's just lazy and requires constant babysitting, and also requires constant feathering because the original game was designed around the camera angle being moved in 45 degree increments instead of being fully analogue.  This makes precision platforming a total nightmare now, as the camera constantly fights you (especially in The Engine Room, you KNOW which room I'm talking about).  The 360 version of BT would rectify this to some degree, making it at least tolerable there, but it's still not as smooth to control as the original.

Speaking of 4J Studios fucking around with things that they had no business touching, or any real understanding of the original game design intention, they changed how note collection was handled.  In the original game, you had to collect all 100 notes within a level in a single run; and each time you either died or exited the level, the game would save your best note collection score.  4J Studios decided to mess around with the game by changing this so that once a note is collected, it stays collected forever.  Now this sounds like a good change on paper, but in practice? It ruins the intended challenge of the game.  Rusty Bucket Bay and Click Clock Wood are supposed to be endurance challenges where you try and survive long enough to collect all 100 notes in one go, but this is now completely trivialised thanks to this change, ruining the intended level design.  This change also introduces a rather nasty bug that can lock you out of 100% completion too... if you tackle the Bottle Bonus Challenge before 100% completing Mad Monster Mansion, when the onscreen Banjo collects the notes in the Mad Monster Mansion puzzle, the game treats them as being already being collected; making it impossible to collect them within the level itself.  It's an awful change that 4J Studios had no business making.

Oh but it gets even better... because all of the game's cutscenes are also completely broken.  This is immediately obvious from the moment you start the game, as animations go out of sync and don't play properly (with some animations just being outright missing even) in every single cutscene in the game!

Timestamped for your viewing displeasure (but if for whatever reason it doesn't work, just skip to 00:48 to start the intro cutscene and watch how it breaks almost right away)

Banjo Tooie on 360 also suffers from the same issue (and it's worse there because the sequel has a lot more cutscenes) and it's so utterly maddening.  This is not some sort of obscure bug that could easily have been missed, no, it pervades across every single cutscene in the entire game and it's painfully obvious.  It's mindboggling that not only that this issue happened in the first place, but that even 15 odd years after this re-release came out, it has still not been patched in ANY of the 360 version's subsequent re-releases across Rare Replay or when it was given the Xbox Series X 4k enhancement treatement.  It is so utterly amateurish that it outright disrespects the original game, and when you're talking about such an important milestone of a release within the gaming industry as a whole? These kinds of issues are just utterly unacceptable.

But wait! There's more! Because 4J Studios are a bunch of hacks that seem to think that technological superiority automatically makes a game better, they also pushed out the game's draw distance to infinity.  Again, another change that sounds good on paper, but it's also one that ruins the game's intended level design as collectables that are scattered around the stages are now always in clear view.  Things like Sharkfood Island, or the Empty Honeycomb out at sea in Treasure Trove Cove are supposed to be hidden from plain sight and fade into view as you get closer to them as you explore the sea in TTC, but now? They're just in razor sharp view at all times, making finding them trivial.  Same goes for the hidden notes at the bottom of Bubblegloop Swamp.  Again, a change made with no care, understanding or respect for the original game's level design.

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Yes I'm nicking your screenshot to demonstrate this @Cube, but Sharkfood Island and that crate floating out at sea are not supposed to be visible from here.  Notice also how it fails to obscure the boundary of the ocean across the horizon too? There's supposed to be a layer of fog that's just missing here

 

Oh, and did I also mention that they ruined the cheats too? Unlike in the original N64 game, enabling any sort of Sandcastle Cheat now completely blocks saving of any kind; making the cheats utterly useless and pointless to even mess around with (Wanna be a washing machine and still be able to save? Well too bad, you can't in this version!).  This is bad in BK, but it's a hell of a lot worse in BT, which not only has a lot more fun cheats to mess around with, but it's also a much bigger and longer game; and worst of all, this makes using the SuperBanjo cheat utterly useless!! A travesty!

Now, there is some good about this version I do have to give credit for and it's that its widescreen implementation is mostly well done and that it now runs at a solid 1080p/30FPS on Xbox 360 (4K on Series X), which is certainly quite a nice image quality improvement over the blurry 240p and somewhat unstable 30FPS of the N64 original.  It also adds some neat online leaderboards that track your best speedrun through each game and level, which is neat I suppose.  And it even allows you to carry over the Stop N' Swop items to BT, though the way that this was handled was also rather cackhanded, as 4J Studios handled this by removing the SnS items from BT (meaning that the areas that used to contain those items are now just... empty) and having them just straight handed to you at the start of BT, with the two additional eggs that were not previously obtainable in BT now granting you (rather insultingly, and not in a funny Rare humour kind of way) two Xbox 360 Gamerpics.  For all the hype surrounding the reintroduction of this feature, it's soul-crushing to see it used to grant you two useless JPGs for your Xbox 360 Live account; it feels so wrong.  I will give them props for the Stop N' Swop 2 joke though, that was actually pretty funny.

There's plenty of other minor issues that pervade throughout the 360 version of BK (such as numerous glitches with the music not working correctly, especially when going underwater, and of course all references to Nintendo's IPs were removed), but those are the biggest gripes I have with this version.  It just feels so sloppy and disrespectful as a whole, and really that perfectly encapsulates Microsoft's entire tenure as Rare's owner.  Thankfully, we were blessed with the original N64 version being made available via Nintendo Switch Online and that version is everything I could have ever asked for.  It's a flawless recreation of the original N64 ROM, with all of the original references and everything intact; now running in HD and with a smooth and unwavering 30FPS (and no broken cutscenes either!); it's even portable, and can be played with the original N64 controller! It took over 20 years, but we finally got the ultimate version of BK.  Thank you Nintendo, Microsoft and Rare for finally making it happen.  I cannot wait for Banjo Tooie to get the same treatment, good lord it needs it badly... because the 360 version is a mess and the original N64 cartridge runs like an absolute dog, with one of the worst framerates on the platform (it really says a lot though how much I love the N64 game despite its dreadful performance, and it also says a lot about how terrible the 360 version is when I'd rather play the N64 version with its 240p resolution running at around 10-15FPS over the 4k/30FPS version on Series X :laughing:).

 

Ok, rant over.  I fucking love this game, please don't play the awful Xbox version though.  Get the good one on Switch :hehe:

Edited by Dcubed
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Off Road Challenge

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  • NA release: 30th June 1998
  • PAL release: 15th September 1998
  • JP release: N/A
  • Developer: Midway, Avalanche Software
  • Publisher: Midway (NA), GT (PAL)
  • N64 Magazine Score: 21%

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Developed by Midway and Avalanche (the ones who made the Tak games and Hogwarts Legacy) is another port of an arcade racer, this one has you driving large 4×4 trucks across some very bumpy environments.

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Off Road Challenge is very clearly an immensely ugly game. Everything looks low quality and messy and there’s a load of pop-in and gaps in the world. The game does mange to make its 6 tracks feel distinct (there’s also two bonus ones which look similar to some of those), but when none of it looks good, that doesn’t matter much.

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However, even though the game is nowhere near good, I found it to be rather enjoyable. The handling is surprisingly good – one of the most responsive I’ve encountered in a car game on the N64 and there’s such a great sense of fun with the game. Everything surrounding this is bad, but the core driving is just entertaining.

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One bizarre thing is that your car starts off as not good enough to win, you need to collect money found in the level (and awarded if you place high) to buy upgrades for your car, which then help you out in later races. One huge problem – if you leave the game to swap vehicle or turn the game off, all these upgrades are on and you need to do a few races to catch up again.

It’s ugly and has some rather odd features, but it’s still kind of fun.

Quote

Off Road Challenge as a whole could be used to simulate just how blurry life would be if you sprayed half a bottle of Harpic into your eyes.

- James Ashton, N64 Magazine #19

Remake or remaster?

Being another Midway racer, a collection of their racing games would be nice.

Official ways to get the game.

There is no official way to get Off Road Challenge.

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Penny Racers

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  • JP release: 30th June 1998
  • NA release: 4th February 1999
  • PAL release: 5th March 1999
  • Developer: Locomotive Corporation
  • Publisher: Takara (JP), THQ (NA/PAL)
  • N64 Magazine Score: 58%

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Known as Choro-Q in Japan, this racing game is base on a series of pullback toy cars. The all have a cute deformed style and the racing game brings that to life, with upgradable cars and weapons to use against other racers.

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The customisation and upgrades are a key part of Penny Racers. There’s a lot of different vehicles to choose from and you can alter the with colours and different components – some change your stats and others alter your appearance. As you finish races, the top three racers can steal components from the bottom three racers.

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While the game is cute and charming, the actual racing is unfortunately not much fun. It takes ages to get up to full speed and other racers coming near you will knock you about. I also found my car to just roll over a lot, particularly on long turns and I really couldn’t work out what I was doing wrong. I eventually learned to anticipate the rolls so I could plan the quick turns and performed fairly well – unless I got stuck in the middle of the pack and bashed about by others.

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There’s also a nice track editor in the game, with a few options for different kinds of straights, turns and curves. Unfortunately, there’s only one (fairly hideous) style to the track, so they’ll all look the same, but it’s a really nice feature.

I wish I could enjoy Penny Racers more than I did, the setting is adorable and I like some of the ideas. Hopefully the sequel will sort out some of the issues.

Quote

There are just too many far superior alternatives available, and a lot more exciting ways to get rid of that spare cash that’s burning a hole in your pocket. How about a nice calculator and ruler set? A plastic skeleton that glows in the dark? Or maybe some new bags for the vacuum cleaner…

- Martin Kitts, N64 Magazine #25

Remake or remaster?

There’s a bunch of Choro-Q games, so some kind of compilation could be interesting – just with improved gameplay.

Official ways to get the game.

There is no official way to get Penny Racers.

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Star Soldier: Vanishing Earth

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  • JP release: 10th July 1998
  • NA release: 15th December 1998
  • PAL release: N/A
  • Developer: Hudson
  • Publisher: Hudson (JP), Electro Brain (NA)
  • N64 Magazine Score: 62%
     

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Star Soldier: Vanishing Earth is a very traditional style sci-fi scrolling shooter. While it features some nice 3D graphics, it doesn’t try to utilise 3D in its gameplay or camera usage, it just keeps things simple. I was quite surprised that this game worked well with widescreen, as with the fixed camera, you would expect everything out of view to be removed.

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However, keeping things simple works for this genre. You can pick between a few ships that have different weapons – all of which can be upgraded by collecting power-up, which level down if you get destroyed. Everything is fast, smooth and feels polished.

Outside of the main mode – which has some hidden paths to unlock bonus missions – there’s also a couple of timed modes for quick high score challenges. It’s a decent example of its genre.

Quote

Gameplay is predictably and reassuringly simple. Just select one of three distinctly different types of ship and head off into battle. The controls will be familiar to anyone that has ever played a SNES or arcade scrolling shooter.

- Martin Kitts, N64 Magazine #19

Remake or remaster?

A regular re-release would be fine.

Official ways to get the game.

There is no official way to get Star Soldier: Vanishing Earth

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Aha! Now I get to talk about the Aleck 64 arcade board!

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This was the first game released for this arcade PCB, and the N64 cartridge release is essentially identical in every way to its arcade counterpart...

... that's because the Aleck 64 is essentially an N64 shoved into an arcade cabinet.  Not the first of its kind by any means, arcade boards based on consoles were common at the time (indeed, part of the reason why the PS1 was such a huge success was because Sony licensed out the PS1 hardware for use in arcade boards, especially ones made by Namco such as the System 11; which powered some of their biggest arcade hits of the late 90s, including the Tekken series)., but what makes this one a bit unusual is that Nintendo had little to no involvement with the Aleck 64's development.  No, this was a Seta joint; yes, the same Seta responsible for the bizzare Morita Shogi 64 and its weird custom cartridge that you saw a couple pages back in this same thread.  Seta liked to tinker with odd hardware accessories and the like, and it seems that Nintendo took notice and granted them the keys to the Mushroom Kingdom 64 here.

It perhaps came too late to make any real impact in the arcade world.  The N64 hardware wasn't particularily impressive compared to contemporary arcade competitors (I mean, it wouldn't have been impressive by 1996, let alone 1998!), and the N64 itself was famously much more difficult to develop for than the PS1, so it didn't really compete well at the low-end either.  Kind of caught in a bit of a no-mans land really.

Still, the Aleck 64 did end up getting a fair few games made for it, 16 in total, but none of them would end up being notable successes in the arcade business.  Either way, 16 games is a decent amount for a standardised arcade PCB, so it's hard to call it a failure; especially for a small developer like Seta.  But, to my knowledge, only two games from the Aleck 64 would ever get ported to the regular N64; and Star Soldier: Vanishing Earth just so happens to be the first one.

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Interesting, I had no idea about that arcade unit, I may test out how they emulate (looks like the ones that use odd controllers have a patched ROM to accept a regular controller) and sneak them somewhere into my playthrough, something interesting to look at. 

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3 hours ago, Cube said:

Interesting, I had no idea about that arcade unit, I may test out how they emulate (looks like the ones that use odd controllers have a patched ROM to accept a regular controller) and sneak them somewhere into my playthrough, something interesting to look at. 

Worth noting that every Aleck 64 game has now been converted into standard N64 ROMs that can be played off a flash cart (and presumably emulators too).

Same thing was done with the 64DD library too.  You can now play them all on a flash cart without a 64DD needed (yes, even the games like F-Zero Expansion Kit that interfaces with a seperate cartridge).

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I've got a few to work. 64DD games I'm already planning. Speaking of F-Zero...

 

F-Zero X

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  • JP release: 14th July 1998
  • NA release: 27th October 1998
  • PAL release: 6th November 1998
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • N64 Magazine Score: 91%

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I loved F-Zero GX on GameCube, but I’ve never played the N64 version before. It turns out I love this version, too, even though it feels a lot more brutal than I remember GX being. This is Nintendo’s take on the sci-fi racer genre, and it does a great job at it.

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F-Zero X features a whopping 30 racers at once (each with a unique ship) and – even with some obvious rubber banding – they all move like actual opponents, making mistakes and reacting to your presence. The game goes a great job at remaining smooth by adjusting the level of detail as the framerate is perfect throughout. The tracks twist and turn and it’s all incredibly fast.

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One key part of the game is the energy bar. On top of representing your health, it’s also your boost. There are places to recharge on the track (usually near the end of a lap) so a key part of the game is deciding how much you’re willing to risk in order to go faster. Blow up and you lose a life and have to start the race again.

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The tracks in F-Zero X start out quite gentle, but things take a sudden turn in the last track of the second cup (there are four cups in total, with 6 tracks each) and you’ll start getting thin portions of the track with no edges – fall off and you’re not placed back like other games, you lose a life and start again. Just surviving the tracks becomes the main challenge until you start learning them.

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Not every choice is made against the player, though. You have barge attacks and a spin attack at your disposal. Take someone else and they won’t score any points for that round. To make good use of this, the game even highlights you rival (the opponent with the highest score) so you can try to target specific opponents and pick them out of the crowd.

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On top of the leagues (which have four difficulties) and multiplayer, there’s a few extra modes. There’s an unlockable X cup that serves you up procedurally generated tracks and a “death race” mode where you race around a short track trying to take out every other racer (I personally would prefer if you could do this on other tracks as well).

F-Zero X is a great game that is quite full of stuff to do. It’s still a ton of fun today.

Quote

F-Zero X is fast. While other developers may have chosen to polish its exterior, Nintendo have created one of – it not, the most – well-judged and wonderfully balanced racing games we’ve ever had the pleasure of playing.

- James Price, N64 Magazine #22

Remake or remaster?

A remake of F-Zero GX with all the tracks and features of F-Zero X added in would be amazing – although it shouldn’t be based on this version of F-Zero X, but we’ll get into that when I play the Japanese-only expanded version of the game.

Official ways to get the game.

There is no way to buy a new copy of F-Zero X, the only official way to play is to rent it via the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pak.

Re-releases

2004: iQue

2007: Wii Virtual Console

2016: Wii U Virtual Console

2022: Nintendo Switch Online (Subscription Only)

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One key part of the game is the energy bar. On top of representing your health, it’s also your boost. There are places to recharge on the track (usually near the end of a lap) so a key part of the game is deciding how much you’re willing to risk in order to go faster. Blow up and you lose a life and have to start the race again.



I am only just finding this out, and I've played this game for multiple hours at a friend's house. I thought it was just a boost meter! No wonder I kept exploding so easily!

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