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Power League 64

powerl-box-l.jpg

  • JP release: 8th August 1997
  • NA release: N/A
  • PAL release: N/A
  • Developer: Hudson
  • Publisher: Hudson
  • N64 Magazine Score: 42%

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I had no idea that the Japanese loved American baseball so much, but this is the third Japan-exclusive game on the N64. This one has a more “realistic” art style, but the lack of faces make the players look absolutely horrific.

Control is similar to the previous baseball games, except this time the batter has no aiming reticule, so you have no idea how close you were to hitting. When fielding, you also need to move your players more, although throwing to the bases is a nightmare as it never goes to the person you want it to go to.

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I did learn something about baseball from this game: seemingly a big part of the game is the pitcher deliberately throwing an “out” ball, as if the batter swings, it doesn’t count as out. The CPU in this game loves doing difficult shots as it knows about the lack of depth perception in a video game, and the minute screen space between in and out.

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If you do manage to hit the ball, the CPU fielders will catch it most of the time, so it doesn’t really matter much, while the CPU will manage to fill the bases and then get a home run. It’s a miserable experience.

There is a mode that I thought could help practicing batting. It’s a home run competition where you try batting 10 times to get as many home runs as possible – except that this is completely unlike batting in the real game as it’s easy to hit the ball and you seem to get a home run every time you hit it.

Quote

When it’s all said and done, baseball is plainly just rounders played by men in tights who spit a lot and skid around on the floor. Power League adds nothing and is outclassed by both its rivals. Avoid it with the enthusiasm you would a contagious disease.

- James Ashton, N64 Magazine #7

Remake or remaster?

It’s a bad sports game, so doesn’t really need anything.

Official ways to get the game.

There is no official way to get Power League 64

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This is why Stereoscopic 3D should be the standard.  So many games just inherently benefit from the tech in subtle ways that make games just better to play.

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Tetrisphere


tetrisphere-box-l.jpg

  • NA release: 11th August 1997
  • PAL release: February 1998
  • JP release: N/A
  • Developer: H2O
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • N64 Magazine Score: 69%

tetrisphere-006.jpg

If you thought that Tetrisphere is a Tetris-like game that is played on a sphere then, surprisingly, you would be wrong. It didn’t even start out as a Tetris licensed game, but rather a game called Phear on the Jaguar, before ended up going to the N64 instead and published by Nintendo with the Tetris branding.

I remember playing it as a kid and being confused, but the tutorial explains the game quite well and it’s quite simple. You’ll see a shadow of your next piece. You have to line it up so it connects to two or more matching pieces, they’ll disappear – get rid of large amounts and you’ll get power ups. There are different modes, but the general goal is to clear enough of the inner sphere.

tetrisphere-010.jpg

While the starting pieces need lining up exactly, the more complex just seem to need one part touching a matching piece, which ends up making them much easier to score combos with. The power ups come in different types, but seem to be just different animations for removing large amounts of blocks.

To help with combos, you can also drag pieces around by lining them up with the shadow and holding B. Tetrisphere is quite relaxed for a puzzle game, and the failure state is making three mistakes, although the shadow showing your target handily shows if your placement is good or not.

tetrisphere-012.jpg

It’s an entertaining puzzle game, although while it has a lot of modes, they all still feel like the same game. The game doesn’t mix things up enough, so ends up feeling a little bit basic.

Quote

It’s in no way an essential purchase, but it has a strange lure about it – hypnotic almost, which is probably enhanced by the eye-glazing tempo of the acid house dance tracks.

- Steve Jarratt, N64 Magazine #13

Remake or remaster?

A re-release is fine for Tetrisphere.

Official ways to get the game.

There is no official way to get Tetrisphere.

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Now that we've more or less reached the 1 year anniversary of the US launch of the N64.  I think we can get a decent picture of how dire the post-launch software drought really was.

A grand total of four non-sports/non-Mahjong Japanese developed 3rd party games for the console across the span of an entire year.  Four.

And of those four, the first one took an entire 5 months to come out after the Japanese launch (and remained Japan only).

Tetrisphere is a fine enough puzzle game, but it ended up coming across as underwhelming at its release because the console was running on absolute fumes at this point, and people were desperate for a meaty, good quality action or RPG title.  Unfair expectations, true, but expectations nonetheless.  It's a decent puzzle game, but it was the wrong game at the wrong time for the console.

Edited by Dcubed
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Man, Tetrisphere was such a cool game. Creative concept, trippy aesthetics, proper difficulty curve (I do remember some late-game challenges being daunting)...

It's a perfect candidate for the NSO.

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15 minutes ago, darksnowman said:

More like Tetrisfear.

No, that would be TGM3...

tetris-the-grand-master-3-terror-instinc

Enter the world of Survival Horror

God I hope we get TGM 3 on Switch... Come on Arika! You can't just leave me hanging at TGM 1 & 2! Finish the trilogy of re-releases!

Edited by Dcubed

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Now the next one was the right game at the right time.

Goldeneye 007
goldenete-n64-box-l.jpg

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  • JP release: 23rd August 1997
  • PAL release: 25th August 1997
  • NA release: 25th August 1997
  • Developer: Rare
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • N64 Magazine Score: 94%

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The legendary game GoldenEye. This is the game I got with my N64 and I spent all day searching around the dam level for bungee rope as it wasn’t in my inventory. It was a landmark game for not just first person shooters, but video games in general.

GoldenEye had the brilliant idea of adding objectives that were more than just pushing buttons then going through the level again to look for something that has changed. You had to protect certain people, blow up certain objects and find objects. On higher difficulty options, you have more objectives to complete.

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The praise of GoldenEye has been done countless times before, but one aspect I think is overlooked is the level design, in terms of how the levels feel like actual places and buildings and not a nonsensical string of rooms and corridors.

Part of this is due to how the developers made the game: the GoldenEye team had never made a video game and was a risky experiment from Rare to throw people who had never worked in the video game industry to see if they would come up with unique methods. It’s quite shocking that they were willing to do this with an IP like James Bond, but it paid off.

Typically, the objective and player path is made first and then the level is built around that, but for GoldenEye, the levels were constructed and then they added the objectives and decided where the player would start. This meant that some rooms are essentially “pointless”, but it helps makes everything feel real.

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The muiltiplayer was another huge surprise – a few of the developers started it with 6 weeks of development left and without getting permission to do so first. It was simple, but at the same time extremely enjoyable and is still one of the most famous multiplayer modes in a video game.

Some aspects of GoldenEye haven’t aged well, particularly the controls (although there are dual analogue options hidden in the settings, requiring two controllers), but sort that out and it’s still an absolute joy to play.

Quote

In truth, this is so far ahead of Doom 64, and even Turok, that comparisons are pointless. You’ll look at GoldenEye’s filmic feel, lashings of originality and – yes -frequent genius, and wonder why id or Iguana couldn’t have done similar things. And the reason? Because Rare, like Nintendo themselves, know the N64 inside-out and, plainly, are breathtakingly talented to boot.

- Tim Weaver, N64 Magazine #9

Remake or remaster?

There was an XBLA version of GoldenEye that was nearly finished. You could swap between old and new graphics (although the “old” graphics weren’t fully finished) and it played great on a modern controller. Finish that version and release it, as it’s what GoldenEye deserves.

Official ways to get the game.

You can buy the game by purchasing a digital copy of Rare Replay on Xbox One/Series. It is also available for subscription as part of Xbox Game Pass or Nintendo Switch Online

 

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Goldeneye is such an absolute miracle of a game.  To think it came from a freshman team at Rare is just even more ludicrous; the Stampers just simply had the Midas Touch when it came to scouting talent and incubating the best games that the industry ever saw.

On paper, this game should've been a dismal failure.  A long delayed licensed title, original intended for the fucking Virtual Boy, that came out almost two years late, on a platform that was almost dead in the water by this point.  Not only did it revive the console, not only did it revolutionise the FPS genre (indeed, this was the inflection point where the FPS genre truly came into being on consoles), it actually managed to supplant the original source material it was based on.  Today, when you hear the word "Goldeneye", you instantly think of the 1997 N64 video game, not the 1995 movie; the movie was shit.

Martin Hollis, Dave Doak and the rest of the team at Rare not only beat the odds, but they crafted one of the single most important and influential video games of all time.  Goldeneye is amongst the single most representitive games of the entire N64 library.  Quality over quantity.  The droughts were the stuff of legends, but when the big hitters hit? They HIT.

Every single subsequent FPS game owes Goldeneye a debt as deep as every 3rd person action game owes both Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time.  But it's only right and proper that we look at the debts owed by Goldeneye itself.  Looking past the obvious foundation laid by Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Quake, as well as the control foundations laid by Turok Dinosaur Hunter (1.2 Solitare is a 1:1 carbon copy of Turok's controller layout), Goldeneye also owes a debt to SEGA's Virtua Cop; and I do mean that literally.  Most of you are probably already aware, but just in case you're not, Goldeneye was originally going to be an on-rails light-gun game without the light gun... and we actually have footage of this version of the game!

Only a short snippet, but timestamped for your viewing pleasure

The "aim mode" seen in the final game (Where you hold down R to make a reticule appear) was directly inspired by both Virtua Cop and this old prototype.

Finally, Goldeneye also owes its mission structure directly to Super Mario 64, again, common knowledge for most people here probably; but it just goes to show how everyone stands on the shoulders of giants.  Even something completely original and groundbreaking is built on what came before; and sometimes, all it takes is using those existing ideas and elements in new ways to create something completely unforseen before.

It's really hard to understate the impact of this game.  Without Goldeneye? Nintendo may well have not survived the N64 era.  It single handidly saved them in 1997, coming not a moment too soon, despite being 2 years late; and it would revive interest in the console as a whole, putting it back into mainstream conciousness in the west and raising the sales/mindshare tide for all of the console's other software.  Goldeneye went on to become the 3rd best selling game of all time for the console (4th best selling throughout the entire generation), ushering in a whole new era of console FPS games that would later flood the market (and indeed, for a time, the N64 itself).  We all owe a debt to Bond, and to Rare.

Addendum

This one's for @Glen-i @S.C.G and @BowserBasher more than anyone else, but we're not the only ones who adore the ridiculously stupid slapping animations in this game...

Quote

And, of course, there's GoldenEye's fairly silly melee animation. "Nobody ever said – on the team – no one ever said, 'This is ridiculous,'" said Hollis. "It's absolutely hilarious and I love it but, again, you could make an argument that it should be different – more realistic, much more sober – [but] I think you'd be taking out a lot of the character of the game." Anyone who has ever played a multiplayer match of "slappers only" would probably agree.

;)

Edited by Dcubed
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Tetrisphere


tetrisphere-box-l.jpg

  • NA release: 11th August 1997
  • PAL release: February 1998
  • JP release: N/A
  • Developer: H2O
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • N64 Magazine Score: 69%

tetrisphere-006.jpg

If you thought that Tetrisphere is a Tetris-like game that is played on a sphere then, surprisingly, you would be wrong. It didn’t even start out as a Tetris licensed game, but rather a game called Phear on the Jaguar, before ended up going to the N64 instead and published by Nintendo with the Tetris branding.
I remember playing it as a kid and being confused, but the tutorial explains the game quite well and it’s quite simple. You’ll see a shadow of your next piece. You have to line it up so it connects to two or more matching pieces, they’ll disappear – get rid of large amounts and you’ll get power ups. There are different modes, but the general goal is to clear enough of the inner sphere.

tetrisphere-010.jpg

While the starting pieces need lining up exactly, the more complex just seem to need one part touching a matching piece, which ends up making them much easier to score combos with. The power ups come in different types, but seem to be just different animations for removing large amounts of blocks.
To help with combos, you can also drag pieces around by lining them up with the shadow and holding B. Tetrisphere is quite relaxed for a puzzle game, and the failure state is making three mistakes, although the shadow showing your target handily shows if your placement is good or not.

tetrisphere-012.jpg

It’s an entertaining puzzle game, although while it has a lot of modes, they all still feel like the same game. The game doesn’t mix things up enough, so ends up feeling a little bit basic.
It’s in no way an essential purchase, but it has a strange lure about it – hypnotic almost, which is probably enhanced by the eye-glazing tempo of the acid house dance tracks.
- Steve Jarratt, N64 Magazine #13
Remake or remaster?
A re-release is fine for Tetrisphere.
Official ways to get the game.
There is no official way to get Tetrisphere.
I have a special fondness for Tetrisphere. My dad came back from a business trip one time, and he said he had bought me a game at the airport on his way back.

I got really excited, since he never really took an interest in my gaming hobby, and this was the first and only time he had ever bought me a game on a whim.

I am ashamed to say that 14 year old me was disappointed when I saw that he'd bought me Tetrisphere. I'd never heard of it, and it looked like a lame puzzle game. Nevertheless my sister and I played the game and had some fun with it. It was pretty satisfying destroying blocks (you get certain rocket and bomb power ups that can blast away large areas of blocks at once).

It ended up being a weird addition to my very limited N64 library. I only had 7 games for the console.

Goldeneye
Ocarina of Time
Mario 64
Banjo Kazooie
Smash Bros
Micro Machines 64
Tetrisphere

All classics, I think you'll agree.

Looking back, I'm really quite touched that he went out of his way to buy me something nice at the airport, and I'll always look back at the game positively because of it.
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54 minutes ago, Dcubed said:

the 1995 movie; the movie was shit.

It wasn't no World is Not Enough or Licence to Kill, but it was still one of the better Bond films. Pisses all over the Daniel Craig ones I've seen.

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22 minutes ago, EEVILMURRAY said:

It wasn't no World is Not Enough or Licence to Kill, but it was still one of the better Bond films. Pisses all over the Daniel Craig ones I've seen.

That's not saying much though :p

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1 minute ago, Dcubed said:

That's not saying much though :p

I was going to say the exact same thing, but thought I'd hold back in case we had any Craig-fisters in the house.

 

Dalton forever bitches.

 

[although Living Daylights was a bit boring]

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Before people bought a console for CoD and Fifa, they had an N64 for Mario Kart and GoldenEye. And with that, everything else has been said many-a time.

2 hours ago, bob said:

I have a special fondness for Tetrisphere. My dad came back from a business trip one time, and he said he had bought me a game at the airport on his way back.

Toys for bob!

1 hour ago, EEVILMURRAY said:

Pisses all over the Daniel Craig ones I've seen.

Yeah I felt something was amiss after his Casino Royale. Since then, I only watched the one where Judy Dench bowed out. By the end of Pierce's run it had veered into parody but GoldenEye struck the balance between fun and espionage I expect from a Bond flick. It was quality already before the game elevated its status even more for people like us. 

End of Brosnan Bond to Craig Bond was like Skyward Sword to Breath of the Wild. Just get back to the sweet spot between both.

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1 hour ago, darksnowman said:

Before people bought a console for CoD and Fifa, they had an N64 for Mario Kart and GoldenEye.

Nope, didn't own either of those games!

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J.League Dynamite Soccer 64

dynamite-box-l.jpg

  • JP release: 5th September 1997
  • PAL release: N/A
  • NA release: N/A
  • Developer: A-Max
  • Publisher: Imagineer
  • N64 Magazine Score: 66%

dynamite-003.jpg

The third Japanese football game has a very different feel to both Konami and EA’s games. On paper, this is easily the worst football game I’ve played so far (and not just on the N64) and yet…it’s oddly enjoyable. If you paid money for this game, you would no doubt be annoyed, but giving it a quick blast to see how bad it is truly is quite fun.

dynamite-005.jpg

You may notice that there’s no cursor showing who you are currently controlling – that’s because you never control any individual players. Instead, you control a random assortment of players who are near the ball, all moving in the same way. Even when you have the ball, the other players will “kick” an imaginary ball at the same time the player with the ball does.

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The a and b buttons are different kinds of kicks, these are just in a general direction and not a proper pass – that’s on the C down button, and you have no control over who you pass to (it often goes to a player behind the current one). The goalkeepers are also amazing at what they do, and the CPU even struggled to score when I gave them lots of chances.

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Fouls are very loose in the game, as sliding tackles rarely result in a foul. There is a shoulder barge button that does usually give a foul, and I had a lot of fun seeing how many players I could get sent off the pitch. It turns out that after four players are sent off, you can no longer get cards. And even with four players sent off, the absence of a defence didn’t make a huge difference due to the goalkeeper’s skill.

dynamite-011.jpg

It also helps that the sprite-based players are also funny to look at, often looking like gingerbread men. The graphics combined with the way you control multiple players at once, it feels like a hybrid of football and foosball.

This is a wonderfully dreadful game.

Quote

So, how’s it managed to sneak into the mid-60’s, then? Well, persevere with it (and, strewth, does it take some perseverance) and you’ll discover that, for all it’s stinking great, size 15 faults, there’s something strangely enjoyable about it.

- Tim Weaver, N64 Magazine #8

Remake or remaster?

This isn’t worth buying in any way, just emulate it (with the English translation patch) to see how enjoyably bad it is.

Official ways to get the game.

There is no official way to get J.League Dynamite Soccer 64.

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Bomberman 64
 

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  • JP release: 26th September 1997
  • NA release: 27th November 1997
  • PAL release: 3rd December 1997
  • Developer: Hudson
  • Publisher: Hudson (JP), Nintendo (NA/PAL)
  • N64 Magazine Score: 50%

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Bomberman is a much loved multiplayer game, and with the Nintendo 64 having four controller ports built in, an N64 version seems like a no-brainer, you could even have 8 players by having players sharing controllers, one using D-pad and L and the other using C-buttons and R.

Bomberman 64, however, leaves multiplayer to be an afterthought, focusing instead on a 3D puzzle-platform game.

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The start of Bomberman 64 is immensely more difficult than the rest, with the main challenge working out the mechanics of the game. The controls feel extremely imprecise and the game gets you to use the barely-working method of dropping a bomb and then pressing b to pick it up – except if you get close to a bomb, you’ll kick it and it will slide away.

Then, after you’ve completed the first world, the game tells you “oh, if you press A and B together, you’ll hold it straight away”. It’s strange that the game lets you struggle with it before telling you the proper way to play.

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Little frustrations plague the game. From thin platforms that aren’t suited to the game’s controls, the game hiding objects in places where the game’s bad camera struggles to see and that once you’ve figured out the main mechanics, you realise that there aren’t really any puzzles other than roaming around, hoping you’re going the right way.

Your bombs also explode in a circle, with the blast radius increasing slightly every time you collect a power up, which makes it very difficult to judge how far your bomb will explode, although even at the maximum, it’s nothing compared to the + shape explosions we know and love from Bomberman, one that is integral to the gameplay.

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To get to the credits, there are 5 zones, each with 2 levels and 2 bosses. The bosses are quite tedious and not exciting, and Bomberman can only take one hit. There are also golden cards to collect. To collect these, you have to search every nook and cranny, as well as attack bosses in certain ways – with no clues for any of them.

If you find all 100, and fight the boss again, you’ll unlock the secret final world, but when the game is so tedious to play, is more even a good thing?

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Bomberman 64 is slow, tedious and the transition to “3D” has taken away everything that made Bomberman fun and enjoyable. It’s no surprise that Bomberman ended up returning to its 2D gameplay.

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When it isn’t being tedious, this mode just about works. There’s not much to it, admittedly, and it suffers from all sorts of minor annoyances – such as having to work blind when the environment obscures your view; enemies who regenerate out of sight, in places you’ve thought you’d cleared; exploration puzzles that hide things from the usual perspectives.

- Zy Nicholson, N64 Magazine #8

Remake or remaster?

There are much better Bomberman games to focus on instead.

Official ways to get the game.

There is no official way to get Bomberman 64

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Mace: The Dark Age
 

mace-box-l.jpg

  • NA release: 30th September 1997
  • PAL release: December 1997
  • JP release: N/A
  • Developer: Midway
  • Publisher: Midway (NA), GT Interactive (PAL)
  • N64 Magazine Score: 81%

mace-005.jpg

Most of what I said about War Gods remains true to Mace: The Dark Age. It’s another bare bones Mortal Kombat clone with a small amount of 3D movement, once again with extremely generic stereotypes for characters, this time based on medieval times. The one stand out character to me was the training dummy character from the basic practice mode, called Spanky.

mace-008.jpg

Mace does have two points in its favour, though. First are the graphics, which look great for the time. The 3D models for the characters are very well made, with detail in the model itself rather than pasting on photographs. The detail also extends into the stages, with impressive detail. On top of that, the stages aren’t just backdrop.

mace-003.jpg

While it’s awkward to move around the stages, you can try to use the different layers to your advantage. Some stages even have hazards that cause damage. It creates a feeling that you’re actually fighting in a location, instead of fighting in an empty void with artwork pasted behind you.

As I’m not skilled at these kind of games, I’m not really sure how the fighting itself compares – it felt just like War Gods to me – but N64 Magazine rated it highly, so there must be something more to it.

Quote

All of which is a rather convoluted way of saying that Mace: The Dark age is shin-splinteringly good fun, and almost makes up for the uninspired excess that N64-owning fighting fans have so far been privy to. Almost

- Jes Bickham, N64 Magazine #9

Remake or remaster?

With War Gods, this can be re-released as some kind of Midway fighting came collection.

Official ways to get the game.

There is no official way to get Mace: The Dark Age

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I was so ready for Bomberman and then it turned into that single player game. It was ok but everyone plays Bomberman for one reason alone. 
I also remember that the credits to that game were like 20 minutes long or something like that. 

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Top Gear Rally

tgr-box-l.jpg

  • NA release: 30th September 1997
  • PAL release: November 1997
  • JP release: 5th December 1997
  • Developer: Boss Game Studios
  • Publisher: Midway (NA), Kemco (PAL/JP)
  • N64 Magazine Score: 86%

tgr-011.jpg

Top Gear Rally was loved so much by N64 Magazine that they dropped Multi-Racing Championship’s score from 81% to 71%, claiming that it was scored high because it was first. As much as I wanted to love this, this just felt like it had the same kind of “early days” bias as it’s still another arcade style racer where you work from the back of the pack with very few tracks.

tgr-005.jpg

The racing itself feels pretty decent with a lot of options to change to alter the handling of your vehicles, and the graphics are very nice for their time, with some nice water effects. In championship mode, you play through a bunch of seasons as you race across the same four tracks multiple times. The weather does change and, while the effects are quite lovely, the rain and slow just make the handling a nightmare. In total, you play across these four tracks a total of 21 times – and then again in mirror mode.

tgr-004.jpg

There are some nice touches to the game, for example, you can create custom paint jobs for your cars in a surprisingly nice (for the time) image editor. There’s also “arcade” mode where you can have a 1v1 race against the CPU or another player. The music on the jungle level is also absolutely lovely, although the rest of the music is quite poor. There’s also a hidden track.

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If you play through the whole 21 track season and win every single race, you’ll unlock the final track. You can’t race this in the main mode, only arcade and practice. When N64 Magazine wrote their review, they knew it existed but had no idea how to unlock it, it’s that much of a pain to do. Yet it’s easily the best track of the game, with a ton of interesting shortcuts. It’s strange how the best 20% of their game is locked away so hard – another fun vehicle would have been much better, and would allow for a bit more variety in the game’s main mode.

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One other thing I noticed is that it doesn’t feel like the other racers have any kind of AI – it just feels like they’re on a set path. They don’t react to you and if you get in their way, they’ll barge you away without slowing down. If you try to crash into them, they’ll be unaffected. They’re more obstacles than opponents.

Top Gear Rally is a fun game, but shows its age with its arcade nature and lack of content. At the time of release, it was definitely the best car racing game on the system.

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Top Gear Rally is pretty much as state-of-the-art as it gets, rivalling most coin-ops with its smooth, high-speed 3D graphics. It uses the N64’s analogue joystick to allow you to steer your car precisely, it’s got four tracks (plus a hidden extra one), it’s got varying weather, and it’s not nine cars of differing speed and ability.

- Jonathan Davies, N64 Magazine #8

Remake or Remaster?

A collection of the various Top Gear games would be quite nice.

Official ways to get the game.

There is no official way to get Top Gear Rally

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Even by N64 mags standards, 50% seems harsh for Bomberman. I remember finding it to be reasonably solid with some jaunty tunes? Admittedly, it was a borrow so if I'd shelled out my own savings for it I might have been of a different opinion. Or if it had come later into the N64s span.

I may well have played Mace but those games have all blended together for me. You could mix and match the screenshots and names of those fighting games and I wouldn't know any better.

Did you give your car a paint job in Top Gear? For some reason that editor drew my attention. 

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19 minutes ago, darksnowman said:

Did you give your car a paint job in Top Gear? For some reason that editor drew my attention. 

You can just about make out a "DJ" on the back of the car in some images. I have zero artistic talent. 

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3 minutes ago, Cube said:

You can just about make out a "DJ" on the back of the car in some images. I have zero artistic talent. 

Nicely done. Wasn't sure if that had been personalised or not—been a while since I clapped eyes on most of these games.

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Tommy Thunder (Prototype)

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  • NA release: N/A
  • PAL release: N/A
  • JP release: N/A
  • Developer: Player 1
  • Publisher: Player 1
  • N64 Magazine Score: N/A

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Tommy Thunder was a game in development by Player 1. It eventually moved to the PlayStation before getting cancelled. A fan or Robotron happened upon an open FPT while trying to find out when Robotron 64 was released and found some files, eventually cracking them 10 years later and discovering this very early prototype of Tommy Thunder.

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This prototype mainly seems to be a test of the level design, as you can just move around and enemies don’t harm you – you also walk on water. That said, the level itself is very impressive in scope, with a few underground areas. This map was also just one “block” and the developers were trying to figure out a way to load new chunks of the level on the fly – this is something open world games do now, but was extremely ambitious for the early N64.

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From the very few quotes about the game, it seems like this game was going to be a 3D, open world Metroidvania. You would find weapons as you explored, and equipment (such as anti-grav boots) would alter how you can move throughout the environment, opening up new areas in previous sections. The game never made it past prototyping stages and the company eventually closed down after putting all of their eggs into the Sega Dreamcast.

Should it be finished?

With retro-inspired games for this era gaining popularity, it would definitely be interesting to see a “what if” take on if the developers could pull off what they wanted with Tommy Thunder.

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ClayFighter 63⅓

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  • NA release: 23rd October 1997
  • PAL release: 19th November 1997
  • JP release: N/A
  • Developer: Interplay
  • Publisher: Interplay
  • N64 Magazine Score: 24%

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The Clayfighter series are parody games that supposedly make fun of other fighting games. Previous entries made fun of Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, while this one tackles Killer Instinct. When I think of a parody fighting game, it brings up the idea of a creative and funny game that has over-the-top moves that is enjoyable but likely quite simple. Clayfighter 63⅓ is none of those things.

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Clayfighter aims for a claymation style, but this is completely spoiled by the very low quality sprites and extremely poor animation. On top of that, none of the characters were anything I wanted to play with, being a mixture of generic things, things 6 year olds find “gross” (fat, snot) and racist caricatures. Oh, and Earthworm Jim. Every character also has extremely annoying voice clips, a complete waste of the talent they hired (which includes legends like Frank Welker, Tress MacNeille, Jim Cummings, Rob Paulsen and Dan Castellaneta).

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The arenas are slightly more interesting than fighting games. They’re not as deep as Mace: The Dark Age, but you can hit your opponent through doors and reach other arenas. Unfortunately, the camera is terrible and you can end up fighting behind scenery. The fighting itself is also really dull, being incredibly slow and clunky, with button mashing working very well.

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The game is also very light on content, with just one mode of fighting random opponents (with no attempt of putting it inside a story) and…options. No practice or additional modes and not very many options. It’s an atrocious game devoid of anything fun or amusing.

Quote

If only there was a decent combat system to base the whole thing around. If only it was fast, fluid and exciting. If only there was a game that was genuinely fun to play then perhaps the alleged ‘humour’ wouldn’t grate so much.

- Jes Bickham, N64 Magazine #9

Remake or Remaster?

No. A remake was in development for DSiWare and WiiWare, but never made the light of day. Thankfully. Oh, and it was going to be called “Call of Putty” so you know the humour would have been non-existent.

Official ways to get the game.

There is no official way to get ClayFighter 63⅓

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J.League Eleven Beat 1997
 

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  • JP release: 24th October 1997
  • PAL release: N/A
  • NA release: N/A
  • Developer: Hudson
  • Publisher: Hudson
  • N64 Magazine Score: 52%?

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The fourth different football series for Japan, this one has a much more cartoony/anime style, and I think it suits he N64 quite well. It’s much better than Dynamite Soccer but at the same time, because it’s simply a decent game, there’s really not a huge amount to say about it.

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Eleven Beat keeps things nice and simple, but also functions quite well. The CPUs mistakes in this game felt more natural than other football games and you have a few different kinds of passes and shots. When defending, you do control two different players, but at least you have a cursor to show which ones.

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The modes are just a few basic ones, along with a practice that’s just got your team on the pitch. There’s also a “Red Vs Blue” mode where each team can pick the players they want from all the teams, or let a lucky dip decide.

Eleven Beat is a simple but fun football game, but not much more than that.

Quote

At least Dynamite Soccer had a speed-up button. Elven Beat doesn’t and, as a result, feels about as exhilarating as a George Graham slide.

- Tim Weaver, N64 Mgazine #10

Remake or remaster?

I do think a fun anime-inspired twist on Football could be fun to see today, especially as games can fully pull off the anime style now.


Official ways to get the game.

There is no official way to get J.League Eleven Beat 1997

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