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By N64Memories On 17 Apr, 2017 At 08:26 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, NINTENDO, Old School Otaku, Previews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

No GravatarBy Steven Smith

GoldenEye 007 remains one of the most popular all-time console games. I wrote for +Nintendo Life here as to why I replay it so much as well as this article about its never-released Xbox Live version and this article on the blog re-playing the Wii version.

It’s a seminal console FPS, proving the genre didn’t have to be PC-only if developers could find a unique slant. And this is exactly what Rare managed to do back in the mid-90s.
As you know, GoldenEye 007 has 18 main storyline levels and two bonus levels for completing Secret Agent and then the über tough 00 Agent setting. Below I have ranked all 20 levels based on how much I enjoy replaying them individually.

20. Surface 1

Its non-linear environment is a definite positive; being able to roam freely around helps make the stealth element more engaging. However, the environment is drab and sparse and the objectives through all difficultly levels aren’t anything to shout about. I only re-play this if I am recompleting the game.

19. Runway

I like how similar to the film its environment is but that’s as far as my enjoyment for this level goes to be honest. It’s a small, linear level really; the tank is slow and there’s no real skill involved in completing the objectives.

18. Surface 2

The redeeming feature from the first Surface is that the objectives are more of a challenge. It’s still drab though – a shame the Xbox Live version didn’t see the light of day because it really spruced up the visuals of this level.

17. Silo

I do like racing through for the target time cheat but it is far too linear and repetitive to have longevity in the enjoyment stakes. Scientists just get in the way too….

16. Bunker 1

Its semi-non linear structure allows for some stealth – picking off cameras and enemies hoping for minimal disruption. However, I just can’t get over the missing sections that suddenly appear in Bunker 2 and link the whole facility together. It just makes Bunker 1 not feel quite right…

15. Egyptian

It’s so far down my list because of the utter underwhelming feeling I got playing it for the first time once I had toiled through 00 Agent. It just didn’t feel worth the trouble at the time. Although facing off against Baron Samedi is cool and the level has so many nooks and crannies for enemies to pick you off from. Some skill is needed.

14. Jungle

Jungle reminds me of Turok’s opening quite a bit – the scenery and fogging create a foreboding atmosphere. A player does need to sneak through and carefully pick people off in the early stages in order to conserve health for later on. I like facing off against Xenia as a bit of a mini boss and the weaponry gets fun. The biggest challenge is the target time because your usual tactics have to go out the window.

13. Frigate

I can still get lost on this level! For some reason that’s why I like it and re-play it. I have never really managed to learn its layout off by heart and I probably won’t. However, for some, I can see why this level might be a bit drab and easy to fly through.

12. Statue

This is quite a clever level because of the designers’ use of repetitive scenery to confuse the player and get them lost. If one memorises some certain junk in the level then it isn’t too hard to whizz around, however. Bad guys can pop up from anywhere around you and the flight recorder can land in a few different places to keep you on your toes.

11. Bunker 2

A much better version – the player can roam freely through the corridors and rooms in any chosen direction in order to complete objectives as efficiently as possible. The challenge leaps between Agent and Secret Agent – one must decide on a tactic for completing it and stick to it. For example, I methodically pick off every bad guy in the level – there are 50-odd by the way – and happily let it take as long as it needs. Some like to race through completing objectives and killing when necessary. However, this doesn’t work for me.

10. Depot

What I like about it is that the level is linear in terms of completing the objectives and subsequently getting to the train yet there’s so much to explore and roam freely for if you’re on Agent, for example. I remember exploring every corner of every place looking for some sort of secret or Easter Egg. It also gets super tough on 00 Agent so a good level all round.

9. Streets

Driving through the streets in a tank, crushing anything in your path is still a lot of fun even if it is rather slow. Yet, on foot, there are back streets to explore and objectives to complete on harder settings. On foot is also the best way to complete the target time for a cheat – just get your head down, memorise the route and strafe your heart out!

8. Control

This is a brilliant level for many reasons: a mixture of linear and non-linear structure for completing objectives; a well-pitched difficulty increase; lots of different scenery in the facility with some good visuals still; and a hugely tense battle at the end both in protecting Natalya and the subsequent race to the end. Yes, protecting her is annoying and massively tough on 00 Agent but it makes the level what it is. It’s at number eight because it is one of the toughest levels in the game and will drive you insane on 00 Agent.

7. Caverns

A huge, sprawling level that can be raced through with expert marksmanship or taken slowly with stealth. Objectives’ challenge increase well like in Control but it feels more achievable on 00 Agent. Again, some good weaponry on display and it introduces some new scenery such as the doors and the corridors. I like how it can be tense at the end but not off-the-chart-tense like Control is.

6. Archives

Archives for me is fun because it is a race – get out of the room, get to Natalya, get out on to the streets. This race gets tougher and tougher as you up the difficulty and I don’t think there’s any other way to approach it. Stealth just doesn’t work on here and that’s tough!

5. Train

Probably the most linear stage, a criticism of mine earlier on, but its linear nature creates a great feeling of claustrophobia on the train. There’s nowhere to hide, no method of escape from fire other than ploughing forward. Therefore, one must be on one’s best form to pick off everyone as quickly as possible especially on 00 Agent. Although experts can memorise their appearance, I like how enemies pop up behind you, follow you and can cause loss of health if one forgets. Also, try to kill Trevelyan at the end – apparently it’s possible!

4. Dam

This one is a little nostalgia-driven because for 99% of us, it was our first experience with the game and the opening level epitomises my love for GoldenEye 007 because of this memory. It is still a good level – large and even larger when you have to explore what is going on underneath the surface of the dam. Some combination of blasting enemies and picking them off covertly is the best approach and, if you have an Action Replay, you can reach that fabled island across from the dam!

3. Cradle

Another race – this time in pursuit of Trevelyan once and for all. It’s tough because of the enemies ; they’re not your priority for once! Sometimes you need to get them if they’re in your way but ultimately the death of Trevelyan is your goal and this needs to be the focus. Well-placed head shots get him to say “Finish the job, James!” quicker and this is your aim. I like it because it has the right level of tension and a variety of FPS skills are needed to complete it. Chasing Trevelyan around is fun and the level is the right size for this kind of objective. Pitched well all round by the +Rare Ltd developers.

2. Facility

A fantastically well-pitched level. From picking off a faeces-full guard and dropping into the toilet, to blasting those bottling tanks, the level is full of great moments and challenge. It’s quite claustrophobic with little room to hide and pick off enemies. Racing through proves to be the best method and has to be in order to achieve that insanely difficult target time on 00 Agent. It’s so well-recreated from the film and is genuinely the most  I feel like James Bond in this and any other James Bond game on any console. Sublime for me.

1. Aztec

A superb level and a wonderful present from Rare for completing Secret Agent. In terms of reward satisfaction, this should have been given for completing 00 Agent but then not as many people may have got to enjoy it. It looks fantastic, it has an array of scenery and places to explore and it really challenges the gamer to use many skills to complete the objectives. Not only that, you get to battle Jaws. Jaws! Yes, you can just get face-to-chest with him and blast him to death but that doesn’t matter because it’s surreal to be battling him in the first place. We are introduced to the laser gun and your aim is to get that rocket into space. I love this level and happily replay it when I get the chance. It can still get me – I’ve never perfected it and this gives it longevity for me.
Steven Smith runs the N64Memories Twitter and Facebook pages as well as its blog – www.n64memories.blogspot.co.uk
By N64Memories On 15 Aug, 2016 At 08:59 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, News, Old School Otaku, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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The Nintendo 64’s library of games was always bemoaned for being tiny. However, many gamers in the late 1990s and early 2000s still would not have had the money or time to really experience all the excellent games the console did have despite its relatively small number. Classic games such as Super Mario 64, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Mario Kart 64 were in most people’s collection, of course, but casual N64 gamers might not know of all the excellent alternatives to commonly owned classic games that are out there. Below, Steven Smith (aka @N64Memories on Twitter) suggests 20 alternative N64 games you might want to try instead of your usual go-to games…

Mario Kart 64/Diddy Kong Racing South Park Rally

Mario Kart 64 and, some might say, Diddy Kong Racing are the kings of the kart genre. However, South Park Rally is certainly worth playing if you need to refresh your racing fix because it not only taps into what makes the aforementioned games great, but adds in a classic dose of South Park humour as well as unique challenges not found elsewhere. Trying to collect and hold onto an antidote that will cure you of Mad Cow’s Disease is a unique way of using the karting skills honed in Mario Kart 64. It is a well-crafted game, bundles of fun and different enough not to just be a clone.

GoldenEye 007 The World is not Enough

file-2A lot of what made Rare’s GoldenEye 007 the seminal console first-person shooter is shamelessly plagiarised here in TWINE, but ultimately that’s not a problem. This is because the developers, Eurocom, have reused these features exceptionally well to create another immersive Bond adventure that is just as exciting as GoldenEye 007. In fact, there are a few aspects of TWINE that are better than GoldenEye, which I outlined here in an article on my blog. With this article, I wasn’t saying it is the better game but that it has taken the successful GoldenEye 007 formula and added good gameplay elements to it. Definitely worth playing if you haven’t already.

International Superstar Soccer/FIFA Michael Owen’s World League Soccer 2000

Released in the USA as Mia Hamm Soccer 64, this soccer sim is definitely on a par with the N64 FIFA games and just shy of the brilliance of Konami’s ISS series. The British-based developers used varied camera angles, tight responsive controls and a range of player moves to try to offer an alternative to the dominance of EA and Konami. It sold fairly well but was unfairly overlooked because of the likes of FIFA and now is the time to tell people to give it another chance!

Wave Race 64 Hydro Thunder

Surprisingly, the success of Wave Race 64 early on in the N64’s life didn’t cause of flood (pun intended) of replica games onto the system. Maybe developers knew they couldn’t match its success, who knows. However, Midway’s release is a viable alternative as it is a great conversion of the arcade game. The graphics are gorgeous, the tracks are numerous and varied enough to repeatedly enjoy, and it handles responsively too. Although it isn’t a Wave Race 64 beater, it is similar and it is very accomplished. There’s no harm in putting down Wave Race for a little while if you haven’t tried this yet.

Yoshi’s Story Mischief Makers

2D gaming was going out of fashion in the late 1990s and it took something extra special on a 3D console to get gamers to take notice. Although not as deep as Yoshi’s Island on the Super NES, Yoshi’s Story was a popular 2D platformer on the N64 and clearly had a sprinkle of that Nintendo magic that got people fawning over it. A few other alternative 2D platformers exist to Yoshi’s Story but none as exciting as Mischief Makers. You are Marina, a robot out to save her creator who has been kidnapped. Levels are unique because you SHAKE SHAKE your way up, down and through the semi-2D levels. The story line is bonkers but the levels and worlds that occupy the game are lovely and it gets pretty darn challenging towards the end. To extend longevity, each level can be completed in a time frame to earn awards and there are plenty of secrets to uncover. With 2D back in fashion, there’s no better time to rediscover this one.

Turok 2: Seeds of Evil Armorines: Project S.W.A.R.M

From the same development company came an alternative first-person shooter in a similar vein to the Turok sequel. However, Turok 2 was a hugely popular game and Armorines also had GoldenEye 007 to contend with. This means it was overlooked by many casual N64 gamers and shooter enthusiasts. This is a shame because Armorines is a nifty little shooter: swapping dinosaurs for bugs as well as prehistoric settings for futuristic ones. It plays and handles exactly the same as the Turok series and anyone who is a fan of Turok would adore this as well.

Resident Evil 2 Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness

Resident Evil 2 was the ultimate survival horror game for the N64 and PlayStation. However, a decent alternative is the second N64 Castlevania game (the game the first release was meant to be). It is survival horror of the more action variety as you battle giant skeletons, werewolves and chainsaw-wielding maniacs. The levels are vast, the puzzles are solveable but not too easy and there’s plenty to unlock. It’s not as tight a game as Resident Evil 2 but seeing as RE2 was quite a short experience, it’s probably time to think about alternatives and Legacy of Darkness is worth a go.

F-Zero X San Francisco Rush 2049

file-1Lots of futuristic racers exist on the N64 but this is the most worthy alternative that many have probably missed out on. The third N64 instalment of the Rush series is great because it gives you lush futuristic cityscapes with maximum speed and adrenaline-filled racing. The challengers in a race are hard to beat and there are secret passages packed into every track to take advantage of in order to win. F-Zero X is king but here is your prince.

 

 

Banjo Kazooie Rayman 2: The Great Escape

Although not a Banjo Kazooie beater, Rayman 2 is a solid platformer that owes a lot to Rare’s great game.  It shares similar types of non-playable characters who speak oddly, focus on collectables, great variety in locations, puzzle solving and cut-scenes. It never reaches the heights of Banjo Kazooie’s quality because of its linear nature and lack of save points. However, for those who like the Banjo type of platformer, then this is definitely an option.

WWF No Mercy Virtual Pro-Wrestling 2

The N64 is home to many a great wrestling game: mostly thanks to THQ/AKI Ace and, to a lesser extent, Acclaim. These mostly come with a WCW or a WWE licence but there was this Japanese-only release that rivals them all. VPW2 was also AKI Ace produced and featured the great grappling with no sluggishness or over-complicated bout types that come with American Sports Entertainment. This was fast-paced wrestling at its best and has the added bonus of some whacky Japanese commentary. If you have a NTSC-J N64 and love wrestling games then definitely play this as an alternative to WWF No Mercy.

Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask Hybrid Heaven

Comparisons between these two games are numerous: action/adventure mixed with RPG, a more sinister storyline with darker environments to explore as well as a host of idiosyncratic characters to meet along the way. Konami’s Hybrid Heaven was a great attempt at producing something the N64 didn’t have at the time and while they are not all successful, it does well at gripping you from the outset with its curious main character and storyline. If you have exhausted Majora’s Mask on the N64 and 3DS then Hybrid Heaven is your next point of call.

Rogue Squadron Battle for Naboo

Battle for Naboo was the spiritual successor to the fantastic Rogue Squadron before Rogue Leader came along on the Nintendo GameCube. It has a lukewarm reputation because of the lacklustre film it is based on. However, if you can see past its Episode 1 links (like you can with Episode 1: Racer) then you will have an enjoyable Star Wars shooter on your hands. It not only sends you to the skies but has you grounded too in various machines doing battle. In addition, you are treated to a lush graphical upgrade as well as maintaining the medal challenges of Rogue Squadron. A worthwhile alternative.

Snowboard Kids Snowboard Kids 2

A little bit of a rarity this sequel but if you are a huge fan of the first and haven’t played the second then you must look this up. In terms of gameplay it is identical, but you have a whole new set of tracks, some new racers, improved graphics and even a little hub world to explore. Only for serious fans.

Perfect Dark Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion

The threequel starts off in a world not too dissimilar to that of Perfect Dark’s; the similarities in location, non-playable characters and futuristic weapons are too hard to ignore. Clearly, Iguana Entertainment saw how stupendous Perfect Dark was looking and went for it! Therefore, Turok 3 is a nice little alternative initially to sink your teeth into before you start to see its roots in the two prequels coming through. For me, it was the best of both and is certainly a game to find and play if you haven’t before.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Hercules: The Legendary Journeys

Similarities between the two extend further than using a colon in their respective titles. In fact, I suspect the Hercules development team played Ocarina of Time throughout the game’s creation. By no means is Hercules a like-for-like game – both in terms of content and quality, because it is not. However, casual fans of both the TV series it is based upon and Ocarina of Time will enjoy sinking their gaming teeth into this one if you haven’t already. There are many locations to explore, fighting on your journey to be had, bosses to battle and items to collect. The RPG elements are by no means as in-depth as Ocarina of Time but they do exist and it has a Zelda-like feel to its graphics and music.  Worth a sniff.

Super Mario 64 Rocket: Robot on Wheels

This was the best third-party platform game on the N64. fileThe storyline is fun, engaging and unique – having to scupp
er the evil JoJo’s plans to ruin opening day for the theme park; the graphics are sublime, with a lovely frame rate and easy-to-use camera (essential for a 3D platformer); and it is mightily innovative because a lot of puzzle solving needs Rocket to apply the laws of physics. What makes it familiar to fans of Super Mario 64 is the fact that the worlds and puzzles do seem to take inspiration from the portly plumber’s adventure. But this is not a negative because it is highly enjoyable. Fans of Super Mario 64 that haven’t played this, must!

Jet Force Gemini Body Harvest

Both are third-person shooters involving bugs to blast. Jet Force Gemini has the unique Rare charm and sublime polish but Body Harvest, for me, is the more immerse game and certainly more challenging. Ignore the poorly-aged graphics because the game is full-to-the-brim with content – so many vehicles to drive, puzzles to solve, places to explore and bugs to squish. If you haven’t experienced it, please do so, but be prepared to sink many hours into Body Harvest. Great value for money right now.

Excitebike 64 Top Gear Hyperbike

If you’ve exhausted Excitebike 64 and love this type of racing game then Top Gear Hyperbike is the next best thing. More accessible then Excitebike was, Top Gear Hyperbike is an easy game to pick up and throw yourself into. The gameplay is solid, the graphics and frame rate are fine, and the races are as fast and furious as they would be in real life. This hasn’t got Excitebike’s depth but if you need some new tracks to race around then you should purchase this.

Super Smash Bros. Rakuga Kids

file (1)Despite the many beat ‘em ups on the N64, there’s no other alternative to Nintendo’s masterpiece than Rakuga Kids by Konami. It’s the only other dedicated game where cutsey characters can wage war on each other. The characters look like they’re right out of a Bust-a-Move game yet the amount of variety on offer, both game options and beat ‘em up moves, means this is nothing like one of those games! Where Super Smash Bros. has Star Fox’s pistol, this has water guns! Rakuga Kids did a great job back in the day of refreshing the genre and probably didn’t enjoy the success it deserved. If you’re a beat ‘em up fan, you have to find this!

Banjo Tooie Conker’s Bad Fur Day

Despite both games being developed by Rare and releasing very late in the N64’s lifespan, Banjo Tooie well out-sold Conker’s Bad Fur Day. Therefore, many gamers haven’t had the chance to really enjoy Conker’s eventual adventure for the Nintendo 64. This is made even more difficult because even a cartridge on its own is around $100/£80. Both are platformers and both are graphically gorgeous, otherwise they are quite dissimilar in tone and action. I consider Conker an alternative to Banjo Tooie because they both require an investment from the gamer to really maximise the satisfaction you will get from playing them. They are large, explorable worlds to immerse yourself in. Try finding a ROM if you cannot afford to invest in a Conker’s Bad Fur Day cart.

 

Steven Smith runs the #N64Memories Twitter feed, Facebook page and blog – www.n64memories.blogspot.com