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Bandai Namco has brought their first game to the Switch, and what better way to start than with a collection of their classics. Namco Museum brings classics like Pac-Man, The Tower of Druaga, Splatterhouse, Rolling Thunder and more, along with Pac-Man VS as well. This is not just another collection however, as numerous additions have been made to enhance the experience.

The games included in this collection are:

  • Pac-Man (1980)
  • Galaga (1981)
  • Dig Dug (1982)
  • The Tower of Druaga (1984)
  • Sky Kid (1985)
  • Rolling Thunder (1986)
  • Galaga ’88 (1987)
  • Splatterhouse (1988)
  • Rolling Thunder 2 (1990)
  • Tank Force (1991)
  • Pac-Man Vs. (2003)

 

Among the changes made to the games in this collection, include a challenge mode for the games that help provide additional replay value and help give more fun to the experience. In addition, Namco Museum on Switch takes full advantage of the system’s HD rumble. This is excellent with games like Splatterhouse, with the HD Rumble giving more of a sense of immersion to the game. This is not always for the best though, as some games like The Tower of Druaga do not really need HD rumble and it ends up taking away from the experience.

But aside from these additions, is the game worth getting? Well that depends on how much you like retro games. If you do not like the older era which could be more simplistic, then you will not like this collection all that much. That said, these are excellent games, and the addition of Pac-Man VS. is a great one, even with the need for multiple systems to use the multiplayer to its full effect.  With the games included, it comes out to a reasonably priced package and could be a great introduction to the retro scene. HD Rumble and challenge mode may not appeal much to some, but if you are curious about the older games but need just a little more to push you into buying them, you could do a lot worse.

For retro fans, I would definitely recommend this collection. For fans of modern gaming, I would say take a look before you buy. These aren’t the 90’s era bombastic arcade games but a more simplistic style. That said, I think I for my money’s worth with games like Splatterhouse, Sky Kid, The Tower of Druaga, and Rolling Thunder. It is worth checking out, but be aware it may not be to your liking.

 

By Jonathan Balofsky On 14 Jul, 2017 At 06:58 PM | Categorized As Featured, Games You Slept On, Old School Otaku, PC Games, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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I am a big fan of The Elder Scrolls series and have been for years. It is one of the premiere RPG series and one of the premiere open world game series. People rave about how amazing Oblivion and Morrowind were, and Skyrim is considered one of the best games of the last few years, but many don’t realize just how important the first games were.

I will concede that the first game, Arena, is rather generic. It came off as more of a Wizardry clone, as well as containing many basic fantasy elements that didn’t make it stand out. later games would take the ideas and make them great but Arena is not the best the series has to offer. That said, too many people write off the second game in the series, Daggerfall. I am of the opinion that Daggerfall was one of the most important games ever made, and was a turning point for the RPG genre and open world games.

To begin, Daggerfall was a true 3D game unlike Arena’s 2.5D engine, and took full advantage of that to create a explorable world. In fact, the world in Daggerfall is one of the biggest ever in a video game, albeit with the drawback of having a lot of dead space. Still, it is this open world 3D development that directly led to more innovation in open world games and also taught developers what the limits should be. Thanks to this, we have gotten great games including not only Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim, but also the Witcher games and Breath of the Wild.

Another point to mention is that Daggerfall allowed for true roleplaying rather than just getting experience. You had to mold your character and develop them by choices. Choices were a big part of the game, including the very ending, which had multiple possible outcomes. It had a lot more of a unique feeling than anything else at the time and part of the reason was that unlike Arena, the developers did not take many influences from other games.

Daggerfall had some very important lore aspects as well for the series, as it was this game that introduced the Daedra, as well as started several long running storylines such as the Dwemer, Mannimarco and so on. the events of this game’s story had a major impact on all the later games, yet that isn’t realized by many players who came late to the series. Yes, Daggerfall seems dates by today’s standards, but it is this game that laid the foundation for so many greats, including one can argue, Baldur’s Gate. Through both storytelling and game design, Daggerfall helped make RPG gaming what it is today, and we all owe a debt to it for that.

If you haven’t played the game, you really should. it is a true classic and indeed it is one of the most important games ever made. Even if many people simply do not realize that this is the case, it needed to be said.

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The above was the opinion solely of the author and does not necessarily reflect that of Real otaku Gamer or its staff.

No GravatarE3 week has rolled around yet again and that can mean only one thing:  It’s the perfect time to look at your backlog!

Wait, what?  But Days Gone is coming and there’s  Anthem from Bioware and Destiny 2 and Super Mario Odyssey and The Last Night looks fantastic and and and ad nauseam!  This isn’t when you want to look at old games!  Or is it?  The average gamer has more games than they have time to play these days.  On top of that, the industry has normalized the idea of preordering games up to several years in advance just to get your foot in the door when they come out, even though virtually no preordered titles get under-printed.  So with E3 just getting underway, I thought I’d take a look at all the things I still haven’t played yet…and that’s a lot.

I’ve been collecting since the mid-nineties, ever since I sold my copy of Final Fantasy III for the SNES, decided I wanted to play it again, and then couldn’t find a copy for months.  Ever since then, if I buy a game, I keep it until I play it and decide if I like it.  But in the 90s, games came out much more slowly.  By the time you’d rented the game (yes, you could rent games at a corner mini-mart or video store back then), played it to death, and moved on to something else, the next game you were waiting for still wasn’t out.  That simply isn’t the case anymore.  There are so many games out and coming out that it’s hard to even keep track of what might be interesting, let alone everything that’s been released.  And that’s why backlogs are such a problem.  There are more good games coming out than most people have time to even try, much less play through.  Most people simply buy what looks good, get sidetracked, and end up with a bunch of things they don’t even have time to open.  It’s a ridiculous consumer feedback loop that doesn’t benefit anyone but game companies and retail stores.

For example, I still have Super Nintendo games that I haven’t gotten around to playing yet.  I bought them in the nineties!  It’s a habit that becomes a compulsion; the fear of missing out on the next Suikoden II or Shantae or Panzer Dragoon Saga.  What if you don’t buy it and when you go to get it, you can’t afford it anymore?  But will you ever play it?  Do you even have the time?  Assuming you work a 40 hour work week or go to school full time, you likely have limited time for gaming.  Add a commute, a relationship, or even a child to that equation and you have even less.  You might get three to five hours of game time in a week.  The average game takes around 20 hours to complete.  That’s ten weeks to finish one game, assuming you don’t play anything else or get bored of it.  You might be able to finish five games a year at that rate.  Round it up to ten for people with summers off or extra free time.  But even at ten games a year, you aren’t remotely scratching the surface of what comes out in any given year, and that’s just looking at mainstream titles!  If you have PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold, you get four to six games free every month on top of what you purchase.  If you have Steam, GOG (Good Old Games), Origin, or uPlay, you might get another 5-10 games free a year if you pay close attention online.  That’s well over a hundred games excluding retail purchases if you use all of those services.  At an average of 20 hours each, you’re looking at roughly over 2000 hours of gameplay, and following our formula that says we have five hours a week, that backlog becomes 7.7 years of gameplay.

Over seven years of gameplay just in random titles from online services.  Then we add in the AAA titles that most people buy and tend to play more heavily and the average serious gamer has a backlog of up to ten times what they could realistically play at any given time.  A quick look at my collection made me nearly nauseous when I used this formula.  On Steam alone, I have 1003 games, many of which I have never even installed.  For the PS2?  128.  The DS?  101.  The PS1?  72 games.  That’s over 1300 games and doesn’t include about two-thirds of my collection.  And don’t forget about flash carts.  I have access to every single US and Japanese game for the NES, Genesis, Turbografx 16, and DS.  Thousands of titles.   My Steam library averages out to about 77 years of backlog.  Statistically, I will literally die before I can possibly play every game on my Steam account to completion.  An actual, honest-to-goodness lifetime of gaming is at my fingertips at any given moment.  And yet I still I buy games all the time, but I literally cannot play them.  I’ve talked to other gamers that have backlogs on Steam of up to 3000 games.  It’s almost a status symbol for them.

We don’t need this much media.  But as we buy more and more, faster and faster, we show developers that they don’t need to take their time or fully playtest a game for us to buy it.  Half the time, we stick it on a shelf and don’t get to it for six months.  Or a year.  Or five.  Or even ten.  The situation has degraded so much that there are even sites like www.backloggery.com that allow you to track not only your collection but your completion rate as well.  Steam does this for you automatically, and it can be rather disheartening to see right there in black and white.  I’ve been a Steam member for 12 years and I’ve only managed a 13% completion rate.  However, even that is inaccurate because that number is calculated on the achievements you’ve earned, not the games you have finished.  I wouldn’t hesitate to say that most people don’t end up finishing the games they start these days due to the nature and volume of the market, and it almost doesn’t matter that the developers haven’t properly programmed and playtested those games.

So what does all this mean?  To me, it means the market is utterly flooded; inundated with content ranging from indie games to AAA titles to the point where it’s hopelessly diluted and difficult to have a pure gaming experience.  Very few games end up being memorable and at the same time, we’ve created a sub-culture where people brag about all the items they own but never actually use them.  There are too many games and we can’t play most of them.  A lot of the most highly advertised titles end up being terrible too, due to compromises made to appeal to wider audiences.  Reviews are bought and sold like commodities and it’s very difficult to judge for yourself what might be good.  E3 is the perfect example of this, creating massive hype for titles that test well with audiences and critics, overproduced shows of products that won’t be coming out for some time, and generally driving a multi-billion dollar ad campaign that sucks dollars out of the pockets of hard-working people.  As I write this, Xbox has wrapped up their E3 presentations and already most of the bigger titles are available to preorder on Amazon, even though the release dates are as far away as next fall or later.  Money is flying into the pockets of companies as we speak for nothing more than a promise of things to come drifting on the wind.

Gamers need to stop and think about how excited they were for the items that are already sitting on their shelves when they were announced.  We can’t let that feeling of wonder end the second we get the actual product.  If we all stop to play what we already have, perhaps it will make the industry also reconsider the type of games it is releasing and the volume it is releasing them in.  Having a backlog says a lot about a person, but it also speaks volumes to the way marketing and consumer culture affect us as individuals.  That’s a message many of us need to heed more often.   So take a look at your shelf.  Make an effort to try that game you’ve always been meaning to but were never in the mood for.  You might just recapture the magic in gaming by popping in a hidden gem.  And you might find that the entertainment you’ve been scouring the net looking for is something you already had the whole time.

A Contest And An Addendum

In writing the above article and looking at my backlog, I also realized that in addition to a ridiculously large backlog, I also have a ridiculous number of games sitting about unused on my Steam account and other digital accounts.  These are extras I’ve gotten to give as friends, freebies that came with purchases, and just random extra codes I’ve acquired over the years.  I thought to myself, “What better use could I have for all these games than to give them away to people who will play them?”  And so, The Great Real Otaku Gamer Steam Backlog Contest was born!

For those of you that are interested and want to put in a minimal amount of effort, I’m going to give away my extra Steam codes!  But the rules for winning are something a bit different.  The winners for this contest will be the entrants with the smallest uncompleted backlogs!  After all, in this day and age with everyone oversaturating themselves with media, maybe the person who actually finishes what they start deserves a reward!  So please take a moment and head on over to The Great Real Otaku Gamer Steam Backlog Contest right here on Real Otaku Gamer and drop an entry my way!  You might just win a new game to play…and it might even be good!

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One party that has really been talking up their relationship with Nintendo when it comes to Switch is surprisingly Bethesda. Obviously this relationship will depend on how well Skyrim sells on the Switch but I can see that game appealing to Switch owners and people who just want to buy it again. The thing is, when it comes to Bethesda, there is another game that can bring to the system. More specifically they can bring Doom 64 to the eShop as a retro game.

Doom 64 was  a game that was overlooked by many at the time of its release,. This was due to it being dismissed as another port of Doom, when in reality,  it was a brand new game with its own plot, layout, enemies and weapons and so on. It may not be as iconic an FPS for the system, especially compared to Goldeneye and Perfect Dark, but it definitely is a quality game.

This game had great music, of its own and had darker visuals which gave the game a creepy tone.  The controls were spot on for the N64 to an extent that is almost shocking.. More importantly,  this is the true Doom 3, with the official Doom 3 being the first reboot of the series. Doom 64 actually carried on the plot from the first two games, so it is very surprising that it hasn’t ever seen a re-release.

However, I have to say that should Bethesda do a  re-release and also bring it to PC as well, where it will quickly gain  modding scene, I would like them to make mods available for a potential Switch  port as well. It would help sales and also ensure the series would develop a true following on Nintendo systems. Additionally , given how creative some Doom mods are, this would help open Nintendo’s eyes to what fangames can do for sales.

This would be a great way to cement a relationship between Bethesda and Nintendo and would help develop a new fanbase for their games on Nintendo systems. I just feel this is a good idea for all involved.

 

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The above was the opinion solely of the author and does not necessarily reflect that of ROG or its staff.

 

By Jonathan Balofsky On 19 Apr, 2017 At 07:26 PM | Categorized As Featured, Interviews, News, NINTENDO, Old School Otaku, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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I recently took the time to talk with Shawn Long of Nintendo Enthusiast, aka Youtube’s RGT 85. RGT 85 is one of the best retro gaming channels on YouTube and we talked about the retro scene and how his channel came to be and works. Have a read below.

 

JB: How did you get into retro game collecting?

 

SL: Retro game collecting was kind of a natural thing for me. I was born in 85 so I got to experience the golden age (in my opinion) of gaming as it was happening, but like most people my family couldn’t always afford to buy me the newest games and systems. So a lot of it is now I’m in a position where I can get the games or systems I always wanted to play when I was younger but never could, so it’s cool.

 

JB: What are some of the challenges with retro game collecting?

 

SL: The biggest challenge with retro collecting is by far the price. It used to be dirt cheap but as more and more people get into it the playing field is much more crowded. That pisses some people off, but it doesn’t really bother me too much. I like the challenge of trying to find a good deal or something you know? It’s a rush.

 

JB: You are a part of the Nintendo Enthusiast/Enthusiast gaming team and put videos up for them. What made you decide to start RGT 85 as a separate project?

 

SL: RGT 85 is a pretty interesting story. I used to do retro stuff on the Nintendo Enthusiast channel but it never got good views like most of my other projects so I kind of realized people didn’t really care that much about them that were subbed. I pitched an idea to Jason to kind of do more retro stuff anyways though, but we realized it wouldn’t make much sense to do stuff on like SEGA you know? Everyone else on the video team had a side project so I was just like “hey let me try one myself.” And the rest is history.

 

 

JB:  What goes into the planning process for your videos? Do you have a step by step plan for each one? Do you wing them?

 

SL: As far as making a video goes it just depends on the project. Most of the time when it’s a discussion or whatnot I’m just winging it, all one take. Feels more natural and organic and I think that’s why people like me, because I can talk forever and not lose my train of thought or need to do splices. Bigger projects like Hidden Gems or Reviews are more of a planned out process for sure though.

 

JB:  Your channel has grown significantly since you launched it. How has the experience of growing your channel been?

 

SL:  Growing the channel has been pretty interesting to be honest. Since I had done vids with Nintendo Enthusiast Jason and I kind of learned what works and what doesn’t, and I’m friends with a lot of other YouTube people who have been kind enough to help me along the way with tips about like SEO and Tags and stuff. People don’t realize how hard it is to “make a name” for yourself or whatever in the community, because I’d say making the video is only 25% of the equation. Your tags, title, and marketing are far more important.

 

JB: Is there any game you have wanted to talk about, but felt for whatever reason, you couldn’t?

 

SL: One thing I don’t like to do is talk about things I don’t know. So if I’m not well versed in a topic or game, I’ll either study it and make myself privy to it or just skip it. Luckily my brain is like 95% random video game stuff, so it works out. Haha.

 

JB:  What are some games that you feel are underrated 16 bit gems?

 

SL: There’s a ton of 16-Bit Hidden Gems. I’m actually doing a video on that right now for the Genesis, but I’ll mention one that no one ever talks about: Garfield – Caught in the Act. It was a later Genesis release, like 1995 I want to say, but the animation is some of the best on the system.

 

JB: Since you are a retro gaming fan, I must ask, at what point does a game system become retro?

 

SL:  When something becomes “retro” is an interesting question. To me, I think if a system is over 10 years old, that’s retro. I mean it’s certainly not modern right? I know some people have the cutoff around the Dreamcast or whatever but I just feel like 10 years is an insane amount of time when you think of it in terms of gaming trends and games, so that’s good enough for me.

 

 

JB:  What do you feel should be done to preserve classic games that are at risk of being lost forever?

 

SL: Emulation. There’s nothing wrong with it, you aren’t screwing over the people who made the game 20 years ago, so emulation is key. Thankfully though the theory that carts would stop working after 30 years seems to be a myth, and I think that “disc rot” is a bunch of BS too as long as you keep things nice and clean.

 

JB:  What do you think of the trend of modern revivals of classic genres and games?

 

SL: I like the “new retro” stuff. Some of my favorite recent games have been of that variety. It just shows that all these “AAA” graphic intensive titles aren’t really what everyone wants.

 

JB:  What are some retro series you would like to see revived?

SL: I’d love to see a vast majority of SEGA franchises like Shining, Streets of Rage, Landstalker/Timestalker, Phantasy Star (RPG style), Virtua Fighter, Vectorman, I mean there’s so many franchises SEGA just sits on and it’s like “What are you doing!?”
JB: Do you have anything you want to say to the readers of Real Otaku Gamer?

 

SL: Thanks for taking the time to read this and thanks for talking to me! You can find me on YouTube at RGT 85!

 

 

 

 

Shawn Long

Editor in Chief at Nintendo Enthusiast

www.nintendoenthusiast.com

http://www.metacritic.com/publication/nintendo-enthusiast?filter=games

 

Thank you again for doing this Shawn. You can follow Shawn on twitter at @ShawnLong85   

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

No GravatarSometimes there are very special games that will forever hold a place in the heart of gamers. Chrono Trigger is one of those games. It is a game that is often hailed as being one of the best RPGs of all time and, in many cases, can be considered on of the greatest games of all time, period. Here are the reasons why:

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Chrono Trigger is a role-playing game developed by Square (now Square Enix) for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). The game was created by a team of extremely talented individuals, including Final Fantasy’s creator, Hironobu Sakaguchi. It was published in 1995 with critical success and was the third best-selling game of that year. Chrono Trigger was later ported to the PlayStation in 1999 and then repackaged in 2001 with Final Fantasy IV as “Final Fantasy Chronicles.” With such critical and commercial success, it has been later ported to the mobile platforms of the Nintendo DS, iOS, and Android. It is a revolutionary game that spawned the sequel Chrono Cross and gave a lot of fans some very happy memories.

The game follows Crono, a main character who never speaks during the game, Marle, a princess, and Lucca, Crono’s super-smart friend. During a Millennial Fair for the time period of AD 1000 in their world, Lucca and her father demonstrate a new teleporter. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work quite like it was supposed to and teleports Crono, Marle, and Lucca in time. They bounce around both forward and backward in time, learning about a creature named Lavos that wipes out civilization. The party is then determined to do what they can to save the world through time travel.

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It is a fantastic story, filled with twists and turns. Players end up traveling between seven different eras with their distinct characters, setting, and feel. Along the way, you meet the wonderful characters of Robo, Ayla, Magus, and the best and coolest video game character of all time, Frog. That’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to it. Trust me, though. Frog is freaking amazing.

One of the many revolutionary aspects of Chrono Trigger was the possibility of multiple endings. However, there were other advancements including plot-related, character-driven sidequests. These may not seem like a big deal today, but in 1995, that was unheard of.

Though the game play is a fairly standard RPG, there were several new ideas to come forth as well. Done with beautiful two-dimensional graphics (that still look good, by the way), the player can roam around in an overworld typical of RPGs of the time and visit different areas. Each area has things to interact with, whether it be people to talk to, puzzles to solve, or enemies to defeat. One change to the traditional RPG is that Chrono Trigger has random encounters for enemies, some which may be visible and some that will ambush you. Unlike other RPGs at the time as well, the game’s battles take place in the same map area instead of being whisked off to a different screen.

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During fights with enemies, Chrono Trigger uses an active battle approach. Each character can do an action based off of a personal timer that is affected by that character’s stats. Characters can either do a straight attack or use their Techs, which use their magic points. One unique feature for the time was the ability to do combined attacks with characters using the Techs. The characters can double or triple their Tech use to create an even greater effect.

The game play is a lot of fun and allows a player to use many tactics to defeat enemies. Another really cool element that Chrono Trigger officially introduced was the New Game+ feature that allowed players to keep their characters’ stats, techniques, and inventory when playing a new game. This helped players go through the multiple endings easier. Though this idea may have been used in earlier games, from my research, it does look like Chrono Trigger was the first to actually use the term “New Game+.” Pretty awesome, right?

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One of my favorite game elements of Chrono Trigger is actually the soundtrack. It was primarily done by Yasunori Mitsuda, who had some help with the legendary Final Fantasy composer, Nobuo Uematsu. The shear amount of tracks for the game was an amazing feat for the time frame. The music is otherworldly and consists of some amazing songs, one of which is my all-time favorite: Frog’s Theme. Seriously, whenever I do something cool, I start humming it. Yes, the song is THAT epic.

Chrono Trigger took some giant leaps forward for gaming. It helped push some of the gaming elements that we all love so much in modern RPGs, especially Western RPGs. The game will always hold a special place in my heart, and I am planning on making it the first game that my daughter and I play together. It is just THAT amazing.

No Gravatarurban champion

 

Welcome to our new series, “Games That Should Be Revived”, in which I will be discussing various games that the IP holders should revive. Today lets look at a game that many absolutely despise but has some potential, Urban Champion.

Urban Champion, a fighting game on the NES  was one of Nintendo’s first attempts at a fighting game and to be honest, the game was awful. It is widely regarded as one of Nintendo’s worst games, so why am I arguing for a revival? Well its quite simple, the technology for what they wanted to do with the game was not quite there yet and while they did make an NES fighter with Joy Mech Fight that got a lot right, that was only released in Japan. With modern tech, a reboot could work, especially if it an in name only reboot.

Here is my proposal, hire Bandai Namco or SNK Playmore to develop it. Make it be Nintendo’s own 2D one on one fighting game like Capcom’s Street Fighter. With the proper work done, it could end up well. I think it would be best for Nintendo to farm it out to one of those 2 publishers mentioned due to their history of fighting games, especially SNK Playmore, who could make it work well.

This would not need to be a major production but rather let’s call it a b project. It could be done as a test to see if the series would work. It would need around 12 characters, online, arcade mode, 2 additional modes for multiplayer and single player to entice casuals as well as hardcores and the potential for DLC. It would also cost less than other games, again to hook people in. If this succeeds, DLC could be done to add a lot more content, or a sequel could be made that would be bigger and better like with Smash Bros 64 and then Smash Bros Melee.

But now the question, Why make the game? Well to be honest, Nintnedo is lacking in traiditional fighting games. Microsoft has Killer Instinct ( which formerly was with Nintendo) and Sony has locked up Street Fighter and King Of Fighters. Smash is not a traditional fighting game and Pokken requires two consoles for local multiplayer to work right. I feel that Nintendo needs a traditional 2D fighting game in their lineup and this could work perfectly. It doesn’t need to necessarily be a Street Fighter or King of Fighters clone but be similar yet different.  There is a market for these games, poor sales of SF V not withstanding ( and that was more due to the game ‘s barebones content at launch.) A traditional 2D fighting game would be welcome and a reboot of Urban Champion as an In Name Only reboot is just what the doctor ordered.

 

Next time: A look at Joy Mech Fight.

By Jessica Brister On 20 Sep, 2015 At 06:52 PM | Categorized As Featured, Old School Otaku, PC Games, Reviews | With 0 Comments

No GravatarEvery once in awhile there are a few special games that come around and really push the boundaries of what games can be. For me, Tomb Raider II is one of those games. Being the sequel to the extremely popular original Tomb Raider, there were a lot of high expectations the second installment to be even better. Tomb Raider II passed with flying colors to be an entertaining adventure with one of gaming’s most iconic characters.

Tomb Raider II is an action-adventure, puzzle-based game that was the sequel to the original Tomb Raider, which came out in 1996. It was developed by Core Design and published by Eidos Interactive. It was released October of 1997 for PlayStation and PC (it eventually came out for Mac later) and had critical acclaim and sold very well.

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The game follows adventurer and tomb raider, Lara Croft. The story revolved around the Dagger of Xian, a weapon that was used by an ancient emperor of China to transform into a dragon and command armies. Monks were able to get a hold of the dagger and keep it hidden within the Great Wall of China. Lara goes to investigate the dagger and realizes that she’s not the only one after it. Marco Bartoli, a man who is obsessed with the dagger, is also digging up artifacts in order to wield the dagger’s power. Lara’s adventure goes to places like China and Italy, where she is pushed to find out more about Bartoli’s plan.

It’s quite a fun story with an Indiana Jones-like adventure to it. Whether it’s driving a boat through Venice or exploring an underwater shipwreck, the game has a delightful entertainment value to it that you only experience with adventure games. However, it’s actually Lara who really shines. Unlike the new direction Crystal Dynamics is going in with the Tomb Raider reboot games, this Lara Croft is strong, confident, and fearless. She pushes herself to the limits as she works against the forces of evil.

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The third-person perspective game play improved with Tomb Raider II from the original by adding new weapons and moves, as well as having vehicles, more human enemies, and larger levels. There’s even a level with a snowmobile that is an absolute blast to play. There was also a training level that allowed the player to roam around Lara’s mansion. The best change, however, was the fact that a player didn’t need a save crystal in order to save the game, making complicated jumping puzzles much easier to manage.

The original Tomb Raider franchise was all about exploration and puzzles with some enemies thrown in to keep things fresh. Unfortunately, that is not the case anymore with the reboot, but Tomb Raider II really shines in both instances. Puzzles typically are usually jumping or timing-related, and there is a lot of exploration involved. The levels might not be the huge open-world maps that gamers are used to now, but it’s a lot of fun trying to figure out how to get to certain places or find key items. Shooting is emphasized in Tomb Raider II more than the original, and it features Lara’s signature dual pistols, as well a grenade launcher, and M16 rifle, dual Uzis, and a harpoon gun for underwater fighting. The fighting sequences utilize a jump and dodge system, instead of the sit under cover and shoot. This type of game play is not considered ideal anymore because it’s not very realistic. However, it is super fun.

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The only real problem with going back and playing Tomb Raider II is dealing with the outdated graphics. They were really awesome at the time, but the sharp angles and grainy textures are hard to get used to. People who enjoy retro-gaming won’t mind, but it’s glaring for those who prefer modern games. The cut-scenes aren’t bad, but Lara is definitely very square and so are all of the other people. It’s amazing to see how far graphics have come since then.

So, if you want a fun, action-adventure game with an amazing heroine, you might want to play or replay Tomb Raider II. You do have to like puzzles, but that’s half the fun. It was a different game for a completely different time. Sadly, I just don’t think we’re going to get anything quite like it again.