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By Jonathan Balofsky On 16 Apr, 2017 At 03:18 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, News, NINTENDO, Nintendo Switch, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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This past week Nintendo held a direct in which they showed many things, but one thing that stood out was Project Mekuru. many might dismiss this game as being filler, or eshop junk, but old school fans have been looking at it differently. Given what was shown of the gameplay, there is a strong feeling by many that Project Mekuru is the spiritual sequel to the Bomeberman series, done by Nintendo themselves.

After some thought, I have come to agree with these thoughts. Project Mekuru shows a lot of innovation but clearly is built on the same premise as Bomberman. It has a different style and mechanics, but the essence is still there. This isn’t a bad thing by any means. Konami has been very…spotty of late and while Super Bomberman R is a nice return to form, a Bomberman successor made by Nintendo will appeal to many who have grown frustrated with Konami. As well, it already looks to have that Nintendo polish and charm. It has more than enough to set it apart.

It would be nice for Project Mekuru to have identifiable protagonists and not just miis, but right now the game looks like the best twist on the formula we have ever seen. It takes the puzzle elements of Bomberman and adds an Othello element to them for deeper gameplay. As well  it brings in elements of Mario Party and Super Smash Bros as well for a new way of looking at it. Plus the promised items already make this even more intriguing.

I hope Project Mekuru is a major hit for Nintendo and that they have even more to show. Right now, it looks like they are giving fans what they have wanted for a long time, and that is good. This makes me hopeful that Nintendo will do more projects like this going forward.

 

 

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The above was the opinion solely of the author and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of Real Otaku Gamer or its staff.

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Warning: Spoilers ahead for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. If you have not played the game yet, be warned that this will discuss one of the major side quests of the game.

The following is a theory I have had for some time about something in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The Silver Hand are a group of werewolf hunters who are enemies of the companions, but we don’t really know much about them. But there are some hints from the game’s lore that may point to a backstory that explains their actions much more.

The Companions were the group led by Ysgramor in his conquest of Skyrim from the Falmer. They became established soon after as the warrior’s guild. They had strong anti elven sentiments for a long time, and did not allow elves to join as full companions In fact, they had issues with most non Nords, although they accepted non Nord Humans into their ranks and eventually grew to respect them after Cirroc The Lofty joined. He was of Redguard descent and changed how the companions treated human outsiders, when he was made Harbinger, especially since that was the time period when the Nords became obsessed with Nordic identity after being Atmorans culturally. The elves however, were still discriminated against until Henantier the Outsider joined. He was made a servant but slowly earned his way up over the years.  He became respected by the new members and after one of his pupils was made harbinger, he gained some level of respect. When the harbinger died of old age, he shocked the companions by appointing Henantier as the new harbinger. This led to fierce arguments and many left the companions over this, although most remained and the tradition of tolerance and acceptance became part of the companions.

But what does this have to do with the Silver Hand? One thing that always stuck out was how the Silver Hand actively targeted the companions and stole the fragments of Wuuthrad, the Axe of Ysgramor. Then the idea hit me. What if the Silver Hand were originally a group made from those who left the companions? They seem to have existed for many centuries, and this could mean they have had many incarnations. As the companions’ curse of lycanthropy is relatively recent, it is possible the Silver Hand as a group took on that identity because they have a grudge against the companions. They felt the companions lost their way, and that their new group are the true heirs of Ysgramor.

However, the Silver Hand also are pretty diverse in their membership, which would seem to work against this idea. But that isn’t so. It could easily be explained that over the years, their whole identity became defined less by the ideas of Ysgramor and more by being enemies of the companions. In fact, it could be argues that by the time period Skyrim is set in, the original reasons are long forgotten and all the group knows is that the companions are their enemies.

Of course this is only a  theory, but I present this to you all to get your opinion. What do you think?

By Jonathan Balofsky On 14 Mar, 2017 At 07:29 AM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, News, NINTENDO, Nintendo Switch, PC Games, ROG News | With 0 Comments

No GravatarThe Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is coming to Nintendo Switch later this year, but will it do well? It is coming out a year after the special edition released on other consoles and PC and several years after the original game. To succeed on Switch it needs to be different, and I think it will be.

If Skyrim on Switch were just the original version of the game, it would have come early at launch. If it were just the special edition….it would also have been a quick port. The fact that it is coming out so late, makes me feel that more work is being done on this. In fact this might even be a special Nintendo themed edition of the game. But what would that entail. Well, probably exclusive mods that allow Nintendo content. maybe some items, armor and weapons from Nintendo games. Heck maybe some cameos and even a sidequest if we are lucky. The game could also make use of HD rumble to give the shouts more of an impact.

But what can really make a difference is amiibo. Hear me out on this. Imagine scanning an amiibo into the game and getting new items based off that amiibo for the dovahkiin. Scanning one of the many amiibo from Legend of Zelda will bring weapons, armor and more from that series. Maybe even a location or two will make an appearance. Or you could even bring Epona into the game, to replace the horses in Skyrim. The same for a fire emblem amiibo, with it giving you the armor and weapons from that series, and maybe some changes to the dragons. The Mario amiibo could make osmall changes to Parthuunax who is voiced by Charles Martinet, the voice of Mario himself, or we could see some new enemies and more appear, all to give the game a unique feel that has a Nintendo feeling.

Ideally, this would also work with third party amiibo. Imagine using the Mega Man amiibo to get his iconic look and then kill a dragon and take its soul. The music could even change to the turn that plays when Mega Man absorbs a new ability. Using the upcoming Cloud amiibo could give you the buster sword, which could be an over powered sword in the game. Ryu could give the player the Hadouken either as a spell or a new shout, which would be something many fans would like. And let us not forget the Shovel Knight amiibo. This could unlock Shovel Knight’s armor and shovel blade for use in the game. The amiibo could give specific armors depending on gender, but otherwise it could be all uniform.

The best thing about this, is that all these changes would be optional. There would be no need to force these on people who just want the game, but it  would be available if people want, via the amiibo. There should still be something in game without the amiibo, just to be there for people who don’t want the amiibo. But still the main focus should be on the amiibo and their optional use.

This is an idea, I hope Bethesda considers and Nintendo helps make happen. Using amiibo could be the big selling point for Skyrim on Switch.

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The above was an opinion piece and solely that of the author. It does not necessarily reflect the views of Real Otaku Gamer or that of its staff besides the author.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 21 Feb, 2017 At 01:43 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, News, NINTENDO, Nintendo Switch, ROG News | With 0 Comments

No GravatarThe Nintendo Switch is a big deal in terms of gaming. It is opening new ways to play, just like Nintendo intended. The console/handheld hybrid is poised to be a must have gadget this year, but I cannot help but think of a game that was doomed to obscurity on the Wii, received a horrible port on Wii U, and can be saved by the Switch.

Rodea The Sky Soldier was Yuji Naka’s spiritual sequel to Nights into Dreams for the Wii that almost became vaporware. It was seemingly saved from development hell with ports for 3DS and an HD Port for Wii U. But the problem became tat the Wii U port was a port of the inferior 3DS version and not a true HD version of the Wii game. The Wii game was packed in with the Wii U retail release’s first run but now is lost to all, with it never being available in any form to anyone again. Or is it?

The Nintendo Switch has multiple playstyles, and using the Joy Con controllers. you can replicate the Wii gameplay to an extent.  If Kadokawa Games and Prope were to work together again, they could remaster the original Wii release in true HD and bring it to the Switch. This way, Yuji Naka’s true vision of the game could be experienced by everyone. In fact, the game would benefit greatly from the HD rumble and improvements could be made. This could in fact become the definitive version of the game.

I realize that this will be a lot of work, and for a game like Rodea, this might be risky. This is especially the case since the game didn’t sell very well and the publisher and developer might be hesitant to give this another try. However, the truth is that the Wii u and 3DS versions were simply not good, while the Wii version was excellent. If the Wii version was given a true update with better visuals and factoring in what the Joy Cons can add to it, while not detracting from the original experience, then the game will be much better received. As well, given the massive hype around the Nintendo Switch, this game might even get a much better audience than it ever could have had on the Wii U or Nintendo 3Ds.

I really want to see the original game get a second chance to wow people, and I acknowledge that this is a long shot, but this is exactly the type of game that the Switch can save. It was in development hell for the Wii, suffered on the Nintendo 3Ds and Wii U, but can thrive on the Nintendo Switch. I Hope the developer and publisher consider this.

 

 

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The above is solely the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of the rest of Real Otaku Gamer or its staff.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 12 Feb, 2017 At 10:12 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, News, NINTENDO, Nintendo Switch, ROG News | With 0 Comments

No GravatarI am a massive fan of fighting games and truly hope the Switch will be home to many. We know Ultra Street Fighter II is coming, as is Blazblue title and Dragonball, but there are so many fighting games that would be good for the system. There are many classics like Rival Schools or Power Stone that would be great, but there is one from Capcom that stands out as a perfect fit for the system.

 

Pocket Fighter, or Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix as it was also known, was a fighting game like no other. It was A Capcom crossover game featuring characters from Street Fighter Alpha, Street Fighter III, Darkstalkers Red Earth and more. It featured chibi versions of the characters as seen in Super Puzzle Fighter, which gave it a kiddie appearance, but it had an incredible amount of depth, and was great for people new to fighting games. The game used different types of characters, such as all around, skill, and power types, and it also used a unique gem system ( not like in Marvel vs Capcom Infinite). The game was whacky and zany and characters would have transformations such cosplaying as other characters in their moves . For example, Chun Li as Jill Valentine, and Felicia as Mega Man among others.

Even more than most fighting games, Pocket Fighter was fun and extremely energetic, earning it the approval of longtime Capcom fans and new fighting game players alike. It is my opinion that theSwitch would be the best place for the game to receive a new incarnation. The console has a strong emphasis on co-op which and with the unique button system used in the game, the Joy Cons would be amazing for two player action. If there is a new entry, we could see more Capcom characters join the fight, as well as more cosplay, such as newer characters from fighting games or non fighting games, as well as characters that haven’t appeared in years.

A big reason I feel this is a good fit for the Switch is due to it being a hybrid type game. It is both for experts who can play it competitively in a hardcore fashion, but at the same time, it is great for newcomers and offers much to both groups. This is the exact type of game Nintendo seems to want on the Switch, so it just feels right. The art style would look amazing in either docked or handheld mode and not suffer due to its stylized nature. Best of all, is that this would be a good way to bring people back to fighting games, especially on Nintendo systems. It would also be great to have for modern eSports, just for how insane it is.

I truly hope Capcom considers this. It would be a perfect move for all.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 3 Feb, 2017 At 01:47 PM | Categorized As Comics You Should Read, Editorials, Featured | With 0 Comments

No GravatarThis edition of Comics You Should Read is a little different. Normally I discuss individual collections of comics, but this time I am discussing an entire series.

Usagi Yojimbo is a legendary comic series by creator Stan Sakai about Miyamoto Usagi, a ronin in Edo era Japan. But there is one thing very different about this comic. Almost all the characters are anthropomorphic animals. Usagi is a rabbit for example and there are characters like Gen, who is a rhino. But do not be fooled by this, as this is not just a comic for kids but one that can be enjoyed by everyone.

The stories contained in the comic range from funny to epic to tragic, as Stan Sakai presents a look at the life of the Samurai, albeit with some fantasy elements. The stories pull no punches with how the culture worked, with numerous examples of deliberate values dissonance between Edo era Japan and the modern west. There are amazing characters like Tomoe Ame, Lord Noriyuki and Usagi’s nemesis, the demon spearman Jei, the blade of the gods.

The series has been going on since the 80’s and has crossed over with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles more than once, but new readers do not need to be worried. All the stories have been collected by both publishers Fantagraphics and Dark Horse Comics and are available for all to read. I suggest starting from the beginning though, so you will understand just who these characters are.  Some disappear a bit into the comic, as others make their debut, but all are unique in their own way.

There have been video game adaptations of Usagi in the past, including one way back on the Commodore 64, and one recently on mobile devices. The latter is one I am actually familiar with and has mostly hack n slash elements but also an original story. I suggest checking it out if you are curious.

Usagi is a comic I will be discussing a lot more in the future but wanted to just give a brief overview of first. The stories are amazing, whether they be about Usagi stopping criminals, defeating bandits, transporting a sacred sword to a shrine, or even just making a pot. They all have that special something about them that many comics lack. Usagi is an incredible character, but by Stan Sakai’s own admission, he is an unusual samurai in how he interacts with people. But this isn’t just an idealized storytelling, and the comic makes it very clear why Usagi is who he is when it shows his mentor Katsuichi, This is a comic that has all the pieces fit together just right and even years after being read, it will stick with you.

I suggest checking it out.

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Note: The author wishes to thank Real Otaku Gamer for allowing him to write this piece on the website, given its personal nature.

This is one of the more personal things I will be writing for this site. This is because I will be discussing some things that affect me on a personal level. I like many others in the world, suffer from depression and anxiety. I have had bouts of depressive periods and anxiety struggles for a number of years now and they take their toll on me.  An escape has always been video games, but video games don’t always work. I often feel scared, lost and confused. That is until one series ended up helping me in more ways than I could have imagined.

When I first played The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, I was not expecting much. I knew the game had a strong reputation, but felt I would be underwhelmed in comparison to the amount of hype its fans had built up around it. What I found instead was a therapy for my troubles. Skyrim, and the other games in the series, provided not just an escape, but an outlet. When I was at my low points, I could slip into the games and feel better. That may sound like escapism, but it wasn’t. And it wasn’t, because after I would play the games I would feel more confident in my life. It helped me deal with my anxiety and I could manage better as a result.

I used to write a lot of poetry, and had a desire to publish a collection. However, when depression nd anxiety took its toll on me, I began to lose all motivation to continue writing. Playing around in the world of Tamriel helped return that motivation to me. The way it did that was not conventional either. I had discovered game modding and was amazed at what I could do to the games. It seemed like the games had become more than games, they had become a canvas for creators. Bethesda always made the games open to modding and that generosity they showed the fans, ended up helping me rediscover my love of writing. Since playing the games I have resumed writing poetry and have written two short stories.

I am not one of those people who becomes obsessed with the games to the point that they lose themselves completely into it.. I don’t see the characters as anything other than fiction, but that is what appeals to me. I am a person who needs to be creative in order to feel fulfilled and imagined what can be done to the characters by modders and series writers of future games makes me realize I have my own stories to tell. I have struggled with depression and the loss of motivation that came with it, and feel this gave me a way out of that dark hole. I see this as a way to inspire my own creativity in a helpful manner and that leads me to a better state of mind.

There is no cure for depression. It is a cancer that eats away at the mind and stays with you. I have fought it for over a decade, with my ups and downs, but with The Elder Scrolls series, I found something that was able to let me find my own way sorting my issues. It isn’t the only way but it is one way. So therefore I must say thank you to Bethesda Softworks. Your games have helped me so much. I look forward to your future games, and I hope the rumor of Elder Scrolls VI being set in Valenwood is true. The stories that are there to tell, will help me and others. But whatever story you wish to tell, I will be there and I will be inspired by it in a good way. Thank you got helping me and others more than you realize.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 18 Jan, 2017 At 09:20 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, News, NINTENDO, Nintendo Switch, ROG News | With 0 Comments

No GravatarThere were many games shown off during the Nintendo Switch reveal presentation, but one that stood out was Arms. The game has been compared to Wii sports boxing but is closer to Punch Out, much with its unique characters. Everyone who has played Arms has raved about the motion controls being amazing, but the game also can be played without motion controls, and like a standard game.

I have long felt Nintendo needed to make a new fighting game IP and given that this is Nintendo, they wont just make a typical fighter. Arms is a fighting game that has a truly unique nature to it, from the fighting to the characters, everything just feels fresh. Nintendo compared this to a boxing game with shooting elements and that made me think of something. This is a character based fighting game that will be an introduction to fighting games for many, and given that Nintendo is pursuing eSports, they might push Arms as an esports game of sorts.

That is all well and good, but this does draw parallels between another game. Blizzard’s Overwatch is a character driven multiplayer FPS game that has served as a gateway to the genre for many. Arms comes across as a fighting game parallel to that game, both in terms of how it plays to bring in people, and how the characters have been received. If Nintendo plays it right, the way Blizzard has, Arms could be one of the biggest new franchises in recent years.

You may laugh at this idea, but the fact is, Nintendo is applying what they learned from Splatoon to the fighting game genre but are taking it a step further. Every aspect of this game just oozes character and personality, and people want to know more about it. The fan art of characters like Ribbon Girl and Spring Man is growing by the day, and the other characters are also extremely well received. There are already calls for the game to have a representative in Smash, and while they started as a joke, they have become serious now. Arms has developed a major fan following in just a few days, and it will not be released for a few months. If the game has a good story to it, both good online and singe player, and continues to build on the awesome characters shown, there is no limit to what Arms can achieve. Splatoon was a breakout hit on the Wii U, but I believe Arms will far surpass anything else.

 

The above was the opinion of the writer and not necessarily that of Real Otaku Gamer or its staff.

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

By Jessica Brister On 1 May, 2016 At 05:07 PM | Categorized As Best Game Ever, Editorials, Featured, PlayStation | With 0 Comments

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Warning: This article is spoiler-city. If you have not finished playing The Last of Us, please do not read any further.

Spoilers!  Spoilers!  Spoilers!

Seriously…you were warned!

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It is rare that a video game has a story so beautifully told that it gains critical acclaim and a massive fan-base just based on the story alone.  The Last of Us is one of those exceptional gems that show the world that video games can be fun and intelligent.  One of the most interesting aspects of the game is its theme.  Many have been scratching their heads at the end of the game, wondering what the implications of Joel’s decision may actually be.  He chooses to save Ellie rather than save humanity.  Is he being selfish?  Was it a bad choice on his part?  Judging by how Naughty Dog presents the rest of the story, Joel actually became one of the few moral characters in the story.  The Last of Us demonstrates that traveling down the slippery slope of so-called “sacrifice” will only cause humanity to lose itself.

In the early parts of the game, the gamer witnesses a police-state with martial law.  There is no freedom; people are forced to live and work in a place where their every move is watched.  Checkpoints are everywhere.  The people who live in these areas are forced to comply in order to receive food and the illusion of safety.  Of course, the military is doing this in order to “protect” the citizens there.  However, in doing so, it has completely destroyed everyone’s freedoms.  Under this militaristic rule, all rights are taken away.  The military can kill anyone for any reason at any time.  Under the guise of “safety,” people have given up all of their freedoms.  As the player can see by watching Joel and Tess’s actions early on, people do not naturally want to live in this manner.  Even in the beginning segments, The Last of Us demonstrates that survival situations can bring out the worst in the way a government will treat its people.

As the player continues to follow Joel and Ellie, there are several factions that are introduced.  The first is the group of hunters that patrol down-town Pittsburgh.  This group will kill anyone they see in order to salvage clothes, shoes, weapons, food, and whatever else they can scrounge.   The group labels outsiders are “tourists” to perhaps make it seem like it’s okay to kill in non-defensive situations.  Besides, they are just doing it to survive, right?  Joel even mentions to Ellie that he was in a group like this in the earlier years because that was what he had to do to survive.  Another group that Joel and Ellie come across are the cannibals run by David, a charismatic but highly crazy guy.  When justifying what his group is doing, he uses the “we’re just surviving, like you are” argument to Ellie.  Of course, Ellie completely rejects that reasoning.  The player sees in these sections groups of people who have lost their humanity and their souls because they were “just surviving.”

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At the end, Joel is faced with a dilemma: save Ellie and give up a possible cure to the infection or sacrifice her in order to help humanity.  Some may argue that Joel’s decision to save Ellie was selfish and short-sighted, that he wanted to save her because she symbolizes the daughter that he lost twenty years earlier.  This is not the case, though.  Killing Ellie was no guarantee that they would have found a cure.  If Joel would have sacrificed Ellie, it would bring up the question: How many need to be sacrificed in order to “save” humanity?  The Fireflies wanted to practice altruism, but what is the tolerable number of little girls that need to be killed in order to help the rest of the human race?  One?  Ten?  A hundred?  A thousand?  It becomes a slippery slope when people start sacrificing others in the name of “saving the human race,” especially when Ellie didn’t even have a choice in the matter.  She was never asked.  That individual choice was taken away from her.

The Last of Us thematically looks at the question: Where exactly does it stop?  How many individual rights and freedoms need to be given up?  Self-defense aside, is surviving worth giving up your soul for extra clothing and food?  How many people need to be sacrificed in order to help the whole?  At the end of the game, Joel becomes a symbol for “enough is enough.”  His decision to take Ellie marks an end to the slippery slope that was highlighted again and again in the game.  Humanity does need a cure for the infection, but at what cost?  What it really needed was a cure from the thinking of “survival at any cost.”  Despite the infection, people wererebuilding.  The player can see that with Joel’s brother Tommy and his group.  This group was a beacon of hope.  They emphasized the re-establishment of the family and the focus on working together to achieve a goal, while still keeping everyone’s individual liberties.  Joel’s final decision to bring Ellie back to that group highlights the final message in The Last of Us: the end of the slippery slope of moral decay in world that had been decaying for decades.