E3 – Perfect Dark Coming to XBLA Later This Year

2 06 2009

perfectdark

Ah the good ol’ days of my youth.

Sitting around the couch and playing Perfect Dark inside the house on a hot summer day.  Whether it was the excellent four player action or the engaging sci-fi esque campaign, Perfect Dark for the Nintendo 64 still stands as one of Rare’s greatest achievements.  Though it has had contractual issues in the past, Microsoft’s Larry Hryb confirmed today that the 1998 FPS will debut on the XBLA this winter, in full 1080p.

It doesn’t come as too much of a surprise, considering that Banjo Tooie was recently released on the Xbox 360’s premier arcade system.  While some Nintendo fans may be disappointed, at least they didn’t have to trudge through the borefest that was Perfect Dark Zero.  You know what they say, “always learn from your mistakes.”

Source: http://twitter.com/majornelson/statuses/2008690137

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Retro Review: Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

5 05 2009

zeldamm

Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (Nintendo 64)

Original release date: 10/25/2000

You’ve got a plan that could never go wrong. Taking a long vacation away from the world you just fought so hard for is what the doctor ordered. Exuberantly, you get on your steed and ride into the horizon. Yet darkness always waits unsuspectingly for the great Hero of Time, no matter the circumstance. Trekking slowly into an enchanting realm within a lush forest, you seem to detect something, but pay it no mind. There are ethereal spirits and wisps fluttering about the night sky creating an unsettling feeling, as if this is no ordinary place. You are finally coming toward your destination when your horse suddenly rears, sending you flying. An eerie creature grabs your belongings and rushes off ahead, leaving you in the dust. Taking heed, you quickly rush off toward the demon to confront him. However, things don’t go over so well when you finally corner him. In an unspeakable manner of sorcery you are suddenly thrown into a vision reverting you into a pitiful Deku scrub.

Could this be a nightmare?

Luckily, one of the two fairies that was traveling with the odd sorcerer is now left behind with you. Wanting to be reunited with her brother and the dark being again, she joins up with you for the moment, giving helpful advice along the way. Finally, after you make your way back to town, you confront a jolly man who seems to be a mask collector. He is determined to transform you to your former self as long as you retrieve a particular mask for him. By his description, it is the same mask worn by the very monster that put the curse on you. As you begin your quest to return to normal, you notice the moon, but it has a terrifying face. A strange premonition comes over you, and through hints and clues, you find out that the star will crash into the planet in three short days — better get moving.

Putting you in a dire situation in a dark new world is what one would think of as a positive addition to the Zelda line. Majora’s Mask is really the first title in the series to go down a separate path, rather than the tiresome “rescue the princess” charade. So, in an astute sense, it is the story of this game that drives it along. However, it is the supposed sequel to the timeless classic, Ocarina of Time. How on earth can you bounce back from such an enormous hit? Of course the idea seemed simple enough. Put Link in a completely different world and situation but keep the main elements of the original Nintendo 64 classic in tact. While it all sounds well and good, one cannot shake the sense of mediocrity emanating from the overall design. Majora’s Mask certainly tries to be innovative, but takes on the curse of trying to do too much at once.

On a positive note, the battle system from Ocarina of Time is used again in this installment. With the lock-on targeting system in place, combat has never felt more in depth. The fluid movement and simple controls coincide with an excellent camera that brings everything into an incomparable unison. But, one cannot help but feel a pre-emptive sense of déjà-vu throughout the progression from area to area. What makes matters worse is the fact that this new land feels much smaller than Hyrule, and the people that inhabit it are nearly identical to the citizens of such. Even though there are new towns and different environments to progress through, it is safe to assume that Nintendo overused the copy and paste button a bit too much.

This assumption is made apparent again as you journey through lands inhabiting previously seen races. The rocky Gorons, plant-like Deku, and enchanting water humanoids known as the Zora make their appearance again and it makes you wonder — are these the only beings in existence? What makes you forget about these troublesome rehashes is the fact that you can actually play as them. With the arrival of each new mask, the fundamentals of play from the original seem to slowly vanish, bringing a somewhat fresh element to the table. All in all, there are four temples in the game with intriguing puzzles and platform situations that help contribute to the use of these masks. At times you may have to transform into a Goron to roll over that narrow hill, engage the Deku scrub’s helicopter technique to cross a canyon, or use the boomerang fin trait of the Zora to hit a far-off switch. The classic puzzles that have become a staple in the Zelda series are all here, and the timing of them in each dungeon brings together a feeling of balance.

The other half of the proverbial pie for this series has always been exploration. From the early days on the NES to the fairly recent release of Wind Waker, sighting new territories and searching through every nook and cranny has always been part of the series’ tradition. However, as much you may want to explore this unique world, your concentration will always be distracted by one controversial detriment. This being, the falling moon and the time system deriving from it. Why, oh why do you add something like this into an adventure title that just begs to be seen? Maybe it would be easily ignorable to some, but that constant pressure of being rushed really speeds up the play, and shortens the value much more than it could have been.

That’s not to say there aren’t options available to deal with this nuisance though. Using your ocarina, you can slow and speed up time, or play unique songs which help contribute to puzzle solving. The essence of the clock moves in a similar fashion to games like the Harvest Moon series. Meaning a couple minutes in the real world is an hour or two in game, adding up to maybe five or six hours before the third day strikes. Learning how to control the clock at the right moment is interesting, but with one slip you can end up wasting a lot of time just trying not to lose your belongings. This correlates the save system to the balance of time, and you will need to revert to the first day to save . . . every single time. In the process you lose minor items such as arrows, rupees, and bombs, in addition to the people you met in that particular run forgetting your face. Also, certain events will only happen at particular moments, meaning you may have to wait prolonging periods of time, in boredom, until the situation eventually occurs. Yet, if there is a saving grace to this variation of ups and downs, it would have to be the boss fights.

From the enormous mechanical beast Goht to the maniacal sword toting shaman Odalwa, the confrontations do not disappoint. In fact, ignoring the simple enemies and ongoing ticking of the clock is key if you desire to get to these epic clashes. Each antagonist has their own style of combat and the masks play an integral role in finding unique ways to damage them. Think of Ocarina of Time‘s bosses but with more strategy involved and much more concentration required on your part. The bosses are even replay-able after you conquer them, which is an option its predecessor could have benefited with.

The music truly mirrors what is happening on screen, and definitely keeps you entranced throughout. Brand new ocarina tunes can be heard echoing alongside the classic Zelda theme, which was disappointingly absent from Ocarina of Time. The slow, melodramatic notes that play within the various temples will keep you on your feet, while a new remix of the Kakariko Village theme helps liven the consistent visits to Clock Town. Sound effects remain the same as the game’s predecessor; with sword slashes, bomb explosions, and deku nut flashes all sounding like they normally would. There isn’t any voice acting and the inclusion of a few more fresh ocarina songs would have been nice, but overall the audio certainly doesn’t falter.

Another impressive feature that Majora’s Mask has going for it is the ability to update your weapons. While you may remain a kid throughout the whole duration of the game, it is the sword upgrades that make up for this. And the missions behind their creations help bring about the only sense of challenge that coincides with the time rush. So it may just be worth it to continue progressing along, no matter how much you may dislike the new game-play system.

Majora’s Mask is truly a double-edged sword. The dark and overshadowing theme mixed with excellent boss fights and great battle mechanics bring the short-lived experience alive. Yet, the menacing time system and abundantly reused character models bring down the charm a bit. If you have never played Ocarina of Time, then by all means play this one first. The similarities may get to long time fans of the Legend of Zelda, but newcomers will not be affected by this in any way. And while it may lack polish and seem like a rushed effort at times, it is the mere point that it is a quality Zelda title that drives the force behind a confident recommendation.

Verdict – 7/10





Retro Review: Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask

5 05 2009

zeldamm

Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (Nintendo 64)

Original release date: 10/25/2000

You’ve got a plan that could never go wrong. Taking a long vacation away from the world you just fought so hard for is what the doctor ordered. Exuberantly, you get on your steed and ride into the horizon. Yet darkness always waits unsuspectingly for the great Hero of Time, no matter the circumstance. Trekking slowly into an enchanting realm within a lush forest, you seem to detect something, but pay it no mind. There are ethereal spirits and wisps fluttering about the night sky creating an unsettling feeling, as if this is no ordinary place. You are finally coming toward your destination when your horse suddenly rears, sending you flying. An eerie creature grabs your belongings and rushes off ahead, leaving you in the dust. Taking heed, you quickly rush off toward the demon to confront him. However, things don’t go over so well when you finally corner him. In an unspeakable manner of sorcery you are suddenly thrown into a vision reverting you into a pitiful Deku scrub.

Could this be a nightmare?

Luckily, one of the two fairies that was traveling with the odd sorcerer is now left behind with you. Wanting to be reunited with her brother and the dark being again, she joins up with you for the moment, giving helpful advice along the way. Finally, after you make your way back to town, you confront a jolly man who seems to be a mask collector. He is determined to transform you to your former self as long as you retrieve a particular mask for him. By his description, it is the same mask worn by the very monster that put the curse on you. As you begin your quest to return to normal, you notice the moon, but it has a terrifying face. A strange premonition comes over you, and through hints and clues, you find out that the star will crash into the planet in three short days — better get moving.

Putting you in a dire situation in a dark new world is what one would think of as a positive addition to the Zelda line. Majora’s Mask is really the first title in the series to go down a separate path, rather than the tiresome “rescue the princess” charade. So, in an astute sense, it is the story of this game that drives it along. However, it is the supposed sequel to the timeless classic, Ocarina of Time. How on earth can you bounce back from such an enormous hit? Of course the idea seemed simple enough. Put Link in a completely different world and situation but keep the main elements of the original Nintendo 64 classic in tact. While it all sounds well and good, one cannot shake the sense of mediocrity emanating from the overall design. Majora’s Mask certainly tries to be innovative, but takes on the curse of trying to do too much at once.

On a positive note, the battle system from Ocarina of Time is used again in this installment. With the lock-on targeting system in place, combat has never felt more in depth. The fluid movement and simple controls coincide with an excellent camera that brings everything into an incomparable unison. But, one cannot help but feel a pre-emptive sense of déjà-vu throughout the progression from area to area. What makes matters worse is the fact that this new land feels much smaller than Hyrule, and the people that inhabit it are nearly identical to the citizens of such. Even though there are new towns and different environments to progress through, it is safe to assume that Nintendo overused the copy and paste button a bit too much.

This assumption is made apparent again as you journey through lands inhabiting previously seen races. The rocky Gorons, plant-like Deku, and enchanting water humanoids known as the Zora make their appearance again and it makes you wonder — are these the only beings in existence? What makes you forget about these troublesome rehashes is the fact that you can actually play as them. With the arrival of each new mask, the fundamentals of play from the original seem to slowly vanish, bringing a somewhat fresh element to the table. All in all, there are four temples in the game with intriguing puzzles and platform situations that help contribute to the use of these masks. At times you may have to transform into a Goron to roll over that narrow hill, engage the Deku scrub’s helicopter technique to cross a canyon, or use the boomerang fin trait of the Zora to hit a far-off switch. The classic puzzles that have become a staple in the Zelda series are all here, and the timing of them in each dungeon brings together a feeling of balance.

The other half of the proverbial pie for this series has always been exploration. From the early days on the NES to the fairly recent release of Wind Waker, sighting new territories and searching through every nook and cranny has always been part of the series’ tradition. However, as much you may want to explore this unique world, your concentration will always be distracted by one controversial detriment. This being, the falling moon and the time system deriving from it. Why, oh why do you add something like this into an adventure title that just begs to be seen? Maybe it would be easily ignorable to some, but that constant pressure of being rushed really speeds up the play, and shortens the value much more than it could have been.

That’s not to say there aren’t options available to deal with this nuisance though. Using your ocarina, you can slow and speed up time, or play unique songs which help contribute to puzzle solving. The essence of the clock moves in a similar fashion to games like the Harvest Moon series. Meaning a couple minutes in the real world is an hour or two in game, adding up to maybe five or six hours before the third day strikes. Learning how to control the clock at the right moment is interesting, but with one slip you can end up wasting a lot of time just trying not to lose your belongings. This correlates the save system to the balance of time, and you will need to revert to the first day to save . . . every single time. In the process you lose minor items such as arrows, rupees, and bombs, in addition to the people you met in that particular run forgetting your face. Also, certain events will only happen at particular moments, meaning you may have to wait prolonging periods of time, in boredom, until the situation eventually occurs. Yet, if there is a saving grace to this variation of ups and downs, it would have to be the boss fights.

From the enormous mechanical beast Goht to the maniacal sword toting shaman Odalwa, the confrontations do not disappoint. In fact, ignoring the simple enemies and ongoing ticking of the clock is key if you desire to get to these epic clashes. Each antagonist has their own style of combat and the masks play an integral role in finding unique ways to damage them. Think of Ocarina of Time‘s bosses but with more strategy involved and much more concentration required on your part. The bosses are even replay-able after you conquer them, which is an option its predecessor could have benefited with.

The music truly mirrors what is happening on screen, and definitely keeps you entranced throughout. Brand new ocarina tunes can be heard echoing alongside the classic Zelda theme, which was disappointingly absent from Ocarina of Time. The slow, melodramatic notes that play within the various temples will keep you on your feet, while a new remix of the Kakariko Village theme helps liven the consistent visits to Clock Town. Sound effects remain the same as the game’s predecessor; with sword slashes, bomb explosions, and deku nut flashes all sounding like they normally would. There isn’t any voice acting and the inclusion of a few more fresh ocarina songs would have been nice, but overall the audio certainly doesn’t falter.

Another impressive feature that Majora’s Mask has going for it is the ability to update your weapons. While you may remain a kid throughout the whole duration of the game, it is the sword upgrades that make up for this. And the missions behind their creations help bring about the only sense of challenge that coincides with the time rush. So it may just be worth it to continue progressing along, no matter how much you may dislike the new game-play system.

Majora’s Mask is truly a double-edged sword. The dark and overshadowing theme mixed with excellent boss fights and great battle mechanics bring the short-lived experience alive. Yet, the menacing time system and abundantly reused character models bring down the charm a bit. If you have never played Ocarina of Time, then by all means play this one first. The similarities may get to long time fans of the Legend of Zelda, but newcomers will not be affected by this in any way. And while it may lack polish and seem like a rushed effort at times, it is the mere point that it is a quality Zelda title that drives the force behind a confident recommendation.

Verdict – 7/10





Retro Review: Goldeneye 007

26 04 2009

goldeneye0071

Goldeneye 007 (Nintendo 64)

Original release date: 08/25/97

A tremendous earth-shattering explosion is heard from miles around. Surrounded by towering mountains, the echo is so forceful it feels as if the very fabric of time itself is collapsing. Reality seems to stand still as a bullet train speeds by, all the while slowly being engulfed in a crimson flame. Bodies are hurled across the barren tundra, overshadowed by the ominous night sky. In the midst of the chaos, a shadowy figure rises from the ruined aftermath of fiery scrap, unscathed. Turning off the sensor on his wristwatch and sliding the PP7 into his pocket, the cool and confident agent walks along the tracks where carnage had just ensued. The barely conscious soldier stares in bewilderment, and ponders just who this man is. He is the character who wields an enormous array of weaponry, and courageously participates in missions that take him around the world and back again. His name is Bond, James Bond.

Goldeneye 007 will definitely take you back. It is the title that took everyone by surprise and defined a genre that had been swirling in a vortex of mediocrity. Putting it into perspective, it was clearly that something I was looking for to draw me into this genre. First person shooters have always been a staple for those multi-player meetings, where friends can blow each other apart for hours on end. However, alongside a monumental party experience is an engaging one player adventure that helps to complete the already remarkable package. Rare took on an idea based on a movie, which nearly always leads to trouble, and transformed it into a masterpiece, with a charm clearly deriving from the brilliant execution.

What also made this little installment tower above the rest was the diverse and ever-changing environments. Unlike most renditions today, which feature overused rooms and repetitive looking hallways, everything in this classic installment seems fresh; due in part to the excellent level design and incredibly balanced stage structure. For example, the missions which took place outside seemed to last far longer than their indoor counterparts. Thus allowing for more freedom and the ability to take in all of your surroundings – while you are busy sniping away at those unsuspecting guards. And even after all of this time and playing it alongside far more technologically advanced shooters, the visuals still continue to impress. The great fog effects and view distance all help build, not only upon the scenery, but on the depth that coincides with the engaging campaign.

Nothing more enjoyable than walking into a room full of guards and showing off all the impressive toys you brought along. Now while Bond is usually known for stealth and interrogation, it seems that was knocked aside to bring the full spirit of the first person shooter into account. That is not to say you still cannot creep lightly behind the clueless schmuck and knock him senseless with the end of your rifle. Cheap, yet strangely satisfying. What exactly would a first-person shooter be without the weaponry? Goldeneye certainly doesn’t falter in this department, and you have easily over fifty options to use at your disposal. From the spurt firing power of the RCP-90 to the startling DD44 Dostovei, each gun you find along the ground is cooler than the next, with the cream of the crop waiting for those who prove their worth.

The combat is certainly exciting, but will not be the only task you undergo. As you prepare to take on a certain stage, the game will prompt you with three difficulty settings: Agent, Secret Agent, and 00 Agent. As you continue to hone your skills, you will be able to glide past the easy objectives and more into dangerous territories. Thus, the more you move up in rank, the harder the enemies, the less damage you can take, and the more objectives you have to tackle. For example, you may only have to remove the security device on a computer terminal in Agent. All in a simple day’s work right Mr. Spy? However, while on 00 Agent, you may have to grab a top-secret video tape, make a copy of a key, and escape within a time limit, as well as completing the previously mentioned task. The challenge is executed flawlessly, and by the time you finish the easier difficulty settings, you will be ready to meet the next surreal obstacle in your path.

What will stand in your way the most in your road to completion will not be in the form of an opposing antagonist or stumping puzzle, but that of a woman. Reminiscing back to earlier titles from the past, computer oriented buddies are a little more trouble than their worth. Constantly getting into tough spots and biting off more than they can chew, thus resulting in you failing your mission. The same can be said here and the woman being referred to is Natalya. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to save someone who thinks they are invincible. Moving from point to point, you will open your mission folder to suddenly find a “Mission Failed.” How did this happen? Well, almost every time, you will find it to be her fault; with her inability to confront enemies being the most frustrating aspect of all. Though the enemy AI is usually a bit clueless in most cases, it seems that it all comes back to them when you bring an ally along for the ride.

This derives from the fact that the opposing force is always shooting your friends instead of you. And it would seem that they prefer watching you blow your objectives than actually eliminating you. The best example for this scenario occurs in the later “Control” mission, which is far and away the most annoying level in the history of gaming. You play the bodyguard for the ditsy girl who is trying to stop a diabolic threat from happening, and you must fend off an endless stream of guards for five minutes. Words can’t describe how many times you will replay that level, only to see Natalya die again and again. What a pain in the ass. Thankfully, the most stressing levels are late in the game and only appear for a short time. This means it’s back to your lonesome again for some more espionage orient missions devoid of annoying sidekicks. For you are well aware you can easily handle those numerous hardships on your own.

Give me a minute to reflect back . . .

Ah, I can faintly recall staying up past the midnight hour one Saturday night. The room is constantly flashing due in part to the sparks emanating from within the television. Mountain Dew and other caffeine induced drinks being consumed to heighten the already robust adrenaline circulating throughout the room. The sounds of the rocket launcher and dual wield weaponry resplendently shatter the moments of lurking around dark corners. And finally with one false move that trademark red screen of blood folds over our screens. This is truly what multi-player was all about, a competitive madhouse of carnage, all racing toward that winning score. While it may seem like it is lacking in certain aspects because of its age, Goldeneye really is still at the top of its class because of the freshness felt when it first arrived. The classic nostalgia apparent in virtually every nook and cranny reaches even deeper than Bond’s predictable charm towards the ladies.

There is certainly no dullness noticeable in the battle mode and the customization you can set up for each event is seemingly limitless. Options such as: the type of weapon selection, allowance of body armor (shields), and the never-ending list of character choices, all surely satisfy if you are a seeker for large quantities of content. Up to four players can throw down at one time thanks to the split-screen display and the level selection is not too shabby either. Though each environment feels and looks different than the next, one thing generally stays the same, the desire of learning the locations of the best weapons and armor. From small corridors to hidden doors which coincide next to familiar wall patterns, each stage has something that makes it unique. Even team battles can be set up if you and your buds want to break from the FFA action for a little bit. There is plenty to do, and grabbing a large party of friends to compete and explore all the possibilities offered, really is the best way to play Goldeneye. And in comparison, nothing even comes close.

Even after all of these years I can still pick up this gem and fall prey to the excellent single player mode or the remarkable multi-player. Despite running through today’s FPS giants such as: Halo 3, Crysis, and Call of Duty 4, there is something about Goldeneye that puts it a step above the rest. Maybe its legacy derives from the fact it literally defined first person shooters on the console or it could be that I am poor and have no other games to play. Regardless, if you still have not wrapped your fingers around this little number, you really are missing out on something captivating. Though it may seem a little dated by today’s standards, as all Nintendo 64 games do, there is still so much charm to be found it easily bypasses the minor quirks. It truly is a shame that no other Bond installment that has emerged can hold a candle to this one and I can safely say that none ever will.

Verdict – 10/10





Retro Review: Mischief Makers

14 04 2009

Thought I’d throw this up since it was featured at Giant Bomb.  Enjoy.

mm1

Mischief Makers (Nintendo 64)

Original release date: 10/01/97

Games based off anime are terrible!

Those that happen to wonder upon such statements usually consider it a truth. However, it is not too often that a platform title takes on the image of a japanimation-esque image and actually turns out to be good. In a world where three dimensional adventures were emerging, one secluded title managed to stand foothold in forgotten territory. The territory I am speaking of is the world of the two-dimensional side-scroller. The Nintendo 64 was the epitome of overlooked titles, and Mischief Makers was one of them. On top of my excitement to find such a unique game, there was even more to be mounted by the fact the developer was Treasure; also known for their work on popular games like: Gunstar Heroes and Ikargua. From top to bottom, the formula seems meticulous; however, several jagged edges assist in giving this forgotten game a rather empty persona.

Using classic anime-style visuals and a straight-forward storyline, Mischief Makers spends no time dabbling in an unnecessary plot. Therefore, we get a “save-the-day” style adventure, which we are all too well aware of. A perverted old man named Professor Theo is kidnapped by a group of strange creatures and it is up to his creation, Marina, to come save him. Being an android, she has several useful abilities, such as: wave dashes, enhanced strength, and a strange urge to shake everything. Okay, maybe there is not much to her, but short-changed or not, it is all we get. Now though she should feel like a protagonist, a new emperor sees her as the opposite and sends his henchmen to finish her off. Going out on a simple note here, it is obvious the storyline is shallow and even from that, it definitely takes time to get going.

Gone are the need for high tech gadgets and the vivid array of vigilante weaponry; all you need in this world is your hands. You will be moving across said world in a stage format, with each world having eleven stages, most of which not taking any more than fifteen minutes to complete. There are literally some levels in the game that can be simply run over and there is nothing in the way to stop you. However, each stage will have its own theme, from gathering a group of rebellious children, to kicking the hell out of a union of bandits. The most bizarre aspect of the game, though, is the previously mentioned attack moves. Though there are some weapons you can pick up and use, such as knives and machine guns, you will mostly be shaking your enemies. That’s right… shaking them, back and forth, and back and forth. While you may be questioning this title’s sanity already, it is an interesting formula. Following Super Mario Bros. 2 style of game-play, you can pick up enemies, shake them for loot, and either toss them or slam them into the dirt. While it all sounds well and good, what hurts this game the most is the distinct, but poor control.

Now I would not say it is completely abysmal, but I would have liked the option to use the analog control stick instead of what they put on the table. Moving the beautiful Marina around requires a strange mix of the control pad and the C buttons. Using these in a correlating, simultaneous fashion will allow you to dash forward and back, and doing so while jumping will cause you to hover over intimidating canyons. The response time is tight, however, there is a bit of lag involving said C buttons. So, in the end, crossing some large gaps throughout the game became frustrating as all hell. Also, at times you would need to get a high head start to cross that narrow canyon, but the camera does not allow auto focus. This resulted in me dying several times because I had absolutely no idea where I was landing. It is times like this when I thought, “Hey, that old man really needs to give his little sex-bot a tune up.”

Mischief Makers tends to be a simple premise game with fluctuating challenge. However, to give players a sense of urgency, Treasure provided a grading system for each and every stage. Depending on the time you complete the level and how much you can complete in that span, you will be rewarded with a grade. Now, I personally hate grading systems since they remind me of the sickly high school days, but I will not get those memories going again. Speaking of getting through each stage, the puzzles, while quirky, are imaginative and will require thought. Most of them revolve around shaking certain hovering balls in order to cross certain obstacles. Arouses you doesn’t it? Well, hopefully not, and to your assumed relief, there are more things to do. Escorting a team of Clancers to safety, racing to the finish to avoid that wall of lava, or just plain kicking the asses out of the many intriguing, but simple bosses, all sum up a slice of what you will be working on.

On the other side of the coin, Treasure wanted to give players a reason to keep playing and that comes in the form of hidden gold gems. Blue and red gems will provide health and completion points, but the true prize will land you a greater reward. Each of nearly sixty stages in the game hides them and the most fun I had, had been trying to figure out where each one was. Some may involve shaking one of several nearby pedestrians to death or finding hidden passageways through a series of trials. What I thought was neat was how I could progress back through the stage again, just in case I passed what I was looking for. Gone are the shortcuts or hints and I was pleased that the game actually makes you find those habiliments on your own for a change. It is just a shame that most of the stages are so similar; I would have liked more variety in the shuffle.

If I could sum up the visuals in one word, it would be resplendent. Naturally, if this title had been on the Super Nintendo, many would have been blown away. However, in the 64-bit area, they can simply share an above average quality. Backgrounds are beautifully rendered and articulate, while the character motions are fluid and smooth. I would have liked to see a bit more unique character designs, as the previously mentioned Clancers are all alike with the exception of a color change here and there. Boss fights are excellently rendered and take advantage of the system’s aliasing. Just picture a tremendous, crimson dragon spewing acidic flames, all the while trying to hammer you to death with his knuckles. Yeah, I am being descriptive, which is just what was implemented.

The funky, techno beats all provide an upbeat charm, alongside the excellent scenery the game encompasses. From the orchestral like trumpet playing of the lava stages, to the more quiet and serene sense of the snow world, everything is done fine. Voice acting is all but absent, besides a couple evil laughs, the screaming rambles of the old man, and a couple quotes from Marina. Speaking of which, all she really says in the game is… you guessed it…”Shake, Shake…Shake.” It gets kind of redundant after a while, as it will be your primary attack throughout the adventure. So, refuse the urge to shake your cartridge senselessly against the wall, it really is not that bad.

With a mix of up’s and down’s, Mischief Makers comes off as a bizarre and charming, yet overall, disappointing outing. It should have had a lot going for it, but the poor control system, lack of additional game modes, and repetitive game-play overshadow the positives. So much so that I could not exaggerate this outing with anything other than a feeling of mediocrity. I will say this though, the game really is a sight to behold and if you can bypass the fluctuating faults, you can come out with a fairly decent platformer.

Verdict – 7/10





Where On Earth Is My Pilotwings Sequel?

10 04 2009

pwings64

“Hard to believe it’s been 13 years since this gem came out.  I feel old.”

The Nintendo 64 was truly one of a kind.  Though it was overlooked in every which way but loose in favor of the CD using Playstation, it still had some of the greatest classics in all of gaming.  Who could forget the universally accepted Ocarina of Time, the revolutionary platforming giant Mario 64, or the hilariously crude Conker’s Bad Fur Day?  The dominant years of the 64, from 1996 to the dawn of the new millennium, contained some of my funnest gaming moments.  Yet, for every popular gem there is a diamond in the rough.  An overlooked title that goes ignored due to either lack of publicity or just being released at the wrong time.  The game I talk about is none other than “that other” release title, which debuted with Mario 64 in September of 1996 . . . Pilotwings 64.

pwingssnes1

“Classic.”

Yea, I’m aware there was a Pilotwings on the SNES, but the problem is that not a lot of people got to play it.  It was even more obscure than its 64 compatriot for goodness sake.  Nevertheless, Pilotwings 64 was special not because of its action sequences, but the mellow theme it brought to the table.  Some gamers play games for the adrenaline, the action, and the intensity.  Others though, play for a different reason — to relax.  After a long day at school there was nothing better than coming home and popping in Pilotwings for a few hours.  Whether it was hang-gliding over a mountainside or throwing on the Birdman outfit for some spelunking, Pilotwings 64 was unmatched amongst the flight simulation genre.  Microsoft Flight Simulator?  Yea. . . I want a title that relaxes me not puts me to sleep.

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“Hmmmm . . . looks a tad different from when I last visited Mount Rushmore.”

It has been nearly 13 years now since the last Pilotwings and I have to wonder, where is my Pilotwings sequel?  The title definitely had enough of a cult following to deserve another sequel.  The Wii controller, if done well with the game, could also bring about a new element to the series, which was always about timing, precision, and alertness.  At times Pilotwings even felt like an adventure or platforming game, rather than a traditional flight simulator.  It was because of Nintendo’s unique humor and imagination that allowed Pilotwings 64 to be the kind of game which all games should be: fun.  So hurry the hell up Nintendo, I need my Pilotwings fix.

On that note, I leave you with this.  Enjoy.