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 Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts

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The Cappuccino Kid
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PostSubject: Re: Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts   Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts - Page 25 EmptyMon 21 Feb 2022 - 16:48

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In the mood for something different, I gave Soul Bubbles a shot. You might remember this from halfway through the DS’s days, when the UK gaming press got really overexcited about it and awarded it all sorts of ‘must buy’ scores. And yet that high praise from the likes of NGamer didn’t translate into sales at all. Soul Bubbles became a really common game to find in bargain bins, and it ended up being the only game that the developer made. That’s a shame, as while Soul Bubbles doesn’t warrant a 93% ONM Gold Award it nevertheless shows that there was clearly promise in that development team.

In Soul Bubbles you control a novice Spirit Herder, carrying on the legacy of your ancestors and following the advice from your Master. You gather and save fragile lost spirits and guide them to the end of each maze-like level. Drawing circles and casing them in bubbles on the DS’s touch screen is how you protect these spirits and movement is done with short swipes of the touchscreen. You’ve got other trickery with these controls as well. That can include inflating bubbles to increase their size and weight, deflating them to make them smaller and more controllable, and cutting and joining them when the situation calls for it. As you’d guess, dangers like spikes, plant life and wild animals pop your bubbles, freeing the spirits to fly away. The bubbles have other clever uses in the later levels, such as transporting water to extinguish fires and capturing rays of sunshine to light up dark caverns. The multifunctionality of your soul bubbles gives Soul Bubbles a smart puzzling edge, and the way the bubbles interact with and manipulate around their environments can be clever and impressive.

When you first boot up the game you’re greeted with a screen that reads “Please do not panic! It’s all gonna be hunky dory…”. I think this helps set the tone of Soul Bubbles very well. It’s a really tranquil and easy-going game, letting you enjoy it’s worlds and gameplay at your own pace without being too challenging or putting too much pressure on you. That said, in being so relaxed and accommodating Soul Bubbles arguably holds your hand too much with its constant and disruptive tutorials during its first half. This doesn’t really lend itself to that sense of exploration and discovery that the game is keen to portray. In later levels though, Soul Bubbles really hits its stride, bringing lots of imagination into its admittedly linear level structure.

Overall, I was quite satisfied and fairly enamoured with Soul Bubbles. Although it’s not the most exciting game I’ve ever played and while it holds basically no replay value, I think that laidback games such as this will always have their time and place. It was perfect to play through between bigger and more demanding modern games. A high 7/10.
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PostSubject: Re: Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts   Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts - Page 25 EmptyTue 22 Feb 2022 - 7:21

I remember Soul Bubbles! My pal Floody had a copy and was quite impressed with it; I remember that tone you describe well, and him showing me various amusing messages. I'm really glad to hear you enjoyed it.
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PostSubject: Re: Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts   Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts - Page 25 EmptySat 12 Mar 2022 - 9:44

Forumites with long memories might recall that I’d battered through a whole load of N64 games during the first lockdown. I typed up reviews for most of them too – it gave me something to do during a time when going outside for more than an hour wasn’t allowed. It seemed like folk enjoyed them well enough for a while. I stopped posting those about eighteen months ago, feeling the N64 chat needed a break. A couple of dozen of those reviews have sat gathering dust in the drafts folder of my work’s email ever since, waiting to be posted someday. Why not today?


Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts - Page 25 Star-wars-shadows-of-the-empire-cover.cover_large


N64 Magazine said: “Fab snowspeeder and space battles are ultimately let down by some lacklustre Doom-style bits”. 78% in Issue 1, ⅖ in Issue 59.
N64 Pro said: “A 10p mix bag of a game. Don’t get carried away with the Star Wars vibe”. 60% in Issue 17.

I’m starting with one of the N64’s launch games, Star Wars: Shadows Of The Empire. ‘Multigenre’ is a strange but fair way of describing it, as there’s third-person action platforming, on-rails shooting, vehicular racing and all-range space combat stages packed into the game’s six hour runtime. It tries to give the player some variety and it fits itself for spectacular moments and set-pieces. To its credit, Shadows of the Empire would have supplied lots of ‘wow’ factor when it was new to PAL Nintendo 64 owners in 1997. The opening Battle of Hoth level in particular makes a brilliant first impression that would have rocked my cock twenty-three years ago. The buzz that The Battle of Hoth creates stays with you throughout the first few stages, and at least in the beginning, I was pleasantly surprised by how much Shadows of the Empire tried to do. It’s at points where the game clearly tries to impress you (such as the Battle of Hoth, the moving train level and the final dogfight level) where it works best, and Shadows of the Empire can be pretty exciting when it tries. It’s just a bit sad that these highlights are mixed in with a lot of mechanical annoyances and too many tedious corridor-shooting stages that bored the arse off of me.

Moreso than any N64 game I’m reviewing, Shadows of the Empire is showing it’s age. I can point to several aspects of the game that really don’t hold up these days, and I feel that the controls are right at the top of that list. These controls aren’t completely unmanageable, but the button placement is very awkward. Totally unalike anything I’ve played before and since, they cause lots of frustration in the game’s hairier moments. That frustration is severely aggravated by how sluggish the game feels to play. Your character moves slowly and unnaturally, and key actions such as aiming with your reticle, strafing from side to side and even jumping simply take too long to animate and complete. Very little about Shadows of the Empire feels responsive to your inputs; you never forget about the lag, and it’s never not annoying. None of the game feels very well connected either. It’s like the developer took a handful of tech demos that they made for the Ultra 64 in 1994, shoved some third-person shooter stages amongst them and then released it as a £69.99 cartridge for Nintendo 64’s March 1st 1997 launch. Although there’s a plot and the odd appearance from a recognisable Star Wars character here and there, I didn’t find it interesting, or useful in bridging the gaps and explaining why you’re on a bike in the desert and then battling octopuses in a (truly rotten) sewer level. Furthermore, nothing about the game’s aesthetics switched me on. Its got unsightly visuals and a ho-hum soundtrack that didn’t really make me feel like I was in a “space opera” that Star Wars fans proclaim the series to be. Altogether, it’s quite unsatisfying.

The aforementioned third-person shooter stages drag the whole thing down, in my opinion. In fairness, they’re okay when they emphasise platforming – it’s not Super Mario 64 or anything, but it’s okay. Yet once you get the jetpack about halfway through the game, you’re pretty much done with that. What takes it’s place are lengthy and linear corridor levels taking place in boring space harrier settings with a little bit of flying between A and B. These stages are too frequent, and they massively outstay their welcome. I can just about forgive the N64-era camera and fogging that inadvertently disguises your routes forward, but what’s not excusable is their unimaginative and unremarkable design. There’s some combat to impede your progress, but all the on-foot soldiers you come up against are pretty brainless, and it all degenerates into a quick-draw shootout. There’s end-of-level bosses to fight too, but I enjoyed none of these, as they proved to be unfairly intense while highlighting the issues with the game’s controls. Once again, it’s quite unsatisfying.

Shadows of the Empire has its moments, but most of the time it’s clumsy, frustrating and bland. Perhaps you’d get more from this if you were a Star Wars fan, but I doubt it. I completely passed on it when it was current, and while it wasn’t a total waste of time I kind of feel that I shouldn’t have bothered now. Daft Americans include this in their dreadful ‘Top 25 N64 games’ lists alongside riff-raff like Namco Museum 64 and NBA Courtside, but nobody else could be fooled into thinking that this is an N64 classic. Third and final time: it’s quite unsatisfying. 5/10.
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masofdas
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PostSubject: Re: Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts   Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts - Page 25 EmptySat 12 Mar 2022 - 10:01

I loved Shadows of the Empire but was the only game I got with my N64.
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PostSubject: Re: Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts   Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts - Page 25 EmptySat 12 Mar 2022 - 21:59

I also like Shadows of the Empire! Although... I have played very little of it Laughing
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PostSubject: Re: Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts   Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts - Page 25 EmptyTue 15 Mar 2022 - 23:06

Shadows of the Empire was pretty much all new to me when I played through it a couple of years ago. Looking back, it maybe did the job in 1997 once you’d finished with Super Mario 64 (and Pilotwings 64) ((and Turok Dinosaur Hunter)) (((and had nothing left to play until Wave Race 64 came out a couple of months later))). At the very least, it’s varied and weird enough that it kept me interested until the finish.

It’s very old and decrepit these days though. The brand doesn’t save it for me either, I’m not a fan of Star Wars at all.
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PostSubject: Re: Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts   Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts - Page 25 EmptyWed 16 Mar 2022 - 12:56

The Cappuccino Kid wrote:
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I played this game on release and had a whale of a time with it. Similar "vibe" to Nervous Brickdown, LostWinds and Big Bang Mini, if anyone remembers those. I seem to recall the soundtrack being very ambient, too. Still got my copy sat on my shelf.

Official Nintendo Magazine was shite at review scores though.
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The Cappuccino Kid
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PostSubject: Re: Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts   Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts - Page 25 EmptySat 19 Mar 2022 - 9:26

I thought Soul Bubbles was a lot better than LostWinds, I was quite happy to see LostWinds be LostWiiWare when the Wii Shopping Channel went down. Big Bang Mini has been on my to-play list for years, and I think my local CEX has had a copy of Nervous Brickdown in stock for years that I’ll need to go check out now.

The 93% that Official Nintendo Magazine gave to Soul Bubbles looks and feels suspicious, even by that magazine’s standards. There's shades of the time when 64 Magazine gave Tom & Jerry Fists of Furry a stonking 95% and named it the best game on the N64.
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PostSubject: Re: Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts   Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts - Page 25 EmptySun 20 Mar 2022 - 13:00

95%!? What the heck? Didn't N64 give it a 35% or something?
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PostSubject: Re: Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts   Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts - Page 25 EmptySun 20 Mar 2022 - 22:43

Don't know about that, but I half-remember it getting bodied by a few magazines at the time. Money must have exchanged hands there between the game's publisher and the magazine's publisher, surely. That said, I can't speak for the game's quality - it's one of the very few PAL N64 games that I don't have and I haven't played. In a way, 64 Magazine might actually know better than me...

Anyway, more reviews of horseshit N64 fighting games to come.
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PostSubject: Re: Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts   Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts - Page 25 EmptyWed 23 Mar 2022 - 14:22

The Cappuccino Kid wrote:
There's shades of the time when 64 Magazine gave Tom & Jerry Fists of Furry a stonking 95% and named it the best game on the N64.

That can't be real can it?
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PostSubject: Re: Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts   Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts - Page 25 EmptyThu 24 Mar 2022 - 19:18

Don’t say I’m not good to the GNamer Forum: I rooted about the back of the cupboard where I keep some old magazines, and found the January 2001 issue of the very magazine. Here’s some lazy photographs:

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That said, I still think that there’s a likelihood that this was a joke. I wasn’t regularly reading of 64 Magazine at the time so I never saw the full 95% review for the Tom & Jerry game. 64 Magazine isn’t popular enough to be scanned on Out of Print Archive or anything like that either. I’ve never known for sure if they were taking the mick or not.
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PostSubject: Re: Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts   Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts - Page 25 EmptyThu 24 Mar 2022 - 23:44

If it was a one-time thing I'd chalk it up to a first-time writer getting excited. Recurring like that, it must be a gag.
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PostSubject: Re: Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts   Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts - Page 25 EmptyFri 25 Mar 2022 - 16:16

That's amazing Laughing
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PostSubject: Re: Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts   Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts - Page 25 EmptyFri 25 Mar 2022 - 18:43

Ah yes, that great N64 game, Zelda: 2. That 'top ten' is bizarre. Also, The World Is Not Enough > Super Mario 64? That smacks of somebody trying too hard to be 'adult'.
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PostSubject: Re: Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts   Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts - Page 25 EmptySat 26 Mar 2022 - 16:38

Zelda 2: Put in the dirt was pretty good but Allen 3: rise of the maps is even better poo PAVED
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PostSubject: Re: Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts   Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts - Page 25 EmptySat 26 Mar 2022 - 16:44

Ooft! Those Turok scores are all over the place as well.
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PostSubject: Re: Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts   Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts - Page 25 EmptyMon 28 Mar 2022 - 22:20

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N64 Magazine said: “This is really poor. A wealth of options, cheats, extras and finishing moves can’t save it”. 34% in Issue 1, 0/5 in Issue 59.
N64 Pro said: “MK was always a bit clumsy”. 55% in Issue 11.

Mortal Kombat Trilogy is an update (of an update) of Mortal Kombat 3, which brings back classic fighters and battle arenas from every Mortal Kombat game and compiles them into this strange sort-of best-of. On paper, you’d be getting a lot for your money, as there’s dozens of playable fighters, hundreds of combos and moves to learn, and loads of blood and gore. Yet when playing it, you’d actually find that Mortal Kombat Trilogy is a surprisingly poor game, and definitely one of the worst on the entire system. N64 Magazine was totally right about this one. Here’s why.

But first, to be honest, I’m not a Mortal Kombat fan anyway. I don’t like the digitised graphics, the palate-swap characters and their stories bore me to tears, and I hate how think it lays on the bullshit with the opponents that magically transform across the stage and smash you with unblockable 75% damage combos. Mortal Kombat Trilogy has all these negative factors going against it, and just about everything else, bluntly.

The sound and graphics are inexplicably terrible. Mortal Kombat Trilogy’s audio is so faint on even the highest volume, with grunts and groans that sound like they were recorded with 100m social distancing between the voice actor and the microphone. The music? Shite. This versions' tracks completely butcher what they’re supposed to be like. Graphically, people say that stuff like Goldeneye 007 and Wave Race 64 has aged badly, but I think the sort of visual design you get in the Mortal Kombat Trilogys of the world deserves a lot more pelters than it gets. It never looked good anywhere, but on Nintendo 64 the fighters and backgrounds look especially rough with their jagged edges and dodgy animations. There appears to be fighter animations missing right the way throughout, with characters jerking around in ways that don’t seem like they could have been motion-captured from an actor flying about and wearing those green ball things. This caused me issues, as I found it hard to fully anticipate my opponents moves, and react quickly enough to block getting my ae kicked. And maybe because of that, even on Novice mode (the only mode I finished, because bollocks to this), I thought Mortal Kombat Trilogy was a brutally hard game. There’s absolutely no need for Mortal Kombat Trilogy to be this difficult, it wasn't a coin-munching arcade game anymore. I wonder if the harder settings are even humanly possible. Even on Novice, it’s unbalanced, total bollocks and it wasn’t worth my hassle.

The developers obviously struggled bigtime with Mortal Kombat Trilogy’s transition to Nintendo 64, and I can hardly think of a worse advertisement for the new hardware when this was one of the very few games available during the console’s infancy. Next to Super Mario 64, Turok Dinosaur Hunter and even Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey, this is an embarrassment. Yet I’m a bit confused why the developer made such an arse of this. Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 on SNES, Mega Drive and DS run absolutely fine, and Mortal Kombat Trilogy on PSone was a perfectly decent conversion as well. I’ve got to assume that it’s so bad on Nintendo 64 because nobody gave a toss.

This era of Mortal Kombat and the Mortal Kombat 3 engine might be your sort of thing, and if so then I think you’d maybe get some enjoyment out of Mortal Kombat Trilogy’s Playstation version. But as you can no doubt tell, I really don’t like this and I had no fun with it at all. Mortal Kombat Trilogy is an utterly lamentable port of a game that wasn’t that good to begin with, one that’s ridiculously hard and totally unsuited to the Nintendo 64’s control scheme. 3/10.
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PostSubject: Re: Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts   Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts - Page 25 EmptyTue 29 Mar 2022 - 18:07

Thanks for digging out that issue, Cappa. Those N64 Pro scores/comments are certainly iffy. The World Is Not Enough, Starcraft and Tom & Jerry in the Top 10 N64 games explain why that magazine was never remembered. The actual design of the directory is the exact same as Paragon's Dreamcast Magazine, but they were also off the mark on a number of reviews in that too. Armada, Starlancer and MSR were some of their favourites - looking back their magazines seem to either cater to a certain type of gamer or were written by PC gamers.

Mortal Kombat Trilogy I never played, but had a lot of time for Mortal Kombat 4. In 1999, I thought what was the point in getting a bunch of Mega Drive games, particularly as Mortal Kombat isn't exactly a great game to play years after the fact (unlike say, Street Fighter 2). The N64 Magazine verdict kept me away, and it sounds like I never missed out on it. Genuinely perplexing that a SNES/Mega Drive game was worse on the N64.
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PostSubject: Re: Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts   Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts - Page 25 EmptyTue 29 Mar 2022 - 21:26

Mortal Kombat II on Mega Drive still slaps.
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PostSubject: Re: Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts   Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts - Page 25 EmptyWed 30 Mar 2022 - 21:42

Another one I'm faintly amazed that Cappa actually has, surely just out of morbid curiosity? Presumably it's still better than MK Mythologies though?
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PostSubject: Re: Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts   Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts - Page 25 EmptyFri 1 Apr 2022 - 17:39

If anybody’s interested to know, the other games on 64 Magazine’s top ten were Ocarina of Time, Worms Armageddon, Mario Tennis and WWF No Mercy. I’d probably have Zelda, Mario Tennis and WWF No Mercy in my personal N64 top ten, but Worms Armageddon – as great as it is – is probably a better game played elsewhere.

Balladeer wrote:
Another one I'm faintly amazed that Cappa actually has, surely just out of morbid curiosity?  Presumably it's still better than MK Mythologies though?

Aye, Mortal Kombat Trilogy was one of the random games I got when CEX were introducing N64 games to their stock, simply bought out of morbid curiosity and to plug a gap in my collection. I think it was like a tenner, and it proved to be a good buy at that price: it’s a £40 cart these days.

Better than MK Mythologies? By miles! The difficulty, control and technical ineptitude of that game is much worse than in Mortal Kombat Trilogy where they’re already an absolute abomination. If not the worst game on the system, Mythologies is definitely on the podium.
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PostSubject: Re: Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts   Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts - Page 25 EmptyFri 1 Apr 2022 - 21:55

Mario Tennis is my favourite standalone N64 game to this day, so they have some taste.
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PostSubject: Re: Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts   Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts - Page 25 EmptyFri 8 Apr 2022 - 16:36

Last Retro Game You Finished And Your Thoughts - Page 25 Cruisn-usa-cover.cover_large

N64 Magazine said: “Dump. Less about driving, more a rule book on how to cock-up console games”. 24% in Issue 13, 0/5 in Issue 59.
64 Magazine said: “Dated and dismal driving drudgery”. 22% in Issue 10.

Typing out my ten worst N64 games in the Controversial Positive Opinions thread made me nostalgic for the monumentally awful Cruis’n USA. Bloody hell, this game is absolutely pish. With it’s manky, pixeley and cardboard-cutout visuals, unbelievably twitchy handling, hateful course layout and scenery, laughable pop-up and All Time Worst soundtrack, it’s truly something for the ages. Cruis’n USA is hilariously rubbish and a technical balls-up of epic proportions. Yet I’ve got a big soft spot for it!  

I think Cruis’n USA’s saving grace is it’s uncomplicated, pick-up-and-play nature. Moreso than perhaps any other game in my collection of hundreds, it’s something that I can coast through in half an hour while switching my brain off. I’ll look at my N64 collection and forget where I am in one game, or not be arsed to relearn the mechanics and controls of another, or perhaps not feel in the mood to kick off a massive and lengthy adventure. Cruis’n USA has none of that bother at all. It requires very little commitment, much less than anything else on the system. It’s good for that, and it benefits from that. It’s only about half-an-hour long too, and I like that instant gratification in my games. Mainly for those two reasons - and of course because it’s a good laugh - I can’t hate it. 5/10.
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N64 Magazine said: “One of the best games on the N64 and one you’re almost certain to enjoy”. 88% in Issue 5, 5/5 in Issue 59
TOTAL 64 said: “Rare’s first title on N64 is a wonderfully original game”. 89% in Issue 3.

I finished Blast Corps, Rare’s earliest N64 game and one of my earliest N64 games too. I remember going up to Glasgow with my Dad specifically to buy this, as none of my local Woolworths/Electronic Boutiques/Beatties had any stock (and it was the days before the internet). Even in the city, almost none of the shops had it. If I remember rightly, I think I got this from the Beatties that used to be opposite the St. Enoch’s Centre, and I think we had to ask a sales assistant to check for spare copies in the back. I’m sure mine was the last one, a proper bargain at £24.99 too. I’ve had loads of fun with Blast Corps since then, nearly twenty-five years ago. Yet I’d never actually finished the full thing. 100%’ing it just seems impossible, but going from start to finish and collecting as many medals as I could is good enough for me.

Blast Corps involves demolishing buildings to create a clear path for a runaway carrier that’s transporting nuclear missiles on a set, linear path. One missed building and one collision means you’re humped: the carrier will explode, everybody dies, and you’re left feeling like a prize wanker. There’s optional additional objectives like rescuing civilians and finding all one hundred hubs in each level, but generally speaking this is all about total destruction, with a light touch of puzzle-solving and time management. Beating each level unlocks other stages on an expanding world map, like racing laps around a track and destroying all the buildings under tighter time pressures.

There’s plenty to be doing in Blast Corps, with over fifty levels across three difficulties and over thirty ranks to earn. There’s a cracking variety in the demolition vehicles to drive as too. It starts you off in a bulldozer and a dumper truck, but soon you’ll get to take control of rocket cars, missile-launching motorbikes and – naturally – giant somersaulting robots. That one on the cover (the J-Bomb) lifts off with it’s jetpack, does a wee flip in the air and then comes hulking down and smashing everything into the ground – it’s hugely satisfying to use. Toward it’s end, you’ll find yourself switching between multiple vehicles within one level, and to solve some of the game’s puzzles you’ll get to hop into trains, ferries and cranes too. There’s even some novelty vehicles that pop up from time to time - such as the A-Team van and the General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard - though they never break up the game’s main emphasis of levelling all buildings in sight.

For the most part, I think Blast Corps is excellent. It’s unique, creative, entertaining, addictive – basically, Blast Corps is the works. I especially like that it doesn’t fanny about either, as there’s no overdramatic story to disrupt the flow of the game, nor does it really try to be anything it’s not. You trash buildings and have loads of fun, that’s it. If there’s any drawbacks, it’s that Blast Corps is too difficult at points, demanding so much in it’s later stages that it becomes stressful and frustrating. That’s aggravated on the levels where you’re using vehicles that absolutely suck – I’m looking at you, Backlash. I’ve got no idea what the scoring system is all about either. You somehow earn $1,250,000 for knocking over a pylon…eh? No matter though, this is all outweighed by its originality, inventiveness and broader entertainment value.

I was very heartened to see that this is still the dynamic game I remember. Blast Corps is a simple idea executed brilliantly, and absolutely worth revisiting (either on N64 or on Rare Replay on Xbox One, it’s there too!). 8/10.
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