Tag Archive: n64


Like many gamers around my age, my gaming prime came on the Nintendo 64. Those late adolescent/early teen years of my life were spent pouring hour after hour into the medium’s first 3D worlds, and few experiences hold as special a place in my heart as the action-platformers on Nintendo’s system. Driven to grab every collectible, I’d spend hours watching counters go up as I crossed items off, only to start a new save file and do it all over again. One of my particular favorites was Banjo-Kazooie, and so I was nothing if not intrigued when I found out many of the minds behind that classic from my youth had started a new studio, and successfully Kickstarted a throwback to that era titled Yooka-Laylee. While it was fun to walk down an updated memory lane, Yooka-Laylee is also a reminder in some ways of how far we’ve come in gaming, and how some things are better left in the past.

Yooka-Laylee follows the titular duo of a chameleon (Yooka) and his best bat friend (Laylee) as they enjoy a relaxing day at their new home Shipwreck Creek, which is just outside the corporate Hivory Towers. Meanwhile, the head honcho of the Hivory Towers, Capital B, sets in motion a plan to steal all the world’s literature as he looks for one special, magical book. It should shock no one that the book is actually in Laylee’s possession, and she and Yooka don’t take kindly to having it suddenly taken away from them. The book’s pages—dubbed “Pagies” in the game—don’t take to this idea either, ripping themselves from their bindings and scattering about the tower. Now, Yooka and Laylee must race to collect all 145 pages, put the book back together, and stop Capital B’s plans once and for all.

Yooka-Laylee is a textbook spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie. The names have changed, the worlds have changed, and even some of the powers have changed, but playing Yooka-Laylee is like forcing yourself to feel déjà vu for 10 to 20 hours depending on how many collectibles you go after (a one-hundred percent run took me almost 20 hours) and if you ever played those original games. For me, this was great, because I love the colorful characters, the tongue-in-cheek British humor, and the puzzle solving and platforming gameplay that served as staples for Banjo-Kazooie (and continue here). But, after wiping the nostalgia from my eyes like crud caked onto them after oversleeping, I realize there are also some problems with living in the past like Yooka-Laylee does, since the game largely ignores the 20 years of progress games development have made.

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The first (and most) evident problem is the camera. Even after the day one patch, I still felt like I had to wrestle with the damn thing like it was 1998 all over again. Here I was, swearing at the TV that the angle wouldn’t let me see what I wanted to see, or that it had pulled in too close while Laylee was using her flying power, or that the perspective suddenly shifted, and so too did the controls. The good old days, right? It was a common and accepted occurrence back then, but we’ve progressed past that as an industry for the most part—yet here was this nuisance from the past cropping up once again.

The controls are also looser than all the bowel movement jokes worked into the game. While they’re rarely bad enough to ever actively get in the way of you beating the game, they can get frustrating—especially with Laylee’s flying or Yooka’s roll move that allows you to traverse steep inclines—when trying to grab collectibles as you just barely over or undershoot your target because it feels like you’re fighting the controls more than you should be.

Another favorite problem is the game-breaking glitch. Banjo-Kazooie had one that was never fixed (even when it was re-released with Rare Replay) called the Bottles Puzzle Glitch. This would make it so if you did a particular puzzle before collecting all 900 music notes in that game, some of them would magically disappear, and you’d be stuck just shy of 100-percent.

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In Yooka-Laylee, there seems to be a similar glitch in world four, the Capital Cashino. In order to obtain most Pagies in the level, you need to collect 10 coins on various casino-based mini-games, a fun change of pace that adds variety to the experience. I discovered late in my playthrough that by destroying out of order slot machines, you could grab a bunch of coins at once. Thanks to that, I wound up cashing in four Pagies worth of coins at one time, after which the little auto-save icon popped up and then faded away. I ran around for a few more minutes looking for (but never finding) more coins, and then I proceeded to turn my game off for the night. To my horror, when I returned to Yooka-Laylee the next morning, not only did I not have all four Pagies I had cashed in my coins for (I only was credited with two of them), but the coins and the out of order slot machines themselves were gone from the world. So, too, was every other coin I had already collected from the world.

Now, this wouldn’t stop me from beating the game, but it’s clearly a glitch that prevents you from getting 100-percent in the end (like the Bottles Glitch). I believe the autosave point happened in-between the Pagie counter increases but after I cashed in all the coins at the same time. It was unfortunate, and it’s—admittedly—a lot of speculation on my part to the hows and whys of the matter, but after several hours I resigned myself to starting a new game, beginning from scratch, and cashing in 10 coins as soon as I got them every time in Capital Cashino—then getting my full clear on that playthrough.

Yooka-Laylee does do a fine job of following in its ancestor’s footsteps on the positive side of things as well, however. The worlds are absolutely gorgeous, with colors that you didn’t even know existed just popping off your screen. As well, the soundtrack is amazing; I’m still humming the opening theme while writing this, and honestly you’d be hard-pressed to get the Capital Cashino theme out of my head.

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The worlds are also absolutely massive. There may be only five of them—six if you count the main hub—and they may start out at a size comparable to what we were used to in the N64 days, but Yooka-Laylee adds variety by allowing you to spend Pagies to quadruple the area of each world, offering up hours of additional puzzle-solving and keeping each world from growing stale as a new cavalcade of characters are introduced with even more quests to complete.

And, my glitch notwithstanding, each collectible feels challenging, but not ever unobtainable. This is a difficult balance to strike to get people to keep playing and not be bored of the collection process, yet Yooka-Laylee makes it feel effortless. There’s also a great open-endedness to each challenge, which is something I had forgotten I loved about these games. You can bend the rules once you have the proper tools at your disposal in order to circumvent some of the difficulty. In fact, I’d recommend doing the bare minimum to open up each basic world and concentrate on obtaining the full repertoire of Yooka and Laylee’s moveset. Once you unlock all their abilities, you’ll be able to find faster, more efficient ways of solving puzzles and beating bosses when you subsequently backtrack.

Speaking of powers, Yooka and Laylee also have a bevy of transformations courtesy of a character named Dr. Puzz that would put Mumbo Jumbo’s magic to shame. Plant, animal, and even vehicle forms allow the duo to explore every nook and cranny of each world. There’s also an additional power you can utilize over the course of the game called Tonics that offer everything from more health to more special ability meter, or even just fun stuff like giving Yooka familiar-looking blue pants to wear—but you can only ever have one active at a time.

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One other minor addition sees Yooka-Laylee borrow something from the modern era: multiplayer. A polygonal dinosaur character named Rextro is the purveyor of old-school arcade games inside the main campaign, and he also offers up some local co-op and versus multiplayer options for up to four players on one couch. It’s a nice touch from a crew that supposedly always wanted to add a multiplayer component to the Banjo games, but could never do it back in the N64 days.

Finally, there’s the writing. Personally, I loved much of the tone of this game. It never takes itself too seriously, and the toilet humor finds an interesting sweet spot between what we saw in Conker’s Bad Fur Day and Banjo-Kazooie—including in the very first level, where you need to loosen the bowels of a talking cloud in order to get it to rain or snow in the world to unlock new challenges. I also liked many of the characters, like the aforementioned Rextro, and Trowzer, the special move-selling snake. Heck, even the loading screens make fun of the game itself, or how games used to be back in the N64 era. You could potentially alienate some of your younger audience with references back to the days of memory cards and cartridges, but I found it to be charming.

Yooka-Laylee was a fun stroll down memory lane, but it also serves an unintentional purpose: It reminds us how much better things have gotten in games over the years. While still being solid in its own right as an action-platformer, its humor and style won’t resonate with everyone, and there are definitely some technical issues holding it back. However, for those of us who grew up with Banjo-Kazooie, our rose-colored glasses can remain mostly intact as we hunt for countless collectibles, even as our tastes have matured along with the industry. Hopefully, those unfamiliar with the roots of this game will be able to forgive that, sometimes, we older gamers just wanted a talking, constipated cloud to change the world around us, and focus on the platforming instead.

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Publisher: Team17 • Developer: Playtonic Games • ESRB: E10+ – Everyone 10 and up • Release Date: 04.11.17
7.0
Some long-forgotten issues from way back in the day crop up again in this throwback action-plaformer, but even if you aren’t playing it through the nostaliga of someone who grew up with Banjo-Kazooie or other adventures like it, you’ll still find a solid game to play in Yooka-Laylee.
The Good It’s a love-letter in every imaginable way to classic 3D platforming adventures of the N64 days.
The Bad It stays too true to form from the N64 days, and carries over a lot of the issues with those games as well.
The Ugly The save glitch in the Capital Cashino world that required me to start my entire game over if I wanted to make a one-hundred percent run.
Yooka-Laylee is available on Xbox One, PS4, and PC and coming later for the Switch. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox One. Review code was provided by Team17 for the benefit of this review. EGM reviews games on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 5.0 being average.
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Industry veteran and current Microsoft Studios creative director Ken Lobb explained that Black Tusk’s take on Gears of War would be “innovative” and run on Unreal 4 in a recent interview with Edge.

“I think the reality is what we have is innovative Gears Of War. That’s what I believe they’re going to make,” said Lobb. “They’re an internal studio, but the reality is it’s cool to have [an IP] that can be a grand slam right out of the gate. The concepts they’ve been toying with are awesome. You take what they were thinking about and their expertise on Unreal Engine 4, because that’s what they’ve been playing with since their founding, and really go with the IP.”

Ken Lobb has worked in the games industry for over 20 years, helping craft such memorable classics as G.I. Joe for the NES and Goldeneye 007 for the N64 (he’s who the infamous Klobb was named after). He even took part in the discussions that led to Metroid Prime before joining Microsoft in 2001.

Black Tusk is a relatively new first-party studio, founded in 2012 under the Microsoft banner, and was supposedly working on an original IP before being charged with Gears of War. To help get the feel of the franchise, long-time Gears of War producer Rod Fergusson was also brought on as studio manager when Black Tusk took on the project.

No other details about this new Gears of War project have come out yet, as Black Tusk only began work on the project a few months ago.

The pink puffball still packs a punch

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 20 years since I first put Kirby’s Dream Land into my Game Boy and bounced the pink puffball—though he appeared more white on the limited color palette of the handheld—around Green Greens. With almost two dozen more starring roles across all of Nintendo’s platforms since then—and, of course, a couple of smaller roles in games like Super Smash Bros.—few other gaming icons are as deserving of their own celebratory collector’s edition.

Kirby’s Dream Collection compiles six of Kirby’s earliest and most iconic titles in Kirby’s Dream Land (Game Boy), Kirby’s Adventure (NES), Kirby’s Dream Land 2 (Game Boy), Kirby Super Star (SNES), Kirby’s Dream Land 3 (SNES), and Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards (N64) in their completely original versions. The package also comes with a detailed art book highlighting Kirby’s designs over the past two decades; a 45-track, 60-minute-long music CD with original and remastered tracks from all of Kirby’s adventures, and three episodes of Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, the Saturday-morning cartoon Kirby starred in for 100 episodes.

Now, the skeptic would say that Nintendo simply just slapped some ROMs onto a disc in order to capitalize on Kirby’s anniversary, and they wouldn’t be completely wrong. Nintendo fanboys would say that Nintendo’s simply trying to keep the experiences authentic and preserve the classic gameplay. And they wouldn’t be wrong, either. But I know that, personally I would’ve loved some updated graphics or even some color in the Game Boy entries—and for the games to completely fit my 42-inch TV screen.

The lack of new polish on these older titles also hurts the collection’s appeal to younger gamers who may be less familiar with Kirby and want to learn about this classic gaming protagonist. Don’t worry—this won’t turn into a “back in my day!” review—but I’m sure younger gamers’ heads will explode at the concept of playing a game that looked like the original Kirby’s Dream Land compared to the kind of graphical output they may be used to with modern systems.

Now, just because the aesthetics of these classic games don’t enter the modern era in any way doesn’t mean the platforming and puzzle action don’t translate. The NES and Game Boy games feel just as tight as they did two decades ago, and they translate perfectly to the Wiimote. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that the later games, especially Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, actually felt better than I remembered with the simple new Wiimote layout. Though, maybe it’s just that the Wiimote feels better in my hands than the N64 controller did.

Aside from the six original games, Kirby’s Dream Collection also features an interactive timeline showing key dates in Kirby history as well as a bevy of new challenge levels inspired by his most recent Wii adventure, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land. These unique levels have an old-school arcade feel as you specialize in one of Kirby’s powers, whether it’s Beam, Sword, Spear—or one of the many others featured in that game—and attempt to clear the level and set a high score while also beating the time limit. As you set certain scores in each level, you’ll then unlock the right to attempt other, more-difficult-to-wield abilities.

If you’re a big Kirby fan and grew up with him like I did, this is a nice total package. The games don’t completely stand the test of time, but this offers older gamers a nice chance to reminisce and see how far we’ve come. Plus, considering the $39.99 price tag and all the extra features the package comes with, Kirby’s Dream Collection reminds us that’s it OK to think pink every now and again.

SUMMARY: Not all of the games in this classic collection stand the full test of time, but for die-hard Kirby fans, the entire package is more than worth the price tag.

  • THE GOOD: Six games, an hour of music, an art book, and three cartoons makes this a sweet package.
  • THE BAD: No graphical enhancement whatsoever—really just a bunch of ROMs.
  • THE UGLY: You ever stop to think about what Kirby’s enemies must go through when they get eaten?

SCORE: 8.0

Kirby’s Dream Collection: Special Edition is a Wii exclusive.

Originally Published: January 19, 2011, on youtube.com/CGRUndertow

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed my old school N64 Game Storage Drawers.

Originally Published: January 4, 2011, on youtube.com/CGRUndertow

As a part of CGR Undertow, I reviewed my SNES/N64 converted carrying cases.

Originally Published: December 11, 2010, on Youtube.com/CGRUndertow

As a part of CGR Undertow, along with Derek Buck and Kevin Lind, we discussed just what is the greatest Super Mario Bros. game of all time.

Originally Published: August 11, 2010 on ClassicGameRoom.com

There was a time when the sports gaming market wasn’t as one-sided as it is nowadays with EA Sports cornering three of the five (football, hockey, soccer) big worldwide sports. The market used to be flooded with would be contenders and fierce competition, especially in the late 90s-early 2000s, between any and every game developer as sports games were seen as low–risk, high reward if a developer was to strike gold and garner a following . One of these contenders for hockey, a sport that EA Sports hands down owns now, was the short-lived Wayne Gretzky 3D Hockey series.

Putting the name of superstar athletes and coaches onto video games was a common practice back then what with Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball, Kobe Bryant’s NBA Courtside, and the godfather of them all (and the only one to survive) Madden NFL Football. So it only made sense to take “The Great One” and give him his own hockey title. The problem with it compared to those other titles was that it originated as an arcade style game made in the same vein as Midway’s NFL Blitz series. With flaming hockey pucks, a goalie morphing into a net encompassing brick wall, and every hit a bone-crunching one, Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey was not expected to make a heavy splash in the simulation heavy market.

In order to help counteract this, it included the 3-v-3 arcade style that put the brand on the map, but also tried sporting a simulation mode that took a player through an entire 82 game season. Unfortunately, the simulation mode was still heavily arcade influenced and scores of 10-9 were much more common than a 2-1 nail biter. The simulation mode was also faulty for this initial offering in the series in that it did not keep track of player stats beyond position in the standings. This would doom the series in the future as even though it would be fixed in the ’98 version; the fan base had all but jumped ship to the EA brand by this point. I still have fond memories though of replaying every goal I scored in simulation mode in order to mark down goals and assists as I kept my own pen and paper stats for those 1997 New York Rangers. If anything, this was just proof positive that the game was still overly arcade skewed though when I scored my 300th goal as Gretzky himself towards the end of the regular season.

At the time, even with its many faults, Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey was still revolutionary. It was the first N64 game to utilize all four controller ports on the console, having two players on each team. It was also the first hockey game to have the players all be polygonal based instead of using sprites like those seen in old school NES games like Blades of Steel.

With tremendous special effects and the largest cache of commentator lines at the time, Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey at least succeeded in giving you a pretty game that stimulated your senses and was one of the first games to give you a true sense of the speed of the game of hockey. Unfortunately, William’s Entertainment Inc., best known for producing license based pinball and slot machines, should have realized that trying to get high scores in hockey was not the way to go when trying to get into the home console gaming market. For what it was though, Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey was a fun, arcade style hockey game that was good for casual fans of the sport or fans of hat tricks galore.

– Ray Carsillo

Developer: William’s Entertainment Inc.
Publisher: Midway Games (consoles), Atari Games (arcade unit)
Platform(s): Arcade, N64, PlayStation 1