Archive for the ‘N64’ Category

Replaying Conker’s Bad Fur Day on Xbox One X in One Day – A Reloaded Report

That’s a mouthful.

I come to you on this day, in this year where I seem unable to play anything but old games, with another old game. This time, in an attempt to force some words onto the keyboard, I do so in the form of a self-imposed challenge.

The day? April 23rd. I’ve given myself 24 hours, knowing that I have another day off afterwards to sleep in if this gets out of hand.

The idea? To play the Nintendo 64’s Conker’s Bad Fur Day – one of my all-time favourite videogames – in a format I have never experienced before and under a time limit in keeping with the game’s theme.

The inspiration? The release of original Xbox remake Conker: Live & Reloaded on the Xbox One family of systems in mid-April this year, meaning I finally get to play it after fifteen years of unresolved jealousy at original Xbox owners and the odd serving of sour grapes.

The goal? To see how it holds up, naturally, but also to try my hand at a stream-of-consciousness style of writing.

Let’s do this.


Pre-Challenge The download size of the game was a little heftier than I was expecting at roughly 5GB, but I really have no point of reference for original Xbox stuff. Those fancy character fur shaders must have been mighty space-heavy back in 2005. There is the matter of all the recently-released backwards compatible Xbox games running at 16x their original pixel count on Xbox One X, but to my knowledge there wasn’t a lot of texture replacing going on, so the file size wouldn’t have been inflated all that much. Anyway, I had to wait more than I had initially budgeted time for. Alas.

Pre-Challenge The main selling point of the Bad Fur Day remake when it first launched, apart from the graphical improvements, was the entirely fresh Xbox Live-supported multiplayer. Sadly Microsoft hasn’t re-launched any servers to coincide with these new OG Xbox titles (why would they?) but the game supports a mode against AI bots, so I decided to give it a quick spin before the day of the main run. Scrolling through all the maps and character classes hurt just a tiny bit, because the whole shebang looks like exactly the kind of thing I would have loved to play in its heyday.

Class-based, objective-heavy gameplay in the mid-2000s a la the original Star Wars Battlefront (which is also releasing via backwards compatibility this month) would have been incredible, especially given the artistic similarity to the already excellent and well-worn splitscreen modes of the N64 BFD. This new multiplayer suite even has a story from the looks of things! But I could never justify buying an Xbox just for one game (or two, maybe, counting Halo: Combat Evolved). If I had been five years older, though…

05:49 In the game, Conker starts bleary-eyed and hungover, and while I figured a heavy night of drinking might not be wise before this challenge, starting early was always going to be the way to go. Immersion is one thing, but there’s also the matter of time and its perpetually short supply. Truth be told, I made my brother do this challenge a few years ago with the N64 original, and while he had never finished the game before that day, he also wasn’t pausing frequently to write about his thoughts, and he went rather definitively into the A.M of the following day. I’m not big on binge gaming in general, usually needing to get up and do something else after two or three consecutive hours, so I expect to face some motivation challenges over the course of this day. It’s too early to boil the kettle and wake the house up so I splash my face with some new icy face gel product, grab my brand-relevant Sea of Thieves Xbox controller, and get stuck in.

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Switch Hype: Ranking Nintendo’s Ten Main Consoles

My my, I do love a countdown opportunity.

And so it is, dear reader, that we find ourselves here. Here at the dawn of what will be – for better or worse – a new cycle of Nintendo being Nintendo. The impending Switch console has the attention of the gaming world for now, and all the bad news has yet to come. It’s not an unfamiliar feeling for yours truly – one of bubbling excitement, of mildly tempered hope – but one in which I will gladly bask for the time being, if only because that feeling seems to be my number one most reliable source of blogging motivation. And would you look at that – the Switch will be Nintendo’s twelfth (let’s scratch the Virtual Boy) eleventh major videogame device! Yes, a nice, round top ten is ripe for the typing. How good.

I will now attempt to rank the ten major home/handheld Nintendo consoles of yore according to my own personal feelings about them. Yes, this will be a different list to your own, dearest reader. That’s OK. It is not an easy thing at all for a Nintendo tragic such as myself to see some of these wonderful machines placed below others – go ahead, try it – but I have struggled through it anyway. It’s probably worth mentioning that I haven’t owned all ten of these pieces of hardware, but I sure have played a significant portion of the game offerings they brought to the table through various re-releases and chance adventures, so I feel comfortable laying it out for your perusal. I’ve taken physical design, hardware refreshes, game library, nostalgia and all the usual good stuff into account. Here we go.

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10. Nintendo Entertainment System

Australian Release: 1987
My Favourite Games: Balloon Fight, Kirby’s Adventure, Super Mario Bros 2

Yes, the one that started it all is down here. The main reason is a boring one: The NES’ games don’t tend to hold up as well today as other later Nintendo titles, as by necessity they are visually and conceptually basic. Having said that, the very best of the NES crop represents some of the most satisfying, mechanically tight challenges to be found anywhere in videogames, not to mention some technical wizardry when it comes to working within memory limitations. Of the two-and-a-half consoles on this list that I never owned, this is the one whose game library I have sampled most widely, thanks mostly to things like the wonderful Wii U eShop games NES Remix 1 & 2 and the recently released NES Classic Mini console, and particularly in this bite-sized format there is a great deal of fun to be had with NES gems even for the less skilled gamers among us (e.g. me).

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Revisiting Donkey Kong 64: Did it Kill the 3D Collect-a-thon Platformer?

 

At the beginning of this month, in its Nintendo Direct broadcast, Nintendo of Europe casually announced something I had been waiting for in forlorn hope ever since the original Wii hit the market – the (immediate) release of Donkey Kong 64 on the Wii U virtual console. I don’t know how, but Nintendo’s much-discussed rights conflict with famed British developer Rare that had previously prohibited the game’s re-release has now been sorted out, and you can download the famous ape’s 3D adventure if you so please for $13 AUD. So despite my ever-growing pile of other games to play, I blacked out somewhat that fateful day, and now I write this article having lost another 20 hours to what was once my first-ever home console videogame.

I downed King K.Rool just yesterday, in fact.

My sense of nostalgia may be strong with this one, but a lot has changed in 16 years, and the game isn’t quite as perfect as I may have remembered it. The game has quite a few flaws, actually. What’s more, over the last several years a new critical narrative has built up around the game, accusing it of killing the so-called “collect-a-thon” genre of 3D platformers (think Super Mario 64, Banjo Kazooie, Gex etc) with its needlessly over-the-top bounty of colour-coded things to collect. This line of thought has devolved for some into the act of labelling DK64 a bad game. Does it really deserve this moniker? As we appear to be on the cusp of a 3D collect-a-thon renaissance in gaming, with Conker’s Big Reunion beginning in a matter of days and the impending release of both Playtonic’s “Project Ukelele” and Gears for Breakfast’s A Hat in Time, now is as good a time as ever to try to answer that question.

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60 Changes in Zelda Majora’s Mask 3D From the N64 Original

I totally, completely underestimated how long it would take to write this. Blame Monster Hunter.

So I finished The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D on 3DS a couple weeks back, and my oh my, it was quite an experience. This is a game I once called my favourite of all time, so I wanted to make sure I devoted the proper amount of time to revisiting the whole thing. After 36 hours of gameplay (according to the Activity Log app) I had completed the Bomber’s Notebook, collected all the heart pieces and beaten the final boss. As soon as the cartridge was out of my 3DS, what was the first thing that comes to mind about the game?

Well, they sure did make a lot of changes to Majora’s Mask for this remake.

You see as it turns out, ever since Nintendo partnered with co-developer Grezzo to release the 3D remaster of Ocarina of Time in 2011, they were apparently working on this follow-up. Even as Zelda fans went back and forth on the idea that a remake of MM even existed, the developers were tweaking away, rebuilding the creepy, unique game piece by piece. But unlike with Ocarina of Time, which only received a sprinkling of non-visual changes, Eiji Aonuma and his team saw in Majora’s Mask a game with some issues, particularly with regards to a quest structure that may not have been friendly for the generation of gamers who missed out on the N64 original.

As a result, Majora’s Mask 3D is one of the most comprehensive remakes I’ve ever played. It’s still pretty much the same game, don’t get me wrong, but while playing I managed to jot down no less than sixty changes I think are worth mentioning, ranging from miniscule to massive, over the N64 original. And if you ask me, the vast majority of them are for the better. If you’ve played the game before and are tossing up whether to play it again in this new form, this list may help you decide on a purchase. If you’re new to MM, most of these probably won’t make any sense to you, and I may end up in spoiler territory. Regardless, here they are, in the rough order I discovered them.

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My Top 30 Favourite Nintendo Franchises: Closer

It may have taken me far, far longer than I initially thought it would to complete, due to a drastic change to my lifestyle that has seen a lot of my free time just evaporate, but I’m pretty happy with the order on which I decided for my Top 30 Favourite Nintendo Franchises here on Vagrant Rant. If you just want a quick glance at the whole list, well here you go:
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30 F-Zero
29 Yoshi Series
28 Pullblox
27 Kid Icarus
26 Pokemon Rumble

^ READ THIS SECTION ^

25 Luigi’s Mansion
24 Wii Sports
23 Fire Emblem
22 Pokemon Home Console Battle Series
21 Kirby Main Series

^ READ THIS SECTION ^

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My Top 30 Favourite Nintendo Franchises: #5-1

5. Paper Mario

Games: Paper Mario (N64), Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door (GCN), Super Paper Mario (Wii), Paper Mario: Sticker Star (3DS)

Ah, Paper Mario. Who on earth thought it would be a good idea to flatten the world’s most famous videogame mascot, not to mention all his friends and adversaries, and insert him into a world where everything (loosely) follows the physics of papercraft dioramas? Whoever it was, I’m glad that the Paper Mario Series came out of such apparent insanity. I’m even more glad that Intelligent Systems were put in charge of bringing it to life (yes, I am harping on about them quite a bit, but come on, look at all the amazing games they’ve made). Like the quirky Mario & Luigi series, Paper Mario is a humour-laden, turn-based RPG series that owes its action-esque central gameplay mechanic to the Super Nintendo’s Super Mario RPG. What sets the dimensionally challenged series apart from others like it is its endlessly creative use of paper physics in puzzles, battles and storytelling, as well as its apparent lack of fear when it comes to trying new and crazy ideas. The writing across the games is irreverent, self-aware and fun, the secrets are bountiful and the characters are endearing. All Paper Mario games are commendable, engaging RPGs (except for Super Paper Mario, which is a platformer – I know right?) but I’m not going to lie – the reason I rate the series highly enough to lift it into my top five is almost entirely based on the strength of The Thousand Year Door on the Gamecube. It is no exaggeration to say that TTYD is one of my absolute favourite games of all time, and at the very least my favourite RPG ever. I fear its near-perfect storm of meta-battling mechanics, location variety, narrative twists, subtle series in-jokes and rewarding extra content will not be matched for a long time.

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My Top 30 Favourite Nintendo Franchises: #10-6

10. Animal Crossing

Games: Animal Crossing (GCN), Animal Crossing: Wild World (DS), Animal Crossing: Let’s Go to the City (Wii), Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS)

No, I can’t explain this. Not fully, anyway. If you haven’t played a game in Nintendo’s ever-quirky Animal Crossing series, you will very likely not understand a word of what I’m about to say. When you pay off a loan to Tom Nook the passive-aggressive raccoon and upgrade your house, the feeling of accomplishment is up there with nearly any gaming achievement you’ve ever reached. And you immediately want more, going further into debt for the sake of just a little bit more space, so you can add just the right touch of balance to the vibe of your room. When you see a bug you haven’t caught before, the cocktail of heart-pounding excitement and self-doubt that floods your veins is overwhelming. And when an animal you like leaves your town… Well, the less said about that the better. In terms of content, the games continue to get more and more expansive as the series continues, but in my opinion the portable entries are by far the best ones. The intimacy of a handheld device perfectly suits the strange, pride-fueled mini-achievement cycle that drives Animal Crossing. There is nothing else quite like it.

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