Pacing the Cage

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Archive for the ‘N64’ Category

The Evolution of Donkey Kong

Posted by ptcgaming on May 1, 2009

Clockwise, from top left: "Donkey Kong" (arcade, 1981); "Donkey Kong Junior" (arcade, 1982); "Donkey Kong 64" (N64, 1999); and "Donkey Kong Country" (SNES, 1994)
Clockwise, from top left: “Donkey Kong” (arcade, 1981); “Donkey Kong Junior” (arcade, 1982); “Donkey Kong 64” (N64, 1999); and “Donkey Kong Country” (SNES, 1994)


For the man responsible for such series as “The Legend of Zelda” and “Star Fox,” it all started with a carpenter, a damsel in distress and a very large ape. “Donkey Kong” (1981) was Shigeru Miyamoto’s first video game creation, one that has spawned several sequels and remains a Nintendo staple even today.
The premise of the original “Donkey Kong” was simple: Donkey Kong kidnapped a woman (now known as Pauline), and it was up to a carpenter named Jumpman (now known as a plumber named Mario) to save her. Two sequels were spun off the original: 1982’s “Donkey Kong Junior,” still to this day the only video game where Mario plays the villain, and 1983’s “Donkey Kong 3,” a game more practice for the Orkin Man than a platformer (You actually have to spray bugs with bug spray).
There was then a lull in new DK video game production until 1994, when “Donkey Kong Country” was released for the Super NES. DKC was the first game in the series not produced or directed by Miyamoto (it was developed by video game developer Rare), but was still revolutionary in its use of pre-rendered 3D graphics. Also, the series took on a new format by switching from a static-screen design to side-scrolling levels, more along the lines of the “Super Mario Bros.” series.
In 1999, Rare released “Donkey Kong 64” for the Nintendo 64, a full-3D platformer similar to “Super Mario 64.” This was the first game to require the N64’s Expansion Pak, which provided more RAM for enhanced graphics and environments.
In between DKC and DK64, several other titles in the series were released for both consoles and handhelds, including: “Donkey Kong Country 2” (1995); “Donkey Kong Land” (1995); “Donkey Kong Country 3” (1996); “Donkey Kong Land 2” (1996); “Donkey Kong Land 3” (1997); and “Diddy Kong Racing” (1997).

Posted in Arcade, Evolution, Game Boy, N64, SNES | 1 Comment »

Retro Game Review: Star Fox 64

Posted by ptcgaming on April 22, 2009

"Star Fox 64" is a marvel to look at and hear, but that doesn't mean it's without flaws.

"Star Fox 64" is a marvel to look at and hear, but that doesn't mean it's without flaws. (Screenshot from

Platform: Nintendo 64
Released: 1997
Developer:Nintendo EAD

Background:The original Star Fox for the Super NES pushed the envelope for home console gaming (For more on that. click here). So, Shigeru Miyamoto decided to push the envelope with Star Fox again, this time on the Nintendo 64 console. While the game at its core is a 64-bit remake of the original, it’s just as revolutionary. With outstanding graphics and sound, this is definitely a must-play for N64 console owners and Wii owners willing to drop a bargain bin price of 10 bucks to download it off the Virtual Console.

Graphics: 5/5
If there’s one thing Nintendo’s developers have been good at over the years, it’s being able to take an already great concept and make it even better. Just take a look at the graphical improvements from “Super Mario 64” to “Ocarina of Time” to “Majora’s Mask” and you’ll see what I mean. Star Fox 64 is no different. The graphics are better than even SM64, which has been hailed as one of the greatest games ever. The 3D universe is more vibrant and vivid than ever, and there are not any very noticeable glitches in what you see. Everything is so fluid it’s hard to imagine you’re playing a video game released more than a decade ago.

Sound: 4.75/5
Best voice acting on a cartridge-based game. Ever. And that’s saying a lot since the Neo Geo was pretty good with sound, too. All the voices are extremely clear (A big chunk of space on the cartridge went toward sound). But I knocked a small chunk off the score because after a while the things they repeatedly say get a little annoying.

Controls: 2.5/5
The problem I have isn’t with the buttons. It’s with the analog stick controls that pilot your Arwing. They’re much too sensitive, and quite often I catch myself burying the nose into the ground because of the smallest movement.

Gameplay: 3/5
Part of the drop in points has to do with how the sensitive controls affect gameplay. And I’ve read a lot of reviews that say the game’s very easy and very short, which must mean I’m pretty bad at it. I find it quite difficult. Of course, I only have time to play it for a few minutes at a time, so I haven’t had much practice with it. It is a fun game, though, just tough.

Overall: 3.81/5
Don’t get me wrong, this a great game. It’s a step above the original SNES version, which says a lot. It’s beautiful to look at and hear, but it’s not without its quirks. I’d highly recommend it to anyone interested in rail shooters, because you won’t be disappointed.

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Our Favorite Games II: The Legend of Zelda – Ocarina of Time

Posted by ptcgaming on April 1, 2009


Platform: Nintendo 64 Released: 1998

Right off the bat, I’m going to upset a whole lot of you. This game is overrated. Great? Yes. Perfect? Far from it. Manual targeting wasn’t that innovative at the time (PlayStation games were doing it at the same time. See: “Syphon Filter”)., “Super Mario 64” had already revolutionized 3D gaming on the N64, some of the enemies blended into the backgrounds and dear lord I wanted to kill the Navi thing about five minutes into the game. On top of that, it always seemed like a 3D version of the SNES classic “A Link to the Past,” still the best Zelda game in my book.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I’ll be more positive, since this game has sold in the neighborhood of 7.6 million copies and I’m a Zelda nut who has played almost every installment to begin with. For those of you who don’t know, “Ocarina” was initially planned as an anchor game for a disk drive add-on for the N64. This peripheral was only sold in Japan, featured a grand total of nine (!) games and was deemed a commercial failure (Only like 15,000 of these puppies were sold. But there was a 3D polygon program for it that was like “Mario Paint” on steroids!). It was instead moved to the actual console, at the time the largest game Nintendo had ever created.

“Ocarina” features a vast Hyrule full of color, with custom music for each region of the land. Each region also seems to have its own personality and inhabitants. The addition of Epona to help quickly take you places is a plus, too.

Being the first Zelda game in 3D and with the new, non-linear combat system made the series feel fresh. The adventure is long, and the ending cut scene is more than 10 minutes long, but you’ll get sucked into the story while playing and forget about how long it’s taking. And it was good to see both Link and Ganon looking like “humans” for a change. Without Ocarina, we probaly would have never seen masterful graphics like in the GameCube/Wii Zelda contribution, “Twilight Princess.”

Believe it or not, as powerful and in-depth as “Ocarina” was, it may have been eclipsed by “Majora’s Mask,” another Zelda title for the N64 released just a couple years later. “Majora’s Mask” built on an upgraded “Ocarina” game engine (which, coincidentally, was  built on an upgraded “Mario 64” engine) and required an expansion pack containing additonal RAM in order to run on the console. It’s even more of a graphical treat than “Ocarina,” even though it wasn’t as popular. It did, however, receive comparably high scores.

Posted in Favorites, N64 | 2 Comments »