this post is going to fairly controversial, because most of it is going to be spent complaining about the N64 fan-favorite goldeneye 007. i had played through the first level and gotten stuck on the second level and put it aside awhile back, but i finally came back to it and forced myself to spend some serious time with the game. it wasn’t a pleasant experience. i’m not a huge of fan of FPSes in general, but i had enjoyed my brief experience with doom; but this game was rife with the one thing i just can’t tolerate in a game, which is “try-and-die” gameplay. maybe i’m just the slowest gamer who’s ever touched this game, or maybe i was at a disadvantage since i haven’t seen the movie, but the amount of trial and error i had to wade through was ridiculous. the game includes multiple objectives for each mission, with more objectives required at the two higher difficulty levels. i found the objectives to be vaguely defined in general, and more often than not i would end up wasting time trying to complete an objective that wasn’t even required for the initial difficulty level because i didn’t realize it was part of a different objective. it was particularly maddening whenever the try-and-die gameplay reared its ugly head in the very last sections of a stage, which happened often, and i can’t count the number of times natalya jumped in front of my gun. ugh! escort missions at their worst. the enemies lack variety, and from a modern gameplaying perspective it also really bugged me that bond could have a plethora of gadgets at his disposal but couldn’t get as simple a thing as a map as part of his intel.
i tried out the multiplayer mode, and i wasn’t really into it but, again, it’s probably just that i’m not a fan of the genre. i did appreciate how easy it was for my n00b bf to pick it up and play it, and in terms of the historic context, the game was noteworthy for being one of the first console FPS local multiplayer games.
i’m glad i can finally cross this game off of my list, and although it was a significant setback in my interest in FPSes, i’m looking forward to moving on to try out other well-regarded games in the genre. my initial experience of FPSes post-goldeneye has been somewhat encouraging, and hopefully there will be more to come on that before too long.
leaden goldeneye 007 links:
– PDF of the manual at replacementdocs.com
– the game often gets mentioned on “greatest games of all time” lists, including this one at 1up.com. videogamecritic.net also offers a glowing review.
– the goldeneye wikia has a nice set of mission walkthroughs
– gamefaqs has images for all the maps in the game
– interview with creator martin hollis at gamasutra.com (also mentions hollis’s more-recent creation, bonsai barber, which i, coincidentally, played recently)
– entry at wikipedia
still on my sequels kick, so i played through the game boy game donkey kong land. i’d played and enjoyed donkey kong country last year and was in the mood for another mindless platformer.
DKL was released just about 6 months after DKC, and i was fully expecting DKL to be just a portable, fairly watered-down version of the original as many other game boy games are, such as operation c (a contra game), and ninja gaiden: shadow which i’ve previously reviewed. but i was surprised to find that the game actually has more than a few unique elements. true, there are a host of levels that are strongly tied to the original game, including jungle, snow, cave, and water levels. but there are entire sections that are completely new and feature some entirely unique game mechanics, including ship, cloud, and city levels. the ship levels seem to be a preview of the ship levels in donkey kong country 2 which would be released another 6 months later. needless to say, these additions were a welcome surprise and really made the game so much more worthwhile than i expected.
the graphics, of course, take a hit and there are some problems with the rendering of the sprites, but for the most part they do a good job and there aren’t any problems that are too distracting. despite the downgrade in graphics, in general the gameplay holds up. although the levels that are based on DKC levels feel like retreads more often than not, the secrets are much better integrated and less arbitrary. the map also now updates to show which levels are fully completed, although i was surprised you don’t have to get all four of the “KONG” letters in the levels for the stage to be marked completed. the biggest complaint that this reviewer at nintendojo had is that to save you have to find all four “KONG” letters in a level. it was rather annoying to not be able to save when you wanted to, but it ended up giving me an incentive to revisit earlier (and easier) levels that i’d previously completed but hadn’t found all the secrets in. i also disagreed with his complaint that the sky level where you have to jump to change the direction of the platform was annoying; it didn’t take too long to get used to it, and besides there was a similar mechanic in the classic SMB3.
so all in all this was a surprisingly decent little game boy game. it still amazes me how much developers were able to do on such a limited platform. the game’s a bit on the short side and definitely easier than the original, but it’s fun and has enough challenges and new elements to keep you interested and has definitely left me looking forward to seeing what surprises are in store for donkey kong country 2.
DK and diddy’s banana-colored links:
– entry at wikipedia
– text of the instruction manual
– a complete FAQ at gamefaqs
playing brawl has caused me to add several games to my ever-increasing list of games to play, one of which was the classic SNES platformer donkey kong country, thanks to my newfound interest in that great ape acrobat diddy kong. the general consensus on the game nowadays seems to be that when it was released DKC wowed gamers with its amazing graphics, but that its lauded gameplay seems overrated in retrospect. i felt this way about the original sonic game, and like sonic (and a lot of other games) the original DKC also seems to be overlooked nowadays in favor if its sequel.
so, first off, being my first donkey kong game i was pretty amazed at how much this iteration defined the character of donkey kong and his supporting cast (including has arch-nemesis king k. rool) that has endured. previously donkey kong had had only a supporting role at best, and rareware did an admirable job taking the original character as a starting point and really fleshing out his universe.
as for the game itself, i found the game has aged remarkably well. the graphics are still impressive and the controls feel good. the sprites are large but work well, and the enemies, music and sound, and levels are well designed (although there are some rather cheap areas that are maddeningly annoying). the buddy system, in which you switch between donkey and diddy kong on the fly, is a bit under-utilized but still worthwhile, as are the animal buddies you get to use. the use of barrels to blast the characters through the levels also reminded me of sonic and helps give the game a similar sense of speed. the main spin jump attacks of the protagonists also reminded me of sonic, but all the similarities don’t feel too derivative and the main game doesn’t overstay its welcome.
however, the requirements to get 100% completion, by finding all the hidden rooms, definitely feel like extra padding and are oftentimes quite tedious, esp. when taking into account the fact that there’s no system to track your progress in-game or even tell you which levels you haven’t fully conquered yet. as it was i think i finished the game less than 60% complete, and after tracking down some pretty obscure secret rooms i had little motivation to hunt for the rest of them. still, all in all this is a classic in video game history and certainly a better-than-average platformer in general. so i guess i have yet another series that i’ll be working my way through. there are worse problems to have i suppose. 😉
– lucas m. thompson’s review of the virtual console rerelease
– entry at wikipedia
– manual at replacementdocs.com
– youtube video of the 100% ending
– this FAQ at IGN tells you the # of hidden rooms in each level so you can find them yourself.