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N64 Retrospective

Bass Hunter 64: For the inner-fisherman in all of us.

Do you like bassbasshunter-64? Do you like fishing for bass? If so, do I have the game for you. It’s called Bass Hunter 64, and in it, get this, you fish for bass. Amazing I know.

Bass Hunter 64 is a very simple game. Its you, a rod and a motor boat. You zoom around a lake to the right spot, you pick the right lure and cast your line. Then you hope a fish bites and you fight that sucker until you reel it in. Then you do it all over again.  I never said it was the most interesting game.

This is about as interesting as it gets.

This is about as interesting as it gets.

There are two modes, Championship and Fish for Fun. In Championship, you have a set amount of time to catch the biggest bass possible in a particular lake.  If you place in top #3, you get points which allow you to buy better equipment. In Fish for Fun, you… fish for fun. Though in a game like Bass Hunter 64, fun is a relative term.  To be honest, without the goal and pressure of a time limit, things get boring real fast in Fish for Fun, so just stick with the Championship mode.

So should you seek this out? Well, like I said at the start, do you like fishing for bass? If so, seek this out. I don’t exactly have much experience with fishing games, but its actually a pretty good bass hunting game from what I could gleam. The graphics were decent, the controls were good and the bass simulation seems pretty real(for the n64 anyway).  I honestly couldn’t find anything wrong with this game. It’s a solid fishing game if that’s what floats your boat.

Ign score: 7.6 Their bottom line was that this was cool game for fishing fans, everyone else give a rent. I agree with that.

Amazon Link: Bass Hunter 64

 

N64 Retrospective

Super Smash Bros.

This isuper-smash-brothers-1s the game that started it all. This is a classic. You know this formula by now. You pick your favorite Nintendo characters and you fight each other on crazy stages. Nothing much has changed in 17 years. Sure things have gotten more complex with more characters each iteration, but the basic formula was perfected here and has changed little over the years. It hasn’t needed to really.

One thing that is missing from later iterations that I enjoy in this one are the customized bonus stages that take advantage of the character’s special moves. But I understand why it was removed, making customized stages for 56+ characters(as are in Smash Bros for WiiU and 3DS) would be a pain.  Still its a nice touch.

super-smash-brothers-2

Now the big question. Should you go back and play this game? That depends. Do you want a large and deep roster of fighters? Not here as there are only 12. Do you like stages where you fight them more than the other fighters? Not here as the stages are largely very simple affairs. Do you like Assist trophies and pokeballs? They aren’t here. Do you like final smashes? They aren’t here. Do you like collecting trophies? They aren’t here. Do you like collecting music tracks? They aren’t here. Do you like have matches on Final Destination with no items? That option isn’t here.
super-smash-brothers-3

Remember that this was first game in the series and simply laid down the fundamentals. In fact, the series did not really become a phenomenon until Melee(which is still played at fighting game tournaments to this day).  So, if you all want the bells and whistles that have come to define Smash Brothers, this is not your game. If still you want to play the classic game that started it all, by all means, seek this out.  It is still a great game, after all.

Ign Score: 8.5 Their bottom line as was this was great multiplayer game, but had a weak single player and was not a proper fighting game. I’d agree with that. It did not become a fighting behemoth until Melee and didn’t really have a robust single player until Brawl.

Amazon link: Super Smash Bros.

N64 Retrospective

Golden Nugget 64

Golden Nugget 64I started this feature with a game you should go back and play. Now its time for a game you shouldn’t go back and play: Golden Nugget 64. 

Golden Nugget 64 is a casino simulator where you go to a virtual Golden Nugget and gamble with fake money, with the cpu or your friends, until you get bored and quit. You have your standard slots, video poker, craps, roulette and 3 types of poker, plus big six wheel and mini baccarat. All are done well and there’s nothing really negative to say about this game. It does what it does and that’s that.

But if you haven’t guessed by now, there really isn’t much reason to play Golden Nugget 64. There’s no point to this game. Unlike the SNES classic Vegas Stakes, where the point was to win enough money to win the game, here there is no ending. You just gamble until you decide to stop.  I mean yes there is multiplayer gambling, but what’s the point of 4 player split screen poker when you can see your opponent’s cards?

vegestakes

This is Vegas Stakes. Go play this game instead.

If you notice, these types of games don’t aren’t really made anymore. What has replaced them is free-to-play casino sims where each bet costs real cash, except there’s no point in playing them either. You just feed cash into a virtual slot machine and win nothing tangible.  And if you want to actually gamble where you can actually win real money, there are plenty of online casinos(of questionable legality) and poker sites.

The most interesting thing about this game is the size of her "nuggets."

The most interesting thing about this game is the size of her “nuggets.”

The bottom line is, if you want a casino sim to blow some time that you don’t continually feed cash into, you can’t go wrong here. I just don’t see a point to this game.  It was pointless back in 1998 and its pointless now. Go play Vegas Stakes.

Ign score: 7.8 No argument here.

Amazon link: Golden Nugget 64

 

N64 Retrospective

Mischief Makers

It is time for this site to rise from its grave and for me to actually do something with it. That something, at least until I re-release Deltan Skies next year, is to do a weekly feature called the N64 Retrospective. You see, I’m currently in the process of spending obscene amounts of money I don’t have to collect Nintendo 64 games. But instead of these games just sitting in a drawer, I will take one out every week, play it, and then come on here and review it. Right now I have enough games to do one a week for well over a year and, depending on the popularity, I will collect even more to play for this feature.

mischief_makersThis week we start with Mischief Makers, one of my favorite games of all time and of the only games on the N64 which starred solely a female protagonist. Ok she’s a “Ultra-InterGalactic-Cybot G” or a robot maid, but still counts as female(and strangely isn’t mentioned on the geek feminism wiki).

You play as Marina, the aforementioned robot maid to a Professor Theo, a bumbling old man. You have landed in your spaceship on Planet Clancer home to the Clancer people, currently under the boot of the evil intergalactic empire. The professor gets kidnapped by evil Clancers and off you go.

mischief_makers3

Mischief Makers is a 2d platformer game which you catch, toss and shake everything that moves to victory. But what sets this game apart are its inventive levels. Each one tends to have a gimmick of some sort. One level you’re riding a bee dodging missiles. Another level has you fighting mini-bosses to bring seven kids back home. One level is an sports tournament where you have to win at least four out of seven events to move on. And then are the big boss battles, which are awesome and the highlight of the game.

mischief_makers2

Like the guy above, Migen Jr. You have to catch his arms and throw it back at him. Another boss has you riding on the back of a cat while riding missiles. It is fun, it is exciting.

It’s all pretty easy, except for a boss called Phoenix Gamma, which is a bastard. Going back and replying it, I was shocked with how it easy it generally was, until I got to Phoenix Gamma, then the frustration came flooding back. Plus, there are gold gems, where each one extends the length of the ending, so you need them all to see the entire thing. Getting them can be a real challenge(try not getting hit by Phoenix Gamma).

Seriously, fuck this boss!

Seriously, fuck this boss!

Still, it won’t go down as a difficult title. In addition, the game is short. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s a guy playing the whole thing in 2 hours and 55 minutes:

Granted, he does not get all the gold gems nor get the S-rank time in every level(and even has some trouble with Phoenix Gamma), but if you don’t bullshit around and are a decent player, you can beat it in that length of time.

But of course its one thing to watch some guy beat it in less than 3 hours. But the is worth going back and playing Mischief Makers? Yes, it is. Despite being almost childishly easy at times and short, this is considered by many to be an underrated classic. And I’d call it that. After all, this is one of my favorite games.

And when I mean seek it out, I mean search out a cartridge and play on your N64, of course. Hence, at the bottom of every review, I will post an Amazon link where you can go and pay actually money for the game.

IGN Score: 6.2 I have no idea what they were smoking when they handed this one out. Their: bottom line was “Mischief Makers is a great little game, but its graphics are mediocre. 6.2!” I think it is worth at least a 7. But then, I am biased.

Amazon Link:  Mischief Makers by Nintendo.

PS. For right now, I’m only going to use media I find lying around on the net. If and if only if this feature gets significant readers will I look into a capture device and record original footage and screenshots.

Essays Opinions

Candy Crush Saga and the Erosion of the Middle Class

candy crush sagaFor those living under a rock, Candy Crush Saga is an incredibly popular and quite good free to play game where you match gams candy under various conditions, like taking certain jewels ingredients to the bottom of the board in a certain number of moves.Its free to play meaning you don’t have to pay a cent to play until you get to the  the insanely hard levels that populate it after awhile.  At that point, you will have to pay for buffs or extra moves/time/lives or be in for a painful play experience. While King.com, its developer, says 70% of the people on the final level never paid a cent, that 70% basically had to learn how to game the game  to do it.

But Candy Crush Saga is only the tip of the iceberg of free to play games, games which free to play but uses various psychological tricks to get to get you pay. While I could spend this entire article talking about how games like Monopoly Hotels and Beat the Boss aren’t really games at all but rather cash machines for greedy developers, I won’t.

Instead I’m going to argue that the rise of the free to play gaming system is rather a symptom of this:

Low wage workers strike in NYC

The rise of free to play gaming is actually a symptom of the erosion of the middle class in the United States. 50 years 61% of adults were middle class, now 51% are. Right now wealth is more unequal since the Guided Age of the 1890s. Low wage workers across the nation are striking because they can’t afford to survive anymore  Even Walmart, which had a food drive for its own employees,  is beginning to realize its profits depends on people having money to spend.

At first glance, there is no direct correlation between free to play gaming and the erosion of the middle class. In fact, it would be nearly impossible for me to paint a direct correlation without doing serious research for months and writing a several hundred page book. Still, there is some sense to this on the surface.

Gaming is not an essential purchase. One can do without it. As more more and people balk at the high price tag of consoles and $60 games, they’ll naturally gravitate towards lower priced games, namely free ones. However, free to play games are not free to develop, therefore developers have to resort to using shady tactics to make money. In essence, games like Candy Crush Saga are the direct result of a downward pressure on gaming prices, which while nobody will say it publicly, I believe its because its the result of people not having the money to throw around anymore.

Even despite the free-to-play tactics, only 1-5% of free to play game players monetize, forcing game developers to rely on “whales,” or taking advantage of people’s addictions. We can debate the ethics all day(and I fall on the side of its disgusting) but the gaming industry in a sense has been forced to into this model to survive.

Poor people were never really able to afford expensive gaming consoles and games. It was middle-class millennial kids and teens with large amounts of disposable income who could(AAA gaming is aimed at teens for a reason, they have the disposable income to spend on gaming). But these millennials are now adults and not making nearly as much as their parents did. And as they marry and have kids, they may spend money on games for their children. Except the cost of raising a child is rising at an alarming rate. Combined with lower wagers overall, guess who is not buying a $500 Xbox one and the games necessary for Microsoft to make money?

The console of the 1%

The Xbox One is the console of the 1%. The PS4 is not far behind though.

 

Now the PS4 had a great launch and the Xbox One did alright for having a $500 price tag, but I question whether in six to eight months we won’t be seeing a giant nose dive in sales as the sheer number of people who can and will afford a console at original launch price  peters out. Remember that earlier this year, the game industry was in dire straights, with a major publisher going bankrupt and the WII U is a failure. The forces behind gaming’s woes haven’t shifted just with the launch of two new consoles (although evidence points to Nintendo’s woes being of its own making). Still, consider that Microsoft is heavy using free to play game tactics. Is Microsoft being greedy, or is Microsoft using these tactics to extract more money out of a fewer number of players? While I personally believe its the former as I ditched the 360 after my last one broke because I didn’t want to spend $70 on an Xbox live subscription in order to be advertised to all day, the latter could very well also be a factor as well.

King could jack up the price to $30 with none of the shenanigans, but who will pay that much anymore.

King.com could jack up the price to $15+ with none of the shenanigans, but the game would fail.

Again, I can’t really make a direct correlation as its all circumstantial. But the circumstances is what gives my theory weight. Which is more likely, people not willing to throw $30 at a mobile game as good as its 3ds counterpart, or people just don’t have the money to throw $30 upfront anymore?  Games are not immune to economic forces and therefore must respond to a player-base with less money to throw around. But developers need to get paid regardless.

At this intersection lies the free to play game, games which have to be free to get the largest number of people playing, but have to actually make money. While we’d love to blame greed(and there are some cases), the real answer probably lies with an industry responding to a poorer player base and their own to need to pay their workers and make their investors money.

All I can say is play the free-to-play games that respect the player and deliver an actual game(like Candy Crush Saga, Temple Run 2, and Plants Vs Zombies 2, which is from Monopoly Hotels developer EA mobile no less) and if you can afford it, throw the developers a few dollars now and  then, they need to eat too.

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