Some more highbrow discussion?
It seems my N64 console has a mind of its own. I got cheap copies of Perfect Dark and Mischief Makers recently, and couldn’t test them until last night, because my N64 console had apparently given up the ghost. Come last night it was working, after me doing nothing other than check the status of its PSU (not outputting 3.3V/12V, instead 3.3/11?).
In any case, I’ve got a couple of reviews to proffer up later this week. I’m not going to review Perfect Dark, instead I’m reviewing Mischief Makers and the SNES Starwing/Star Fox.
For now, consider the Super NES.
After wasting a whole lot of time on Yoshi’s Island and DKC 2, and watching way too much Game Grumps, I think I’ve come to appreciate the the technical and artistic prowess of the Super NES library. I could parse that statement in another way, and say that if I had to recommend a platform to someone, I would recommend the Super Nintendo.
While very few of the JRPGs that were released in the US on the SNES were able to be accessed in the PAL region, I think it can be fairly convincingly argued that the SNES harbours an absolutely stellar group of games in all of these genres:
Mega Man 7, Mega Man X, SMW, Yoshi’s Island, DKC series, Super Metroid? (there obviously being more).
Zelda: Link to the Past (Final Fantasy, Secret of Mana, Chrono Trigger, and tonnes more, if you can secure an NTSC-> PAL converter).
Gradius III, Super R-Type, Cybernator, Starwing…
Still emerging at the time, therefore stellar due to Mode 7: SMK, F-Zero.
Street Fighter, Killer Instinct, Mortal Kombat 2…
Super Bomberman, Kirby Superstar, Goof Troop.
I can’t think of another platform that achieves such a good-quality and varied library. Broadly speaking, the NES does brilliantly with with platformers, and little else. The Mega Drive has a few stellar titles, but really fails to surpass the SNES: these titles are far too few and far between. The Playstation is mired in racing games and sub-par platformers and muddy first-generation FPSs.
The N64 comes in a close second behind the SNES for its mastery of first-gen console FPSs and brilliant 3D platformers, but its absolute failure to secure any kind of third-party success. The Gamecube suffers from this as well.
The problem with the Playstation 2 (must like the first PS, actually) is the reverse of the N64–it is swathed in so much third-party activity that it is impossible to discern any kind of structure in its library of games. Concessions can be made for the PS2 (Final Fantasy X, various multi-platform releases and ports), but it was more of a DVD-player and light-entertainment centre than a true gaming platform–Gran Turismo and GTA featuring prominently in the platform’s library surely being proof.
I won’t mention the Xbox, Xbox 360, Wii or PS3 here, I think they’re difficult to deal with.
To sum up, the SNES is a really ‘safe’ platform for both the discerning and uninitiated gamer. If one wanted to maximise the amount of ‘virtue’ they had in their gaming library, I would most definitely point to the SNES, and then the N64. This might just be a shallow concern, but the fact that the SNES slightly cracked the 3D-generation threshold really demonstrates just how much this platform achieves.
Pretty dang funny.
I said I’d review Double Dragon II first, but, seeing as I’ve just come into possession of DKC 2, I gave that a spin and I was pretty much blown away.
You can find all this information elsewhere (as it’s pretty much not in dispute), but, just in case you’re wondering, DKC 2 was published one year after the first DKC, in 1995. It was, again, like the first, developed by Rare to be published by Nintendo, using pre-rendered ‘three-dimensional’ sprites that were compressed to be later accessed by the Super Nintendo.
The three Donkey Kong Country games were pretty much pumped out every year since 1994, much to the chagrin of Shigeru Miyamoto, who despised/lamented the fact that one of the sole reasons DKC ended up becoming the best-selling game for the Super Nintendo (selling around 8 million carts, I think – you can call me out on that) was because it had pretty spectacular graphics. The effect that this game had on the people’s preference of video-game purchase had Miyamoto roped in to redesigning Yoshi’s Island (another really good game) to make it more similar – Miyamoto’s compromise was to make YI’s appear as if it was crayon-drawn.
The first DKC shares roughly the same level of visual sophistication with the second and third, but, in all respects, the second is a huge improvement on the first in terms of game-play. The game is perfectly paced, introducing you to new content at just the right speed as you progress, suggesting certain courses of action that builds up to steadily more complex and satisfying game-play. If/when you fail a manoeuvre, you’re more than likely to be introduced to hidden level content, and this really broadens and deepens the value of this game’s design – your mind will literally be exploding from the sheer amount of secret stuff that’s stashed away in every level, the real satisfaction comes from working out how to get it.
The level maps are littered with mini-games and bonus rounds, most of which require you to spend tokens that you collect in levels, which is a really good way to stagger game-play and keep one from splurging on all of the game content. The mini-games break up the game, give you a chance to chill out – Rare seriously nailed it, much like they continued to do so in GoldenEye 007 and Conker’s Bad Fur Day on the N64, but more of that later.
The game’s sound is a top demonstration of the SNES’s hardware advantages over it’s competitors of the 16-bit era. It’s a damn good thing that Nintendo waited to release the SNES, because they got lucky by being able to muscle their way through the end of that generation of console gaming with good sound and visuals. This could put one to thinking, though: both Sega’s Saturn and Dreamcast were released early, and met fairly dismal fates; could Nintendo’s Wii U suffer the same end? That said, the Saturn is said to have failed because of it’s haphazard hardware design, the Sega Dreamcast due to the incredible product good-will of the Playstation 2, both of these facts mitigate an assessment of a ‘release early, meet failure’ test. To return to the game’s sound, one should pay good attention to its astutely-chosen MIDI sound-set, almost fooling one at times that they’re listening to recorded music. The landscape that the game’s music straddles is huge for the technical limitations with which Rare had to deal: from rap music to the subtleties of whispering wind.
Dixie and Diddy Kong’s level-finishing moves are the icing on the cake – you should go out and get this game at all costs.
DKC, DKC 2 and 3 are all available on the SNES, GBA and on the Wii Shop Channel for 800 Wii Points. You could, alternatively, you know, acquire it through other means – but, perhaps unlike other games, you might run into suitable gamepad input methods; you need a proper controller.