The Fun Machine

Posted on Jul 7th 2014 at 02:44:54 AM by (techwizard)
Posted under Zelda, Ocarina of Time

Ah Ocarina of time, a game full of great moments. Often this is the first title that comes to mind when someone mentions N64. An entry in many top ten lists and regularly comes out as people's favourite game of all time. It's the classic hero adventure where once again the princess is captured and we have to save the day.

In comparison with previous games in the series this one is huge. There's so much to do from horseback riding to mini games, dungeons to side quests, and even fishing. With the increased physical space in the game the addition of travel by horse really helps -- as adult Link only -- to cut down on the tedious time spent walking across Hyrule Field. There's nothing more satisfying than picking off enemies from horseback with a bow and arrows.

One issue with the earlier games is that every dungeon has the same basic look. Sure the layout and puzzles are different, but the walls all looked the same (besides a difference in colour) and nothing really felt special. Ocarina of Time changed all that with every dungeon being completely unique. The sense that this could be inside a real volcano, sunken temple, or ancient ruin. Every dungeon has an atmosphere that really make it stand out. Add in time travel to solve puzzles as a child or adult to make this really unique.

Not every N64 game is any easier than it's predecessors (in a lot of cases it's the opposite), but Ocarina of Time is really the tipping point towards an easier, more modern style of gameplay in the Legend of Zelda series. There are many tutorials throughout the game as well as the infamous Navi the fairy who provides constant hints and tips. Enemies in general seem much less threatening than in previous games as well. Death is a common occurance  in Zelda games, but in Ocarina of Time it isn't difficult to go the entire game without seeing more than a handful of game over screens. The low difficulty is really the only negative about the game though as it excels in every other aspect.

This is one of the best transitions from 2D to 3D in a series largely due to the camera/targeting system. Being able to lock onto enemies which keeps them in front of you at all times, as well as focusing the camera in the direction you're facing outside of battle really saved this game from many of the pitfalls other N64 games experience. Of course it has it's share of hiccups especially over small platforms and difficult jumps, but overall it's much better than it could have been. Movement is fluid with the use of the joystick, and the combat system feels closer to a realistic fighting experience. Less button mashing until everything is dead, and more of calculated attacks intended to deal the most damage to the right enemies. The C-Buttons also really added to the well designed controls with the ability to hold 3 items at once as well as your sword, eliminating the need to step out of the gameplay to deal with a cumbersome menu as often.

As the name implies this game has a strong focus around musical elements. The ocarina is your most important tool for accessing new areas, solving puzzles, and travelling through space and time. Using the songs you learn throughout the game will trigger certain events or actions depending on when or where you use it. Want to make it rain, or change from night to day? This ocarina has you covered. The orchestral soundtrack is amazing as well. The first time you hear the twinkling music that signifies the dawn of a new day over Hyrule Field is always awe inspiring. From the mysterious Forest Temple music  to the catchy ocarina songs, from the soft lullabies to the dark battle music this is really Koji Kondo at his best.

Visually Ocarina of Time is great too, though somewhat plagued by blurred textures like many other N64 games. It has great atmosphere though and I often feel the style reminds me of a painting, walking through the brushstrokes of Hyrule. The day/night system also adds a touch of realism that makes everything feel much more dynamic and natural. Lastly, the use of colours to give a theme to each region of the game comes across really well. Lush greens for the Kokiri and Forest temple, reds for the Goron and Fire temple, blues for the Zora and water temple, browns for the Gerudo and Spirit temple, as well as Purple for the Sheikah and Shadow temple. It all paints the picture which is Ocarina of Time.

Lastly I'll touch on the story. While it has a more serious tone throughout, the basic plot is the same as many other games. The princess has been captured and it's up to the hero to save her as well as the world. The story is more fleshed out in this game than in previous installments through the use of cut scenes which really bring the characters to life. The effects of the main villain Ganondorf on the world permeate the land, as felt by nearly every character met along the way. As his name might suggest, we're dealing with a powerful foe who we've met many times before.

All in all, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is a memorable experience that you won't forget, and one in which I love to revisit time and time again. A personal favourite for the N64 and the Zelda series, this is one that I can't recommend enough to the handful of people who haven't yet played.



Posted on Apr 28th 2013 at 11:03:23 PM by (techwizard)
Posted under Kirby 64, N64, Reviews, The Crystal Shards,


HiiIIIiii! It's Kirby in his first 3D adventure, Kirby 64 The Crystal Shards. The sixth entry in the Kirby series since he arrived on the Nintendo Gameboy eight years earlier. This is the second game in the series I've had the pleasure of playing, the first being Kirby's Dream Land on Gameboy. Each game has a new story, and can be easily picked up without prior experience with Kirby.



Ripple Star, a peaceful planet inhabited by Fairies is one day attacked by a mysterious cloud of Dark Matter! It was after the Fairies' secret Crystal, but a Fairy named Ribbon got to it first. Escaping before the planet was overrun, she rescued the Crystal only to be followed by three small clouds of Dark Matter that broke off from the main mass. They caught up to her and attacked, shattering the Crystal into shards that scattered across the entire solar system! Grabbing hold of a shard, Ribbon fell with it onto the planet Pop Star, where she bumped right into Kirby himself. When he heard what happened he knew he had to help, and set out to gather all the shards and take back Ripple Star from the evil Dark Matter.

"Where's the title music?" was the first impression of Kirby 64 I had after the introduction sequence. There is none for whatever reason, but that was the only complaint about music I had throughout the whole game. Each level and menu screen had some great tunes; from the happy and up-beat (http://youtu.be/uUJhAeCOCHQ), to the intense (http://youtu.be/hU2h5NyF68M). One of my favourites has to be from the Forest stage of level 2, it perfectly captures the atmosphere of a calm walk through the forest. There's a good selection of original tracks and remixes of the old themes. By the time you finish Kirby 64 you'll definitely have some songs stuck in your head, in a good way.


We're all gamers here, what really matters most in a game is the gameplay. How are the controls? How fun is it? The answers are "Great", and "Heaps of fun!" This is one of the few N64 games that employed the D-pad over the Joystick that is favored by most games. It may not be commonplace but it gets the job done, with Kirby responding nicely to your every command. Alongside flying, running, sliding kicks, and shooting blasts of air at enemies, Kirby has his classic ability to inhale enemies and gain a new ability from them. Not only can he get one power up, but he can now inhale 2 enemies to combine their powers into one super power! With 7 different powers to combine, there are dozens of awesome abilities. From crushing enemies as a giant walking rock, to slicing them with a light saber, to exploding in a burst of fireworks. You can even turn into a refridgerator and kill enemies with the tasty foods expelled from inside you. I did have one complaint about the controls, as responsive as they are Kirby always feels a bit slow. Yes, you can run with a double tap of the D-pad, but the difference is so minor that sometimes I had trouble knowing if I was even running or just walking. Other than that they're great though.


Along the way you'll meet 4 friends that are there to lend a hand when you need it. First is Ribbon the Fairy, who doesn't actually help any, she's just along for the ride and holds onto the Crystal shards you've collected. Next up is Waddle Dee, who does something useful! Whenever you need some transportation he's the man...thing...to help. At certain points he'll jump in with a boat, minecart, sled, or other vehicle to help you get where you need to go. Then there's Adeleine, the artist who's paintings come alive. She'll be there to draw you some health items or a 1UP at certain locations. Lastly is your old enemy, King Dedede, who reluctantly decides to help you this time. He shows up when you're stuck between a rock and a hard place with a hammer to smash the way through. None of these characters are there very often, but when they are it's a nice way to change up the gameplay.


I said this game was Kirby's "first 3D adventure" above, but it's really 2.5D. Everything is rendered in 3D, but the entire game plays on a 2D plane. It feels a lot like Yoshi's Story in that sense, and even some of the visuals are similar, which is great in my books. There aren't many technically impressive visuals in this, except for a couple spiral staircase rooms. Where it lacks in the "wow" factor though, it makes up for with style. Almost every level has a unique style that just looks great, with places like the moody autumn forest, snow covered Shiver Star stages, or the weird awesomeness of the upside-down pyramid stage. There's a bit of everything, and it's a real treat for the eyes.

There's also a multiplayer component to Kirby 64, in the form of three mini-games. They're Mario Party style games like a foot race where you can only jump either one or two spaces to move. Then there's a simple catch-the-fruit game where you aim for the highest score while bumping around your opponents to make them miss their fruit. Lastly is a survival game that involves a floating checkerboard that gradually shrinks, and you can direct a row of blocks to fall in an attempt to drop the other players. Last one standing wins, and that has the most potential replayability. Speaking of replayability, this game has that covered. With six main worlds and one bonus, a ton of shards to collect for 100%, cards you collect from the post stage mini-game, and multiplayer, you aren't going to stop having fun with this for a long time. Experimenting with all the power-up combinations alone is a ton of fun.

In conclusion, this is a game clearly aimed at younger players, with its gradual learning curve and (mostly) easy bosses, but don't let that deter you from playing. With it's charming style, memorable music and solid gameplay, this is something everyone can enjoy.


Title: Kirby 64 The Crystal Shards
Developer: HAL Laboratory
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: June 26, 2000
Genre: Action/Adventure, Platforming
Players: 1-4
Controller Pak: No (Saves to Cartridge)
Rumble Pak: Yes



Posted on Apr 24th 2013 at 06:16:11 AM by (techwizard)
Posted under N64, Reviews

I'd like to join the ranks of RFGeneration members who regularly post blogs here with a series of N64 game reviews. I haven't been playing much N64 recently so I'll have to replay the classics and/or try out something new before I really get going on this. So expect to see some entries on the Fun Machine within the next couple of weeks!


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
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