Chi pretty much covered all bases in regard to Threads Of Fate. The graphics in the game are remarkable, and the lack of full-motion video was not missed at all as the real-time graphics more than sufficed. I especially liked how the two plotlines were told throughout the game — although I preferred Rue's more noble quest. No matter which I picked, they were humorous and carefree overall with the right touches of drama when needed. This part of the game was proof that Squaresoft still knows how to tell as story.
What's worse is that some of their best games were actually created by other companies: like the Star Wars series (developed by Capcom) on the Super Nintendo and Star Wars: Rogue Squadron (developed by Factor 5) for the Nintendo 64. It's likely that the potency of the Star Wars license is why this division continues to exist. Their latest is a side-scrolling fighting game called Star Wars Episode I: Jedi Power Battles and it's close to being a game that LucasArts finally got right.
I've been noticing a pattern with Squaresoft's games of late. Aside from the fact that their localizations are greatly improving, I've found their plots to be increasingly unpredictable.
Jedi Power Battles was a strangely difficult game to review. Dale and I on some level enjoyed the game, but you must wonder if our patience wouldn't have ran out a lot quicker if we weren't professionally obligated to play it. All the major problems that Dale mentioned in his review are very accurate and very serious.
What I consider to be the main weakness of Vagrant Story is that it wants to be something that its not. Sort of like Quentin Tarentino stretching as an actor or Sylvester Stallone attempting to do comedy.
If there's one thing that Nintendo has in its corner, it's the huge collection of franchises that it can go to time and again when in need. With the Nintendo 64 needing to prove itself to the masses, Nintendo tapped Super Mario to showcase the system in the form of Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Kart 64. As things became more dire, Star Fox 64 and The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time appeared in all their 64-bit glory to quiet the naysayers. But now as the console reaches the end of its lifecycle, Nintendo seems to be tapping even more of its properties lately. Donkey Kong saw some action last year, and this year Nintendo picked its ancient racing classic that hasn't seen the light of day since the 8-bit NES console was in the talk of the town. I'm talking about Excitebike, the high-flying, 2-D, motoracing title that was a hit in the '80s, but is back in full 3-D under the name Excitebike 64.
The most surprising thing about Side Story 0079 is the way it looks. While being based on one of the most popular anime of all-time, it doesn't look anything like its animated counterpart. Colors aren't typically bold and vibrant. Also missing-in-action are anime trademarks like physics-defying hairstyles and wide-eyed facial features in the character designs.
Well, this isn't going to be much of a review on my part because I agree with Chi completely. Gundam Side Story 0079 is a cool game that could have been great had it just lasted longer. I must say though—while I was playing, I truly felt like a part of the war effort against the Zeon forces. I thought the developers missed an opportunity to make the missions more interesting (which of course would have made the game longer and more involving). In fact, the game never really pushes the envelope conceptually, but it's hard to complain about a game that does so many things right. And as Chi stated in his review, the best part of Gundam Side Story is the authenticity of piloting the Mobile Suits. Being a part of the White Dingo team, the war-torn environments, the awesome weaponry—it's all so beautifully realized. It's for this reason I keep playing the game over and over again.
Excitebike 64 is another fun Nintendo racer for the Nintendo 64—no surprise when you consider how much it has in common with Mario Kart 64, Wave Race 64 and F-Zero X. They're all structured exactly the same, but that's okay. All of those games were way fun, and each gave us a different way to race—go karts, jet skis, futuristic hovercraft. With Excitebike 64, we get the Nintendo treatment with dirt bikes, specifically Motocross and Supercross racing.
I agree with Chi on the issue of Ulalas sex appeal and the unusual style of the game. From first glance, Space Channel 5 is unlike anything Ive seen before and the overall design gives it the feel of an interactive American Bandstand or Soul Train — or MTVs The Grind for our younger readers. Granted some of her dancing and gyrations can best be described as "suggestive," it is all in keeping with the direction the designers are heading. The character and level designs are perfect for this type of game and the mannerisms and animations of the supporting characters are hilarious. Combined with the catchy music, all of these elements come together to add personality and flare to a game already ripe with individuality.