In the world of Nintendo 64 baseball, two franchises stand above the rest: Nintendo's very own Ken Griffey series and Acclaim's All-Star Baseball series. Thus far, it's been a heated rivalry and like most fierce competitors, neither will accept defeat or rest on its laurels. It's a new season and with it comes a new set of entries. This year's Ken Griffey is called Slugfest and it's time for us to see if developer Angels Studios made the right moves in the off-season. Batter up!
For me, it boiled down to one simple thing: the camera angles. While Dale pointed it out as a flaw, he didn't address it with the appropriate degree of severity. The camera angles in Slugfest destroyed this game.
My first thought was where did this game come from? Published by the makers of the hit series, Need For Speed, Beetle Adventure Racing is a totally unexpected release. Gone are the muscle cars, the rally vehicles, and the crazy collection of authentic automobile licenses. Even the traditional racing elements I've come to expect from racing games are missing or de-emphasized.
I found that seeking out and traversing through the often hidden alternate routes to be funny, thrilling and addictive, but where we differ is that while Dale found that there was enough in the gameplay department, I wanted something more. It seemed strange to me that I would play the game expecting an arcade racer, but ended up enjoying this other unexpected adventure/exploration feature.
Stubborn as they are, Nintendo just would not deliver the hardcore fighter that fans of the genre demanded for the Nintendo 64. They fell back to their corporate policy of making games that were fun to play for the entire family. Instead of a hardcore brawler, Nintendo produced a hybrid. A game that plays as much like a platform title as it does a fighting game. The mixing of genres was not the only risk taken with the game. Nintendo avoided using the generic cast of muscle-bound men and women or mutants and animals and instead went in a totally different direction. In Super Smash Brothers, you get to control any of your favorite mascots from the Nintendo game library. The object of the game is simple: pummel your opponents and knock them off the stage until you're the only one left.
You are familiar with the hype and whether it was generated by the media, George Lucas, or the fans themselves, it's helped to sell everything and anything Star Wars. Whether a product was any good was irrelevant, if it was graced with Star Wars, it was a must-have for any "true" fan. So as soon as Nintendo announced that they had a limited exclusivity deal with LucasArts, many in the media saw it as a coup for Nintendo. Others, however, doubted the game's significance because although it carried with it a big-license name, Pod Racer (as it was then called) was still merely a racing game.
When it came to role-playing games (RPGs), there was Square, there was Enix, and then there was everyone else. Nowadays, however, Konami, Capcom, and Sony are entering the fray with competent RPGs that seem to improve with each consecutive release. Square apparently had taken notice and decided to blow them all away with Final Fantasy VII. Enix, on the other hand, is still sitting on its hands. I figured Star Ocean was supposed to hold us over until the latest Dragon Quest epic was completed, but after playing Star Ocean, I have to say they'd better come up with a new plan.
Perhaps the best aspect of Racer is that it positively draws from the movie, including a temporary boost and repair feature that Anakin Skywalker clearly utilizes in the movie. These two features add an extra dimension because a level of on-the-fly resource management, not often seen in racing games, is introduced.
My suspicions of confusion proved to be correct. Trying to figure out what the developers were going for is difficult and describing the results isn't easy either. The best I can say is imagine the jumping platform elements in Super Mario 64 mixed with the puzzles in Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time; all from a locked-down, overhead, three-quarters perspective.
I take exception to the comparison Chi made of The Phantom Menace to Super Mario 64 and the Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time. Being a fan of both games, I can say that The Phantom Menace has little to show in terms of inspiration from either masterpiece. What I do see is that LucasArts wanted to capitalize on the trend of third-person perspective titles and the Star Wars prequel license at the same time.