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Donkey Kong 64 Review

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If Nintendo and Rare had an agenda through subliminal messaging then I present to you the game that is the king of repetition: Donkey Kong 64.

As always I like to delve into my personal history with this game. I got the N64 for my birthday as a surprise present from my two older brothers and I was a happy camper. It came with Banjo Kazooie and I was quite smitten with this game. The 3D levels and exploration where just fascinating and I had a fondness for the weird repetitive noises the characters made when their dialogue boxes appeared. Banjo Kazooie turned out to be a very evil game maybe even worse than smoking because it was probably my first venture into a collecting style game. Where in order to progress in the game you have to collect multiple items to get further and further until you finish the game and then you are left to go cold turkey, cold and shivering in the corner. Where do I go from here with my life? Why am I here? Sorry, I got distracted. So these collecting games were huge especially on N64. Mario 64 did this (even though I didn’t play this till a lot later). Over on the Playstation the Spyro series did this (very well in my opinion go listen to that podcast and read the review, please). Rare worked on Banjo Kazooie and I think they must have thought, “how can we take collecting to the next level?” and “what can we do with that Donkey Kong fellow?” Well along came Donkey Kong 64 which is a game that took the collecting concept and turned it up to the max and beyond. I brought this game (with the required expansion pack) and was expecting a nice casual collecting experience. Instead I ended up getting a monkey rap song in my head, which still leaves an imprint on my consciousness to this day and venturing on a collecting journey which took me well over a year to finish in its entirety. I left the cave that was my room with my first fully grown beard ready to return to reality and life again having never looked back since, until this game club. Now jokes aside I actually really liked this game a lot back in the day and it wasn’t the only one I played throughout the year. This was actually a common pattern for me oddly with N64 titles. Even Orcarina of Time took me over a year of on and off playing, I was just that type of gamer then. Donkey Kong 64 felt like a title I really got my moneys worth, not only because it was long but because I got the expansion pack which enhanced some of my other games like Turok 2 (any excuse to mention this game). Sadly I lost my N64 collection to one of my brothers who probably went on to sell the collection so I lost my original copy and my 101% save file. So to prepare for this Game Club I decided to go for the WiiU virtual console version and bravely start from scratch and try to finish this game in a month instead of a year. But that’s enough excessive babbling about my history its time to review this game today.

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Written by jamalais

November 17, 2016 at 11:00 am

Posted in N64, Reviews, Wii U

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Legend of Kay Anniversary Review

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legend_of_kay_ann_logoNote: This review originally appeared on the B-Team Podcast site and has an agreement with the owner of the review, Fred Rojas, to post on Gaming History 101 as well and visa versa.

Typically any game being remade in HD comes with the acceptance that it was already a prominent title, which accounts for the ongoing debate as to whether or not to re-purchase it. That’s why Legend of Kay Anniversary strikes me as such an interesting decision because almost no one played the original on PS2 in 2005 or even the port to DS in 2010. Granted, when you complete the Anniversary edition the phrase “We’ll be back!” is at the end of the credits so I can only guess an upcoming sequel is the reasoning for this beautiful HD remake. Having now played the game to completion I have to admit that Nordic was smart to purchase it from Capcom and this partial Zelda clone does make for a lengthy and impressive campaign. When it originally released, Legend of Kay garnered quite positive reviews and I’m pleased to say that the game is just as great now as it presumably was when it released, only now it has received one hell of a face lift.

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Written by Fred Rojas

October 6, 2015 at 11:00 am

Legend of Zelda Review

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The Legend of Zelda series has transcended time and now acts less as a genesis of the 80s and more as one of Nintendo’s long running trains through time.  Like all trains, many have gotten on and gotten off over the decades and thus the original is no longer that paramount flagship title that gave way to action RPGs that it used to be.  In fact, these days I can’t imagine how one not familiar with the game could get started without a guide.  Where would you go?  What would you do?  How long until you eventually enter the first dungeon that read “level one” and would you know that it means first dungeon instead of top level of the dungeon?  On the other hand there are that other half of the gaming populous that is acutely familiar with all of the intricacies of what was our first true digital adventure.  I myself know exactly where every dungeon is (on the second quest too), know exactly where to bomb a wall or burn a bush, and could navigate the lost woods with my eyes closed.  That’s because I’ve done it so many times that the very movements of my average run are more muscle memory than anything else.  It was one of the first games I played and one of the best.

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Written by Fred Rojas

May 27, 2015 at 4:20 pm

Woah Dave! Review

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wd_logoI first experienced Woah Dave! At EGX 2014. It was being demoed on the 3DS at the time and it was one of the few games that didn’t have a crazy long que. I enjoyed what I played but like a lot of the smaller indie games at the show I just forgot about it. Fast forward to today and we are given the game for free through Playstation plus. It’s surprising that this has released on the Playstaion Network before the Nintendo eshop. [Woah Dave! was released on the eshop in the US back in October 2014 – ed.]

Woah Dave! takes its inspiration from the original arcade classics like Mario Bros and Joust. You play a small pixel man and your objective is to collect as many pennies as you can, which then act as your overall score. To find the pennies you have to defeat enemies that start out as little eggs but soon hatch into alien looking baddies. To kill these enemies you have to pick up eggs or skulls and throw them at the target. But you have to be quick as the skulls explode after a short time and the eggs hatch. If this happens while your holding it you will loose a life. If the enemy manages to reach the lava below it will evolve into a stronger enemy. Each time the enemies reach the bottom they change into a faster and more difficult enemy until they become a flying eye ball which will literally pursue your character unless you defeat it. There is a lot of risk reward with the game. You can play it safe and destroy the eggs as soon as they drop but you will receive a minimum score. But, if you wait for the enemies to get stronger, they will drop more coins. You have to collect the coins to bank them into your score, so unless you play carefully your coins could end up in the lava and be useless. There is a single powerup which resembles the power block from Mario Bros (except it says Woah on it) that occasionally falls from the heavens. Picking this up and flinging it will destroy everything on the screen in a satisfying shower of coins.

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Written by jamalais

February 3, 2015 at 11:00 am

Posted in PC/Mac, PS4, Reviews, Vita, Wii U

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Review: Bayonetta

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bayonetta_360_boxPlatform: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Wii U
Released: 2010 (360/PS3), 2014 (Wii U)
Developer: Plantinum Games (360), Nex Entertainment (PS3 port), Bee Tribe (Wii U port)
Publisher: Sega (360/PS3), Nintendo (Wii U)
Digital Release? Yes, this game is available on all released platforms digitally
Price: $7.59 (disc only), $11.24 (complete), $14.99 (sealed) per Price Charting

Bayonetta is an anomaly.  It succeeds where many before it have failed.  Merging a Japanese style video game in every sense of the word, whimsical plot, a female sexually independent dominatrix lead, and incredible gameplay that attracts both Eastern and Western fans alike.  It is a true testament to the fact that if you bring a bunch of ideas together, no matter how outlandish, and they all remain consistent with an overall theme then more can definitely be better.  The first major release from Platinum Games knocks it out of the park, provided you don’t play the PS3 version.

Bayonetta_1Bayonetta opens in the fictional town of Vigrid where an endless battle is being fought between light and dark wages on.  Representing the light are the Lumen Sages and representing the dark are the Umbra Witches, and right off the bat this game turns the tables on you by revealing that your lead character, Bayonetta, is an Umbra Witch.  Not that the light is portrayed in a particularly positive way – all of these “angelic” creatures don halos as well as aggressive weapons, massive sizes, horrific appearances, and an affinity for causing death.  As Bayonetta you will trek across areas that vary from natural modern cities to metaphysical interpretations of heaven, purgatory, and hell, all with help from the game’s handful of unique characters that add some spark to Bayonetta’s lone wolf demeanor.  That’s not to say you’ll be swapping who you play as or that there’s a multiplayer component – because you won’t and there isn’t – nope, all of these cast members merely break up the monotony of the typical “hero on a quest” formula.  It’s all a good fit for an entertaining story, but that’s only the half of it because from both a plot and gameplay perspective Bayonetta herself has plenty of depth.

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Written by Fred Rojas

November 13, 2014 at 3:33 pm

Posted in PS3, Reviews, Wii U, Xbox 360

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Podcast: Gaming History X: This is Next Gen?

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This week we celebrate Jam (@Jamalais) coming on board as a permanent co-host, a slew of retro news, and onto the more modern topic of contemporary consoles.  Now that the gang’s all here, we dissect the current state, conditions, and factors of the previously called “next gen” and loosely discuss the upcoming future.


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Written by Fred Rojas

March 12, 2014 at 11:00 am

Review: NES Remix

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Despite all the piracy and archival purposes of emulation, my personal favorite addition to the gaming landscape was the ROM hack.  ROMs are the name for the entire program contained on a game cartridge and so naturally a “ROM hack” is taking a game we all know and love and changing it.  Nintendo hasn’t really dabbled in this until now – sure, the 1994 World Championship cart and a few SNES competition carts exist, but they are rare and thus hugely expensive.  NES Remix takes 16 established early games from the legendary 8-bit system (listed at the bottom of this review) and runs you through a series of challenges to compete with yourself, your friends on the couch, or the world online.  While it’s mostly just a derivative of WarioWare, this has to be one of the most addictive games for someone who grew up playing the NES.

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