Road to Stampers Forever: Day 3
After feeling a tad dejected by the realisation that I’d underestimated the sheer scope of this task on my second Day, in true British spirit I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and pledged to continue.
And what better way to channel my renewed vigor than to delve head-first into a certain amphibian-centric brawler?
Check out the previous days here.
Banjo Kazooie: I had a very nice time in Gobi’s Valley, grabbing everything including the two honeycombs. The more I play this game the more the fact that Rare are the masters of putting googly eyes on inanimate objects is reinforced. Gobi’s Valley starts with a thirsty palm tree, and his little eyes just make me want to help him out. The rest of the map is good, and it’s the first one where I found myself close to death thanks to the quicksand and unforgiving insta-death maze.
I also went back to complete Freezeazy peak – beating the bear in a footrace after unlocking the trainers in Gobi’s Valley (interestingly, the only instance in the game where a level can’t be fully completed after entering it), and this was surprisingly hard! I was very satisfied when I beat it.
Battletoads: I took the plunge and fired up Battletoads. Rare Replay edition gives you two crucial tools here: The rewind function and auto-save, effectively meaning you will never have to complete the same section twice.
Even with these trvilialisation tools, it took me hours to get through each stage. And I’m now stuck at a stage where you have to race a rat to the bottom of the level, which makes the insta-rewind useless. He moves so quickly, and you have to beat him three times. I’m stuck on the third time and it feels impossible.
I cannot fathom how people beat this game back in the day. I’ve only ever played the SNES version, Battletoads in Battlemaniacs, which is a sort-of-HD-remake of the original – and I’d given up on the Turbo Tunnel level in that game, so I was completely unaware of the trials and tribulations that awaited me after said Turbo Tunnel. I’d thought that the Tunnel was just a weird difficulty spike, and that the rest of the game would be more forgiving. What I’ve found is that the Turbo Tunnel was but an hors d’oeurve to what was to come. Later levels make the Tunnel look like a stroll in the park.
The surfing level is essentially the same as the tunnel, but with the difficulty doubled. There’s a level in which you’re chased by a series of giant cogs, with one misstep resulting in instant death. This level also involves blind drops onto spikes – a feature designed in such a way which means there is simply no way in Hell that you’ be able to complete this level on your first try. Without the rewind, Id definitely still be stuck on this level. The same goes for the bizarre snake-riding level, which is as odd as it is difficult.
I’m impressed with how diverse and polished the game is, but to a much greater degree I’m baffled by the difficulty. The legends are true about this game. It’s staggeringly tough.
Grabbed by the Ghoulies: I decided to fire this one up having never played Rare’s first game after being bought by Microsoft. From what I read about this game at the time, it marked a significant drop in quality from the stellar run Rare had been on in the N64 days, so I was curious to see if this was true.
After 2 hours into the game I can certainly see why this criticism was levelled at it. It lacks much of the charm and polish of Rare’s older games, and the mechanics are rather simple – bash enemies using your fists or objects in the mansion until you unlock the next room.
The graphics are nice though, and the destructibility of the environments would definitely have been impressive in its day. It opts for the odd control scheme of twin-stick shooters: move with one, attack with the direction of the other. It works fine, but I think it would’ve been more satisfying to attack with a button.
The milestones on this one are quite demanding, so I’ll be very acquainted with this one before I’m done.
Battletoads: My escapades in the main game have helped me to beat all 5 of these, happy days! I think that’s probably a good mantra going forward for the other games: acquaint myself with the main game proper before snapshotting.
Digger T Rock: Told myself that I must beat that first falling rock. Managed it and got three stamps – it’s actually not as horrendous as I first thought, and much more playable than Gunfright or Knight’s Lore.
Solar Jetman: I went back and discovered that pressing X whilst boosting gives you an extra thrust of sorts, which made a couple of the stamps easy. I’m stuck on one which has you transport a diamond back to your ship without getting hit. It’s very hard.
Snake Rattle ‘n’ Roll: Another one I went back to after a horrendous first impression. I think I’m acclimatising to the old-school nature of the games of this era, as I found it ok. Got a couple of stamps, and am now stuck on the fourth, which is a mushroom-stomping one. I take back my scathing words.
Gunfright: I managed one more stamp which involved following pointing townsfolk and shooting some guy. In this game you die if you touch anyone or any thing, and it’s very frustrating running into a woman villager and dying. This feature plus the slow movement make it a pain to play.
Slalom: Managed one more stamp, the next one involves keeping your average speed over 100mph and I’m finding it difficult. Somehow I haven’t figured out if going through the gates gives you a speed boost or not.
Battletoads Arcade: I completed Battletoads Arcade’s snapshots! It’s much prettier than the NES version, but much, much easier. I’ll probably delve into the main game next.
Overall a successful third day with a lot of progress made. I’m encouraged by my acceptance of the older games that I initially found unplayable, maybe I’m changing…
Stampers Forever progress: 21%