Road to Stampers Forever: Day 6
With a plethora of options available to me after completing Banjo Kazooie, I felt a little lost coming into Day 6. I decided to not commit to one all-out game just yet, and just see where the wind took me.
Check out the previous days here.
Slalom: I fancied some breezy skiing, and as I only had two snaps left to do for Slalom, I dove in. I was stuck on one where you had to keep your average speed over 100mph, which was really tough but satisfying to conquer. The remaining snap was easy enough, and before I knew it I had completed all the snaps! I’ve still got a way to go in the milestones on this one, and it does get a bit repetitive, but it’s definitely playable and not too difficult.
Battletoads: Buoyed by my completion of Slalom I psyched myself up for some Battletoads snapshots completion. I had two more to do, the ice level and the rat race. The ice level is considered the hardest of the Battletoads snaps, and it took a lot of repetition and frustration before I managed it. A combination of the one-hit-death pink spikes on the walls, the slippery surface and the annoying shells-between-gates made this a heavily unpleasant experience, and completing it gave me relief more than joy.
Thankfully the final snapshot, the rat race, has you only having to beat the rat once (it’s three times on the corresponding level in the actual game) and I managed it in one try. Battletoads is a truly bizarre and varied game, but really well polished and I’m proud to have beaten the snapshots.
Jet force Gemini: This was a real leap into the realms of the unknown for me, and was one of the few N64 Rare games I didn’t sample in my childhood. I’d heard and read good things though, and as it’s one of Rare’s later N64 games my expectations were fairly high.
First impressions? Not amazing. The controls are odd, even with the ‘modern controls’ option added, and the graphics and design of the characters seem really lacking even compared to Rare’s earlier N64 entries. Maybe the whole flavour of the game will grow on me, but it didn’t give a great first impression.
After a while I got the hang of the shooting mechanics, and played through the first grass-themed stage. Even though it’s the first level and very much acts as a tutorial, it’s still pretty tough. I died a fair few times, which leaves me pretty uneasy about how the rest of this (apparently very lengthy) game will pan out.
Still, it’s by no means a bad game, it’s a bit Gears of War-like but without the cover system, and the enemy designs seem pretty cool and varied. I’m reserving judgment on this one until I’m further in.
Grabbed by the Ghoulies: I’m viewing Ghoulies as very much a chore now. The initial novelty has truly worn off, and it’s now become little more than a repetitive slog for me. I did at long last pop my first of the milestones – I’ve sampled every soup! The soups (essentially temporary power-ups) are actually pretty creative, my favourite being the one that summons a miniature version of yourself (I forget the lead characters name, shock horror) to assist you in beating down the enemies.
It’s a slog but I think I’m nearing the end of the main game. The thought of re-treading my steps to get the milestones is a prospect I am most certainly not relishing.
Atic Atac: After growing tired of Ghoulies I thought a trip back through time to a game I hadn’t sampled yet would cleanse my palate. What a mistake. What on Earth is this? The snapshots in this game, which I’ve thankfully completed, were fine because they were very focused and had clear objectives. The main game just throws you in with no guidance. If I hadn’t read about Atic Atac, I wouldn’t know that you had to escape the mansion, which is extremely hard to navigate with no map.
I just flew around the building, picking up random items, killing enemies and eventually running out of health (which is represented as a giant roast chicken, that slowly shed its meat as you lose health, which is nice). Working this thing out will be really tough, and I may have to resort to a map. Baffling.
Underwurlde: Surely things can’t get more abstract and bizarre than Atic Atac? Enter Underwurlde. This game is maddening – it bombards you with enemies with no way to kill them, again there’s no clear objective, and worst of all is the jump mechanic. The jump in this game requires you to line it up perfectly (despite often having to jump to the next screen, which you can’t see yet) and hope for the best. There’s no way to control your momentum or angle of the jump before or during the jump itself, which feels horrible to play and causes a huge amount of aggravation. I shut this guy down after ten minutes. How I’ll get the milestones on this one without losing a lot of my sanity I just don’t know.
Jetpac: After the frustration of Atic and Underwurlde I went back to my comfort zone and played through all the original Jetpac levels again. One more playthrough should help me nail all of the milestones. It’s surprising how Rare could get this one so right in terms of control and simplicity of design, but get many of their subsequent 8-bit efforts so very, very wrong.
Overall, a mixed day and not as fun due to the sharply-felt lack of Banjo, but snapshot wise it was at least good to clear off another two games.
Check out the previous days here.