#5 : Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey
Nowadays, you generally don’t see a sports title unless it’s under the EA helm. However, that wasn’t always the case. Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey is our first sports title on the console, and it’s brought to us not by EA, but Midway. So out of the first five games released on the console, we already have our first studio repeat.
For this game, don’t expect a simulation-style experience. Instead, you’ll be greeted with a full on arcade style hockey game featuring all the then-current teams in the NHL. (Moment of silence for the Hartford Whalers). The settings can be tweaked to adapt to a more simulation-like style, but at it’s core you are getting a straight up arcade hockey game. The only difference between the two styles is a five-on-five game with actual penalties on a larger rink, or three-on-three on a small rink and body checks that will send your opponents corkscrewing into the air. There’s also some cool power shots and power saves that have your goalie turning into a brick wall, setting a goal on fire, or sending a goalie flying.
Overall, it’s a fairly fun game. This will always hold a little bit of my biased opinion because it was one of the first games I ever owned for the console. However it still holds up for the most part. Controls are smooth, graphics are pretty well done, especially when you consider the time period. It’s a fun one to own, but it’s not one that you need to own either.
Grade : C+
Price : Loose ($7) CIB ($17) New ($52)
#6 : Killer Instinct Gold
The second fighting game to make it’s presence on the Nintendo 64…is yet another re-release. Killer Instinct made it’s way on to the Super Nintendo and fans ate it up, as well as the arcade version. It’s sequel Killer Instinct 2 was a hit in the arcades as well, so it was no surprise that it was also ported to home consoles. However, it wasn’t the most perfect transition.
It’s a 2D fighting game where the fights take place in a 3D arena, where characters will square off against each other to the death. You get to choose from a decent amount of characters and levels to fight in, yet the fights themselves aren’t the greatest. Long memory-based combos are the keys to your success, but if you lack either a quick mind or quick thumbs, it won’t be the best time. Still, even if you’re just button-mashing your way through (which believe me I did) it’s still a fun game.
The Gold version brings over most things from the arcade version. All fighters and arenas, including some interactive arenas come over from the cabinet. Some improvements and new modes come along as well, such as the game’s practice mode where you can hone the craft that is your combos, and some audio/visual improvements. What’s left out though are the arcade version’s FMV sequences, and voiceover work, but this is completely understandable due to the more limited space in the N64 cartridge.
Again, not a great game but not a horrible one. Fans reactions at the time held a preference for the cabinet version of KIller Instinct 2 over the home port Gold. It still served it’s purpose as being a counter point to Midway’s Mortal Kombat which allowed it to shine through and still gain plenty love. If you’re a fan of the fighting genre, this will be a lovely addition to any N64 collection.
Grade : B-
Price : Loose ($16) CIB ($46) New ($170)
This week’s features on the Chronicles will be NHL Breakaway 98 and Yoshi’s Story. Now, I know I’m going to love the hockey game because even if they’re bad, I love hockey games. Surprisingly though, I’ve never played or seen anyone playing Yoshi’s Story, despite the fact that I’ve owned my copy for at least five or six years. Since a lot of the old 2-D games adapted to the new 3-D capabilities, I’m really curious to see if they did this Yoshi, and exactly how they did it.