6 Reviews liked by MacBlank

(6-year-old's review, typed by her dad)
I met a goat guy 3 times. He had a long beard and I just felt weird.
[Dad's note: She had her tonsils out the same day TotK came out, so she was in a semi-delirious state when she insisted on reviewing the game. I was very impressed that she still managed to get through a couple shrines on her own!]

This is a sharp game. It transfers the mechanics and satisfying full-screen dynamics of the original but lends them an atmospheric early 90's anime aesthetic and really ramps up the mayhem. Leaping shrapnel, bouncing shell casings, barrels that roll and even board elevators before exploding. It fills the screen with movement, and it feels joyous because the animation is great and the levels don't drag on.
And the movement, like the original, is of a kind of reptilian, start-and-stop rhythm. It breeds an impatience in the player, especially when you miss a cycle on an elevator, and enemies continue to pour out of doorways, and alarms sound to get you into the next red door. You leap over shafts---take risks you shouldn't. It's an action game in conversation with both deliberate and hectic pacing, and it does this very naturally.
It isn't perfect though. For a game that exhibits a confident control of screen space, its few boss encounters are shockingly simplistic (here's a bunch of enemies spawning on a flat surface). As good as the game is, and it is very good, there's a nagging sense that its encounters could be pushed further, maybe through more rigorous or challenging enemy designs. Nonetheless, its a game of distinct pleasures, and maybe that abrupt ending is trying to tell me something: just enjoy it while it lasts.

If beatemups were punk rock bands, this is The Ramones. Not first, but first big, and some parts are pretty cool at least.

(6-year-old's review, typed by her dad)
You're a cute little robot! You got to pick up your plug and plug IN. And it's so cute and adorable nyeh nyeh nyeh nyehhhhhh. And a cute girl who dresses like a frog and she just says "ribbit" like how I like to be a CAT, and I just say "meow meow meow meow". That's all.

Even with the hidden extra difficulty levels, the whole thing feels like a easy-type version of Tetris Plus, taking into consideration that this one was arcade exclusive, and the player couldn't bang their head against any given puzzle until they broke through. A lot of levels can be cheesed with the two bombs you get per quarter, making the whole thing feel kind of pay-to-win (more so than most arcade games, that is). The scoring system doesn't really incentivize taking the more difficult paths anyway, but at least the branching paths offer some good replay value if you somehow have infinite credits (which really seems like the only way to play this one). The addition of the Assistant as a playable character is a positive, her increased speed mitigates the otherwise slow nature of moving a character you can't control, but can also be a liability, now that there are obstacles you have to neutralize by placing a block over them.
Worth a try, but it really highlights how ill-suited to this rotation system the entire concept of Tetris Plus' puzzle mode is. They need to bring the mode back under the modern Tetris rules.

The launch title is an important aspect of a console's release, and sometimes it can even be an indicator of the success or failure of the console as a whole. It was especially important for the Nintendo 64; previously the household name in video games, Nintendo was in desperate need of a generation-defining title to help claw back some of the momentum they lost to the Playstation's release 2 years earlier. Of course, Super Mario 64 ended up being that game, but those who weren't enthralled by the red plumber's first 3D outing only had one other option; Pilotwings 64, a sequel to the original on the SNES. As a flight simulation game, it was clearly an attempt to further emphasize the power of the N64, as well as show off its detailed 3D environments. And it did so successfully; while a lack of alternative games surely helped, P64 nevertheless went on to sell over a million copies.
There's something very charming about Pilotwings 64, irrespective of how well its mechanics are implemented or how good it looks. It's definitively a retro title with a simple premise, which gives it an almost arcade-like appeal. Its main game mode is completing challenges while flying, and the landscapes are large and decently-detailed enough to still be quite impressive in the modern day, given the game's context. Flying is separated into 3 vehicle types; the hand glider, the jetpack, and the helicopter. The jetpack is fast and responsive, and easily the best to control, and the missions are mostly fun to play through. The helicopter feels mostly fine, although it turns wider than players would often like, but launches impressively accurate missiles, even at long range. But the vehicle you'll be spending most of your time on is the hang glider, which is a shame, since it's easily the worst of the bunch. Its controls are too inconsistent to be often enjoyable, and the levels are significantly slower paced than the others. They're also the only levels to include the photo aspect, which is wildly inconsistent with how it awards points, and is just not very fun to play through. The other vehicles have their own faulty missions, too; hitting the ball to the goal with the jetpack and shooting the robot with the helicopter are both pretty unfun.
The amount of gameplay modes in Pilotwings 64 is to be commended, though, and aside from those initial three, players can unlock 3 more; a human cannonball mode, a skydiving mode, and a jumble hopper mode. Aside from the skydiving, these modes add a bit of fun variation to the gameplay, and the cannonball mode especially makes for a nice multiplayer option. There's also the "birdman" mode, which allows you to fly around a few of the levels in the game without an objective. This was a nice addition, and introduces a relaxing diversion from the sometimes stressful main game. Speaking of stress, another potentially commendable aspect to P64 is the amount of replayability it has in terms of its medal system, although this is a lot more of a toss up. While it's true playing for max points on each level will significantly increase the longevity of the game, it's arguable that it's even worth doing. The scoring system often feels completely arbitrary, which makes replaying levels to get a perfect score more of a test of patience than an achievement, especially levels with the faulty mechanics mentioned above.
Pilotwings 64 has gone the way of many 3D games of its time-impressive initially but quickly becoming obsolete-but it's important not to understate how interesting it is as a time capsule. It's from an era where games, especially 3D ones, were still developing their own personalities, which lead to a lot more variety than is seen in the modern gaming market. P64 is definitively from that era, and it's fun enough to enjoy with that in mind. Devoid of that context, though, Pilotwings 64's many faults are often too much to overlook while playing it in the modern day. There is enjoyment to be had here, but its enjoyment comes primarily from the fact that it's an old game; aside from that, there's more frustrating than fun about the Nintendo 64's other, often overlooked launch title.

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