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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Favorite Tunes #5: N64 Music

One of the most common complaints of the N64 was that the unit's audio processor wasn't on the same level as that of the PlayStaion or Saturn. Nintendo's decision to stick with the cartridge format when everyone else was moving to CDs came back to bite the video game giant in more ways than one. Even so, in the right hands (or in this case, ears) composers proved that quality sound on Nintendo's last cartridge-based console was not impossible. Some of my favorite video game songs are from The Big N's 64 bit baby, and not just from first and second party titles.

Mount Mayhem - Beetle Adventure Racing (N64)

If you never played Beetle Adventure Racing!, man, do I feel sorry for you. BAR! stood out in a sea of crappy racing games on the N64 thanks to it's lengthy, shortcut filled tracks, detailed graphics and fantastic music that was unlike anything heard on the system. Rather than rock out to guitars, BAR! floored the ears with a wave of loud drums and funk. The game was also quite challenging. Unlocking everything was far from easy but if you persevered, you could unlock the Police Car, which let you turn on a siren that made all the AI cars pull over and stop while you pass them by. How cooly broken is that?

Green Garden - Bomberman 64 (N64)

Bomberman is a series known primarily for it's multiplayer mode. When Bomberman 64 released, it brought with it one of the best and toughest single player experiences in Bomberman's history. Despite the new 3D graphics, the game still played from an overhead perspective, though you could adjust the camera to get views from different angles, a first for the series. The music was right on par with the SNES Bomerman games. Ironically, Bomberman 64 ended up having one of the weaker multiplayer modes. Go figure.

Area 51 - BattleTanx (N64)

3DO. A name that is synonymous with crappy games staring the Army Men figures. Back in December of 1999, my friends and I rented two N64 games. One of them was Army Men: Sarge's Heroes. Sweet merciful heavens, that game was awful! For the most part, I'd managed to avoid disastrous N64 releases but not that time. Just thinking about that turd of a game makes me shudder. The other game we rented was BattleTanx, which turned out to be decent. We had some fun driving around in tanks killing each other. Then we played on Area 51 and that track was forever stuck in my brain. It's so militaristic and pumping.

Simian Acres - Blast Corps (N64)

Finally a second party N64 game on the list. Blast Crops is one of the best games on the N64 and one of the greatest games Rare ever made. It was a every man's childhood dream come true. What kid didn't want to play with giant robots, trucks and cause all kinds of destruction? The story of Blast Crops goes like this: a truck carrying nukes cannot stop moving. If it hits anything, the world goes bye-bye. Your job is to clear a path for the truck. Yes, the story is that simple, but I get to wreck stuff, so it's good enough for me! Blast Corps was also unfathomably hard. Getting platinum medals was enough to strip even the sanest gamer of their sanity.

Blue Flame - 1080 Snowboarding (N64)

I remember picking up a copy of 1080 Snowboarding and playing it sometime in the early 2000s. This game had quite the learning curve, similar to that of Excitebike 64. If I went back to play this game, I'm sure I'd probably struggle with it because I didn't play it the same way I did Wave Race 64. And yet, it's still one of those sports games that I'd be more likely to play than a mainstream sports title like Madden.

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