I never owned an N64 when I was a kid. I had a SNES but I got a Playstation because the Playstation had better games. I always thought the N64 was kind of an overhyped relic. I mean, it was a cartridge system in the burgeoning days of the CD-ROM. And the big joke was that the games were few and far between, and if it wasn’t from Nintendo, it probably wasn’t worth playing. But I got an N64 a couple years ago, and now I’m trying to fill out my collection of games, so I hit eBay recently to do so. I (generally) know what the “best” games for the system are, but I’m unexplainably attracted to first-person shooters, even if they’re bad. So I got Goldeneye, Turok 2, Quake 2, Doom 64, and Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer. I’ve probably put about 20 minutes into each of these, so bear that in mind.
Goldeneye is the game that everyone else said was the best game ever way back when. I never got to spend much time with it, except when friends would want to play it multiplayer, and then I’d get destroyed because I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing. Well, now I have it in my hands and I don’t get it. The controls are mostly competent, but it seems like the AI has laser aim, and the game is too low res for me to tell what’s shooting me from a million miles away. I’m going to give it more effort but it’s currently not drawing me in.
Turok 2 has guns and lizard people. It also has like a 10 minute unskippable cutscene at the start of the game. I was not impressed by Turok 2. I can’t remember if Turok 2 is supposed to be the good one or if Turok 1 is the good one. But I do know Turok 2 came after Goldeneye, and they both suffer from a lack of decor. It’s also got some controls that felt weird, but I’ll discuss that later.
Quake 2 might be a bad port. The first two levels don’t even resemble the first parts of the PC game! Don’t get me wrong, it looks pretty good compared to the other games, but it’s weird to play Quake 2 and not see the familiar sights. It also suffers from N64 FPS controls.
Doom 64 is almost enjoyable! I knew going into it that the levels were all new from the PC versions, and the enemies are redrawn and they’re not an improvement (the cacodemon is awful!) but it’s Doom! But it’s fucked by the controls! What the fuck, Doom 64?! Why are the strafe buttons on the shoulders? And the movement feels best using the D-pad, but the shoot button is Z, which means either using the analog stick for movement, or stretching a finger to reach arguably the most important button in the game! And if the shoot button is the most important, then the strafe buttons are number 2 and 3, and there’s no sensible way to keep fingers on all three!
Surprisingly, Episode 1 Racer is the best of all of them. It’s almost like Wipeout, and I fucking love Wipeout. The controls feel good and make sense, and the sense of speed feels right. Sure, it’s set in Episode 1, which was awful, but it’s a racing game. The details are kind of secondary to how the game feels, and Episode 1 Racer feels great.
But let’s talk about N64 FPS controls. Look is bound to the analog stick, which feels right. So why is look inverted on all of these games?! Unless I’m playing a flight sim, I want to look up when I push the stick up. Even worse the being inverted, there are never any options to fix it! Horrible.
So obviously, N64 isn’t ideal for first-person shooters. But I’m going to keep playing them. And constantly looking at my feet when I want to look up at the thing shooting me.