Sure, I already reviewed 1080 Snowboarding for the N64 (though it was one of those awful early reviews), but I recently bought a cheap RCA to HDMI upscaler and wanted to test out the quality of recordings made through it. Up to this point, I’ve had to rely on emulators for N64 games, but they’re never quite as accurate as you’d hope, and that’s why I’ve more or less stopped reviewing games for the system. Recording straight from the original hardware can be enlightening, as in, “wow, I can’t believe how much slowdown there is in this game.” As in, this game, 1080 Snowboarding. Getting a handle on it way back when it was new was difficult, and it’s no wonder since the slowdown has an ugly habit of messing with the timing.
I always play as Kensuke Kimachi. My brother would always play as Rob Haywood, and we would have awesome snowboarding races against each other like that. At least, that’s how I remember it; this game can barely handle single-player, so I can’t even imagine how bad the slowdown must have been in split-screen multiplayer.
It’s safe to say that I’m rusty
Part of my evident non-talent (I didn’t make it through all of the races despite playing on the easiest available difficulty) can be chalked up to the Nintendo 64 controller being insufferably awkward to go back to; switching between Xbox 360/One and PS1/PS2/PS3/PS4 controllers is fairly easy given their inherent similarities, but everything about the N64 controller is totally different, from where you rest your hands to button placement. Still, I remembered just enough about how to play to make it through the first two stages. Basically, holding the Z button speeds you up in exchange for reducing your turning ability (I’m pretty sure that hitting it right before you land increases the chance that you’ll land successfully instead of wiping out, but that might just be superstition). Combining that with the knowledge that you move slower in the air, you can catch up with the computer when they go for jumps.
Then the Golden Forest stage hit and it suddenly dawned on me why it’s always been my least favorite stage. The trees have weird hitboxes, the slowdown becomes a huge problem, and Dion Blaster is an absurdly fast opponent. The physics also have weird quirks, such as at ~7:05 where I hit a tree that launched me up without stopping me, only for my momentum to randomly stop once I landed. That’s not how physics work, game. Not long after that, I hit “restart” thinking that it’d restart the race without costing me a life (of which you only have three), but it turns out that it starts the sequence of races from the very beginning. The only difference is that the opponents are slightly mixed up, though I still ended up going against Dion Blaster in Golden Forest. I eventually managed to win, however, only to have the game’s weird landing detection screw me over several times in the next stage, leading me to lose my final two lives to various unfair wipeouts and a minor collision with Rob Haywood.
There’s no justice in this world.
Of course, I’m incapable of learning my lesson, so I went back for more. Between playing smarter and becoming slightly more comfortable with the piece of abstract art Nintendo passed off as a controller, I finally managed to finish the easy mode. Turns out that I had died on the final easy mode stage, which somehow makes me feel worse. Anyway, there are more stages, but they must only be available on the harder difficulties. It’s too bad, because the last two stages are among my favorites.
1080s are hard
There are also tricks that can be performed, though they don’t really have a use in the racing mode outside of showboating. It’s generally not a good idea to use them since being in the air slows you down, but there’s one point in the second-to-last stage where you can skip a sizable chunk of the race by jumping off of a mountain and landing below, and at points like that there’s no real reason to not showboat a bit. Anyway, holding the B button and a direction causes you to grab, while the R button and control stick movements causes you to do spins. More complex spins require more inputs, obviously, and as awkward as pulling off a 1080 to the left is, doing one that spins to the right is basically impossible. My fingers simply don’t work that way to be able to consistently spin in that direction while hitting other buttons.
Showing off stages, the dumb way
I wanted to show off the two stages I like that aren’t included in the easy mode, but decided to go through them on Trick Attack mode. That meant that I kept missing time extension things and running out of time before completing the stages because I felt the need to do tricks. And that huge skip in the Dragon Cave stage that I show off at ~5:38? Of course doing that skips a bunch of time extension things, causing you to run out of time. I didn’t approach this from an intelligent angle at all.
Some other systems and games I tested
The first game is Star Fox, obviously. I noticed some artifacts (the most prevalent one is an obvious green band when the screen goes totally dark), but part of me suspects that this is the result of the cheap power cord I purchased for my SNES after the original one went missing somewhere. I’ll probably be sticking to an emulator for SNES games to avoid having to use that until I can track down the original. Then there’s another N64 game—namely, that awesome Ken Griffey Jr. game that’s the best baseball game ever made. Finally, there’s Virtua Tennis for the Dreamcast. My Dreamcast has an annoying habit of suddenly resetting back to the menu, though, so I probably won’t be able to do much with it until I get that fixed.