Once a ruler of the gaming industry, Nintendo has lost a lot of its golden
reputation over the last years. This was mainly due to their latest failure,
namely the Nintendo 64. While all other competitors of the time, Saturn and
PSX, had opted for CD support, Nintendo went on stubbornly with cartridges. It
increased the games prices and surely drained away many developers. God knows
how Nintendo still managed to be the industry king with their devilish Pokemon.
Actually each - spooky ! - game based upon the evil creatures sold + 10 million
copies in the world !
This time, they are willing to claim for the throne SONY has been jealously
keeping since their PSX and -now PS2- have brought them an almost monopolistic
status. Even before Nintendo's GAMECUBE was out in Japan and US, gamers felt
history would repeat as announce was spread that, unlike PS2 or Xbox, their
console would read neither CDs nor DVDs !! Actually they opted for minidvds.
Time will tell if that was another stupid idea or not...
Before Getting My Hands On The Beast
I had already enjoyed many videos and snapshots of NGC games (for Nintendo
GameCube) and since there was that awesome Star Wars game, I decided to make it
a birthday present to my best friend (hey, don't you think I AM the best friend
ever ? :). Tho he was born in early June, I could NOT take the chance to miss
the first wave of NGCs made available on May 3rd (official release in Europe).
Nintendo played it very smartly as some weeks before release, they had
published a free guide that presented over 100 NGC games including the gorgeous
Resident Evil Rebirth (yummy !). Another good surprise came from the last
minute drop in the console price, making it the cheapest of all, only costing
199 euros (instead of announced 249). Even now with the Xbox impressive price
cut, NGC is still 100 euros cheaper than its rivals ! Also games are much
cheaper than PS2 or XBOX, average NGC prices being 59.99 euros.
Okay so here I am, waiting for the supermarket nearby to open :) There isn't
a single customer in the video games alley !? Anyway let's go to the counter
and ask for GAMECUBE : "sure Sir we have some, do you want to buy one ?". Sure
I do ! Knowing that most NGC had been booked weeks before, I still wonder if I
didn't "steal" someone console... Shit happens poor guy :) I also grabbed a
copy of Star Wars Rogue Squadron 2 : Rogue Leager and happily went back to bed.
Here's the purple box ! (also available in black). First thing is that the
machine is sooooooooo small. Exact sizes are 161mm*150mm*110mm and only weighs
2.4 Kgs while heavy weight Xbox reaches 4 kgs ! There are four pads slots,
making it a multiplayer platform unlike PS2. Main processor is an IBM Power PC
running at 405 Mhz against 295Mhz for PS2 and 733Mhz for Xbox. Ram is of 43Mb
divided into several units. Last but not least it offers 64 channels sound. The
pad is small and perfectly fits hands unlike the huge and awkward Xbox one. Of
course this controller features two analog 'muhsrooms' and includes vibrations.
Erm yep you guessed right : I couldn't wait a full month with a GameCube
lying in my closet :( Hey I just wanted to make sure it ran perfectly :) So I
opened the box and found the usual content : the NGC, one controller, video and
power cables and some documentation I didn't open for logical purpose. I was a
bit disappointed - tho not surprised - to see that there was no demo included.
The machine really looks nice, small and so light ! Get connected, and power
on ! You are greeted with an introduction screen with the now usual NGC logo
rotating on screen. The main menu offers the usual stuff like settings, saved
games, run game and so on... Nothing new but it looks nice anyway with cubic
shapes all around with sharp edges and smooth colors.
Start The Game Sucker !
Yeah I had to check the game as well :) Oki let's grab that tiny DVD and run
it. Shortly after a happy tune started while imperial guards went tap dancing !
No, I wasn't drunk ! Soon after a huge and beautiful X-wing flies by and... hey
the makers of Star Wars Rogue Squadron 2 are no more than FACTOR 5, makers of
the TURRICAN series !!! Coolness !
Loading is almost reduced to zero and we reach the main menu with the usual
sections such as new game, load, options, bonus, blabla. In the background an
FMV excerpt from the first Star Wars trilogy is running, waouh ! Btw in case
you didn't know, this game is actually based on the first - and only really
worth - trilogy !
Let's start shooting at Tie Fighters ! I completely skipped the training
level and went directly to the first mission : Death Star Attack ! At first I
was a bit disappointed by video quality, in spite of the million polygons
shown, as antialiasing created some glitches :( Like PS2 and Xbox you are
strongly invited to buy a decent RGB cable and get rid of that crappy scart.
Anyway it looks really nice !!!
There are tons of polygons moving all around as you make your way thru the
many lasers trying to get you down. You can switch from internal to external
view with a simple button. Other buttons allow you to move around, speed up or
slow down, use primary or secondary weapon, use some radar, spin around or
simply look around you. Last but not least, the arrow pad is used to send
orders to your fellow fighters and don't underestimate this feature or the game
will turn to hell ! Time for some snap :
uh? CiH's Ascii is getting pretty impressive !
Controls are pretty easy and you quickly get into action : fly around and
destroy defense towers. Once done, you'll have to face several waves of tie
fighters and that's when your radar proves useful (don't overuse it tho as
it'll give you fewer points at the end of the mission).
Every little detail is highly polished and everything's smooth. Add a good
amplifier and enjoy the 5.1 sound system that sends sounds in FIVE different
directions. It's almost like being at the movies !
The game plays mostly like arcade, still you will have plenty to do ! If the
first mission comes quite easily, the following are trickier especially when
they're set in outer space. Then you'll fully understand the word '3D' as ships
will be flying around in all directions.
Technically speaking, the game shows how powerful NGC is ! All objects are
made of an amazing number of polygons and except for a few antialiasing hints,
it really looks movie-like. Next missions will bring you back on Oth where
you'll defeat the 4 legs walkers of the Empire (AT-ST or something ??). The
whole game perfectly retraces the first trilogy.
I don't know about how long it may take to complete the game. It's said to
be composed of 10 missions only and really we completed about 6 in a couple of
days. But hey if you want to earn gold medals you'll have to play like a jedi !
Actually we never got such medal :( Too bad because you'll need them to unlock
secret stages, ships (Falcon Millenium if anyone interested ? :) and bonus such
as credits and game commentaries.
NGC rocks ! It's small and handy (cute too :). Sure there are not so many
games so far but if you're a Star Wars fan, there's only ONE game you need and
guess what ? Yeah it's Star Wars Rogue Squadron 2 : Rogue Leader ! I was really
impressed by the quality of 3D, sound, and details. Even though it may be short
to finish (well we went thru the first missions quite easily but had no medals)
it's a unique experience. At last we have a game worth of the trilogy ! Isn't
that a reason good enough to buy NGC ? I think so (even tho I'm still happy
with my good old DC :).
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