Championship Motocross Featuring Ricky Carmichael Review

This title does to its sport what Gran Turismo did to racing cars. In other words, it treats motocross in such a way that a better representation of the sport is difficult to imagine. It’s the type of game that you can play for just a few minutes at a time or for hours. But if you choose the latter, you might need to crank up the A/C! So intense is the action that you might actually have to wipe some sweat off of your brow after a while.

But it’s not just one thing that contributes to Championship Motocross’s intensity. Rather, several factors combine and gel into one of the greatest racing experiences yet to grace the PlayStation.

First, with a few minor exceptions, the game’s physics are incredibly realistic. Paying attention to your angle and speed as you approach a turn is absolutely essential in order to avoid wiping out (though, on the bright side, your stray bike does present a new obstacle to any racers who might trail you). You also must properly judge how to take your jumps. Though they might look impressive on the record board, sometimes a long jump could be your least ideal move. Further, rainy weather conditions can make things really messy as your bike is likely to make wider turns due to a lack of traction.

In the few instances that the physics fail in their realism, the end result almost always benefits you. For instance, at times you’ll find yourself jumping much farther than you intended or in an undesirable direction. While you might wipe out on occasion, the track most often seems to magically keep you in bounds and, despite a slight change in momentum, running along the right track. Also, any unfortunate racers who may have lost control and fallen off of their bikes contain no mass and cannot be run over.

Championship Motocross also features some fantastic graphics to illustrate a variety of track types. Whether you’re racing in an Australian desert on a forested track in Troy, Ohio, or in a Chicago indoor arena, it’s hard not to be impressed by the ecclectic visuals. A worthy example is the track in Arizona, where you must race on sandy terrain that kicks back up at the camera after a long jump as you pass under the natural arches of the desert. On most tracks, random time of day and weather can yield anything from rainy afternoon to a beautiful sunset.

The game also presents the perfect challenge — difficult, yet not impossible. As you acquire more powerful bikes after winning each season, they naturally become harder to control. In other words, it’s easy to go from the champ of one season to the chump of the next. Adding to the increased difficulty as you move along is the tenacity of your competitors. During the first two of the four seasons (125cc and 250cc), opponents aren’t too much trouble. Around the start of the 500cc season, however, you’ll notice that they become smarter, getting in your way whenever they can and even ramming you from behind at times. The points necessary to qualify for the next race require incredible skill by the time of the fourth season. Don’t be surprised if you’re still in first place as far in as the tenth or eleventh race, yet still fail to advance to the next season.

Topping off the list of impressive factors is the sound. While there’s something to be said for the purr of the bikes, Championship Motocross’s soundtrack is surprisingly appealing. The hard-rockin’ tunes supplement the high speed of the game absolutely perfectly. Most notable are Godsmack’s “Moon Baby,” the two songs by Guttermouth, and 2 Skinnee J’s “Riot Nrrrd,” an ’80s nostalgia song featuring lines like, “I used to roam the halls like Anthony Michael.” Even “Too Cold,”, Vanilla Ice’s contribution, seems fitting.

Complaints about Championship Motocross are minimal. If the game is missing anything, it’s a stunt show so that you can perform the many stunts available to you for an actual reason. While the you do have the ability to show off your impressive moves during a race, you’ll often land improperly, thus severely hampering any chance you have at winning. Also, your throttle has no choice but to be set on all or nothing at all; a way to apply some gas at difficult turns without crashing would have been nice.

Finally, the game’s ending isn’t all it’s hyped up to be. While you do get what you’re promised — a preview of the new motocross video “Wrath Child” — it turns out to be nothing more than a one-minute commercial. The word “video” suggests something you’d expect to see on MTV, when in fact it’s merely hyping a videocassette. Players who put in the hours to unlock the video may feel a little like Ralphie in A Christmas Story, being told to be sure to drink their Ovaltine. Kind of a bummer.

Yet despite these setbacks, Championship Motocross can do something many would deem improbable: it can turn gamers into true fans of the sport of motocross. Those who may once have flipped through televised motocross events may find themselves actually seeking out those late-night showings on ESPN2 after playing through this game. It turned this reviewer into a fan, and with its breakneck pace, feverish intensity, and all-out fun, it might just do the same for you.

Graphics

An ecclectic collection of different motocross, supercross and enduro environments.

Sound

If the purr of the bikes doesn’t get you going, the adrenaline-pumping tunes most certainly will!

Enjoyment

This is the type of game you just can’t wait to play after you get home from work.

Replay Value

It takes a long time to master each track, but once you do you will most often win every race. But that’s what a second player is for!

Documentation

The instructions tell you all you need to know … even if the last half of the booklet is nothing more than a catalog for motocross apparel.

Barbie as Rapunzel Synopsis

Barbie role-plays as the longhaired fairy tale beauty Rapunzel in a multi-part adventure fraught with magic spells, enchantments, treasure hunts, and a rescue. She must find the missing gems to restore Prince Stefan’s royal crown and break the spell cast by the evil witch Gothel who turned him to stone. In the process, Rapunzel must beautify the castle before the upcoming Masquerade Ball by reversing the gloomy effects caused by the witch.

Six areas in the castle (grand foyer, royal ballroom, grand dining room, royal garden, hallway, and bedroom) need to be restored and require the heroine to find a special item for each. Using Magic Paint Box tools such as a magic wand, twinkle sprinkles, living stickers, and a magic paintbrush, players restore areas, obtain the Enchanted Crystal Lens, and search for the hidden crown jewels.

Featured activities include a magical mosaic puzzle, designing, coloring and decorating three royal thrones, weaving rug patterns, creating, coloring, and planting six new flowers, painting the hallway mural, designing and decorating a mask for the ball, and rescuing the prince from the Garden Maze. As a finale, players prepare Rapunzel for the Masquerade Ball by choosing her gown and appropriate crown. Scenes from the game are saved in printable form in the Magical Memories Scrapbook.

Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness Review

Less than a year after Castlevania first hit the Nintendo 64 comes the prequel, which is known as Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness. The original plan for Castlevania was much more ambitious, with four playable characters and a larger cartridge size. That didn’t happen because of time constraints, so many have unaffectionately referred to this follow-up as a “director’s cut.” Upon closer inspection, however, Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness has more value than initially meets the eye. Don’t dismiss this game just yet.

Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness plays very similarly to its predecessor. Item and control information, therefore, can be gleaned from that review. The only differences are an extra attack (Cornell’s werewolf attack with the L button) and a few other items that are linked to events and secrets during your quest.

For starters, only one of the four characters is initially playable in Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness. Cornell, a.k.a. Blue Crescent Moon, is a man-beast. He looks like a mortal and lives in harmony with humans. But he has tremendous physical ability and is almost immortal. When he returned to his village from a year of ascetic training, it was engulfed in flames and his closest blood relative, his sister Ada, was missing. Through the magic of the Ancients, which gives him his magical sickle throw attack, he vows to rescue Ada by tracking her scent.

The three other playable characters are Reinhardt, Carrie and Henry. Reinhardt Schneider and Carrie Fernandez were fate’s warriors in the original game. In Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness, their quests are eight years before the first game, which will reveal even more truths for die-hard fans of the N64 incarnations. The fourth character, Henry, is a holy crusader sent on a quest to rescue six children in seven days while Reinhardt and Carrie battle Count Dracula. You need to complete the game with Cornell first to enable the other characters to be playable.

Cornell’s quest will take him through somewhat familiar and very unfamiliar territory. His adventure starts on a ship destined for the Forest of Silence. But once he finds his way off the ship, he will take a different trip through the forest, making the quest completely different at first. Then, just like before, he’ll have to scale the Castle Wall and enter the Villa. But traps and events have changed, leading Cornell on a different yet familiar looking path. Once inside the castle, there are completely new levels and a few of the same levels with completely different layouts. It’s like a completely new quest, which is even longer, but similarities (texture design, same items, returning characters) will give you a sense of déjà vu.

Story is once again a strength in Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness. Much more impressive introductions and endings only fall below The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Rare’s latest efforts (Jet Force Gemini, Donkey Kong 64) in terms of presentation. The movie-like introduction, complete with opening credits, uses cinematic techniques, choreographing, and timed sound to revel Cornell’s story. The story isn’t moved along as much during the actual quest as the original, but it’s more inspiring overall.

Both control and the camera system are improved, too. The control isn’t as loose, and the character seems more responsive and seems more accurate with his or her attacks.

Veteran fans of the system’s first Castlevania game will notice the much-improved camera. The camera is closer to and a little higher off the ground compared to Castlevania. It now swings around behind the character more quickly, too. Most importantly, however, “auto cam” is now used quite often to give you the best fixed view possible when navigating platforms and other events.

Graphics weren’t overly impressive in the original, but they’re noticeably better here — that is, if you have the Expansion Pak. Without the Expansion Pak, the graphics are still low-res and blurry. Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness, however, does move more quickly and smoothly thanks to a better frame rate. With the Expansion Pak, expect much clearer graphics and much less fogging. The disadvantage is that it doesn’t move as fast. Still, the clarity of the high-resolution mode is worth the slightly slower speed, which is equivalent to the original, anyway.

The sound in Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness ranks among the system’s best. Instrument sample rates seem higher, making the music sound even better. The music ranges from remixes of tunes in the first N64 game to completely new compositions to exact replicas. Sound effects are more numerous and realistic, lending even more to the audio. Voice plays a less prominent role in this prequel, however, which is the only slightly disappointing part.

Is Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness worth the full price of admission for owners of the original Castlevania? That depends on how much you enjoyed the game. Big fans of 1998’s game will appreciate the new back-story and the challenge of new level layouts. And the game is just so much more polished overall. Others will see Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness as a “director’s cut”-type game that should have been released as the original in the first place.

No matter how you feel about this, Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness, on its own, is a great game. The excellent story, good level design, and amount of action add up to engrossing gameplay. Any way you slice it, Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness is a winner.

Graphics

The graphic design is starting to show its age, but the visuals have been improved drastically with the Expansion Pak.

Sound

Better instrument samples and more realistic sound effects help this category keep with the times. Voice is used in a more limited way, though.

Enjoyment

The story is presented more impressively. Additionally, the so-called “familiar” levels aren’t quite so similar once you play through them. But Cornell’s quest isn’t quite as enjoyable compared to the first time going through as Reinhardt in the original.

Replay Value

Two brand-new quests with Cornell and Henry exist, and Reinhardt and Carrier are here to reveal the shroud of darkness surrounding the “truth.” The only question is, do you want to play through that much with a feeling of déjà vu?

Documentation

The design and layout of the manual are much, much better. One only wishes there was more information about our heroes and the monsters.