Starcraft 64 Review
by, 07-28-2010 at 10:22 PM (2449 Views)
For a very long time, real-time strategy games had found the perfect playground on PC. The mouse made movements fluid and precise, while hotkeys were terribly simple on a keyboard -- That’s not saying that RTSs didn’t have their place on home consoles, but it was definitely clear that the PC had many advantages. Several PC-based games made the jump from home computers to consoles by the end of the 90s. The hardware had gotten better, the laser disc was the universal format for pretty much all consoles; it was also a time where the analog stick controller came to be.
Starcraft 64 is the black sheep of console RTSs and was the only real-time strategy game exclusive to the Nintendo 64. It was on a cartridge, needed the expansion memory pack to unlock the full game—and despite the wishes of Blizzard to port it to the Sony PlayStation, it was left out alone in the 64-bit dimension.
There are no logical explanations on how this game ended up on the Nintendo 64. Starcraft had its fair share of approval in between the original release and the console port, but to justify an N64 exclusive like this is a little bit ridiculous. It is kind of an achievement that they were able to put the entirety of Starcraft and Broodwar on a single cartridge, but at what cost really?
Starcraft 64 is cut off, ripped apart from pretty much everything that made the game so great in the first place. All the voices have been removed from the game in mission briefings and in-game cinematic. The bare minimum is available in unit emotes and building sounds. The music is the same but it isn’t enough to complete the experience. Starcraft biggest quality was the sound design, it had its own distinct flavor to it, and it made the game much more memorable than other RTSs. Each units had different emotes and attack sounds – buildings worked the same way; it brought a genuine uniqueness to all the characters and units.
Not only is the sound extremely limited, but the graphics suffer from the same thing as well. The N64 was capable of producing fairly reasonable 3D graphics, but there’s definitely something wrong going on with Starcraft 64. The game looks more or less like the PC version, however, as soon as there’s motion involved, the game flips out completely. It creates a mess of pixilated moving objects, the screen gets blurry, and most of the unit’s animations don’t even use the same color sprites. It is shamefully downgraded for the most obvious reason; the Nintendo 64 was not a PC. It is almost unbearable to play the 2-player mode considering the small size of each player’s respective window; simply put, you can barely see a thing.
Added to that, the game is painfully slow. Even if you can increase the game’s speed, there’s little to no difference in the actual flow in the end. The more units are on the screen, the more the game will slow down. Combined with the pixilated mess in the graphics department, Starcraft 64 is almost unplayable in certain missions.
The best analogy possible for this is if you were playing the PC version on a Commodore 64. It sucks, and you cannot improve anything from it. The only redeemable factor are the controls, it is nowhere near perfection, but at least in terms of movement, it gets the job done. Don’t be fooled however, hotkeys are absent; group management is convoluted and useless. For example: you cannot borrow units with the Zergs if you already have additional selected units borrowed. It means that if you have a pack of Hydralisks underground and wants to borrow the ones that aren’t, it’s impossible. This is one of the few unit management problems that the game has; also, the pointer is hard to control if you have a broken or used controller, and we all know that Nintendo 64 controllers get pretty messed up with time.
Starcraft 64’s only justification nowadays is the nostalgic value it has for collectors. It is a rare game to find but there’s nothing much to it otherwise. Overall, the game is a cut-off, incomplete, graphically impaired, and multiplayer-lacking piece of shit. You are better off buying the game for PC. Avoid Starcraft 64 at all cost, it is not good! You can even download the “exclusive” N64 mission for the PC version. Buy it cheap, otherwise stay the hell away from Starcraft 64.