Review by UltimaterializerX
Reviewed: 11/29/03 | Updated: 06/11/10
Some ports were not meant to exist.
A great game was made for the Personal Computer (PC) a while back, entitled Starcraft. It was a real time strategy game in which the player could undertake the missions of three separate races -- Protoss, Terran, or Zerg -- in mission-based format. Once the player was finished the single player missions, they could boot up an internet connection and play against people online. The game took the public by storm, as it should have. Everything about it was amazing, from the concept to the story to the battles themselves. The game makers realized this, and created an expansion pack. This allowed everyone that fell in love with Starcraft in the first place to do everything all over again, complete with entirely new missions, a few new units, and of course, the ability to go online and beat the hell out of your friends.
With the initial success of Starcraft, it seemed like a good idea to remake the game for the Nintendo 64. After all, if it was a PC smash hit, why wouldn't it work for the N64? It seemed like a match made in heaven, so BLIZZARD decided to slap the game on the N64 to see what would happen.
Unfortunately, there are reasons why some games are made for the PC in the first place. The controls can be advanced to the point where you literally have to use a keyboard to manipulate them effectively. Even with the N64 controller, there simply isn't enough to control the game as well as you could on the PC.
As stated before, the game revolves around a war spanning three different races. Each race tries to achieve domination through their own various methods and backstabbings, and the way that story is played out is rather amazing. The system is not without its flaws, however. Gone are the days where the characters all have voices in the mission briefings. Whenever a character speaks outside of the battlefield, it is presented by words on a screen, rather than having the characters speak, like on the PC. The story is still there, but it's a step down from the way it was done on the PC in the first place.
This is the area where the game takes its biggest hit. The controls are simple enough to grasp, but they simply aren't good enough for Starcraft. Gone are the days of multiple hotkeys, advanced controls, and an infinite number of methods to go about performing the tasks in the single player missions. To make up for this, the game allows the player to control 18 units at once instead of the traditional 12. It's a nice feature, but it's not enough. The lack of being able to control a wide variety of units in an advanced manner will oftentimes force the player to simply build a mass of the best units and send them all at the enemy. While the human being in the missions will have more than enough problems, especially in the harder missions, the AI is actually harder to deal with in this game than in the PC. When you pair together the difficult controls with harder AI, the game becomes quite a challenge in harder missions. This causes the player to invest far more time in defense than he should, and some missions can literally take hours on end to finish. If you like a challenge, then I guess the game is ok. Then again, ''challenge'' means frustrating controls, annoying AI, and having to do far more than one should have to do to complete some of the missions.
The graphics are decent enough, but the general speed of the game suffers from slow frame rates when too many units are fighting at the same time. Furthermore, there are no more cinemas. Everything is done with frames, accompanied by captions. Very disappointing, personally.
The music is exactly the same between versions of the game. This is good, because had they messed up the Protoss theme, names would have been taken. There is another disappointment, however, in the fact that the ''Radio Free Zerg'' track does not exist in the N64 version of Starcraft. A small price to pay for something actually remaining the same, I guess.
The only way that I would recommend this game to anyone is if they had no access to the PC version of the game. The N64 version has the occasional advantage, but nothing that the PC version can't do a whole hell of a lot better. If you don't have a PC, then go right ahead and buy the N64 version of the game. It's the best that you can get in terms of real time strategy on the N64. I just find it to be too slow, and too hard to commit to advanced tactics.
My final disappointment in the game is the multiplayer feature that the makers were so proud of. It makes no sense to be able to see what the other person is doing, simply by looking at their half of the screen.
In short, unless you have absolutely no way to buy the PC version of Starcraft, you want nothing to do with this game. If you have never played the game, however, then it's a good buy. The problem is that anyone who has played both versions of the game will favor the PC version a whole lot better. I do tip my hat off to the makers of the game for a good effort, but I hope that BLIZZARD leaves their PC games on the PC from now on, to prevent future disappointments.
Product Release: StarCraft 64 (US, 06/12/00)
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