Review by Gruel
"The PC hit comes to your N64!"
In 1998, Starcraft for the PC was released by Blizzard Entertainment, it was a real time simulation game that featured free, online play over Blizzard's Battle.net service. The game became an instant hit, and it sold millions of copies right away. In 1999, Starcraft: Brood War, an expansion set which featured new units and maps, was released and it too featured free online play, and it had great sales too. In 1999 at E3 Nintendo announced that they will be co-publishing with Blizzard for Starcraft 64 on the N64. It was an exclusive agreement where Starcraft can only be released on home console for a Nintendo system. Millions of fans around the world were shocked about this and couldn't wait to get there hands on the title, and they anxiously waited delay after delay from January 2000, to April, to finally June 12, so Starcraft fans from around the world, get ready for the first ever home console version of Starcraft, only for Nintendo 64.
What is Starcraft?
Well, hopefully you know what Starcraft is by now, but if you've never seen the PC versions of the game, then I'll give you an overview of the game right now. Like I said before, Starcraft is a real time strategy game, much like games of the Warcraft, Command & Conquer, and Age of Empire series, that's a type of game where 2 or more people battle on an overhead map, gather resources, and construct their own base, then they concentrate on building up defending their base, expand to other parts of the map for more resources, and build up a strong offensive so they can take out the other opponents base. You pick from one of 3 different races to battle of: The human Terran, The alien Zerg, and the mysterious Protoss. Each race has their advantages and disadvantages so the game is equaled out. This game is so strategic that I read articles on how the military uses this game for training!
Expansion needed for full play!
Yes, folks just like in Perfect Dark, Nintendo and Blizzard made about the half the game available if you're playing without the Expansion Pak. If you play without the expansion pak, you miss out on 2 of the most important parts of the game: The Brood War campaigns and units, and the 2-player mode. So trust me, this game is a must with the Expansion Pak, if you don't own one, you may as well forget buying this game at all, because it'll be just a 1 player game of the original Starcraft, which would still be pretty cool and all, but definitely not worth the purchase.
Brief overview of the races(Don't want to make it seem to long, because this is a review)
Terran: The human descendants are the ‘heroes' of the game, where they're trying to stop the Zerg take over the world. They're pretty good in ground attack especially in Brood War where they have Medics for healing, and are poor in their air units in original Starcraft because the Wraiths were pretty bad in support for Battlecruisers, about the slowest unit in the game, but in Brood War the Valkyries are way better air-to-air attackers. Their main weakness is their defense. The bunkers you make to stop ground attacks need up to 4 units in them for maximum power, and their Missile Turrets are only good if paired in 2 or 3.
Zerg: The Zerg are the aliens that are trying to take over the universe, and in order to make buildings, your main harvester, a drone, has to sacrifice himself for the building. Also all Zerg units and building slowly heal themselves throughout the game if damaged or injured. Their ground attacks are excellent with Hydralisks and Ultralisks, and especially evolved Lurkers in Brood War. But like Terran, their main weakness is in the air department. In original Starcraft their only air attacker is the Mutalisk, which has a slow firing rate, and it doesn't do a lot of damage either, when evolved into a Guardian it only attacks ground units, but in Brood War it can evolve into a Devourer, but they're only good if paired in large numbers because of their low firing rate. Their Overlords are the most unique unit in the game, which can be used for a total of supply limit for units, detecting cloaked units, and transporting units.
Protoss: The mysterious Protoss come from the home world of Aiur. All their units and buildings have a shield on them for added life which slowly comes back if damaged. All protoss units and building are ‘warped' in from their home world of Aiur, so you can make multiple buildings with just one Probe, the Protoss harvester. The Protoss have excellent ground and air attacks if supported right.
The Game modes of play
Single Player: Choose from one of 3 races and pick either to play one of the 6 campaigns(3 if you don't own the expansion pak) available or from 1 of the 10 custom scenarios to play from in the game. You can only save in the 1-player mode of the game. You got a great view of the game with 1-player and it is easily playable, because the whole screen is used for the action and at the sides they display info of the units, buildings, etc.
Two Player: Never in my whole life would I thought their would be a split screen mode of Starcraft. But the impossible is now the possible. The screen is divided in half for each player, with a little sidebar displaying info for units, buildings, etc. You can go together for allied play, or go against each other, true you can see where each other is and know what you're doing, but hey at least the option is there, and me and a friend went at it, and we still didn't care if that we knew what each other was building. And yes the action does get tiny on screen and it's hard to locate units, but I got adapted to this style of play after an hour or two. Also scenarios are included the multi player like Pro Bowl, which is an odd style game of football.
Encyclopedia: This is the option that should've been included in the PC versions if the game, but it wasn't. Basically this is just a guide through all the units and buildings of the game, giving out the info like HP, Building Dependencies, etc. All this info is also in the instruction book of the game, but we all know just about half of the gamers are really lazy at going through the instructions. This is a really great plus for the game.
Credits: Just a list of all the people behind at Blizzard, Nintendo, and Mass Media(The main developers) for making the game.
Alright, you gave me the skinny about the game now how does it compare to the PC version of the game?
Graphics: All the units and maps look a lot like they do as the PC version. Of course a little detail had to be cut off, because even though the N64 is 64-bit, it does not even come close to pulling off the amount of power as PC acceleration cards. Also another disadvantage is trying to fit as much info in the cartridge as you can, so the developers only had still portraits of the units, and not animated one's like in the PC version. Also the control bar for units, and commands was cutoff so game play could be easier on the N64. And yes, there are FMV's in the game, but they had to be cut down, because they eat up a lot of memory on cartridge games. The opening FMV, for example, is a cut-down 10-15 second version of 2 minute one in the PC version, but it has the same quality of the PC versions though. And I also found it odd to have the FMV after the main title screen, usually it's vice versa, but oh well, at least they're their. And like I said before everything gets real tiny in multi player, and there is some slowdown in 2-player mode as well, but it's not all that noticeable.
Sound: This is another thing that amazed, I thought they're gonna go easy on the voice samples for the N64, but they're all here, for every unit. They even say the funny stuff after you click on them in a few times in rapid succession. Also all the sound effects are here too, for the gunfire, and noises you get for when you click on al l the buildings. And all the background music samples are here too. So you get all the great tunes like you do in the PC version. A thing that was a cutback though, and easily forgivable, were the large mission briefings for campaign, and the voice dialogue that occurs during the campaign. Instead it's all just replaced with text boxes. It's easy to understand why they had to cut this out because it would've cost the game tons of money to include these, and I'm already astonished by what they have here already.
Controls: The control stick replaces the mouse here, and it takes a little while longer to move it around, but you'll get use to it, and it will seem 2nd nature to you in no time. Remember that little toolbar you had in the PC version where you had that little box to give commands for units like move, attack, etc. Well, that's all replaced with the C buttons. Right clicking to give shortcut commands to move and attacked are replaced by simply pressing the B button to the designated area, and other commands like using special attacks, move, cloak, etc. are for use with the C buttons. You can easily select groups of units by pressing the R shoulder button and now up to 18(instead of 12 max in the PC version) can be selected at once. Also if you select one unit, say a marine for example, and press R all the other marines on the same screen will be selected too, and just like in the PC version you can give hot keys to groups of units by holding down the Z trigger and assigning one of the C buttons to it, so a total of 4 groups can be assigned at once. Probably the best new thing added to the controls is that once a SCV, Probe, or Drone is made it automatically harvests minerals and gas. That's a pretty cool feature to me.
+: All the missions and units from the original Starcraft and Brood War are here in one game, 2-player mode! Fast load times for all maps(About 3 seconds only)
-: Multi player action gets tiny with a little bit of slowdown(but you'll get use to it), hardcore Starcraft fans will be disappointed by the cut-down FMV's
The Final Ratings Rundown
Graphics: Great conversion from the PC, I was amazed how they managed to fit all the info boxes on screen. All the animations are here, but 2-player mode is tiny and a little bit on the slow side, but I easily got use to it and found it easy to forgive this noticeable flaw.
Graphics Score: 9.0
Sound: I was really surprised that all the background tunes and all the unit and building sound effects and voice samples were here. That's amazingly a lot fit into a cartridge. I really don't care all that much about the voice samples of mission briefings and campaign dialogue being replaced with text boxes, besides most gamers skip over them any ways.
Sound Score: 9.5
Game play: The controls are easily configured to the N64 controller, it may take a little longer to get use to then other games, but you will get use to them and be breezing through the game in no time. The game plays exactly how it does in the PC version, and the computer is really challenging.
Game play Score: 9.2
Replay Value: I gotta keep on stressing on how much you need the expansion pak, because if you don't you can say goodbye to the Brood War missions and units, and the 2-player mode of the game. Also once you beat all 6 campaigns, bonus scenarios are available that won't even featured in the PC version. Plus there's cheats available too in this version of the game. And the encyclopedia is another great plus in the game which will get everyone familiar with units right away instead of going through the instructions. And most of all, the 2-player mode is gonna keep you hooked for a while too.
Replay Value Score: 9.8
Rounded to fit GameFAQs score: 9
If you're hardcore fan of the PC version, and you're expecting a perfect translation of the game, then I suggest you stay away from the N64 version of the game, because the cut-down FMV's you will hate, and you'd want to kill the 2-player mode because you'll hate vs. mode of it because your opponent will see what you're doing, but if you don't have access to the Internet to connect to Battle.net, then this is the next best thing, plus it's like 2 games combined in one, so I strongly recommend this game to all N64 gamers and RTS fans. And the game gets an A for effort to for undeniably trying to pack as much as it can in the game to deliver us one the best gaming experiences in the N64's last year of glory!
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 06/15/00, Updated 06/15/00
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