- 40 Winks: Conquer Your Dreams | Ruff & Tumble (PlayStation)
- ~Hack~ Super Mario 64 Land (Nintendo 64)
- Not Just a Hat Rack (Arduboy)
- Pac-Man World 2 (PlayStation 2)
- Sonic R (Saturn)
- Frogger 2: Swampy’s Revenge (PlayStation)
- Stuart Little 2 (PlayStation)
- Incredible Machine, The (3DO Interactive Multiplayer)
- Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Tranced (Game Boy Advance)
- Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko (Nintendo 64)
We’re doing something a bit different for this month’s edition of Play This Set. One user has gone so far above and beyond in contributing to RANews that we have decided to do a special installment featuring a collection of his write-ups. Thank you so much for your support ShadwSonic! We’ll be back to the usual format next month. Whether you’re an achievement developer looking to promote your work or a player wanting to spread the word about your favorite hidden gem, we’re always looking for new Play This Set submissions. If interested, submit your write-up as a private message to RANews.
40 Winks: Conquer Your Dreams | Ruff & Tumble (PlayStation)
|40 Winks: Conquer Your Dreams | Ruff & Tumble||PlayStation||3D Platforming, Collect-a-thon|
40 Winks is… not a Mario killer, despite the advertisements of the time. However, it’s still a pretty good collectathon. In this game, you control either a young girl or boy, siblings who don’t have any control differences. This choice DOES affect a few levels, but only in which can enter where… and either way will have the same collectibles, making the distinction functionally irrelevant.
What’s more important is your goal. See, 40 Winks aren’t just a euphemism for a good night’s sleep here, but actual creatures that ensure people get said sleep… except for the villain, who decides that if he can’t rest, no one can, and thus captures all of them. Thus, the Winks are your primary collectible, and you’ll need all of them to access the final boss. The Winks aren’t the only goodies to grab either. There’s also cogs (which basically function like notes from Banjo-Kazooie (including the temporary nature), only inside the levels themselves), and Dream Keys, which are needed to access the boss of each world (can’t move on to the next until the last one’s kaput!) Speaking of bosses, all of them are against a rather disgruntled teddy bear, and he’s tougher than that makes him sound. Especially if you’re going for the damageless cheevs.
There are three more aspects of this game I haven’t talked about yet though. The first is a difficulty option… though I honestly can’t tell what’s different. You’ll need to use Hard anyway if you want a Mastery. The second are the races, which are completely optional and only good for restocking lives and ammo. They’ve got cheevs as well though, so there’s that. And finally, there’s the transformations. This is another difference between the girl and boy, though only in the aesthetics. The abilities themselves remain unchanged, which is good, because they make quite a difference and are vital to finding everything. Part of that has to do with their temporary nature, resulting in cases where you need to get the outfit in one part of a level and rush to another to use it.
One very odd tidbit about this game is that, while the PlayStation version was an official release, the N64 set was Unlicensed… and yet they’re identical games (and even near-identical sets here too). Either one would be a fun time for lovers of collectathons, I guarantee that! Maybe use the girl in one and the boy in the other so you get the full experience?
~Hack~ Super Mario 64 Land (Nintendo 64)
|~Hack~ Super Mario 64 Land||Nintendo 64||3D Platforming, Collect-a-thon|
I’ve played through a lot of SM64 hacks, and I do mean a LOT of them… but one of the best is Super Mario 64 Land. It manages to incorporate the ranking goodness of 3D Sonics, several unique powerups, eight completely original bosses, and a healthy amount of easter eggs, ALL of which is covered by the achievement set! Arguably my favorite hack from Kaze Emanuar, who in turn is arguably my favorite SM64 hacker!
There is a bit of an oddity with the “all Stars” cheevs though… they count the ones you can unlock for getting all S Ranks, which in turn only make themselves available to pick up after every other star is earned. Means that most people will likely get them all one right after the other. But that’s an incredibly minor nitpick (and not the hack’s fault anyway) in the face of such expertly crafted levels, such precisely tuned difficulty curves, and such an enjoyable experience. It may control like SM64, but all of the above factors turn it into something wholly unique.
Not Just a Hat Rack (Arduboy)
|Not Just a Hat Rack||Arduboy||2D Platforming|
This game requires you to move a hat to the goal. Its acceleration both on ground and air is quite odd, and the level designs are pretty tight. Yet, they remain internally consistent, which combined with the short length of the game, is oddly addictive. It won’t always be as simple as “Point A to Point B” though… you may need to collect squares to make the goal appear. Or use level warps. Or both! Completing the Mastery will require deep internalization of the levels AND physics, but otherwise isn’t that brutal. Can you do as I did, and become a Hattery of Fame Champion? If not, no sweat, the game is still a decent haul of points without that coveted prize. But don’t give up just based on your first results, my own were terrible, yet it only took a handful of tries after to pull it off. Really, that’s the great benefit of this set: a feeling of rapid improvement.
Pac-Man World 2 (PlayStation 2)
|Pac-Man World 2||PlayStation 2||3D Platforming, Collect-a-thon|
When I first heard rumors of PS2 support, this game was immediately what came to mind. A Beat that’s pretty darn chill, a 100% that really tests your skills… and a Mastery that would test my will: Pac-Man World 2.
The infamous quartet of creeps have stolen the Golden Fruit, releasing a far more dangerous foe. You need to adventure through jungles, forests, mountains, volcanoes, oceans, and finally the dreaded Ghost Island to get them all back! But like I said earlier, a simple Beat isn’t that big of a deal. 100% adds a new twist: collecting every single dot and fruit in a level in ONE sitting. They can get rather cruel at times! There’s also time trials, which are pretty similar to, say, Crash 3’s Relics… only the time stops do NOT stack, nor is there a benefit to getting them all. And then, of course, there’s the Arcade Tokens. The previous two challenges each grant you one per level, but there’s also several just lying around… and if you thought fruits were sneaky, these can be downright evil!
But even that isn’t the extent of Mastery! Every level, and I do mean every single level, has a least one challenge that is completely unrelated to 100% completion! Low% here, beginner speedrun maneuvers there, you name it! You’ll know this game inside and out by the end of Mastery! Well, outside of the included Arcade games. Those used to be part of this set, but were considered tough enough to be split off into a subset of their own! And don’t get me started on Clyde’s speedrun, that was so brutal that it got nerfed hard and the original went to the Bonus set, which itself was essentially a nerf to that set’s Clyde speedrun!
So yeah, casual play will be a nice breeze, 100% a great challenge, and Mastery a true test of abilities that anyone should be proud to have on their wall!
Sonic R (Saturn)
Sonic R, the one original Sonic that the Saturn ever saw. You’ve got five racetracks to beat, and a total of 10 characters you can beat them with… but most are locked. You’ll need to win on all tracks for one, come in third while collecting all Sonic Tokens AND then beat them for four, and recover all seven Chaos Emeralds for the last. What’s crazy is that, if you’re really good, you can do everything in a single run of each level. Sadly, the Saturn version doesn’t let you unlock everything at once like that, but cheevs for that feat still exist anyway. Heck, my LP is even pinned on their pages to show you how it’s done! But there’s other challenges in the set too. Some are Time Trials of various side modes, and others are extremely creative challenges that I never would have thought up!
It was honestly a great way to revisit this old favorite of mine, and hopefully you’ll enjoy it too!
Frogger 2: Swampy’s Revenge (PlayStation)
|Frogger 2: Swampy’s Revenge||PlayStation||Arcade|
Despite clearly being a Frogger game, Frogger 2 is much different game than the arcade classic that spawned it. We have proper levels now, with puzzles and collectibles and platforming! This is happening because a disgruntled croc named Swampy (hence the subtitle of Swampy’s Revenge) has stolen all the baby frogs right out from under our hero’s nose. I suppose he was distracted by his girlfriend and vice versa, but even still!
There’s three goals each level has:
Rescue the five babies. This is the main goal, and when in Story mode will allow you to progress to the next level.
Collect all the coins in one run. Do this, and you unlock a goodie of some sort in Free Play. The unlocks are granted in a fixed order, and can include characters, stages, modes, even a few bonus abilities!
Complete the level fast. This won’t get you anything in-game, but there are cheevs for reaching Gold times. These are tight enough that you don’t want to be going for Coins in the same run.
This was one of the PC games I was elated to see supported here, though I still keep the disc around for the soundtrack. It’s a LOT better than you might think from “Frogger” of all things! I’d say this is probably one of the better games in the franchise, as the earlier stuff has a level of roughness and/or shallowness to it, and the latter stuff… may have strayed a bit too far from what Frogger is.
Stuart Little 2 (PlayStation)
|Stuart Little 2||PlayStation||3D Platforming, Collect-a-thon|
Stuart Little 2 is a 3D Collectathon, and a fairly well-made one at that… but it’s pretty easy. I mean, when I played the entire game in one session, I only died one time! But that’s not really how a good collectathon is measured, is it? Instead, it’s by how it feels to explore the environments and how the goodies are hidden. In that sense, the game is great!
Your “star” equivalent here are Jeweled Rings, which Margolo the bird wants to return to their proper owners but were hidden by her old boss. How or why Stuart’s own home is one of these hiding places doesn’t make much sense to me, but oh well! We also have fishy crackers, which Snowbell the cat can trade with Monty for another ring (again, how did that happen?), Stuart Blocks that create paths to more rings, a clapperboard that unlocks part of the movie (very small parts mind you), and minigames. Lots of minigames. But fortunately they’re all good minigames, which usually isn’t the case in this genre, so the only real problem is the “why does this work?” question I’ve already raised before multiple times. Honestly though, I’m so used to game tropes I didn’t even think about it until typing this up.
Overall, this is probably a very good introduction to the genre, with most things that would serve as negatives in a “top rankings” list working in service to that goal.
Incredible Machine, The (3DO Interactive Multiplayer)
|Incredible Machine, The||3DO Interactive Multiplayer||Physics Puzzle|
Have you ever heard of a Rube Goldberg machine? You know, where a simple task is accomplished through needlessly complex mechanisms? Well, The Incredible Machine is what happens when you make some of those, remove a few pieces, and ask the player to fix them! This is a very long-running and well regarded series of puzzle games, starting all the way back in Windows 3X! This entry though, the 3DO port, contains most of the the puzzles from the first two entries, plus a handful of new ones. The goals of the puzzles are quite varied as well. Get X thing to Y spot, keep X thing safe, activate X thing, or any combination of any number of those! As for the pieces you’ll use…Conveyor Belts, Rockets, Cats, Mice, Generators, Walls, Ramps, Balls, Alligators, Monkeys, Anti-Grav Pads, and Generators are only a handful of the various wacky items on display! All in all, there’s 178 puzzles to solve, so get cracking with those contraptions!
Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Tranced (Game Boy Advance)
|Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Tranced||Game Boy Advance||2D Platforming|
Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Tranced is the second GBA title in the series, and plays just as you’d expect from any of his 2-D segments from the main games. However, it and its predecessor are much better than the handheld limitation would suggest. How much better? Well, when Square Eyed Jak ranked every (non-racing) level in the franchise (pre-Crash 4), the resulting video was two and a half hours long, covering 163 levels. I had the bright idea of using those rankings to determine which game was the best, first averaging the scores and then subtracting three points for each level to account for the “quantity” aspect of a game’s quality. This resulted in four games receiving NEGATIVE scores (a good thing with this formula), which I hadn’t expected when I started. The top three were, of course, the original PSX trilogy… and this game was the fourth. You read that right, apparently this game is better than anything outside of the most core entries in the series! Better than its predecessor, better than Wrath of Cortex, better than Twinsanity, and better than Titans! So if you enjoyed the original games, you have got to play this one too!
Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko (Nintendo 64)
|Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko||Nintendo 64||3D Platforming, Action|
There’s a universe that exists on the other side of the TV, containing all of the most derivative and brain-dead ripoffs ever made… and there’s only one reptile who’s got the right mix of “TV-Junkie” and “actually fit” to fight its evil overlord REZ. That lizard… is Gex. The first time, he was dragged in there against his will, and the second was his first job as a secret agent… but now he’s an old hat at this. He’s got an Alfred to his Batman (and a Gex cave to further the comparison!) He’s also got a… human love interest? Guess Sonic ‘06 wasn’t the first to try that one, though here it’s clearly meant to be a cheesy spy trope instead of something you’d take seriously.
Heck, none of this game is meant to be taken seriously! If the thin veneer making up the various level themes wasn’t enough, Gex will often make barely relevant TV quotes that were horribly outdated even back then! And yet… it’s oddly endearing? Enough so that this series is apparently getting a remake soon, if the rumors are true. Without that charm, this game is merely another “well-made” collectathon, but because they went so far with the chosen aesthetic, this game still feels unique to this day, and is definitely the best in the trilogy.
Oh, as for version differences, they’re mostly the same, but each has a few unique Bonus Rooms that differ from their counterpart. Hopefully the aforementioned remake brings them all in!