Macbat 64: Journey of a Nice Chap Review: Nice Polygons

by David Sanchez October 16, 2020 @ 11:00 am

Macbat 64: Journey of a Nice Chap Nintendo Switch gameplay.

Reviewed on Switch

There’s a massive charm to Macbat 64: Journey of a Nice Chap that makes the insanely short length forgivable. This is a game that you’ll likely finish in one sitting over the course of about an hour — or less. Even then, it hits all the perfect nostalgia notes, and it has a nice, affordable price tag attached to it, making this title a worthwhile trip back in time for those of us who miss the days of the Nintendo 64 3D platformer.

Originally released on PC, Macbat 64 is now available on… Nintendo 64! Okay, so maybe that’s not true, but the game is definitely available on Nintendo Switch now. Close enough, right?

Macbat’s Bad Fur Day

Macbat 64 features Nintendo 64-styled polygonal 3D graphics.

Macbat 64 kicks things off inside a bar. You know, kind of like that one N64 game about the squirrel who had a bad day. Of course, Conker’s Bad Fur Day isn’t the only title Macbat 64 pays tribute to. Throughout the course of this one-hour adventure, you’ll see nods to Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie, and Donkey Kong 64. It’s obvious that the Rareware games of old were the biggest inspiration here, and it shows in everything from the level designs to the music.

Though it has the look and feel of a 3D platformer, you might be surprised to learn that the platforming mechanics in Macbat 64 are actually pretty light. Since you play as a bat, you’ll flutter your wings to reach high spots — so you’re multi-jumping rather than hopping from platform to platform. Though simple, the gameplay is pretty fun, and you’ll explore small areas in search of keys, collectible items, and exits.

Like the games it’s patterned after, Macbat 64 is somewhat of a collect-a-thon. A lot of the time, you’ll have to find specific items to clear a level, with a few hidden optional items to discover. Stages are fairly small, so you won’t spend more than five to ten minutes in each. The game moves at a rapid pace, so things never get dull — of course, the game’s over before you know it, which is kind of a shame. Still, I don’t think the specific design of Macbat 64 lends itself to a much more extended length.

Remember the Polygons? Remember the Camera Issues?

Macbat 64: Journey of a Nice Chap 3D platforming gameplay.

There’s no denying that pixel art has aged much better than polygonal graphics. That said, there’s a charm to the sharp, jagged edges on characters like Banjo, Kazooie, Conker, and those blue-haired kids from Jet Force Gemini. That charm is present in Macbat 64 and, probably because it’s such a nostalgia trip, it actually looks really cool. There are a bunch of quirky and fun characters, worlds, and backdrop designs. You’ve got a beach level, an autumn stage, a haunted house, and a jungle area that’s a straight reference to Jungle Japes from Donkey Kong 64.

You also have some bad camera issues. Remember those? Yeah, a wonky camera was the worst part of many Nintendo 64 platformers, and it’s the worst part of Macbat 64. Thankfully, the camera’s only an issue if you’re in a cramped spot, but it flat-out sucks losing control of the angle when you’re in between two rocks or walking down a narrow corridor.

The music of Macbat 64 sounds like some solid ‘90s-era Rare stuff. Specifically, the songs in the game sound like they could’ve been unused B-sides in a Banjo-Kazooie soundtrack. It’s a good collection of tracks and furthers the ‘90s vibe of the game.

Patiently Waiting for Macbat-Tooie

Macbat 64 exploration gameplay.

It’ll take you less than an hour to get through Macbat 64: Journey of a Nice Chap, even if you seek out the few hidden collectibles. Once you beat the main story mode, you’ll unlock a second collection of much tougher levels. You can also seek out Kiwi 64, developer Siactro’s predecessor to Macbat 64, tucked away in one of the game’s main levels. It’s a fun little game in its own right and yet another trip back to the N64 era.

You could argue that Macbat 64 is a bit too short, but at $2, you’re getting a fun little game at a bargain price. For the value, and for the loads of nostalgia it will rain down on you, it’s totally worth the price of admission. Here’s hoping we get an extended follow-up with maybe a little more gameplay variety — because after playing Macbat 64: Journey of a Nice Chap on Switch, you might be craving some more polygons.

Score: 7 out of 10

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