Knife Edge: Nose Gunner
Not so much a knife as a wooden spoon!
Light gun shooters, eh? They've always been a stalwart of videogaming. The reason is simple - while holding a joypad in your hands might give you total control over the game, there's just nothing to compare with the sheer macho feel of blasting away at the bad guys with a powerful handgun. Operation Wolf, Virtua Cop, Time Crisis, Gun Blade... all games with good, hard, two-word names, next to nothing in the way of plot, simple on-rails gameplay and a succession of enemies popping out of the woodwork for players to blast apart with their weapons. Knife Edge fits in nicely alongside them. Oh. Hang on a minute. There's just one slight snag... there isn't a light gun for the N64.
Knife Edge's storyline is simplicity itself. It's the next century. Mars has been colonised, and all of a sudden a load of nasty aliens have popped up to register their protest at this rampant imperialism. Time for you, as the pilot of futuristic death machine Knife Edge, to swoop in and riddle the Martians with depleted uranium bullets.
The main game is played out over four levels, which offer numerous alternate routes to prevent the traditional on-rails shooter problem of seeing everything the first time round. There are also Co-operative and Battle modes, although the latter isn't nearly as exciting as it sounds. Four people can take part, but they're not fighting each other, just competing to shoot down the most aliens.
Rock And... More Rock
Graphically, Knife Edge tries very hard to get a harder-edged Starfox/Lylat Wars look, and a couple of the enemy aircraft have quite a decent pseudo-japanese techno feel. Most of the time, though, the bad guys are an incredibly unimaginative bunch. The bosses actually go so far as to be dull, with a giant sphinx being the most striking. Compared to the transforming weirdos from Lylat Wars, Knife Edge's ultimate terrors have all the in-yer-face impact of Driving Miss Daisy.
There are five levels in Knife Edge, four listed in the manual and a hidden "oh-no-ifs-not-really-over" attempt at a shock ending. Whatever the level, the visuals are monumentally tedious. There's none of Lylat Wars' variety and imagination, just mile after mile of rock in slightly different colours. Even the level aboard a space station looks like it's made of rock!
Although the С buttons allow you a limited amount of movement off the preset course through the game, mainly to dodge incoming fire, you're restricted to following the same route through each section. Even though the manual claims "there are more than 100 routes in Stage 1 alone!" you always end up passing through the same areas, and all the routes are more or less identical anyway. There certainly aren't any surprises hiding in obscure corners.
Knife Edge's big problem is that it is so hideously boring to play. The sound effects are insipid farty things - even nuking a boss just produces a kind of wet 'pthfwupp' noise - that do nothing to pep up the blandness on screen. Wafting uncontrollably from place to place, along stupidly twisty courses that make it almost impossible to track targets accurately, provides no entertainment whatsoever.
If the N64 had a light gun, Knife Edge might have been passable, if short-lived, fun. As there isn't one, it's a soul-sapping experience that drains your will to live and leaves you struggling toward the kitchen to cane down a mouthful of raw coffee beans and half a pint of boiling water just to bring you back to a state of near-wakefulness. Without a light gun, playing Knife Edge makes you wish you had a real gun so you could end the pain!
2nd rating opinion
Ooh, now this is quite horrible. It drags along reluctantly, looks like everything is being viewed through a muddy puddle and should really sod off never to be seen again. An utter insult to the N64 and consoles in general.