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Platform

3DS

 

Genre

Action / Shooter

 

Publisher

Nintendo

 

Developer

Nintendo EAD / Q Games

 

ESRB

E +10 (Everyone)

 

Released

September 9, 2011

 

 

- A shoot-em-up epic that still holds up
- Excellent new visuals, 3D effects
- Alternate pathways, stages, and outcomes

 

 

- Gyro Controls conflict with 3D effect
- No new additions to increase brisk longevity
- No online option for multiplayer

 

 

Classic Review: Starfox (SNES)

Review: Starfox: Assault (GC)

Review: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (3DS)

 

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Starfox 64 3D

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

starfox 64 3d          starfox 64 3d

 

With a significantly smaller line-up of games than its predecessors (both 8 and 16 bit, respectively), the number of essential games on the Nintendo 64 could be counted with two hands, and were mostly of the first party variety. While Mario, Zelda, and Smash Bros found new life on the Gamecube and Wii consoles, the Star Fox series remained dormant on the Nintendo 64… at least according to the fans.

While Nintendo did release more Star Fox-branded games on the Gamecube and DS, many hardcore fans will insist that the series hit its peak with Star Fox 64;

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despite letting other third party developers take a crack at the on-rails shoot-em-up (namely Rare and Namco), the results led to a middling reception. The demand still exists for a traditional follow-up to Star Fox, one that features more Arwing action and less annoying dinosaurs (Starfox Adventures), but for now the Big N is at least tossing a bone with its

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3DS re-release of the beloved 64 bit iteration (Rumble Pak not included).

Despite being the second game in the series, Star Fox 64 is more of a remake than a direct sequel; after losing his father to the evil Andross, ace mercenary pilot Fox McCloud and his fellow furry cohorts assist General Pepper in ridding the universe of the evil psychic ape and his galactic armada. The Star Fox team will travel across distant planets and galaxies until they reach Andross’ home base stationed at the planet Venom, fighting off waves of starships, bioweapons, and the rival team known as Star Wolf.

Like the 3DS version of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Star Fox 64’s portable rerelease features the exact same gameplay and levels, unchanged from the N64 original. Players take control of Fox McCloud and guide his Arwing past several on-rails stages, while receiving (and mostly giving) assistance to his three wingmen. Failing to protect any of the AI controlled pilots will result in cumulative damage, and once their health reaches zero they’ll be forced to back out for repairs, which separates them from the group for the remainder of the level and the one preceding it.

 

Though they offer little firefight assistance, keeping Fox’s hapless teammates in one piece opens up strategic elements; Slippy will display the health meter for each boss, Falco shows you the way to secret areas, and Peppy tells you to do a barrel roll. Regardless, a fast trigger finger and quick maneuvers remain your greatest assets, along with the lock-on shot, which allows you to take out multiple enemies with a homing charge shot. Also hidden in each stage are power-ups including bombs, health rings, and wings that either add twin lasers or repair one or both of the broken wings of your Arwing.

 

starfox 64 3d          starfox 64 3d

 

Also hidden are alternate paths; when meeting certain conditions in several stages (such as passing through a series of chasms, opening a number of switches, or even defeating specific enemies), Fox will be able to take a different route in the stage that can lead to a totally different boss fight as well as open up an alternate pathway in the galaxy map, opening up additional areas to fly through. As an additional bonus for the 3DS version, you now have the ability to select between the newly opened alternate level and the corresponding original stage.

Another addition to the 3DS version is the Gyro Control scheme; using the Gyro Sensor of the 3DS, players can tilt their handheld around to navigate the Arwing, either using standard or inverted controls. The game also features a Gyro Mode that widens out the placement of enemies and objects to accommodate the wider control scheme. While it may not outright replace the original analog control scheme, it works surprisingly well and can be used in conjunction with the standard controls. The only downside is the one shared by every 3DS game featuring the Gyro Sensor: it breaks the 3D effect.

And that is truly unfortunate, since Star Fox 64 features some of the handheld’s best 3D effects yet. Everything from the Arwing in the center to the billions of lasers and debris flying around hits you square in the face with no hiccups in the framerate. This is doubly impressive with the complete re-texturing of the entire game, including new background effects that add further immersion (though the draw distance still leaves a bit to be desired; massive space carriers tend to materialize instantly out of nowhere). The game’s soundtrack has also been redone as well, but is more of an alternative sampling rather than a full re-arrangement. The game also retains the original English voice acting from the original in a less-compressed form, which will be considered a blessing or a curse depending on the player; at least it could be argued that there are far worse dubs out there than the delightfully campy performance found in one of Nintendo’s earliest voice-acted efforts.

What’s more disappointing is the lack of any additional features or stages for those who played through the original countless times already; even with the existing multiple paths, the main story can still be finished in a couple of hours. The multiplayer modes make a return appearance, but lack of online play limits the fun for those without fellow 3DS friends. Much more inspiring is the single player Score Attack, which lets players instantly replay any mission in order to achieve a higher score.

Despite the lack of supplements, Star Fox 64 still remains one of Nintendo’s finest and most action-packed experiences; No two stages are alike, and the amount of alternate pathways and outcomes (like an ally from one stage coming to assist you in the next) allow for much replaying and experimenting for those who haven’t mastered every nook and cranny. It also remains a challenge, particularly the battles that take place in All-Range Mode (which allows you to fly around a limited 3D space), but mastery of the Arwing’s different features including braking, boosting, and barrel-rolling will lead to victory and, more importantly, fun. Hopefully with a new audience gained from this portable release, Nintendo will be given enough incentive to bring this on-rails shooter back on the rails.

 

- Jorge Fernandez

(October 5, 2011)

 

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