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Game Reviews

Game Review: Star Fox 64 3D

starfox3d_00Developer/Publisher – Nintendo
Year – 2011
Genre – Shooter
Formats – 3DS
Players – 1
Starfox 64 3D © Nintendo
Review copy and Screenshots were courtesy of Nintendo

The 3DS has seen a few titles, though it may be fair to say that the games so far have been a little lacklustre, with two of the system’s best games were ports from other consoles, being Street Fighter IV 3D Edition and the 3D remake of Ocarina of Time. While we wait for the release of Super Mario Land 3D and the new Kid Icarus, Nintendo is hoping to appease 3DS owners with another nostalgic throwback to the Nintendo64 era, with a 3DS release/remake of Star Fox 64, by now a 14-year-old title that once told gamers to “Do a Barrel Roll!”, and has also since been re-released on the Wii’s virtual console. Is it worth enlisting with these animal pilots once again?

The evil Andross has invaded the Lylat System and is overwhelming the Cornerian army.
General Pepper hires the mercenary group Star Fox to intervene and stop the mad monkey scientist. The team has another, more personal reason to go after Andross, as he was responsible for the death of the main character’s father several years prior.

You are Fox McCloud, the leader of Star Fox, and would be ace pilot of the cosmos. Joining you in your fight against tyranny is your old mentor Pepper Hare, inventor Slippy, and last, but not least, the sarcastic wingman Falco Lombardi. The story is told in a series of briefings and through the comments your wingmen and while it amounts to little more than  a simple sci-fi story, straight from the Nineties that’s just about serviceable to the game needs today.

Using your Arwing, an agile space and air fighter capable of deflecting laser attack by spinning or barrel rolling, you’ll fly though seven of the game’s sixteen stages on your way to Venom battling with countless enemies cumulating in a boss battle at the end of the majority. The main idea of the game is to accumulate points by destroying Andross’ forces, with more point gained by using the arwing’s lock-on laser to vaporize multiple enemies at once. Occasionally you’ll be asked to help one of your wingmen from attack, with failure meaning that they’ll be forced to leave the battlefield and the subsequent mission until their ship is repaired.

starfox3d_02The main key to the game’s design is that not all the sixteen stages are available on any one play through the main game, with different routes accessible through performing certain actions or conditions; Corneria, the game’s first level, for example, requires you to keep Falco on the field and then fly through seven arches when you come to a lake, where upon Falco will direct you to an alternative boss battle.

Two versions of the game are available at the outset, the original Nintendo64 edition and a re-jigged 3DS version that gives you more health whilst making enemies a little easier to kill. The later also allows the use of gyro controls, a method of control which utilizes the 3DS’s motion sensors, but it isn’t without its drawbacks, trying to keep the console alighted in order to keep the 3D effect is difficult. Try them if you’re curious, but be prepared to stick to the traditional use of analogue stick and buttons for the long-term. The main controls are pitch-perfect, with the analogue stick providing just the right amount of resistance to avoid problems with aiming your laser cannons.

Occasionally, you’ll have to leave the comfort of your Arwing to do battle on land and, on one level, under the sea. The land levels see you operating the Landmaster, a single driver tank with the ability to hover for a short time, but missing any upgrades to the laser you might have picked up, and the ability to roll across the ground to rapidly move laterally (although it can’t deflect laser fire). While the undersea level is about as slow paced and relaxed as the game gets, don’t worry though, there’s plenty of targets to shot down.

This time around there is a score attack mode that will allow you to access any level you’re gotten to in the main game to attempt a high score; this also enables you to access favorite stages and practice ones you’re having problems with, a long overdue feature. The game will also save a game in progress, meaning that should you have to quit between levels, you’ll be able to continue of from there or start a new game from scratch, either overwriting the previous save, or as a guest (in which case only a hi-score will be counted).

Branching out the package is the multiplayer, up to four players can compete in aerial dog fighting in Survival, point battle and time battle modes, with one player the host and the others using the 3DS “Download play” to access game data, meaning that only one copy of the game is required. On the other hand the game features no internet functionality, nor even the ability to swap high scores via streetpass, which could be seen as a failed opportunity.

starfox3d_03With remapped textures and improved clarity, Star Fox certainly looks better than it ever did, although it’s hard to be impressed with the game so many years after it debut, models are still made of the same few polygons that they were originally, which is a shame. That said, however, the simple shapes the game uses means that it runs at a perfect frame rate throughout, even when the on-screen action gets hectic, regardless of whether the 3D is turned on or off.

Particular mention goes to Aquas, an underwater level that has you in a submarine, now offers much more visibility when compared to the same level in the original Nintendo64 addition. Otherwise there isn’t much to differentiate this new version of Star Fox 64 from the original 14-year-old original beyond the improved textures.

The speech has been redone, with modern day storage offering up higher fidelity samples. The chatter of your crew still gives that sense of personality in a game where you really only see lifeless machines and soulless biomechs flying around. The music comprises of remixes of the original versions score, and is still as epic and as foreboding as it was back when, reflecting the mood of the onscreen events perfectly.

The improved textures, 3D depth, Score attack mode and portability are the most enticing aspects of this remake of the game, that and the game is as much fun to play as it was when it was originally released in 1997. However, there’s no getting away from the fact that almost the exact same game is available to buy on the Wii’s Virtual console for 1000 Wii points, and has been for some years now, but regardless, it is still a good game for the relatively new handheld system nevertheless.

7

Originally published on gamingtilldisconnected

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