I have a deep dark secret. Multiple in fact that keep awake at night, haunted by the ghosts of dead…well never mind, the point is I never played Star Fox on the SNES nor did I ever play Star Fox 64. In fact the only Star Fox game I had previously played was Adventures on the GameCube, which means that this recent re-release and upgrading of Star Fox 64 is the first time I have stepped into the cockpit with Fox McCloud.
Originally released on the Nintendo 64, Star Fox 64 (or Lylat Wars in Europe) served as both a reboot of the series and a remake of the original game, with plenty of new features including some straight from the never released Star Fox 2 for SNES. As Fox McCloud it is up to you and your group of mercenaries to save the Lylat System for the devious, fiendish and down right evil Andross.
Q-Games, best known for their PixelJunk series, has done an incredible job making this 14 year old game look fresh. They didn’t just slap a new coat of paint on the game; they have taken great care into rebuilding the textures and animations flying this game straight into the new millennium of video games. The original voice actors were even rehired to re-record their dialogue. Now that’s devotion.
The game flows beautifully for the hour or so it will take you to complete your first run of the story. It looks, feels and plays like it was a brand new IP. You can choose to control Fox using either the circle pad or the 3DS’ gyroscope, both of which work incredibly (and surprisingly) well. However if you’re going to use the gyroscope controls I recommend turning 3D off because it is a difficult task to keep everything in focus while tilting and turning the system. This is a shame because the 3D is truly breathtaking. The depth and dimension that it adds to the game play is phenomenal, similar to the deep endless blue sky of Pilotwings Resort.
The multiplayer is Download Play, so only one of your friends needs to have the cart for up to four of you to play the game, but it’s over far too soon. Also limiting the multiplayer to local play only is a bummer and a missed opportunity to blast this game off into ‘must buy’ territory.
While the game is only an hour in length there are multiple branching paths that can only be opened by completing specific tasks in the game. The first three times I played through the game I ended up in different parts every time which only makes me want to replay it more. You may not even fight the true final boss on your first trip through, that’s the kind of game this is. It almost demands multiple play throughs since you can see all of the planets you can visit on the solar system map immediately upon starting the game and are only left to wonder what they could be like and how to access them.
However, the game is only an hour in length with no discount in price to reflect this. It’s a steep barrier to entry that seems to be catered to the nostalgic crowd who has disposable income and archaic to newer generations. A few new planets could have been added, or even just stretched out the campaign with the planets already present. While the updates and additions are great, some of them, such as the original voice actors, seem too much like they’re trying to capture lighting in a bottle for the third time. This might be a running theme amongst Nintendo games, but rarely is it this transparent.
Star Fox 64 3D is a good game, any fan of the original will feel comfortable and happy with this port and the updates they made to it. The price point, lack of online multiplayer, and shortsighted game redesign due to nostalgia keep this from being a great game and even a system seller.