Review by KyoraStryker
Reviewed: 09/16/11 | Updated: 09/23/11
A nostalgic classic makes its appearance on a current-generation console.
Many years back, when the Nintendo 64 was first released, I was but a young kid, still relatively fresh to the video gaming scene. When I finally acquired my first N64, the very first game I wanted was Star Fox 64. I owned a Super Nintendo at the time, though I had never heard of the Super Star Fox title that was released for it, therefore I had no idea what Star Fox 64 was about. When I beat the game, I fell in love with the game and didn't stop playing it until other games started catching my attention (which wasn't for a considerable amount of time, mind you).
Many years later, after acquiring my Nintendo 3DS, I heard about the re-release of a game that I still played to this day: Star Fox 64, except beautifully remastered in 3D.The game more than exceeded my expectations. Everything I loved about the original N64 release was perfectly remastered to a current-generation console.
Within this review, I'll be covering a wide variety of comparisons to the original SF64, as well as highlighting the characteristics that makes this game just as remarkable as the original version from over 14 years ago.
Star Fox 64 3D is an action-packed, third-person space shooter in which you pilot a unique aircraft called an Arwing. You play the role of Fox McCloud, sent off to thwart the evil intentions of the mad scientist Andross, along with Fox's three companions: Peppy Hare a hare full of insightful information, Slippy Toad, a toad full of technical data and enemy analyses, and Falco Lombardi, the strong-armed, hot-tempered falcon.
Progression through the game is made through seven missions that span 15 different worlds within the Lylat System. The path you take to reach Andross depends on your performance within the previous mission; if you don't do too great, you'll follow the easier path, while you'll follow the harder paths if you do exceptionally well. Of course, you can elect to take the easier paths if you so choose.
Scoring in the game is measured by the number of kills you make within the game. Kill counts are tallied both per map and cumulatively - the more kills you earn per level, the higher your score will be at the end of the game. In addition, each world has a set number of kills that will award you with a decorative medal on the Map screen if you exceed this quota. Because of this, the game offers a great challenge for those who desire to obtain every medal for each map. An additional game-play mode is unlocked within the main game (Expert Mode) that will significantly increase the difficulty level and add a whole new degree of difficulty and challenge to the game. Just like the original version, you can obtain a medal for each level in Expert Mode that has the same kill quota as the normal mode.
Speaking of game modes, Star Fox 64 3D offers the same Battle Mode that the original version offered, but with a slight twist. In Battle mode, up to four friends can battle against each other in three different types of battle and using one of each of the four protagonists from the main story. The map selections are the exact same as the original, but have been given a major face-lift. The best part about this feature is that only one person needs to actually own a copy of the game; the person that owns the game can host a wireless "download" of the game to the others via wireless capabilities.
In addition, there's a new game mode unique to the 3D version, Score Attack mode. In this mode, players are able to play individual worlds they've visited in the main game mode in any sequence they desire to obtain the highest score possible. Within this game mode, three medals (bronze, silver and gold) can be obtained based on your performance within the level. Almost all maps will award you with a silver medal if you meet the kill quota to earn the medal in the main game mode, therefore you must put your skills to the test in order to obtain a gold medal for each map.
The only reason why this aspect of the game didn't receive a perfect ten is because, just like the original, is the fact that there are very few power-ups that can be obtained. There are a total of six items that can be obtained; three replenish your health (known as the shield gauge within the game), one that repairs your wings (if you're struggling to avoid taking damage from either the environment or enemies and just so happen to break off one or both of your wings), and the other two are offensive items that can upgrade your laser systems or propel a targetable smart bomb to deal massive damage. Despite having so few items to assist you, this feature can actually prove to make the game slightly more challenging, especially if you're attempting to set a high score.
Just like the original version, learning and mastering the controls used within the game are simple. When you play the game for the first time, you'll be prompted to select your style of control. Up to four control layouts can be selected from: two types of button layouts, and normal/inverted movement. You may initially get frustrated with the controls (especially if you've played the N64 version), but as you play the game more, you won't even notice the difference. Not to mention, said controls are perfectly responsive and very fluid.
Have you ever run into a person who always seems to tilt their controller in the direction they want to move? With Star Fox 64 3D, this is possible! Unique to this version is a whole new style of controls called Gyro Controls. This control setup nearly eliminates the use of the circle pad in exchange for tilting and moving the 3DS console itself. If you're looking for a way to spice up your gameplay and show off your expertise, give the Gyro controls a try.
This aspect also didn't receive a perfect score because of said controls. I find the gyro controls absolutely frustrating, especially for a seasoned SF64 veteran. Players who have never played this game on the N64 may find these controls exciting, but for those of us who want to earn those medals will almost never use them. Of course, the game itself offers the ability to award the same medals using these controls, but I find that it's not worth the time. Also, the circle pad may be a little too sensitive; I say this because if you're near the top of the screen and you're trying to target an area on a boss that's just as high, it's oftentimes difficult to find the precise spot to put your targeting reticle so that your accuracy is spot-on. You'll find yourself fidgeting with the position of the circle pad to find that "sweet spot", and as any SF64 veteran knows, short, effective boss battles are the key to high points.
Much like every other aspect of this game, the sound has been completely overhauled and expertly remastered. Each sound track is crisp and does not distort in the least bit as you increase the volume. The sound effects within the game are exactly the same as the original, with the exception of the voice-overs. All of the familiar one-liners and crafty comments and remarks can be found in this version, though the voice acting is noticeably different. In addition, the sound test feature makes its return in this version, allowing you to hear the sounds of the game at your discretion.
The graphics in SF64 3D are nothing short of a work of art. When you flip the 3D slider up, every minor detail becomes immersive and makes you feel like you're truly there. Just a small adjustment on the 3D slider is required to give your eyes a delightful treat, though if you're crazy about the 3D feature, adding more only makes it better.
Where this game truly shines is in its original 2D version. The graphics received a significant overhaul; the Arwing shows every bend and crease within the frame, the character avatars are perfectly refined, and even some of the environment graphics got overhauled. Take for example Solar. When you first arrive there, you'll notice waves of heat comparable to the sun's corona emanating off the surface. Such a feature was not in the original SF64, and its inclusion in this version just makes it that much more enticing.
The only drawback about the graphics is that the lip-syncing is still just as terrible as the N64 version. The character avatars move their mouths in the same exact manner as the original. Really, Nintendo? It's been 14 years since the original was released, and technology has far exceeded the standards that were in place back then. Surely you guys could have done a better job of lip-syncing.
Replay Value: 10/10
Just like its N64 counterpart, the replay value in SF64 3D is just amazing. You'll spend hours upon hours trying to set high scores, then even more time trying to beat those scores. If you've never played Star Fox 64 before, you'll get an enormous sense of accomplishment when you get your first medal on a level (Fortuna, perhaps? Oh wait, Fortuna is named Fichina in this version, to hold true to the Japanese release), and it'll inspire you to continue playing the main game to get every medal on every map. When that's done, you get to start all over, just playing on Expert mode. When that's accomplished, you can jump right into the Score Attack mode and have an even more difficult challenge of starting every map with basic lasers and three bombs. And if that weren't enough, everything you've done can be doubled, as you'll be able to do the exact same utilizing the Gyro Controls.
In short, the replay value for this game is just ridiculous. I've spent the entire first week since its release attempting to earn every medal possible, and though I've established a considerable number of them, I've got a long way to go. Star Fox 64 3D will definitely keep you entertained for hours each day, and weeks to come.
Overall: 9/10; 9/10 for gameplay, 9/10 for controls, 10/10 for sound, 9/10 for graphics, 10/10 for replayability for a combined score of 47/50 - rounded down to 9/10
For SF64 veterans such as myself, this game does not disappoint. Everything you saw in the original release can be found in this release, and then some. The graphics are superb, the sound quality is pristine, and the game is just as engrossing as it was 14 years prior. And the best part is that, unlike the N64 release, this version is portable! Never again will you have to wait until you get home to beat up on Andross; you can now bash on him anywhere you go!
For those who've never played Star Fox 64, or for those who come from a different gaming generation than I do, I highly encourage you to pick up a copy of this game and fire it up. It's a great source of entertainment and will keep you busy for weeks or even months to come. I invite you to attempt to score more than 1500 kills in the main game mode. It isn't easy, and each time you try, you'll want to keep trying again if you fall short.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Star Fox 64 3D (US, 09/09/11)
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