Review by ice beam

Reviewed: 01/02/07 | Updated: 07/19/10

The pinnacle of the Star Fox series

A long time ago in the ancient year of 1993, Super Nintendo released Star Fox, a game taking full advantage of the FX chip. Now to us, these oversized polygons look absolutely ridiculous, but for that time, it was amazing. The FX chip created what could possibly be called one of the first 3-D games. A sequel was announced but sadly never came to fruition. Star Fox 2 remains a legend among people, some even finding the beta version of the game to play. Of course, every popular game needs a sequels. Sequels can often be very dangerous things. While there are some sequels that are equal or even better than the original (i.e. Empire Strikes Back and Yoshi's Island), many times they end up being worse than the original, often destroying what made the original so magical and great in the first place.

Many times, a game is just an ugly duckling, and just needs to be worked on more in order for it to truly shine. The original Legend of Zelda, while good, had its flaws. But it eventually developed into A Link to the Past, one of the best games in the franchise and the best of the 2-D games. The original Metroid was quite awkward in some places, but it developed into the masterpiece that is Super Metroid. F-Zero suffered from lack of creative tracks and racers, but all that changed with F-Zero X, which featured wild and insane tracks and thirty different racers. This concept can be applied to the original Star Fox. It is fun, nostalgic, and (at that time) revolutionary, it has shown its age. So Nintendo decides to create a sequel to this game for the release of the Nintendo 64.

In short, they have created on of the greatest games not only for the N64, but for any system ever.

Never in my life has more time been wasted on this game than any other (well, maybe Ocarina of Time). Hours of my childhood was wasted on this game, whether it was from me playing it or watching my brother play it. I clearly remember as a child spending half of one Christmas Eve playing this game, using it as a time waster in anticipation for the day after. Even now, with my other systems and modern games, I still play this game every once in a while. There is something timeless about this game and I can't figure out if it has to do with nostalgia or the gameplay, but probably a combination of both. But what is so great about this game?

Many have said that Star Fox 64 is a rail shooter. However, that term does not accurately describe the game. Yes, their are many levels that act like a rail shooter, but not all of them. The game has a feature called "All-range mode", a concept borrowed from the legendary Star Fox 2. In this mode, you are free to fly around the area. Some bosses are fought in this mode, breaking the cycle of the rail-style boss fights. About one-third of the game takes place in all-range mode.

Even in all-range mode, the style of the game remains the same; flying around, shooting down enemies and protecting your allies at the same time. Yet the stages never become dull or uninteresting, offering a diverse range of missions. These can range from diving into the ocean to hunt down a bio-weapon, or engaging in an all out dog fight while avoiding shooting down your allies. Not even all the rail style levels operate in the same way. For example, some planets have grounds you can fly safely over, but some you cannot even touch the bottom. One planet slowly saps your energy away and you constantly need to refill energy in order to survive, while another involves navigating a dangerous asteroid field.

Perhaps the beauty of this game can be found in its replay value. There are fifteen mission (planets) throughout the game. Now all of them cannot be accessed in one setting. You are allowed to choose different paths throughout the game. The original Star Fox also had the same option, but you were only allowed to choose between three different paths. In this game, there are over twenty paths to choose from. Let me give an example. You always start off in Cornelia and end in Venom. Now there are five different planets in between. Most planets has a default path and a "hidden path." You have to go out of your way to find the "hidden path", which often involves performing a task hinted at throughout the level. But it is better performing the task and finding the hidden path, because then you can choose whether or not to take the hidden path. Even the final area has two different version, depending on the level you played before it. There are even some "warps" which can take you on a path not shown on the screen.

This, combined with the different style of missions, makes a game which can be different every time you play. The rail style mention deviate from one another and they occasionally transform into all-range mode. Boss fight are intense, ranging from fighting ships your size to massive biological weapons. Planets range from nebulas to deserts to oceans to even stars and completely toxic planets.

Your ship, the Arwing, controls very well and can react very quickly in fast situations. Your ship can perform all sorts of tricks like somersaults, boosting, U-turns, barrel-rolling, and shoot powerful bombs. The controls are incredibly easy to figure out. You should be dodging beams and mowing down enemies in no time.

But don't think that you will be doing all of your work in your trusty Arwing (even though your allies will). You have two more vehicles you get to pilot. The first is the Landmaster, which is a tank that can perform many things the Arwing can. The second is the Bluemarine, which is basically a submarine. While they do add some diversity to the levels, the Landmaster can only be used in two levels and the Bluemarine in just one.

While the bloated polygons of the original are laughable, but the graphics in this game are far more respectable. Everything is animated quite well and is easy to see, unlike the original game. Musically wise, the game has some standout tracks. Aquas is very slow and hypnotizing, as if you have really entered into an aquatic world. The Star Wolf team (who are your rivals) is very frantic and fast-paced. Area 6 is epic and bombastic, battling your way through the final defense of Venom.

The story involves how Andross had destroyed the previous Star Fox team due to Pigma's (one member of the Star Wolf team) betrayal. Your partner Peppy survived, but not your father. You now must go not only to save the galaxy, but to avenge your father.

Throughout the game, you will be surrounded by your allies. While they help very little, they are amusing to have around. Falco is the tough guy who is very sarcastic towards you. Peppy is the veteran who will give you advice (DO A BARREL ROLL). Slippy is the annoying one who always gets in enemy fire, but he.... er... it has its charms. You will also meet other pilots throughout the game as well.

This game has surprisingly good multiplayer. The fights can range from dogfights to tank battles to battles on foot.

The only thing negative thing I can say about this game is that the game is sometimes too easy. But even so, this game is still great. This games is as every bit necessary to your N64 collection as is Ocarina of Time and Super Mario 64. You won't regret it.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Product Release: Star Fox 64 (US, 07/01/97)

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