Review by LinkRemembered

Reviewed: 04/05/07

One of the great Nintendo classics makes it way to the Wii's Virtual Console, and I couldn't be more satisfied.

Remember the glory days of Fox McCloud and his team of unique space pilots? Whether or not you do, you should check out Star Fox 64, the highlight of Shigeru Miyamoto's space shooter series, out now for the Wii's Virtual Console. Star Fox 64 is a shooter in the purest sense. It takes place before Fox and co. begin to adventure on foot, and sticks mostly to airborne finesse. The story is a simple one, and, like the name, takes a lot from the basic concept of Star Wars. James McCloud was sent to defeat the evil Emperor Andross alongside his two cohorts, Peppy Hare and Pigma Dengar. During James' dual with Andross, Pigma betrays his teammates, resulting in James' death. Peppy escapes and tells James' son, Fox, of his father's fate. Several years later, Andross returns even more powerful, and Fox sets out with three friends to kill the murderer.

Most of the game sees you piloting and Arwing, an advanced spacecraft. You fly around, shooting enemies with the A button and launching bombs with B. The games presents two modes of play, corridor and all-range. The former controls your ship's movement by presenting an on-rails sensation in which you navigate on a predetermined track. Occasionally, you'll hear Fox announce he's going into "All-range Mode", meaning you can go wherever you want in sandbox-style arena. You'll pretty much always be shooting enemies, and there are plenty of them. The game is straightforward, but fun and challenging. You will die often until you get the hang of things, and even then your teammates will still need protection. Occasionally you'll encounter a different means of transportation. Two levels force you to abandon the aerial acrobatics for a clunky tank. This is a fun twist, and gives you a break from the Arwing right when you might need one. The submarine you take control of appears only in the sole underwater level. It provides what is perhaps one of the most challenging segments in the game.

There are fifteen planets in what is known as the Lylat System, but you don't go to all of them every time. You only visit seven each time you play, including the mandatory Corneria, level one, and Venom, level seven. There is an easy (blue) route, a normal (yellow) route, and a hard (red) Route. Don't be afraid to mix and match. There is so much variety between the planets that the replay value is limitless. It could never get old. There's a level in which you battle against the "Forever Train", which literally never ends until you take it out. Solar is the sun planet, which has you flying over lava that occasionally spits at you. The heat constantly drains your health bar, so you must find ways to stay alive.

A major flaw is that you cannot save mid-play, so you must start from the beginning every time. Also, like other N64 ports on the Virtual Console, the system does not save your progress and allow you to pick up exactly where you left off. Wii owners understand what trouble this can be.

Your three teammates each have distinct personalities. Falco Lombardi is an angry lone ranger, while Slippy Toad is a giddy fool that always need you to help save him. Peppy Hare is the wise, tired old man whose days of piloting are near over, but he dares seek revenge and feels obligated to see you through to the end.

The graphics are top notch, considering they are from 1997. Nintendo pushes the limits of their fifth-generation console and it holds up well two generations later. Beautiful planets and lively enemies bombard you with color and non-stop action.

The sound is also of high-end quality. Though the voice acting can be annoying, particularly when Slippy keeps asking you to save his hide, overall it's well delivered and generally expresses good timing and sensible dialogue. Sound effects are exciting and commonplace. From the blast of your lasers to the explosions designating that the monstrous boss is dead, the ears are always treated to something spectacular. Of course, as we've come to expect from Nintendo, the game features fantastic music with fast-paced melodies and catchy jingles.

For $10, how can you go wrong here? It was well worth $49.99 ten years ago, and Star Fox is still fun after all these years, so if you managed to get a Wii, there are few better buys on the Wii's Shop Channel. The problem associated with value is the fact that you must constantly restart at Corneria, the first level. The lack of an in-game save feature hurts. However, lots of replayability lies in the desire to explore now planets and try to get higher scores. In the end that's what it's all about: your score.

However, Star Fox 64 is still, to be blunt, t3h pwnage. Unique, constant action, and a respectable fun factor overshadow some of the bigger flaws to make this one of the best games ever. And now we can bask in the glory via the Nintendo Wii. Now, you'll have to excuse me. I have to go blow Andross the hell up. Again.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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