Review by ND9k
Reviewed: 11/03/02 | Updated: 12/23/08
Nintendo 64's best space shooter.
Star Fox 64 is quite simply a great video game. It was one of the earliest Nintendo 64 games available, and yet would always remain one of its best. Star Fox 64 is largely a re-imagining of the first Star Fox game on the Super NES. The story is the same, the Lylat system is the same and the protagonists are the same. What's changed is the way the game is played. It's now in full 3d, and the branching routes are longer and better than what was in the original.
The story is a twist on the typical "damsel-in-distress" tale. James McCloud of the Star Fox Team visits the planet Venom to imprison the evil scientist, Andross.. He then goes missing. His son, Fox., forms a new Star Fox Team to go find his father. Along the way, he must travel through the rest of the Lylat System, defeating Andross's armies.
The graphics are decent, but, typically for the Nintendo 64, very blocky. The characters look rather bland, although the backgrounds are better, much more detailed than what was seen on the Super NES. Fox's ship, the Arwing, is well detailed, as are most of the enemy bosses' crafts. Don't play Star Fox 64 expecting to be blown away by the graphics.
The gameplay, on the other hand, is near brilliant. While there are 15 areas to explore in the Lylat System, each playthrough is limited to just seven. This means that you will have to play the game from beginning to at least three times to visit each area. And then, you'll want to play it yet again to set high scores. Once you achieve certain high scores, you'll begin to unlock some new features of the game. Star Fox 64 becomes an instant classic, as its arcade-like gameplay adds lots and lots of reply value. There's a surprisingly amount of things to unlock, as well. Quite a bit more than I've seen in most other Nintendo 64 games.
Star Fox 64 has a strong soundtrack, as most areas do have their own tune. But what most people remember is the dialog. One of the few first-party Nintendo games to feature vocal protagonists, Star Fox 64 has become known for its offbeat, quirky dialog, such as "Do a barrel roll!" The dialog among the protagonists really adds a feeling of teamwork to the game, as you're no longer the "lone protagonist," as you are in so many other video games.
The major downsides of the game are with the multiplayer. Star Fox 64 would have been the perfect game to do multiplayer in, if you and a friend were able to control two members of the Star Fox Team in combat. Instead, you're limited to "friendly fire" in all-range arenas. Not nearly as fun, nor does it capture the true essence of the game. As there are only three arenas to play in and a limited amount of weapons to collect, the multiplayer mode just feels uninspired and tacked on. It's really not a whole lot of fun, and it's a novelty that will quickly wear off.
I think the lack of inspired multiplayer is what hurt the game the most. As beyond that, this is a great game. It makes full use of the Nintendo 64's rumble pack, and it exemplifies what the Nintendo 64 was all about: fun.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Star Fox 64 (US, 07/01/97)
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