Review by Mister Sinister
A BRILLIANT flying shoot-em 'up that should be in every N64 owner's collection.
Whilst there are HUNDREDS and hundreds of games out for all the different consoles you can imagine, in my opinion if you look back at those that you consider have TRULY made a huge impact on a genre - redefining the way things are done and so on ? You can PROBABLY count the titles on one hand, per genre.
Is this one of those titles ? Read on ...
OVERVIEW AND OBJECTIVE OF THE GAME
Star Fox 64 (aka Lylat Wars) is a flight shoot-em 'up title on the Nintendo 64. You take the lead role as Fox McCloud, and together with your wingmen Slippy, Peppy and Falco you have to fly through a set of levels (there are different routes - your actions and performance during each level will dictate which routes are available to you as the game progresses), destroying enemies and bosses until you get to the final boss of the game - Andross.
GRAPHICS - 9/10
The Star Wing / Star Fox games have ALWAYS boasted good graphics, and this is no exception. The speed at which the planes fly, the manoeuvres you can pull off whilst playing, and the general slickness of the graphics are truly worth commenting on. The fog of war dissipates as you fly forward (I suppose technically it would be fairer to say that more of the landscape is plotted out ahead of you as you fly) at a very respectable speed, and even with HORDES of villains on screen at the same time, there is negligible slowdown, which makes the title very easy to play (on the eyes at least).
The effects of the lasers and the explosions caused by ships being destroyed are very good, and all in all the game is GRAPHICALLY superb, I have to say.
SOUND - 8/10
Full voice-acting (which is quite hammy in parts, but at least perfectly audible) from General Pepper, Fox McCloud and his wingmen makes the game easy to slide into, as opposed to the original SNES title which had grunts, squeaks and subtitles to keep you plodding along ... the music is good enough to get you enthused to play, and even the sounds of the laser blasts are well done. There is nothing in this game (besides the hammy voice-acting) that grates - it's not one of those titles where you mute it and whack a cd into your player to make it tolerable (thankfully).
CONTROLS - 9/10
Crisp and responsive. The more complex manoeuvres (like doing a loop-the-loop) require more finger twisting than regular things, which is cool. None of the moves CANNOT be done - in fact none of them are THAT complicated. There are two different types of flight mode - "all range mode" and regular mode. In all range mode the wings of your ship sweep out to give you total control over which direction you want to move - in regular mode the wings are swept back and you travel forward all the time (for regular missions this is great, as you can't double-back - all range mode kicks in most often during boss fights).
The ship is willing to respond and you can make yourself look REALLY proficient with just a little effort. Spiralling to one side whilst blasting the leg off some robot ahead of you, and then powering through before it falls to the ground with a speed boost has a certain "YES !!!!!!!!!" factor to it ;)
PLOT - 7/10
Andross was responsible for the death of your father and you've come back for revenge. That's the plot in a nutshell. It's tarted up rather nicely in places with the introduction of Star Wolf and his wingmen (Pigma, Leon and Andrew) who show up periodically to ruin your day (or TRY to at least), and the regular compliment of bosses to keep you busy during the levels, but at its most basic it's a case of "get your revenge whilst saving the galaxy from Andross' tyranny" ...
GAMEPLAY - 9/10
It's a REALLY enjoyable game to play I have to say. It's like a flying rail-shooter - there are places where you must decide, say, whether to go left or right - or above or below something, but the majority of the action is on rails ... you fly along and shoot things as they come towards you. It SOUNDS really simplistic, and it is ! But it's REALLY fun !!!!!!!! =D
This is one of the rare titles that has me happily plugging my Nintendo 64 back into the wall and foraging around to find that ever-elusive controller ... I think it is truly deserved of the name "classic"
REPLAY VALUE - 8/10
Although the console itself may be aged by today's standards (sorry Nintendo - you're good, but it's knocking on a bit now), this game and others like it ensure that people that still hold dear to their NU64's will not be laughed out of town. It's a respectable title that holds up against most others out there, and is a good example of a decent blend of graphics, sound and GAMEPLAY. Unfortunately so many of those hip, slick shooters that are released these days miss out on the gameplay, simply trying to overpower you with graphical niceities and reams and reams of pre-recorded speech. Nice, but not what makes the world go round I'm afraid.
This game has high replay value for the fact that you can go one of several different routes to reach your ultimate target, and you can actually chop and change between routes as the levels progress, all depending on your choices and performance during each level. This means that there are levels out that even I have never played, and I bought this game on the day of its release !!!!!
VALUE FOR MONEY - 10/10
For what it SHOULD cost you to pick up a copy nowadays, I'd say it's very good value for money. If you can find a cheapo console then buying that with this game is probably STILL good value for money in my opinion - it's a great game, and certainly redefined MY expectations of a flying shooter.
OVERALL - 9/10 (This is NOT an average)
One of the best titles available for the Nintendo 64, and a good example of what can be accomplished with a little effort from developers. The graphics and sound are GREAT - not the best I've ever seen but GREAT - they do the job perfectly, and leave plenty of room for the MOST important ingredient - the gameplay.
A few more titles like this and the NU64 could have a resurge in its popularity =)
MAIN GOOD POINTS
* Great graphics
* Clear and audible sounds
* WICKED gameplay
* Choice of different routes helps promote longevity and replayability
MAIN BAD POINTS
* The voice-acting is hammy in places, but that's a quibble - there's really not that much wrong with this game at all !! =)
SO SHOULD YOU GET IT ?
Yup, if you own a Nintendo 64 you should DEFINITELY grab a copy of this game if you don't already own one. If you don't own an Ultra 64 and one comes along with this game ? I'd snap it up - it's a good example of substance over flash (not to play down the graphics and sounds - both are of a high standard).
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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