Review by EPoetker

Reviewed: 02/06/00 | Updated: 02/06/00

The Super FX chip debuts, and what a wonderful introduction it is...

I ask you, the humble reader, to reminisce with me for a second. Remember in the intro to the first Star Wars, when you saw the Corellian Corvette shooting at something and thought: ''This is pretty cool.'' THEN you saw the gargantuan frame of the Star Destroyer chasing it and thought: ''THIS IS AWESOME!'' Imagine, if you will, that the year was 1977 and you were part of the first viewing audience. Then you'll get a somewhat clear picture of how I felt when I first saw the intro to Star Fox, one of the finest games to ever grace the Super Nintendo. Human memories generally try to remember the good stuff rather than the bad, and my own memories were begging me to give this game a 10...but I couldn't. And then my rational mind kicked in, and I found the one quality that make this game less than perfect. It has to do with the...

GRAPHICS. Now HERE was a nice surprise! Before Star Fox, I had never used the word ''polygon'' in a sentence before. I was soon to see that my vocabulary would suffer sorely for the lack of this noun. You'd think that the first game to make an almost exclusive use of polygonal graphics would be nice, but rather blah to look at. WRONG. The 3-D views completely blew away my preconceived conception of how I thought a 3-d game would look. It set a standard that worked so well that Nintendo stayed true to it in Star Fox 64, years after the original was made. Using simple geometric shapes, the Star Fox team was able to produce some of the coolest effects ever seen, like the giant rotating girders in Sector X, the walls that appeared almost out of nowhere in Venom, and the very cool way that the end boss made his entrance. But all was not dependent upon polygons, for certain objects in the background(most notably in the asteroid fields) were still hand-drawn in all their 16-bit glory. The two graphical modes, I'm happy to say, merged perfectly. Unfortunately...Star Fox's greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. For polygons, though they can be manipulated to produce 3-d images, are still really 2-d planes at heart. Turn e'm sideways and they become invisible. Turn 'em another way and it can be really hard to find out where a point on their edge terminates. This is most annoying when the terminating point happens to be your wing tip, and it happens to get slashed off by the edge of a column, thereby reducing your really cool blue double-gun to a hapless little laser. Too often was the time when I thought I had plenty of space to pass, and instead had my wing hit the stupid column for huge damage or weapon loss. Fewer(but more relieving) were the times when I was sure that I'd be crushed to death under a huge wall, only to somehow mysteriously make it. These little things were enough to take the game down one full point. It downgrades the title from ''magnum opus'' to a mere ''classic.''But don't use this as an excuse to rip on this game. Would you call an Olympic figure skater a horrible loser if she slipped and fell just once in her routine? (The judges would, but for crying out loud, SHE MADE IT TO THE OLYMPICS!) I would be especially annoyed at you if you did this after listening to...

THE MUSIC! Another Star Wars moment, please. The Empire Strikes Back. The asteroid field. Watch that sequence again. Watch it with the stereo at full blast. Would that scene have been HALF as exciting if it had been done without the best musical sequence in the ENTIRE Star Wars score? I think not. The music in Star Fox has only Gradius 3 as a contender in terms of sheer coolness. You can easily tell that the musicians were INSPIRED enough to create the music that fit every level like a glove. My favorite sequences include Corneria, Sector X, THE SPACE ARMADA(a perfect merging of old and new space-hero themes) and Venom. You may undoubtedly have different preferences, but ALL of the music in this title is nothing less than perfection. Especially when combined with the sounds of the lasers, blazing off into the distance, and the explosions which rattled through your ship. Too bad they didn't have the Rumble Pak back then. Oh well...you got to hear your wingmen speaking in their native language, anyway...

On to the gameplay! Aside from the one niggling flaw mentioned above, anybody, with a little practice, can get into this game. ALL of the button on the SNES control pad are used, so you'll have to go through the convenient tutorial to get the hang of all the moves. Slightly experienced players will be performing barrel rolls, tight turns, and laser sweeps in no time. And there's no doubt that you'll keep coming back to the game again and again, due to the fact that you can choose three different paths(easy, medium, hard) to Venom. There are even two hidden levels-a pretty nice easter egg, all told! And one of the nicest little extra features is on the continue screen-a place where you can view and rotate almost every non-boss ship in the game! (I WAS ROYALLY P-D OFF WHEN THIS FEATURE WAS NOT INCLUDED IN STAR FOX 64!) You'll be flying over planets and through space, and while in space you can change to a cockpit view for that ''Death Star Trench run'' feeling. The multiple pathways and modes most definitely make this cart a keeper. Star Fox is a little harder than most games, even when you do get the views down, so you'll need to invest a little bit more time and effort into beating Andross's minions on the easy stages before tackling the hard.

I've spent enough time praising this cart, now's the time for you to take my advice and head on over to your nearest used-game store or emulation site and GET THIS GAME! The classics always deserve to be revisited, and Star Fox is no exception.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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