Star Fox 64
Because I donít believe graphics make the difference between good games and bad games, I wonít bother to rate graphics in my reviews unless there are glitches or abnormalities that affect gameplay. In this case, there are no issues of that sort. If you wish to judge the graphics, you are free to look at the screenshots and decide for yourself. I did not take these screenshots, however; my computer wasn't cooperating with me.
Story/Concept (Genre) 8.5/10
You play as Fox McCloud, a young pilot in command of a four-man squadron of space fighters. Your mission is to save the Lylat system by deafeating Andross. If this sounds familiar, thatís because it is; this game is basically a remake of Star Fox for the Super Nintendo. Despite this, some changes to the story have been made, such as the inclusion of the Star Wolf team.
While the plot may not be as fresh as desired, the story really comes out in the interaction between the characters. Friendly fighters such as Bill and Katt add a bit of a backstory to some of the characters, while never really revealing much. This adds a bit of mystery, which invites you to take an interest in the characters. You also learn that Pigma and Wolf of the Star Wolf team have a history with one of your current wingmates and your father, and this creates a stronger relationship than the simple good guy vs. bad guy dichotomy. In this way, the story is refreshing and involving, and the characters are very well-developed.
Because characters will talk to you over the radio through all of your missions, you are constantly involved with them on a personal level, the story is constantly being told, and the characters are constantly being developed. This method of story-telling also eliminates the need for lengthy cut-scenes in order to tell the story, which allows the game to flow nicely with few pauses in the action.
Members of your team will use the radio to call for help.
The game consists of several levels, which the player may take branching paths through. Levels either take place in an Arwing, Landmaster, or Blue Marine, which operate on air, land, and sea, respectively. In most levels, progression is forced, which means that your vehicle moves through the level without your input, while you are allowed to control the left/right or up/down movement of your vehicle. Also, you can slow down or speed up your vehicle momentarily. Vehicles also posses abilities including somersaults, barrel rolls, U-turns, hovering, firing bombs or missles, and charging shots, but not all of these apply to every vehicle.
However, some levels and bosses are played in all-range mode, which applies to the Arwing only. In this mode, you have the ability to move around the level at will, and the game will automatically redirect you when you move outside the boundaries of the level.
If you don't help your team, you'll lose them for a few missions.
The controls are surprisingly smooth for this game, which makes extensive use of the C-buttons. The control stick is very responsive, and youíre able to do just about anything quickly and easily. The game also helps you with the controls by telling you, through the radio chatter of your teammates, what buttons to press in order to perform certain actions.
Do a barrel roll!
The sounds are clear and sharp. The voice acting is surprisingly good, and the music is atmospheric. There is nothing else I can say about the sound; except it is what all games should aspire to achieve.
Replay Value 7/10
Because of the branching path that the game allows you to take on your path to Andross, and because it is impossible to play every level in one playthrough, the single-player campaign has a decent amount of replay value on its own. Also, you can try to set high scores for each level, earning points for defeating enemies, defeating more than one enemy at a time, or for dispatching bosses quickly. Earning enough points on a level with earn you a medal, and these medals will unlock a higher difficulty level and certain options in versus mode, the multiplayer game.
One possible path through the game.
Versus mode is not nearly as fun as its single-player companion. There are only three levels to choose from, and the amount of upgrades and pick-ups are limited. Furthermore, two highly-skilled players going at it can result in some long, boring battles, where players just circle around one another, deflecting lasers and performing U-turns to get out of lock-ons. Players start out with only one vehicle, but can earn more by performing certain actions in the single-player campaign. Still, the multiplayer mode feels lacking and hardly compares to the multiplayer modes of other games of its time.
Fan Service 9/10
This game plays very much like the original Star Fox, keeping several aspects the same, especially the story. All of the same characters return, and some new ones are introduced. The game also incorporates some things from Star Fox 2, an unreleased game that was canceled because of the impending release of the Nintendo 64. However, fans undoubtedly heard of some of its features, and all-terrain mode and the Star Wolf team from Star Fox 2 made it into this remake of the original Star Fox. Their addition is seamless. The only thing they left out that might give fans pause were the characters Fay and Miyu from Star Fox 2, which have not been included in any Star Fox game since.
The Landmaster Tank.
What Makes This Game Great
This game is a fast-paced, action-packed version of the original Star Fox for the SNES. It has a flowing storyline and well-developed characters, who all feel like they have a personality of their own. The gameplay is smooth and the controls feel almost natural.
Bosses will often taunt you, even if they're robots.
What Could Make This Game Better
A better multiplayer option would be welcome here, and the addition of a few more levels would add to the replay value.
The Bottom Line
This game is certainly worth picking up, especially because it only costs 1000 points on the Virtual Console at the moment. It is a game that has aged well, and still feels crisp and refreshing. I would recommend this game to almost anyone.