Leave No Game Untouched’s Starfox 64 (N64) Review

Yay, the very first Nintendo 64 review by me, jakovzord, StarFox 64 also known as Lylat Wars was a top selling video game at its time and birthplace of the quote “Do a barrel roll!” It is a remake of the game Star Wing for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, yes that’s right, not a sequel a remake. This year Star Fox is again going to have a remake for the upcoming 3ds handheld consol, I don’t know if that’s going to be a pointless remake or not but I’m just going to review this and let you decide if you want the screen escaping remake or not. This game is great and I’ll tell you why in this review, obviously.

StarFox 64 takes place in a galaxy called Lylat. All the characters are anthropomorphic animals (with the exception for ROB64 and others). General Pepper of the planet Corneria sends a message to the StarFox team that do stuff for cash, General Pepper tells them that a guy called Andross has declared war so he can take over the Lylat System, he then tells them that he is currently trying to take over Corneria because his army sucks at doing stuff so he wants StarFox to help Corneria first and then save the entire galaxy. That’s pretty much the gist of the storyline, and I loved the storyline of this game, snappy yet mildly complex and gives meaning to the awesome gameplay.

You Play as Fox McCloud, leader of the StarFox team; you take control of his spaceship (exclusive to StarFox team) called the Arwing, every member of the team has it. Before you do any flying you must choose the route you want to take, I’ll get into detail with that later. The Arwing has many functions, the most simplest being the lazer shooting, you can upgrade your lazer by collecting the power up with the letter L on it, that upgrades it into the dual wing blasters which fire 2 more powerful lazers, that can then be upgraded into the final most powerful dual blasters which are blue instead of green. You can hold A to charge you’re lazer into a more powerful lazer and then lock on enemies to home in on them and if well planned, destroy multiple enemies in one shot. You also have bombs which you can also home in on enemies to destroy lots of them and collect, however you only start off with 3 and can hold a maximum of 9 and bombs aren’t always easy to collect.

As well as offence, the Arwing has an equal defence. You have a shield gauge which serves as the HP in this game which obviously decreases every time you collide with buildings or rocks or get hit by lazers. You can fly through silver rings to increase your shield gauge and you can fly through gold rings to do the same thing but if you fly through three of them your maximum HP will be increased. You can do a barrel roll to deflect enemy lazers, use the brakes or boost to avoid obstacles but you can’t use them forever because of another gauge which goes up and down depending on how long you used them. You can also perform a summersault which makes the Arwing do a flip to avoid enemies chasing you; this also takes up the gauge. Heavy collisions can sometimes destroy one of the Arwing’s wings which makes balance awkward and takes away the dual blast lazer upgrade if you had it. You can repair you’re wings with the wing repair item which replace the lazer upgrades at that situation. A few levels and sections hold the all range mode of the Arwing which open up the wings and make it possible to fly everywhere on the map given, in this mode you have an extra move which flips the Arwing so it instantly starts flying in the opposite direction in some of the all range mode levels you fight Star Wolf, a team of four who were hired by Andross to stop StarFox and serve as their Arch Nemesis. Peppy Hare, Slippy Toad and Falco Lombardi are the other members of StarFox; they fly with you in the every level unless they’re down for repair, that’s right they have a decreasable shield too. Peppy gives you tips, Slippy analyses boss shields and Falco can cover you and generally look cool.

Once you pass a level, depending what has happened in that level the path will vary. So if you want to get to one stage you might have to do something special in the previous level. This is what the path choosing is all about. I personally think that the game could have been better without the path thing, but the secrets to get to a hard level hard to get to was a pretty good gameplay element. In some other levels you can take control of a tank called the LandMaster which apart from the no lazer upgrades and aerial summersaults has the same function, the LandMaster can also hover for a short time. The other vehicle you can take control of is a submarine called the BlueMarine which appears in only one level, the worst level. This vehicle can shoot lazers, boost, brake, barrel roll but its bombs are replaced by torpedos, which you have an unlimited supply to, making the lazers kind of useless, they could have done a better job with the BlueMarine. That finally sums up the gameplay.

The controls were easy and nice, A is used to shoot lazers and holding A charges them up, B shoots bombs and Z and R are used to turn the Arwing and by pressing them multiple times it makes the Arwing do the famed barrel roll. C left is the boost and C down is the brakes. Control stick up + C left makes you do the summersault. If you press C up you’ll go into first person mode, this mode is useless and doesn’t give any advantage to your gameplay, which was quite disappointing to me, the mode is not available in all range mode. In all range mode first person is replaced by adjusting your camera so you have a better look all around you, ironically that camera thing is pretty useful. You can press control stick up + C down to go the opposite direction in all range mode. As the LandMaster everything is the same except for the lack of summersaults and first person, you can press Z and R to hover for a short time. As BlueMarine everything is the same except for summersaults.
The soundtrack in this game was pretty good. I personally liked Star Wing’s soundtrack slightly more but SF64 still has lots to offer with the soundtrack. What I liked about the soundtrack was that it suited the game and each level itself. What I was disappointed was that there are sometimes the same songs in multiple levels, especially the all range mode ones; I think it would have been better if every single level had their own theme, for this type of game at least.

The Graphics were very blocky in this game, as you can see in the picture on the top Fox and the others seem quite….squared or however you want to say it, this isn’t much of a problem because the blocky graphics don’t matter when you’re in a machine and everything around you is some sort of machine and machines are quite blocky so I don’t think that the graphics were much of a problem, the remake for the 3DS will of course have much better graphics.

The levels were very well designed; sometimes you can fly through certain things to get a power up because of your skills. Throughout many levels there is a great variety of interaction, and I love it. Depending on what you do can depend on what the other StarFox members might say, for example in an all range mode you might accidentally crash into Peppy and he’ll say “Watch where you’re flying” , and there are many other things that you can do to make them say stuff, the interaction also sometimes can change your route. The obstacles were also well designed in the levels; you may have to boost brake or summersault to avoid colliding with objects such as meteors. The levels theme can vary depending if you’re in outer space or on a planet. At the end of each level is a boss (except for all range mode levels). There is however one level in the entire game that I didn’t like and that was the BlueMarine level, as Slippy would have said “It’s Awful!”.

There were many foes in this game; most of them just involved a good aim with your lazers, but some of them you had to try something different. I liked the variety of enemies and how you had to shoot sharply to try to get them all. The badies were part of the game that gave you a great thrill while playing. I would have liked to see a bit more of those ones where you had to think before making a move. StarWolf are the toughest and funnest enemies in the game, they can do just as much as what the Arwing can do and were a great addition to make at that time. There was one thing I didn’t like about the badies, it was that most of them were easy to blow up, especially in all range mode, even when you unlock expert mode the all range mode enemies pretty much just fly around waiting for you to shoot them, it would have been more fun if the enemies were a bit more difficult to kill. The bosses were also great, you would have had to find their weakness which is usually the “core” to destroy them, and when you couldn’t find the core you had to do something to make the core appear, the bosses were great fun I don’t really have any problem with them.
In conclusion the game was great but there were a few things that could have made it better, the biggest being that the game was so short, even when you’ve explored every path you just wish that it’s longer and has more levels. Who’d ever thought that such a short game would make my longest review? I’m also not a big fan of the whole route to venom thing; I think it would have been better if it was a one way path. The enemies also could have also had a few adjusting and as for the BlueMarine, they’d better make that level better in the remake because it was pretty bad. I had to give the game a really really really big round of applause for its great and engaging gameplay, what more could a person want, lazers and flying through mysterious rings from outer space.

Overall Rating 8.5/10 Unnamed units

Written By JakovZord 25/2/2011

  1. Jack Stervington

    soz dood the hole “flying through rings” thing is a bust imo coz it reminds me 2 much of Superman 64 gud review tho keep it up

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