Star Fox 64 (Nintendo 64) review
"This game has massive replay value. There are at least two dozen different paths you can take to the final level, meaning the game isn't linear by any means. There are secret routes, multiple endings to each stage, etc..."
If you owned an SNES and were into space combat games, I'm sure you owned one called Star Fox. Or at least played it once or twice. I remember renting it and borrowing a friend's copy repeatedly, trying to make it to the final level endlessly. I actually made it at some point, but my wingmen had been killed and I was down to like one life... needless to say I never made it to Andross.
I was happy to hear once I got my Nintendo 64 that a sequel to (or rather, a remake of) this game was coming out, called Star Fox 64. You can bet your sweet aunt Merdle that this was one of the first N64 titles I ever bought, and let me tell you something, I never regretted it for an instant. The game was absolutely great.
I usually gripe and bitch and moan at this point about the things that were wrong with the game I'm reviewing, but aside from lack-luster voice-overs in a few places, I honestly can't think of anything I didn't like about Star Fox 64. It was just THAT good. Bless Shigeru Miyamoto for creating such a fine game.
To start out with, I personally think Star Fox 64's control scheme is flawless. It's easy to get the hang of piloting your Arwing; the analog stick is very responsive, and the Arwings fly like a dream.
There are plenty of maneuvers you can use to avoid enemy fire, such as somersaults and u-turns, and barrel rolling even deflects laser shots. A very useful trick in a bad situation, and you will have to make good use of it as the game progresses. There are nice tricks for attacking your opponents, as well, such as the ability to lock onto them by holding the A button. You can even destroy multiple enemies at once with a charged shot.
Also, you'll find a variety of powerups scattered throughout each stage that will be a big help as you play. Laser upgrades, for example, increase the power of your Arwing's basic weaponry, making blowing up enemy fighters easier (and more stylish, as well... those dual cannons on the wing nacelles just make the Arwing look damn cool). Smart Bombs will destroy or heavilly damage anything within a wide range. Silver rings restore your shield energy, and gold ones not only do that, but increase the size of your shield gauge as well (there are, at the very least, three gold rings per stage). If your ship's wings take too much damage, you'll find repair powerups in place of laser upgrades.
The graphics aren't anywhere near as good as those newfangled 128+-bit consoles, but still, they're very clean and colorful, with a minimum of popup or the N64's infamous fog. There's also quite a bit of environment interaction, as most things react to being shot by your lasers with obvious scorch marks at the very least. In some levels you can blow up most obstacles, such as the Meteo asteroid field, and you can destroy virtually EVERYTHING in the Area 6 stage.
Star Fox 64 has some nice atmosphere music going as well. Kind of Star Wars-esque orchestra music fills each level, and it never seems out of place. You may be too busy destroying your enemies while trying to stay alive to pay much attention to things like the music, but when you do get to take a breather and notice it, it always fits the mood. Whoever composed the musical score for this game did a very fine job, I must say.
The voice acting in SF64 isn't bad at all, either. There are a few sketchy spots, but the characters' voices all suit them quite well, and for the most part, it really adds to the overall experience. Falco's voice acting is by far the best, and I found his brashness to be quite amusing at times.
The game's level design is top notch, in my opinion. There are usually several routes through each stage, and things will have changed slightly depending on certain circumstances, such as wether or not you have all your wingmen with you. Which brings me to my next point.
This game has massive replay value. There are at least two dozen different paths you can take to the final level, meaning the game isn't linear by any means. There are secret routes, multiple endings to each stage, etc. And once you've gone through all of those, you'll still have to earn each stage's medal by destroying a certain number of enemies and keeping your wingmen alive (getting them all unlocks the Hard difficulty setting, and getting all the medals in hard unlocks bonuses in the multiplayer mode).
Yes that's right, I said multiplayer mode. You and three of your friends can battle it out in a fight to the death, a most-kills-wins scenario, or a play-for-points game (shooting down Venomian fighters; whoever has the most of them shot down wins). You get to use either the Arwing, the Landmaster tank, or if you have earned all the medals in hard mode, your individual character armed with a bazooka. Obviously, you can't use the Landmaster or your character sans vehicle in the Sector Z stage, but...
On a small side note, the number of enemies you shoot down in the game will affect the final screen at the end of the credits. Try for as many as you can! General Pepper's responses are rather funny.
Star Fox 64 is, quite simply, an excellent game, and one you should definitely own. Buy it, play it, love it.
Staff review by Kieran Greyloch (Date unavailable)
Kieran Greyloch is an automotive technology student who enjoys wasting every moment of his spare time playing videogames and tabletop RPGs.
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