Star Fox 64 3D Review for Nintendo 3DS

Star Fox 64 3D Review for Nintendo 3DS

Fox Is Back

Nintendo’s putting the 3DS back on the right sales track by harnessing the power of remastered classics. Despite some critics crying out for legitimate sequels and fresh material, the numbers don’t lie, as the recent entry of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is already well past the million unit sales mark. Star Fox 64 3D attempts the same enhancement recipe, utilizing many of the 3DS features lacking in the original N64 version from 1997. Despite a few disappointments, the game is technically superior, while maintaining a challenging and engrossing adventure through superbly crafted levels.

New fans will most likely find the story to be clichéd and overused, but it will ring true with longtime fans nonetheless. It’s a tale of galactic invasion where a small band of heroes must take on a seemingly endless horde of enemy forces and defeat the evil genius behind the calamity. The varied cast of animal characters, still sporting the simple, puppet-like mouth movements provides a refreshing, albeit timid, return to a visual style not bogged down by realism.

Star Fox 64 3D Screenshot

You take the cockpit as Fox McCloud, and along with your faithful wingmen, Falco Lombardi, Peppy Hare, and Slippy Toad, you’ll repel the minions of Andross, battling in space and on planets in low-altitude, corridor-style levels. Most of the time you’ll be strapped into your Arwing, a spacecraft equipped with upgradable lasers, bombs, and the ability to perform evasive tricks such as summersaults, u-turns, and the über famous barrel rolls. A couple missions have you take control of the tank-like Landmaster, or the submarine-type Blue-Marine, both of which handle similarly to the Arwing but are designed for different venues.

The visuals are greatly superior to the original, with all the characters displayed with smooth lines, a more vibrant color palette, and great detailing. Everything else in the game is noticeably improved, from the buildings and enemies to the dynamic water effects (especially the toxic ocean of Zoness) and lava waves of Solar. That being said, none of the elements have received a major design overhaul. Although everything looks smoother around the edges, the geometric polygons are apparent, hindering this updated version from competing in a fresh visual environment.

Star Fox 64 3D Screenshot

What does stand out, both literally and figuratively, are the 3D effects—no game on the portable to date has presented a more perfect translation. Even with the constant action happening onscreen, everything fits just right without straining the eyes. Part of the success must be given to the style of gameplay; most levels take advantage of a corridor design that keeps you moving straight ahead from start to finish. Gauging the enemies’ locations improves strategy while giving the illusion of a large playing area in a tight diameter.

However, the 3D works in opposition to a new control scheme. With its brand new gyro controls, the game allows you to maneuver as if you were grasping the yoke of an airplane, tilting the 3DS up, down, left, and right to steer in that respective direction. It requires a little extra time to adjust and is less tight compared to the classic controls, but it certainly adds a new gameplay element. Of course, with the glasses-free device, deviating from the sweet spot creates blurred images, so you’ll unfortunately have to choose whether you prefer the motion controls or 3D effect; you just can’t have both.

Star Fox 64 3D Screenshot

Because of the new controls, the game offers two different modes to play. The Nintendo 64 mode remains the classic format, while the Nintendo 3DS mode offers the option of using the gyro controls. Additionally, you are granted continues on the 3DS mode to temper the more difficult approach.

Whether you become attached to the plight of the Cornerians or not, you’ll be hard pressed to find a level that doesn’t beckon to be replayed again and again. Each is uniquely designed, has the perfect clear time, and presents optional routes and plenty of combo opportunities. There is a hit indicator that grows with each downed enemy, with bonuses for taking out multiple bogies using a single charged shot. This counter becomes important, since reaching a specific milestone awards you with a medal for that level.

Aside from the main campaign, there is a Score Attack mode where you can obtain another medal, either bronze, silver, or gold, depending on your final hit total. Achieving milestones unlocks many different extras, from a sound test to an expert mode (which ups the challenge factor significantly). Also, don’t expect to claim a gold medal on your first try—or even your first ten tries. Success hinges on memorization of every inch of every level, knowing how to maximize your hit combos, acing the flight controls, and plenty of trial and error. Despite sounding like an arduous task, the aforementioned pristine level design coupled with the engaging action will surely keep you coming back.

What you may not come back for too often, though, is the multiplayer mode. Basically a complete mirror of the N64 version, you and up to four friends can battle it out in a few arena style maps, partaking in a Survival (last man standing), Point Battle, or Time Battle. There are a few pickups unique to the versus mode that add a little flare to the matches, and requiring only one game card makes for an easier assembly of friends.

Star Fox 64 3D Screenshot

Another multiplayer addition is the video/photo feature, a highly touted inclusion that plants a live feed of your foe’s face (via the front camera) onscreen, displaying their anger or elation over how they fared in the matchup. Yet the fact that your challenger will usually be sitting right across from you makes this element seem tacked on. It would have been more interesting if your opponent was playing from Japan or Australia. The lack of any online component is a big misstep for a modern game, even with the defense of being a remastered port of a decades old title. The social world has become digitally interactive, and gamers as a whole are more attuned to online battles than local wireless ones. Without so much as a leaderboard, Star Fox 64 3D certainly missed an opportunity to strike a chord with the core gamer.

The notes that do strike true are the refined audio, filtered several times from the original to present clean, crisp sounds. The voiceover work is from the N64 version; every line is delivered exactly as you remember, just without the scratchy white noise. Also, the music has been remastered, and even adds a nicely composed second credits track. The simple yet addictive melodies of the menu screen were always a personal favorite of mine, which I had to listen to several times before starting my first campaign.

Star Fox 64 was certainly on the short list of classic games that fans were yearning for a rerelease of. The game technically holds strong with the revamped 3DS version, and the challenging gameplay hearkens back to a time when skill was a necessity for reaching the credits. The motion controls are an interesting alternative, but would have fared better on the Wii, where the screen remains fixed. And the multiplayer, while still enjoyable with friends, begs to be played with unknown adversaries. However, with so many reasons to replay each and every level a hundred times, you’ll definitely get your money’s worth out of this game.

Very polished and smooth, with perfectly implemented 3D visuals. The only small sticking point is the original polygons are still discernable to even an untrained eye. 4.2 Control
The gyro controls have a heavier learning curve and work against the 3D effect, but still present a unique alternative. The classic controls are tight and responsive. 5.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
All the classic sounds and tunes have been remastered, and voiceovers are static free. Grab some good headphones for this one. 4.0 Play Value
Lots of unlocks for extra features, and some of the best level design ever seen makes this game infinitely replayable. A perfect score is tarnished here by a lackluster multiplayer option. 4.4 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • A complete graphical update brings a Nintendo classic into the era of portable 3D fun. The game makes effective use of the Nintendo 3DS system’s dual screens: The top screen features 3D aerial combat, while the bottom screen displays characters and dialogue.
  • There are two control methods for the player to experience. The Nintendo 64 Mode offers original controls, while the new Nintendo 3DS Mode uses the motion controls of the built-in Gyro Sensor of the Nintendo 3DS system.
  • Trusted wingmen Peppy, Slippy, and Falco are along for the ride – if one of them is chased of captured by an enemy, players must act to protect them in order to keep their team strong.
  • Each mission takes players through a different planet of the Lylat system as they blast enemies, collect power-ups, and fight powerful bosses on their way to the final battle.
  • A new multiplayer option lets up to four players engage in fierce aerial combat via local wireless connection (using four systems and one game card via DS Download Play). The multiplayer mode also includes new power-ups and special weapons. Players can use the Nintendo 3DS system’s inner camera to display a live video feed of their faces as they battle, bringing a new level of fun and personalization to the multiplayer experience.

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