Star Fox 64 Exam (N64)

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This review originally posted in 2016, and we’re updating and republishing it to mark the arrival of N64 games to Nintendo Switch Online.


Despite Star Fox 64 (or Lylat Wars in Europe) being only the second (released) game in the series, Nintendo decided it was time to reboot and so, much like the original SNES, this Nintendo 64 title sees exiled scientist Andross causing problems in the Lylat system. It’s up to you, as Fox McCloud and the rest of your Star Fox team, to fight their forces and save the day.

As before, saving the day involves a lot of rail shooting action, but there are a lot of differences from the previous game, in addition to the increased fidelity that comes from 64-bit hardware. Star Fox 64 is inspired by then-new Star Fox 2, including the “full range mode” that the game occasionally switches to, allowing free movement in an arena as you battle enemy forces. The new U-Turn maneuver is useful for taking on an enemy that has just passed full speed, and a few missions here see Fox taking control of the tank-like Landmaster to provide a change of pace. There is also an underwater mission.

The game originally came with the Nintendo 64 Rumble Pak, which added welcome feedback to the excellent controls as you lean, dive, explode and, yes, barrel roll through the hookup levels avoiding impacts and explosions and generally shooting them with the Star Fox team by your side.

The game is great fun to play, the movement of your Arwing feels natural as you descend gently to pick up a power-up or turn frantically to deflect enemy fire. There is an epic feel to the game as you work your way through the missions and the fights vary depending on the situation. The locking feature of your lasers is useful for getting rid of enemies, but if there are a lot of them, sometimes it’s easier to just detonate – and of course you can “use the bombs wisely”.

There are several different paths through the Lylat system, and the way you complete a mission affects your next destination. There are also a variety of visited planets and space battles. Sometimes you’ll fight enemies (including the rival Star Wolf team), and other times you’ll take out waves of attackers and squeeze between obstacles – brake, boost, and the new looping maneuver deployed to take you across the stage in one piece.

Visually, there was a big step forward from the SNES game; the added power of Nintendo 64 offering more polygons which in combination with textures added much more detail to the locations while the cinematic moments help you immerse yourself in the story. Years later, the SNES game has an eye-catching minimalist look, but the greater visual complexity presented here holds up as well – it certainly moves a lot easier than the 16-bit title and there are plenty of gorgeous environments to visit, although the game’s most blocking moments stand out these days.

From an audio point of view, there is some good hummable music; a mix of action and adventure that works well with on-screen events. Other tracks can have intense sound and there are some very effective sound effects as you cycle through the levels (or crash into objects). While the original Star Fox (with a few exceptions) used a collection of sound effects to create a language for the team’s radio communications, here they are voiced entirely in English, although the original PAL region version includes a Lylat “babbling” if you prefer that. Aside from a few simple line reads, the chatter works well and adds to the excitement of the missions and the wacky B-movie vibe of the game.

The game can be finished quickly, but the frantic action makes the games enjoyable; the multiple paths also add variety, with difficulty being well rated and getting harder and harder as you progress. Fight your way through a difficult mission and the difficulty increase is quite noticeable. Do a mission well and you will receive a medal, and earning medals in all missions will keep you occupied for a while.

The multiplayer mode, available for up to four players, also adds to the longevity of the game. You can either blast each other or participate in a time trial mode where you take down as many enemy gear as possible in the game. The time alloted. Earning medals here unlocks more ways to play these modes, but however you choose to fight, it’s fun to be had if you can find three volunteer pilots.

Conclusion

There is a lot of enjoyable fighting as you sneak around the screen, take out enemies, and avoid hitting obstacles in Star Fox 64. All-range mode (as well as tank and submarine missions) add extra strength. variety to your game and the multiplayer mode provides plenty of fun. The game can be completed quickly, but there are other paths to explore and medals to be won. It all adds up to the replayability, but the main reason to return to this cinematic rail shooter is that it’s still a total delight.


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