The 3DS hasn’t gotten off to the start that everyone has wanted to. A high price, lack of quality games and core features that were not implemented at launch are at large to blame for that. On the game front, Nintendo might not have the answer just yet, but a new version of an old gem is here to get the ball rolling on what hopes to be a better quarter for their new handheld, without the use of ugly addons. With that being said, a team of anthropomorphic starfighters enter the fray. I am, of course, talking about Star Fox 64 3D, but is its mission a success?
Star Fox 64 3D is a game that needs no introduction; It’s the modern remake of one of the best games from the early days of the Nintendo 64. The base of the story is, of course, the same: You play as Fox McCloud, leader of a four man (or animal) group of freelance mercenary starfighters named Star Fox. When the evil Emperor Andross launches an overwhelming attack on Corneria, General Pepper calls on you to help, then sends you on a journey across the Lylat System to defeat him and avenge your father. It’s as basic as a story gets, but you didn’t need an expansive story to create such a great game fourteen years ago.
The overall gameplay of the game hasn’t changed as well. Starfox 64 3D remains the same game that you played back in 1997. You’ll shoot, bomb, and somersault your way through seven of the game’s sixteen levels on the way to your goal with the highest score possible. Your standard arsenal of lasers, charged lasers and bombs are still there and effective use of them is still the key to taking down as many enemies as possible. Your wingmen continue to give support in their unique ways, too: Slippy will analyze a Boss’ shields and display it as a health meter, Falco makes it easier to find alternate routes in a stage, and Peppy of course will still tell you to do a barrel roll.
The original package does come with a few added touches. Though you can play the game with its responsive standard controls, you also have the option of controlling your vehicle with the gyroscope. Though this may seem like a nice innovative and interesting way to fly around at first, after a while you’ll find it to be just a gimmick. In no way do the motion controls feel any more responsive and user-friendly than the standard controls do. Chances are you’re likely to try them out for a couple of stages and go straight back to your trusty circle pad friend. At the same time, the gyro controls were specifically tailored for the main game’s “Nintendo 3DS” mode, which takes the original game and makes it a bit easier, making the gyro experience less frustrating, and lets you save your progress mid-game and continue if you run out of lives. If you want a true-to-the-original experience, however, the “Nintendo 64″ mode recreates that experience at its normal difficulty, without the ability to save & quit or continue. Now… if it would only stop nagging me about using gyro controls…
Also new to Star Fox 64 3D is score attack mode. This mode allows you to play any stage that you’ve completed in the main game to try to get as many kills as possible within the confines of a single stage, and awards you medals based on how well you did. As there are no other factors that play into your score, such as time, your health or your teammates’ health, all of your strategies from the main game would work here. This provides the player with an easy pick-up-and-play format so that they can get a session in on the go without having to put aside 45 minutes to an hour for a single run, making it a functional portable game.
Starfox 64 3D also includes a completely redone battle mode. Though reminiscent of the original game’s multiplayer, battle mode features a number of enhancements, such as Super Mario Kart-style item boxes and more customizable match options, including the ability to turn off said item boxes in favor of having a bomb pickup spawn somewhere in the map. Multiplayer also includes a pseudo-video feed from your opponents that the game uses as their icons, allowing you to capture the reaction of your rival as you kill them. Of course, the better option would be to simply look across the room at the friend you just killed because, in a very bad trend of handheld games with multiplayer modes that would work great online, any online features have been neglected yet again. On the bright side, battle mode is a download play multiplayer mode, so as long as you have one game card and up to four systems, you’re set. If you don’t have any friends with 3DSes though, that’s okay. You can opt to play battle mode against three CPU-controlled opponents, though this isn’t perfect as the computer tends to sport near-perfect aim (even when you’re in the middle of a somersault) and can sometimes gang up on you.
Speaking of lack of online, did I mention that this game has the same “glitch” that Ocarina of Time 3D has which forces your 3DS offline while the game is running? Please don’t tell me all your 3DS games are going to be like this, Nintendo.
Anyone whose played the original will be able to immediately tell the difference between the looks of both Starfox 64 and Starfox 64 3D. The game has been completely remastered and the result is amazing. From water that reacts to a low-flying arwing or laser fire, to flares on solar, to the vastness of space, the visuals do a good job of showing off the power of the 3DS without any slowdown or glitches. The music and voices have all been re-recorded too, both with its advantages and drawbacks. Although the newly rearranged orchestral soundtrack is pleasing, the new voices kind of make me miss the original ones. I can’t get used to the way Peppy says “Do a barrel roll!” now, to be honest.
That being said, Star Fox 64 3D is a very pleasant experience. Whether or not you get it depends on your tastes. If you want an action game with a lengthy story, then this may not be the one for you. If you’re a veteran that doesn’t mind pay full price for a port or are just someone that’s looking for an arcade-style shooter with the goal of getting as high a score as possible, then this is one to get if you have a 3DS. Nintendo has, however, made it clear; If you love Starfox games, you may want to consider buying this one, as Nintendo has made it clear that sales will impact the future of the franchise.
All aside, it’s awesome, and a buy if you don’t mind shelling out $40 for it.