Review by Brian Phares
It's happening all over again. I'm ten years old and I'm going over to my friend Shane Apperson's house to play "StarFox 64" with him. We've been working our way through the missions, trying to figure out all of the alternate routes. Neither of us have the Internet so our only source of information is trial and error and the local rumors spreading around the schoolyard. Wait that can't be right, it's 2011 and I'm sitting in my bed playing a 3DS by myself. This ultimately is the best feature of "StarFox 64 3D": Nostalgia.
"StarFox 64 3D" is a flying-on-the-rails shooter in which you play Fox McCloud, the leader of an intrepid group of young humanoid-animal space fighters set on wresting the galaxy from the evil clutches of the mad scientist Andross, one planet at a time. You pilot a space fighter (though brief excursions are made in a tank and a submarine) that is capable of barrel rolls, speed boosts and laser blasts. The missions are simple: survive to the end while shooting as many baddies and collecting as many rings as possible, before blowing up the boss.
A Journey Of Re-Discovery
One of the pleasures of the original "StarFox 64" was managing to access all of the alternate missions. Your first time through will most likely find you playing all of the "easy" missions and beating the game, yet more than half of the planets set before you remain unvanquished, how can this be?
Well back when I was ten, Shane and I slowly started to piece together the ways in which to access any mission we wanted by fulfilling a set of unstated mission criteria that allowed us to access secret alternate paths. Of course fourteen years later I've all but forgotten these secrets, and the challenge is new all over again. If you really want the "authentic" experience, shy away from Google and try to find the secret levels on your own.
We always remember old games with modern graphics (well at least I do), but in the case of "StarFox 64 3D" the game truly delivers on the memory. This game is gorgeous. In full 3D, lasers fly at you from every direction, bombs cast their blue glow across the battlefield and your ship's reflection dances in the water. "StarFox 64 3D" fully delivers on the promise of my dodgy childhood memory because, let's be honest, if I went back and played the original "StarFox 64" the graphics would probably break my heart.
Man The Gyroscope!
Motion controls are all the rage these days, and adding gyroscopic controls to "StarFox 64 3D" seems like a bit of an afterthought. The controls aren't so much what I take issue with, as they cash in on your body's natural urge to pilot your ship through tight spots by moving the controller. This I enjoyed. I was more angered by their constant need to be re-calibrated and the fact that, when activated, the game lowered the difficulty level. Ultimately, I just turned them off and they weren't missed.
The game says it supports multiplayer and allows for download play for up to four people. "StarFox 64 3D" essentially emulates N64's multiplayer mode, which is to say it's pretty barebones. No true online play, matchmaking, leveling, unlockable weapons and bonuses and no leaderboard system. It's a cute extra, but it's not much more than that.
Despite its dated multiplayer and a lack of new mission content, "StarFox 64 3D" is still a great game. It takes what made the original so strong and gives it a graphical overhaul. Yes, it may be an almost exact replica of the original but I still had a total blast playing it, which is ultimately the only thing that matters. "StarFox 64 3D" is a great remake of a classic game and should be a weapon in any gamers arsenal.