Game Description: Get ready to be launched into a futuristic world of space combat like you have never experienced before. Enjoy great real-time 3D action that will completely immerse you in a interplanetary struggle between good and evil. In Star Fox 64 you will fly over alien worlds weave through canyons explore futuristic cities soar through huge asteroids and more as you try to save the universe by defeating the evil emperor Andross. See how it feels to feel what you see! The Nintendo 64 Rumble Pak controller accessory instantly transmits all the bumps and blasts during the action. It's a new jolt to your game play experience.
Nintendo really pushed the technological boundaries of the 16-Bit era when it released the original Star Fox. Coupled with the FX chip (a software coprocessor enabling the usage of 3D polygons on the SNES), Star Fox was a console game that looked like no other at the time. While the polygon-look was very primitive compared to the ones on computer and arcade games, it was still extremely cutting edge for the console market (whose processors lacked the muscle to create convincing 3D worlds) and garnered much praise from fans for its uniqueness.
Cut to the present day of next generation systems, where the videogame market is vastly different since Star Fox's debut. 3D is now the trend and Nintendo is going to have to apply a few new tricks if it wants to surprise gamers with the sequel, Star Fox 64. Luckily for them, the man behind the first Star Fox, the legendary Shigeru Miyamoto, is back on the job for the 64-Bit version. Can lightning strike twice?
Defying (if not shattering) the laws of physics, Star Fox 64is the proverbial second lightning strike. While pretty much following the original's format of being a rail-shooter, Star Fox 64 still manages to present itself with a fresh new style and energy. Star Fox 64is not a game with any particular strengths or weaknesses. Instead, it is a game so equally complete in virtually every aspect (from graphics to gameplay), it is simply a thing of beauty.
Gamers are once again thrust into the role of mercenary pilot, Fox McCloud, in his battles against the forces of Andross. While mission levels are structured well around the ongoing plot, there's nothing groundbreaking in the 'kid-friendly' story. However, what is particularly exciting are the many sci-fi pop culture references made throughout the game. Star Fox 64 pays tribute to films like Star Wars, Aliens, Independence Day, and even the anime classic, Mobile Suit Gundam, by either intellectually stealing elements or comically parodying them.
Examining the game from a more traditional view reveals that it is heavily sculpted in an arcade fashion. The action is quick and frantic and I found playing the game's dynamically routed 8 levels to be a rather short experience. Another flaw that bothered me was the limited arsenal of weapons (just a laser and a lock-on laser). However, Nintendo alleviates both of these preceding problems by injecting many other elements of substance in the game.
For example, the game may be short, but the ride is a wild one. Playing out like a festival for the senses, it assures you won't feel slighted at the end. The graphics are amazing, the sound/music is on target, and the control (enhanced by the mildly stimulating and entertaining rumble pak) is tight. Offering alternate routes and goals throughout the levels also gives a more dynamic feel to the game. A workable 4-player competitive mode was also added to ensure play-life. Initially, I thought the simplistic arcade controls and features would detract from a true dogfighting experience, but I was proven wrong. Once the fight gets going, the arcade qualities prove to focus more on the flying skills of the pilot by not letting too much technology interfere with the competition.
In the case of its limited weapons, Star Fox 64draws attention away from that by giving the Arwing more capabilities like barrel rolls, somersaults, and U-turns (in some levels). Players are also offered either a mini-tank or submarine in certain levels. The inclusion of the "team" element, in which comrades fly around offering you their assistance and, more often, requesting for yours, also helps to draw attention away from the lack of weapons. In other words, it's not how many weapons the player is given that's important, but the many uses and situations you are afforded with them that keeps things interesting.
Ultimately, Star Fox 64is pure harmony. Its minor flaws are more than proportionally corrected by its many great features and almost all of the elements (story, graphics, gameplay) come together to form one of the most artistically cohesive videogames in recent times.
I totally agree with Chi's review but I think it's worth mentioning one thing: Star Fox 64 was a showcase for the abilities of the Nintendo 64 like the original was for the Super NES. This was the first game to include real-time cut scenes with such depth and flair that it rivaled a lot of the pre-rendered stuff on other game systems. Nintendo also made sure to pack in plenty of vocal samples and music into the game to further drive the point home. They even used a propriety sound compression technology that allowed them to cram up to 10 minutes of speech onto the 8 megabyte cartridge. It was a huge step that I believe paid off big dividends as the pre-recorded voices from the characters in the game really added to the realism of the world.
Nintendo seemed eager to go after all aspects of the game with equal fervor. Even though about half of the game's memory is taken up by the audio, Star Fox 64 is packed with large branching levels filled with superb graphics and a huge variety of enemies. The design of each world shows a level of brilliance that isn't matched by many shooters to this day. There isn't one level that isn't filled with big battles. Whether it's taking on a squadron of Gundam robots or dogfighting with alien ships, everything feels intense yet entertaining. As an aside, Nintendo should be commended for taking those ideas and making them work; all those scenes feel totally integrated into the story. I really appreciated the work that went into this game especially since few have been able to replicate the final product.
Nintendo also innovated with the release of the then-new peripheral, the Rumble Pak. It was a gimmick that worked perfectly to add a bit of immersion to the game. If nothing else, it's a brilliant way to bring another of the five senses into game playing. Something that the industry has now embraced only after Nintendo showed them it could be done.
I disagreed with Chi on the lack of weapons because while the limitation is there, it isn't really noticeable during the action. The enemies never get difficult enough to warrant more destructive firepower. The controls are tight and responsive and the pacing is so good that I was able to take care of enemies with what I had and never felt overwhelmed. The only real negative against it is that the game runs on a rail and essentially inhibits exploration of the beautiful worlds Star Fox 64 provides. However it isn't too big a deal because the action was more than enough to hold my attention and like Chi said, there were alternate routes to offer a bit of a break in the monotony.
Star Fox 64 was the unofficial turning point for the Nintendo 64. Since then developers have come along with better sound technologies and the Rumble Pak support became the norm in many titles. That aside, I have to say that I loved this game from beginning to end. I went in with high expectations and was not let down in the slightest. It was a totally fun experience that was only heightened when I considered the hurdles Nintendo had to overcome to produce this game.
According to ESRB, this game contains: Animated Violence
Fans of the old 2D horizontal/vertical shooters, who have felt displaced by the recent rash of 3D games, may find solace in Star Fox 64. Despite being a 3D construct with occasional open flight modes, for the majority of the game Star Fox 64 is locked into a set flight path and retains an old-school flavor.
Multiplayer modes are capable and can be a blast for those into dogfighting with planes.
Players looking for a space simulator with depth and complexity should probably turn to the Colony Wars or Wing Commander series. Star Fox 64 is still a simple arcade shooter at heart and I'm sure fans wouldn't have had it any other way.