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.
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