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Star Fox 64 3D

 

Star Fox 64 3D

ESRB: Everyone 10+
Platform: Nintendo DS , DSI
Category: 3DS, Adventure, Flight Sims, Shooter
 
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Developer: Nintendo/Q-Games
Publisher: Nintendo

Features

1 Player Single Player
2-4 Download Play (versus)
Playable in 2D or 3D
Touchscreen
Gyroscope Control

Fox McCloud and his rag-tag team of misfits are back for another adventure, but this time on the Nintendo 3DS. Actually, it is not a new adventure, but an enhanced re-make of the N64 version released around 14 years ago or so. Nintendo seems to be reaching into their vault and redoing older games on the newer and more power 3DS hardware. So alas, here we are with Star Fox 64 3D, a visual feast mixed with classic Star Fox gameplay but playable on Nintendo’s new handheld console.

Graphics

Visually, Star Fox 64 3D is quite a looker. On the N64 the game was limited to the power that was available, which produced quite a blocky polygonal game. This time around the Fox, Slippy, Falco and Penny look pretty good right from the onset, as they run down the corridor to their Arwings and head into battle. There is definitely no more blockiness to be found here, as vehicles and environments take full advantage of the 3DS’s graphical prowess. You’ll find that the Arwings have great detail, right down to the see through canopy windows where you can view each pilot. The environments also receive a visual upgrade, as water, mountains, snow, trees, and anything else that maybe found on any given level looks much more realistic this time around. The first time I found myself skimming across the water in Corneria and I saw my Arwing’s shadow on the surface of the water, I knew that the details in the visuals had been amped up. You’ll even find new lighting and particle effects in such things as lasers, bombs, and explosions.

Amazingly, considering all the visual upgrades, the game’s framerate is rock solid, even when there is a large amount of enemies around and the screen is filled with action. If I had one small complaint here, it is that the draw in distance was not as far as I would like it to be, but it is a minor complaint indeed given how smooth this game runs.

As for the 3D effects, they are very well implemented and add to Star Fox’s overall look. There is an added depth to the visuals that is just not capable on any other console period. You actually feel like ships are flying in from the distance and buzzing over your Arwing’s canopy, lasers feel like they are blasting past you, and anything else, from meteors to mountaintops, have a new feeling to it courtesy of the 3D slider. As an added bonus, the game keeps its’ solid and speedy framerate with the 3D visuals on. I also found that I did not have the same issue that I had with Zelda on the 3DS, which was that the sweet spot for viewing 3D graphics was really finicky. Don’t get me wrong, you still have that sweet spot, but at least I could move the 3DS around a bit more then I could in Zelda before everything became blurry.

Sound

The audio in Star Fox 64 3DS is yet another added feature to the game’s overall experience. The music in each level has this uncanny knack to match the action that is unfolding on the screen. In many ways it almost feels symphonic, but yet you know it is not. Regardless, it is pretty darn good and I think that most veterans will recognize some of the original music and they will also experience some new music that was not there before. Newbies to the game will just appreciate all the music period as it really does add to the gameplay at hand.

The sound effects are also bang on. From lasers to bombs, to the sound of flying ships zipping past your six, you’ll find that everything in this area communicates exactly what you are doing, or experiencing, as it happens on screen.

Finally, one has to discuss the voice acting in the game. Any fan of the franchise knows the annoying quips from Falco, or the annoying tone that Slippy speaks in. It has all been hashed out in the past, and it is still there. Fans of the original game will be disappointed to know that nothing has been done to improve this, and newbies to the series will have to generate their own opinion. Regardless, there remains one positive point, and that is that there is a lot of voice acting in the game, during battle and the brief cut-scenes that set up each mission, and even with the controversy that has been raised about Falco or Slippy’s voice, it is nice to hear voices and not have to read text.

Gameplay

There is no doubt that many people who will consider this game have not played the original, given the fact that it was released over 14 years ago. Star Fox is a mix of flight simulation, shooter, and adventure. As would be expected, you are tasked with battling evil and saving those who are in need of help. In this case, you are Fox McCloud and you battle the evil Andross while trying to save the Lylat System. This is not the first time that Andross has attempted to conquer the Lylat System, and there is a bit more to the story than meets the eye. In the end the narrative does take a back seat to the action though, as this game is all about shooting baddies, dodging enemy attacks, and blowing a whole lot of stuff up.

Your adventure takes you through a series of battles from planet to planet, zone to zone, as you face various forms of enemies. These enemies are generally other flying ships, but you will find yourself in some ground-based action as you pilot the Landmaster tank and even find yourself engaging in some underwater action in a submarine. As you complete each mission you carry on to the next. The world of Star Fox 64 3D is a branching path that opens up as you defeat each level. You have the ability to choose which path you take as you open up more planets (levels). This is different from the original, which forced you to go on a certain path.

As you battle in each level you will eventually have to complete a boss battle. These boss battles can be quite intense and there is always some strategy to them, be it finding the right areas to hit, or the right pattern of moves to get to the kill. You will have to master your ship to be victorious, and expect a challenge in some of the later bosses. In the end it is quite satisfying as you get deeper into the game, fend of all enemies, and beat each boss.

One of the biggest things I noticed, next to the visuals, is the control that is implemented on the 3DS. The game’s control is as smooth as butter. You have the option of playing Star Fox 64 3D with the original N64 button setup, or you can use a new “intuitive” button setup. Both of these work well. For those who want to know, I used the new “intuitive” setup. Flying the famed Arwing, or piloting the Landmaster tank or submarine, is quite easy as the circle pad allows you to control each vehicle with ease given how fluid the control really is.

For those looking for a total new experience, you can choose to use a brand new 3DS control scheme, which utilizes the system’s built in gyroscope. Interestingly enough, the motion control works well as you tilt the 3DS in the direction you want to go. The only down side is that you will most likely have to play with the 3D slider off as moving the system causes the 3D visuals to blur as your visual axis starts to shift. All in all, every control scheme works well and it will be a matter of preference, and whether or not you want to use the 3D visuals at the time.

Besides just going through the games mission modes, there are medals for you to collect based on a set number of kills that you have get on each level. So this alone may have you playing over and over again. There is also a “Score Attack” option for you to play as well. Here you can replay any of the levels that you have unlocked in an effort to get a better score. This is for bragging rights with your friends, and you will have proof to show off your flying and shooting awesomeness. All in all there is a bit more to do then just play the missions to get through the game, and newbies to the Star Fox series will appreciate this fact.

Along with the great single player mode, Nintendo has offered up some multiplayer madness that contains both good and bad. There are four different levels for you and up to three friends to battle it out for Arwing supremacy. You can battle for a set number of points, you can play a game of “last plane flying”, or you can play for a set amount of time, the winner being the one with the most points at the end of the time. There are also new power-ups that were not available in the N64 version. These can be turned off or on. Where the multiplayer it hits a a wall is that you cannot play against your three friends online, as it is local play only. Should you punch through this wall of local play only, you do get the advantage of needing only one game cartridge to allow your three friends to play with you. I did not get a whole lot of time with the multiplayer modes, but the limited games that I did play were fun for the brief period, and I can see some people having a lot of fun with it.

Playing multiplayer also utilizes the 3DS’s internal camera (the one on the top of the screen) as you can see a somewhat choppy video of your friends on screen as you send them to their untimely death. It’s a neat little feature, but it is something that would be more akin to using when playing online rather then when playing with a group of friends in the same room.


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