Hot on the tail of Ocarina of Time 3D, Nintendo bring us another Nintendo 64 classic, this time in conjunction with Q Games (responsible for Star Fox Command). Star Fox 64 3D brings us an updated version of the on-rails shooter originally released over here as Lylat Wars.
If you’ve never had a chance to play the original Star Fox 64, it is an on-rails space shooter. The Lylat System has been taken over by a giant disembodied head (called Andross) and it’s up to Fox McCloud and his team to save the galaxy. While there are 16 levels, you only play seven in each playthrough – completing levels in different ways will send you along different paths. It doesn’t take long to complete a playthough – between 30 minutes and an hour – but it’s a game that’s built to be played many, many times thanks to high scores and medals.
The most noticeable difference is the game’s new lick of paint, and by “lick of paint” I mean “complete overhaul of the models, textures and effects”. The extra power of the 3DS allows for lovely surface water details, richer backgrounds and much more detailed environments. The blockiness of the original is no more and the end result is something that looks completely different yet is instantly recognisable at the same time. Furthermore, a couple of locations have been redesigned (while keeping the level the same).
The surface of Katina, for example, is now covered with lakes which reflect the gorgeous sunset and stunning clouds. The fog is no more and you can see mountains off in the distance. Low clouds of sand float across the screen on Titania while dust flies when enemies land on the ground, meanwhile in the distance is the lovely view of the planet’s rings. There are many stunning views to be had, which are also amplified by the great 3D effects. While nothing special has been done to the game specifically for the 3D, it still creates a wonderful effect.
Due to the arcade nature of the gameplay, Star Fox 64 doesn’t feel like it’s aged one bit. The controls are extremely fluid with the circle pad and the action is fast-paced and very satisfying when you perform well. The 3DS version of the game comes with three difficulties. On top of the standard and expert modes from the original game, the 3DS comes with an easier mode designed, as the game itself states, to balance the game for gyro controls and the 3DS pad. Enemies do less damage and you, sadly, can’t damage your team mates.
Speaking of the (optional) gyro controls, they could have worked if it wasn’t for a few issues. Firstly, the game is definitely a lot harder with gryo controls – especially stages in all-range mode – as turning is much slower. Secondly, the 3DS seems to slightly lose track of the “default” position, meaning that holding the 3DS upright will still make your Arwing drift sideways. To fix this you need to tap the brake button in order to reset the gyroscope. As you’ve probably already worked out, this creates the annoying problem that using the brake to help with quick turns will really mess up the gyro settings. Surprisingly, due to the way you tilt the console, the 3D worked most of the time I used the gyro controls. Thankfully these controls are optional, even if the game annoyingly asks you if you want to use them every time, and you can still use the Circle Pad for the more difficult bits without needing to turn gyro controls off.
The sound of the game has also been overhauled, including an orchestrated version of the soundtrack and re-recorded dialogue. The new voice actors aren’t quite up to scratch and a fair few of the incredibly cheesy (in a good way) lines feel flat. The option for gobbledygook speech is also no more. Even so, the brilliant sounding music and sound affects more than make up for a few badly spoken lines.
Multiplayer has been done from scratch in Star Fox 64 3D. The levels look beautiful and all three modes are a lot of fun and have many options, including brand new power ups to add a bit of Mario Kart’s randomness into the mix. It only requires one cart to play and it utilises the 3DS’ camera to take photos of the player mid-game for reaction shots. It’s a surprisingly robust multiplayer mode, which makes the lack of online all the more frustrating.
Star Fox 64 3D is a game that feels perfect for the 3DS. The short game with high replayability makes it the perfect game to pick up and play and the new options to save progress between levels or to play individual medals adds further to it’s pick up and play nature. It’s very easy to play and enjoy, but it would take a huge amount of practice to truly master the game on normal mode – and then there’s the expert mode on top of that.