Sunday, February 24, 2013

Game Review: Star Fox 64 3D

3D Shooter; Nintendo 3DS; Nintendo; 2011
FINALLY! I finally got my hands on a copy of Fire Emblem Awakening, and goddammit it is eating up any free time I have. I'll have a review as soon as I finish it, which may take much longer than expected depending on how much fuffing about I do. But for now, it's time to review another game, this time a remake of a classic... IN 3D!!!!!!! This is Star Fox 64 3D, one of the most confusing titles if you don't know the history of the game.

"If we hurry, we might be able to leave Slippy behind!"
The Lylat system, a peaceful thriving star system, until the evil mad scientist Andross started a war against Corneria. Against the overwhelming forces of Andross's army, General Pepper turns to the Star Fox team, a small independent band of fighter pilots lead by ace pilot Fox McCloud, to stop the encroaching army. It is up to Fox and the other members of the Star Fox team; Falco Lombardi, Peppy Hare, and Slippy Toad, to stop Andross and push his army back to the desolate planet Venom. Can Fox beat the odds? What horrors await them on Venom? And can we ever get rid of Slippy? Play Star Fox 64 3D to find out.

Okay, the story is nothing special, in fact it is as bare bones as you can get, but really who plays Star Fox for it's story? I don't know about you, but it seems like the more story you put into a Star Fox game, the crappier the game gets. Besides, Nintendo is a company that knows when a complex story can aid or hinder a game, and in the case of Star Fox, all you want to do is shoot stuff up. You don't need complex motivations as an excuse for that. Andross is evil and so is the entirety of his army, have fun.

So this is what 643 dimensions look like.
Star Fox 64 3D is pretty much what the title says it is. It is Star Fox 64, the best game in the series and smash hit game for the Nintendo 64, in 3D. If you have never played Star Fox 64, then what where you doing during the N64's life span? But if you seriously never played it, here is a quick run down. Star Fox 64 is a 3D space shooter where you fly down tunnel like stages, shooting enemies, and then finally defeating a boss at the end. While flying across the stages collecting power-ups like Nova Bombs and upgrading your lasers, your other squad mates, Falco, Peppy, and Slippy, will fly with you and sometimes help you in various ways, Peppy gives you hints to how to complete the level or defeat the boss, Slippy will show you the boss's life meter, and Falco will shoot down tricky enemies and find alternate paths. But be careful, enemies will also aim for your allies and if they are shot down, you won't have them for the next stage. Also, while most stages are linear shooting galleries, there are some stages that either end or are entirely made up of an "all range mode" where you fly in full 360 dog fights against enemies who will try to get behind you. And while the game is made up of a series of 7 stages, which stage you get is dependent on your performance. By completing secondary objectives in certain stages, you can progress to much harder stages. And if you find this game is a bit too easy, try going for the medals, which require a high enough score and all wing men to be fine by the end of the stage. And if you get all the medals on all the stages, then you unlock Expert mode where there are more enemies and your Arwing is made out of cardboard.

Okay, so far I've just been talking about the original Star Fox 64, what does this 3DS version bring to the table. Well, first of all it is in 3D thanks to the 3DS's capabilities, and while it is a gimmick, here it is an effective gimmick because what better game to show off 3D than a game where deep perception is key to gameplay. The 3D works great at allowing the player to judge the distance of various enemies and obstacles. Also, the entire game's graphics have been overhauled. Yes, the our of ship movements are still as clunky and awkward, but they are now they look good as they are being clunky and awkward. Environments look beautiful, several new details have been added, and on the Katrina stage you can actually tell the differences between friendly ships and enemy ships (Still the best stage in the game). On the gameplay side there are four new additions. First, the ability to retry previous missions during a playthrough as well as choosing the easier route if you unlocked the harder one, this helps with collecting the medals on all the stages. Second, Gyro controls where the Arwing is steered by moving the 3DS rather than just the Circle Pad. Third, a score attack mode where you can play stages you have beaten trying to get a much higher score. And finally, a brand new multiplayer mode with new stages, items, modes, and the ability to see the faces of your opponents by using the 3DS's inner camera.

"Thanks Falco, I would have never know that that death laser was a bad thing."
As for bad things for this game, there are a handful. First, as many of you probably know, the 3DS's 3D capability only functions when it is viewed dead on at a certain distance from the player, this makes playing the Gyro controls incompatible with 3D mode because unless you can move your head in the same direction as the 3DS, you can't maintain the 3D effect. Even playing with traditional controls can be difficult with 3D on depending on how intense a gamer you are, as any kind of shake as you might make while moving the Circle Pad or pressing the buttons will momentary ruin the effect. The effect is also ruined anytime a ship is coming at you from behind, as you really only see the split images of the ship rather than a full 3D effect. Speaking of Gyro controls, while they are a neat idea I find myself turning them off and using traditional controls because for me the Gyro controls are way too loose and it made me feel very floaty. Not what I want when I'm trying to do careful movements. Second, While I would love to go on about the Multiplayer in this game, I can't. Not really. Why? Because it is Download play and Local only, there is no online play. This seems like a step backward since Star Fox Command. True, the online multiplayer wasn't great in that game, but it was there, and now we have what could be a very good multiplayer experience, one of the features that made Star Fox 64 so popular, but it is only local play. Dammit Nintendo, when are you going to give us a good online Star Fox multiplayer mode!? This franchise demands it. And finally, if you have played Star Fox 64 to death back in the day, well there isn't much different to make you play the new version. It is literally the exact same game, nothing is different about any of the stages or bosses. It has a fresh coat of paint, and a few bonuses, but when you get down to it, it is just Star Fox 64.

However, with that said, it is Star Fox 64, one of the best games on the Nintendo 64 and THE BEST game in the Star Fox series. This is the reason why people love Star Fox, and even though this game is 16 years old, 16 freakin' YEARS, the game still plays like it is brand new. If Star Fox 64 was never released, and was sealed away for that many years, unsealed, and given this 3D remake then it would have been contender for game of the year. However, since this is a remake, and the original is available on Virtual Console for much MUCH cheaper, and the fact that this game doesn't have online multiplayer means that this isn't a system mover. If you don't have a 3DS, the presence of Star Fox 64 3D won't change your mind about it; however, if you do own a 3DS, there is certainly a place in your collection for this game. Star Fox 64 3D is Highly Recommended.

Until next time.

-Crescent, "You've been telling me to do that for 16 YEARS!"

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