It’s been 14 years since the original Starfox 64 or Lylat Wars as some know it came to the N64. Back then I didn’t actually own Nintendo’s system so never played it the first time around. I’ve always heard great things about it though so was intrigued to play this version on the 3DS with a bit of spit and polish and updated optional controls that make use of the 3DS’s gyroscope. If you, like me, have never played the game, let me enlighten you on the story.
The evil simian scientist Andross is planning to take over the nearby planet of Corneria from his exile on the planet Venom and it’s down to Fox McCloud and his wingmen to put a stop to him. Not only do you have your professional pride here but also a personal connection as your father also went deep into the world of Venom and never came out. And so you make your way through the Lylat system, zooming and barrel-rolling through a number of levels both on planets and in space to get to the planet and put a stop to Andross in a big final boss fight.
Aiming and steering are done using the analogue stick or a combination of the stick and the gyro controls – the latter you won’t want to use if you have 3D on due to moving the 3DS around spoiling your ‘sweet spot’. At first you may find moving and aiming at the same time a bit tricky but it’s something you soon get used to. Fly through rings and you’ll also get health and bonuses and of course you can still fly through red B orbs to pick up some bombs which can be used after charging up a shot and locking on to an enemy.
The old N64 version would branch off to different levels depending on which route you took in the game but the 3DS is different in that it lets you decide where to go next. Unfortunately what this can do is make the game very short if you pick the ‘wrong’ direction. I got to the final boss expecting the game to continue and was faced with the end credits before I thought I’d even started properly. What you’re encouraged to do though is go back and replay the game again, playing different stages but starting the game from scratch again means you have to go through the tutorials again which isn’t welcome. Whilst you’re playing the game, though, you’ll have a blast. The graphics have been completely overhauled so you won’t get any ‘jaggies’, the voices of characters such as Slippy and Falco are superb and the environments look great – particularly the huge asteroids you’ll narrowly avoid and the water on some of the planets you’ll zoom across.
Also new to the 3DS version of the game is multiplayer. It’s download only and up to four people can play the game with one cartridge as you dogfight each other and try to be the last ship flying. It’s fun if you have friends close by with a 3DS but the lack of online play and any leaderboards is something sorely missed and would provide something truly extra over the previous version re-released on the Wii’s Virtual Console.
Star Fox 64 3D is definitely a quality game but maybe it shouldn’t be a full price game on the 3DS. If you’ve played it before back in the day or more recently on the Wii there’s not really that much new here. However, if you don’t mind replaying a game to find all the pathways or assembling with friends to play online then it’s a very good shooter. Therefore it gets a very good 7 out of 10.
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