Starfox 64 3D Review - September 17th 2011

The 3DS has had a rocky start. A drastic price cut just months after launch, a lack of top quality software, and most recently, a controversial new circle pad peripheral have left many gamers feeling jaded. The underlying technology powering the device is fantastic, but the key ingredient missing until recently has been must have games. Ocarina of Time was a step in the right direction, and now Nintendo have very wisely selected another of the N64's finest titles for a handheld makeover.


As soon as you load up the game, you'll find yourself instinctively playing with the gyroscope supported start menu. Even though you're just panning around a 3D Arwing, it's a nice little extra that makes you appreciate all the work that has been done here. Developer Q Games are clearly fond of the license, and everything from the menus, to the graphics and soundtrack have been given an overhaul. Any notions of this being a lazy port are quickly dispelled. For instance, the addition of a save feature to the single player is hardly revolutionary, but in Starfox it feels like a dream come true. No more fighting Andross in one sitting!

That corridor never ended. They're still running.

Crucially, the various technological upgrades haven't affected the feel of the game. Summersaults, boosting, and those famous barrel rolls can all be performed with ease thanks to the superb sensitivity of the controls. The gyro option is quite fiddly though, so I'd suggest sticking with the traditional method of play. However, the combat hasn't aged a bit. Lylat Wars was always a fast paced game, and the lock on shot, combined with bombs and your standard laser still complement one another very nicely.

And now with the 3D effect, you can judge distances better than ever before. Admittedly, a lot of what the 3D is used for is cosmetic, but they're nice ideas. For example, when you accelerate, an energy trail streams out towards you. Vanquished enemies appear to roll out of the screen and float past as they break apart. And when the camera is panning around one of your ships, the sense of depth is amazing. Even the opening video, replete with new animations and textures, uses the stereoscopic power of the 3DS to great effect.

One of the most pleasing aspects of this remake is that you can turn off that magic 3D slider and the game still shines. The fantastic Independence Day inspired mission is a graphical highlight. And then there's the lengthy train level, which sports some impressive lighting. The alternate paths, varied locations, and wonderfully dramatic ending are features that remain a cut above most competitors, even after all this time. Some things haven't changed though. Slippy is still whiny. Falco needs social lessons. Peppy patronizes you whenever possible. Coupled with the megalomaniac bosses and fantastic one liners, Starfox 64 revels in its innate weirdness. And it has been perfectly preserved, so a new generation of gamers can enjoy Peppy screaming "Do a barrel roll!" once again.

Although the best stuff available for 3DS right now does seem to be either ports or remakes, Starfox 64 3D follows the Ocarina of Time re-release as a superbly realized revision. The graphical upgrade alone makes it worthwhile, but the 3D effect (possibly the best use of the feature to date) and feature rich local multiplayer make this an absolute must buy. The lack of online support is disappointing, but the undeniable feeling of satisfaction that comes from seeing this game lovingly reborn for the modern age more than makes up for it. Charming, nostalgic, and incredibly enjoyable.


Jon Titmuss

 

Gameplay:

The 3DS circle pad is very responsive, but the gyroscope feels awkward. Branching mission paths are still great.

Audio:

The soundtrack has been lovingly remastered, and the voice acting is still awesome... but very cheesy.

Graphics:

Superb for a handheld, and the 3D effect is both useful and prominent.

Longevity:

The campaign is a decent length, and the alternate missions encourage multiple play throughs, but no online multiplayer is a big letdown.

     

Final Score:



Starfox 64 3D is a trip down memory lane worth taking.

 

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