Do a barrel roll with the Star Fox team in Star Fox 64 for the Nintendo 64. Star Fox 64 has to be one of the most entertaining games I’ve played so far. Even after dying and losing all my arwings, I still wanted to play and didn’t mind going through all those levels again. Why? Because each time you play, it’s another opportunity to go a different route. The simple, arcade-like game play, variety of routes, rich story, and amusing companions make this game really enjoyable every time you play it.
Star Fox 64 came out in 1997 for the Nintendo 64. It was among their best selling games of that year, second to Mario Kart 64. This scrolling shooter game was actually a reboot of the first game that was released in 1993 for the Super NES. The game received good reception and was critically acclaimed for its animation, voice acting, and replay value. It was also the first game on the N64 to use the rumble pack.
This game has a bit of history, so before we go into the game, I feel I should just go over it here: Before the time of this game, in the planetary system of Lylat, Andross, a scientist turned mad is exiled to the planet Venom. Years later after hearing of suspicious activity, General Pepper of the military force in Corneria, enlist the help of the Star Fox team, then consisting of James McCloud (Fox’s father), Peppy Hare, and Pigma Dengar. Upon arriving on Venom, Pigma betrays the team, and Peppy and James are captured. James eventually sacrifices himself and Peppy escapes.
The story continues in this game when General Pepper asks for the Star Fox team’s help again, to defeat Andross as he tries to overtake the Lylat system with his diabolical weapons once again. Joining Fox McCloud is Peppy Hare. As an old team member and friend of his father, Peppy is extremely helpful in the game as he gives you advice and encouragement. There is your number 2, Falco Lombardi whose attitude matches his fierce abilities in the sky. And finally, there’s Slippy Toad, an overenthusiastic
androgynous toad whose technical specialties help out in boss fights. Together, along with help from old friends, a robot, and other cool vehicles you can play with, you must save the Lylat system and destroy Andross.
What made this such a great game for me was its replay value. In each level, starting with Corneria, there are certain things you can do which can affect not only the boss of the level, but the path you take afterwards. The correct, usually more difficult path, leads you to the true ending of the game. Also, there are medals one can earn by killing enough enemies and not having any of your teammates hurt at the end of a level. Medals can earn you unlockable items or features like the sound test, and Expert mode, where Fox wears what look like his father’s sunglasses.
The father-son motif is another notable element in this game because its not something we’re constantly reminded of that we can’t enjoy the game; it’s more subtle, like in Peppy’s comments or the sunglasses in Expert mode. It also gives Fox’s character that motivation that I have yet to see in other games. Instead of saving a princess, he is not only following in his father’s footsteps, but I think, trying to prove to himself he as good as his father. Not to sound too much like an English literature essay, but in the end, when James leads Fox out after defeating Andross was that resolution Fox was waiting for.
There was hardly anything that I didn’t like about this game, except for my inability to get all the medals, but that just means I get to play it again! The game looked incredible which should be accredited to the N64 and the graphics accomplished at the time. The story and characters brought this game to life and made you really care about them (maybe not Slippy, at times) and their history. And the game’s replay value made this one of the most memorable games I’ve played so far, regardless of the many routes one can take to the end. This is a great game and it really got me excited about the rest of the Star Fox series. I might just actually get this for the 3DS!