Star Fox 64 3D (3DS Review) by Daniele M.
Star Fox 64 3D
Developer: Nintendo, Q-Games
System: Nintendo 3DS
Release: September 9, 2011
September 11, 2011, by Daniele M. - Since the original launch of Star Fox 64/Lylat Wars back in 1994, Nintendo have somewhat been experimental with the Star Fox franchise, a good example being the surprisingly well executed Star Fox Adventures for the GameCube developed by RARE. This game in particular shifted flight-focused gameplay to a more concentrated emphasis on open world and platforming. Namco, as they were named at the time, also had the opportunity to develop a Star Fox game, it being Star Fox Assault also for the GameCube. You could say Star Fox Assault was a perfect blend of Star Fox 64 and Star Fox Adventures -- the best of both worlds? To an extent yes, aerial battles were enjoyable, but unfortunately ground combat felt bland and didn't last long enough. Maybe a joint collaboration between Nintendo and Namco would have been the best way to go.
It's safe to say that Star Fox 64 clearly is the most favoured of the series and not much of a surprise to hear Nintendo's announcement of a remake at their E3 2010 press conference. Star Fox 64 3D was developed by Nintendo EAD and co-developed by Q-Games, whom previously developed Star Fox Command for the Nintendo DS. Star Fox 64 3D is everything you would expect of a remake on newly superior hardware compared to the original; newly revamped visual fidelity, new gameplay mechanics, reconstructed audio and various hidden tweaks to correct bugs found on the original. Sadly, like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, whilst playing Star Fox 64 3D Wi-Fi functionality is disabled therefore registered friends are unable to see whether you're online or not. Apparently intentional by the design/development team and not a glitch or bug malfunction -- certainly a questionable decision.
Out of the six 3DS games I currently own, Star Fox 64 3D is the first to be played with 3D enabled, constantly. Incoming enemy fighters, lasers blasts, atmospheric environments, floating rubble are all rather convincing, naturally enhancing gameplay and a joy to watch. Having 3D enabled also does not reduce frames per second, very smooth and stable, even at times where much is happening all at the same time on-screen.
Before jumping on-board with the Star Fox team, you will go through your paces in training, much like the original, navigating within the virtual setting through rings and further on explaining how to defeat enemies with lasers, smart bombs and not forgetting initiation of the barrel roll to avoid damage.
Once you are able to quit the training session you can then begin a trial-run which was not present in the original. In trial-run you must avoid any obstacles, if you do you will lose one star. Losing all three stars will have you forfeit the trial-run. The trial-run is not mandatory, therefore anyone who feels the need to test their Arwing reflexes can do so. The game commences with the memorable Star Wars-esque opening sequence explaining what narrative the game has to offer: The Lylat System yet again is being invaded by the mad scientist Andross. The newly recruited Star Fox team, picked up by General Pepper, set out to eliminate the enemy threat. In total there are sixteen planets to explore, some harder than others. The majority of planets have secret alternative paths to discover, making observation vital in discovering them. The easy, default planet pathway is labelled as a blue line on the Lylat System world map. Medium is yellow and red for hard. For anyone who hasn't played the original N64 version, ignore any unusual environmental set-pieces that may lead to alternate paths. Start with the easiest path only to then look for alternative methods. Having played the N64 version avidly I pretty much knew where to find all alternative paths and went straight into the deep end with the hard pathway.
Star Fox 64 3D plays much like the original control wise with slight additions being made regarding the 3DS' hardware enhancements. Firstly you can pilot the Arwing with gyroscopic movement. Intuitive as it may sound, the set-up lacks the accuracy of the more traditional circle pad scheme. It's a great addition but not necessarily needed to experience Star Fox 64 3D at its fullest. There are two different button configurations to use, Type A being default and labelled to be an 'intuitive boost/brake configuration'. Type B is more reminiscent of the N64 controller configuration, which I honestly do prefer. As with most games nowadays the option to also select inverted y-axis is also present, and if you're like me you will have it enabled. Worth a mention, prior to starting your Lylat adventure you will have the option to choose either the Nintendo 3DS mode which is a balanced recreation to complement the new gyro controls and the circle pad. Nintendo 64 mode recreates the original challenge of Star Fox. Expert mode becomes available once you have successfully achieved a set number of high scores on all sixteen planets to gain medals; enter Fox McCloud, fully equipped with shades like his father. Notably a score attack mode can have you re-play any planet you have explored and accomplished.
Aside from the core main game mode an offline multiplayer mode (Battle) is made available from the start. You and four other friends can duke it out for first place amongst three different game types via download play: Survival, Point Battle and Time Battle. Whilst hunting down other players you can in fact see a real-time video of other opponents. It doesn't work too great, more of a quick-slide show effect due to lacking proficient camera and video capabilities. The whole streaming player face concept would charmingly fit quite well for online play. Yes, online functionally is completely absent from Star Fox 64 3D. Star Fox Command for the Nintendo DS had online multiplayer, why can't the 3DS outing feature it? The 3DS has a far more superior online infrastructure than the DS so I'm rather puzzled as to why it was not included. Also lacking in the multiplayer department is the option to use the Landmaster or on foot-gameplay.
Positively, the 3DS outing retains the great nostalgic soundtrack of the original only with slight differences in tone and pitch. You can listen to all of the wonderful tracks via the sound test option location in options. Re-made visuals look amazing, especially the water effects and the molten lava of Solar. Character models of the Star Fox team look well done with the much needed attention of additional polygons.
15/15 - Memorable soundtrack re-made to sound like the original outing. Playing whilst having earphones connected is highly recommended.
20/20 - You can clearly see how much thought and attention has gone into upping the visual content, definitely not a straight-up port to the original in terms of graphics. Water effects are most impressive.
20/25 - Addictive gameplay, always wanting more in regards to achieving a higher score on each and every one of the sixteen planets via score attack or the main game mode. Expert mode is unlockable after gaining all high-score medals, so expect more enemies and energy/health gauge to be depleted more often. No online play which is disappointing considering the 3DS Wi-Fi capabilities being superior than the DS and even the Wii to an extent.
38/40 - Several set-ups to be tested, come the N64 controller configuration or the intuitive, newly revamped configuration. Additional gyroscopic controls adds further variety. The Landmaster and Blue Marine vehicles offer a slower, more sluggish experience that take some time to fully grasp effectively.
94/100 - Star Fox 64 3D is a great overall package that offers replay valve and nostalgic feelings if having played the original N64 version. Replay value would have been further enhanced with online play in mind, still much to experience. The 3D-effect is far beyond anything I have seen. It's a sight to behold come laser blasts and incoming enemy ships. A good sense of depth to aid in judgement.