Star Fox Review: No, Not the One On Nintendo 64

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Ah, Star Fox. If there’s anything that’ll make me nostalgic for my childhood, it’s memories of flying around the Lylat Sytem in my Arwing and waging war against the forces of Andross.

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No wait, not that one.

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Yea, that one!

Man, this game is great. Even though it came out in 1997, Star Fox 64 is still incredibly fun and enjoyable to play. The graphics are still good to look at, the game play is still engaging, and the story and characters are all still endearing. I don’t think anyone really doubts Star Fox 64‘s greatness. It’s sort of a timeless classic these days.

But what about Star Fox on the Super Nintendo? Like me, most people are probably more familiar with the series when it hit its stride on the Nintendo 64, but the series actually has it’s roots on the SNES. It also had some really creepy puppet artwork that I’m fairly sure most fans are happy they never brought back.

Miyamoto certainly has some... interesting tastes.

Miyamoto certainly had some… interesting tastes.

As you might expect, Star Fox plays quite similarly to its successor. You play as Fox McCloud, and along with your team you progress through a series of levels until you reach Venom, where you must confront Andross as the final boss. Depending upon the mission, you’ll be flying your trusty Arwing across planets or through space against various types of enemies, with a boss at the end of each level. The game also requires you to pick from three unique levels paths, each with roughly six levels on an increasing difficulty curve.

Fans of Star Fox 64 will notice a lot of immediate similarities between the two games. Everything from the enemy design to the level progression was borrowed straight from the Super Nintendo title. Hell, even some boss battles are ripped shamelessly from SNES version.

Nope, I see nothing suspicious here.

Nope, I see nothing suspicious here.

In fact, it wouldn’t be hard to call Star Fox 64 a outright remake if not for the vast improvements the sequel added to the series. This might be a bit confusing to those played the 64 version first and presumed it was a sequel, since the dialogue in that game seems to imply that most of the characters were all very familiar with each other.

Unfortunately, being a 3D game running on Super Nintendo technology, the game does suffer some incredibly noticeable frame rate drops and slowdowns, even inexplicably on a modern emulator. The faux-3D also makes it tough to judge where your Arwing is in relation to projectiles and enemy ships, making the game a bit frustrating to play at times.

Additionally, although the two games are similar, Star Fox on the Super Nintendo lacks a lot of enhancements that made the Nintendo 64 version so charming. Besides the needed upgrade to better graphics and a smoother frame rate, Star Fox 64 added great characters with fleshed out backstories, superb voice acting, a branching level system that upped the replay value considerably, and a catchy soundtrack, just to name a few features.

Above: One minute of gameplay footage from Star Fox.

Above: One minute of gameplay footage from Star Fox.

Therefore, fans of Star Fox 64 may find it somewhat difficult adjusting their expectations to the game’s level. If you do decide to give it a try, be prepared to restart several times before getting it right. The game is actually quite hard. Although you can get through all three level paths in about four hours if you’ve had practice, you can expect to pump about 10 hours into the game if you don’t plan on using save states.

So does it hold up? It’s certainly not unplayable, but you’re going to have to be patient with graphics most of the time. If you can survive the frustration of its frame rate drops and graphical slowdowns, the game is still pretty decent. But in my opinion, Star Fox is a game you go back to for nostalgia, not really for game play.

Final Verdict: Nostalgic fans only

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One Response to Star Fox Review: No, Not the One On Nintendo 64

  1. Pingback: Perfect Dark: The Swan Song of the Nintendo 64 | Beat that Backlog

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