Game Reviews
Star Fox 64

A video game for the Nintendo 64

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"Do a Barrel Roll!"

  • May 15, 2011
  • by
The Nintendo 64 launched with Super Mario 64 by it's side, but for the longest time it seemed like that was the only game worth getting on the system.  Until 1997 where, early on, we were all treated to a little game called Star Fox 64.  At the time, most gamers couldn't remember the original Star Fox on the Super Nintendo--an on rails shooter that had you flying through space and blasting down the bad guys along with your wingmen.  The Super Nintendo game was known for being ridiculously hard.  The N64 game was known primarily for being one of the must have games for the N64.   It was designed in such a way that anyone could play through it, but only true masters would be able to unearth all its secrets.

As was state of the art at the time (and to an extent now) there isn't a lot of story in Star Fox 64.  There's a lot of narrative through gameplay.  Quite a bit, as a matter of fact.  Star Fox has created a lot memes.  The most notable one of all comes in the first level where you hear Peppy on the radio order: "Do a barrel roll!"  Moments like these add to a game that is a little short on actual story.  But as I said, it's rather big on narrative.

The game takes place in the Lylat System where Andross is once again wrecking havoc.  Fox McCloud and team Star Fox are tasked with saving the Lylat system from Andross's evil plans.  Andross who, as we learn at the beginning of the game, has killed Fox McCloud's father, James.  If team Star Fox doesn't stop Andross, the Lylat System is doomed.

Pretty standard stuff.  There's nothing unusual or complex about it.  It's a typical good guys versus bad guys story.  Yet the gameplay is an impressive feat in and of itself.  There aren't that many games out there quite like Star Fox.  There are some that come close, but Star Fox 64 pretty much set a precedent that few games have dared to duplicate since.  Each level has you playing as Fox McCloud soaring through the skies blasting down enemies in your path until you reach a boss at the end of each level.  It's simple stuff, but it's not so simple as just aiming and firing.  There are certain mechanics thrown in that make Star Fox 64 stand much taller than its Super Nintendo predecessor.  The most obvious is the curved difficulty level which makes it a lot easier to see the game for ones self. 

Throughout each level as you shoot down enemies you'll be able to power up your lasers, shoot bombs at those who cluster in your way.  You can do barrel rolls to deflect shots and you'll be able to pull of somersaults or chase using the boost.  It doesn't seem like much, but some of these things it helps to master if you want to master the game.  You've got a small health bar in the top left corner of the screen.  As it depletes you can gather silver rings to restore it, or you can gather three gold rings and extend it slightly. 

You'll also be accompanied by three allies in each level who each have their own unique personalities.  One of the big draws to Star Fox was how your crew interacted with one another... and having full voices while they do it.  Thanks to the hardware limitations of the Super Nintendo you got a lot of gibberish when it came to Star Fox.  The N64 allows for full voices, and while a lot of them are overexcited from time to time, it's actually not half bad stuff.  Fox's allies include a toad named Slippy who often provides Fox with boss analysis data.  There's Peppy who often gives advice on what to do either by spouting out things like, "Do a barrel roll!" or "Try a somersault!" and the like.  Falco doesn't add too much to the team except his own brand of attitude, but he does from time to time, alert you to certain things (in the first level in particular he takes you on the first of a few alternate paths).

There are fifteen levels in Star Fox but you'll only play through seven of them in a sitting.  Needless to say, Star Fox 64 is not a very long game.  In fact, it is ridiculously short and you can't really save your game either.  On the other hand, the game is oozing with replay value.  The levels themselves are unique and fun.  One moment you're flying through the ruined city of Corneria, the next your flying through an asteroid belt.  You'll pilot a submarine and a landmaster and you'll participate in dog fights using the newly added All Range Mode.  It's pretty interesting stuff.  There's a surprisingly large amount of variety here.

But what gives the game the most replay is that there are a few different ways to go through the game.  Star Fox 64 has three different paths you can take through the game.  A "Hard Path," a "Medium Path" and an "Easy Path."  From the first level you'll be able to go down one of these paths.  This means that there are usually one of two ways to finish a level.  And by meeting certain conditions you may find yourself going down a different path.  For example, the first mission of Corneria has two different outcomes.  First, you have to do a barrel roll when Peppy tells you too.  Then when Falco is being chased you have to save him.  After that you'll have to fly under a few undercoves.  Doing this causes Falco to spot a different target.  Failing to do ANY one of those tasks takes you to an entirely different boss fight in the stage.  Going one direction will take you to an asteroid field while the other will take you to a much more difficult level.  It can be interesting to play through all the different levels and to see the outcome of certain events.  Those who travel exclusively down the hard path get treated to the game's best ending and a special final boss fight if they do.

There are also medals you can obtain in the game.  In each stage you'll notice a Hit Count as you down your enemies.  Get a certain number of hits in a level and you'll earn a medal for your troubles.  Get a medal in every level and you'll be able to play through Expert Mode, a much more challenging mode. 

So there is much more to do than the game lets on.  In spite of this, each sitting through the game will probably only take you an hour.  But it'll save all your completion data automatically as well as your medals, hits and letting you know which levels you've already completed and which ones you haven't.  The game has a lot of content and none of it really goes to waste.  But best of all it's just plain fun to play.

Graphic wise there aren't that many games that look this good on the Nintendo 64.  There's a cartoony look to the game itself and it suits it.  What looks a little funny at times is how the lips of the characters move as dialog is spoken.  This will either add to the games charm, or come off as a laughable.  Perhaps even both.  Audio wise the music sounds fantastic, as do the effects and the voice acting.

There aren't that many games out there quite like Star Fox 64.  It's a very fun game to play and is sure to please any gamer who is just looking to sit down and have some fun. 

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May 18, 2011
This game is the reason I wanted an N64!
May 15, 2011
I didn't own an N64 but I have seen this game in the stores and I was very impressed. Many still regard this as one of the best space shooting games. How did you feel about Colony Wars for the PSOne way bak then?
More Star Fox 64 reviews
review by . May 18, 2011
posted in Siliconera Bounce
I thought I knew a comprehensive list of the big-name video games involving Shigeru Miyamoto. But it wasn't until recently that I learned he was the driving creative force behind Star Fox 64. Learn a little bit every day, I guess. I suppose this development shouldn't really come as a huge shock. Miyamoto's stamp on Star Fox 64 is all over the place when you think about it a little. You control a fox in a SHOOTER, instead of a fox in a kiddie platformer or a grizzled air force guy in a shooter. You …
About the reviewer
Sean A. Rhodes ()
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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About this video game


Star Fox 64 (スターフォックス64 Sutā Fokkusu Rokujūyon?), known in Australia and Europe as Lylat Wars, is a scrolling shooter video game for the Nintendo 64 video game console. It is a remake of the original Star Fox,[3] and the first game in the Star Fox series to be released on the Nintendo 64.

It was also the first Nintendo 64 game to include support for the Rumble Pak, with which it initially came bundled.[4] The game received positive ratings from reviewers and critics who praised its smooth animation, detailed visuals, voice acting, and use of multiple gameplay paths

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Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Console: Nintendo 64
Genre: Action
Release Date: June 30, 1997
First to Review

""Do a Barrel Roll!""
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