Games Growing Up: Star Fox 64Star Fox is a game series that is dearly beloved by many gamers.  While the most recent games in the series haven’t been well received by everybody, the first two games are nearly universally acclaimed.  Star Fox was originally released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1993, and changed gaming with its innovative 3D graphics.  In 1997, this game got a remake for the Nintendo 64, called Star Fox 64.  This game is considered to be the best game in the Star Fox series, but how does it hold up today?

Fox flying his Arwing and shooting down some enemies.

Fox flying his Arwing and shooting down some enemies.

Star Fox is a 3D rail shooter, where the player controls Fox McCloud, an anthropomorphic Fox who pilots a ship, named the Arwing.  Fox is flanked by Peppy Hare, Slippy Toad, and Falco Lombardi.  The goal of the game is to fly through each level, whether it be in space or on a planet, shoot as many enemies as you can, complete the hidden objective, and defeat the boss at the end.  It’s pretty simple, as you have 3 forms of attacking: Lasers, Homing Lasers, and Bombs.  There are also other vehicles that you’ll control in the game.  First is the Landmaster, a tank that is slow moving, but powerful.  Second is the Blue Marine, a submarine that is used for a grand total of one level.  These vehicles have similar controls and shooting mechanics, but cannot shoot homing lasers.  The game is very short, and is meant to be played through several times, as there are two different endings.  The ending the player gets depends on the path taken.  There are 3 paths of levels that can be taken, the top path is considered the hard mode, middle normal, and bottom easy.  The game starts in Corneria, and from there the player can advance to the top path or bottom path, depending on if they complete the hidden objective or not.  If the hidden objective is not accomplished while on the top path, then the player will move to the middle path.  There are hidden objectives in most of the levels in the game.  If the player just plays through the level without completing the objective, the words “MISSION COMPLETE” will appear after the boss is beaten.  However, if the hidden objective is completed, the player will be greeted with the words “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” instead.  This hidden objective usually isn’t hard to figure out.  For example, on the Zoness stage, Fox will say at the beginning, “Let’s sneak in low and surprise them.”  The hidden objective in that level is to shoot out all of the searchlights.  In order to stay on the top path, the player will need to be completing all of the hidden objectives.  These hidden objectives in my opinion add great replay value to the game, since the levels aren’t too long, they’re not at all a burden to play again.  The game will end on the planet Venom where the player will be rewarded with the true final boss if the top path was taken.  The gameplay of the game is still fun and holds up very well.

The Landmaster Tank trekking through Titania.

The Landmaster Tank trekking through Titania.

The controls are fine for the most part, with the exception of when you go off rails into all range mode in certain levels.  The all range mode controls don’t have anything inherently wrong with them, but they don’t fit the objectives you’re supposed to accomplish.  In Sector Z, when you have to protect the Great Fox, a giant space ship, the controls were the reason I didn’t accomplish the mission my first time through.  There are missiles being shot at the Great Fox, and your Arwing moves faster than the missiles, but if you pass the missiles that you’re supposed to shoot, the only way to get back behind them again is to do a U-Turn, fly off in another direction, and do another U-Turn to get some distance between you and the missile so you can shoot it down.  This is a problem, since the missiles by this time will likely be very close to the Great Fox, and if one of them hits the Great Fox, you don’t accomplish the mission.  Dogfights with rival Star Wolf also have potential to be long and tedious just because of the controls.  Luckily, the majority of the game isn’t in all range mode, so you’ll only encounter these issues two or three times maximum in a playthrough.

Andross, the final boss of the game and main antagonist of the series.

Andross, the final boss of the game and main antagonist of the series.

The graphics of the game for the time looked amazing.  The Arwings are very detailed and the levels look very vibrant and lively.  The only issue with how lively these levels looks is that when a lot of enemies are on the screen, slowdown can and will occur.  After the Area 6 boss, Slippy’s textbox was nearly five seconds behind what he was saying.  The character models don’t look great, but are passable for the time they were created.  Even with slowdown and slightly subpar character models, the graphics are still enjoyable to look at today.

The music of the game is very good.  A lot of the time the music is very fitting to the situation the player is in, and is enjoyable to the ears.  Examples of this are Katina, where the player must shoot down the enemy ships and help the allies, the music is very lively.  While driving a tank in Titania and Macbeth the music sounds like a military march.  While navigating a submarine through Aquas, arguably my favorite track of the game plays and gives the feeling of not knowing what’s surrounding the submarine, since the ocean is very mysterious.  The music of the game is still great.

Star Fox 64 is considered by many to be the last great Star Fox game.  The game still has fantastic gameplay, wonderful music, and good graphics.  While all range mode controls leave a lot to be desired, the rest of the control segments are nearly perfect.  Star Fox 64 has aged very well.