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Star Fox 64 3D hands-on preview

When you think of top-tier N64 games, Star Fox 64 sits right up there with Ocarina of Time, GoldenEye and Super Mario 64. To this day it remains the best Star Fox game in the series, and later this year (September 9, to be precise) it's receiving a 3D makeover complete with new motion controls and multiplayer features. And don't worry - those motion controls are totally optional.


For those unfamliar with the original, Star Fox 64 sends space ace Fox McCloud flying through a series of branching levels, each filled with projectile-spewing baddies and titanic bosses. Fox's angular ship, the Arwing, can deflect most incoming bullets by performing the world famous "barrel roll," as well as charge up for a homing shot that damages its target as well as any other enemies in its blast radius. Ships destroyed in groups are worth more to your kill count than if they were destroyed alone, so the game quickly becomes more than just shooting - it evolves into a skill-based combo extravaganza. It's a pure-gameplay experience that entranced millions in 1997, and is just as fun today.

However, if you wanted to try besting your score on a given level, you would have to replay the entire game and get back to that point. This required the obvious time investment of replaying the stage, but also the possibility of missing one of the branches necessary to reach certain areas again. In 64 3D, you can jump into a Score Attack mode that opens any completed level for further combo chaining. It's a small touch, but one longtime fans will undoubtedly enjoy; I personally played Star Fox 64 dozens, if not a hundred times through solely to improve a score, so being able to skip to a specific level is appreciated.

But what's new? For starters, the visuals are notably prettier. The Arwings themselves received a modest bump in clarity, but the real improvements lie in the environments. One level that takes place over an ocean looks immensely better on 3DS, complete with excellent lighting effects as the Arwing's laser blasts hum across the surface of the water. I wouldn't say the visuals are pumped up as much as Ocarina of Time 3D, but there are definitely areas that show great improvement. Additionally, the radio chatter between Fox and his pals (Slippy, Peppy and Falco) has been re-recorded, mostly with the original cast from Star Fox 64. I can confirm Slippy is as annoyingly shrill as ever.

The major change for 64 3D is its multiplayer, which ditches the Landmaster Tank and on-foot modes of the original in favor of all-Arwing action. I was initially upset about losing the tank and foot modes (the air/land/foot rivalry was intensely fun and unlike other multiplayer of the day), but the new maps and Mario Kart-style power-ups make the existing, flight-only experience a blast to play. Power-ups include a massive supernova that burns anything in its path, a transponder that teleports you behind an opponent and sticky things called slowburzz that cling to ships and slow 'em down. There are nine power-ups total, and they really help flesh out the multiplayer that shipped with the original game. As a final note, the game does constantly display your face (via the 3DS camera) above your ship; it seems like a silly inclusion, but I gotta say, being able to see someone's face as they're about to pop is pretty cool. Bonus - the multiplayer only requires one card for four people to play.

The single player seems strong as ever, and the multiplayer (which is local only, sadly) is sufficiently beefed up to make this an attractive package despite it being yet another re-release of an N64 game. Again, it's set to launch on 9/9, which is a Friday, a possible first for a Nintendo game.

27 comments

  • GameManiac - August 28, 2011 10:56 p.m.

    Funny, the first Star Fox game that I played was the "last" one: Star Fox Command. I've beaten it completely a few times (the 9 alternate endings can get pretty depressing at times), but I never owned it. After beating Star Fox 64 3D, I'll look for the other games in the series. I'm glad the Wii is backwards-compatable. (I'm sure my current picture shows how interested I've become in the series).
  • James3DS - July 22, 2011 11:30 a.m.

    You can demo Starfox 64 3DS at the Nintendo Unleashed stand at Hyper Japan in London this weekend, check it out: http://www.hyperjapan.co.uk/event-2011/highlights/nintendo-unleashed.html
  • IceBlueKirby - July 21, 2011 9:02 p.m.

    Once I get a 3DS I'ma do a barrel roll into the nearest store and grab this. Unless Wolf shows up to tell me he can't let me do that. But I'll just tell him to feck off. I'm getting this game solely for it's portability...I still play Starfox 64 at home but I'd love to play it when I'm out and about.
  • WTeen8 - July 21, 2011 7:05 p.m.

    I'm one of those poor saps who was born too late and only got the obligatory mario games for N64 and then some 3rd party stuff I can't even remember, and never owned this or Ocarina for N64....so yeah, My reason for wanting a 3DS is justified. (Granted I will probably only be able to get like 2 or 3 games for the system. SSF43D (don't own a PS3 or 360 and my PC isn't good enough to run PC version), LoZ 3D, and Super Mario 3D would be my choices.
  • philipshaw - July 21, 2011 11:43 a.m.

    Good preview, I will be getting this when it comes out
  • shawksta - July 21, 2011 11:02 a.m.

    Awesome to see its doing great, cant wait! I think the local multipayer was to make it like the original, either that or to avoid offensive video captures. I agree,this is one of the best star foxes, but I dont understand why Star Fox:Assault was underrated, I loved it
  • Limbo - July 21, 2011 9:55 a.m.

    Eh, I might get it at Christmas if I ever buy a 3DS. Shame they got rid of the tank and on-foot modes, I remember them being a blast in multiplayer on Starfox Assault (never played Star Fox 64). As for local only multiplayer, I don't care. Anything involving Nintendo and online completely sucks anyways.
  • BurntToShreds - July 21, 2011 5:14 a.m.

    I wonder if this'll get the 3DS' sales charts up.
  • michaelpreston - July 21, 2011 4:47 a.m.

    What? No Krystal? Yeah, I know... it's Star Fox 64! But they have Kat in there, that's new. If/when I get the 3DS I WILL buy this.
  • Zeb364 - July 21, 2011 2:58 a.m.

    This is the first game that actually makes me want to get a 3DS.
  • Robusken - July 21, 2011 2:42 a.m.

    Please tell me they kept all the lines the same. I've memorized pretty much all of them.
  • Z-man427 - July 21, 2011 2:13 a.m.

    I don't care if I've played this game to death over the last however many years. I'm buying this on release.
  • meh - July 21, 2011 12:28 a.m.

    CAN'T LET YOU DO THAT STARFOX!!!!!!!
  • ParanoidAndroid - July 20, 2011 11:48 p.m.

    Good thing the motion controls are optional; you can't even use them with the 3d on, as you have to keep your head in the centre of the screen.
  • Imgema - July 20, 2011 9:57 p.m.

    Amazing game. Its interesting that they re-recorded the dialog. I hope they sound exactly like they did in N64 but in better quality.
  • CharlieFockstrot - July 20, 2011 9:35 p.m.

    So we have to skip two adverts just to get to this site now???????? Load of shite, if you ask me. (nobody asked me)
  • ThatGuyFromTV - July 20, 2011 9:15 p.m.

    Come on, even Command had online multiplayer. Step your shit up Nintendo.
  • EnigmaSpirit - July 20, 2011 9:08 p.m.

    Meh... I already played the n64 one to death when I was younger, but those new graphics look amazing compared to the original's. I agree with EngragedTortoise.
  • ristar200 - July 20, 2011 8:54 p.m.

    It's terrible sitting here and reading about what new, awesome 3DS games are coming out without owning a 3DS.
  • DevonOO7 - July 20, 2011 8:49 p.m.

    "Fox get this guy off me!"

Showing 1-20 of 27 comments

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