Star Fox 64 3D review

  • Classic stages hold up well
  • Graphical update looks great
  • Still campy fun 14 years later
  • Maintains original's shallowness
  • $39.99 is the wrong price
  • We get it Peppy, we'll do a barrel roll!

The N64’s biggest fault as a system was probably the fact that it had a very small library of games, with owners playing and replaying a new Nintendo release every four months or so with little else on the horizon. That's partially the reason Star Fox 64 is so well remembered by some: they played through it dozens of times because they had little else to do with the system. Now that the space-faring shooter has a 3D remake, it's time to see if the title was really worth the fan following it got, or if it got big mostly thanks to lack of competition.


Though Fox McCloud and his team of animalistic pilots have starred in other games since, none understood the core fun of Star Fox's gameplay like 64. While other titles messed around with on-foot adventures or touchscreen controls, Star Fox 64 keeps you in the ship, flying forward, blasting other statcraft to oblivion. SF64 is simple fun that any kid who ever ran around their living room with a toy X-Wing can appreciate. It's such an entertaining and easy formula, it makes it all the stranger that it has never been truly replicated until this remake.

Since we played this game to death in the late 90s, each mission was warmly familiar. We saved Corneria, blew up a mothership alongside Bill, and took down rival Star Wolf with ease. It was such nostalgic fun, we found ourselves repeating dialogue out loud that we didn't realize we remembered: "Someone wants to play." "Use the boost to chase." "I guess you're good for something." (Though those lines have been rerecorded, the new voice actors do fairly good imitations.)

The game's graphical update made replaying these classic levels even better as some, including the lava planet and its boss, looked much better than before. Though it didn't have the wow factor of seeing it on our TV way back when, it was cool to experience the game with a more current look. Also, the 3DS's circle pad was a fine approximation of the N64 analog stick, plus the game offers aiming via the 3DS's Gyro whatevers, but we found little use for it.

Star Fox 64 may be as good as older gamers remember it, but today's audience will still get something out of it too. The arcadey joyof the on-rails stages holds true today, and other updates on top of the graphics have been added. For example, there's now a much more approachable standard difficulty level, though you can also try the less forgiving mode that emulates the N64 original's difficulty pretty well.

Nintendo and Q Games did a pretty impressive job with this recreation, but that also means all the same old faults are there too, as Star Fox 64's largest issue remains: it's too shallow. Though it's fun for a few afternoons or a weekend, you'll "beat" SF64 3D in a few hours. Yes, with the multiple branching paths you'll have to go through it several times to see everything, but it’s still not that deep.

Perhaps we were able to speed through most of the stages pretty easily because we remembered the exact path to take to open up every possible route, but even if you have to work to find each new exit, you’ll have everything unlocked in, at most, nine hours. After that, the game gets old no matter how much replayability is packed into almost every classic stage. Yes, you can try to get a gold medal in every Score Attack version of a stage, but once you’ve finished Sector Z for the eighth time, it gets pretty rote.


Outside of a perfunctory multiplayer mode that’s cute so long as you have friends nearby with a 3DS (there’s no online play) , Star Fox 64 3D is a fine diversion, but at its full price of $39.99, it isn’t a must buy. Those looking for a blast from the past full of all the barrel rolls and Andross they loved 14 (!) years ago will have a good time for as long as it lasts, and this remains the best game in the Star Fox franchise. However, if you want to experience the purest expression of what makes Fox McCloud worth remembering, either rent it or wait for it to go on sale.

Sep 9, 2011

More Info

Available Platforms: 3DS

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  • EugeneTMarine - February 29, 2012 6:24 p.m.

    Even though I played this title to death on my N64 and my friends and I played the original multiplayer game for countless hours, I still found this new remake to be extremely enjoyable. It's still the best Star Fox game in the series and I hope this gives Nintendo a reason to make a great new game for the Wii U.
  • Spybreak8 - September 12, 2011 6:40 p.m.

    When I found out this game had no online support for multiplayer and it was at its price point I just laughed. Secretly I'd love to buy this game, big nostalgic boner!
  • richard-j-murray - September 12, 2011 8:56 a.m.

  • ChiChiRocket - September 12, 2011 12:17 a.m.

    I've been trying out different routes. I haven't done the Blue Marine stage yet. Really hoping they improved that...
  • Taxtm - September 11, 2011 8:33 a.m.

    I got it yesterday, and spent a good part of last night playing it. I couldn't figure out really any difference between the N64 version, and the new "balanced" version, but after trying both, the whole thing was still pretty fun. I gave the multiplayer arena battles a shot, and they seem pretty solid, but I was disappointed about the lack of Wi-Fi in this game. It's definitely a good thing I know some others with 3DS systems to play with. Otherwise, I have to say, I would have been really disappointed overall. While the game is great, and the work put in to remaster it really shows and pays off, and the 3D worked better than most other games I've played thus far throughout the whole game, for $40? Really? I guess the main reason I can recommend it to others is because I want to see the game become a common enough sight to be able to play with a lot of random people locally, since there's no online playability. Really, that alone would make this game more than 20% cooler to me.
  • Hobogonigal - September 10, 2011 11:14 a.m.

    I absolutely loved the original on the N64 so I will definitely pick this up when it releases on the 15th. Good review though, I can see how it might get dull after a few playthroughs but to be honest I am desperate for something to actually play on my 3DS after LoZ:OoT.
  • philipshaw - September 10, 2011 3:46 a.m.

    Got it yesterday and played the first couple of stages over again for like a hour, so much secret stuff in the game
  • HumorTumor - September 9, 2011 9:50 p.m.

    I bought this today. And I'm loving it to death. I missed ouut on it years ago,and it just scratches the right itch I've been missing for years. Sure it's a remake, but I think it's quality is pretty damn good.
  • w1n5t0n - September 9, 2011 7:53 p.m.

    DO A BARREL ROLL!!!!!!!!!!!
  • shawksta - September 9, 2011 5:02 p.m.

    Theres something about Star fox 64, to me, replaying the levels is just awesome, sometimes you WANT to replay them. I love the visuals,especially the faces on the bottom screen, I cant pass up on this, just like ocarina, this will be an N64 classic remastered to current gen on a handheld that we can play forever.
  • GameManiac - September 9, 2011 4:28 p.m.

    I recall playing next to nothing of this game on the N64. The only game that I've fully played in the series is Star Fox Command, and I've played through it COMPLETELY, albeit it belonged to a good friend. I've found myself to quickly become a fan of the series, and I'll eagerly hunt down the superceding games in the series, and hopefully any new installments. I've already bought it, and whether it lasts long enough for me or not, I don't mind. Whether the GameCube Star Fox games are to distant from the original or not, I don't care, so long as I enjoy it, and I feel as if I will. ...By the way, has anyone ever bothered to think WHY there's no online connectivity for this game? Two words: Chat Roulette.
  • EnragedTortoise1 - September 9, 2011 2:54 p.m.

    Don't buy it. Seriously. Wait for Ninty to make an actual NEW starfox game.
  • g1SideSmash - September 9, 2011 3:47 p.m.

    Funny you mention that, because Miyamoto has said more than once that if SF643D doesn't do well, then that'll be it for the series. So, you're telling people to kill the Star Fox series, essentially. Also, the N64 has one of the best game libraries out there! What is GR's beef with it?
  • SDHoneymonster - September 9, 2011 4:25 p.m.

    I agree! When you consider the relatively small amount of games released on the N64, the amount of them that were at least great, if not stone cold classics, is incredible. The problem seems to be it's age - but if you think about how in 15 years time we'll probably be laughing at 360 and PS3 graphics, I don't really seem to think you can take that into account.
  • codystovall - September 9, 2011 4:28 p.m.

    If they have to blackmail us like that then let star fox die. Nintendo needs some new oroginal characters and games anyway.
  • codystovall - September 9, 2011 4:29 p.m.

  • sutrebla15 - September 9, 2011 2:39 p.m.

    I dunno about you guys, but doing a barrel roll is a pro.
  • EnigmaSpirit - September 9, 2011 2:32 p.m.

    This is the kind of game that was great when I was a kid, but it is too shallow nowadays to really see as a purchase. Is the nostalgia worth it? Well, I would rather spend my money on something I haven't played yet; I mean Shin Megami Tensai Devil Survivor is out, and there are more coming before the end of the year.

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