Star Fox, also known as Starwing, was the first Nintendo game to make use of 3D Polygon graphics. It debuted on the Super Nintendo and since then the game has spawned numerous sequels including titles for the Nintendo 64, Game Cube, Wii and DS. The series has won critical acclaim and Nintendo constantly reinvents it across its different consoles. The latest game in the series is an example of how Nintendo can revitalise older titles. Star Fox 64 3D is the latest addition to the Star Fox series, also known as Lylat Wars. It is the revamped version of the Nintendo 64 game on the 3DS. Let’s see how it contributes to the saga.
Star Fox 3D looks like the Ewoks were the protagonists in Star Wars and Slippy Toad resembles Kermit the Frog in the Muppets. This makes sense as the series’ creator Shigeru Miyamoto was inspired by puppet dramas, such as Thunderbirds. Star Fox follows a Sci-Fi plot. Nintendo has successfully created a whole universe for the series in the form of a group of planets known as the Lylat System. The game’s antagonist, the ingenious scientist Andross, in the style of early-1990s video games, becomes a mad scientist bent on destroying the otherwise peace loving planet using biological weapons.
Exiled to the planet Venom, Andross begins plotting his revenge and it is discovered that he has created a new army to destroy the planet Corneria. The player takes control of protagonist Fox McCloud, leader of a band of mercenary fighters called Star Fox. Fox is also fighting a personal battle to avenge his father’s death at Andross’ hands. The storyline takes a number of surprising twists and delivers an entertaining narrative that accompanies the exciting gameplay.
Star Fox 3D takes place in corridor mode, in which the player must pilot a vehicle, usually the Arwing spacecraft, through a fixed path on various planets and in asteroid fields. Nostalgically, I was reminded of various derivatives of Asteroids, Spacewar! and other Space Shooter games that I used to play both on PC and the Nintendo NES. The player can execute a U-turn and a barrel roll in order to evade enemy fire. Fox’s main arsenal is laser-cannons, which the player uses to blow up as many enemies as possible in order to attain a high score.
Power ups include smart bombs that hone in on your attackers and ones that replenish your ship’s shield. These power-ups conveniently remain with the player from level to level. The player must also take care to protect his wing-men. Fox’s teammates fly alongside the captain and must sometimes be defended when they fly out in front. If the player fails to rescue his teammates they retreat to the mother-ship for repairs. The game is not completely linear in terms of which levels are visited. Various paths lead the player to different levels although ultimately they will all tie up with Fox’s confrontation with Star Wolf. A great feature on this 3DS version of the game is that the player can choose which planets to visit. The player can also opt for traditional controls or gyroscope system that allows you to move the ship by tilting your 3DS. Either way the controls are easy to handle.
when the characters speak there appears to be no lip syncing at work. This is because the characters mouths were made to pop open and closed like those of puppets. It was fantastic how the game intentionally uses its characters as puppets, creating a comedic edge while actually having a solid plot and serious overtones. Star Fox’s designers have also done away with the blocky polygons of the original Nintendo 64 version. The graphics are sharp and appealing. In 3D you are piloting your way through the stars and it’s mesmerising.
Star Fox 3D once again uses its sound to create a juxtaposition between the comedic and overtly dramatic. The happy, cheerful voices of your puppet-like teammates contrast with the strong, theatrical music that sets a dramatic tone.
Strictly speaking the multiplayer in Star Fox 3D is one of the only areas that lacks something. In Download Play you can play with up to four people in a co-op, against AI mode, but you can’t play in a mass multiplayer mode. You can battle for a set number of points, fight for a certain amount of time or try to be the last plane flying. New power ups become available in this mode including invisibility and one that allows you to swap positions with the player closest to you. It’s all quite quirky and makes for some loony skirmishes. The live videos of your friends’ faces as you play ads to the hilarity and makes up for the lack of online play.
Star Fox 64 3D for the 3DS marks the exciting return of Fox McCloud and the crazy cast of the series. It is great to see how Nintendo can revive a classic. It is still essentially an arcade-style shooter and the player has little control over his movement in its corridor mode. The inclusion of being able to choose your destination makes up for this and breathes new life into the adventures of the Star Fox team. It has been a while since I played a video game on the 3DS and it’s a
marvel to see how Nintendo are still making titles that appeal to audiences of all-ages because they flow, are fun, graphically appealing and above all else extremely creative and different from the serious tones of some other mainstream games today.
Predominantly reviewed on Nintendo 3DS.