Hey, what’s the big idea Nintendo? You’re saying this remake of the best Star Fox game may be the last time we actually see Star Fox hit retail shelves? If so, it is fitting that the last time we see Fox McCloud and company grace a new release list is to perform their greatest hit all over again.
Star Fox 64 3D doesn’t really build on the foundation of the 1997 classic. It simply retains it, and adds bells and whistles. Those bells are mighty loud and attention grabbing. You won’t get the online Star Fox dog fighting game you’ve been hoping for ever since you first played the many games that excel at online aerial combat, like Starhawk. Star Fox 64 3D takes the one feature everybody was asking for and leaves it in the shadows. This is disappointing, but it doesn’t deter as much as you would think from the value of this revamped late 90’s gem.
You play the game on rails, and progress through half a dozen stages or so until you reach Andross and beat one of the multiple endings. Each ending can be played through by doing specific tasks on particular levels, and each takes about one hour to complete. You can go back and beat your high scores, and for the most part that is where you will get replay ability out of it. If you have three friends with 3DS systems you can play 4 player competitive matches via download play. The multiplayer is the same as it was 14 years ago, Nintendo added a few items that you probably will forget as soon as you stop playing as the new items aren’t note worthy additions. Thankfully, you can set up matches against the CPU and play matches on your own without friends. I’ve enjoyed this a lot since release, and it makes me wish the game featured online play even more.
Where Star Fox 64 3D really shines is its overhauled graphics. This is a bigger leap forward then Ocarina of Time 3D was in terms of improvement. The water in some of the stages looks better than any water I’ve seen in Wii games, let alone being a gigantic boost up from the Nintendo 64. The 3D effect is perfect, and makes so much sense. It really helps to tell how far away you are from Falco as he half heartedly asks for your help with the bogies on his tail. It adds depth that helps you tell if Andross is going to suck you up during the final battle. Star Fox 64 3D really is one of the best showcases of 3D on the system.
The game was developed by Nintendo with the help of Q-Games. Q-Games is best known for their Pixel Junk series on Playstation systems, but they also developed the terrific Star Fox Command for the Nintendo DS. They did a fantastic job using the 3DS’s hardware to display beautiful 3D graphics on the top screen, and the controls are spot on. Gyro controls are better than expected, and some may even find them preferable but it does break the 3D effect and I enjoyed the 3D so much I barely used Gyro controls.
The main issue with this terrific remake is just that. It’s a remake. There is very little new content, and the old game holds up well with better graphics. It is still a great game with loads of replay ability if you’re the type who likes to go for high scores. I asked Lead Designer at Q-Games Rowan Parker about the development of Star Fox 64 3D and he said that Nintendo went out of their way to tell them to keep all old bugs and glitches in this remake in an effort to stay faithful to the original game. You’ve got to love Nintendo’s dedication to great fan service, but at the same time a remake may have not been the best bet for revitalizing Star Fox.
Q-Games is an awesome studio with so many bright new ideas, I really wish Nintendo would cut the leash and allow them to develop a modern Star Fox that maintains the feel of the originals, while adding features like competitive online multiplayer. If Nintendo doesn’t feel Q-Games is up to the job, perhaps Smart Bomb Interactive can take a break from developing good Snoopy themed flying games and give Star Fox team a much needed rebirth.
It isn’t hard to recommend Star Fox 64 3D to new comers, and that’s the main audience Nintendo wants to sell this to. They are done experimenting with Star Fox, and I do hope they succeed in finding an audience that will buy the games so I can see more of Star Fox on the 3DS and the Wii U. It is hard to recommend the game to Star Fox fans if better graphics isn’t a big factor to them. The game holds up very well, but you can get the same game for $30 less on the Wii right now without even leaving your house if you don’t care about the improved visuals. Star Fox 64 3D is easily worth the $40 asking price, and though online multiplayer is still the most coveted feature yet to be added to the franchise this game doesn’t suffer too much without it.