Review by StephenYap3

"Purified shooting fun, from head to knees"

I remember the good old days of me playing this game and ever since I was in my Elementary years, I couldn't beat this game since it was too hard for me. And ever since I turned 12, I never played it again until around 2005. It was then at that year, I began to unlock my inner potential. Back then in my childhood, I used to die a lot, but now these days, I never died at all and managed to unlock Expert Mode. Anyways, I will be moving onto reviewing this gem.

Unfortunately, I won't write the story on this review since I am too lazy to write it down. What I will write down is that you are Fox McCloud, the leader of the Star Fox team, and your mission is simple enough if you've played nearly any game before: Shoot stuff and avoid obstacles while reaching to the end of the level, where you will always confront a boss. Obviously, bosses require different strategies to defeat, adding more fun to this game than just shooting like there is absolutely no tomorrow. Simple, yes? Chances are that if you played this game before and somehow enjoyed it, it all depends on whether your choice is saying “yes” or “no” when questioned about SF64 being simple.

The graphics in SF64 aren't too shabby and especially the sounds that does excellent at being realistic. The music tracks are alright too, but just not the best in the whole wide world. The only treat to SF64's music tracks are that they are pretty well organized and fit just about anywhere. However, the voice acting is one of the few problems with SF64. Every time you die, one of your Star Fox team members will yell “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!” At first it's alright, but after the second time and on, it's beyond annoying and unsurprisingly lame. Of course, the game does have the option of adjusting the volume of the music, the sounds, and the voices. You can just completely turn down the voice gauge and enjoy the game as normal.

Anyway, as for the main game, you are Fox McCloud and only the Fox McCloud as you cannot control anybody else in the game, but how they do their own roles are quite intriguing. Peppy will point out for stuff to look out for during the mission, Slippy (can someone hire a new voice actor?) will display the bosses' health gauges during boss fights, and Falco would be a man's best friend at taking down enemies. Their main purposes, however, are the same as they will lead you to somewhere or lend a hand to you at nearly any point during a mission. They can also die and if that should ever occur, the dead team member will not participate in the next mission, but the mission after the next one. Enough said for the team members.

Back to the main game, you have a bunch of planets to travel to on the Lylat System in SF64. You always start at Corneria, and always end at Venom, where the mastermind of all attacks on the planets is located. The other planets will be accessed, depending on the different paths you take during the previous missions. You cannot choose the planet manually, but sometimes you can change the course to another planet or sacrifice an extra life to redo the mission you have beaten. It's pretty confusing at first, but later on you'll pretty much get it. There are also Medals you can earn for each planet when you've taken down enough enemies there, catering to the replay value of this game.

As for the game play overall, you have a bunch of items to collect around in SF64. The Laser power up will level up your lasers to become stronger and more reliable at taking down enemies, though it can only level up to Level 3, until when you lose a wing on your ship or if you die. To aid the loss of wings, there is a Wings power up to repair your wings to let you fly better. Silver Rings will restore a portion of your health meter while the Gold Ring have the same purpose, though collecting 3 of them will double your health meter for the mission and collecting another 3 will grant you an extra life. The Smart Bombs will give you one Smart Bomb per pick up, which is pretty much a get-out-of-jail-free item when you are about to face off a pack of enemies ahead of you. What makes them Smart is that you can wait for the bomb to detonate when it reaches far enough into the distance or you can press B to detonate it on the spot. Pretty smart, huh? You can only hold up to 9 of these, however, so only use these Smart Bombs...smartly. Sometimes, you have to press C-Right when you receive a call from something to either listen to the message or have your own carrier ship The Great Fox send you a random power up.

Each mission in the game is sometimes split into two modes of shooting: One is the usual fly and shoot thing while reaching to the end while the other is All-Range Mode, where you can chase down other enemies in a pure dogfight perspective. In addition to those features, you also have a wide array of moves instead of just flying and shooting stuff. You can do a somersault to avoid most hits, hit the brakes to slow down, hit the speed button to speed up, and even a U-turn that is only used in All-Range Mode for obvious reasons. However, these moves disable you from using them repeatedly as the blue meter on the top-right hand corner of the screen must be fully blue and devoid of red to use one of them again. It is a useful feature to make game play fair and fun. Another move that I forget to mention is the barrel roll, which unlike other moves do not drain the blue meter and can deflect most enemy projectiles.

There are a few planets in the game, where you won't be flying in the air, but instead piloting another vehicle. You have battle tank to take out enemies on ground combat and even a submarine to take out enemies in the deep sea. The difference with the battle tank is that you obviously cannot fly, but rather than you can strafe to the left or right with jets on the bottom or float up in the air for a short time to avoid ground obstacles. The submarine is the same as flying, except that you cannot seem to do any moves that the flying ship could, though all your Smart Bombs have been replaced with Torpedoes for the time being, which unlike the Smart Bombs, are unlimited in supply and can light up in darkness. Neither of these addition vehicles have All-Range Mode, unfortunately.

Now here are a few concerns I have for SF64. For instance, there is no ability to select which level you want to play at any time. I would have wanted to play the same level over and over again to have fun and especially beat the final boss continuously to see the credits over and over again. Plus, what if you want to go to a level to get a Medal for it without having to play through levels to get there? Oh well, it comes to show that an Arcade-like game on the N64 is not a good idea.

There is also a multiplayer mode, which in my opinion is rather dated. It's just the boring shoot-your-friend-and-move-on thing, but to make up for it, if certain tasks are done in the game, you can control another vehicle or even on foot. Other than that, there is nothing else to mention about multiplayer mode.

--Final Words--
Despite the flaws, Star Fox 64 is a must-have for any shooter fan. You may enjoy this or you may hate this, who knows? Give it a whirl and find out.

Score: 7 out of 10

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 06/20/11

Game Release: Star Fox 64 (Players Choice) (US, 12/31/98)

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