Review by SNES_64_DC_Xbox
"A classic, plain and simple. One of the N64's best."
In a universe of space-faring anthropomorphic animals, the evil genius Andross is banished from the planet Corneria of the Lylat System. When something is amiss on Venom, Andross' new home, the mercenary team 'Star Fox', (consisting of Peppy Hare, Pigma Dengar, and James McCloud) is hired by Cornerian General Pepper to investigate. Upon arriving at Venom, Pigma betrayed the others, leading to the loss of James, and the survival of Andross. A few years later, when Andross once again invades the Lylat System Fox McCloud, James' son, forms a new StarFox team, of Fox, Slippy Toad, Falco Lombardi, and the aged Peppy Hare. They start at the besieged planet Corneria and work their way through the system to Venom using their Arwing starfighters, Landmaster tanks, and the Blue-Marine sub.
The campaign is rather arcadish, since not all the levels in 16-level Lylat System will played each time. Instead, logically, the StarFox team chooses 7 of them in a somewhat linear path from Corneria to Venom. While most stages are played in the Arwing, two involve the Landmaster, and one, the submarine. Which levels are played is decided by whether you accomplish certain tasks and sometimes by player choice; there are three rows of levels, easy, medium, hard, and you can crisscross between them; and depending on which direction you enter Venom, the level (and ending) will change drastically. There are 2 types of gameplay: the regular, straightforward (rail) version, and 'all-range mode', a moderately-sized open area with u-turn boundaries. Many levels are linear paths through battlefields, then a boss, or an all-range mode battle with an object as the boss. Vehicles are capable of flips, braking, boosts, 'barrel-rolls', 1st person views, and vertical flying. Weapons are a simple, rapid-fire laser, and expendable bombs that must be collected in-level. Going through items like silver rings will give you back some health, and after going through 3 gold rings your health bar will expand. Besides bombs, other items involve wing repairs, and laser upgrades. Your allies (Peppy, Slippy, and Falco) will give you advice and, more often, ask for help when enemies get on their tail. If they take to much damage, they will flee the level and rejoin 2 stages later after they've received repairs. The enemy AI is smart enough to get on your tail, although your allies are especially useful when it comes to cover-fire. Two of the levels involve extra allies outside the team, who will help on the stages to follow. At the end of each level, the number of hits you score and how much health you and your allies have will give your allies some health back for the next level and also give you some extra lives.
Again with the arcade-style, at the end of the game, your total number of hits will give your playthrough a rank in the records.
While not 'beautiful', for the N64 the graphics are great and will keep you in the game. Most themes were made by the composer of the Zelda games, so of course the music is wonderful (and similar to the feel of Ocarina of Time tunes), sounds are fine, and so is the voice-acting. The satisfaction you get from beating a boss is enough reason to play, since they always shout something along the lines of "Andross, I've failed yooouuuu!" or "I can't believe I lost to this SCUUUMMMM!!!" and then a huge explosion and the music plays, along with comments from your teammates. The only voice acting issue is Slippy: its rather high-pitched, and he isn't a very good pilot, so he will be asking for help constantly. (Yes, Slippy is a guy.)
Up to 4 friends can play in all-range mode on one of 2 maps, in a dogfight with a small number of items strewn about. Nothing special, but a nice inclusion.
Since only 7 of 16 levels are played each time, it will take a few playthroughs just to get to them all; plus the multiplayer gives the game some good length, although each playthrough will only take ~30 minutes depending on levels played. Not to mention the ending of the hard Venom stage is the true ending, not the easy stage version.
This game is AMAZINGLY entertaining, and is easily one of the best games from the N64. Excellent music, good visuals, memorable dialogue, and fun gameplay. What more could you want?
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 11/29/11, Updated 01/26/15
Game Release: Star Fox 64 (US, 07/01/97)
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