I never thought I’d add this game to my collection, even scoffing at my nephew when he said this was one of the games that he was considering to get. So I was a little surprised when I actually bought a copy of Star Fox 64 3D.
Star Fox 64 3D is a remake of Star Fox 64, which was released on the Nintendo 64 more than a decade ago. It’s basically a space flight simulation shooter with on rails and free motion (called All Range in the game) modes. You take on the role of Fox McCloud, leader of a band of mercenary ace starfighters.
Rather than being just a port, the game was redesigned from the ground up, and it shows graphically as the game looks really amazing. This game looks like it was made to be played in 3D – the game has minimal use of the second screen so you seldom have to look at the secondary screen at all. This is the first 3DS game that I’ve played that has made me consider getting an actual 3DS XL unit this year just so I can play in 3D.
In the single player Main Game, you control Fox as he leads Team Star Fox in different missions across the Lylat System. Some portions of the missions are played in an on rails Corridor Mode, putting you on a fixed movement path, while others are in All Range mode where you have the freedom to fly around a fixed section. You’ll mostly find yourself in the cockpit of an Arwing, but there are missions where you’ll take control of the Landmaster tank instead.
Although there are a total of fifteen total areas, each single player game consists of only seven missions – in most of the areas, you have the option of moving to an alternate stage by performing a specific task. This is where the replayability of the game stems from – you won’t get to see all of the stages in just one or two playthroughs, you’ll need to go through the Main Game a lot before you see all of the stages.
And these stages? Boy, they’re very different from each other. My favorite stage at the moment is Solar, which looks like our very own sun. It’s amazing to see so many flares shoot out at you from the area’s surface. Solar is an alternate stage, and it was worth going through the game multiple times to unlock this.
In all of the single player missions, you’ll be accompanied by the rest of the Star Fox team members, each with their own Arwing. Sometimes, they end up in your line of fire – hitting them actually does damage and depletes their life bar. Other times, they’ll have enemies chasing after them, and it will be up to you to help them and keep them in the game. Taking too much damage will force them to head back to the Great Fox, so they won’t be able to participate in the next mission. There’s value in keeping all of them in the game – Slippy provides data on the health of the end level boss, so without him you won’t see its health meter. Falco serves as the guide to the alternate routes, without him you won’t be able to get to the alternate stages even if you meet the requirements. And Peppy, well, he yells out advice that you really won’t need.
For most of the stages, you’ll get to face a boss of some sort. The bosses in this game look great, but they don’t offer much of a challenge. Typical of flight shooter games, the bosses in Star Fox 64 3D have their specific attack patterns and weak points. I haven’t seen all of the bosses in the game, but those that I’ve encountered? Let me just say that once I got their patterns down, they didn’t offer much of a challenge.
After completing a stage, it becomes available in the Score Attack mode, where you can replay stages and aim for high scores. The game keeps track of up to 10 scores per stage per difficulty level, so there’s a lot of room for different players to make their mark on your game.
As nice as the Main Game mode is, why I really opted to buy this game though is for Battle mode, where you can play straight up dogfights between 2 to 4 characters in different stages. This mode can be played alone, or via Download Play between 2 to 4 players. If I wanted to play this game with friends who have 3DS devices of their own, all we need is one cartridge and we’re set. Battle mode offers 3 different types of play: Survival where the last player left is the winner (or remaining players when time runs out), Points Battle where the objective is to attain a certain number of kills, and Time Attack where the player with the most points wins the match.
The game also has the option of displaying a live image of the players during multiplayer. It doesn’t impact the gameplay in any way, but there’s some novelty in being able to see the reactions of your friends as you chase after them without having to take your eyes away from the screen, or in giving them personalized taunts right after blowing them to pieces.
The addition of gyroscopic motion controls to this game is something that needs to be mentioned. You have the option of enabling gyroscopic controls – rather than using the Circle Pad to control your Arwing, you tilt your 3DS device according to how you want to steer it. Personally, I’d rather use the traditional controls, but I can’t knock Nintendo for continuing to support motion controls in their games.
So, how do I like this game? This is a good game, but I have to be honest – I’m not satisfied with the amount of content that it has. The single player Main Game, while offering branching stages for replayability, is still too short – I can finish a seven mission run in less than two hours. The multiplayer Battle mode is very basic, with choices limited to what stage you’ll be playing in, the time limit per game, the points needed to win, and so on. The characters aren’t really different from each other, and you’re limited to using the Arwing.
What could they have added? I’ve seen a lot of people clamor for the ability to play Battle mode online, but what I’m looking for is a little more simple – a co-op multiplayer mode would have been nice, where you’d team up with friends against Team Star Wolf. This game would’ve been perfect for it’s price if it had that feature. As it is right now, I’m just a little underwhelmed with what I got for it’s full price.
Still, the game serves its purpose well – I chose Star Fox 64 3D over other, more popular titles, because I wanted a game with a Download Play feature. And what I got was exactly that, with the bonus of having a single player game that I can play within 10-15 minutes. It definitely deserves it’s spot in my 3DS game library.