Review: Starfox soars, delivers and makes me glad I have a 3DS

Funny thing: right in the middle of all the current doom-and-gloom discussions, Nintendo’s just released one hell of a great game. Want a break from all the weird recent Nintendo announcements? Care to remember how fantastic this company’s games can be? Buy Starfox 64 3D; it’s a spectacular, funny, smooth-as-silk, super-replayable, nonstop thrill ride.

I agree with Infendo Radio’s view that a five-star rating system is the best one-glance method to judge a game’s overall quality. That makes this very easy: Star Fox 64 3D is a five star game. No question. Its single potential negative—it’s a remake—evaporates in the face of the dazzling quality and the pure giddy fun you get out of this one cartridge.

If you’ve never experienced Starfox 64, climb aboard this adventure and marvel at one of Nintendo’s very best games. It’s an arcade-style space shooter, but it’s the wildest, most imaginative and sharpest space shooter in gaming history. And it’s chock full o’ talking wildlife! Animal Crossing meets Independence Day—only on Nintendo.

If you loved the N64 original, prepare for another blast of Ocarina-style amazement. Flying amid beautiful sunsets, oceans, mountains, space armadas and warp zones, you’ll forget the Lylat System used to be a realm of simple polygons and fog.

The 3D is a blast. Not only does it throw asteroids and exploding ship fragments in your face, it also makes navigation through obstacles a lot more fun. 3D should never have been trumpeted as the next big thing in gaming, but…it’s a hoot, and I love it! As pure eye-candy and an extra layer of thrill, it’s a great option to have.

Let’s move on to the game’s sound. Use earphones; you don’t want to leave these amazing soundscapes in the hands of the system’s tiny speakers. The voices have been mostly re-recorded by the original actors. For the most part, things sound very much the same. The game’s goofball dialogue has aged well, and now seems funnier than ever—mostly in a good way. If only they’d replaced Slippy’s voice with someone like…oh, I dunno…Bobcat Goldthwait. Fans will notice that Fox’s old pal Bill no longer sounds like Jeff Spicoli, and R.O.B. sounds just as creepy as ever.

The new control system works beautifully. You can use the tilt controls, the circle pad, or a smooth, intuitive combination of the two. There’s also a classic N64 control option.

Best addition: The game’s progression system has been tweaked for added entertainment value. Depending on how well you perform in a level, you might find yourself with multiple choices in moving on to the next planet/zone. You can always replay the previous zone if you aren’t happy with the outcome, or quit without saving to try an alternate route. The cartridge saves one game-in-progress while allowing a “guest” to play without overwriting your file. Completed worlds can be revisited anytime in a score-attack mode, so you can replay your favorite levels as often as you like.

The local multiplayer battle mode isn’t deep, but it’s great fun, and can be played solo against Falco, Peppy and Slippy. The live video of your opponents’ faces is a hilarious little touch; I hope they include the effect as an option for Mariokart 7.

One overall impression struck me while playing SF643D, and it’s an element I’d forgotten in the fourteen years since its N64 days: I’m more amazed than ever at what a genuinely full, robust and complete experience this game delivers: Thanks to dozens of different routes and hundreds of in-level events, each journey to Venom is unique, yet each play-through delivers a perfectly-paced adventure with just the right amount of story. Everything from the tight controls to the intelligent targeting and score system serves to immerse you completely into the game world. It’s one of the most satisfying games I’ve ever played, and it’s just as much fun today as it was in 1997. I had originally worried that the lack of rumble and large screen—so vital to the original’s impact—would be a problem, but the 3DS enhancements completely make up for those losses.

This title showcases the reason the gaming world still needs Nintendo handhelds. I’ve bought a lot of great games for my iPhone, but no iOS game can deliver an experience like this. Not yet.

How are my fellow Arwing pilots faring out there? Did this game ease the software drought pain? And please note: I got through this entire review without once mentioning a certain evasive maneuver favored by war-vet hares!

19 Responses to Review: Starfox soars, delivers and makes me glad I have a 3DS

  1. Bbelt says:

    Do a barrel roll.
    You’re welcome.

  2. monkat says:

    Woah! Infendo’s doing a review?! Hope those demons are ok–they don’t like the cold very much!

    Kidding aside, great review. I enjoyed the game quite a bit as well, and I think it blends “arcade-style” games and “console-style” games very well in that it’s only about an hour long, but has a ton of replay value and is always fun to pick up because of that.

    It’s a beautiful game with ageless gameplay remastered so well for the slide-pad. My only complaint would be that doing a summersault or u-turn (specifically the u-turn) can be a hassle as is. I never played the N64 version, though, so I don’t know if that was new or old.

    I kinda wish the port was terrible, though, just so we could use silly tag-lines like “Can’t let you do that, Starfox!”

  3. Brett says:

    @monkat – they put in dpad shortcuts for the somersault and uturn

    Picked this game up yesterday. It’s a masterpiece. Can’t wait to try out the multiplayer.
    The only thing i would change is the 3D depth. I’m one of those people that can play with the slider on full for hours without any side effects and I would have liked to see the 3D effect have the same depth on full as in Ocarina. But aside from that truly minor nitpick, this game is awesome.

  4. XCWarrior says:

    ::Checks sign at the door, sees “Infendo” written on it::
    What’s this? A review… at Infendo? I must be dreaming? Not some hysterical dribble out the death of Nitnendo?

    Alert the media, the world is coming to end.

    Seriously though, nice review. Let’s see more of this on the website please. At least pretend you actually cover Nintendo.

    I can’t wait to pick this game up…. for $20. Not paying $40 for a remake.

  5. gojiguy says:

    I think this game looks great. A nice classic with a fresh coat of paint! Lack of online is a real kick in the nads (didn’t StarFox Command do this?) and the lack of any significant new content (like Zelda’s boss rush and Master Quest) is a bummer but I think I’ll pick this one up.

    …when it drops down to $15 or $20. What does Nintendo take me for? I was born at night but it wasn’t last night! Absurd price for an old game!

  6. Drahken says:

    Love it. My one complaint is that I miss the original voice work. Ironically, Slippy is the one who sounds the best. Everyone else sounds like they’re phoning it in. Everything else is amazing though. I forgot how much I love this game. Just about every line is quotable and I memorized them long ago. So every time the characters busted out an old favorite, I squealed with glee. (Or every time Peppy said “do a barrel roll”, I screamed, “Yaaaay! He said it!” I was surprised how good it looks too. Example: when you start Zoness and you have that shot of the rain on the water. It looks fantastic. You also can’t help but love how they have all the different Sci Fi tropes in different levels. Sector Y is the Gundam level, Bolse and Area 6 are the Star Wars levels. And obviously Katina is Independence Day. It’s just sad that the the only good Star Fox game to come out since SF64 is SF64 3DS.

  7. Gannon says:

    As great as Ocarina of Time and Star Fox 64 may be, I already own them own my N64. In fact, I even own both Zelda Collection disks for the Gamecube, all cartridges and mini dvds are still working perfectly. Sure, they are portable and got a graphical update, BUT I ALREADY PLAYED THEM AND CAN REPLAY THEM ANYTIME I WANT ON MY N64, GC OR EVEN WII.
    One of your previous articlesstated that Nintendo launched its last three systems without big franchises. That is a false statement, because the Wii was also launched with Twilight Princess, a completely NEW and amazing game, and the GC version launched three weeks later, so it was a completely njew experience. I will probably buy a 3ds when NEW AND AMAZING GAMES ARE released for it, that is as soon as Mario Kart 3d and Super Mario Land 3D are released. For the Wii U besides some sort of Mini/Sports game collection which will be included with the System, I predict as other launch games Pikmin 3 for the hardcore and New Super Mario Bros Mii Wii U for the hardcore and casuals alike.

  8. monkat says:

    @Brett

    WOAH! I totally misread the directions. I thought I had to do the slide-pad + buttons AND the d-pad presses at the same time! This makes everything easier!

    I just finished my second run through the game, and man is it great. Andross is pathetic, though, know that I know how to beat him…he lasts like a minute.

  9. Hitokiri_Ace says:

    Hey look, an article worth reading! 🙂 (obviously trolling)

    I checked wal-mart today and still not there :(.. Anywho, does this games still offer the hard mode after you beat the game? I’m pretty sure it will, but I don’t think I’ve heard either way yet. Let the beginning of me giving lots of money to nintendo begin! 😀

  10. Eugene says:

    What I would give to have $40 + tax right now….

    Great review!

  11. Nfanboy says:

    Great or the 3DS.

    But still too little to late.

    I mean Ocarina of time was released like 3 months ago…

    So few games ! That’s just shame !!!

  12. Richard says:

    @ Hitokiri_Ace:

    I haven’t followed the path to the “good” ending yet, so I still don’t know if an expert mode unlocks at that point.

    The “normal” ending gets you a very cool jukebox feature, though!

  13. Chris says:

    Eugene’s comment, unless he is really in utter destitution (how could he be operating a computer in that case?), reveals that he, like me, believes this game is really worth less than $40. In other words, if someone just “gave” me $40 plus tax I might buy the game, but not with my own hard-earned money. I want the game but not enough to forgo the satisfaction I can buy elsewhere with $40!

    What I would give for this game or any other one to be worth $40 on the 3DS!!!!

  14. Hitokiri_Ace says:

    Not worth $40? You’re $ must be worth gold or something, mine just buy me a fun game.

    Anywho, I just bought and beat the game and it was fun! Remastered may be the lazy way out for Ninty, but hey. Awesome game, just as fun as it as back in the day. Worth it? If you can afford it, then definitely yes 🙂

  15. Richard says:

    @Chris (and XCWarrior and Gojiguy:

    I’m going to be very honest about this: This is a spectacular rebuild of one of the best games of all time and I truly believe it’s worth $40. Nintendo poured a lot of money, talent and time into this game, and it shows in every detail. I’m a huge fan of Starfox 64, I played the original through dozens of times 14 years ago, and playing the 3DS version is like discovering it for the first time all over again. It’s pure Nintendo fun at its best.

    Or, put it this way: If this game isn’t worth $40, then NO game is worth $40. And that’s a whole different discussion.

    Er…at this point, I guess I should admit that I only paid $15 for it; I traded in a couple of 3DS launch titles I bought that definitely were *not* worth $40. 🙂 SF643D, however, is a keeper.

  16. Jericho says:

    Superb game! I’m addicted. I have never played too much of the original, so this is a whole new experience for me.

  17. Yossarian says:

    I picked it up, it’s great! Controls are tight and responsive and graphics are fantastic. My only complaint is that there is no Internet multiplayer for it! That would have made it worth quite a bit more in terms of future replay value.

  18. Brett says:

    Well I finally got around to playing some multiplayer with a friend of mine. Wow- most fun I’ve ever had with multiplayer on a handheld. They made a good decision with the single card hosting. And the mario kart style power ups are truly awesome. Homing missles are immensely satisfying to deploy as they look so menacing. The only thing I wish they would have included was more levels to play in and possibly a team battle mode. My friend and I played against two computer opponents and pretended we were on a team- it was fun, but with a true team mode the score would tally for both of us and even though I could still damage him with friendly fire, I wouldn’t be able to lock on to him by accident.

    Also, I noticed that you can do some crazy stuff with u-turns in multiplayer. Try it. just keep hitting down on the dpad. You can uturn in sucession like 10 times and your boost meter turns blue. Awesome.

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