Retrospective Review – Starfox 64 3DS

After Ocarina of Time 3D came out, the next big Nintendo game on everyone’s radar was actually another N64 re-make: StarFox 64 3D, which launched in September. The original game was a classic, but I was skeptical about the 3DS remake – I had a copy pre-ordered, but I wasn’t expecting to be “wowed”. I was in for a surprise; as a re-make built for handhelds, Starfox 64 3D was actually better than Ocarina 3D in many ways.

  • Developed and Published by Nintendo; Released on September 9, 2011
  • Current Price: $39.99 (MSRP), $34.99 (Pre-owned @ GameStop.com)

Basically, the idea was the same here as it was with Ocarina of Time 3D; StarFox 64 3D brought back the fan favorite from the Nintendo 64 with enhanced visuals and nifty 3D effects, among other things.

Concept: (9/10)

Like I said, there were some aspects of StarFox 64 3D that were just “better” than Ocarina of Time 3D – the original StarFox 64 just mades more sense as a handheld game, with its single-player story lasting an hour, two at most. While this was often considered a flaw when the N64 version came out, each trek through the Lylat System was slightly different – there were over two dozen possible routes, spanning the wide variety of planets – but it was the perfect design for a handheld game.

Corneria never looked better than it did in StarFox 64 3D; the depth effects were especially nice as you passed through the city and over the massive lake.

Presentation: (9/10) 

StarFox 64 3D was by far the prettiest 3DS game to date when it launched last September; even today it still looks absolutely fantastic. The N64 version’s basic, polygonal enemies and level designs were completely replaced by enhanced, highly-detailed graphics that made the Lylat System come alive, much like Ocarina 3D’s Hyrule. On the other hand, where Ocarina 3D’s audio could have been greatly improved with re-recorded music and sound effects, StarFox 64 3D’s dialogue was actually worse due to the new voice actors. Part of the charm of StarFox 64 was the terrible voice acting, but those awful voices were part of the nostalgia that gamers wanted. Certain moments in the game may have looked much better, and even with the improved music and other effects, some of those classic, cheesy lines from Fox, Peppy, Slippy, Falco, and the Star Wolf crew just weren’t the same. I can recall feeling so intimidated by the unsettling comments that Andross made as I flew through the underground corridors of Venom in the N64 version, but there was something “missing”.

Something about the new voices in StarFox 64 3D just wasn’t right, but the game was otherwise very faithful to the original – for example, all of the hidden paths and scripted events returned, just as I remembered them.

Functionality: (8/10) 

One of the things that StarFox 64 3D did so much better than Ocarina of Time 3D was the actual “3D” part – you know, the feature everyone expected to enjoy from the handheld in the first place. Ocarina 3D’s stereoscopic effects were definitely not one of the highlights; on the other hand, StarFox 64 was greatly improved by the added depth. The game also boasted gyroscope controls – I never really used them, because the circle pad felt so comfortable, and my initial experience wasn’t quite as smooth, but I expected much less from the nifty sensor controls. One of the big let-downs was the news that StarFox 64 3D would feature video chat – taking advantage of the 3DS’s internal microphone and camera – but wouldn’t support online play. Video chat was great to see so early in the 3DS’s life, but it didn’t serve much of a point in local games.

Replay Value: (8/10) 

When it first came out, one of StarFox 64’s only major criticisms involved the length of the game; basically it just wasn’t long enough to provide a satisfying console experience. On the other hand, the game made a lot more sense on handhelds: the shortness of the single-player campaign actually made a great portable experience, perfect for picking up and playing for a while, and easy to put down when you were finished. There were so many different routes to Andross and the planet Venom that each trip through the Lylat system was interesting, forcing me to keep an eye out for the different ways to open new routes. Additionally, the Medals that you could earn in each level return in the re-make, and were a satisfying challenge to attempt after I had carelessly blasted through the same planets a handful of times before. I played the N64 version quite a bit as a kid, but I think I ended up going through the campaign more times in the 3DS version than the original.

The Lylat System, exactly as gamers remembered it in StarFox 64.

Reviewer’s Tilt: (+0.5)

In my original review of StarFox 64 3D, I made a certain comment that remains true to this day: basically, my expectations for this N64 re-make just weren’t as high as they were for the other one (Ocarina 3D). Ocarina of Time 3D didn’t disappoint me by any means, but I was definitely more “surprised” by StarFox when it came out. In fact, I had never enjoyed playing StarFox 64 as much at any point as when I was making my rounds through the Lylat System on the 3DS. According to the Activity Log, I put more than a dozen hours into this one, making sure to take a new route with each consecutive trip.

Recommendation: Buy

If you never played StarFox 64 3D, you should definitely check it out – fans of the N64 game will love nearly everything about the re-make, with the only exception being the new voice acting crew. The graphics were amazing, the 3D effects were some of the first that really made any impact on the 3DS experience, and I enjoyed the dogfights as much as I did when I was a kid. Besides online play, this 3DS game could have only been better if Nintendo found a way to release a “rumble” attachment with it – a nod to the Rumble Pack peripheral, which was originally introduced in a bundle with StarFox 64.

Final Score: 9/10

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One response to “Retrospective Review – Starfox 64 3DS

  1. Pingback: Retrospective Review – Mutant Mudds (eShop) | 3DStination·

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