Star Fox 64 3D Review: No Gimmick Here

After a lackluster launch full of ports of older games, remakes of games people didn’t play the first time around, and hastily slapped together 3D “gimmick” games, the Nintendo 3DS system is finally starting to flex some muscle.

In June, the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D was released, and now, another 3D remake from the late ’90s is here with Star Fox 64 3D.

Star Fox is Nintendo’s futuristic talking-animal flight sim that has thrilled gamers since the first game was released on the Super Nintendo back in 1993. The franchise features ace pilot, Fox McCloud and his rag tag group of wingmen as they take on the evil Andross and his relentless minions.

Star Fox 64 3D is remake of the popular Nintendo 64 game, but now in glorious three dimensions. And the 3D in this game is simply a marvel.

The depth of field is striking, and there are times I find myself ducking and rolling along with my arwing fighter because explosions are happening right in my face and enemy ships are zipping past my head.

The action is fast, and pulling off barrel rolls while dodging enemy fire and debris finally shows the true power of the 3DS system. For the first time, it doesn’t feel like a gimmick, and it is an integral part of the game.

The graphics, much like the recent Zelda remake, are much more smooth and the difference in lighting effects, when compared to the 1997 game, are like night and day. The frame rate is a solid 60, and doesn’t degrade when the 3D is maxed out, and seriously, you need to max out the 3D in this game.

The controls transfer well, with both the Nintendo 64 and Nintendo 3DS styles available to choose from. The 3DS control scheme integrates another new feature for this system, which uses the 3DS’s internal gyroscopes to control the arwing. Moving the 3DS up makes your fighter fly up, and turning the system right or left causes your ship to act accordingly. While this is a unique gameplay experience, you almost have to turn off the 3D as it is near impossible to maintain the 3D sweet spot while in the heat of battle.

Audibly, the game sounds great, and the music, by original composer Hajime Wakai and the venerable Koji Kondo does its job well. The original voice cast was brought in to re-record their lines, and it is a nice throwback to the original game. But, unfortunately, that leads to some problems.

In the heat of battle, voice chatter with your wingmates can get pretty annoying. Hearing, “I’m not the enemy,” or “Fox, I need help” over and over is pretty trying on the nerves, and there have been times that I have literally told Slippy Toad to shut up. Yes, I talked back to a game. Actually, yelled back at the game is closer to the truth.

Star Fox 64 3D includes multiple game modes including a four-player local wireless dogfight. The 3DS system also uses the built-in camera to assign your actual face over your arwing fighter. The faces help identify which buddy you are about to blow out of the sky. It adds a fun new element for multiplayer.

Also included is a Score Attack mode, which allows you to replay stages for better overall scores, which in turn helps to unlock higher difficulties, and there are hidden detours in certain levels that open up multiple paths and different missions, which make the replay value of the game shine a bit brighter.

In the six months of the life of the Nintendo 3DS, quality games have been few and far between. It is a portent of things to come that Nintendo has rolled out two back-to-back games that really feature the power of the system, and as the holiday season approaches, it is only going to get better.

Star Fox 64 3D is a great game, and honestly one of the most fun I have played on a handheld in long time. Great use of 3D, cleaner graphics and sound, and multiple control schemes make for an excellent gaming experience.

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