Star Fox 64 3D
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Game Reviewed: Star Fox 64 3D
Category: Rail Shooter/Science Fiction Flight Combat
ESRB Rating: E10
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Star Fox 64 is commonly viewed as the best of this classic series. Though Star Fox doesn’t get as much attention as other Nintendo classic series such as Mario or The Legend of Zelda, it is still widely beloved by many gamers. Star Fox 64, as its name suggests, was originally released on the Nintendo 64, and while future games in the series tended to abandon the original feel of the series, Star Fox 64 stays true to the roots of its Super Nintendo predecessor and provides enjoyable space battles with creative design.
Consisting entirely of the classic spaceship combat the series is best known for, it was one of the earliest games to introduce the concept of branching story paths based on the player’s performance; there is a default story path, but alternate missions and story progression can be accessed if the player meets certain victory conditions in the missions. The story is nothing special by any means (despite having an interesting setup for the protagonist), but unlocking new missions and scenarios based on excellent performance is a great concept for inspiring improvement and multiple playthroughs.
This 3D remake adds nothing substantial to the game, but outside of the portability of the 3DS (something that is obviously not possible with the original or Virtual Console versions), this gameplay style is perfect for 3D. The 3DS’ abilities are used well here, with asteroids and lasers flying toward the player in spectacular fashion. The only other real addition is the ability to control the ship by tilting the 3DS, but this tends to mess with the player’s ability to perceive the 3D and is kind of difficult to use.
Though the game revolves around destroying swarms of enemies, the fact that it is all vehicular means the violence is no worse than your average space battle in the Star Wars films, which earned the original game an E rating. It was bumped up to E10 for this release, not because it is any more violent, but because the E10 rating is more appropriate for the game (essentially being the equivalent of a PG-rated film), but did not exist when Star Fox 64 was originally released in 1997. But here’s some specific information so you can decide whether this game is appropriate for your child.
What Parents Need to Know
The player controls a small fighter ship called an arwing (also a “landmaster” tank in one mission). The player views the ship from behind and moves it around the screen, shooting hordes of other fighter ships that attack them. Ships explode when destroyed. Some specific enemies (usually end-level boss enemies) scream over the radio when destroyed. The final boss is a giant floating gorilla head (not gory or dismembered, just a head with arms); when defeated, he turns into a giant brain with eyes that pursue the ship. Though this sounds grotesque, it comes off as more cartoony.
Outside of Falco being a smartmouth and spattering off the occasional insult or sarcastic remark (none of which include any profanity), this area’s clear.
Nothing to report.
Fox’s father, James McCloud, was killed by the villain Andross in the backstory to the game. However, in the final moments of the game, he appears to lead Fox safely out of Andross’ lair. He disappears afterward, and none of Fox’s teammates saw or heard him; it is unclear whether this was his ghost, Fox’s imagination, or perhaps some sort of computer program James left behind to contact Fox’s ship and lead him out.
A Child’s Perspective
My seven-year old nephew, Logan, played the first few levels of the game. Most of what he had to say was pretty general statements about how he liked it, but I did manage to get a couple quotes such as, “It was too hard, but I like it,” and “The 3D smelled good. Yeah, I liked the 3D a lot.”
He definitely enjoyed it, though as I was watching him it seemed that he didn’t catch on to some of the gameplay hints too well (such as grasping the concept of going far out and turning back for a pass on an enemy, or when his teammates told him to shoot the back of a giant robot, but he didn’t quite catch on). Overall, however, he enjoyed it even though it went over his head a bit, and when he realized how something worked he got notably better at using appropriate tactics; it was more outside his experience than entirely beyond him.
No other game has achieved this style of space combat in quite the way Star Fox 64 did. Some of the later games had their moments, and other games have tried to include similar sequences (ranging from the decent space combat of the Lego Star Wars games to the abysmal Gummi Ship segments from the first Kingdom Hearts game), but Star Fox 64 still towers above the others in sheer enjoyment. The design is superb, the controls are tight, and while some elements such as the voice acting and minimal storytelling are a bit dated, they were breakthrough for their time.
This remake adds 3D to the mix, which doesn’t completely revolutionize it, but is a fun addition nonetheless. The game is perfectly suited to it, and the updated graphics make it look even better. In the end, it’s the same game many a gamer knows and loves, but with a visual upgrade and a few other small additions. My only real complaint is that there is a multiplayer mode, but it doesn’t go online. I see little reason a game like this should lack online multiplayer if the multiplayer mode itself already exists. Despite this, however, there is enough replay value in the main story itself to make the game worthwhile.
As for whether the game is appropriate for your child, I’d say the E10 rating is perfectly appropriate. If your child is mature enough to actually play this game, they should be mature enough to handle its content.