I have a soft spot for anthropomorphic animals in genre fiction, especially in space. Rocket Raccoon, Bucky O’ Hare, and, especially Star Fox. I loved the original Star Fox back on the Super Nintendo (the first game to use the Super FX engine) and this remake introduced the Rumble Pack to the N64, which vibrated the controller like a sonuvabitch whenever you got shot.
StarFox 64 is available for download in the Nintendo Wii Shop and, even though the Wii controller doesn’t vibrate, I knew I had to give the game another try to see if I could relive my fond memories of playing the game for hours, and with my brother in multiplayer arenas.
In Star Fox 64, you take control of Fox McCloud, who leads the Star Fox team, consisting of Peppy, Falco, and Slippy.
Strange activity is spotted on the planet Venom, part of the Lylat system, where the evil scientist Andross has been exiled. The governing planet, Corneria, sends the Star Fox team to investigate. They consist of pilots James McCloud, Peppy Hare, and Pigma Dengar. After arriving at Venom, Pigma betrays the team, causing James and Peppy to be captured by Andross. Peppy barely escapes Venom, but James does not return. Peppy returned home to tell James’s son Fox about his father’s fate.
A few years later, Andross launches an attack across the Lylat system and a new Star Fox team, consisting of Fox McCloud (the player), Falco Lombardi, Peppy Hare, and Slippy Toad, is sent to investigate. After battling their way through several stages, including planets and asteroid fields, and defeating their rivals Star Wolf (Wolf O’Donnell, Leon Powalski, Pigma Dengar, and Andrew Oikonny), Star Fox reaches Venom and defeats Andross. Afterwards, General Pepper asks the members of the team to become members of the Cornerian army, but they decline the offer.
Even 13 year later (yes…really 13), StarFox 64 is a damn awesome game. It’s easier to beat than I remember, but once I started playing it, I didn’t want to stop until I finished it. The controls are a little trickier with the Wii Classic Controller than they were with the N64 (which is kind of odd, because that controller sucked), but I was still able to grasp it pretty quickly. Once you do, the game moves like a breeze – somersaulting and spinning your way through every level while you destroy Andross’ forces.
The main issue with StarFox 64 is the same problems I’ve always had with it – the graphics. During the cinematics, while the characters are talking their faces…shake, more than actually move naturally. I’m sure that the intention was to provide some form of animation, rather than still images, but it looks like each character is twitching uncontrollably, rather than talking. The graphics, which were considered innovative at the time, really just look like a bunch of circles, triangles, and squares shoved together to form general shapes. I know that was big at the time though, with games like Quake and FX Fighter employing similar styles.
Still, StarFox 64 holds up pretty damn well, and not only that, has great replayability – there are different paths you can take throughout the game and multiple endings. It’s been way too long since we’ve had a good StarFox game….