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Gaming Review

'Starfox 64 3D' (Nintendo 3DS)

By
Released on Friday, Sep 9 2011

Starfox 64 3D

© Nintendo


Also available on: N/A
Developer: Nintendo EAD/Q Games
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Shooter

Starfox 64 3D is the second Nintendo remake to appear on the 3DS after The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time 3D. First seen wowing gamers on the N64 in 1997, Starfox 64 3D has been given the full makeover treatment, including new visuals, control schemes and game modes.

While these new additions fail to add much to the overall package, the excellent gameplay, wonderful level design, colourful characters and impressive boss battles ensure that Starfox 64 3D still comes highly recommended.

For those unfamiliar with the original, Starfox 64 3D takes place in the Lylat system and sees players control Fox McCloud, who - along with his rag-tag brigade of fighter pilots - is hired by the Cornerian military to stop Andross, a mad scientist hell-bent on wiping out the galaxy.

The plot is pretty standard and covers little in the way of new ground, but is well told through cutscenes and in-game conversations. Teammates and enemies are charismatic and entertaining, although the real joy comes from the excellent gameplay, which remains as tight as ever.

Players primarily pilot the Arwing, a nimble spacecraft equipped with lasers, bombs and homing shots. The gameplay is largely on-rails, meaning that players need only dodge, aim and fire, while picking optional routes through the branching levels.

There are times when the game switches to All-Range mode, which allows Fox the freedom of the skies for dogfights and the odd boss battle. It's like a cross between Space Harrier and Star Wars: Rogue Squadron for those unsure about what to expect.

To add a little spice to the gameplay, the developers have added a new control scheme, which takes advantage of the 3DS's capabilities. Altered button layout aside, the main difference comes from the gyroscopic controls, which allow players to pilot the ship by moving the 3DS itself.

While the gyroscopic controls technically work very well, it's not at all practical for those wishing to experience the game in 3D. Any slight movement will blur the screen and probably give players a headache. Fortunately, the original control scheme is excellent and piloting the ship with the circle pad is incredibly responsive.



In fact, the gameplay is so addictive and the controls are so intuitive that players will probably best the relatively short two to three-hour campaign in one sitting. Despite the chaotic action, countless enemies, huge boss battles and insane dogfights, there's no getting away from the fact that Starfox 64 3D is a little too easy and far too short.

Fortunately, as previously mentioned, each level features branching paths and routes, while alternative levels can be selected from the overworld - depending on scores and progress of course. While this adds a great deal of replayability - and it is a game that you'll want to play over and over again - the lack of any brand new levels is disappointing. Even a half-hearted score attack mode (with no global leaderboards) fails to make up for this.

However, what's more disappointing is the omission of online play. Multiplayer is present in local, one cartridge download format, but not on the global scale we were hoping for. The multiplayer dogfights can be played against a mixture of friends and bots against backdrops taken from the campaign.

There's the option to play against the clock, for points or survival, plus there are a number of power-ups that can be turned on or off. It's actually a lot of fun, even against the computer, but would have been so much better online.

On a more positive note, the game's visuals are among the best we've seen on the 3DS. The blocky vehicle and enemy models of the original have been given a modern makeover, and along with the varied backgrounds, look fantastic. The 3D effects are also great and seem perfectly suited to a game with ships, lasers and meteors zipping around the screen.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about the whole package is just how smoothly the game runs. The action is incredibly fast and frantic, and whether the 3D is on or off, the system handles it with ease.

Starfox 64 3D is an excellent, albeit short-lived, shooter which is as fun to play now as it was in 1997. The updated visuals and 3D effects breathe new life into the game, ensuring that it doesn't feel like a cheap cash-in of an old classic.

A lack of new levels and the omission of online play definitely damages the title, but the wonderful level design, intuitive controls and addictive gameplay makes it easy to overlook such glaring faults.



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