Star Fox 64
|Star Fox 64|
|Platform(s)||Nintendo 64, iQue Player|
|Genre(s)||Rail shooter, shoot 'em up|
Star Fox 64,[a] known as Lylat Wars in the PAL regions, is a 3D rail shooter video game developed by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64. It is the second installment in the Star Fox series and a reboot of the original Star Fox for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
Star Fox 64 was the very first Nintendo 64 game to feature support for the system's Rumble Pak peripheral, which initially came bundled with retail copies of the game. Since its release in 1997, the game has sold over 4 million copies, making it the best-selling game in the series and the ninth best-selling game on the system. The game received critical acclaim for its precise controls, voice acting, multiplayer modes, and replayability through the use of branching gameplay paths. Like the SNES Star Fox game before it, Star Fox 64 has been deemed one of the greatest video games of all time. A stereoscopic 3D remake for the Nintendo 3DS, Star Fox 64 3D, was released in 2011, and a reimagining for the Wii U, Star Fox Zero, was released in 2016.
Star Fox 64 is a 3D rail shooter game in which the player controls one of the vehicles piloted by Fox McCloud, usually an Arwing. Most of the game takes place in "Corridor Mode", which forces Fox's vehicle down an on-rails path straight forward through the environment. In Corridor Mode, the player's vehicle can be maneuvered around the screen to dodge obstacles and can also perform a somersault to get behind enemies or dodge projectiles. The Arwing is also capable of deflecting enemy fire while performing a spinning maneuver called a "barrel roll" (actually an aileron roll in real-life aviation terms). The Arwing and Landmaster can charge up their laser cannons to unleash a powerful lock-on laser.
In addition to Corridor Mode, some stages of the game, including multiplayer and most boss fights, take place in "All-Range Mode". In this variant, the player can move freely in a three-dimensional space within the confines of a large arena. The Arwing can also perform one new maneuver in All-Range Mode: a U-Turn to change direction.
Throughout the game, the player can fly or drive through power-ups to collect them. These include silver and gold rings that refill the vehicle's shields, upgrade its lasers, repair its wings, or grant extra lives.
Returning from the original Star Fox are wingmen that fly beside the player in Arwings and are sometimes pursued into the player's field of view by enemies. If the player fails to defeat the enemies chasing a wingman, that wingman may be forced to retreat to the mothership Great Fox for repairs. The wingman will then be unavailable to start the next stage, but may return if enough time passes. Each wingman provides a different form of assistance to the player: Slippy Toad scans bosses and displays their shields on the player's screen, Peppy Hare provides gameplay advice, and Falco Lombardi occasionally locates alternate routes through stages. Some stages also feature special appearances from supporting characters that assist the team.
The game features a branching level system, in which more difficult paths are unlocked by completing certain objectives. Players can also change paths once the current mission is accomplished. All of the game's possible routes start at Corneria, eventually put the player in contact with the Star Wolf Team, and end at Venom with a confrontation with Andross.
To add replay challenge, the game also features awardable medals, which are earned by accomplishing a mission with all wingmen intact and having achieved a certain hit total. Obtaining medals unlocks bonus features, such as new multiplayer vehicles, cosmetic changes to Fox in single player, and additional game settings such as "Expert Mode".
The Arwing is the primary craft used by the Star Fox team. The Arwing can use its boost meter to perform four special techniques to avoid collisions and get the drop on pursuers: boost, brake, somersault, and U-Turn.
A tank-like vehicle called the Landmaster is used for two levels in the game, Macbeth and Titania. Like the Arwing, the Landmaster can boost and brake but it cannot somersault. It can perform a barrel roll, but since it lacks an Arwing's force field, the Landmaster's barrel roll does not reflect enemy fire. The Landmaster can also hover a short while.
The Blue-Marine, a submarine, is available solely on the water planet Aquas. The Blue-Marine can upgrade its twin lasers, but it cannot make use of Smart Bombs. It makes up for this with an unlimited supply of torpedoes which not only damage enemies but also produce bright bursts of light, allowing the player to see in the ocean depths. The torpedoes can also lock-on to enemies just as the charged up lasers can in the other vehicles. The submersible also has a shot-deflecting barrel roll in addition to boost and brake capabilities.
Star Fox 64 features multiplayer support for up to four players simultaneously. At first, users can only play using the Arwing spaceship, but by earning certain medals in the main campaign, players can unlock the Landmaster tank and fight on foot as one of the four members of Star Fox equipped with a bazooka. Multiplayer is the only place where players can use a Landmaster with upgraded lasers.
There are three modes of multiplayer play: a "point match" in which the player must shoot down an opponent a certain number of times, a "battle royal" in which the last player left wins, and a "time trial" to destroy enemy fighters.
The game's protagonist and playable character is Fox McCloud, a red fox and leader of the Star Fox team, who defends the Lylat system. His father, James, was part of the original Star Fox team, who was killed by Andross before the start of the game. Andross, a scientist from Corneria who was exiled to Venom after he nearly destroyed the planet, is the main antagonist of the game.
The Star Fox team is a group of mercenaries consisting of: Peppy Hare, a rabbit and member of the original Star Fox team, Slippy Toad, a frog and the mechanical and energetic expert of the team, and Falco Lombardi, a falcon who is cocky but an excellent fighter. Helping the Star Fox team on their mission to defeat Andross are General Pepper, a bloodhound and leader of a militia force in Corneria; Bill Grey, a bulldog friend of Fox and commander of the Bulldog and Husky units; Katt Monroe, a friend and former fellow gang member of Falco; and ROB 64 (NUS64 in the Japanese version), a robot piloting the "Great Fox", Star Fox's mothership, who gives them support along their quest. Andross's henchmen include the Star Wolf mercenary team, consisting of Wolf O'Donnell, the leader of Star Wolf, Leon Powalski, a sinister chameleon, Andrew Oikonny, Andross's nephew, and Pigma Dengar, a former member of the Star Fox team with James McCloud.
On Corneria, the fourth planet of the Lylat System, Andross is driven to madness and nearly destroys the planet using biological weapons. General Pepper exiles Andross to the remote planet Venom. Five years later, Pepper detects suspicious activity on Venom. Pepper hires the Star Fox team (including James McCloud, Peppy Hare, and Pigma Dengar) to investigate. After Pigma betrays the team and Andross captures James, Peppy escapes from Venom and informs his son Fox about James's fate.
Five years later, Andross launches an attack across the Lylat system. Defending Corneria, Pepper summons the new Star Fox team, now consisting of Fox, Peppy, Falco, and Slippy. While traveling through several planets, the team battles with several of Andross' henchmen, including the rival mercenaries, Star Wolf. After the team arrives at Venom, Fox confronts and defeats Andross alone. Reunited with the Star Fox team, Fox returns to Corneria for a victory celebration. Pepper offers Fox the opportunity to join the Cornerian Army, but he declines it on his behalf for the team. The Great Fox and the Star Fox team fly off in their Arwings into the skies. Two endings are available depending on whether Fox approaches Venom and defeats Andross. The Easy route ending occurs when Fox arrives from Bolse and destroys a robotic version of Andross, leaving Andross drifting in the Lylat System. In the Hard route ending from Area 6, Fox reveals Andross' true form as that of a floating brain, and kills him. However, James appears and leads Fox out from Venom.
In a post-credits scene, Pepper receives a bill from Star Fox presenting the number of enemies killed and multiplies it by 64, resulting in the amount of money due. If the price is between $50,000 and $69,999 (between 781 and 1,093 enemies killed) he will say, "This is one steep bill....but it's worth it." If the price is over $70,000 (1,094 or more), he says "What?!" At this point, the bill is stamped.
Following the release of Star Fox in 1993, series creator Shigeru Miyamoto began working on Star Fox 2 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). By 1995, Miyamoto and team had largely finished development of Star Fox 2 before realizing that its release would require the use of an additional "chip—the Super FX 2 with double memory", which would increase the cost of the game. Furthermore, newly launched rival consoles, such as the Sega Saturn and the Sony PlayStation, possessed processing power and graphics capabilities that dwarfed those of the SNES, making Star Fox 2 appear obsolete. Recognizing that the Nintendo 64 would launch the following year with significantly increased processing power and graphical capabilities, Miyamoto made the decision to cancel Star Fox 2 in favor of developing a new Star Fox game for the Nintendo 64.
Following the cancellation of Star Fox 2, Miyamoto and team began work on Star Fox 64. The team cribbed heavily from the work that had been done in creating Star Fox and Star Fox 2, stating in an interview that roughly 30% of Star Fox 64's gameplay came from the original game, roughly 60% came from the canceled sequel, and only 10% was original work done during the development of Star Fox 64. In particular, Miyamoto said: "All-Range Mode, Multi-Player Mode and the Star Wolf scenario all came from Star Fox 2." One new piece of gameplay was the addition of levels that used the Landmaster tank and the Blue-Marine submarine, which were conceived of by members of the development team (rather than Miyamoto himself) in response to Miyamoto's suggestion that the game include a "human-type craft", which the team generally did not approve of. The team originally intended for the game to contain multiple underwater levels but ultimately trimmed all but one as they found that the underwater levels slowed down the pacing of the game.
With the underlying gameplay largely complete early in development, Miyamoto and team focused the majority of their efforts on graphics, audio and dialogue, and enemy AI, seeking to harness the new processing power provided by the Nintendo 64. For example, when developing the animation sequences for Star Fox 64, the team worked to make the characters' mouths pop open and closed along with their audio. This reduced the amount of animation work put into the series and was inspired by the way puppets appear to talk, as Miyamoto was a fan of the British puppet-based show Thunderbirds. The development team also realized that adding dynamic audio would enhance the 3D gameplay experience as the player's allies could audibly signal when the player was being pursued by an out-of-camera enemy unit. In writing dialogue for the game's characters, the developers sought to invoke more traditional historical dramas, adding more conventional lines such as "I've been waiting for you, Star Fox" and "You're becoming more like your father." Edgier dialogue such as "I guess it's your turn to be thankful" was written for the character Falco Lombardi, while more supportive dialogue such as "Never give up. Trust your instincts!" came from the character Peppy Hare.
Star Fox 64 was also the first title to make use of the Rumble Pak peripheral developed by Nintendo and the Rumble Pak came bundled with the game in some instances. Miyamoto stated that the development team struggled to utilize the Rumble Pak in a way that player's understood, noting that, during development, players were often confused as to why their control was rumbling.
The game was first shown publicly at E3 1996 where Nintendo released a video of an early version of the game. This early version of the game showcased only the first level (Corneria) and featured a minimalistic HUD, showing only a crude meter reflecting the player's shield gauge. Nintendo released further beta footage of the game on December 6, 1996, that showed subsequent levels, an improved HUD, and a short multiplayer segment.
As the game approached launch, Nintendo became concerned that the title "Star Fox" could be considered too similar to the name of the German company "StarVox". Thus, like its predecessor, the game was rebranded as Lylat Wars in certain PAL territories. Nintendo Power subscribers received a promotional video prior to Star Fox 64's release (the same tactic was used to promote Donkey Kong Country for the SNES as well as Diddy Kong Racing, Banjo-Kazooie, and Hey You, Pikachu! for the Nintendo 64) that advertised the game's cinematic presentation, as well as new features like the Rumble Pak and voice acting. It revolves around two agents of Sega and Sony (who at the time were Nintendo's biggest hardware competitors) interrogating a Nintendo employee into revealing information about the game.
Years after release, a substantial number of unused assets were found on the cartridge including unused icons, audio files, levels, and power-ups. In an interview post-release, Miyamoto said that while he was not 100% satisfied with the final version of Star Fox 64, he felt that the game made better use of the Nintendo 64's increased processing power than Super Mario 64, which was a launch title for the console and which Miyamoto had also developed.
Star Fox 64 received critical acclaim and was one of the top-selling games of 1997, second to Mario Kart 64. Reviews hailed the level branching system, particularly its use of player performance and secret in-level triggers rather than simple path selection. Many reviewers also praised the multiplayer modes as an ample source of replay value, with Next Generation in particular stating they "give StarFox 64 a boost over other shooters." However, Crispin Boyer of Electronic Gaming Monthly considered them a waste, contending that the split screen display made targets too small to pinpoint. The game's voice clips were widely complimented, not for the quality of the acting, but for the unprecedented quantity of audio clips for a cartridge-based game. Critics also applauded the precise analog control, boss designs, rumble pak implementation, and cinematic cutscenes. GamePro, which gave the game a perfect 5 out of 5 in all four categories, elaborated, "The analog joystick seriously kicks it here with its best performance to date, demonstrating impressively crisp response that enables you to pull the tight, white-knuckle moves you need to survive. The Rumble Pak teams up with the solid controls and scores as an all-time great add-on."
The most common criticism was that Star Fox 64 was not as much of a leap over the original Star Fox, particularly compared to Super Mario 64's improvement over previous Mario games. This perceived shortcoming did little to dull critics' response to the game, however. GameSpot reviewer Glenn Rubenstein declared Star Fox 64 "an instant classic" and "a pleasure to look at". EGM gave it their "Game of the Month" award, with Dan Hsu calling it "a shooting fan's dream come true" and Shawn Smith "almost as good as Mario 64." IGN reviewer Doug Perry said it "demonstrates that shooters are more alive now than ever."
In the first five days of the game's U.S. launch, more than 300,000 copies were sold, surpassing the record previously held by Mario Kart 64 and Super Mario 64. It sold above 1 million units in the United States by the end of 1997, one of five Nintendo 64 games to do so. Sales were considerably less in Japan, where it sold 75,595 copies during the first week of sale. The game also took the #73 spot in Nintendo Power's "Top 200 Nintendo Games Ever".
The GameSpot review of the Wii Virtual Console version bestows a (7.6/10), praising its simple, enjoyable shooting gameplay, and much voice acting. The review says the game is nice to look at regardless of its graphic age, with added replay value in finding hidden paths, but found the lack of rumble support "alarming", especially since it is the first game to support the Rumble Pak.
Star Fox 64 is listed as the 45th greatest game of all time by Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition in 2009. In 1997 Electronic Gaming Monthly ranked it the 39th best console video game of all time, citing its amazing visuals, huge amount of voice acting, and the deep challenge of earning medals on all stages and completing expert mode.
At E3 2010, Nintendo announced a remake of Star Fox 64 for the Nintendo 3DS, titled Star Fox 64 3D. Nintendo exhibited a demo the same day that emphasized the technology of the Nintendo 3DS. The remake was co-developed by Q-Games and features stereoscopic 3D graphics, quality-of-life improvements, gyroscope controls, and brand new voice recordings. The game was released on July 14, 2011 in Japan and September 9, 2011 in Europe and North America. This marked the first time that Star Fox 64 had been released in PAL territories under the original Star Fox name. While the remake supports multiplayer for up to four players via download play, the game does not have an online multiplayer mode.
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Did you use any ideas from that game in Star Fox 64? Why did you make Star Fox 64 a remake of the original Star Fox?
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Narrator: General Pepper of the Cornerian army was successful in exiling this maniacal scientist to the barren deserted planet, Venom. Five years later, General Pepper noticed strange activity coming from Venom.
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ROB 64: Message from General Pepper. Priority one. / General Pepper: We need your help Star Fox! Andross has declared war! He’s invaded the Lylat system and is trying to take over Corneria! Our army alone can’t do the job! Hurry, Star Fox!
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General Pepper: Star Fox, we are in your debt. I would be honored to have you as a part of the Cornerian-- / Fox: (interrupts Pepper) Oh no, Sir. We prefer doing things our own way.
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Rob 64: (on Fox's intercom) Great Fox is ready to go. / Fox: It's time for us to go now.
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Andross: Only I have the brains to rule Lylat. / Fox: So, Andross, you show your true form!
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