Star Fox 64
|Star Fox 64|
North American Nintendo 64 cover art
|Release date(s)||Nintendo 64
Star Fox 64 (Japanese: スターフォックス64 Hepburn: Sutā Fokkusu Rokujūyon?), known in Australia and Europe as Lylat Wars, is a 3D scrolling shooter game themed around aircraft combat for the Nintendo 64 video game console. It is a reboot of the original Star Fox, and the only game in the Star Fox series to be released on the Nintendo 64. An autostereoscopic remake, titled Star Fox 64 3D, was released for the Nintendo 3DS in 2011.
Star Fox 64 was the first Nintendo 64 game to have included support for the Rumble Pak, with which it initially came bundled. The game received critical acclaim from reviewers and critics who praised its smooth animation, detailed visuals, voice acting, and use of multiple gameplay paths.
Star Fox 64 is a 3D scrolling 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 a fixed path straight forward through the environment. The player can maneuver somewhat around the path and slow their vehicle temporarily, but cannot truly stop or change direction. Some stages of the game, including many bosses, take place in "All-Range Mode" by comparison (as does Multi-Player Mode). In this variant the player can move freely within the confines of a large arena to engage in combat.
In Corridor Mode, the player's vehicle can be maneuvered around the screen to dodge obstacles and shoot incoming enemies with laser cannons, 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 also charge up their laser cannons to unleash a powerful lock-on laser. The Arwing can also perform one new maneuver in All-Range Mode: an Immelmann up-and-over to change direction. In-game, this is called a U-turn.
Throughout the game, the player can fly or drive through power-ups to collect them. These include rings that charge up the vehicle's shields, Smart Bombs, laser upgrades, wing repairs and, rarely, extra lives. Most stages also contain at least three gold rings - collecting three of these increases the vehicle's maximum shield level. If the player successfully collects three additional gold rings in the same stage, an extra life is awarded. Aside from the maximum shield boost, all power-ups carry over to the next stage. If the player runs out of lives, the game has to be started all over, since there are no continues.
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 throughout the next stage. Each wingman provides a different form of assistance to the player: Slippy Toad scans boss enemies 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 appearances from supporting characters that assist the team.
Star Fox 64 features a branching level system, in which more difficult paths are unlocked by completing certain objectives such as defeating a specific boss or completing the stage within a time limit. All of the game's possible routes start at Corneria, eventually put the player in contact with the Star Wolf Team, and end in a confrontation with Andross.
Finally, to add replay challenge, the game features awardable "medals," which are earned by accomplishing a mission with all wingmen intact and having achieved a certain hit total. These totals are often a high percentage of the total enemies on the stage, leaving little room for error. Obtaining medals results in unlocking bonus features, such as a sound test and the ability to use the Landmaster tank and fight on foot in multiplayer mode. Acquiring all medals unlocks a new Expert mode in which there are more enemies per level, the player's Arwing takes more damage (a single direct collision with solid obstacles will destroy one of the Arwing's wings and rid the player of any laser upgrades), and Fox wears sunglasses similar to those of his father, James McCloud. Acquiring all medals on Expert Mode unlocks a new title screen for the game; a medal on Venom in Expert Mode allows players to use the Star Fox team as foot soldiers in multiplayer mode.
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 Story Mode, players can unlock the Landmaster tank, as well as the option to 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 shot down wins, and a time trial to destroy enemy fighters.
The Arwing is the primary craft used by the Star Fox team. The Arwing can use its boost meter to perform four special moves to avoid collisions and get the drop on pursuers: boost, brake, the U-turn, and the aforementioned somersault.
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. Instead, the barrel roll is used to quickly move across the screen. The Landmaster can also hover a short while.
The Blue-Marine, a submarine designed by Slippy Toad, 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.
The protagonist of the story and the player character is Fox McCloud, a red fox and leader of the Star Fox team, who must save the Lylat system. His father, James McCloud, was part of the original Star Fox team, but was missing and presumed dead years before the start of the game. The main antagonist of the game is Andross, a scientist from Corneria who was exiled to Venom after he nearly destroyed the planet.
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 Vietnamese Pheasant and former gang member. Helping the Star Fox team on their quest to defeat Andross are:General Pepper, a dog and leader of a militia force in Corneria; Bill Grey, a bulldog friend of Fox and commander of the Bulldog and Husky units; Katt, 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 headquarters, who gives them support along their quest.
Andross' henchmen include the Star Wolf mercenary team, consisting of: Wolf O'Donnell; Leon Powalski; Pigma Dengar, a former member of the Star Fox team with James McCloud; and Andrew Oikonny, Andross's nephew.
Star Fox 64 is set on a group of planets in the Lylat system. Ingenious scientist Andross, a native of the fourth planet Corneria, is driven to madness and nearly destroys the planet using biological weapons. For Andross' treason, General Pepper exiles the scientist to the remote planet Venom. Five years after Andross' exile, Pepper detects suspicious activity on Venom. Pepper hires the Star Fox team (consisting of James McCloud, Peppy Hare, and Pigma Dengar) to investigate. When the three arrive at Venom, Pigma betrays the team, which causes James and Peppy to be captured by Andross. Peppy escapes and tells James' son, Fox McCloud, about his father's fate.
A few years later, Andross launches an attack across the Lylat system. Realizing that his army cannot stop Andross, Pepper summons the Star Fox team, now consisting of Fox, Peppy, Falco Lombardi and Slippy Toad. While traveling through several planets, including the Lylat system's star, Solar, and the asteroid field Meteo, the team battles with several of Andross' henchmen, including the rival mercenaries, Star Wolf.
After arriving in Venom, Fox defeats Andross, but discovers that it is actually a robotic version of himself and destroys it, leaving Andross drifting in the Lylat System. Fox decides to redeem himself by returning to Venom and defeat Star Wolf once again. When Fox defeats Andross once more, he reveals his true form, a floating brain with two floating eyes. After killing Andross, James appears to show Fox the way out, then vanishes immediately after. Escaping the lair's destruction, Star Fox returns to Corneria for a victory celebration, as the game's end credits roll.
When offered membership into the Cornerian Army, Fox declines on behalf of his team; saying "Oh no, sir. We prefer doing things our own way". The game ends with the Great Fox and the Star Fox team flying off in their Arwings into the skies.
In a post credits scene, General Pepper receives a bill from Star Fox which presents 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, in a rather shocked tone, "What?!" At this point, the player presses a button to stamp the bill, thus bringing the player back to the main menu.
The unreleased original second game in the Star Fox series, titled Star Fox 2, was developed nearly to completion for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It was even featured in several gaming magazines such as Nintendo Power, but ultimately series creator Shigeru Miyamoto wanted to move the title to the much more powerful Nintendo 64 system. Realizing quickly how much of an improvement he could make over the two Super NES games, Miyamoto cancelled Star Fox 2 in favor of a remake combining elements of the previous games. In Miyamoto's own words: "All-Range Mode, Multi-Player Mode and the Star Wolf scenario all came from Star Fox 2."
Shigeru Miyamoto is a fan of English puppet dramas, such as Thunderbirds. Consequently, when developing the animation sequences for Star Fox 64, the staff made the characters' mouths pop open and closed like mouths of puppets. This reduced the amount of animation work put into the series.
According to IGN, the game cartridge contains approximately four megabytes of speech data, sampled at 8 kHz, compressed at a ratio of approximately 1:3 or 1:4.
The game was known as Lylat Wars in some territories because Nintendo considered that "Star Fox" sounded too similar to the name of the German company "StarVox", and were concerned that a legal dispute over the name might delay the release of the game.
Nintendo Power subscribers received a promotional video prior to Star Fox 64's release (the same tactic was used to promote Donkey Kong Country as well as Diddy Kong Racing, Banjo-Kazooie, and Hey You, Pikachu! for the N64) 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 competitors) kidnapping Nintendo employees and forcing them to reveal information about the upcoming Star Fox title by "torturing" a Mario doll.
Reception and legacy
Star Fox 64 received critical acclaim and is one of the top-selling games of 1997, second only to Mario Kart 64. 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. 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" GameSpot declared Star Fox 64 "an instant classic" and was impressed by the voice acting. Reviewer Glenn Rubenstein noted that the game is "a pleasure to look at" and liked the cinematic quality of the storyline. Although other reviewers such as IGN said that the game is "extremely repetitive" and that the music quality was not as good as the original Star Fox, they still praised the branching system and "intelligently designed levels" which are said to compensate for those points.
The GameSpot review of the Wii Virtual Console version bestows a (8.3/10), praising its simple, enjoyable shooting gameplay, and lots of 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.
At the 2010 E3 conference, Nintendo announced a remake of Star Fox 64 for the Nintendo 3DS, entitled Star Fox 64 3D. There was a demo tested the same day at Nintendo E3 2010. The demonstration had controls and character dialogue displayed on the touch screen. Nintendo added a new kind of control that makes use of Nintendo 3DS's gyroscope to control Arwing in the space. It supports multiplayer for up to four players via 3DS Download Play; however, the game does not have an online multiplayer mode. In the multiplayer mode, unlike the original version, players use the Arwing solely.
The remake uses eight voice tracks in total, as opposed to the original three: Japanese, English, Canadian French, European French, Latin American Spanish, Iberian Spanish, German, and Italian. These tracks are available as per Nintendo's standard regional localizations.
The players are able to use the inner camera to capture the expression of the player during multiplayer mode, similarly akin to the functionality used in Ridge Racer 3D. It was released on July 14, 2011 in Japan, September 9, 2011 in both Europe and North America, and September 15, 2011 in Australia to generally favorable reviews.
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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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Andross: Only I have the brains to rule Lylat. / Fox: So, Andross, you show your true form!
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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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