Star Fox 64 3D trades heavily on nostalgia. Despite some tweaks here and there it remains very much the same as it did back in 1997 on the N64. This is certainly an indication of the quality of the core experience, the dog fighting in space is just as compelling now as it was back in the day, but there are so many missed opportunities apparent. It unfortunately relegates Star Fox 64 3D to that of a port that’s still good and enjoyable to play but is no longer relevant.
Veterans know the drill, but for new comers here’s the skinny for this charming title. You take control of Fox McCloud, called into action along with a band of ace pilots to battle against the evil mad scientist, Andross, as he invades the Lylat solar system. You band of pilots are all anthropomorphised animals; frogs, rabbits, birds and the like. All voiced campy and light, much like the narrative. It’s an endearing package. The charming characters are amusing and likable and the narrative is engaging enough to give you context whilst also being throw away if you’re not in the mood to commit. The real meat of the title is all in the dog fighting.
Piloting your fighter, and on occasion tank and submarine, with the circle pad and face buttons is simple and intuitive. Before long you’ll be soaring through skies, asteroid belts, undersea and more, pulling off tricks and shooting down foes with ease and style. You’re meant to be an ace pilot and the controls are responsive and simple enough for you to realise that. Additionally the gyroscope is also called into play as an alternative control method if you should so despite, and whilst actually bobbing and weaving to control your craft is quite fun it’s also tricky, not to mention pointless if you intend to play with the 3D on. As far as the 3D is concerned, much like the majority of titles on the 3DS, it looks fantastic. It’s still impressive to see the 3D itself and the trend of developers to use the feature so subtlety produces the very best effect when bringing environments to life.
Surprisingly – for new comers at least – is how Star Fox 64 3D plays. It’s more like an on-rail shooter than a dog fighting game, with your momentum always moving forwards whilst you clear as many of the enemies as possible before you pass them. On occasion things open up and grant you full control, primarily on boss fights, and aforementioned tank and submarine levels add some variety. Additionally there are several points in the story where you can alter the way you progress and experience different levels. It aims to offer replayability and it achieves this brilliantly. And thanks to the addition of a score attack mode, this high score beating mentality is nicely catered to.
Multiplayer unfortunately offers a severely disappointing package, with local link-up play the only option with gimmicky incorporation of the camera sticking shots of your opponents mugs above their fighter. You also have no opportunities to use the tank or submarine which feels like a missed opportunity not having online play and leaderboards is criminal. It’s tragically underwhelming. What could have been a massive selling point for an otherwise barely altered game from 14 years ago just didn’t get the attention it deserved.
So what has changed overall? Very little really, despite the 3D, gyroscope and score attack mode, not much else is different from the N64 version. Higher quality textures have been used to help make it look more contemporary, and the re-done voice work is clearer yet just as cringe worthy – for better or worse. Otherwise, Star Fox 64 3D offers an opportunity for new comers to experience the classic and veterans to relive it in all its arcade action glory. It’s just a shame more wasn’t done to make the game more relevant.
MLG Rating: 7/10
Platform: 3DS Release Date: 09/09/2011
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a physical copy of Star Fox 63 3Dfor review purposes by the publisher. The title was reviewed over the course of two weeks on a 3DS. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.