Star Fox brought gamers an action-flight game to the SNES; an experience a lot of people remembered and introduced gamers to an interesting cast of characters: a talking fox, toad, rabbit, and a falcon. Not quite the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles crew, but similar in a lot of ways except for the aerial combat and the sci-fi genre. However, after the first installment, rumors pegged a second one coming to the SNES, but in reality all we saw was a completed version that never saw the daylight in North America and then news of it all disappeared. When the Nintendo 64 debuted, it brought the revival of the four-man aerial team once again and delivered an experience excited gamers wanted everywhere.
Star Fox 64 came out on July 1, 1997 and left a mark in my gaming history. The original Star Fox was damn good (and difficult like a mutha) and the graphics were ahead of its time. This time, Nintendo decided to revolutionize the controller with the debut of Star Fox 64. The Rumble Pak was born and no gamer ever looked back at games without the rumblin’-bumblin’ feel. But the Rumble Pak wasn’t the real reason gamers wanted to play the game. Oh no. It just enhanced the experience Miyamoto set out to do. The game brought aerial combat at its finest.
Fox McCloud and the crew take on the infamous Andross and try to foil his plan to take over the galaxy. But Fox and the others weren’t having any of his crap. Whether they fight in the air, on land or even undersea, the crew was making sure he was going down. The team would battle tens or even hundreds of enemies and the help (or distraction) of your teammates are always changing the way the game is played.
The game was mostly a linear flight-based game (similar to the original), but during some boss fights the game created a 3-D battlefield for you to fly around an open stage. It was amazing and changed up the gameplay drastically. The new concepts to play with tank and a submarine further pushed the gameplay to an awesome level. Doing a barrel roll in a tank? Freaking awesome. Submarine doing a barrel roll? Nauseating if I was in the submarine, but nonetheless still awesome. It gave you a deeper perspective of the Star Fox universe. The game may be linear, but the developers decided to also give you multiple routes (and endings) on reaching the end and blasting away the final boss and adding a more replay value.
Each level was beautifully detailed and unique. The space battles were orchestrated chaos. Stages taking place on land were linear, but allowed immense fun using the tank. Submarine levels pacing were slower, but the experience never faltered. Levels were all fun, but the bosses are the main reason this game shined. A few levels allowed players to choose different routes and face a different boss. The most memorable battles were against Star Wolf, the dark version of Star Fox. The dog-fighting was intense and battling, dodging and destroying multiple opponents left such a satisfying smile on my face.
Hearing the “pew pews” and the “zaps” left me with some wonderful memories. Slippy’s voice, however, left me with an annoyed face. Star Fox 64 immersed gamers in some glorious sounds and music. Fighting on land or under the sea, the sounds immersed you in each world and battles you faced. The music provided an epic atmosphere and cuing in at the right times to make events seem more grand. The voice-overs were decently done and thankfully kept to a minimum. Hearing teammates or other characters talk during the game took some of the attention away from the experience. But…it did give the internet one of the most memorable line for many internet fans, “Do a barrel roll!”
Star Fox 64 also completed the whole package with multiplayer. Dog-fighting against your friends? Sign me up! At the time, it was rare to see a multiplayer experience like this and was infinitely fun going up against your friends. If you really wanted to have some epic battles, playing against other humans was the only way to whet your appetite.
Star Fox and a few other games ever made me play it over and over again. Aviation-themed games were never my thing and what’s worse is there are so few compared to all the other genres and its a shame to see that. But a few stood out like Star Wars: Rogue Squadron and Star Fox. Games like these need to be brought back. I think Miaymoto is long due for another proper Star Fox game.