Star Fox 64 3D not only brought the beloved Star Fox 64 to a new generation (complete with graphics recreated from the ground up), it also elegantly transitioned a Nintendo 64 classic onto a handheld system.
The adventure is as it’s always been, Fox McCloud and his team of bounty hunters are out to save the Lylat System from the evil Andross and his empire. Being a Nintendo game, this means venturing to such locales as a lava world and a level themed around a train chase. It’s the same beloved game as it was on the N64, but with a new coat of paint.The visuals are a hefty upgrade from the blocky original, and 3D effects are used effectively.
Most stages are an on-rails affair, with others being a singular battlefield where you and your allies fight hordes of enemies before a big bad appears. You will only play seven of the game’s fifteen stages on any given playthrough, but taking alternate paths, finding secret routes, and besting your top scores on each stage give the game a great deal of replayability even today.
Star Fox 64 3D now includes two primary modes of play, appropriately named after the N64 and 3DS, with the former sticking close to the original blueprint and the latter making accommodations for the 3DS’ features, utilizing more 3D effects and featuring “gyro controls” using the 3DS’ motion-sensing gyroscope. The 3DS mode is worth a look, but piloting an Arwing is best left to the traditional control method.
The gameplay is of course the real star. Star Fox 64 has aged more gracefully than most of its N64 brethren, and that simple yet polished gameplay is left intact: Fire lasers, throw bombs. Defeat enemies, don’t hurt allies. Find upgrades, uncover secrets and beat your high score. The mechanics are simple, but used to their fullest.
Multiplayer also returns, though questionably with the absence of any online features. It’s a true shame, as Star Fox 64 has always been a fun multiplayer experience, and could have been made all the better with online functionality. The multiplayer battles are fun – which now include team battles where you and your buddies face off against CPU opponents – but the lack of online modes makes it all feel incredibly limited.
It’s also sad knowing that, aside from a few visual and technical bells and whistles, the game remains largely identical to the 1997 original. That’s not a bad thing in terms of what is presented, given the game’s overall quality. But for being remade from the ground up for the 3DS, one can’t help but feel there were some missed opportunities for new modes or added content to the original adventure.
Star Fox 64 3D plays things a bit safe then, but it has enough fun and polish to fall back on to make that not such a terrible thing. Star Fox 64 was always one of the most cherished games on the N64, and now you can experience it all again, on the go. Barrel rolls and all.