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Star Fox 64

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Reviewed by Tim Steffes If you walked into any gaming store on the first of July, you might of seen a mob around the video game area. Why? Nintendo's next (and currently best) game has hit the store shelves. Is it Super Mario 64 2? Nah. Is it Zelda 64? Nope, just a few months too early. It's Star Fox 64, one of the greatest things to appear on store shelves since sliced bacon. Now, if you don't own this game (and why the heck not?), you might be wondering why I feel this way about this game. It's simple. This game rules. From the opening cinema, all the way to the ending credits, you are treated with 64-bit greatness. You have a game that is not out for any other gaming system. You have something that shows the true power of your N64. But back to the game. After plugging in your Rumble Pack, and the game, and flipping on the power, you are treated like you are watching a movie. The opening cinema is simple: Star Fox... In... (short lens flare) N64... (Nintendo's way to gloat I guess). After that, you see the Great Fox zoom out through the fading N64 logo and slowly fill your screen. Then you get speech. A heck of a lot of speech (considering this is a cart), explaining the story. In short: Andross is taking over the Lylat system (for the first time it seems), and the Star Fox team is the only ones who can save it. Cut to the inside of the Great Fox, and watch as you and your 3 teammates, in full polygon glory, run down a VERY long hallway. Basically this is Nintendo saying: We don't need no stinking FMV! It introduces everyone, then cuts to the loading bay. Watch them load up, and off they go. Finally, an outstanding opening sequence on an N64 cart. This (in my opinion) ranks up there with Guardian Heroes (Saturn) and Lunar the Silver Star (Sega CD) in outstanding, get yourself ready for a great game intro. But off to the game. Starting up, you are treated with the Arwings flying by, and then you hear everyone for the first time. Not the gibberish that they spoke in the original (except for a few parts), but in full, clear, English. Now, at first, the characters might sound a little weird (especially Slippy), but they kinda grow on you. And finally, you fight. And when you finish the game for the first time (in an hour and a half or so), you look back at the game, remember the excitement of some boards, how much fun you had in others, the excellent speech overall, and then you decide to go right back and play it again. But enough of a description, on to the review.

Graphics: 4.8

Star Fox 64 is filled with outstanding, polygon filled worlds. This is the N64 at it's fullest. Beautiful worlds abound, from the wrecked Corneria city, to an asteroid filled Meteo, to the water filled Zoness, to even the sun, Solar. Time, thought, and care were put into the game worlds. No world feels even remotely like the next, and you feel like you are actually flying/driving/traveling through some distant galaxy. Enemy ships abound, with at times 40+ enemy fighter craft all moving, shooting, and exploding all around you, all at the same time, all without the slightest hint of slowdown. And the bosses... All 15+ bosses show off what evil and wicked creations one can construct if you have the time. For fun, they even tossed in the first boss from the original Star Fox, just a heck of a lot mode advanced in detail. This game definitely shows off the power of the N64. This is one game that can't be matched in detail on any system.

Sound: 4.4

Unfortunately, the music/sound category is the worst part of this awesome game. First, the music. Star Fox 64 is filled with some 35 different sound tracks (many of the tracks are repeated in the music test mode). Once again, while Nintendo shows that while they have the most powerful system on the market, they've forgotten how to make good music since the good old days of the SNES. And yes, I'm sorry to say, the original Star Fox had better music. But, I'm not going to say that the music sucks. It has some of the best music for the system (next to Shadows of the Empire), but mostly it's music that could almost be done on the SNES. But while the music isn't that good, it works for the game, since you are too busy shooting and dodging to listen in great detail to the music. Fortunately the sound effects and the speech more than make up for that shortcoming. Star Fox 64 is filled with some good sound effects, from shots, to explosions, to even bigger explosions. But the speech is where the game shines. Your wingmen, partners, and even the bosses all talk. Not the gibberish in the original, but full English. If it says something on the bottom of the screen, the game says it. Are your wingmen getting attacked? You hear them call for help. Are you wasting the boss? You hear them yell in frustration. You want to hear useless chatter (it makes the game more life like)? You got it. You want to hear taunts, and helpful hints? You got it. According to Nintendo, one third of the game is speech. It shows. And it works. This game has more speech than most CD titles. It's a fantastic effort by Nintendo.

Control: 4.7

Considering you are flying the most advanced starfighter ever (where have I heard that line before?), it is very easy to control. Every button on the joystick is used (short of L and the digital pad), and after playing for 15 minutes, you have every control down. While you can't configure the controls, everything from shooting, bombing, locking on, looping, and spinning, is within easy reach and use. Control of the Arwing is almost perfect, with a very fine movement of the analog stick, you can slowly track your opponent. The Landmaster is a bit worse, with up and down movements moving your targeting sight quite a bit. And the Blue Marine is almost as good as the Arwing. If you get killed, it won't be because the control stinks.

Gameplay: 4.8

This game is filled with options and difficulty choices to help you have a long and enjoyable game. The Easy courses (in blue) are great for first time plays, the Moderate courses (yellow) are a noticeable step up, and the Hard courses (red) take quite a bit of experience to get through with everyone intact. And then there is Expert mode... It just pumps up the number of baddies (by quite a bit!) and then the Easy courses become a challenge. And for the first time player: Did you go to a more difficult level? No problem. Before you start the next stage, you can select to change courses to go to the easier level. Great for the first time player. And there is a reason to stick with the 1 player mode. If you do well enough, you get 2 different endings, 2 extra bonuses (just some pictures), a music test, and for the best part, being able to drive the Landmaster and walk around on foot (I haven't gotten the later yet) in VS mode! Just think, one person in the Arwing, one in the Landmaster, another on foot running around all at the same time, all shooting at one another! And playing with 4 players at once involves NO slowdown, no limitation in view distance, and a total shooting fest! But mostly, this game is FUN. Like the original Star Fox (which I still pop in every once and a while), you have fun playing this game. I've never had so much fun going around and shooting things down.

Lastability: 4.6

This is a difficult category to put a number to. It will take some time to do everything in the game (mainly getting all of the medals), and until then you will keep playing the game over and over again. Afterward, you will play the VS mode (since it is one of the best party games since Mario Kart 64). Even then, you will keep coming back to the single player mode, just because it is fun. There is something enjoyable about taking down a boss, hearing it scream as it explodes, and then hearing your wingmen congratulating you on your fantastic victory. The game has 3 very noticeable difficulties, with an expert mode thrown in to make the whole game harder (but just as fun). Basically this is a game that you will keep coming back to again and again (like the original).

Overall: 4.8.

Is this an outstanding game? Yes. Is it better than Super Mario 64? Heck yeah. Is it the best game out right now? Yes. Is this the best game of the year? Maybe, if we don't see Zelda 64 by the end of the year. If you even like shooters in the least bit, you must buy this game. This is the number one shooter out there (derailing the great Panzer Dragoon Zwei (Saturn)). This game does to shooters what Fighters Megamix (Saturn) and Tobal #2 (PSX) have done to fighters. It gives you a fantastic game that will keep you enjoyed and entertained for many months to come. Buy this game, you will not regret your purchase. Just make sure that you have some extra AAA batteries available (for when the ones supplied with the Rumble pack run out). A couple other comments to this awesome game that just didn't fit into the review anywhere. First off, what ever happened to the first game? It seems like it never existed. And for that matter, why did Nintendo change the Star Fox team from heroes to just simple mercenaries? As in the original, and Nintendo Power's comics (stop booing, I liked them) show, they were heroes trying to save the galaxy. Now they go around, saving everybody for some measly cash? Second off, if anyone can tell me who actually did the voice for Fox, I want to know. I own this game for the PC, in which there is a voice actor who sounds just like Fox. And strangely enough, in that PC game, he plays a fox (the animal) too. Third, Nintendo did a great job of ripping off some of the best movies (not that I'm complaining or anything). From Star Wars to ID4 (both copyrighted by their respective owners), some of the lines, actions, and even stages can be seen in this game if you look hard enough. Just go to Katina and you'll understand. I can't stress this enough, get this game.

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