Star Fox 64
Star Fox 64 (Known as Lylat Wars in Europe and Australia) is the second game in the series after Star Fox on the SNES. It is a rail shooting video game, in keeping with its predecessor.
There was a game planned to be made after Star Fox on the SNES, Star Fox 2, but with the new Nintendo 64 console ready for release the game was cancelled. Having said this, aspects of the cancelled games were carried on into Star Fox 64.
It was the first N64 game to use the Rumble Pak controller plug-in. It plugs in to the controller and creates vibrations to further the realism of the game. The game also gave rise to the Internet meme "barrel roll".
In short, Star Fox 64 is the storyline of Star Fox with a whole lot more depth and detail to it. It's based around a war known as the Lylat War, which is the name of the European and Australian (PAL) releases.
Before the main game, you're given a briefing on the background information. It teaches you about how Andross, in his exile on Venom, had started to try and take over the Lylat System. The Star Fox team of course responded, but it wasn't the same team we know and love. It was comprised of only three members headed by Fox's father James McCloud, his right hand (and Fox's) man Peppy Hare and Pigma Dengar. Pigma Dengar betrays James and Peppy to Andross on Venom, who promptly murders Fox's father with Peppy barely managing to escape, quickly returning home to alert Fox about the grave news.
It begins with strange activity being notified upon the planet of Venom. This brews up suspicion as this is the desolate waste planet that the evil scientist Andross was exiled to for his evil ways.
A little after this, Corneria is attacked by an army lead by Andross. As such, General Pepper sends out a distress signal to the Star Fox Team whom are a band of mercenaries that primarily use Arwings, backed up by their mother ship Great Fox to come to the rescue. Having a reason to want to fight Andross, and ultimately his own survival and that of the Lylat System leads Fox to agree to help.
The main game sees the player taking control of Fox as he and his team members attempt to put an end to the threat posed by Andross. Every playthrough always begins on Corneria, but the actions taken by a player will determine the route taken to reach the final planet Venom. For example, Corneria has two possible exits - one is achieved by taking the main route through the level and defeating the giant robot, while the other is done by saving Falco and flying through all the stone arches on the water surface shortly afterwards. The standard exit of a stage is always marked with the 'Mission Complete' stamp, while successfully managing to reach the alternate exit is rewarded with a 'Mission Accomplished' message. If a standard exit is reached then the player has no choice but to progress to the default next stage or to sacrifice a life to retry to previous stage. If an alternate exit is reached then the player can choose which of the connected next stages to play on or to retry to previous stage at the cost of a life. Venom is always the last planet but there are actually two different Venom levels and end bosses depending on the route taken. Venom I is reached through Bolse and leads to an unfulfilled ending. Venom 2 is reached through Area 6 and leads to a complete ending.
Twelve out of the game's fifteen planets puts you at the command of the Arwing - the standard airbourne and space fighter used by the team. These craft are also used by your wingmen in every mission regardless of your vehicle. There are two levels that put you in the Landmaster, which is basically the tank used for ground based assaults. Finally we have the Blue Marine, a submarine developed by Slippy used exclusively on Aquas for underwater combat.
Gameplay is split into two types: linear and all range. Linear puts you on a set path, offering limited movement around the visible screen and sometimes allowing you to influence the direction but ultimately the craft flies along a predetermined route to the end. All range mode instead puts you into an arena of sorts where you have full freedom to fly in any direction. These areas are limited in size, and attempting to fly out of them will cause your ship to automatically perform a 180 flip. In single player only the Arwing is used in all range areas. Some levels actually present both modes of play, typically starting off with linear progression and then switching to all range mode for the boss battle (normal route Corneria and Sector Y both do this).
While in the levels you have a few offensive options open to you. The lasers will form the main aspect of attacking. Tapping A will produce laser fire, while holding it will charge a plasma bolt that can lock onto most enemies and can also take out multiple close targets. Smart bombs are limited in number and remove hit bonuses but the blast area is quite large and can be remotely detonated. For defense you can perform barrelrolls by double-tapping either shoulder button, which produces a temporary shield to deflect laser fire, which will become essential to surviving.
Pickups can be obtained while flying to help you out, either by finding them, as rewards for completing tasks or whenever ROB calls you and you respond. Laser upgrades can be obtained to boost firepower (the landmaster cannot use upgraded lasers but any previously held upgrades will carry over to the next non-landmaster mission if no lives are lost), extra smart bombs can be acquired, rings can be gained to restore health or to increase the shield gauge size and wing repairs can be picked up if the Arwing should lose a wing.
An interesting mechanic to the game is the Arwing's ability to lose a wing if too much damage is taken on. In normal mode this means several crashes with solid objects, but in expert mode a single collision will rip a wing clean off. Flying ability is slightly hindered but the main issue is that lasers are reduced to single and cannot be upgraded until the wing is repaired.
As well as simply surviving players can aim to gain medals on each level. Defeating enemies earns you hit points, and group kills or defeating special enemies can earn you bigger bonuses. Each level has a score target to reach that awards a medal for hitting it. In addition your three allies must survive the level, which can be a little tricky as they often get into trouble and require saving. As well as bragging rights you can unlock extra stuff by earning medals.
There is also a training mode for players to practice in. This mode is limited to the Arwing and has one course, which is filled with obstacles to avoid and rings to fly through, ending in an all range mode area which pours in infinite enemies to practice shooting.
Star Fox 64 supports up to four players in local split screen multiplayer. Players are unable to choose their character but are assigned a pilot based on their player number. Player one gets Fox, two has Falco, three is given Peppy and four takes Slippy. However, there are no performance differences between the pilots so the difference is purely cosmetic.
Multiplayer games are all done in all range mode and stages wrap around, meaning that if a player flies off the field on one side they will appear on the other side. There are three arenas based around Corneria, Katina and Sector Z, although you will only be able to choose between two of these depending on the game mode being used.
At first only the Arwing is available for use. It bears the same characteristics as its single player counterpart, except that it cannot obtain hyper lasers and wing repairs do not exist. By collecting the medal on Venom in the normal main game players can opt to pilot the Landmaster tank. Again, the tank is the same as the single player version, except this version can obtain twin lasers. Also, unlike the single player this tank does not take damage by running into structures. The final option is opened by getting the medal on Venom in expert mode and allows a player to run around on foot. This option is not present in the single player. On foot players cannot lock on to other players and must rely on rapid firing the laser, grabbing aerial powerups is more tricky and their shielding is much lower. However, they are the only unit type to be able to stand still and their size makes them very difficult to spot. Note that in the Sector Z stage only the arwing is available due to the lack of ground.
During play they will be one twin laser and one bomb powerup to grab. Once picked up these powerups will only reappear when they are either used or the player carrying them is shot down.
There are three game modes. Standard deathmatch sees players competing to score points by shooting each other down within a time limit. Survival gives each player a number of lives and ends when only one player remains. Time attack puts a number of basic computer controlled enemy ships in (based on the ones that appear in the single player Katina stage), and the goal is to score the most points by shooting these down in the time limit.
- Andrew Oikonny
- Bill Grey
- Falco Lombardi
- Fox McCloud
- General Pepper
- Katt Monroe
- Leon Powalski
- Peppy Hare
- Pigma Dengar
- R0B 64
- Slippy Toad
- Wolf O'Donnell
Star Fox 64 was met with high marks from many of the review critics that would play the title. All reviews documented on Neoseeker have a minimum of 80% or equivalent attached to them, with the highest grade being 9.4/10 (or 94%). The user review average score also hovers just above 4/5 (or 80%), solidating its position as a strong title for the Nintendo 64 era.
Critics are quick to praise the game's technological prowess, as the first game to make use of the rumble pak accessory, which would eventually become a standard feature for later generations. They also remark upon the extensive use of voice work in the game, which is considered a worthwhile accomplishment for a cartridge based title.
Certain gameplay elements are also commonly raised as good points for the title. The compliexity of level progression is one such aspect, as reviewers praise the multiple paths taken through many of the stages. In addition the alternate exits for various stages is also given praise, cited as a more interesting alternative to the standard 'choose your difficulty' approach of many other titles.
However, the game does not escape criticism entirely. Star Fox 64 is often berated for its short gameplay length. Even with all 15 planets/areas to explore it likely will not take a player longer than a few hours to see everything, causing the game to fall back on the high score setup to entice gamers back. For all the praise the voice work gets, the music itself is often slated as failing to live up to the voicework.
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