Star Fox 64 / Lylat Wars (N64) Review

Star Fox 64

The Star Fox series is one of the few exceptions to my natural rule of using the names of things I grew up with (like using Mega Drive instead of the more common US name of Genesis) as if I just put “Lylat Wars” in the title very few people would know what I’m going on about. So, anyway, I actually didn’t own Lylat Wars anyway, but I did both rent it out and play it around a friends several times (or did they bring it to my house? I can’t remember…) and I do remember enjoying it, especially the branching paths. So let’s take a look and see if it still holds up!

Background:

Star Fox 64 3

The brave heroes of the Star Fox Team… and Slippy Toad.

Star Fox 64 came out in Japan on April 27th 1997, with a US release June 30th that year. Lylat Wars on the other hand didn’t arrive in the PAL region until October 4th 1997.

Star Fox 64 isn’t actually a sequel to Star Fox (known as Starwing in Europe…) but instead a full on reboot. It’s sold a whole bunch and has become regarded as an all-time classic. It was re-released on the Nintendo 3DS as Star Fox 64 3D, in all countries, doing away with the European name change once and for all…

Gameplay:

Star Fox 64 4

Apparently in aviation terms what you do isn’t a barrel roll… but, who cares?

For the most part the game is an on-rails 3D shooter, so you control your craft in the middle of the screen as it moves forward uncontrollably, though you can strafe to the left and right, somersault backwards and do a barrel roll, as well as speed up or slow down (but not stop!). You fire laser bolts, missiles and the rare but powerful “Smart Bombs”. You mostly control the iconic Arwing, but there are two levels in the Landmaster Tank, and one level the Blue-Marine Submarine. They’re still pretty much the same, but with less manoeuvrability, like the Tank can’t somersault, unsurprisingly…

During some bosses and multiplayer mode the game completely opens up and you can fly freely around an area, including doing a full U-Turn. The bosses are normally just large craft (or giant heads and hands…) with weak spots, but they’re fun nonetheless. During play you have wingmen who help you, some targets and a timer, and based on how well you do with all those factors you can choose different routes. Doing really well earns you medals, unlocks for Multi-player, and “Expert Mode”.

The Multi-player mode is fun, up to four player split screen, free flying and shooting each other. You either win by having the most players shot down or play last man standing. You can also play “who can shoot down the most grunts”. It was fun, though I remember it being sometimes hard to see what you’re doing…

Overall the game looks awful, but still plays really well!

Graphics and Sound:

Star Fox 64 6

Hmmmm… those are some mountains alright…

As I just mentioned at the end of the last bit, the game does suffer from the blurry, muddy textures you nearly always got on the N64, and just doesn’t look great. Obviously, at the time I didn’t mind at all, but now? It’s undeniably ugly.

Sound is still good though! Catchy tracks, voice work that’s only occasionally annoying, and good sci-fi soundeffects. What more do you want for this kind of game?

Story:

Star Fox 64 2

Yes indeed… and who are you? (Seriously!)

Andross, a scientist driven mad, is exiled to the Venom system, but five years later he starts to get up to no good, so Star Fox are sent in to investigate. The team consisting of James McCloud, Peppy Hare and Pigma Dengar soon go missing, with Peppy eventually returning to inform General Pepper that Pigma had betrayed them, and that James was missing…

Fast forward a few years and a new Star Fox team sails the seas of space, consisting of James’ son Fox McCloud, Falco Lombardi and Slippy Toad, along with the returning Peppy. Andross launches an all out attack on the Lylat System, leading to General Pepper hiring the new Star Fox team to travel through the system and defeat Andross at its core. They do, so long as you complete it… and get the good ending, otherwise Andross is left floating in space very much alive.

During the course of the game you also meet Star Fox’s rival group Star Wolf. It’s a fun enough story, as I always say with games like this, it gave you a basic reason to play through the stages of the game!

Thoughts Then:

Star Fox 64 5

LANDMASTER!!

I really enjoyed it when I rented it out, I had enjoyed Star Wars: Rogue Squadron but I was really bad at it, this I could actually get far on! When my friend brought it round I remember seeing him complete it and us having a fun enough time on multi-player. Never did the four-player game session like we did with Goldeneye so many times…

4 Star Game Old

Thoughts Now:

Star Fox 64 1

Not again! It’s always the bloody G-Diffuser…?

It’s still a fun game, controls well enough and still has a great soundtrack, but it is hard to look at. I try to never let an old game looking bad take away from it, but some of these early 3D efforts do take some… effort to look past. Still, like I said, fun game and I don’t think any of the other Star Fox games have topped it, so I’ll still go to this if I do want to play an entry in this series, but it’s not even a favourite genre of mine, so…

3 Star Game New

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