Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Fighting For Lylat Peace in Star Fox 64 (Retro Game Review)

In a Galaxy far away an evil tyrant and his massive empire approach and only one team can stop the evil Andross from conquering the Lylat System. This team is known as Team Star Fox, though the first team to take on this name are known as James McCloud, Peppy Hare and Pigma Denga. After a disastrous betrayal by Pigma, James is killed and Peppy, barely escaping Venom returns home to tell James’s son Fox about his father’s fate. Andross is making his move and now it’s up to his son Fox McCloud, Falco Lombardi, Slippy Toad and Peppy Hare of the new Star Fox team to fight to the bitter end, to bring peace back to the Lylat System. This is the main story of a certain game called Star Fox 64.

Star Fox is for the most part arcade, arwing flying space shooter coupled with a surprisingly awesome cast of characters and a nice storyline for an arcade game. At least it was an awesome storyline to me as I was a huge fan of Star Fox when I was a kid to the point I made up my own storylines and added to the lore already present in the games. I also made my own Star Fox comics back in the day but I gave them up and never did much more drawing up until this year. Basically I was a huge Star Fox nut but the series soon died out and there hasn’t been a new game since 2006 up until last year with Star Fox Zero, which doesn’t seem to have been much of a hit. While I love the look of Star Fox Zero I can’t place an opinion on the game as I’ve not played it yet.

The origins of Star Fox date back 1993 on the SNES but as I’ve never played the original Star Fox that will have to wait until a certain SNES Classic Edition releases. The game I’m discussing today is none other then Star Fox 64 for the Nintendo 64 which actually turned 20 years old here in America on June 30th, originally releasing back in 1997.

Star Fox 64 served as a reboot/remake of the original Star Fox for the SNES. With the release of the Nintendo 64 Shigeru Miyamoto decided to remake the original Star Fox with a new innovative design as well as incorporating elements from the canceled Star Fox 2. (Which was actually completed and will be releasing this September on the SNES Classic Edition.) The Nintendo 64 allowed Star Fox 64 to become a true 3D game taking the blocky polygons of the previous iteration and really fleshing everything out. The characters were fleshed out too as Fox and Crew got complete 3D models, though only their heads were present through most of the game on the intercom. The cast of Star Fox were also designed to look similar to puppets as Miyamoto was and still is a long time fan of puppeteer dramas such as Thunderbirds. (Which served as a huge inspiration for Star Fox.) You’ll notice the character’s mouths act similar to puppets because of this.

This game added many new gameplay mechanics from the canceled Star Fox 2 that carried over to the few future Star Fox games such as All-Range Mode which took the traditional on-rail arcade shooting to a open box like area for more dynamic dog fighting. Star Fox also introduced the Landmaster, a land tank which while a bit clunky added a nice change to the constantly Arwing flying. Another new vehicle known as the Blue Marine was introduced as well as an underwater submarine with torpedoes but it was only featured in one level.

Speaking of levels this game featured 15 levels spread across 14 planets, you start off on Corneria, the heart of the Lylat system and home to the Cornerian Army. These levels are split up into three paths all leading to Venom and a final showdown with the evil mad scientist Andross. Even crazier there are many different paths you can take throughout each level leaving you a game with a lot of replay-ability, basically you can play the first level and end up going to Meteo one playthrough but next time if you play the game slightly different you could end up going to Sector X. There are quite a few possibilities in this game.

Back on the subject of Gameplay Mechanics. Star Fox 64 also introduced the Nintendo 64 Rumble Pack which added rumbles to your actions, supposedly making the game feel more real. I never had a rumble pak and the only time I ever experienced rumble as the GameCube as Nintendo seems to have given up on the whole rumble thing in recent years.

Now while I grew up with a Nintendo 64 controller in my hands and a Gameboy Color in my lap I never played Star Fox 64 growing up and my first encounter with the game would actually be quite a few years later around 2004-2005 I don’t remember the exact year but I was on summer vacation with my family. We were heading to Houston and Galveston but we ended up staying one night at Lake Jackson a little bit off from Freeport. The hotel at Lake Jackson we stayed in just so happened to have a Nintendo 64 fit with all the classic games. Of course my parents had to pay per hour to use it so I got to play two games that night, Paper Mario (Which will be getting it’s own blog later, I’m actually doing a playthrough of it on my Wii U right now.) and Star Fox 64. My only encounter with Star Fox at that point was Star Fox Adventures which I absolutely love but Star Fox 64 was a new experience for me as Star Fox Adventures didn’t have much space fighting. As far as I got however was the Fichina Mission featuring Star Wolf I don’t remember if I beat the mission or not I believe I didn’t stop the bomb from exploding in the end but my time ran out after that and I went on to play Paper Mario. Playing this game at the hotel probably prompted me to bug my parents to buy my Star Fox Assault which released around the same time.
After this it was another long time before I got to own this game. Flash forward to 2011 the Nintendo 3DS had recently launched and Nintendo was bringing two remakes of Nintendo 64 games to the awesome handheld platform. These two games were The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D and Star Fox 64 3D. I was absolutely ecstatic when I found out these games were releasing on the 3DS. Two classic Nintendo 64 games I never owned coming to the 3DS, a handheld? (I’m a big fan of handheld gaming.) Sign me up!

Finally I owned Star Fox 64 after years. Star Fox 64 3D took the graphics of the Nintendo 64 game and completely upgraded them, giving everything a nice shiny and smooth look but still keeping that same art style from the original. All the levels were the same but the multiplayer was changed drastically (I don’t think this went over well with people but I’ve never experienced the multiplayer of Star Fox 64 so I can’t say my thoughts on it.) and addition of motion control/gyro controls used by tilting the 3DS certain ways, though this wasn’t a forced add on luckily. Star Fox 64 3D was of course playable in 3D using the Nintendo 3DS’s glasses free 3D vision. Three game modes are present in this remake, a 3DS mode which balances out the difficulty and controls to be more optimized for Gyro controls and the 3D mode and a Nintendo 64 mode which is a recreation of the Nintendo 64’s difficulty and control feel. The third game mode is Expert which is a much harder mode you can unlock by collecting a medal on all planets.

Star Fox 64 3D really allowed me to experience this game and to be honest I think I’ve grown to prefer this version over the original. Especially when you can actually save in this version, yeah apparently in the original Star Fox 64 you have to keep playing the story mode until you beat it but in the 3DS version you can save in-between missions. Star Fox 64 is considered by many to be the best Star Fox and while I’m conflicted between 64, Adventures and Assault as my favorite this game is a must buy for those who haven’t experienced this game before. Even better Star Fox 64 3D is now $19.99 for the 3DS as part of the Nintendo Selects line of games. For those wanting the original game Star Fox 64 is available for $9.99 on the Wii U Virtual Console. (You can save on the Wii U version too thanks to the Wii U’s save state feature on Virtual Console games.) Star Fox 64 is a great game with hours of replay at your fingertips and surprisingly this game is even better on the 3DS.

Star Fox 64 also spawned a pretty awesome comic series coming out of Nintendo of Europe where Star Fox was known as Lylat Wars rather then Star Fox due to copyright issues. It is a retelling of Star Fox 64’s storyline for the most part and adds in a lot more story details as well as adding a bit of a comedic touch. This wasn’t the first time Star Fox received a comic series and wouldn’t be the last as the original Star Fox had a series to itself too, which was prominent throughout the years of 1993 and 1993 in Nintendo Power Magazine. I was actually making my own Star Fox comics before I even knew these existed so that’s interesting. Sadly I can’t even find my old Star Fox Comics anymore so even though they’re kind of bad I can’t show you guys.

Oh yeah given out to Nintendo Power subscribers was a 9 minute promotional VHS of Star Fox 64. It's extremely cheesy but absolutely hilarious. You can check this out below when you have time.

Anyway like I said early I am actually playing Paper Mario on my Wii U at the moment. I never got very far in this game before but I’m currently on Chapter 4 which is the Shy Guy Toy Box chapter so wish me luck, Tubba Blubba isn’t actually that hard.

Before I wrap it’s time for my free knitting pattern feature as well as the beginning of our pre-christmas free knitting patterns. I’m still going to be posting summer patterns but we’re already in the thick of summer and as Christmas is only 6 months away I decided to start putting out Christmas patterns early. Today’s pattern is a really awesome toy pattern for your little sibling or kids. You’ve heard of Elf on a Shelf right? Well get ready for Clown on a Shelf!
This pattern was created by Jean Woods back in 2002 and would make a wonderful gift for your kids. Most of the body is stockinette so the only hard part will probably be putting all of the parts together. You’re going to need some DK weight scrap yarn as well as US 2/ 3 MM Knitting Needles and a sewing needle. (As the pattern doesn’t specify I’m assuming you can use any kind of knitting needles.) The website is a bit old but knitting abbreviations never change so this will be just as easy to knit with. You can check out this awesome pattern by going to this link: You can check out more of Jean Wood’s patterns here: Some of them are free some of them aren’t but she has a lot of awesome doll patterns here which could make awesome gifts for your kids, cousins, nephews or younger siblings.

Well that’s the end of the blog for today. I realize I’ve been neglecting my Youtube channel again and I have a pretty hefty backlog of videos I should be working on so I think I need to focus on them a bit, maybe you’ll see a video Friday? Who knows. (No promises.)

Don’t forget to check me out on Patreon if you love my blog and want to keep it running!

That’s a wrap folks!

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