As Nintendo president Reggie Fils-Aime reminded us this morning at Nintendo’s press conference, the Star Fox franchise has always been at the forefront of 3D video game technology. From the early polygons that wowed us on the Super Nintendo, to the most advanced 3D console graphics ever seen at the time in Star Fox 64, the franchise has always used impressive visuals to pull you in. Now, it is set to leave a mark with even more advanced 3D technology—of the stereoscopic variety provided by the 3DS.
Star Fox 64 3D is exactly what it sounds like—the original award-winning game, updated with modern graphics and stereoscopic visuals. You fly around, locking onto and firing at enemies, while trying to avoid getting hit by doing loop-de-loops, speed boosts, and other tricks. I played through two levels, and they were just as I remembered them. Flying my Arwing through a war-torn Corneria, I saved my wingmate Falco from some attackers and flew through a series of hoops near the ground. True to the original game, this unlocked a familiar alternate path through a waterfall, and I fought a flying boss whose missiles launchers had to be destroyed before I could damage him directly. Solar was much the same as in the original game as well, with snakes of fire shooting up at inopportune moments to damage me, and a rock-throwing lava diver waiting to make life miserable at the end.
Oh, the memories...
I got a chance to check out the game’s multiplayer mode as well. Much like the split-screen in the original game, this is a straight-up free-for-all dogfight. It is action-packed and tense, as unlike the single-player, human opponents are actually interested in preserving their lives and will do everything in their power to get out of your sights and get you into theirs. Video feeds of the players’ faces appear above their ships, so my opponents’ depression was obvious when I emerged the victor!
The graphics are quite sharp, though some areas improved more than others. Corneria’s upgrades seem fairly subtle, with more polygons but not necessarily more life. Solar, on the other hand, comes alive in this version. Dozens of waves of fire constantly threaten your existence, and you can practically feel the heat as they leap out of the screen. I appreciate that they moved the HUD (your health bar, any dialog, and other information) to the bottom screen so that you can enjoy the main action in all its cinematic splendour.
The other major addition is an alternate form of control. While you can use the circle pad to aim and move your ship around, you can also use the 3DS’ gyro controls, tilting and moving the system in the direction you want to move. I found it most efficient to use a combination of the two, with the circle pad for large movements and the motion controls for fine-tuning my aim and dodging closer obstacles.
This update has brought back a lot of great memories for me. Let me be clear: If you are not a Star Fox fan, this will not be the game to change your mind. If you are new to the franchise, or if you loved the original Star Fox 64, then you owe it to yourself to keep an eye on Star Fox 64 3D, as it takes 3D technology even further when it launches this holiday.