|Composer(s)||Koji Kondo |
|Platform(s)||Nintendo 64, iQue Player, Wii (Virtual Console)|
|Release Date||N64 |
NA June 30, 1997
JP April 27, 1997
PAL October 20, 1997
CHN November 21, 2003
NA April 2, 2007
JP April 17, 2007
PAL April 20, 2007
Star Fox 64, titled Lylat Wars in PAL regions due to trademark issues, is the second installment in the series, third if you count Star Fox 2. It is a reboot of the original SNES game developed by Nintendo EAD and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64.
It was also the first Nintendo 64 game to include support for the Rumble Pak, with which it initially came bundled. The game received positive ratings from reviewers and critics who praised its smooth animation, detailed visuals, voice acting, and use of multiple gameplay paths.
While the plot of Star Fox 64 is largely the same as the plot of the original Star Fox, Star Fox 64 goes into more detail about the storyline. The events of this game are known as the Lylat Wars in-universe, hence where the European and Australian title gets its name. Strange activity is spotted on the planet Venom, part of the Lylat star system, where the evil scientist Andross has been exiled. The Cornerian Army's General Pepper hires the Star Fox team (consisting of James McCloud, Peppy Hare, and Pigma Dengar) to investigate. After arriving at Venom, Pigma betrays the team and causes James and Peppy to be captured by Andross. Peppy barely escapes, thanks to James' sacrifice. Peppy receives the unenviable job of telling James' son Fox about his father's fate.
A few years later, Andross launches an attack across the Lylat System and a new Star Fox team, consisting of Fox McCloud (the player), Falco Lombardi, Peppy Hare, and Slippy Toad, is sent to investigate. After battling their way through Andross' armies entrenched on many planets, even the Lylat System's star, Solar, and the asteroid field Meteos, the team faces a showdown with their rival mercenaries, Star Wolf. Victorious, Star Fox continue to Andross' base on Venom.
In Star Fox 64, the player controls one of the vehicles piloted by Fox McCloud, usually an Arwing. Most of the game takes place in "Corridor Mode," which forces Fox's vehicle down a fixed path straight forward through the environment. The player can maneuver somewhat around the path and slow their vehicle temporarily, but cannot truly stop or change direction. Some stages of the game, including many bosses, take place in "All-Range Mode" by comparison (As does Multi-Player Mode). In this variant the player can move freely within the confines of a large arena to engage in combat.
In Corridor Mode, the player's vehicle can be maneuvered around the screen to dodge obstacles and shoot incoming enemies with laser cannons, and can also perform a somersault to get behind enemies or dodge projectiles. The Arwing is also capable of deflecting enemy fire while performing a spinning maneuver called a "barrel roll" (actually an aileron roll in real life aviation terms). The Arwing and Landmaster can also charge up their laser cannons to unleash a powerful lock-on laser. The Arwing can also perform one new maneuver in All-Range Mode: an Immelmann up-and-over to change direction. In-game, this is called a U-turn.
Power-ups found in-game include supply and shield rings to refill your vehicle's health bar, ultra-rare 1-Ups (extra lives) and weapons. The Arwing and Landmaster can hold up to 9 Smart Bombs at a time. But only the Arwing can use laser upgrades to improve its base firepower up to three times. If the player dies or loses a wing, the player loses the laser upgrades as well. Another laser upgrade or a separate item, the wing repair, will give them their wings back and enable the player to collect laser upgrades again. All power-ups carry over to the next level of the game.
Returning from the original Star Fox game are wingmen that fly beside the player in Arwings and are sometimes pursued into the player's field of view by enemies. The longer it takes the player to save the wingmen the more damage they will take, eventually forcing that wingman to retreat to the team's mothership, the Great Fox, for repairs. That wingman will remain unavailable on the Great Fox throughout the next level as well before finally returning. When flying alongside Fox, each wingman provides a different form of support. Slippy will scan the boss characters and display their life bar on-screen. Peppy will provide gameplay advice, and Falco Lombardi will help open up routes to harder levels. At some points in the game, other minor characters, such as Fox's old friend Bill or Falco's friend Katt, appear to help the team in different situations.
Among Star Fox 64's features is the in-game sampled voice speech that replaced the gibberish-like chatter from the original game. However, the original chatter, referred to as "Lylat" in the language option-screen, can be enabled in the PAL version, though the feature is not in the Japanese and American NTSC versions. This game relies much more heavily on dialogue than the original, and together with the cinematic sequences, they drive the story forward.
Instead of the fixed series of levels of the original (determined by the difficulty level chosen), many of the levels branch out to two and on one occasion three different levels, with the upper branch requiring the player to accomplish a certain task like destroy a certain boss. If the task is completed, the end of the level will read Mission Accomplished. However, if this task is not achieved, the ending will read Mission Complete, and the player must take the "downward" route. The levels correspond loosely to the difficulty levels of the original Star Fox, with routes color coded blue, yellow, and red to represent the easy, normal, and hard levels of difficulty, respectively. There are a total of 25 different routes the player can take through the game. Each path eventually brings the Star Fox team into contact with Star Wolf.
Finally, to add replay challenge, the game features awardable "medals," which are earned by accomplishing a mission with all wingmen intact and having achieved a certain hit total. These totals are often a high percentage of the total enemies on the stage, leaving little room for error. Obtaining medals results in unlocking bonus features, such as a sound test and the ability to use the Landmaster tank and fight on foot in multiplayer mode. Acquiring all medals unlocks a new Expert mode in which there are more enemies per level, the player's Arwing takes more damage (a single direct collision with solid obstacles will destroy one of the Arwing's wings and rid the player of any laser upgrades), and Fox wears sunglasses similar to those of his father, James McCloud. Acquiring all medals on Expert Mode unlocks a new title screen for the game; a medal on Venom in Expert Mode allows players to use the Star Fox team as foot soldiers in multiplayer mode.