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Friday, September 23, 2011

Review: StarFox 64 3D

Developer: Nintendo, Q-Games
Publisher: Nintendo

The 3DS is becoming the Home of the Remake. That's not a bad thing, especially when the remakes are as well done as Ocarina of Time 3D. Still, at the end of the day, the vast majority of what's available on the 3DS are all just remakes. For those of us who have played these games back in the day repeatedly, it's disappointing.

Anyway, StarFox 64 3D delivers what the title promises: StarFox 64, in 3D. If you haven't played StarFox 64 in a long time, this is a treat. The gameplay still holds up after 14 years. Each level can be finished in about 10-15 minutes, there's a lot going on to keep an eye on, and the controls are tight.
The upgraded graphics are also fantastic. The land textures are exceptional and you can see objects at a great distance. I found myself marveling at the look of the water in Corneria and the rock textures in Venom. The main villain Andross also looks amazing. He now looks like a character that Pixar would make, clear and crisp with excellent facial animation.

The 3D effect also looks tremendous. There's a level where you fly above a star, and it's easy to tell which solar flares are close to you and which are far away. You're never doubting your distance to the target, which is essential in a fast-paced shooter like this.

So why am I so underwhelmed by StarFox 64 3D?

Don't get me wrong, I like it all right. It's a very well-made game. But when I play StarFox 64 3D, I feel like I'm eating popcorn: It's delicious, but ultimately not very satisfying. Maybe it's because Nintendo didn't add in any new missions. Maybe it's because Nintendo didn't put in online multiplayer, only local.

More than likely, it's because Nintendo hasn't added anything of import aside from the upgraded graphics and the ability to save your game automatically in between levels. Everything else is useless. Were you really clamoring for the ability to see your opponent's face in a dog fight in real-time? Do you want to tilt your 3DS to fly your Arwing? If so, congratulations! You've found your Game of the Year candidate!

It might seem hypocritical of me to give such a high rating to Ocarina of Time 3D while praising how few changes they made to the gameplay, and then thereafter complaining that they didn't make a lot of changes to StarFox 64 3D. Here's the difference: Ocarina is an all-time classic. If Nintendo would have gone back and tinkered with Ocarina, they would have ruined it. StarFox 64, while good, was never on the same level as Ocarina. A little bit of tinkering or a few extra additions wouldn't have hurt it in the least.

Look, StarFox 64 3D is a very good game, especially if it's been a while since you played StarFox 64. It's fun to play, the sound and music is great, it looks sharp. It controls well. It's still just as fun as it was back in 1997. I would love to suggest that you wait until it's $20 to purchase it, except for the fact that there isn't much to play for the 3DS.

Here's hoping Nintendo stops remaking every game in their back catalog into 3D and starts making new games. Until then, here's StarFox 64 3D. Enjoy.

Final Rating: B-