A look back: Star Fox 64

I feel like this installment should start off with MY first impression of Star Fox 64. Please watch the following:

At some point in time I must have signed up to recieve Nintendo promotional material. One day a VHS tape showed up with the above video on it. I held onto the tape for the longest time, but I think I finally parted with it just a couple years ago. This game came out shortly after Independence Day and I recall the scene where the UFO settles over the pyrimad seeming errily familiar.

When I got PilotWings 64 back on that Christmas day, this is what I was expecting. Not that I was disappointed with PilotWings, just that I had to wait this long for a game I had imagined on that day. This was all out aerial assault. At the time it really felt like you were in the cockpit of a fighter. You had the ability to lock on to enemies and launch guided shots at them. You could do flips and of course you could “Do a barrel roll!”

For the time, this game was slightly different in that it was designed to be played in one sitting. No save points or anything like that. Think the old Super Mario games where you either had to leave the machine on while you were away, or sit down and kick Bowser’s butt right then and there. This approach, however, left me feeling a bit disappointed in how short the game was. By this time I was used to getting a new game and spending the next couple weeks beating and mastering it. Despite the short gameplay, the “hard” route which required you to accomplish all bonus/hidden objectives did provide some challenge and there were medals you could earn for accuracy.

I believe one of the objectives of this game was to show off some of the technical abilities of the Nintendo 64. It was the first game on the system to use voice acting in any significant form. Due to storage restrictions on the N64 carts, the audio was quite compressed.  All the voices were over your ship’s “radio” channel, and due to the compression they sounded very walkie-talkie like.  But in the context of the game, the audio quality could almost be perceived as intentional.

But undoubtedly the game was primarily to showcase Nintendo’s new peripheral the “Rumble Pak”. One of Nintendo’s console innovations that is now common place today. You plugged this into the controller where the Memory Paks go, and it provides variable vibrations depending on what happens to your character. While novel, I never really found it much more immersive than without it. Give me a good subwoofer that will let me feel explosions, and I’m much happier!

My biggest disappointment with this game was…never having anyone to play multiplayer with! The multiplayer mode in this game was fantasitc! However when people came over, we always ended up playing Mario Kart or later, GoldenEye. I was never phenominally good, but no one else ever seemed willing to endure the learning curve long enough to stay interested, and thus all my multiplayer matches were short-lived.

Still a great game, but now hard to go back to because it is so short and predictable. If I had some friends to play with, however…I could multiplayer into the night. Bryan where are you!?

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Posted on September 29, 2008, in Video Games. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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