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There simply is too many places too start describing Starfox 64 that I don't know where to begin. The moment you slam in that sleek, gray cartridge you know it's going to be free flying and smooth sailing from there on in. Shigeru Miyamoto doesn't seem to know when to stop with his super duper games, and I couldn't be more happier about that. From beginning to end Starfox is a fantastic treat, for the eyes, ears, and hands (with the rumble pack of course). The characters have been redesigned since we last saw them five years ago, and have been rendered with shaded and lighted polygons. Not only do we have the original Starfox team in this game, but there are a bunch of boss personalities and the addition of the Star Wolf squadron. This puts much more depth in the already great original design, not only does it add more to the Starfox saga, but it shows the kind of interaction these characters have and had with each other. I shouldn't forget about Bill and Katt either, ooops.
The game basically has everything going for it, a well accepted pre-quel, great developing team behind it, good story, the free rumble pak accessory, multi-player mode, mad secrets, and, of course, great timing. Just when kids across the country are out of school with nothing to do and money from their summer jobs. Starfox 64 deserves all the success it gets.
Starfox 64 is nothing but splendor for the eye. All the levels, enemies, characters, etc. are wonderfully textured, and create the effect of sophisticated levels, enemies, characters, etc. even though they're not smashed with hundreds of polygons. The game is very colorful and well-designed, and, thankfully, very little fog is present in the levels. Dramatic lighting is used in the most amazing ways, creating the effect of realism in space and barren, dry worlds. All of the effects that are trademark of the Nintendo 64 are present, such as filtering, and the oh so nice anti-aliasing.
Great explosions in space and on land add to the visual madness.
The thing that makes Starfox64 stand out is the tremendous amount of voice on this expensive, small, clunky cartridge. It's so nice to hear the interaction involved when you play, where every action you take ends up producing some kind of dialogue line. Every time I play the game (which is quite often) I end up hearing multiple new lines, depending on ways and speeds your complete stages or destroying bosses. Most of the voices fit the characters nicely, all except Slippy. I'm sorry, but he sounds like a little boy being raped and forced to say the lines, in the same manner as Toad sounded for Mario Kart 64.
The only real downside to the audio is the music. I don't think the actual music composition is that bad, but whatever kind of instruments they used over there in good old Japan, it just sounds, terrible! Not only that, but the quality of the music is equally distressing. It's not that the music detracts from the overall game, but I guess that's just the trade-off for having so much voice. Besides, with all the commentary going on, one can barely notice the music.
The gameplay contained in Starfox64 is exactly what you have come to expect from Nintendo. The controls are easy to get used to (there's even a practice mode thrown in), the speed of the game is fast, if not intense, there's plenty of variety, and it's fun. There is the well-known Arwing for standard flight levels, the Landmaster Tank for land based levels, and the Blue Marlin for one undersea adventure. All good in the eyes' of gamers. Not only that, but the multiple paths and difficulties present in the game allow each play to be different, and as you become more skilled in the Lylat System, you will ultimately travel down the path of hard difficulty planets, and receive the super secrets, and the "little addition" to the cool ending. This strategy for secrets is much better than having some code that is let loose on the net the day after a game is released. To access the special things you must truly get some skill, and when you achieve these requirements to get the secrets, you will feel like you accomplished something and you did not rob yourself of a terrific gaming experience.
See Gameplay above.
On a final note, Starfox64 is crammed with good stuff. There's hidden warps, medals for those skilled people, special battle vehicles, and of course, Battle Mode. Ah, yes, there is nothing quite as satisfying as blowing the back burner off your best friends Arwing, unless it's three friends. And for all you non-stop players, there's always the hidden tanks for battle, and the ability to take full control of the Starfox team themselves. Hop, Peppy, hop!
The replay value on Starfox64 is pretty much endless, unless you consider the route difficulties and level tasks terrible game design. Everything just seems to work in this game, and fantastically at that! Starfox64 is just one of those games you have to enjoy. If you know a Playstation fanatic who despises Nintendo, sit him down, pop him a Rumble Pak, and let him see what a true video game is.
And for those who don't quite see all the hype in the Rumble Pak, the next time you play Starfox64, leave it out, and see how weird it feels to have "part of the game" missing. (mv)
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