The original Star Fox was a revolutionary game, that introduced 3D polygonal graphics to most of the world (granted, there were a couple of games before that used wireframes, but Starfox was probably the first mainstream polygonal game). However, by the time Starfox 64 came out, Star Fox was old news, and there were plenty of other 3D games out with much better graphics, and didnít include the inviso-rails that made up Starfox. Nintendo could have made it a brand new kind of game, with knock-out graphics, and complete 3D freedom but they didnít. They gave Starfox 64 the look and feel of the original, inviso-rails and all. So me see this as a good move, some as a bad one. I myself think it has both good and bad advantages.
The graphics in Star Fox 64 can look impressive at times, even to this day, but like I said, Nintendo chose to make it look much like its predecessor, meaning your ship looks blockier and more basic than it should. Atmospherically, the game is a masterpiece. The outer space landscapes youíll encounter are nothing short of amazing. Itís one of those things where youíd just have to play the game and see to understand, and itís one of the N64ís strong points that a lot of their games are like this. The opening intro showcases some of the better graphics on the N64, but itís sort of boring and I havenít watched it very much. The buildings, structures, enemies and everything in Star Fox looks clean and smooth, except maybe the ships. During the game your team-mates or enemies will contact you via radio, and it will show a picture of them beside the dialogue box with mouth movements and all. Very impressive graphics, especially when considering itís a very first-generation game.
Graphics Rating: 92
The gameplay is linear, in that it guides you along by rails most of the time without giving you a chance to fly around much and explore, keeping it focused on action and timed occurrences. Like, for example, many times your aly will swoop down in front of you as heís being targeted by an enemy ship whenever you pass a certain point. Itís all very time-based. The game is non-linear, however, in the fact that you can choose many combinations of which levels you will play on your way to beating the game, with about 20 levels total that makes for a lot of combinations, and keeps you playing the game. The entire game is viewed from just behind your ship, with enemies attacking in patterns in front of you. You can blast them away easily thanks to the lock-on feature, and you can power up your shots to be powerful enough to take out groups of enemies in a single shot. Also, you can pick up super bombs and unload them as you please, doing massive damage to the enemies on the screen. During your flight, you are joined by your 3 team-mates, Slippy, Peppy and Falco. These guys donít help out very much, and often you must save them from being shot down. There are also guest characters, that join your team in certain levels. Thereís another mode of play in Star Fox 64 where, in some instances, the game switches to "all range mode". In this you can go anywhere within a certain vicinity, and have an all-out dogfight while taking out the main target. These are fun and a change of pace from the main interface, giving it at least some distinction between it and the original Star Fox. Boss fights are done extremely well and are very diverse, no 2 bosses are very much alike at all. All of the buttons on the N64 controller are utilized to the fullest in Star Fox, and you ship can pull off many different moves such as rolling to the side and doing a sumersault in mid-air. All in all it maintains basically the same gameplay as the original.
Gameplay Rating: 90
Star Fox has some good tracks in it. A lot of it really has the feel a sci-fi space shooter game should have, it all adds to the overall atmosphere of Star Fox. However, there are no songs that really stick out. It seems to stay in the background while the sounds of your allies voices and explosions take center stage. The sound effects are done as they should be, with the blasts and explosions dead-on, for the most part. Star Fox is one of the first N64 games to have voice, and not very many of the N64s games has as much voice clips as Star Fox does. Your allies talk to you frequently, and your enemies taunt you through radio. Itís unlike anything else on the 64.
Sound Rating: 85
Basically the storyline from SNES Star Fox rehashed, Star Fox 64 has you, the player, follow the story throughout the entire game through the use of your allies and enemies conversing with you as you fly. When you start up the game, Seargent Pepper explains to you that basically Andross is trying to take over the galaxy and is now attacking Corneria. You are the team appointed by Corneria to counterattack the enemy assaults and go on to stop Andross. Pretty simple plotline. The characters each have their own unique personalities, which are conveyed throughout the game. Depending on which route you take, the game can go many different ways, for example in one level Slippy is taken down at the end of the boss battle and crash lands on a nearby planet, you must then go and get him back. One chain of levels has who seems to be an ex-girlfriend of Falcos, Kat, joining you in the battle. The different characters, each with their own distinct personalities, is what really puts you into Star Fox 64.
Storyline Rating: 82
Nintendo attempts to add replayabilty to Star Fox 64 in quite a few ways. For one, they have a counter that counts how many enemies you destroy throughout the game, tempting you to beat your highest scores, long after youíve beaten the game. Also, there is a set number of enemies to destroy in each level that, if you surpass that number, gives you a medal for that stage. Getting medals in all stages will be difficult, but when you do you get a big surprise. I donít know what the surprise is exactly, because thereís still one stage I donít yet have a medal in. Thereís also the multiple paths aspect, and most players wonít stop playing until theyíve seen all of the stages. Also, taking the hardest path will give you a more challenging final boss, and a dramatic sequence thatís worth seeing (I donít want to give away any specific spoilers).
Replay Value: 86
Star Fox 64 was one of my most enjoyable games when I first got the N64. While it doesnít have much to separate it from the original Star Fox, thatís not necessarily a bad thing. The game is atmospheric and action-packed, a good game to get. I still say the original is better though.