Past Expiration: Star Fox 64

Normally I use Past Expiration to talk about lesser known games from way back that people have little to no chance of ever finding much less playing through again. But today I'm going to cover a game that doesn't need any extra exposure. I'm talking about Star Fox 64 because... I really like Star Fox 64. I think it's a fantastic game. Topical!

Star Fox 64 (Animals locked in Space Combat: The Game)

 The PAL Box Art, just for Kicks
It really doesn't need an introduction mostly because of internet memes about barrel rolls or a space wolf not letting you do things... but I'm going to do it just to be on the safe side.

Star Fox 64 is (for the most part) a rail shooter where you fly an advanced space fighter called the Arwing and shoot down tons of enemies that swarm the screen. The Nintendo spin on this game is that the major cast is a bunch of anthropomorphic animals. You play as Fox McCloud (who is a fox) and lead the Star Fox Team (a gang of other animal mercenaries) to defend the planet Corneria against the evil forces of Andross (who is an ape). The story is good enough to get things rolling, but it's no Shakespeare even if it does have a weird reference to a Shakespeare play. Now, this game is a sequel to the Star Fox game on the Super Nintendo, but you don't have to play it to enjoy this one.

On a more historical note, Star Fox 64 also came packaged with the Rumble Pak. This used force feedback to shake the controller when an explosion went off, your ship crashed into something, or a massive boss rolled past. I didn't think much of it at the time. It was entertaining sure, but kind of a gimmick. Now, try to find a controller today that doesn't rumble when you fire a gun or toss grenades. Or at least a game that doesn't make some use of the controller rumbling in your hand. I couldn't imagine that it would be so widespread as it is today.

Don't You Know It
Awhile ago I mentioned it was a rail shooter and put "for the most part" in parenthesis. While the majority of the game has you flying down a corridor shooting at things, there are a few moments when you can break out in free flight. The game calls this "All Range Mode" complete with a short cutscene and a demonstration of Fox's voice acting. This was somewhat of a bullet point for this game, but people who regularly put in time with flight sims on the PC probably weren't impressed. Even still, the ability to fly wherever you want (in a conveniently box shaped zone) added some opportunities for dogfighting. This was especially true with the Star Wolf Team who acted as direct rivals to the main characters. They were pretty good at showing up, dropping a bunch of one liners, and teaching you how to pull off a U-Turn or a 360 flip by shooting you in the ass.

Now only a few areas in the game made use of all range mode, so it never got old or unwelcome. At the same time, some of the worst levels in the game are entirely all range mode... Like Sector Z. So there's that too.

While blowing through levels collecting power ups and saving your incompetent wingmen over and over again is fine, my favorite part of this game has to be the boss battles. The Nintendo 64 is not the most advanced piece of gaming machinery to ever grace the planet, but they still came up with some memorable fights and crazy enemy designs. For example, there's one boss called Mechbeth you fight in a tank that looks like a giant robotic kite anchored to a train. Why? The player's guide has an explanation for that, but it's pretty weird all the same. There's also the most bizarre submarine I've ever seen, known as the Sarumarine. It's one of my favorite boss fights ever because you're encouraged to abuse the hell out of the game's screen clearing smart bomb. And the captain talks like a pirate too. Other bosses include a fist fighting robot, an Independence Day knock off, a giant clam, the world's most cowardly golem, and a smug ass jerk who pilots a meteor crusher. Any route you took, you were bound to run into something that was fun to shoot to death.

This brings me to one of my favorite parts about early Star Fox games. Route select. In the Super Nintendo version you simply picked which way you wanted to go, which was more of an "easy, medium or hard" selection. Star Fox 64 upped the ante by hiding most of the alternate routes. You had to pull off some feats in order to take a detour to other planets in the Lylat System. Sometimes they were pretty obscure, like saving Falco in the first level and flying under a bunch of rock arches. Other times they made more sense like stopping a doomsday weapon from obliterating an allied base, or crashing an enemy supply train. Either way, there was a ton of replay value going back through the game and trying to find the routes. Of course when this game came out I didn't have the patience for it. Which is why I convinced my parents to buy the Star Fox 64 Official Player's Guide.

What? You Cheater
To give you some perspective, this was back before I knew how to use the internet to its fullest potential. I can't even remember if I knew GameFAQs existed. Cheat Code Central? Anyway. I really wanted to go to places like Sector Y, Aquas, and Zoness. I could save Falco but how was I supposed to know about flying under some stupid rock arches?

Besides telling you how to go everywhere and kill everything, it also had some extra material in the form of stupid Star Fox 64 lore. Stuff like planetary data (which I'm extremely curious if they did scientific research or just made it all up), information behind bosses and trivia about the enemies you shoot down. It's got some great pictures. It also tells you the names of all the bosses. And it's from Nintendo so it must be legit, right?
Official Confirmation
One of the reasons I bother mentioning the Star Fox 64 players guide is my username. It's so obscure that I usually always get it (like when I came to Giant Bomb). Considering how much fun it is to kill the Sarumarine in the game and how crazy that sub design is, I just went with it.

Always a good sign when people think Lord of the Rings because of the "saru" part. I've heard that saru means monkey in Japanese, so it must be a weird portmanteau of monkey and submarine. But I don't know that for sure. Either way, this is probably more than you ever wanted to hear about the name Sarumarine.

One of the last things I'll mention before wrapping this up is the short, but effective voice acting included in the game. They're soundbites compared to the monologues you can find in games these days. I used to have a link to a database of all the lines from Star Fox 64. My favorites included the train driver from Macbeth and the Area 6 commander. You can probably look through YouTube if you absolutely have to hear it. I think it stands up. It's not outstanding, but it does its job. The only exception would be Slippy's voice which is absolutely terrible. The sound quality is probably terrible compared to today's standards. But show me another game where a boss gets so fed up with fighting you he calls your entire team "cocky little freaks!"

Now that I've got this out of my system, I'll leave you with this.

What Did You Call Me?
10 Comments
11 Comments
Posted by Sarumarine

Normally I use Past Expiration to talk about lesser known games from way back that people have little to no chance of ever finding much less playing through again. But today I'm going to cover a game that doesn't need any extra exposure. I'm talking about Star Fox 64 because... I really like Star Fox 64. I think it's a fantastic game. Topical!

Star Fox 64 (Animals locked in Space Combat: The Game)

 The PAL Box Art, just for Kicks
It really doesn't need an introduction mostly because of internet memes about barrel rolls or a space wolf not letting you do things... but I'm going to do it just to be on the safe side.

Star Fox 64 is (for the most part) a rail shooter where you fly an advanced space fighter called the Arwing and shoot down tons of enemies that swarm the screen. The Nintendo spin on this game is that the major cast is a bunch of anthropomorphic animals. You play as Fox McCloud (who is a fox) and lead the Star Fox Team (a gang of other animal mercenaries) to defend the planet Corneria against the evil forces of Andross (who is an ape). The story is good enough to get things rolling, but it's no Shakespeare even if it does have a weird reference to a Shakespeare play. Now, this game is a sequel to the Star Fox game on the Super Nintendo, but you don't have to play it to enjoy this one.

On a more historical note, Star Fox 64 also came packaged with the Rumble Pak. This used force feedback to shake the controller when an explosion went off, your ship crashed into something, or a massive boss rolled past. I didn't think much of it at the time. It was entertaining sure, but kind of a gimmick. Now, try to find a controller today that doesn't rumble when you fire a gun or toss grenades. Or at least a game that doesn't make some use of the controller rumbling in your hand. I couldn't imagine that it would be so widespread as it is today.

Don't You Know It
Awhile ago I mentioned it was a rail shooter and put "for the most part" in parenthesis. While the majority of the game has you flying down a corridor shooting at things, there are a few moments when you can break out in free flight. The game calls this "All Range Mode" complete with a short cutscene and a demonstration of Fox's voice acting. This was somewhat of a bullet point for this game, but people who regularly put in time with flight sims on the PC probably weren't impressed. Even still, the ability to fly wherever you want (in a conveniently box shaped zone) added some opportunities for dogfighting. This was especially true with the Star Wolf Team who acted as direct rivals to the main characters. They were pretty good at showing up, dropping a bunch of one liners, and teaching you how to pull off a U-Turn or a 360 flip by shooting you in the ass.

Now only a few areas in the game made use of all range mode, so it never got old or unwelcome. At the same time, some of the worst levels in the game are entirely all range mode... Like Sector Z. So there's that too.

While blowing through levels collecting power ups and saving your incompetent wingmen over and over again is fine, my favorite part of this game has to be the boss battles. The Nintendo 64 is not the most advanced piece of gaming machinery to ever grace the planet, but they still came up with some memorable fights and crazy enemy designs. For example, there's one boss called Mechbeth you fight in a tank that looks like a giant robotic kite anchored to a train. Why? The player's guide has an explanation for that, but it's pretty weird all the same. There's also the most bizarre submarine I've ever seen, known as the Sarumarine. It's one of my favorite boss fights ever because you're encouraged to abuse the hell out of the game's screen clearing smart bomb. And the captain talks like a pirate too. Other bosses include a fist fighting robot, an Independence Day knock off, a giant clam, the world's most cowardly golem, and a smug ass jerk who pilots a meteor crusher. Any route you took, you were bound to run into something that was fun to shoot to death.

This brings me to one of my favorite parts about early Star Fox games. Route select. In the Super Nintendo version you simply picked which way you wanted to go, which was more of an "easy, medium or hard" selection. Star Fox 64 upped the ante by hiding most of the alternate routes. You had to pull off some feats in order to take a detour to other planets in the Lylat System. Sometimes they were pretty obscure, like saving Falco in the first level and flying under a bunch of rock arches. Other times they made more sense like stopping a doomsday weapon from obliterating an allied base, or crashing an enemy supply train. Either way, there was a ton of replay value going back through the game and trying to find the routes. Of course when this game came out I didn't have the patience for it. Which is why I convinced my parents to buy the Star Fox 64 Official Player's Guide.

What? You Cheater
To give you some perspective, this was back before I knew how to use the internet to its fullest potential. I can't even remember if I knew GameFAQs existed. Cheat Code Central? Anyway. I really wanted to go to places like Sector Y, Aquas, and Zoness. I could save Falco but how was I supposed to know about flying under some stupid rock arches?

Besides telling you how to go everywhere and kill everything, it also had some extra material in the form of stupid Star Fox 64 lore. Stuff like planetary data (which I'm extremely curious if they did scientific research or just made it all up), information behind bosses and trivia about the enemies you shoot down. It's got some great pictures. It also tells you the names of all the bosses. And it's from Nintendo so it must be legit, right?
Official Confirmation
One of the reasons I bother mentioning the Star Fox 64 players guide is my username. It's so obscure that I usually always get it (like when I came to Giant Bomb). Considering how much fun it is to kill the Sarumarine in the game and how crazy that sub design is, I just went with it.

Always a good sign when people think Lord of the Rings because of the "saru" part. I've heard that saru means monkey in Japanese, so it must be a weird portmanteau of monkey and submarine. But I don't know that for sure. Either way, this is probably more than you ever wanted to hear about the name Sarumarine.

One of the last things I'll mention before wrapping this up is the short, but effective voice acting included in the game. They're soundbites compared to the monologues you can find in games these days. I used to have a link to a database of all the lines from Star Fox 64. My favorites included the train driver from Macbeth and the Area 6 commander. You can probably look through YouTube if you absolutely have to hear it. I think it stands up. It's not outstanding, but it does its job. The only exception would be Slippy's voice which is absolutely terrible. The sound quality is probably terrible compared to today's standards. But show me another game where a boss gets so fed up with fighting you he calls your entire team "cocky little freaks!"

Now that I've got this out of my system, I'll leave you with this.

What Did You Call Me?
Online
Posted by WatanabeKazuma

Ah, the whelp comment becomes clear now. I have played Lylat Wars before (yep from the UK) but I never made that connection before.


I was always really bad about getting the optional routes. Come to think of it, I was bad at the game in general!
Posted by nintendoeats

Vayne does a Barrel Roll.

I love SF64 and actually want to see in 3D, which is crazy.

Posted by Bigandtasty

"World's most cowardly golem?" Hah, nice one.

Star Fox 64 was pretty cool. I could never beat Expert Mode though, despite being a hero on normal mode. I WANT SUNGLASSES =(

Going back to it now, it feels weird to move and shoot with the same analog stick, though I suppose that's unavoidable even with modern flight games. After Burner Climax mitigates it somewhat by making the game more reliant on missiles than guns.

Great retrospective; I enjoyed the weird lines and random bosses too, and didn't imagine that rumble would become as widespread as it has. It hasn't aged perfectly, but it's still more than playable, and it was a great game to play when I was 7.

Posted by ajamafalous

God damn I love Star Fox 64. Probably my second favorite N64 game, behind Diddy Kong Racing and ahead of Banjo-Tooie.

Posted by Sarumarine
@WatanabeKazuma said:
" Ah, the whelp comment becomes clear now. I have played Lylat Wars before (yep from the UK) but I never made that connection before.

I was always really bad about getting the optional routes. Come to think of it, I was bad at the game in general!
"
Yeah, I should stop doing that. I forget that your status pops up on the side of the page every time you update it. I just put "Disrespectful Little Whelp" as filler when I haven't done anything or can't think of something decent to put there.

@Bigandtasty
said:
" "World's most cowardly golem?" Hah, nice one.Star Fox 64 was pretty cool. I could never beat Expert Mode though, despite being a hero on normal mode. I WANT SUNGLASSES =( "
Expert mode is vicious, mostly because the wing breaking off if you hit something. You lose your laser upgrade and your balance is all fucked up so you fly like Fox is drunk or something. Area 6 is a total nightmare on Expert Mode. I managed to get the real ending on Expert mode, but I don't find it terribly fun.

The sunglasses are cool though.
Online
Posted by Contro

Love it too, I can't wait till Star Fox 3D hits in July, it looks boss. I'm loving the subtle changes. Do you have a 3DS and are you planning to get the game?


  
  
  
  


Posted by Sarumarine
@Contro:
I don't have a 3DS at the moment. I am curious how Star Fox 64 3D will play on it though. Not to mention any extras or changes they'll pack in there. Right off the top of my head, I'm curious how they'll handle the voice acting. It seems like they would make a new script and get new people n' all that. But I can't even tell you the voice actors in the original Star Fox 64.
Online
Posted by Video_Game_King

Why is some of your text in tables for no real reason? It can be a bit distracting.

Posted by Sarumarine
@Video_Game_King said:
" Why is some of your text in tables for no real reason? It can be a bit distracting. "
That's a weird habit I'm trying to work myself out of. Someone posted a website awhile ago where you could simulate various resolutions on pages. People with high resolutions view pages where the text has a lot of screen to run on. Sometimes this bumps images to weird places. The table is a way of keeping the text paired with the image it's referring to.

But yeah, I've been called out on it before, so it doesn't seem like a big deal to most people. Sorry about that.
Online
Posted by Contro

The game plays easier as a direct result of the 3D, according to Konno-san (below). They haven't changed the main campaign gameplay, but they have added new content elsewhere by the sound of things (Miyamoto Iwata Asks), which they haven't detailed .The VA remains a mystery also..Nintendo will show more of the game at E3.



“I think the game that really illustrates that and drives that home is in Star Fox, which we’re working on as well,” he said. He was referring to the undated but forthcoming 3DS remake of Star Fox 64, one of the most popular flight combat games NIntendo has ever made. “You know, you have to fly through the rings [from time to time]. It is so much easier to understand where they are and how far it is before you have to get to them because it’s in 3D. You’re like, oh, it’s right there, I have to take this approach instead of seeing it here, I don’t know how much time I have… It’s much easier to develop your flight pattern.”