Star Fox 64 was a 1997 scrolling shooter game for the Nintendo 64 by Nintendo. This game brings back memories of the Sears electronics department at the mall. They always had playable games and consoles on display. Many times I’d hang out there playing games while my mom went off shopping for a couple hours. I’m not sure if parents would allow this now since kidnappings can happen, but my mom thought it was safe enough. There were a few employees around. Other stores had game displays like this, but they usually were more crowded. The Sears display was almost always empty. Most times I pretty much had all the games to myself.
Sears had kiosks for both PlayStation and Nintendo 64. I tried out the games on both consoles, but I liked the Nintendo games more. At the time Star Fox 64 was the game on the Nintendo 64. Over several separate gaming sessions, I was pretty much able to complete the whole game. Because of this, when I later got a Nintendo 64, I didn’t get Star Fox 64. I had already seen a lot of it. I wanted to play new games. The game went into the bargain bin eventually though, and I was able to pick it up cheap.
In Star Fox 64, the Lylat system was under attack by Andross, a mad scientist. It was up to Fox McCloud (the player character) and his Star Fox team to defeat Andross’s forces and save the Lylat system. The player piloted an Arwing spaceship to defeat both space, air, and ground targets. Most missions took place over land but a few took place in space. The game played kind of like a Star Wars game. The Arwing resembled the small starfighters in Star Wars, such as the X-Wing. To keep things fun, players got to pilot the Landmaster tank on some levels on the ground instead of the Arwing in the air.
Most levels started out in scrolling mode. The player could move the ship around to avoid obstacles or enemy weapons, but they couldn’t control the direction of the scrolling. The ship was always moving forward. Eventually, the Star Fox team would encounter a boss. The game then switched to all-range mode, with the player being able to move in any direction. The scrolling parts were pretty fun, but the boss fights were what kept me coming back to the game. It was really fun to slowly destroy parts of the boss until finally the whole machine went out in a huge explosion. It looked like a nuclear bomb it was so big.
The only bad thing about the game was the companions. It was nice to have them around just for some more story. They usually had interesting things to say. The problem was they were pretty useless in combat. A lot of times they would fly in front of Fox asking for help killing an enemy on their tail. While it gave a nice feeling of empowerment to save the companions, it felt like a chore after a while. Fox didn’t need any help. Why did they need help all the time? The companions didn’t really help destroy anything either. It was pretty much a one man army. I can’t criticize the game for this too much for this though. To this day, I haven’t play any other scrolling shooter games that have good companions. To do that would make the game too easy. The player could just sit back and watch the companions destroy everything.
Star Fox was pretty short but had some replay value. During the campaign, there were three paths to take. The top path was the hardest difficulty, the middle path was medium, and the bottom path was easiest. Each path had its own exclusive levels. If the player didn’t go down a certain path, they wouldn’t get to play those levels. Certain missions had alternate endings depending on how well the player did. If they did everything perfectly, they got to move up to a harder path. If they failed in some objective, they had to go down to an easier path. It was really fun playing each level again to see all the endings and also to see the levels I had missed before. Despite playing the game extensively at Sears, I still beat it many times at home. I would beat the game again every year, and it was always a lot of fun.