A long time ago in a galaxy far away, there existed a game which would shape my childhood for the rest of my life. That game was StarFox 64. As simple as it was, it came with its share of challenges that would ensure its playability for years to come. Nearly 25 years later, I still find myself reliving its moments of shooting enemy ships and getting feedback from my teammates in so many different interactions. The most important thing about StarFox 64 is how fun it is, even after all this time! For those who do not know (and why wouldn’t you), StarFox 64 is kind of a follow-up to the original StarFox that was on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), but that’s as simple as that gets. The plot, however, is that of an evil scientist named Andross who lays waste to the planet of Corneria, only to be exiled by General Pepper to the barren desert planet of Venom. Years later, the team known as Starfox, which involves James McCloud, Pigma Dengar, and Peppy Hare, are sent to investigate the goings-on in Venom. Upon arriving, Pigma betrays the team, and Andross captures James and Peppy, though Peppy is the only one who makes it out alive, as he goes home to tell James’ son, Fox about his father. Years pass, and Andross is trying to take over the Lylat System. General Pepper thus hires a new StarFox team with Fox taking over as leader, accompanied by Peppy, along with Falco Lombardi, and Slippy Toad to foil Andross’ plans and save the Lylat System. In case the names don’t spell it out for you, they also happen to be animals.
Judging by the synopsis, it is clear that I know this game left and right, front to back, as a lot of what I just explained is part of the opening narration, which could make for a great opener for a film adaptation, if one ever gets made. The whole of the game is basically you, as Fox, flying through different planets and shooting enemy ships while your teammates constantly interact with you. Though the way you explore through different planets depends on the choices that get made, whether it be a teammate’s ship needing repaired after being hit one too many times, or you find a different path, or maybe the offset chance that you mess up an objective. After many playthroughs, you start to get used to a certain path, which can be repetitive. Yet, on some planets, you are given a choice on whether you want to change course, or retry the same planet. The only takeaway is that, if you are a first time player, some plot elements don’t make sense when you get through certain planets. But you can always try for medals by shooting up the highest total amount of ships, if you can, which unlocks bonuses for later play.
Now that I got through the gist of the game, I want to talk about why StarFox 64 was a huge part of my childhood, and why I still enjoy playing it to this day. I have already talked about the fun of the gameplay and the interactions that stay with you. But there is something about the controls that make the flying of the Arwing smooth and the constant shooting fluid to the touch, compared to video games that feel stiff with their controls. Of course, you could say the same thing about any game on the Nintendo 64 (N64). What keeps me coming back for more is the dialogue, which I like to breathe in every time I play. The constant chatter from the teammates is entertaining, to say the least. I can quote this game off the top of my head, added to the voice acting; the wise words and advice from Peppy (“Do a barrel roll”), the snarkiness of Falco (“I guess you’re good for something”), and yes, even the whininess of Slippy (“Fox! Get this guy off me!”). Pure enjoyability! It’s no surprise that this game is the subject of memes!
The bosses that you fight along the way are intimidating, even challenging, especially on expert mode. To be honest, as much as I like challenging these villains every time, the words they say are annoyingly cliche, save for Andross’ robotic secret weapon on Sector X, or Star Wolf, who are just as entertaining, if not difficult to take down. Speaking of intimidating bosses, none can outwit the terror that is Andross. Once you reach him, he is a face that either tries to taunt or eat you, while he smacks you around with his gloves. No matter which ending you come across, you are in for a thrill ride. He terrified me as a kid only to make me tense up as an adult, solidified by the creepy music that accompanies the level.
Reflecting on StarFox 64 is such a great feeling. The love I have for this game is unmeasurable and will stay with me until the end of time. In case anyone was wondering, yes, I have played StarFox Adventures, and would like to revisit that one when I have the chance!