With Star Fox 64 3D, Nintendo teaches George Lucas a lesson in how to update a classic space opera, writes Jm
As George Lucas suffers the slings and arrows of outraged fanboys for his needless tinkering with the Blu-Ray editions of the Star Wars films, another space opera arrives in remastered form. This time, however, the changes – courtesy of Q-Games, previously responsible for DS spin-offStar Fox Command - are much more welcome.
True, the idea behind this remake isn’t a million miles away from Lucas’s, today’s technology allowing its creator to produce something closer to the original vision. Though rather than scene-ruining dialogue additions and bizarre sound effect tweaks, we only get improvements - albeit chiefly of the visual variety.
It’s hardly a complaint. That the mechanics haven’t seen any major adjustments might seem like a missed opportunity, but then Star Fox 64never had much wrong in that department. Indeed, its branching story structure was groundbreaking at the time; every other game these days has a multi-stranded narrative, but there’s still a thrill in discovering the secret objective on each stage that sets you on an entirely different path through the galaxy.
There are 15 worlds to discover in total, of which you’ll see fewer than half on a single playthrough. That may only take around an hour, but most will want to instantly jump back in to take an alternative route. Each journey begins with the Arwing of hero Fox McCloud swooping across the surface of the verdant Corneria and ends with a fight against Fox’s sinister simian nemesis Andross, but in between you might blast your way through an asteroid field, speed over undulating lava seas and head beneath the surface of a polluted ocean with torpedo fire illuminating the gloom.
Nostalgia might convince players it always looked like this, but the visual overhaul breathes new life into the original’s rather basic environments, with improved lighting and more detailed ship and enemy models. The geometry at times remains simplistic, but the hectic pace rarely gives you time to scrutinise any weaknesses. The poisonous Zoness is an undoubted highlight, with the Arwing’s green laser fire casting a sickly glow on the toxic waters, while the rumbling boulders on Macbeth are one of the few show-offish 3D moments. The effect is subtler elsewhere, though the extra depth is undeniably helpful when the action gets really busy.