Saturday, September 18, 2010

Game On: Let's Play 1.03: Starfox 64

Game: Starfox 64
System: Nintendo 64
Developer: Nintendo EAD
Publisher: Nintendo
Player: Devin Arnold

Game Overview:

Starfox was a series created originally to demonstrate Nintendo's special 3D graphics chip for the Super Nintendo. Developed with Argonaut Games, it earned much respect and acclaim at the time. However, we are not here to talk about that game. We want to talk about its sequel, or rather, its remake.

Starfox 64 is the third game developed in the Starfox franchise, but it is the second to be released. The second title, Starfox 2, was in development by Argonaut Games for the SNES. It's focus was less linear and more open-ended, forcing players to make both swift decisions on the battlefield and strategic, long-term actions in order to protect Corneria from oncoming attackers from Venom. While the game was content complete, Nintendo chose to cancel its release as the Nintendo 64 neared release. Ultimately, the N64 was delayed, which meant that Starfox 2 could have been released without a problem at the time, but it was too late.

Starfox 64 is the first in-house developed title in the series and is, to date, the only one. Rather than act as a sequel, the game is a full remake of the original. Whereas the original game asks for a decision on one of three pathways, Starfox 64's pathways are determined by player actions in each specific stage. This allows players to lead their own path through the game, ultimately leading to one of two potential final boss fights. The game also adds new characters and additional crafts, including the Blue Marine, a submarine, and the Landmaster, a tank. Furthermore, rather than forcing players to constantly move forward with each level, the developers added a number of "free-range" levels, in which players have to fly around and engage in dog fights in order to succeed. The game also had a small multiplayer mode which allows players and their friends to fight each other in dog fights in select locations in the game.

Starfox 64 introduced the Rumble Pak for the N64 controller, which probably helped its sales upon its release. The game is still lauded as the pinnacle of the franchise, and its sales demonstrated that, at least in the US.

Since then...

Since Starfox 64's release, the series has moved onward onto other consoles with varied levels of success. Starfox Adventures from Rare was given mixed reviews but ultimately sold well, even though it was not really a Starfox game, traditionally. Starfox Assault for Gamecube was developed by Namco, and while it returned to a more traditional game method, the game was linear and contained too many free-range levels for comfort. Starfox Command for the DS, developed by the original designer of Starfox (Dylan Cuthbert, Q-Games), was essentially a reworking of Starfox 2 with branching plotlines, provided you beat the game already. While more successful than Assault, Command did not earn the higher sales-level of 64 and Adventures. Without a Wii release and being a mostly outsourced franchise, the series looks pretty bleak in the future.

Recently, Starfox 64 has been released on the Wii's Virtual Console, sans rumble support, and more importantly, a remake of Starfox 64, entitled Starfox 64 3D, is slated for the Nintendo 3DS. Playable at E3 2010, it looks to be very close to completion.

The Let's Play:

Our player selected for Starfox 64 is Devin Arnold. He had contacted us about doing a playthrough of Starfox 64, one of the few games he's played. While he had not touched the game in years, he said he was fairly good at the game before and was willing to give it a shot in front of the camera.

Devin went so far as to give three goals to himself:

1) Beat the game's Hard ending.
2) Beat the game without losing a teammate.
3) Beat the game without dying, himself.

Whether he does or not requires your eyes...or you can read below.


This Let's Play was the first we filmed without Chack being the player, but he was there for "moral support." The two seemed to work fairly well, together, and Devin's subtle commentary was a delight upon rewatching the playthrough.

Throughout the show, we sat waiting for a pizza delivery which seemed to drag on terribly, and this is made quite evident in our discussions. By the end of the game, we get our Pizza and ultimately fill our stomach while enduring a couple good laughs.

Unfortunately, Devin's actual playthrough was not as superb as he boasted. By failing to get a high-enough hit count in Sector Y, the lost the chance to fight the real Andross, although he stated that you could still encounter the hard Venom pathway by getting back through Macbeth, which he also failed to complete correctly. He failed to keep Falco alive in Solar, and with that goal unattained, he took care of Slippy. As for death, he almost faced it, but he persevered.

At the very least, Devin's playthrough of Starfox 64 was a fun romp, despite his failure to complete 2 of his 3 personal goals. T'was much fun and pizza to be had.

Perhaps the only editing issue I had that was significant was that I made the game's audio a little too loud, something I have improved with over time.

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