With state of the art visuals and gameplay, 1997's Star Fox 64 marked a high point for Nintendo series and the shoot'em up genre in general. 14 years later, can a scene-for-scene, shot-for-shot remake of the original - remastered with 3D visuals and new optional motion controls - repeat the trick?
For those who've never played it, Star Fox puts you in the shoes of Fox McCloud, the leader of a team of mercenaries on a mission to defeat Andross, an ingenious scientist driven to madness and now wreaking chaos across the entire galaxy. The game sees you controlling a number of vehicles, including Fox's standard craft, the Arwing, and an amphibious articulated one called the Landmaster.
Fly by rail
It's largely an on-rails shooter, meaning you're guided along fixed paths through environments, with the ability to manoeuvre and temporarily slow your movement to complete objectives. Other stages of the game, including multiple boss battles, allow you to move freely within a large arena to engage in combat.
Swooping, somersaulting and barrel rolling with the 3DS circle pad is comfortable, instinctive and satisfying, although the gyroscopic controls aren't quite as smooth. While tilting the system works well when making dramatic sweeps across the screen, performing more subtle movements is much tougher and waving the 3DS around reduces the 3D effect.
With improved visuals, Star Fox's varied environments from starry levels to molten and aquatic worlds look better than ever. Explosions are great, the water effects are fantastic and the 3D presentation is always solid, although in some areas the draw distance remains limited, meaning objects only pop up on screen when theye already quite close to you.
It isn't a long game in the traditional sense. With fast-paced, short-lived levels, it a title that perfectly suited to portable play, and with help from your wingmen Peppy, Slippy and Falco (all of whom, like Fox, are cuddly animals), you can blast your way through its seven short missions in just a couple of hours.
A fox, re-mastered
However, the real challenge comes in unlocking the dozen or so tougher planets you probably missed during your first play through. To do so you'll need to complete a variety of objectives, from keeping crew members alive to racking up high scores or flying through a series of rings. With plenty to unlock, plus a new Score Attack mode that lets you revisit any planet and aim for a new high score, Star Fox offers loads of replay value.
It may irk some that Nintendo is relying so heavily on its back catalogue of software when it comes to releasing games for its new handheld, but Star Fox 3DS is a stunning re-mastering of the original, a brilliant game for newcomers to the series and a great trip down memory lane for long-time fans. If all remakes were this good, we'd have no problem playing many more of them.
+ Accessible gameplay.
+ Loads of replay value.
+ A great remake of a brilliant game..
- Voice acting could be better.
- Motion controls can hamper 3D effect.
- Strictly speaking it not a new game.