Saturday, September 04, 2010

A Look to the Past: Games of the Years 1997 - Star Fox 64


Star Fox 64 (Nintendo 64)

After the radness of '96, this year slowed down a little. At least... for me it did. Once again I have a Final Fantasy disclaimer: I've never played Final Fantasy VII. There, I said it. Now we can continue. Fallout premiered this year, as did GoldenEye 007, neither of which I have played. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and and Grand Theft Auto were also released, but I didn't play those either. Of course, Diablo and Grand Turismo were features in '97, but they're just out of my wheelhouse too. Okay, 1997 isn't my strong suit, but I still happily give Game of the Year to Star Fox 64. The heroic Fox McCloud and his loyal team of fellow mutant animals are the stars of this fantastic sci-fi shooter, and it's a wild ride, let me tell you. I have a number of complaints regarding the illogical Nintendo 64 controller, but I'll always remember it for Star Fox 64. Not only did the oddly-shaped controller look a bit like an Arwing, but firing at swarms of enemy ships with the bright blue A button and tapping Z repeatedly to do a barrel roll felt perfect. And who can forget the epic Rumble Pak, which simultaneously made the game feel more engaging and the controller feel like a cinder-block with handles. Even so, Star Fox 64 played extremely well and looked just as good. The intensity of huge space battles full of laser beams and explosions was exciting to experience, and was pretty darn awesome for the time too. Shiny reflections on the smooth surface of an ocean and a monstrous, insane lava monsters made an impression on me, and I still enjoy marveling at the game's visuals even now.

News flash: Slippy is OK. Just don't expect it to last.

The sound design was even more memorable than the graphics, however, as it boasted some classic, bombastic songs and a heaping serving of memorable voice acting. Koji Kondo once against delivered with an unforgettable score that highlighted the action scenes, set the mood for creepy encounters, and made everybody feel great when a successful mission came to a close. As for the voice acting... well, Star Fox 64 is quite literally the most quotable video game (or any form of media, for that matter) on earth. I could go on minute upon minute spouting the game's script, and the characters were made lovable because of the earnest performance by all the voice actors. It was goofy, no doubt, but that was the best part. All of these good memories put together made for an amazing game, and is an experience that the Star Fox series has failed to fully capture ever since. With the announcement of Star Fox 64 for the 3DS, it looks like we'll get to take another spin through Lylat; but when will a brand new Star Fox game finally arise? The resurrection of Donkey Kong, Kid Icarus, and other Nintendo icons is a good sign, but I won't be satisfied until the controller is in my hand and Peppy is yelling instructions that I already know.

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