Soapbox articles give our team a chance to share some personal perspectives; today it's the turn of Tom Whitehead to talk about the 64-bit game that sparked his love affair with Nintendo...
I'm old enough to say my first gaming system was a ZX Spectrum, which is a big yikes. We had a BBC Computer for a time too. If those references are too obscure and British, I'll say that my first mainstream console ended up being the SEGA Mega Drive when I was about 7 years old. So yes, I'm pretty much middle-aged now — it's not fun writing those words.
I've also dedicated a significant chunk of my working life to writing about Nintendo, so it may be surprising to some when I say the first Nintendo game at home that I owned (well, it was my brother's but he lived there too), was Star Fox 64; essentially, my first Nintendo game.
In fact, the Nintendo 64 was our first Nintendo system — I'm old enough that I could have theoretically had a NES, SNES and Game Boy, but didn't. I'd seen a SNES at a cousin's house and been impressed by Super Punch-Out!!, but I was a SEGA / PC kid in those days.
I'm not sure why he wanted it so badly, possibly it was the mindblowing 3D graphics it offered, but my older brother spent a hefty chunk of his first ever paycheque on a Nintendo 64 / Lylat Wars bundle. Games like GoldenEye 007, Super Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time all followed in quick order (presumably after subsequent paycheques), and I played them all in wide-eyed wonder. But Star Fox 64 was my introduction to Nintendo, and what an introduction.
Growing up I was a Star Wars fanatic; I watched the original films over-and-over again, we had those rad X-Wing / Tie Fighter games on PC, and I read Timothy Zahn's brilliant 'Thrawn Trilogy' books cover to cover. While Star Fox 64 has a crew of anthropomorphic animals, it also has Star Wars written all over it. From the set pieces to the ending where you fly out of a tunnel as a base explodes, right through to the medal ceremony, it's Star Wars fan fiction in a colourful, furry (well, polygonal) form.
Also remember that the leap from 16-bit gaming and mid-'90s PC to Star Fox 64 was eye-popping back then. The visuals, the smooth movement with that analogue stick — it was gaming perfection. As a kid that also grew up obsessed with arcades, it felt like having a tiny cabinet at home without the pesky requirement of begging my parents for change. It was a real 'wow' moment.
Everyone remembers firsts, and those moments nudge their way into the corners of our mind where they snuggle in for the rest of our lives, giving a warm glow when we need it the most. In gaming terms, Star Fox 64 does that for me. I bought and played the 3DS remake over and over again, I played the heck out of Star Fox Zero as it was the closest thing we've had since. I bought Starlink with the Arwing figurine, because I had to. And yes, it was the first game I tried then the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack went live.
I was drawn to it recently with the My Nintendo N64 poster set in Europe, too, with the Star Fox 64 poster being the only one I care about putting on my wall. I see the logo, the game, or hear its music, and that's enough to take me back to one of my favourite times in gaming.
A lot of people talk about Pokémon, Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda or Metroid as their original and greatest Nintendo memories. That's wonderful, but for me it'll always be the underappreciated and seemingly dormant Star Fox. It's pure distilled arcadey Star Wars-inspired fun — Star Fox 64 will always be a special game and franchise for me.
And yes, I had a feeling of deja vu writing this — I previously gushed about this game when describing my obsession with the 3DS version. Time flies. The game deserves it, though. Let us know below what you thought when you first skimmed over the sea with your Arwing crew and rumbled into Corneria.
Star Fox and Star Fox 64 are some of my favourite games honestly. The high-intensity shoot up action coupled with some brilliant voice acting made me fall in love with the series as well.
Now if only we could get a Switch entry that isn't the definition of eh...
Good memories! I started off on the good old rubber-keyed Speccy too and first played Starfox there! (I refuse to say I’m middle aged though…)
My mate got a super nes when they came out and eventually I got to play this version of Star Fox! I thought it was kinda cool and then forgot about it.
Until the Switch and NSO! Been playing it there and the elusive SF2; great fun and I totally see the Star Wars-esqueness.
Happy times! I’d definitely buy a new switch Star Fox, especially if they made it a bit like Wing Commander, with branching story plots mixed in with the shooting
Starfox 64/Lylat Wars is still the best entry in the series. I’ve played though it hundreds of times and it’s still enjoyable
Most of the UK grew up with 8 bit computers and Megadrives. Honestly, I'm so happy Nintendo are finding success here.
What a wonderful read! Star Fox was a game Nintendo hit a home run on the first few iterations, and then kept trying to replicate the magic even when it disappeared. Sadly I don't see it as a series that they are going to revisit in the near future.
Always dreamed of a Star Fox game where you visited different planets, and could land on the surface and explore on foot, with the epic space battles as well.
@johnvboy So, a scaled up Star Fox: Dinosaur Planet? A Highly underarter game that begs for a sequel with a modern engine.
I remember going into Electronic Boutique and picking up my copy of this game and the rumble pack. Excellent game and in real need of a new game on the Switch! Come on Nintendo!!
Hard to believe the game turns 25 in just a few months. It epitomized the phrase "short but sweet." An all time classic.
It's funny, the reason I even wanted this game initially as a child was because it came with the rumble pack. It literally collected dust on my shelf for like a month until I went to a friend of mine's house for a playdate and saw him playing it, thinking "Why haven't I played this yet it looks awesome!" I was a stupid child. But at least I wasn't stupid for long.
My first experience of Star Fox 64 was my mate bringing it round to my house, I took to it instantly as I loved the first two Panzer Dragoon games. Only played it a few times but loved it. I’m also part of that small group that loved Star Fox Zero. Some intense battles in that game…
Star Fox 64 is one of the best games ever made, it has PERFECT GAMEPLAY. Nothing seems loose, and there's nothing to add. Now that I have it on my Switch, I'm trying to get all the medals. But I've downloaded the game as well on my Wii and Wii U. there's just no way of getting bored with Star Fox 64. I also played SF Zero a lot, the next closer game to SF64. I'd love a new Star Fox, but with the open world concept of SF2, where you choose the level where you want to go, and sometimes you have to come back to the Great Fox and protect it.
Too obscure and British.. yes hahaha, i remember playing the crap outta star fox and earning the secret levels and endings.. my first experience with Nintendo was probably nes playing the original Mario but my first system was a snes with super mario world I was 5 and could barely play it haha, my dad would play it instead (note we hated slippy, and didnt care when he got shot down or we shot him down on purpose)
@moodycat My intro to Star Fox is Assault. Personally, Assault is my favorite entry in the series. Yeah, some of the ground-based portions have some hiccups, and the campaign may seem a little short (but really, it's longer than any route in 64), but overall it's a solid game.
The fact that there is a variety of weapons, vehicles, and gameplay, plus a threat other than Andross for once (seriously, Nintendo overuses their villains), plus a rather in-depth multiplayer mode, makes it much more fun to play.
I also love Adventures, even though it doesn't play much like a traditional Star Fox game. That it was a full-on adventure with a story instead of just a shmup trying to rack up the score as high as possible is a plus.
Command is probably my least favorite though, despite being closest to a traditional Star Fox game than it's predecessors. I had no problem with the stylus controls, but the time limit, the map screen, the turn-based gameplay, plus the fact that you had to protect the Great Fox II at all times, really ruined the experience for me.
It didn't help that there were multiple endings, most of them sad ones. As it is, the first ending you are able to unlock (and therefore the one that some people regard as being canon) is the one where Krystal rekindles her relationship with Fox and rejoins Star Fox, only to leave them a few months later to rejoin Star Wolf and Panther.
Krystal is my favorite video game character of all time (no joke, a fanmade model of her in Autodesk Maya by the immensely talented CakeInferno--formerly GreyFireFox--is my wallpaper across all my devices). And I want to see her be happy with Fox, so to see that broke my heart in ways you couldn't even begin to imagine.
Love this and related to every sentence!
Also, I’ve always found the training mode in Starfox 64 to be incredibly soothing. I played it over and over, long after I’d mastered the game’s mechanics.
Star Fox 64 may well be my fav N64 game and is absolutely in my top 10 all time for me. It's just so endlessly replayable. I've so many memories of it during the summer it released. Trying to get every medal, see every route and all the other details you could miss made it super addicting.
All these years later on Switch Online I'm doing it again, and it still RULES. I'm not quite as good as I was, but I'm getting there.
I'm a similar age to you. I will never forget playing Lylat Wars for the first time... and completing it on the day I got it. Chucked it to oneside, and was like, now I have the rumble pak to help me find those pesky Skulltulas. I did enjoy it though, however brief the experience was.
I have Star Fox Zero and Star Fox Guard, but I almost never touch Zero for confusing gameplay with Gamepad. Guard was easier but I wasn't ready yet to continue the game.
Oh, I also have Star Fox Adventures on Gamecube. The game need 100% guide from Youtube as I couldn't play the game without knowing what and where should I do.
@ThomasWhitehead Admiral Thrawn I wish they’d have run that with that trilogy after the fall of the Empire.
Still have my 64 and a mint complete copy of Lylat Wars.
Actually I have mint copies of the entire Pal library, all complete.
I also have 3 complete N64 consoles and at least 8 controllers.
Yes I love the N64.
No one's going to post articles on the other Star Fox games... okay then. It's going too be nothing but endless praise for 64 forever.
I picked up star link because of the Star Fox addition oh and it was £3. The Star Fox mission is ok but overall the game is a monotonous bore.
If only Nintendo could take a few things from it and run with a space based game with online dog fights and other cool missions. It would be a 1m winner
Would be great to have the 60fps Gamecube and Wii U Starfox games on Switch! Or even better, a new Starfox game.
A very basic idea of it, to be honest forgot about assault, I was thinking large open world planets.
Star Fox assault looked pretty good, much better than Star Fox Zero, love Platinum games art style in their own games, but it looked out of place in Star Fox.
I had Starwing on the SNES and liked it. But I remember being blown away by the jump from that to Lylat Wars. Really sold the N64 to me. And I remember enjoying more than Mario 64 that Xmas I got the console.
I guess similarly Rogue Leader sold the Gamecube being a huge jump from Rogue Squadron. I miss that style of game.
Assault will always be my favorite. It had so much potential.
Star Fox 64 multiplayer brings back so many memories! It was amazing seeing it on the 3DS when it came out.
I must agree. Star Fox 64 was one of those seminal moments to me. I was counting down to "Star Fox Day" each day at the office, then frothed over the counter as I paid for it, frothed on the controller, frothed on the rumble pack, frothed on the TV, there was froth everywhere. The 3DS is my fifth most placed game at 58 hours, after Pokemon Shuffle at 1400 hours (not a typo!), Mii Plaza at 217:37 hours, Animal Crossing New Leaf at 217:27 hours (10 minutes less than Mii Plaza!) and Mario Kart 7 at 182 hours. That the 3DS version had a score attack mode, where you could play any level any time to earn medals, added so much longevity. I love the Katina level (Independence Day homage) so much.
Starfox absolutely killed me with its cool factor, and SF64 absolutely blew my socks off. From "Scramble... Scramble..." to the final battle with Andross, I still don't think Nintendo truly grasps the killer IP they hold. Hopefully the confidence will come again to further this series without fear of Miyamoto's wrath so it can truly become the series we all wish it to be. Just my opinion, but even though Starfox Adventures and Assault were very devisive, I applaud them for "trying" to move the series forward. Starlink gave me great a sample of what I think this series could become.
One of the top five greatest games of all time. The cinematic feel. The banter between the Star Fox team and the supporting cast. The graphics which have aged so improbably well. The soundtrack, which is among Koji Kondo's best work. The multiple routes and the way that no two playthroughs are ever the same. The simplicity of the gameplay combined with a learning curve that extends well beyond beating Andross. The fact that I still play a game I played to death as a kid and still find new techniques to rack up those hits.
An almost perfect game.
@eleven yhea it is, and it's awesome!
Also, I believe Starlink is exactly that too. (At least reading the reviews. )
I still think the voice acting added a lot.
"Andros has ordered us to take you down"
"See if I ever help you again."
Those are some of my favorites, apart from the real classics like Can't let you do that, star fox! ❤️😂
I'm still hopeful that Star Fox Zero will be ported across from the Wii U with an improved control-scheme, but I'd obviously be more than happy with an all new entry in the series...!
I'd love to see a game that took the best bits of Metroid Dread and fused it with the best bits of Lylat Wars/Zero. It still baffles me that Metroid has never explored a ship flying aspect of the game, even if it's just a mechanic to link levels/planets (in its simplest form I'm thinking Earthworm Jim or going back a bit Nebulus).
Great feature, Star Fox is just great. Lylat Wars was my first, but Assault is my favourite. All good games though in their own ways. Hopefully we'll see a new game on Switch seeing as it's apparently still midway through its life
@johnvboy Assault wasn’t an easy one to track down so I never got to play it sadly. I do wonder what a revamped Star Fox Zero would be like on the Switch, it wouldn’t have to render to two screens and they could get some nice gyro aiming on the go…but I can’t see Star Fox returning now.
Mylar Wars had an awesome scoring system that led to those all important gold medals which prolonged the game considerably. The alternative routes for each level to keep you on the hard track were also ahead of its time.
You never know, Nintendo have brought Metroid back despite it's rather low sales.
@johnvboy very true, especially after the poor sales of Federation Force…
SF64 was the pinnacle of Starfox gameplay. ASSAULT was meh, it improved little over 64.
The one from Rare, ugh. Nice graphics, though.
I enjoyed Command. Didn't play Zero.
And SF64 3D is perfection of an already perfect game.
And I love the original StarFox (SNES) because of its arcadiness, and it's sheer difficulty.
We need a prequel with James McCloud, the Andross and Pigma treason, and James' sacrifice to save Peppy and let him escape. And we need less Reboots of the original StarFox story.
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