It doesn't look like we'll get an entirely new Star Fox game anytime soon, but a remake of the Nintendo 64 classic works just as well. Similar to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Star Fox 64 3D has undergone a graphical makeover and looks great on the new 3DS system, regardless of whether or not you play it in 3D. The slider adds depth to your environments while you're doing barrel rolls and summersaults, but depending on which control scheme you prefer to use, it can be tricky to stay in that sweet spot while piloting your arwing using the gyroscope. Many of the voice actors have returned to rerecord their lines, and the single-player campaign remains largely the same--with the exception that you can now save more frequently and play Score Attack mode on any level--but most of the new features have been added to the multiplayer.
You can choose from four maps: Macbeth, Corneria, Venom, and Meteo. Each map offers various obstacles to weave around and a different landscape. What's great is that up to four people can play locally with only one game cartridge. Eight new power-ups have been added to the game--although you can play on Classic mode if you don't want to use any--and having that random element makes the matches more exciting. You have traditional modes, such as Survival, Score Attack, and Time Attack, which are all self-explanatory. Like Mario Kart, you'll find question marks throughout the arena, which you can fly through to snag a random item. There are stealth mines, homing missiles to fire at your enemies, as well as items to help you, such as a force field or cloak. Items like a transposer swaps you with another player, and a firebird turns you into a flaming beacon of death that can take out any ship by dive-bombing into it.
There's an auto-targeting reticle that will try to stick to players, but you won't really lock on unless you hold the A button down and fire a missile. It's still not a guaranteed hit because other players can easily dodge out of the way. If you're lost, a minimap is always on display to tell you where the others are at, but the touch screen shows all four players (including their faces because the front-facing camera is turned on) so you can tap someone's face and the camera will swing in his or her direction.
As we mentioned in our previous coverage, you can use the gyroscope to pilot your arwing or use the traditional control scheme with the analog stick. The gyro controls are a bit sensitive, and having to move your head as you tilt the portable is less than ideal. You're not forced to use the motion controls the whole time because you can use the analog stick at any time or turn the motion controls off.
Star Fox 64 3D doesn't support any StreetPass feature. While there may not be any reason to include it in a game like Star Fox, StreetPass has been an entertaining feature of the 3DS and it's unfortunate that it has been unused.
During our demo, the original Nintendo 64 version of Star Fox was running on a nearby screen so that we could easily compare the visuals. The original game actually held up pretty well, but the glossy new look of the 3DS version certainly was more appealing. We began in Corneria to get warmed up and then hopped into the Blue Marine to explore the underwater level of Aquas before ending our demo in the wastelands of Zoness--just to see how the graphics have been improved. Visually, the water levels stand out the most with the new lighting effects, but you'll appreciate the details that have been added as soon as you take to the air.
Star Fox 64 3D is another great addition to the rather slim 3DS library, and we're eager to fly with the rest of the gang when the game comes out on September 9.