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Roundtable Discussion: Star Fox vs. Star Fox 64

by Nate Andrews, Danny Bivens, Pedro Hernandez, Josh Max, Zachary Miller, Neal Ronaghan, and Matt Walker - September 12, 2011, 5:02 am PDT
Total comments: 5

Two Star Fox games, only one can be considered the best.

While it is almost an universal agreement that the games post Star Fox 64 were mediocre to decent at best, there are constant discussions about which Star Fox game is the best title in the series: The FX chip enhanced Star Fox for the Super Nintendo or the Rumble Pak charged Star Fox 64. The 3DS remake of said title is available in stores now. The Nintendo World Report Staff sat down and expressed which game they thought was the best.

Pedro Hernandez, Staff Writer:

"This is a very easy choice for me: Star Fox 64. I have played the original Star Fox on the SNES and while it was a fine game on its own, I wasn't that captivated by it. When Star Fox 64 was announced, I couldn't have cared less about it. I was all about Super Mario 64 and Mario Kart 64. But then after reading all about it on Nintendo Power, then receiving the infamous Star Fox 64 promo video, I was excited. It looked a lot of fun. I borrowed a friend's copy alongside the Rumble Pak, and I was sold. I loved, loved, LOVED the cinematic presentation, the use of voices and the smooth as butter gameplay. That's when I figured out why I had loved Star Fox 64 when I was disenchanted a bit by Star Fox on the SNES.

To me, Star Fox was a very well made proof of concept game. It was all about getting the 3D graphics to work on the SNES. They did work, but the game was too choppy and slow for me. Star Fox 64, on the other hand, had the right technology to pull everything off. It moved very fast, and thanks to the N64 joystick, controlling the Arwing was a dream. Not only that, the advanced graphics helped defined the game world MUCH better. In the SNES games, all you got were gray polygons. They were impressive to see running on SNES hardware, but they didn't attract me towards the game world. Star Fox 64 gave us very creative, cool and even haunting levels that showed off the designer's imaginations in a fantastic manner. The voice acting, while now cheesy and silly, really did add a dynamic sense of adventure to it all. Hearing the characters comment on your moves was really awesome, and created some unforgettable lines (DO A BARREL ROLL!).

I can respect how Star Fox is beloved by many, but for me my heart, soul and money is on Star Fox 64 as being the absolute best in the series. Star Fox definitely got the train rolling, but Star Fox 64 polished it to a near perfect sheen, and I can't wait to play the 3D remake one of these days."

Neal Ronaghan, Director:

"I've always been a Star Fox SNES kind of guy, but my recent extended play time with Star Fox 64 3D is opening my eyes up to the greatness of the 64 version. I'd say this debate is more about which game is more awesome, since both games are undeniably great on their own.

The cinematic presentation of Star Fox 64 is nice, but the music in the SNES game is sublime. It's one of those games that I sometimes want to play just because of the music. And it's not just the music, it is the sound design, too. The patented "good luck" is delightful, and I adore the Animal Crossing-esque gibberish.

The rhythm and flow to the SNES version feels, in my opinion, more focused. I feel like the levels in that game are more puzzle-like in nature, despite being scrolling levels. If you know what you're doing, you can wipe out every enemy on a level skillfully. You can kind of do the same in Star Fox 64, but the grand scale seems to distract from the precision."

Matthew Walker, Japan Correspondent:

"I won the Star Fox Weekend contest at my local Toys R Us. Played the hell out of the first two levels practicing to get perfects on them for it. Still have the bomber jacket I won somewhere. Also bought one of the carts from Nintendo Power, which I also still have."

Nate Andrews, Previews Editor:

"Like I mentioned recently, my history with the series began with Star Fox 64, and I'd almost go as far as to say it ends there, too. I'll fully and graciously acknowledge the importance and precedence of the first game -- and the second game, while I'm at it. Seeing that level of visual fidelity occupy the same system space as a host of traditional 2D games still registers as kind of amazing to me, even if look was a little rough around the edges, so to speak.

But it's Star Fox 64 that I found first, and so it's Star Fox 64 I stand by. It caught me at a time when even the simplest of games could wow me with its images and concepts, so it should come as no surprise that Star Fox 64 nearly blew my young mind. The lighthearted stream of adventure and space operatics, along with the visual depth and overall scope, drew me in like few other games had or would. By the time I traced my way back through the roots of the series to the starting point, there was really no way it could've eclipsed my experiences with 64. I could see the influential, unrefined concepts that eventually grew into the game I loved, and how impressive they must've been originally. There was plenty of room for respect, but no possibility for genuine attachment."

Josh Max, Staff Writer:

"Actually, the first video game I ever owned was Star Fox 64. When my father bought a Nintendo 64, he also bought Star Fox 64 and Goldeneye. Needless to say I latched on to Star Fox 64 like a koala to a eucalyptus tree. I was honestly overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the game. My brother and I beat the game so many time that we got to a point where we just wanted to see how many different ways there are to get to Venom.

I had played Star Fox on the SNES before, but nothing will compare to the first time when I played Star Fox 64. I realize this may make me slightly biased, but I don't care. The game made me laugh, feel awesome and scream all at the same time. And hell, I still quote Star Wolf off handedly sometimes. Why? Because "I can't let you do that, Star Fox," still sounds bad ass as hell, even after 14 years."

Zachary Miller, Features Editor:

"I love Star Fox on the SNES. It's really the best Star Fox game, bar none. I got hooked on it as a lad in Providence Hospital, back when they had a portable gaming tower. One of the games was Star Fox, and I played the EFF out of that game. Were there bad things about the game? Sure, the pop-up was pretty terrible, but it was so colorful, and the music is amazing. My favorite part, though, has to be the character noises when your wingmen talk, and the super-bass "Good luck" when you start a mission.

I never beat the game, just got to Venom and I don't remember why I wasn't able to beat it. I probably just left the hospital. I still look for the game used in comic shops, but it's actually kind of hard to find. Star Fox 64 is great and all, but in some ways it doesn't look as sharp, the music isn't as memorable, and I just don't have the attachment to it that I do for Star Fox SNES.

Do-do-dum-davin."

Danny Bivens, Japan Correspondent:

"Even though I never owned either game until recently, I borrowed the original Star Fox and Star Fox 64 from my friends more than enough times to become extremely familiar with each game. Both are excellent games and are some of the best titles on their respective hardware. For me, Star Fox on the SNES has always been something special. For a Super Nintendo game, it looked amazing and was unlike anything I had ever seen before. The levels were fun and challenging, the garbled speech had a lot of charm, and the game design as a whole was top notch. The soundtrack, however, was undoubtedly the best part of the game, pumping out some of the most memorable tunes on the SNES.

Star Fox 64 is definitely the more functional game of the two, featuring a better control set up, a more cinematic experience and a smoother frame rate. However, the charm, levels, and music in the original game are something that I will always cherish. Both are great games, but the SNES version is the clear cut winner for me."

And there you have it, folks. Both games are equally loved, and both games stand as both the best games for their respective consoles and perfect examples of innovation in game design. Now, tell us, which game do you like the best? Do you like Star Fox's garbled speech noises and simple graphics or Star Fox 64's more ambitious aesthetic and meme-worthy dialogue?

Talkback

AlexofxenSeptember 12, 2011

Star Fox 64 all the way for me.  I was a kid when it came out and although I grew up with my SNES I was at my peak of adolescence for the N64 era.  I absolutely loved the graphics, the voice acting, and even the somewhat gimicky Rumble feature was awesome!  However, I remember feeling just about the same way for the SNES version when I rented it from Blockbuster.  I think the biggest difference was that I, for some reason, really sucked at the SNES one.  However, years later I discovered the ROM for the unrealased Star Fox 2 (transformable arwings?  Character Select?  Open-World-ish gameplay?  Sign me up) and, at the risk of sounding to indie it hurts, I think I had found my new favorite.  I'm just waiting for the modern graphic re-make of that game and I'll have my perfect Star Fox game (Star Fox 64 3D 2 anyone?).

UltimatePartyBearSeptember 14, 2011

I played both a lot, but I have to say I liked 64 more.  Eventually.  When I first got it, there was a lot about it I hated.  The music wasn't merely not as good as the original's; it actively sucked.  The "brass" sounds made me want to stab out my ear drums.  I hated the stupid looking beach ball explosions.  I especially hated how the Attack Carrier's stupid beach ball appeared ABOVE it!  It just made me mad every time I saw it.  It wasn't until a year or more later that I was able to "forgive" the game for those faults.  That happens a lot with me.  I'll hate something in a game until the game is old enough in my estimation for me to excuse the things I don't like as quaint reminders of our less advanced technological past.

Anyway, I came back to the game later and concentrated on the balls to the wall action, and indeed I found therein some of the most exhilarating action ever to join wall to ball.  I managed to get every medal except the Sector Z expert mode one (I had to get there via warp to avoid the hit-stealing "help" of other characters, and just couldn't be bothered in the end).

On the other hand, as much as I liked the original, I never really was able to master it.  Specifically, I couldn't beat the boss at the end of the Venom space level on the hard route.  I flew past it over and over again, easily avoiding its shots, but I could never find a way to hurt it.  It showed me no glowing weak spots in which I could insert my massive damage causing laser beams.

Still, the original wins over the sequel for music if nothing else.  There are only a couple of music tracks in 64 that I can stand, let alone enjoy.  I like Zoness and Area 6, but I can only listen for a short time before the awful instrument sounds drive me away.  Most of the rest don't appeal to me even setting aside my pathological hatred for that brass sample.  I really hate the main theme in particular, and it gets played every, freaking, level.  In the original, on the other hand, darn near every track is excellent.  The instruments sound fine to me, too.  They're lo fi in a chip tune kind of way instead of a "someone make the pain stop" kind of way.  Maybe there's an uncanny valley effect in sound design.  I dunno.  The original has blood pumping rock action and space opera epicness and techno-ish stuff and a fantastically trippy "When the Saints Go Marching In."  I love it.

The question is which is the better game, though, and I simply got more game out of 64.

Wow, I kind of rambled there.  Sorry.

Ian SaneSeptember 14, 2011

One thing I really notice when playing the original Star Fox is that it feels weird to control a 3D game with a d-pad.  The game just feels awkward without an analog stick.  Star Fox 64 just irons out Star Fox's wrinkles.  Unlike movie series, videogame series often peak after a couple of sequels.  It's normal for the initial sequels to be better than the original due to gameplay refinement (and back in those days, hardware advancements).  Star Fox 64 is just superior.

I do think Star Fox has better music.  It's just catchier stuff and the SNES sound chip blows the shit out of ANY N64 game.  I do prefer the muppet appearance the characters have in the SNES game's manual to the blocky appearance of the N64 characters.  Both games look very dated but there are some sprites in the SNES game and SNES era sprites typically age well.  Often when something is left to the imagination of the audience it ends up wilder in their minds.  Star Fox has non-textured polygons and blather speech.  You, the player, fill in the blanks yourself.  Star Fox 64 fills in the blanks for me and, frankly, it's a whole lot lamer than what I imagined as a kid.  Slippy's voice for example is just outright shit casting.  Did any kid think that he sounded like a little girl when playing the original game?  His "rib-ribbit-ribbit" voice isn't even that high in the SNES game.

Nintendo is not cool, like at all.  The more they develop their characters, the lamer the characters become.  Mario and Yoshi became sissies once they were given a voice.  Samus became a hysterical ninny in Other M.  Zelda's story has become nonsensical as Nintendo has put more effort into it.  And let's not forget the DK Rap!  Nintendo's characters benefit from technological limitations.  The less details the can provide us, the more they leave to the imagination and we pretty much always come up with better personalities and details about these characters than Nintendo ever does.

So I like how Star Fox leaves a lot to the imagination.  Slippy became a wuss once they gave him a real voice and the whole series became lame once they introduced a love interest for Fox.  Star Fox is just animals in vaguely defined spaceships talking on a giant expressionless face.  That's a good blank slate to come up with something awesome.  As a kid you could let your mind wander and it was way more exciting than anything Nintendo was going to come up with later.

I'll grant you that Nintendo's not generally that good at developing characters, but putting Star Fox 64 in the same category as Other M isn't fair to Star Fox. If there were ever an example of an element of a game being awesome specifically because of how terrible it is, it's Star Fox 64's dialogue and (especially) voice acting. The atrocious acting makes a great game even better, whereas in Other M it just drags it down

Ian SaneSeptember 15, 2011

Quote from: NWR_insanolord

I'll grant you that Nintendo's not generally that good at developing characters, but putting Star Fox 64 in the same category as Other M isn't fair to Star Fox. If there were ever an example of an element of a game being awesome specifically because of how terrible it is, it's Star Fox 64's dialogue and (especially) voice acting. The atrocious acting makes a great game even better, whereas in Other M it just drags it down

I certainly didn't mean to imply Star Fox 64 is Other M bad.  It's not even close.

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