Welcome to another edition of 2 Decades Late, where I review Super Nintendo games after playing them for the first time all these years later. Today, I have chosen a game that is a prequel of sorts for me. Let me explain. I adore Starfox 64. It’s one of my favorite N64 titles. So, I thought that naturally, Starfox on the SNES would have an automatic place in my heart as well. As it turns out, there is no such thing as an automatic place in my heart.
One of the things I was interested to see when I took on this project was if my love of retro games would make up for the aging of some of them. The problem here for me was that I did play Starfox 64 first, a game that took all of the things that this one did well and took them to a whole new level of awesome. A game like Starfox is better played with a thumbstick. In this case, the D-Pad just couldn’t give the feel of actually controlling a space fighter in the 3rd person rear view camera like games such as Gradius III could in the 2D side scrolling view. It was very difficult and clumsy to try and aim in 3rd person view. 1st person view was quite a bit better but it still seemed to be off ever so slightly.
The AI of your wingmen was just awful. They are constantly flying into your line of fire and then scolding you for shooting them. Well, Peppy, if I saw a guy walking down the street, wildly swinging his fists, I wouldn’t go walk in front of his arms, would I? When they aren’t doing that, they aren’t being of any help, either. Very rarely do you even realize they are there unless they are begging you for help because they were texting and flying and now have an enemy shooting air conditioning into their Arwing.
Before you go thinking that I just hated this game, I didn’t. It was fun, it just didn’t blow me out of my chair the way that Super Mario World did. The music and sound effects were very well done and I have been humming the soundtrack for about a solid week now. I am still trying to decide if I like the characters doing Animal Crossing speak or actual dialogue. Both have their place. It did make Slippy far less annoying to not actually have to hear him whining for help.
Visually, the game looks old and tired. It attempted to give a 3D feel before the hardware was ready to render a 3D feel. It reminds me of Sega’s “Virtua” games where the design was all blocky and poorly slapped together. A lot of times, it was hard to tell what you should be shooting and what you shouldn’t. Also, the way that the visuals were designed made each boss extremely easy to defeat because the weak spots were bright and blinky. Shoot those. Win.
It is hard to say everything I just said and still say that I liked this game, but I really did. It just felt more of like a beta for Starfox 64 than its own independent game. It is very fun to see where it all began for this franchise though and for the time it was released in, before the N64 was anything more than a glimmer in Miyamoto’s eye, this game was the balls. Sadly, to enjoy this one the way it was meant to be enjoyed, I am two decades late.