Preview: Star Fox puts on its game face

July 6, 2011

Nintendo’s Star Fox 64 3D is, for all intents and purposes, a port. Unlike other efforts like Ocarina of Time 3D, there isn’t really that much of a visual and technological upgrade to the game. That’s okay, though, because the flight shooter genre absolutely shines in three dimensions.

That said, the company wouldn’t throw Star Fox on the system without a few extra flourishes, and it seems the company’s focus is the Download Play multiplayer mode.

In the mode, players dogfight each other, which we’ve seen in previous installments. What we haven’t seen is our opponent’s face, and that’s what we have here. SF643D puts the front-facing camera to use, streaming low-resolution images of players and putting them in small windows following them around the arena. Don’t expect full videoconferencing functionality, as when we say low-res, we mean it, and it tops out at about six frames a second. It’s nice to see reactions from people, though. Or, at least, the people who happen to hold the system at the ideal angle to be seen. And are also in the same room with you, since it doesn’t support online play. Hrm. At least it doesn’t make everyone have the game, we guess.

Besides that little bonus, the dogfighting is intact, and it’s rather fun. We took on three opponents, and while one dominated, the others got in good shots from time to time. Even with the faces, the connection is smooth, and everything’s set in a tried-and-true engine with reliable controls and cameras. Basically, if you loved the game on the N64, it’s a solid package.

Star Fox 64 3D releases in North America this September.