I have a confession to make: I've never played "Star Fox 64."
My first experience with the furry space fighter was the GameCube's "Star Fox Adventures," which probably explains why I've never been a fan of the series as a whole.
At some point in my game-ridden childhood, I know I watched parts of SF64, and I'm pretty sure that I at one point or another tried multiplayer at a friend's house, but I never owned it, never beat it, and never played through the single player.
So, my take on "Star Fox 64 3D," the Nintendo 3DS remake of the original Nintendo 64 classic is that of someone new to the game, not someone watching it through the ever complex glasses of nostalgia.
My initial impression: Flying through space in 3D is freaking sa-weet, and this is Fox McCloud at his adrenaline pumping, Arwing flying, Andross killing best. The game has been upgraded ala "Zelda OOT 3D," with shiny new textures and environments that are as impressive as they are varied. Space rocks fly out of the screen at you, lasers fly by your face, explosions pop, water textures are stunning, and the whole game has that depth that really shows off how good games can look in 3D.
The single player has two modes: 3DS and N64. Both take you on one of several branching paths to save the galaxy, with secret warps and level exits(as well as medals, high scores, and overall awesomeness) bringing you back for more. Even the first time through it probably won't take more than a few hours, but before too long you'll find yourself spending hours upon hours searching for everything that the game has to offer. It's arcade shooting space flying fun, and it rocks.
The game also has two distinct control schemes: button based, and motion controls via the 3DS's built in gyroscope. I'm actually a huge fan of gyroscope controls when they are implemented well. Aiming in "Zelda OOT 3DS" was made lickity-split easy with the good ol' gyro, so I was hoping for the same fluidness here. However, piloting takes a little getting used to and Nintendo added a 3DS mode to make up for the lack of precision tuning. Irony of ironies, the 3D has to be off pretty much, but it does give some interesting control options.
When I reverted back to the traditional controls I found I missed using motion for the up and down-so a combo scheme might be the best to go with. I found that if I used the gyro to control movement on the vertical axis and used the circle pad for precision aiming along the horizontal I had the best of both worlds, and it allowed me to keep the 3D turned up, for the most part.
The single player is a blast, but I can't help but feel Nintendo cashed in the remake card a little too early here. Looking at the multiplayer side of things, the lack of online multiplayer, or even multi-cart multiplayer, is a giant gaping black hole in an otherwise amazing package. Up to four players can battle it out over local wi-fi using only one game cart, which is cool, but there are no extra options if several people own the game. Nintendo did include a little window that shows each players' face above their ship, but when you are bound but local wireless, chances are you will be close enough to see their face anyways.
Add to the fact, that I do think that the value of a game has changed, and Nintendo can't pass off a Nintendo 64 game with no added content. They really missed an opportunity to show off the 3DS's online functionality, sadly.
But, at the end of the day, it's SF64 at its dog (wolf?) fighting and space exploring best. The gameplay and sense of adventure still hold up after all these years(still one of Nintendo's only games with full voice acting, if you can believe it) and now I finally can understand the reverence that was placed on "Star Fox 64." It's one hell of a game and just pure stripped away fun at its core. Just don't expect much new, and you'll enjoy it all over again, or for the first time like I did.
And for the love of everything holy, don't forget to do a barrel roll.