Lylat Wars (better known as Star Fox 64 – thanks for making this complicated, Nintendo of Europe) was released on the Nintendo 64 around about this point 19 years ago to much celebration and critical acclaim. It’s gone done in gaming history for a mixture of great gameplay and some unusual gameplay features, which we’re going to discuss today.
It’s a damn good game and recently got a release on the Wii U. The series itself, Star Fox, is somewhat neglected by Nintendo. There hasn’t really been a proper release from the gaming giant in 20 years, although this is about to change with the release of Star Fox Zero on the Wii U tomorrow. Whoo!
Lylat Wars (Star Fox 64)
It’s perhaps the vast wait for a sequel to Star Fox 64 which has made fans cling to the N64 game and become infatuated with its charms.
In this one you’re Fox McCloud, a shades-wearing flying ace who is accompanied by dramatic veteran Peppy Hare, mercurial bird thing Falco Lombardi, and irritating monstrosity Slippy Toad (possibly a girl, although this is ambiguous).
As the Star Fox team you’re tasked with defending the Lylat solar system from the dreaded evil scientist Andross. This is an ideal excuse to indulge in an on-rails space shooter which sees you visiting all manner of weird and wonderful planets whilst flying spaceships, tanks, and submarines. Boom ratta tatta boom boom? Truly.
It’s awesome stuff, but there was some confusion with the name back in 1997. As there was a German company called StarVox, Nintendo decided to avoid a potential legal dispute and renamed the entire game Lylat Wars in Europe and (for some reason) Australia.
This simply adds to the game’s unusual history and appeal, thusly creating a legendary title which also launched with the innovative rumble pack add-on (now ubiquitous with all games consoles).
Splendiferous Voice Acting
Lylat Wars has stuck around in the gaming community in part due to its bizarre, oft-quoted aphorisms and innuendo. Fox, Falco, Pepper, and Slippy have a weird relationship – the latter is particularly dimwitted. But this was all a big advance over Starwing/Star Fox on the SNES, as you can hear above.
Whilst classed as an engineer, for some reason Slippy is dragged along on missions into deep space and other extremely hazardous locations. This is despite being a hapless imbecile with no real flying talent.
At one stage, the green weirdo manages to jeopardise the mission (and, indeed, the entire universe) when he/she bumbles into a planet-sized robot boss battle and crash lands into some distant planet. Thusly, Fox must go off and rescue the annoying git without a second thought for everyone else. The beads of many outweigh the beads of the few, Fox.
Anyway, these elements are made all the more enjoyable as the voice acting in the game (quite minimal, but unique for the time) is the stuff of legend. Let’s be clear – it’s pretty ropey at best.
It’s camp, awkward, and poorly executed, yet it lifts the game towards a new height thanks to its kitsch sensibilities. The four characters have a range of short phrases which have really become the stuff of legend:
- What’s the big idea, Fox?
- Jeez laweez, what is that?
- I guess I should be thankful.
- Use bombs wisely (sage advice for us all, this).
- Time to show the monkey who’s boss!
- Check your G-Diffuser system.
Then, of course, there’s…
Do a barrel roll!
Frankly, we could write an entire history book about this phrase. Lylat Wars features Peppy the Hare shouting “Do a barrel roll!” at certain moments, and this advice has since become an internet sensation.
Even Google knows about it – type the phrase into its search engine for a nauseating experience. Seriously, if you barf on your keyword you can sue Google for damages.
We’re not quite sure why this one has taken off as it has. It’s a popular online meme and will probably still be around in decades to come. Not too much of an exaggeration, since it’s already survived some two decades!
Nintendo picked up on it and lampooned it in a recent movie short for the series, which all leads nicely to why we’re celebrating the fantastic Lylat Wars today.
Star Fox Zero
This is all timed nicely as Star Fox Zero, the latest in the series, is released tomorrow. Whoo hoo! It’s received largely very positive reviews so far and it looks like a big ball of fun, so there’s plenty to look forward to on the Wii U this spring.
Advancing the action from Star Fox 64 (sorry, Lylat Wars), it’s looking pretty dramatic and is what fans have been dreaming of for a long time. Rather welcome indeed and another glorious exclusive on what has quickly become the most underrated games console on the market. What ho, why not read our Star Fox Zero review? Do a barrel roll!