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Star Fox 64 3D: Is it worth playing again?

Do another barrel roll...

Billed as Nintendo's take on the interactive movie genre, Star Fox 64 did things in its own idiosyncratic way. If you wanted to play the Macbeth stage, where you'd drive the Landmaster tank alongside an enormous train, you'd have to play all the way to the fourth stage, making sure to save Slippy from the boss at the end of that.

Once you got there, it would play out slightly differently depending on whether or not Falco had been shot down in an earlier scene. And like most of the game's 15 levels, playing it a certain way would lead you to one of two potential endings, dictating the direction you'd be heading in next.

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Characters you'd saved a few missions ago would pop up later on to lend a hand. Different combinations of characters would interact with each other on the radio, and there would be significant changes to the story as you passed through whatever arrangement of seven levels it took to get you through to the end.

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Because of this, Shigeru Miyamoto was adamant that the only way to play the game was in a single session, lasting the better part of two hours. It was an admirable refusal to compromise the integrity of the whole experience, but having to go through that same opening level again and again could get quite tiring.

Being forced to play for an hour just so that you could see one particular level meant that some parts of the game were seldom seen, and playing all that way only to fail at the last second to achieve the requirements for the story branch you wanted - well, that was actively irritating.

When you buy a traditional noninteractive movie, you're free to skip to any scene you like, or to enjoy the extras at your own pace. Sometimes, Star Fox 64 seemed like it was being awkward for no good reason.

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As a concession to useability, the 3DS remake is unafraid to modernise that original vision. Once you've found and completed a level the standard way, you can visit it again, stripped of its context, in a score attack mode that avoids story-based problems by removing all of the supporting cast.

It's just you against the mechanised forces of Andross for a place on the high score table, and if it means we can finally have a go at getting a perfect run though stages we only ever saw once or twice back in the day, it's the best addition anyone could have made to this classic shooter.

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