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E3 2011: Hands-On With Star Fox 64 3D

All these years later, the recognized high point of Nintendo's Star Fox franchise is still the Nintendo 64 entry in the series, Star Fox 64.  Nobody has been able to make lightning strike twice in quite the same way, however, so it's only fitting that for the next installment in the franchise, Nintendo is going back to the last great success for Fox McCloud.  Star Fox 64 is coming to the Nintendo 3DS later this year with new sharpened visuals and gyroscope tilt controls.  The demo was at E3 last week and I had a chance to fly an arwing over Corneria for a few brief minutes. 

It felt great to slip back into Star Fox 64 after all these years, although the demo on display did little to show off the new features promised for the full version.  The multiplayer battle mode with camera functionality was unavailable.  I'm told that tilt controls were featured, but I didn't notice them and instead went for the traditional control stick method of steering the arwing.  Worse, the demo's controls were inverted, so I continuously crashed into the ground when I intended to aim skyward.  The final version of the game will offer properly oriented controls, I'm told.  One neat new touch that I noticed involves the touchscreen; while it was largely dormant during the demo, it did have a place on its simulated arwing control panel to indicate the current time and remaining 3DS battery life.

Basically, in the end this is Star Fox 64 all over again for new and older generations of franchise fans to enjoy.  This one is an automatic purchase for me, as the original game was one of the top titles of the Nintendo 64 era and looks to translate nicely to the 3DS even if the demo had some rough spots that need ironing out (again, looking at you, inverted controls).  While it's not a new Star Fox game, it is a retread in the right direction that will ideally get the series back on track.