Retro Respawn – Star Fox 64/Lylat Wars

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I was a huge fan of the original Star Fox for the Super Nintendo. It came out over here in Europe as Star Wing, owing to the fact that the name “Star Fox” was already taken in this part of the world. Despite this little hiccup, the game still did very well over here and is still fondly remembered by video game enthusiasts of my generation to this day.

Using the famed “Super FX Chip”, Star Wing had, for the time period, impressive polygonal graphics along with engrossing gameplay. It was a game I played avidly in my youth, so when I heard that the game was going to get a reboot on Nintendo’s new N64 console, to say I was excited would be an understatement!

As I may have mentioned in past columns, by the time I finally got around to purchasing an N64, the sixth generation had already begun and games weren’t being made for it anymore. My parents were loath to spend money on a new games console for me, feeling that I already played my SNES too much for their liking, and it was only a direct result of me nagging them incessantly that they finally relented and agreed to get me a fifth gen console.

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When the time finally came, I decided to plump for Sony’s new-fangled PlayStation over Ninty’s new 64 bit powerhouse. What ultimately swayed me to Sony’s machine was that more of my friends owned PlayStations, and I knew game sharing would open up more possibilities for playing the big releases of the day.

The only time I got my filthy mitts on an N64 back in those days was if I went to the house of one of my friends who actually had one, or if I ever got a chance to steal 5 minutes or so in a department store while out shopping with my parents. I got a chance to play Goldeneye 007, Super Mario 64, and Banjo-Kazooie while on the shop floor, but I was never lucky enough to get the chance to play a game called Lylat Wars.

Readers outside of Europe may not recognise that name. This is because the rights issue that plagued the original Star Fox was still very much in effect. Thus, Nintendo were forced to once again rename the game for European consumption. They ultimately went with the name Lylat Wars, due to the game taking place in the fictional “Lylat” space system.

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Then came one heady day in summer where we ventured into Toys ‘R’ Us. I trotted down to the video gaming area while my mother purchased something for a distant relative or returned a toy that my sister had brutally destroyed in some fashion, and there it was. As always, the N64 was set up and a throng of children were all patiently waiting for a go, hoping their parents would be delayed just a few seconds longer so they could indulge in some free gaming thrills. I peaked over the amassed hoardes and noticed something thrilling. They had Lylat Wars set up!

Thus began a desperate struggle with time. Would I be able to get a go before my mother showed up to take me somewhere boring like the furniture warehouse or supermarket? One by one, the kids in front of me began to dwindle. I began hopping from one leg to the other, hoping it would somehow slow down time in some fashion. A single bead of sweat began to perculate on my brow. Finally, the penultimate child was snatched away by his grumbling father (at least, I hope it was his father!) and one more child set up the first level for a go. The game looked just as I’d imagined and, to my young eyes, looked as smooth as graphical milk.

I prepared myself. I’d survived. I’d waited it out. I was finally going to get to play the modern day reimagining of one of my all-time favourites…

Then my mother showed up.

Let’s just say that the boring sofas in DFS looked even more dull to my poor tortured mind that cruel afternoon. We returned to the store a couple of weeks later, but sadly they’d replaced Lylat Wars with another game. Tragically, none of my N64 owning friends had a copy of the game, so I never got a chance to play it. Those torturous minutes I spent watching the other kids playing it though had at least reassured me that the game had met my hopes and expectations. This only made the fact I was unable to play it rankle that little bit more. however.

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Some years later, a mate of mine let me know he had an N64 that he was thinking of selling. He wanted £60 for it. These days that wouldn’t be much, but I was still in secondary school at the time of the offer, and funds were especially tight. I was unsure if I could justify spending that much money. I mean, we’re talking 12 whole Bison Dollars here! That’s no small change, especially to a young teenager with little doe in his back pocket. Still, he’d piqued my interest with the offer, so I asked him what games he had.

He revealed that he had the usual suspects, Mario 64, Goldeneye, a FIFA game, and Rainbow Six. Solid games that most N64 owners would be happy to own. Then he dropped the bombshell.

He had Lylat Wars.

After completing a couple of barrel rolls right there in the school hallway, I told him he had a deal!

Now, I want to make it perfectly clear that I’m absolutely not advocating spending money you can’t really afford to spend so that you can finally live out unfulfilled childhood fantasies. It’s a silly thing to do and part of being a grown-up is letting the past be and moving onwards. However, I really wanted to play Lylat Wars, so I spent money I didn’t really have to ensure I could. Hey, I never pretended to be a bastion of moral integrity, did I?

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So, I scrambled the money together and bought the console. I set it up pride of place in my living room and didn’t do anything at first. I just sat there and looked at it. After all these years, I finally owned an N64. I was going to be able to play it for as long as I wanted, without getting hassled by some horrid 8-year-old with sticky fingers standing behind me and demanding that I let him have a go.

Finally, I took a look at the amassed collection of games and picked up the one I knew I was going to play. It could be only one, especially after the journey I’d been through over the past few years. I took Lylat Wars, looked at it longingly for a few moments and then inserted it into the N64 before flipping the power switch.

The game didn’t work.

All I could see was a blank screen and nothing else.

You can probably imagine my reaction at this point. Ever seen the episode of South Park where Cartman really wants to play Nintendo Wii? That x100.

My body filled with both a cold fear and hot explosive rage. It was a very unique way to feel, especially considering the fact I now had a £60 shaped hole in my pocket.

Thankfully, after taking a few moments to calm down, I took the cartridge out of the console, gave it a bit of a clean, and stuck it back in. This time it worked and I gave a massive sigh of relief. I can only imagine what would have happened if the game hadn’t worked on the second attempt, because I was one exposure to gamma rays away from causing some serious mayhem.

So there I was, playing this game that I’d wanted to play for years, and you know what? It was brilliant. It would have just been my luck after all the waiting for the game to be a big sucky pile of suck, but it wasn’t. It was everything I could have hoped for. It’s still one of my favourite games of all time and a genuine treat all these years later.

As always, I’ll post some game footage below.

Thanks for reading

Come On You Blues!

You can take a look at YouTube footage of the game, courtesy of World of Longplays, by clicking right HERE

Looking for some other great content here on the site? Well, why not take a goosey gander at the following?

Kjell takes a look at “Bad Shooters” in an excellent column that you can read by clicking right HERE

You can read Jorge’s review of Super Meat Boy for the Wii U by clicking right HERE

And how about reading Steve’s great “Indie Freebies” article? Ah, go on, you just have to click HERE

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