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The sequel to 1993's FX chip-powered Super NES title, Star Fox 64 is a 3D shooter that takes place in outer space as well as on planet surfaces. As Fox McCloud, players must defeat the maniacal Dr. Andross and his henchman in order to restore peace to Planet Corneria and save the Lylat star system. Aided by members of the Star Fox team, Slippy Toad, Peppy Hare, and Falco Lombardi, players will pilot the Arwing fighter, a Landmaster hover tank, and even a submarine as they fight Andross' legion across 14 planets.
While the stages normally follow a pre-set order, players will be able to branch out and take different routes through the system if certain conditions are met in particular levels. Gameplay is divided into two parts: 3D Scroll Mode and All-Range Mode. The former has players continuously moving forward, shooting down enemies and dodging hostile fire as they make their way toward the level's boss. The latter mode features an enclosed area where players are free to fly wherever they want within its confines, enabling them to attack bosses or engage in dogfights.
Initially armed with a single laser and limited number of screen-clearing smart bombs, the Arwing's objective is to destroy all enemies in its path. Shooting a certain number of enemies will earn players medals, which reveal various secrets or bonuses. A lock-on target can be used to fire more powerful shots by holding down the button before firing. Additionally, power-ups can be found to upgrade the ship's laser to two new levels. The Arwing's ability to boost, brake, or roll (the latter of which can be used to deflect enemy fire) can also be implemented during combat.
Each of the three wingmen has a unique ability, such as Slippy's talent for analyzing the strength of a boss by displaying its shield gauge on the screen, so it is important to protect teammates during the levels. If shot down, the wingmen will spend time having their ships repaired and are ineligible for the next level. Up to four players can compete in Point Match, Battle Royal, and Time Trial split-screen matches. Player handicaps and stages can be set prior to a game.
Star Fox 64 is also notable for its use of real-time speech during the action (wingmen keep players updated on their situation as they progress through the stage) and for being bundled with a vibration feedback accessory called the Rumble Pak. When connected with the controller, the Rumble Pak offers varying degrees of vibration depending on the severity of hits taken while piloting the Arwing. Bump into the side of an object and players might feel a slight vibration, while a direct hit from a missile may result in an intense vibration held over a sustained period of time. ~ Gavin Frankle, All Game Guide