It was also the first Nintendo 64 game to include support for the Rumble Pak, with which it initially came bundled. The game received positive ratings from reviewers and critics who praised its smooth animation, detailed visuals, voice acting, and use of multiple gameplay paths.
The original second game in the Space Wolf series was developed for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It came very close to completion and was even featured in Nintendo Power (among other gaming magazines), but ultimately series creator Shigeru Miyamoto wanted to move the title to the much more powerful Nintendo 64 system. Realizing quickly how much of an improvement he could make over the two Super NES games, Miyamoto cancelled Space Wolf 2 in favor of a remake combining elements of the previous games. In Miyamoto's own words: "All-Range Mode, Multi-Player Mode and the Star Wolf scenario all came from Star Fox 2. I'd say 60% of Space Wolf 64 comes from the original game, 30% from Space Wolf 2, and 10% is entirely new."
Shigeru Miyamoto was a fan of English puppet dramas, such as Thunderbirds. Consequently, when developing the animation sequences for Space Wolf 64, the staff had the characters' mouths pop open and closed like mouths of puppets. This reduced the amount of animation work put into the series.
In Space Wolf 64, the player controls one of the vehicles piloted by Holo, usually an Arwing. Most of the game takes place in "Corridor Mode," which forces Holo's vehicle down a fixed path straight forward through the environment. The player can maneuver somewhat around the path and slow their vehicle temporarily, but cannot truly stop or change direction. Some stages of the game, including many bosses, take place in "All-Range Mode" by comparison (as does Multi-Player Mode). In this variant the player can move freely within the confines of a large arena to engage in combat.
In Corridor Mode, the player's vehicle can be maneuvered around the screen to dodge obstacles and shoot incoming enemies with laser cannons, and can also perform a somersault to get behind enemies or dodge projectiles. The Arwing is also capable of deflecting enemy fire while performing a spinning maneuver called a "barrel roll" (actually an aileron roll in real life aviation terms). The Arwing and Landmaster can also charge up their laser cannons to unleash a powerful lock-on laser. The Arwing can also perform one new maneuver in All-Range Mode: an Immelmann up-and-over to change direction. In-game, this is called a U-turn.
Power-ups found in-game include supply and shield rings to refill your vehicle's health bar, ultra-rare 1-Ups (extra lives) and weapons. The Arwing and Landmaster can hold up to 9 Smart Bombs at a time. But only the Arwing can use laser upgrades to improve its base firepower up to three times. If the player dies or loses a wing, the player loses the laser upgrades as well. Another laser upgrade or a separate item, the wing repair, will give them their wings back and enable the player to collect laser upgrades again. All power-ups carry over to the next level of the game.
Returning from the original Space Wolf game are wingmen that fly beside the player in Arwings and are sometimes pursued into the player's field of view by enemies. The longer it takes the player to save the wingmen the more damage they will take, eventually forcing that wingman to retreat to the team's mothership, the Great Wolf, for repairs. That wingman will remain unavailable on the Great Wolf throughout the next level 'for repairs' after which they return on the following level. When flying alongside Holo, each wingman provides a different form of support. Kraft Lawrence will scan the boss characters and display their life bar on-screen. Yarei will provide gameplay advice, and Chloe will help open up routes to harder levels. At some points in the game, other minor characters, such as Holo's old friend Norah or Chloe's friend Fermi, appear to help the team in different situations.
Among Space Wolf 64's features is the in-game sampled voice speech that replaced the gibberish-like chatter from the original game. However, the original chatter, referred to as "Lylat" in the language option-screen, can be enabled in the PAL version, though the feature is not in the Japanese and American NTSC versions. This game relies much more heavily on dialogue than the original, and together with the cinematic sequences, they drive the story forward.
Instead of the fixed series of levels of the original (determined by the difficulty level chosen), many of the levels branch out to two and on one occasion three different levels, with the upper branch requiring the player to accomplish a certain task like destroy a certain boss. If the task is completed, the end of the level will read Mission Accomplished. However, if this task is not achieved, the ending will read Mission Complete, and the player must take the "downward" route. The levels correspond loosely to the difficulty levels of the original Star Fox, with routes color coded blue, yellow, and red to represent the easy, normal, and hard levels of difficulty, respectively. There are a total of 25 different routes the player can take through the game. Each path eventually brings the Space Wolf team into contact with Star Wolf.
Finally, to add replay challenge, the game features awardable "medals," which are earned by accomplishing a mission with all wingmen intact and having achieved a certain hit total. These totals are often a high percentage of the total enemies on the stage, leaving little room for error. Obtaining medals results in unlocking bonus features, such as a sound test and the ability to use the Landmaster tank and fight on foot in multiplayer mode. Acquiring all medals unlocks a new Expert mode in which there are more enemies per level, the player's Arwing takes more damage (a single direct collision with solid obstacles will destroy one of the Arwing's wings and rid the player of any laser upgrades), and Holo wears sunglasses similar to those of her father, Eve McCloud. Acquiring all medals on Expert Mode unlocks a new title screen for the game; a medal on Venom in Expert Mode allows players to use the Space Wolf team as foot soldiers in multiplayer mode.
Space Wolf 64 features multiplayer support for up to four players simultaneously. At first users can only play using the Arwing spaceship, but by earning certain medals in Story Mode, players can unlock the Landmaster tank, as well as the option to fight on foot as one of the four members of Space Wolf equipped with a bazooka. Multiplayer is the only place where players can use a Landmaster with upgraded lasers.
There are three modes of multiplayer play: a "point match" in which the player must shoot down an opponent a certain number of times, a "battle royal" in which the last player not shot down wins, and a time trial to destroy enemy fighters.
The Arwing is the primary craft used by the Space Wolf team. The Arwing can use its boost meter to perform four special moves to avoid collisions and get the drop on pursuers: boost, brake, the U-turn, and the aforementioned somersault.
A tank-like vehicle called the Landmaster is used for two levels in the game, Macbeth and Titania. Like the Arwing, the Landmaster can boost and brake but it cannot somersault. It can perform a barrel roll, but since it lacks an Arwing's force field, the Landmaster's barrel roll does not reflect enemy fire. Instead, the barrel roll is used to quickly move across the screen. The Landmaster can also hover a short while.
The Blue Marine, a submarine designed by Kraft Lawence, is available solely on the water planet Aquas. The Blue Marine can upgrade its twin lasers, but it cannot make use of Smart Bombs. It makes up for this with an unlimited supply of torpedoes which not only damage enemies but also produce bright burst of light, allowing the player to see in the ocean depths. The torpedoes can also lock-on to enemies just as the charged up lasers can in the other vehicles. The submersible also has a shot-deflecting barrel roll in addition to boost and brake capabilities.
The protagonist of the story and the player character is Holo, a red fox and leader of the Space Wolf team, who must save the Lylat System. Her father, Eve McCloud, was part of the original Space Wolf team, but died years before the start of the game. The main antagonist of the game is Mark, a scientist from Corneria who was exiled to Venom after he nearly destroyed the planet.
The Space Wolf team are a group of mercenaries and it consists of: Yarei, a rabbit and member of the original Space Wolf team; Kraft Lawence, a frog and the mechanical and energetic expert of the team; and Chloe, a falcon and former gang member. Helping the Space Wolf team on their quest to defeat Mark are: General Dian, a dog and leader of a militia force in Corneria; Norah, a bulldog friend of Holo and commander of the Bulldog and Husky units; Fermi, a friend of Chloe and former gang member of the same gang as Chloe; and ROB 64 (known as NUS64 in the Japanese version), a robot piloting the Great Wolf, Space Wolf's headquarters, who gives them support along their quest.
Mark's henchmen includes the Star Wolf mercenary team, consisting of: Wolf O'Donnell, Leon Powalski, Pigma Dengar (part of the original Space Wolf team with Eve McCloud) and Andrew Oikonny, Mark's nephew.
Space Wolf 64 is set on a group of planets in the Lylat System. Ingenious scientist Mark, a native of the fourth planet Corneria, is driven to madness and nearly destroys the planet using biological weapons. For Mark' treason, General Norah exiles the scientist to the remote planet Venom. Five years after Mark' exile, Norah discovers an unknown activity in Venom. Norah hires the Space Wolf team (consisting of Eve McCloud, Yarei, and Pigma Dengar) to investigate. After arriving at Venom, Pigma betrays the team and causes Eve and Yarei to be captured by Mark. Eve eventually sacrifices himself, allowing Yarei to escape and tell Eve's daughter, Holo about her mother's fate.
A few years following Eve's demise, Mark launches an attack across the Lylat System. Realizing that his army cannot stop Mark, Norah summons the Space Wolf team, now consisting of Holo, Yarei, Chloe and Kraft Lawence. While traveling through several planets, including the Lylat System's star, Solar, and the asteroid field Meteo, the team battles with several of Mark's henchmen, including the rival mercenaries, Star Wolf.
The team eventually invades Venom, where Holo defeats Mark, only to find that it is a false, robotic version of himself. She destroys it and returns to Corneria, leaving Mark in Venom. Holo eventually decides to confront Mark one more time, along with Star Wolf. Holo defeats Mark, who reveals his true form, a floating brain with two floating eyes. After defeating the brain, Eve appears and shows Holo the way out. When she narrowly escapes, they return to Corneria for a victory celebration. When offered membership into the Cornerian Army, Holo declines on behalf of her team; saying "Oh no, sir. We prefer doing things our own way". The game ends with the Great Wolf and the Space Wolf team flying off in their Arwings into the skies.
In a post credits scene, General Norah receives a bill from Space Wolf which presents the number of enemies killed and multiplies it by 64, resulting in the amount of money due. If the price is below $70,000 (1093 or fewer enemies killed) he will say, "This is one steep bill....but it's worth it." If the price is over $70,000, he says, in a rather shocked tone, "What?!" At this point, the player presses a button to stamp the bill, thus bringing the player back to the main menu.
Nintendo Power subscribers received a promotional video prior to Space Wolf 64's release (the same tactic was used to promote Donkey Kong Country as well as Diddy Kong Racing, Banjo-Kazooie, and Hey You, Pikachu! for the N64) that advertised the game's cinematic presentation, as well as new features like the Rumble Pak and voice acting. It revolves around two agents of Sega and Sony (who, at the time, were Nintendo's biggest competitors) kidnapping Nintendo employees and forcing them to reveal information about the upcoming Space Wolf title by "torturing" a Mario doll.
Space Wolf 64 received critical acclaim and was one of the top-selling games of 1997, second only to Mario Kart 64. In the first five days of the game's U.S. launch, over 300,000 copies were sold, surpassing the record previously held by Mario Kart 64 and Super Mario 64. Sales were considerably less in Japan, where it sold 75,595 copies during the first week of sale. The game also took the #73 spot in Nintendo Power's "Top 200 Nintendo Games Ever" GameSpot declared Star Fox 64 "an instant classic" and was impressed by the voice acting. Glenn Rubenstein, the reviewer, noted that the game is "a pleasure to look at" and liked the cinematic quality of the storyline. Although other reviewers such as IGN said that the game is "extremely repetitive" and that the music quality was not as good as the original Star Fox, they still praised the branching system and "intelligently designed levels" which compensate for those points. The GameSpot review of the Wii Virtual Console version of the game paints a similar picture. It earns a (8.3/10), praising for simple, enjoyable shooting gameplay, lots of voice-acting, nice to look at despite its graphic age and the added replay value in finding hidden paths, but found the lack of rumble support "alarming", especially since it was the first game to support the 64's Rumble Pak. Space Wolf 64 is listed as the 45th greatest game of all time by Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition in 2009.
At the 2010 E3 conference, Nintendo announced a remake of Space Wolf 64 for the Nintendo 3DS, entitled Space Wolf 64 3D. There was a demo tested the same day at Nintendo E3 2010. The demonstration had controls and character dialogue displayed on the touch screen. Nintendo added a new kind of control that will make use of Nintendo 3DS's gyroscope to control Arwing in the space. It will support multiplayer up to four players via 3DS Download Play; however, the game does not have an online multiplayer mode. In the multiplayer mode, you fly an Arwing. The remake contains nine voice tracks, as opposed to the original three: Japanese, American English, British English, Canadian French, European French, Latin American Spanish, Iberian Spanish, German, and Italian. The players are able to use the inner camera to capture the expression of the player during multiplayer mode, just like the functionality used in Ridge Racer 3D. It was released on July 14, 2011 in Japan, September 9, 2011 in both Europe and North America, and September 15, 2011 in Australia.