Starfox 64: Complete Switch Controls Guide and Tips for Beginners

Jumping back into the cockpit with Fox McCloud and his buddies? Here are the controls and tips for improved and exciting gameplay.


A critically-acclaimed game from an endearing franchise, Starfox 64 flies its way back onto our consoles as part of the Switch Online Expansion Pass.

The game plays just like the Nintendo 64 version with some slight control tweaks that will be shown below. It is important to note that you cannot remap the button layout for any game in the catalogue, including Starfox, which can present some difficulties.


Below you will find the complete list of controls for the Switch and the N64 controller accessory, with some gameplay tips further down.

Arwing Starfox 64 Nintendo Switch controls

  • Steer Ship/Aim: LS
  • Shoot Lasers: A
  • Shoot Bomb: B
  • Lock-On: Hold A, then release after locking on
  • Tilt Ship Right: R
  • Tilt Ship Left: ZL
  • Brake: RS (down) or X (hold for longer effect)
  • Boost: RS (left) or Y (hold for longer effect)
  • Barrel Roll: Double-tap R or ZL
  • Somersault: LS (down) + RS (left) or Y
  • U-Turn: LS (down) + RS (down) or X
  • Receive Messages: RS (right)
  • Change Camera: RS (up)
  • Pause: +

Landmaster Starfox 64 Nintendo Switch controls

  • Steer/Aim: LS
  • Shoot Lasers: A
  • Shoot Bomb: B
  • Lock-On: Hold A, then release after locking on
  • Tilt Right: R
  • Tilt Left: ZL
  • Brake: RS (down) or X (hold for longer effect)
  • Boost: RS (left) or Y (hold for longer effect)
  • Roll: Double-tap R or ZL
  • Hover: ZL + R
  • Receive Messages: RS (right)
  • Change Camera: RS (up)
  • Pause: +

Blue Marine Starfox 64 Nintendo Switch controls

  • Steer Ship/Aim: LS
  • Shoot Lasers: A
  • Shoot Torpedo: B
  • Brake: RS (down) or X (hold for longer effect)
  • Boost: RS (left) or Y (hold for longer effect)
  • Barrel Roll: Double-tap R or ZL
  • Receive Messages: RS (right)
  • Pause: +

Arwing Starfox 64 N64 controls

  • Steer Ship/Aim: Joystick
  • Shoot Lasers: A
  • Shoot Bomb: B
  • Lock-On: Hold A, then release after locking on
  • Tilt Ship Right: R
  • Tilt Ship Left: Z
  • Brake: C (down)
  • Boost: C (left)
  • Barrel Roll: Double-tap R or Z
  • Somersault: Joystick (down) + C (left)
  • U-Turn: Joystick (down) + C (down)
  • Receive Messages: C (right)
  • Change Camera: C (up)
  • Pause: Start

Landmaster Starfox 64 N64 controls

  • Steer/Aim: Joystick
  • Shoot Lasers: A
  • Shoot Bomb: B
  • Lock-On: Hold A, then release after locking on
  • Tilt Right: R
  • Tilt Left: Z
  • Brake: C (down)
  • Boost: C (left)
  • Roll: Double-tap R or ZL
  • Hover: Z + R
  • Receive Messages: C (right)
  • Change Camera: C (up)
  • Pause: Start

Blue Marine Starfox 64 N64 controls

  • Steer Ship/Aim: Joystick
  • Shoot Lasers: A
  • Shoot Torpedo: B
  • Brake: C (down)
  • Boost: C (left)
  • Barrel Roll: Double-tap R or Z
  • Receive Messages: C (right)
  • Pause: Start

For these Starfox 64 controls, the left and right analogue sticks on the Switch are denoted as LS and RS.

How to save your game on Starfox 64

While the game was especially fun to play in multiplayer, the most frustrating thing about Starfox 64 was the inability to save your game progress, with it being made to be played in one (long) sitting. As it is a direct port of the N64 version, you still cannot save your file within the game. However, Switch Online provides a workaround to this problem.

Anytime during the game, click on the Suspend menu (press – on Switch). From there, select Create Suspend Point and your desired slot. Now, whenever you start the game, you can simply enter the Suspend menu, select Load Suspend Point, and carry on where you left off without fear of having to start again from the beginning.


How to train in Starfox 64

From the main menu, you can select Training to go over the basics of playing the game. Especially if you are playing without the N64 controller accessory, it is recommended to play through Training at least once to familiarise yourself with the unique C-button mapping. If you are on the Switch Lite, it will help you to adjust to the smaller screen.

You will be given instructions on how to perform the basic functions in the Arwing, with an All-Range Mode level at the end so that you can practice in a battle setting. Fly around as long as needed to feel comfortable with the controller layout.

How to earn Hit Points in Starfox 64

If you see this, you missed an alternate route.

With so many ships and grounded enemies about, it can be hard to aim, shoot, and destroy all enemies individually. Luckily, the Lock-On (hold A) feature causes a small explosion from the lasers making contact that will take out fellow enemies in the immediate vicinity.


You know that you have a successful multi-kill when you see ‘Hit +4’ or another number indicating how many extra enemies you killed. These Hit Points are crucial to your overall score and unlocking Expert Mode.

You can use the Lock-On function also to launch Bombs! Another useful thing about Bombs is that you can either let them detonate on their own or trigger them by hitting B during their flight. This can be a great way to quickly destroy a group of enemies, particularly those pesky ones on the ground.

Furthermore, should you earn 100 Hit Points in a level, you will be given an extra life, and your companions’ shield bars will increase.

Does it matter which path I take in Starfox 64?

Yes! Each path presents a different ending. If you breeze through getting ‘Mission Complete’ for every level, the ending will probably leave you a bit dissatisfied. If you go the hard route, as we demonstrate below, you might have more questions – in a good way – after a more satisfying ending.

If you are going for a high score, then the hard route is the best path to take to rack up Hit Points. However, being the most difficult route, the frustration may mount quickly.

How to unlock Expert Mode in Starfox 64

If you want to unlock Expert Mode, not only do you have to beat every level (more on this later), but you have to earn a Cornerian Air Force Medal on each level. These medals of valour are only given when you meet two conditions per level: earn a certain number of Hit Points and keep all three companions in the fight.

It can be difficult. Depending on the level, you will need to collect between 50 and 300 Hit Points to earn the medal. Frustratingly, enemies killed by your companions do not count toward your Hit Point total. This can be irksome on levels with few enemies or if they take out an enemy worth multiple Hit Points.

Speaking of, while most enemies are worth one Hit Point, some are worth up to 20 Hit Points (Wolfen II). Generally, the bigger the enemy or more unique the enemy, the more Hit Points they reward. Bosses are worth ten, but you could earn less if you take too long to defeat them.

How to unlock alternate routes in Starfox 64

One of the challenges over 20 years ago was unlocking all of the alternate routes, and that remains today. You can breeze through the levels and earn ‘Mission Complete,’ unlocking one ending. However, the most desired ending – because of its difficulty – requires taking the most challenging route to Venom to face Andross.

Each level has its own unique conditions for unlocking an alternate route. While this route will not take you through every level, it is the most difficult path that results in the most sought-after ending:

  • Corneria: Save Falco from his three tailing enemies, then fly under the arches created by land over the ocean beyond the city (all toward the left side of the screen). If successful, Falco will indicate to follow him through a waterfall to face the Attack Carrier.
  • Sector Y: Obtain 100 Hit Points to advance to Aquas. If you do not reach 100 Hit Points, your path will be diverted.
  • Aquas: Defeat boss Bacoon to reach Zoness.
  • Zoness: Destroy all Radar Buoys to avoid detection and meet up with ROB 64 and Great Fox. If one Radar Buoy remains, you will be detected and your path diverted.
  • Sector Z: Destroy all six Copperhead missiles. If one missile hits Great Fox, your path will be diverted.
  • Area 6: Obtain 300 Hit Points. If you obtain less, your path will be diverted to Venom I.
  • Venom II: Defeat the final boss to reach the hardest ending.

You will need to replay the game multiple times or use your lives (Arwing icon) to replay levels to unlock other routes – particularly the medium path in the middle.

How to recover shield health in Starfox 64

You can take damage in many ways: being shot by the enemy, flying into a building or enemy, and flying into the ground or landscape. Luckily, there is a way to replenish the health of your shields.

Throughout each level and after defeating certain enemies, you will see a silver supply ring (a hexagon). Fly into that silver ring to replenish your shields. These rings tend to be rare, so don’t miss your chance at a single one.

How to upgrade your lasers and shield in Starfox 64

In each level, you will see an icon that looks like a black badge with a white L inside that has green lines on the side. These are upgrades to your lasers. The upgrades are progressive, so while it is not recommended to miss any, at least the next one you find will take your laser to the next level.

You cannot upgrade your bombs, but you can keep up to five in stock by collecting the red diamond-like icon with a B.

Also, look for the golden rings. Like the silver rings, they pertain to your shields. However, while they do not replenish your shields, collecting three increases the size of your shield (health) bar. Further, while the shield upgrade does not carry over, after the first three, for every three gold supply rings that you collect in a level, you will gain an extra life.

One final note: pay attention to what your companions say and the messages from ROB. They will let you know when they are in trouble and when to follow them. To check messages from Rob, hit C (right) or Right Stick (right). ROB usually has a good bit of advice, so take the free advice.

How to set-up an online multiplayer battle in Starfox 64

To play Starfox 64 in its multiplayer modes on the Nintendo Switch, you need to:

  • As the host, go to the N64 menu;
  • Click on Play Online;
  • Set-up the room and send the invites to your Nintendo friends;
  • Wait for them to accept the invites, which will pop-up on their devices.

You should note that all players will require the Expansion Pack on top of Nintendo Online to gain access to the game and play it in its multiplayer format.

That’s everything that you need to regain those flight senses in Starfox 64. Now go and teach Andross that Fox McCloud is the real boss of the universe!


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