Back in my much younger days, which was predominantly lived during the 90s, video games were expanding their reach and influence. That decade was full of corporate competition between two developing heavyweights, Sega and Nintendo. It would be known as the Great Console War, and out of it came the fruits of competitive engineering. By the end of the 90s, a new era of 3D games had arrived.
The Nintendo 64 and the Sony PlayStation left Sega in the dust when it came to the three-dimensional gaming experience. Sure, Sega had its Saturn and Dreamcast, but nothing was more notable than Nintendo and Sony’s contributions to the industry. This was when amazing games like Super Mario 64, Tomb Raider, Metal Gear Solid, and GoldenEye came into being. For me, however, there was one game that captured my imagination better than any, and that was Star Fox 64.
Possibly one of my favorite retro games of all time, Star Fox 64 is a sci-fi-inspired flight simulator and gives you control over an awesome spacecraft piloted by an anthropomorphic fox. If you call yourself a gamer and you have not had the chance to play this game, then you should probably fix that immediately. For its time, Star Fox 64 was a revolutionary step forward in both graphics and hardware technology. It was one of the first games to ever utilize controller rumble, which was provided by a rumble pack that would plug into the back of the N64 controller. It also had state-of-the-art audio, provided fully-voiced characters as well as a large database of sounds.
All of this made Star Fox 64 great, but the reason this game is remembered so well is that it took a simple concept within its level design and improved upon it greatly. You see, this game offered multiple paths to the end. Other games had provided this format in the past, but Star Fox 64 took it to the next level. A person could beat the game easily within 45 minutes, but they wouldn’t be able to access different paths if they didn’t take certain risks.
During each mission, there is an opportunity to do things differently. Sometimes it is moving through certain obstacles quickly, or shooting a switch as opposed to skipping it altogether. In one instance you have to kill an obscene amount of enemies in order to take the harder path forward. And you may think to yourself, what does it matter if you take the easy way or the hard way? Well, it doesn’t really matter during the core gameplay, but when you make it to the end you find out why taking the easy path doesn’t lead to victory.
I’m not spoiling too much, but taking an easy path through the game will get you to a fake last boss. Sure, at first he looks like he’s the real deal, but after you chip away at him, it is revealed that he is just a decoy from the real enemy. The enemy, the galactic Terror called Andross, is only found at the end of the hard path, and he himself is not a walk in the park.
Star Fox 64 shows me something that Jesus himself showed his disciples long ago. During one of the most famous sermons of all time, The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives those who are following him practical spiritual advice for navigating the storms of this life. He makes a point to show them the right path to eternal life.
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. – Matthew 7:13
This reminds me of a section in the game where you are attempting to fly through a hostile base on an oceanic planet. There are two paths that you can take. One is an easy path where you fly around these closed gates that are wedged in the middle of the level and just avoid the trouble of opening all of them. Then there is the path in which you are required to shoot repeatedly at some gears to open up the various gates. That is a very challenging path, but if you do not complete that path then you will be forced to take the easy road through other planets and will not get the best ending.
If the truth were to be told, it is so much easier to just fly through life without doing anything hard. Star Fox 64 is a very easy game if you do not challenge yourself. In the same way, one can get through life with general ease, but he will not be able to benefit from the rewards of completing challenges and trials. Those who take risks often have more to gain than to lose. Sometimes this may look like the choice to step away from a job because it is compromising your integrity. Maybe it is giving a little bit more money to the church with faith, knowing that God can use it. Perhaps it is sharing your faith with your coworkers. These are all part of the hard path.
The reward for going down the hard path is certainly worth it because it is eternal. Those who have taken the hard path in life can testify that heaven always feels closer when a sacrifice is made. The hard path is a sacrifice, and sacrifice is the perfect display of love.