– by Owen Scrivener
The Star Fox series resonates with many people who were gamers in the 90s. While not many will remember StarWing, plenty remember Lylat Wars (Star Fox 64). It was a staple for owners of the N64. It also happens to belong to one of Nintendo‘s less attended intellectual properties.
Lylat Wars was a re-imagined entry for the SNes title Star Wing, likewise Nintendo’s latest console title, Star Fox Zero is a re-imagining of Lylat Wars for the WiiU.
In it the Lylat System is terrorised by the banished maniacle scientist Andross, and the Star Fox team, headed by Fox McCloud are dispatched to free the Lylat System from his grasp.
As in the main entries, with the exception of the RPG-like Star Fox Adventures, the gameplay is centered around multi-vehicular on-rails combat, with an occasional all-range-mode. Most missions guide you from a starting point to a selection of finishing points. During missions you may have the option to activate alternative paths. If you succeed in beating an alternative path you can access alternative levels.
Linearity was a problem with Star Fox Assault, the previous console entry of the series. Fortunately this game learns from that mistake and continues the non-linear tradition.
What the developers fail to have learned is the intuitiveness of analog controls. The aiming system depends entirely on the gyroscope of the WiiU gamepad, not the veer-direction of whatever craft your piloting [which would make more sense], the system with which you target enemies.
This is worse in the all-range mode, keeping your bearings and targeting enemies simultaneously which seems to have been done perfectly in every other entry, is needlessly complex.
This gimmick can’t be switched off, and in many ways it weighs the game down. Nothing seems fluid, as you use analog and gyroscope simultaneously. It takes a while to get used to.
You are also continuously forced to navigate on the television screen while your targeting visuals are on the gamepad. You can’t rely on the reticle on main screen as it does not actually target enemies. This is a huge learning curve for anyone who played and enjoyed Lylat Wars.
What’s also disappointing about Star Fox Zero is its lack of a fully fleshed out multi-player. While Lylat Wars had a rather limited multi-player it was a feature that gave the game a little more longevity which made a return in Star Fox Assault and Star Fox Command. Instead Star Fox Zero has a botchy co-op where one player pilots and the other shoots.
The visuals are alright, the campaigns were too short [3-5 hours], the music isn’t as memorable as Lylat Wars or Star Wing, and I’m a little disappointed they weren’t orchestrated as they were in Assault. There are plenty of moments a veteran player may recognise from Lylat Wars. The original voice cast returns and many of the same worlds are featured.
This game feels unfinished, and it’s disappointing that Nintendo’s quality has sunk to this point. I honestly wish they would kill motion controls and just give us a polished visually exciting experience instead of these short limited control experiments.
Images from nintendo.com