It’s been a while since we’ve gotten a traditional Star Fox title. Similar to Metroid, its been a series with characters we love, but that love isn’t enough to make them successful. Despite that, Nintendo attempts to make them work, which is an admirable choice. With their latest title, Star Fox Zero, we’re back in a familiar setting, in a more traditional Star Fox adventure. Will this translate to success or has Fox’s time passed?
Star Fox Zero tells a familiar story. Andross is posing a threat, so the Star Fox team is sent to put a stop to him and the Star Wolf team. This familiarity with the story makes it a little underwhelming, largely because it feels like a retread of previous adventures, but its also not a bad thing either. At its core, Star Fox Zero simply doesn’t want to reinvent the wheel and strives to provide a title matches the tone, style and gameplay of its predecessors.
The gameplay is also pretty similar to the previous space combat titles. You start by having to complete a fairly lengthy and arguably tedious feeling tutorial. The point of the tutorial isn’t to bore you, per se, but rather prepare you to handle the adventure you’re about to undertake. A lot of important details are presented here, which will be reiterated throughout the story if you fail to take not, playing a large roll in how much enjoyment you get from the adventure. This is also where you start to see the issues with Star Fox Zero.
Nintendo and other developers have struggled to find interesting uses for the gamepad. In the case of Star Fox Zero, it almost feels like the game was designed around making the gamepad integral to the experience.
There are two main control schemes. The first uses the thumbsticks to pilot the arwing and the gyroscope is used to move the reticle. Despite this being the more complex style, I found it easier to use in the long run. The other style works the same way, except the gyroscope is limited to moving the reticle up or down, with the right thumbstick largely controlling the direction of the sight.
Beyond the basics, you can do a barrel roll, somersault, fire bombs and do the other things expected of a Star Fox title. A lot of these things will help you in combat, like getting the drop on an enemy, though, with the exception of a few events, they’re not important enough to stop you from succeeding.
The other issue with Star Fox Zero is that it’s a pretty short adventure, filled with events/scenes that either eat up time or provide little to no challenge. One of the best examples of this is the stealth mission. The idea of the stealth mission is to avoid search lights and complete your objective. The issue is that, outside of the wonky controls, there shouldn’t be any issue avoiding detection. Almost every situation could be bested by flying up or down, with the biggest challenge being where to find the objective.
While it might seem like I am being unfairly harsh to Star Fox Zero, a lot of this deals with how by the numbers the title is. I wouldn’t say any of the missions, enemies or situations are memorable, nor would I say that Star Fox Zero feels like anything more than a title trying to mimic Star Fox 64. When does right, like in The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, it can be an amazing experience that captures the joys of the franchise, while honoring the past, but the same feeling simply isn’t here.
This is a shame, not only because it makes for an underwhelming experience, but because we know Platinum Games is capable of much more than this. The worst thing is that its hard to even say it’s a fun experience. You either spend all your time flying from objective to objective or shooting down random enemies via a charge attack that locks onto foes, that it quickly becomes boring.
Star Fox Zero understands what makes Star Fox, well, Star Fox, but that’s about it. The story takes us to places we’ve already been, while the gameplay is little more than a game we saw over a decade ago. Sure, Star Fox fans will probably enjoy the fact that it’s basically the game they love, but newcomers will likely be frustrated by the lackluster experience, combined with gimmicky controls. So, unless you absolutely love Star Fox, odds are Star Fox Zero is not the next big thing.
[Editor’s Note: Star Fox Zero was reviewed on Wii U platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]Star Fox Zero Review,