Star Fox Zero Review: One Foxy Fox
Greg Johnson / May 3rd, 2016 No Comments
Star Fox 64 is one of the most beloved Nintendo games of all time. Fans still look back on the game with nostalgia and fond remembrance. Shouts of “Do a barrel roll!” can still be heard as you play through games online or lurk the halls of E3. The game may have been life-changing in 1997, but does it still hold up today? Star Fox Zero shows that it does.
Star Fox Zero, the Wii U‘s much anticipated iteration of the series, opens with an incredibly familiar backstory involving James McCloud and the main antagonist Andross. That’s not where the similarities between the Wii U and Nintendo 64 games conclude, but this time around, Star Fox offers improved dog-fighting mechanics, new vehicles, and it takes advantage of the Wii U’s controller.
Many Paths to Venom
Like most of the previous entries in the series, there are multiple paths to pursue in Star Fox Zero, though not quite as many as there were in Star Fox 64. The story follows one main trajectory, regardless of how players get there, climaxing in a showdown with Andross.
Because of the game’s multiple paths, players may need to do some backtracking. However, this mostly involves completing alternate challenges and has little significance to the story.
Fans of the series will find a lot to love within Star Fox Zero’s plot. Familiar friends and foes make appearances, sometimes delivering their classic lines from games past. Although the narrative revolves around Star Fox battling Andross once again, there are enough differences along the way to keep from feeling stale.
Much of the appeal may come from nostalgia. There is a subtle sense of humor the game unveils by reviving old bits and poking fun at its own characters. Slippy and Falco in particular throw some clever jabs at Fox, and these are entertaining for anyone who holds the series in high regard.
Not Just Barrel Rolls
The biggest question surrounding Star Fox Zero was how its gameplay would be affected by the Wii U Gamepad. The result is a little confusing at first, but makes sense as you get used to it. On their television screens, players see a wide third-person view of the action. The Gamepad displays a view from the cockpit.
Players can get away with only looking at the TV screen in some levels, but figuring out how to use the Gamepad is important during one-on-one dogfights.
The TV view is always fixated on the main enemy during battles, while the Gamepad and gyroscope controls must be used to lock onto enemies and aim weapons. Essentially, players must keep their eyes focused on two screens at one time. This allows gamers to dodge enemies while also utilizing precision aiming.
Star Fox Zero is simpler than driving a car, but has a much steeper learning curve than any other title in the series. Players will end up feeling more in control of their Arwing than ever before, but only if they can get used to the controls.
Looking at You, Space
All of the major voice actors are back and the dialogue is as quick and snappy as ever. While the game isn’t quite as quotable or meme-worthy as older Star Fox games, the more serious tone does this title some good.
Star Fox and company are still scrappy but have more maturity and edge than before. It is obvious this game is trying to appeal to an older audience that has aged since Star Fox 64. Younger generations may not be able to relate to or empathize with the characters.
Speaking of maturing, the visuals are impressive in Star Fox Zero. Two of the most impressive visual effects in the game are the laser effects (and subsequent explosions), as well as the weather. While a the majority of the game takes place in space, the planet levels reveal impactful scenery, including rolling sandstorms, incredible ocean waves and rich snowy mountains. Despite all the visual immersion, the art style is still distinctly Star Fox in that it has a cartoonish, peppy style.
If you are a fan of Star Fox 64 who has long been awaiting a return to form, Star Fox Zero is probably what you want. It is obviously modeled after the N64 title, but it has more free roaming gameplay and presents some new challenges. From the fun one-liners to the nostalgic soundtrack, Star Fox Zero will indulge the senses of Star Fox lovers.
The only lament is that there is no alternate ending.
Star Fox Zero was reviewed on Wii U using a retail copy of the game purchased by the reviewer.
tags: nintendo , review , Star Fox , Star Fox Zero , Star Fox Zero Review , wii-u