Hello to you, Star Fox Zero! This long-awaited sequel (of sorts ) to the 1997 N64 classic Star Fox 64 (or Lylat Wars, depending where you’re from) was delayed in 2015 as Nintendo’s creative genius, Shigeru Miyamoto, felt it needed more work. It’s a trademark of Nintendo’s to do that, and whilst it usually outrages impatient fans, it does ensure when its games reach the market they’re always of super high quality.
There have been a far few shooty boom ratta tatta tat games for the Wii U recently, with the minimalist brilliance of indie title Star Ghost and the aforementioned Lylat Wars getting a downloadable eShop release. Now Star Fox Zero is here, and it’s time to do a barrel roll and indulge in some awesome shooty boom ratta tat. Huzzah!
Star Fox Zero
This is Nintendo’s biggest release in a while and it’s hotly anticipated, in part as the Star Fox franchise (as with its sensational Metroid series) doesn’t get much attention from the company. Indeed, this is the first console release for Star Fox since 2002, and Rare made that one. So, this is long overdue!
Star Fox Zero is a space shooter, essentially, and as the player you guide Fox McCloud on his mission to save the Lylat system from deranged monkey thing Andross. Along with Falco Lombardi (a mercurial ostrich thing), Peppy Hare (veteran hare beast), and Slippy Toad (a total pain in the arse, gender-ambiguous toad thing) you’re the flying aces as part of the Star Fox squadron. Huzzah! It’s time to blow stuff up.
It’s on-rails shooting action in space and, on the whole, it works a treat – it looks fabulous, the music is terrific, and the gameplay is engaging. Thusly, we must turn to the game’s at once bizarre, erratic, and at times brilliant control system. The world’s gaming press has gone insane with this one, with some stating it’s sublime whilst others dismissing it as the depraved work of lunatics. Let’s take a closer look.
The Control System… WTF?!
On the box, Nintendo state the game features an “innovative” control system. Correct. It is innovative. We’re not going to lie, though, because this is one difficult SOB to get used to. Innovation is to be applauded in the games industry, but this one is a bit gimmicky. Nintendo’s divisive GamePad gets put to use, though, and it doubles up as Fox McCloud’s view from his cockpit.
Thusly, as you fly about you tip the GamePad around and with the motion controls – this can make for precise aiming and stuff. You’re basically left trying to do several things at once and it’s damn tricky to get used to.
Consequently, you need to put some practice in to get used to it and once you’re sorted you’re away. Contrary to some media outlets and the temper tantrums they’ve thrown about it (Polygon most notably), you just need to apply some patience and the rewards will come to you. The game is absolutely worth it.
The Voice Acting
A big appeal of Lylat Wars was the hammed-up voice acting, which included Peppy Hare dropped the legendary line: “Do a barrel roll!” This is now something of an online phenomenon, and fans will no doubt be pleased to hear it’s included again in Star Fox Zero.
This isn’t to say the voice acting is any good – it’s awful and features a polished sheen which doesn’t have the same character packed impact of Lylat Wars. Disappointing, but it’s not exactly a central element to the game. You’re here to shoot stuff in space, and this is what Star Fox Zero achieves with aplomb.
Whilst there have been some negative reviews for Star Fox Zero (Polygon classed it as an unmitigated disaster and refused to complete the game), on the whole it’s been rather well received indeed and we have to echo those sentiments. It’s surprisingly muted in places and the control system is pure evil at times, but persevere and you’re left with an entertaining and action-packed space shooter.
It is, however, something of a disappointment in that it’s clearly not a flat-out classic. Nintendo typically spoils its fans with outstanding games and rarely puts a foot wrong – on the Wii U alone we’ve had a string of masterpieces which has been a privilege to get our hands on.
This isn’t one of them; we feel there should have been more emphasis on flat-out space type drama as some of the missions are pretty vapid. The result is a good game which is, unfortunately, not the slice of perfection we have come to expect from the legendary Japenese company. Star Fox Zero is, of course, still well worth playing and makes for another appealing Wii U exclusive, something so dreadfully lacking on the PS4 and Xbox One these days.