Star Fox Zero – A Review by Jose Vega
Special thanks to Nintendo for providing a review copy of the game.
In 1993, Star Fox was released for the SNES, the first game that specialized on polygonal graphics with the use of the Super FX chip. It would be the start of a franchise that would span more than two decades. Four years later, Star Fox 64 was released taking the franchise to the third dimension all while providing a satisfying experience. The series chugged on, from the adventure based Star Fox Adventures, the vehicle and ground based Star Fox Assault to the all-range shoot-em up, choose your path style of Star Fox Command. Not counting the 3D remake of Star Fox 64, there have been a total of 5 games in the franchise and all of them have delivered. It’s 2016 and the newest game, Star Fox Zero is here. But will it hold up well or will it crash and burn?
Let’s begin with the plot and for the sake of things, it’s sort of a retelling of Star Fox 64. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing but it’s done in a way that is familiar while not deriding from what it was. People may complain about it if they wish but honestly, I kind of like it. I’m nostalgic, to let you know.
One of the main things about the game is the controls. People wonder if it’ll be like Star Fox 64 where you use the analog to move and buttons to shoot. Not in this case. Here, Nintendo decides to bring the feel of being a pilot by means of motion controls. People may complain that the motion controls hinder the game overall but from my experience, that isn’t the case. Sure it took me a while to adjust since this felt different at first but overtime, it grew on me. Now I love it and I feel that helps the game out greatly. Though you’ll have to do double duty as you not only have to contend with what’s on the TV but also ensure that the motion controls help you deliver a sharper shot. The good news is that a simple button press helps calibrate it, making things easier and less of a strain on the player.
Also, you can play the game two ways: single player or co-op. Co-op is interesting as one player uses the tablet to aim and shoot, the other uses either a Wii U pro controller or the Wii remote and nunchuk to move and steer the ship. It’s awesome and you know what they say, teamwork is what will win the day no matter what.
You have access to three different vehicles: Arwing, Landmaster and Gyrowing. Arwing and the Landmaster are pretty straightforward. Whether in the sky or in the ground, you just aim and shoot at anything that’s in the way. However with this game, they take it one step further. With the Arwing it has the option to transform into something called a Walker, borrowing elements from the cancelled Star Fox 2 game. Design-wise, I like it though the controls for it can take some adjusting. Just a small nitpick. As for the Landmaster, it has the option to hover and become the Gravimaster. In some ways it’s like a smaller arwing but with heavier firepower. About that, it can lock onto three enemies at once. Helpful for getting higher scores in some levels. Last but not least is the Gyrowing, a new vehicle introduced for this game. It’s not like the other two as its slower and has an onboard droid called Direct-i. Direct-I is a small robot that can access data ports and hack them. Not to mention it can enter through small spaces. People may not like the Gyrowing because of its controls but they aren’t as bad. Fortunately it’s only used on two stages so no problem there. Also once the Walker obtains the upgrade that lets you hack like Direct-I, the Gyrowing would be more or less unneeded.
It’s not a Nintendo game without Amiibo support and this game has it. Using either the Fox or Falco amiibo will provide you some really nifty stuff. For example the Fox amiibo gives the Star Fox team access to SNES style Arwings called Retro Arwings and the Falco Amiibo gives Fox the Black Arwing. The Black Arwing makes the game a little harder so if you want a challenge, this is it.
Level wise, the game is like Star Fox 64 as you go from point A to point B. How you reach it depends and there are many ways. When you play it for the first time, you go through a set path that’s provided for you. Afterwards you have the option of going back to previous levels to discover alternate paths. This adds replayability to a game that many say is short, for those that want to not only find new levels but also to get the highest score. There are rewards for it but I won’t say what they are. You just need to find out for yourself when the game comes out. Knowing Platinum Games, the company behind many games that are difficult and challenging, this is one I feel you will have to spend a lot of time on to do so.
Star Fox Zero looks amazing on the Wii U. The presentation is great. Everything feels lively to look at and when the game gets intense with the battles, you know you’re in for a heck of a ride. Want to know what makes it better? The game runs at a rock solid 60 frames per second. It’s awesome and it makes the game look and run so well. The voice work is good, many of the people that did voice work for Star Fox 64 (as well as the 3D remake) reprise their roles here. It makes the game feel familiar. However I have a nitpick with it and its that you don’t hear the voices on the TV. They are heard on the gamepad. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing but I wish that the game had the option to let you have the voices on the TV screen. It would make things feel familiar. I hope Nintendo considers adding this option. Music is a different story because the game has many memorable tunes that add and fit to the overall game’s aesthetic. Some songs in it will remind you of Star Fox 64 but they’re done with much more finesse. It makes me wish the game had a soundtrack cause I’d buy it. I love the music for Star Fox Zero. Truly one of the best I’ve ever listened to!
Nintendo and Platinum Games have delivered an experience unlike any other. It feels familiar but also feels fresh as well. Sure some people may not like the game’s controls, the fact that it’s somewhat of a reboot of Star Fox 64, some vehicles may not be up to par like the Gyrowing but would it really hinder your overall experience? No. Of course not! Star Fox Zero is an amazing game and I can’t say it enough. If you’re willing to invest time in learning the controls and how the game works, you’ll be in for a heck of an experience. Team Star Fox is ready to soar once more on the Wii U. It’s one that I feel will leave you satisfied.
My final score for this game is an 8 out of 10. It’s an excellent game that is worth your money. You will not be disappointed.