Thursday, 5 May 2016

Star Fox Zero

To say that opinions differ on this game is like saying that Manchester City fans don’t usually support Manchester United. The point of contention is the motion controls, which led a blogger at one well-known games site to throw his toys out of the proverbial pram and not only refuse to finish the game (which first time round can take all of four hours), but to even write a review. Well, not only did I manage to finish the game, I even managed to rather enjoy it.

Developed by Nintendo and Platinum Games and out now for Wii U, Star Fox Zero is not a game for those desiring hyperrealism. Surrealism is well served here, though. For those not in the know, this is the satisfyingly baffling story of an intergalactic animal war. Star Fox is the name of a crack collection of pilots consisting of a toad called Slippy, a hare called Peppy, some sort of cross between Tom Cruise and a chicken called Falco, and a fox called… Fox. Fox’s father, who went missing in action, was called, er, James. Their arch-enemy is a powerful space baboon named Andross, and… well, you get the idea.

This is essentially the old N64 game jazzed up for 2016, and it’s not exactly a title lost to time. It saw a re-release via the Wii’s virtual console, and even had a modern makeover for the 3DS as recently as 2011. It primarily concerns itself with one of gaming’s longest-standing traditions – shooting – which is a large part of its appeal. Lots and lots of shooting. It’s an into-the-screen on-rails shooter, with more freedom of movement afforded in certain sections (usually boss fights) where there are nonetheless invisible walls that bounce you back the way you came if you hit them. Enemies are plentiful and usually easily destroyed. Bosses are big and have glowing weak points. It is, as the kids have it, ‘old skool’.

The Wii U version is seeking to make things a little more new skool though, not least through Those Controls. While movement is controlled with the left stick as you’d expect, and boosts and evasive manoeuvres are handled with the right stick, your aiming reticule is controlled by wiggling the GamePad around. This new aiming system (which can be subdued, but not killed, in the options) comes in a twinpack with a new display system; the usual third-person view is on the TV, and a cockpit view is presented on the GamePad. You can swap the views round as and when you desire. Refusing to allow the motion controls to be disabled was a mistake, as evidenced by the hatred thrown in the game’s direction by many people (many of whom, I notice, don’t actually seem to have played the game). For my part I found it worked very well, though by no means as well as using an analogue stick. It theoretically makes the game easier if anything, by allowing you to aim anywhere on screen very quickly.

There are transformations and a whole new vehicle thrown in too, though the new vehicle – the Gyrowing – doesn’t fit into the game too well, being as it is slow and designed for exploration. The opportunity has been taken to remix some of the alternate routes and fights to take into account the new vehicles; although to be honest, this stirs the game’s familiarity around rather than making it feel like a brand new experience.

The emphasis is as ever on replayability. It’s literally impossible to see all the stages in a single playthrough, and the simplicity of the gameplay translates to an eagerness to score-chase. With that in mind, it’s all the more frustrating that there are no online features whatsoever. The only multiplayer of any kind is a flaccid offline option to have somebody act as gunner, and there are no online leaderboards. This game was destined to have online leaderboards! It’s enormous fun as it always has been, and the various tweaks and additions have (mostly) served only to improve the experience. It may be a remake, but it is at least identifiably the ultimate version of Star Fox 64.

The controls are fine, what the fox are you on about? 4/5.


Luke Kemp

Star Fox Zero at CeX

Get your daily CeX at

Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo
ma.gnolia squidoo newsvine live netscape tailrank mister-wong blogmarks slashdot spurl