Star Fox 64 Remix
By Nicholas Catto – Most Nintendo fans have always held the Star Fox franchise close to their hearts. The series peaked with legendary Star Fox 64. Since the Nintendo 64 installment, Nintendo has been scrambling to find a direction to take the franchise. Every avenue they’ve attempted has left a sour taste in fans mouths. Star Fox Zero is Nintendo’s best attempt to recapture the magic that Star Fox 64 had.
Recapturing The Magic Of 64
The main thing that sticks out to me about Star Fox Zero is the fact that Nintendo tried so hard to make it feel like Star Fox 64. When I popped in the game for the first time, I expected a new story experience… I was wrong. Star Fox Zero is basically a remix of the 64 version. Just to be clear, this is a good thing to me. When flying through Corneria City, I was brimming with nostalgia, especially when weaving through the gates to open the secret pathway. Platinum and Nintendo did such a great job making the levels feel familiar, but with a twist.
Star Fox Zero constantly had me flashing back to my childhood. Whether it was Peppy saying his infamous line, “do a barrel roll”, or simply hearing the phrase “good luck” before I started a mission. Every little piece of the past they added in was much appreciated by me. The best thing they brought back was the galaxy map. Seeing the branching path I’m taking, and thinking of what adventures the other planets could have offered is just what every Star Fox game needs. Nintendo truly captured the magic of Star Fox 64 again.
Are You Shipping Me!?
Obviously, the main point of all Star Fox games is to pilot a wide array of ships through the stages. The Arwing flying looks and feels just like it used to. The movement is crisp and precise. The same goes for the Landmaster tank. Nintendo nailed the movement feel of both classic ships. Where Nintendo misstepped was with the Walker mode of the Arwing, and the Gyrowing. Both new ships are forced in and not properly implemented. The Walker mode is hard to control and left me mainly annoyed anytime I was forced to transform into it. Nintendo attempted to make all the Arwing moves work in the Walker mode, but all of it felt awkward. By far the worst addition to this game was the Gyrowing. It moves at a slow, glacial pace and sucks the happiness out of the game, sort of like a dementor from Harry Potter. When I was playing the Gyrowing only stage, I wasn’t just annoyed, I was angry. In the stage, I had to fly around and deactivate a number of consoles to retain command of an old base. To hack the console the Gyrowing drops a tiny robot, which then makes you look at the gamepad to control it. To put it simply, the Gyrowing is the worst thing to ever happen to Star Fox.
The main concern for Star Fox fans was how the motion controls worked. Can you turn them off? Do you really have to use these “gyro” controls? The answer is yes, you absolutely have to use the gyro motion controls. These gyro controls do not work at all in my opinion. They feel half-baked and forced in. Having to move your gamepad around to shoot, while piloting your ship feels clunky and awkward. These motion controls also forced Nintendo to remap the button layout. Instead of shooting with the A button and barrel rolling with the left/right triggers, you shoot with the R trigger and barrel roll by flipping the right stick twice to either side. While the remapped button layout isn’t horrible, it doesn’t feel quite as good as the old style. Mowing down enemies, while deflecting their shots is a lot harder now than it was before. However, there is some light to the motion control fiasco. You can lock the reticle to not move unless you’re shooting. This reticle lock makes the motion controls manageable, but you shouldn’t you do that in a game that prides itself on the gyro controls.
All-range mode is also something that feels strange. While in all-range mode, your ship is locked onto an enemy or boss. You’re supposed to shoot by looking at your gamepad, which is in cockpit view. Looking up at your tv and down at your gamepad is insanely difficult to do. I found myself flying into the boss and other objects while looking down at my gamepad shooting enemies.
The graphics of Star Fox Zero leave a lot to desire. While the Wii U does have its limitations, Nintendo usually finds its way around them. Games like Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros and Super Mario 3D World look stunning on the Wii U, despite the limitations. Star Fox Zero doesn’t capture the graphical magic of the other titles. While some levels, like Fortuna look great, the majority of them look just okay at best. There also isn’t much happening on the screen at one time either. I figured a system like Wii U would be capable of handling more enemies and effects on the screen. That kind of let me down.
While all the effects like, shooting, explosions, etc sound great, Nintendo/Platinum decided to make all the dialogue come out of your gamepad speaker. The voices sound low pitched and muffled majority of the time. This also drains the already low battery life of the gamepad even more. On top of the muffled dialogue, Nintendo chose the wrong people to voice the characters. Fox and the gang don’t quite sound like they have in previous games, and that kinda threw me off a bit.
While Star Fox Zero is brimming with nostalgia and has a lot of redeeming qualities, tons of forced in content and motion controls spoil the game. I had a blast on some of the stages, but the majority of them are ruined by the added content. Star Fox Zero is almost the Star Fox we’ve wanted for years, but just as you start having fun, the forced in content spoils it all. If you’re a hardcore Star Fox fan, I’d recommend this game.