Nintendo brought a new installment into the Star Fox series with its newly developed game, Star Fox Zero, released last week on Friday for the Wii U.
Star Fox Zero is stated to be a loose remake or reimage to the series, not a prequel or sequel to any part of the story.
With its awkward motion controls provided by the Wii U GamePad, Star Fox Zero feels to fall short of what was expected overall.
In Star Fox Zero, users play as Fox McCloud, pilot of the famous Arwing fighter. Players maneuver through various missions in different planets in an all new sci-fi adventure alongside his animal friends as they make their way through the galaxy to fight the evil Andross from taking over the galaxy.
Star Fox Zero also comes with an added standalone tower defense game, Star Fox Guard, which is bundled as a separate disc with Zero. All of this is available for $60 through local retailers.
Star Fox Zero is mainly played in the classic gameplay-like style from the Nintendo 64 title, Star Fox 64, where players control Fox through a wide variety of levels through the galaxy.
Zero is controlled by using the Wii U GamePad and both analogue sticks to control the craft while motion or gyroscopic controls are used to aim weapons.
Zero’s “cockpit view” on the GamePad is used for precision aiming while, which was a burden to get used to in the early stages of the game.
While the use of the motion controls is to aim at enemies, players need to use both analog sticks on the GamePad to successfully maneuver through the game, which is a poor approach and can deter many new players from the game early on.
Zero allows players to disable the motion controls for the game but not entirely. They are disabled while in flight but when it comes to the use the right bumper button to shoot, it becomes enabled once again.
There are also numerous points in the game where motion controls are the only option for aiming: use of the walker, helicopter and tank vehicles.
While all of these controls are fine to begin with, they leave the user frequently disoriented and confused and Fox’s vehicle is left exposed to enemies from different angles and directions.
The motion to look from GamePad to the TV screen multiple times will leave an unsatisfactory feeling while playing Star Fox Zero. The motion controls allow players to center the aim reticle back to the center of the screen to calibrate it with a press of a button.
Often times the reticle would slowly un-center itself throughout a level and would need to be recalibrated, extremely bothersome.
A poor decision in Nintendo’s planning for in-game dialogue, some of the mission-critical audio would only be played through the GamePad’s speakers, which forces users to have the volume of the GamePad turned on for the whole duration of the game. It was an annoyance at times but as the whole game presents itself, you get used to it towards the middle of it.
As enemies make their way into the field of vision, users can try to shoot them either by looking at the GamePad or the TV screen. The reticle will appear on both screens with the GamePad and gives players a more precise aim since it is the “cockpit view” from Fox McCloud.
It seems as if the developers of Star Fox Zero played it safe while they made this game. Levels felt extremely simple and seemed to lack any real imagination other than the new vehicle options, which were hardly used other than in a few levels.
The first play-through of the game was about four to five hours, which made Zero feel short but leaves users with the standard series of challenges within each mission and the chance to stray off into a new locked stage away from the main quest line.
The lack of a better creative level design can justify the unpopular and awkward two-screen controls. Overall graphics for the game still looked crisp and stunning with cut scenes that added detail to characters and scenery. This all contributes to a refreshed and new feel to the game.
Throughout the game, Fox’s fellow wingmen Falco, Peppy and Slippy provide the player with familiar lines from the Nintendo 64 game. Veterans of the series will feel as if they are playing the same game and have done all of this before, while new players will have fun with all the comedic dialogue and colorful art style.
After players beat Star Fox Zero’s final boss in the first play-through, the game opens up the concept to go into select levels in a new approach.
An initially slow-paced and relaxed level, navigated with a hovercraft becomes a rapid and fast mission flown with an Arwing. A successful concept that can add more game time into Zero.
In the end, Star Fox Zero is a solid game by itself, just with poorly executed controls and level design.
Zero feels more like an early launch title for the Wii U, in attempts to win over fans and newcomers with Nintendo 64 nostalgia from the 90’s.
As a grand symbol in Nintendo history, we might see the last of Fox McCloud in a possible last attempt at a successful reboot to the series. Star Fox Zero just didn’t quite live up to its name.