Star Fox Zero Review
We’ve all been there. Waiting the horrible wait that only a bathroom queue can provide. Its slow, there’s only one toilet, and you’re certain the people in front of you are plucking their eyebrows, practicing smiles in the mirror or attempting to win an Olympic gold for longest recorded poo. The longer you wait the harder it gets. You stand, you sweat, and it’s unbearable. Now if we magically reveal the point I’m actually trying to make we’d find that the bathroom queue is actually the wait for a video game, and the bathroom is the game in question. Now that I’m through the door and Star Fox Zero is my hands, I’m gonna pull down my pants and go for that gold medal.
So here we are. Let’s just relish this moment for a, well, moment shall we? Breathe in…and breathe out. Ahhhhh. We have a new Star Fox game. To mark the occasion I’ve choreographed a new celebratory dance, which while impossible to translate accurately into text looks a little bit like those inflatable waving arm tube dudes you see in used car lots. Star Fox Zero marks the return of a franchise that has not seen a console release in 11 long years. Sure, we’ve had Command and a re-release of 64. But let’s be real…this is what we all really wanted. And I’ve gotta say it doesn’t disappoint.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to the Star Fox faithful that Zero follows in the Arcade style that its predecessors set up. You start at level one, do your damnedest to get the high score, and then move onto the next level. This formula has not changed. What is different however is that instead of having to start from the beginning each time you boot up the game, you continue from where you left off. This change is both a blessing and a curse in that it ultimately makes the game feel much shorter, but it more easily allows for players to repeat levels to find all of their secrets. While this may seem like a pretty significant change to the core of a Star Fox title, it is by far outshone by another change…the controls.
” The tilt controls are some of the strangest I’ve encounter as they actually ended up being the best part of the on rails segments of each level, but once you switch to all-range mode they become a living nightmare.”
Star Fox Zero asks, nay, demands its players pat their heads and rub their belly’s by using the control stick to pilot your Arwing and the gamepads tilt to adjust the angle of your laser fire. It’s a steep learning curve at first but will click pretty fast and actually starts feeling really intuitive…to a point. The tilt controls are some of the strangest I’ve encounter as they actually ended up being the best part of the on rails segments of each level, but once you switch to all-range mode they become a living nightmare. While in all range mode your TV becomes a sort of cinematic camera that no longer follows behind your ship, forcing you to use the gamepads cockpit view. The cockpit is actually really stellar for shooting down enemy vessels more accurately but makes it impossible to see what all is going on around you.
Outside of the main game mode there exist a few other game types. For the Star Fox purists there is a proper arcade mode that has you start the game from the very beginning and go for as long as you can. Of course there is a built in suspension feature that allows for you to come back at a later time should you need to leave your game midway through. There also exists a training mode that poses various challenges to the player using Star Fox Zero’s various vehicles. More and more of these challenges unlock the more medals you collect in the main game. These challenges are simple in that they usually ask you just drive through rings or collect coins, but added time limits ramp up the difficulty level quickly. Star Fox Zero also features a co-op function that separates the piloting and targeting of the Arwing to two players. Unfortunately beyond that, Star Fox Zero features no true multiplayer modes.
Proud owners of the Fox and Falco amiibo get a very fun and extremely clever way to put their hard fought figurines to use. In Star Fox Zero, tapping either the Fox or Falco amiibo will swap out your standard Arwing for one of two different models. Fox grants you a blast from the past in the form of the SNES “three triangles” Arwing. This particular craft offers a modified style of play by removing the auto-lock from charging your blaster effectively making it more difficult to kill enemies as efficiently. When tapping the Falco amiibo you instead fly in the sleek red and black Arwing. While behind this wheel you take double damage, but deal out twice as much as well. For higher end play and more difficult challenges I found that using the black Arwing actually made life much easier…assuming you’re proficient at dodging oncoming fire. Both amiibo offer differing forms of “hard-mode” and as such have amazing value.
Star Fox Zero isn’t going to blow the roof off of anyone’s homes. It looks good, but isn’t a top of the line visual experience. It does however do what it does well. It’s fairly common knowledge that Nintendo gave of the graphical goat many moons ago and instead focuses on striking or interesting art styles, which in many ways bolster the overall shelf life and legacy of a game. Star Fox Zero certainly falls into that category, but doesn’t overhaul the Fox team that we all know too drastically. Being a “re-imagining” of Star Fox 64, Zero takes what the cherished classic had, brings it up to date, and avoids any sloppy missteps like other titles in the series. Yes, I’m looking at you Command.
“Part of what makes Star Fox so engaging, at least for me, is the atmosphere it lays out with its environments, number of enemies on screen, and of course music.”
Part of what makes Star Fox so engaging, at least for me, is the atmosphere it lays out with its environments, number of enemies on screen, and of course music. From front to back, Star Fox Zero’s score keeps you wanting to swerve back and forth, loop-de-loop, lay on the trigger button, and DO A BARREL ROLL endlessly for fear of missing some of the action. If you haven’t had a chance to play the game yet (and I’m assuming you haven’t or you wouldn’t be here), just do me a favor and look up Zeros stage select music. Aww yiss. Dat muzik so guuuuuuud…
Aside from its painfully short single player campaign and “sometimes good, sometimes bad” controls, Star Fox Zero is a very fun game. And I really emphasize that because very was in italics. It’s a game that reminds me of a time where you would just sit down and try to break your old high scores because that what gaming was all about. It’s a game that you sit down with friends and pass the controller back and forth trying to outdo each other. Moments like that are becoming more and more rare in modern gaming which sadly make me worry about the success of this particular title. Its strengths are features that many simply don’t enjoy or even think to look for anymore. But you know what, that’s okay. Because those that know what Star Fox is and is all about are going love this game to pieces. Star Fox Zero brings me back to my childhood with good friends, good fun, and a damn good time.
***A Wii U retail copy was provided by Nintendo Canada***
- Amazing Controls (On Rails)
- Engaging Music
- Fantastic amiibo support
- Star Fox is back baby
- Difficult Controls (All Range)
- Short Campaign
- No true multiplayer