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Star Fox Zero Wii U Game Review

April 20, 2016

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Star Fox Zero Wii U Game Review - Reviewed by Kidzworld on Apr 20, 2016
( Rating: 4 Star Rating)

Star Fox Zero returns to the classic gameplay of the series roots for the first time in 10 years. Kidzworld has hopped into an Arwing and played through the game. Check out our Wii U game review!

By: Max Cannon

As revered a character as Fox McCloud is, the Star Fox franchise has had more divisive entries than universal successes. The last proper release in the franchise was on the Nintendo DS and before that the Nintendo 64. After a decade of waiting for a traditional Star Fox game, Nintendo and Platinum Games have teamed up to give us Star Fox Zero. A classic Star Fox game that experiments with a few new gameplay tweaks.

Star Fox Zero Video Review

 

Do A Barrel Roll

Star Fox Zero isn't a sequel or prequel to any of the previous games in the series but rather a retelling of the tried and true story that the franchise has already used. The player controls the star Arwing pilot, Fox McCloud, through several different planets and asteroid fields to stop Andross from taking over the galaxy. Fox is living in his father's footsteps and flies alongside a cast of characters that includes Peppy Hare, Slippy Toad and Falco Lombardi.

The "on rails" ship combat that made the series famous is still on show here but it's not the only way you'll be playing the game this time. Though you're never leaving your ship as you were in Star Fox: Adventures or Star Fox: Assaultyou're constantly finding new ways to move around. Your traditional Arwing/spaceship can fly as it always has or it can sprout a pair of legs to run across the ground and infiltrate some tighter spots where you may need a little more precision. Or, if the situation calls for it, you can hop into a Landmaster tank or quadcopter to shake up the levels.

There's a ton of variety in this game. One level you're flying along the familiar hills of Corneria and the next you're zipping through an asteroid field and battling oncoming warships as they launch lasers across the screen. You never feel like you're seeing too much of the same thing and by mixing that in with the vehicle variety I never felt like the game was stale or repetitive.  

Flying Star Fox's Arwing through a dogfight is as thrilling as ever.Flying Star Fox's Arwing through a dogfight is as thrilling as ever.Courtesy of GameSpot

Over The Moon 

The game definitely isn't a looker but there can be a lot happening on screen at once and the 60 frames per second gameplay is mostly stable. While there is some weak texture work throughout the game there is a definite sense of scale to your world. A giant boss that crawls across an ice planet shows some of Star Fox Zero's best character design while flying through the debris of an asteroid field recalls the cinematic flights of Star Wars. The characters also use their classic communication screens, similar to Metal Gear Solid, which shows their faces in a small box as their mouths move with a charmingly rigid animation. 

The music has already been set to the heights that Nintendo is always known for. A swell of a song to accompany your assault of a planet adds even more excitement to your fights. The 3D audio works well, but I found it to be a little unbalanced. Audio will often come out of the Wii U Gamepad rather than the TV but it can sometimes feel a little too chaotic. It's clearly noticeable when you hear blasters, chatter, and thrusters coming from a million directions at once out of both your controller and you speakers.

A flight over Corneria definitely recalls some nostalgia.A flight over Corneria definitely recalls some nostalgia.Courtesy of Shack News

Lining Up The Shot

Gameplay is made up of flying through levels and blasting enemies along the way. Some levels may give you specific objectives: defeat a certain amount of enemies, access this control panel, destroy this giant boss. And there are two main kinds of flights you'll take: the typical linear levels of the past or the new "All-Range mode." All-Range mode has Fox flying through an open chunk of world doing the same thing as before: blowing up spaceships.  As you fly through the world, your squadmates will ask for help, assault enemies, and point you in the right direction.

The controls of the game can be a little finicky at times. A first person cockpit view is locked to your controller's screen while the traditional 3D space shooter camera from behind will stick to your TV. I found myself looking between both screens often and while that was tricky it definitely kept me on my edge. You shoot standard lasers or bombs to fight your way through space. While I was often frustrated with how difficult it was to slow down my ship, a simple tap of a button had my ship somersaulting to give me time to correct my course. The real issue is the implementation of motion controls.

The Wii U Gamepad definitely gets some innovative and unique use, but it's tricky to get a handle on.The Wii U Gamepad definitely gets some innovative and unique use, but it's tricky to get a handle on.Courtesy of Gamespedia

While a good idea and something that I've seen work on both the 3DS and Vita, it doesn't work as well in this game. If you want to aim your guns without moving your ship, you'll need to pick up your Gamepad and physically move it around to aim. With a click of the left stick you'll recenter your reticule back to where your ship is facing. You'll need to press this button a lot. The game is constantly getting turned around and it's really easy to get disoriented. Most of the challenge I had in the game was due to these poorly implemented controls which killed me far more often than enemies did.

The game is light on challenge and even lighter on length, though that's not unexpected as many Star Fox games are meant to be replayed and this one is no different. On my first playthrough there was a planet that I had completely missed out on and on my second attempt things felt different enough to keep my interest. In earlier games there were enough different paths that things felt drastically different on your next game, this time it feels more like a deleted scene that was snuck into my replay. This definitely maintains replayability which was a series staple. And in a game that only took me about 5 hours to complete I'd expect something to call me back in.

Star Fox Zero also comes bundled with Star Fox Guard and though an interesting tower defense game it's definitely not enough to make up for the lack of extras in the main game. A training mode and time trials are about all of the interesting extras you'll see here aside from a few other surprises, but nothing that really excited me. A really beloved feature of Star Fox Command on the Nintendo DS was it's awesome dogfighting multiplayer and it's a shame to see it omitted this time around. I should mention there are co-op features in the game but I was unable to test them out, so I can't speak to their quality. 

The walker mode for your Arwing adds a new grounded perspective to fighting.The walker mode for your Arwing adds a new grounded perspective to fighting.Courtesy of IBTimes

Final Thoughts

As thrilling as Star Fox Zero's chases and dogfights are they aren't enough to make up for some poorly implemented controls. What you get is definitely good but I couldn't help but feel I would have had a much more enjoyable time with a more standardized control scheme. 

Pros

  • Exciting and Cinematic Levels
  • Lots of Variety
  • Fun Cast of Characters

Cons

  • Motion Controls  
  • Poor Visuals

Star Fox Zero Game Rating:4

Available for Wii U

Star Fox Zero Wii U Box ArtStar Fox Zero Wii U Box ArtCourtesy of Nintendo
Have Your Say!

Are you excited for the new Star Fox? Do you have a soft spot for the classic Star Fox games? Comment below!