Star Fox Zero

Star Fox Zero could’ve been something great but takes a dive-bomb due to a lot of poor development choices

By Grayshadow, Posted 24 Apr 2016

Star Fox Zero attempts to recapture the glory of Star Fox 64. Building on the groundbreaking dogfighting mechanics that launch the franchise into stardom Star Fox Zero succeeds on several foundations but falls due to poorly executed ideas. Gyroscopic targeting, recycled material, and the lack of online multiplayer fails to deliver the capture the same stellar experience of the SNES and N64 classics. After so many fantastically designed first-party titles Star Fox Zero is the first game to fumble in the Wii U’s fantastic line-up of exclusive games.

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Andross has once attack declared war on the Lylat System, catching the Corneria army by surprise. General Pepper has enlisted the help of the mercenary group known as Star Fox to aid in their defense and stop Andross. The story is relatively simple but weakened due to poor animations and recycled material. On multiple instances I heard dialogue straight from Star Fox 64 being used on multiple stages. This extends to enemy types and even character models.

The stages that you’ll travel to offer diverse layouts. Enemies are plentiful and obtaining Gold ranking, collecting all 5 medals from each level, and finding all the hidden locations warrant multiple playthroughs after completing the 5 hour campaign. After experiencing all 20 stages it became apparent that they didn’t share the same level of creatively as Star Fox or Star Fox 64. Incredible moments such as flying across a Star while taking damage from the heat or saving Slippy from a monster’s grip remained staple moments but here nothing that monumental every occurs. Instead on multiple occasions I felt a strong sense of deja vu. The boss battles share a similar issue, most of them seem to consist of recycled from past Star Fox games or performing the same tasks. 

Certain levels do offer a sense of speed and close-calls. It’s in these sequences that Star Fox Zero truly shines. Speeding past obstacles at insane speed while attempting to shoot down enemy forces is thrilling. However these situations are rare and far between. It doesn’t help that the soundtrack is dull and forgettable.

Star Fox Zero,Nintendo,NoobFeed,Wii U,

Most missions will have you piloting the classic Arwing but on certain missions you’ll take control of the Landmaster or the newly added Gyrocopter. The Arwing and Landmaster have been modified, allowing both vehicles to transform. The Arwing can shift into a bipedal Walker, first shown in the unreleased Star Fox 2, allowing for greater maneuverability and the Landmaster can take the form as the Gravmaster allowing for limited flight. The Gyrocopter missions taking first place as the least entertaining mission in Star Fox Zero.

Used in stealth sections the Gyrocopter is slow and ineffective in combat. It’s primary use is to drop and repel a tiny robot capable of hacking computers and delivering bombs. It serves as simple padding for the game. To have this vehicle replace the Blue-Marine is a tragedy.

All-range mode makes a return in Star Fox Zero and is much more frequent. In this mode players are given feel-range of the entire map. A new feature allowing players to lock-on to high valued targets makes it much easier to track these enemies while in this mode. During select boss battles the camera will shift to automatically target the boss enemy. This forces the player to look between the GamePad and the television screen since you’re unable to see what’s in front of you on the main screen and only on the GamePad. This became incredibly problematic when I had to look on the main screen to see when an enemy’s electric shielding was activating but I had to look on the GamePad in order to shoot effectively. Since the reticle on the screen is off, even when calibrated, looking at the Gamepad is mandatory to effectively aim.

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The primary issue in Star Fox Zero is the controls. The gyroscopic aiming assistance is mandatory, requiring the player to look at the GamePad to see where they’re properly aiming. A target reticle is shown on television screen but due to the perspective makes it difficult to aim without looking at the GamePad. Players have to tilt the GamePad to move the reticle, if the targeting reticle requires calibration simply pressing Y will instantly reset the targeting system. After coming to grips with Star Fox Zero’s new controller system it became easier to shift between the cockpit view on the GamePad and the aerial view on the screen. The issue became present when attempting to use the second analog stick with the aiming system.

The second analog stick controls boosting, breaking, and performing a barrel roll. You cannot boost or break while performing a barrel roll. What is bewildering is that the developers decided to incorporate the somersault and U-turn to not only the face buttons but the analog stick as well. By double tapping the second analog stick, commands linked to boosting and braking, players can execute a somersault or U-turn. Since boosting and braking depends on how long you hold the stick attempting to brake or boost in rapid succession will trigger this special maneuvers. 

These controls become increasingly frustration during the Walker sections. Since the Walker cannot aim left or right without initiating the gyroscopic aiming, by holding ZR, I I found myself accidentally boosting and brake while attempting to perform dodges against enemy fire.

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This doesn’t mean that Star Fox Zero is difficult. Unlike past games you’re not punished for hitting the floor or ramming into obstacles using the somersault, it’s a strange addition but it makes the game easier for newcomers. Also removed is the ability to lose parts of your Arwing, specifically the wings, when hit with significant damage. Seeing that the ally AI hasn’t improve also justifies this helpful additions. Falcon, Pepper, and Slippy don’t offer much assistance other than navigation purposes or asking for Fox to aid them while being pursued by enemy forces.

A major misstep was leaving multiplayer absent. One of the most demanded additions to Star Fox 64 3DS was online multiplayer. This was a chance for Nintendo to finally deliver the intense dogfights of Star Fox to the online world. 

Star Fox Zero isn’t a bad game but falls short in many categories. The controls can become increasingly frustration at times and most of the events throughout Zero felt either shallow or recycled from past games in the franchise. It’s easy to lose yourself in the chaos and become proficient in combat but once the issues start sprouting up it takes a lot of will to continue playing afterwards. It’s a shame Star Fox Zero could’ve been something great but takes a dive-bomb due to a lot of poor development choices.

Adam Siddiqui, NoobFeed
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General Information

Star Fox Zero


Platform(s): Wii U
Publisher(s): Nintendo
Developer(s): Platinum Games, Nintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development, Nintendo Entertainment Planning & Development
Genres: Aerial Shooter
Themes: Science-Fiction
Release Date: 2016-04-22

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