Before I get into my feelings towards the game, I just want to say that I am not a huge fan of Star Fox. I mean, I like them, own and enjoy every game, but Star Fox is by far my least favorite franchise from Nintendo. The next thing you should know is that when they first revealed the control scheme of this game, I was mortified. I thought it was a ludicrous idea and it ruined the game. I was still going to buy it, but only because Nintendo and Platinum Games both impress the heck out of me with every thing they do. I even looked at a review or two, something I never pay attention to, to see what others thought. And not surprisingly, they were mostly negative, complaints about the voice acting, graphics and ESPECIALLY the controls being the most prominent.
So I did not actually buy Star Fox Zero, but my cousin did day one. Right away he called me and said he loved it. He only played one level, but swore it was the best in the series. So the next day he came over and I watched him play the first level, and right away I noticed it was neat to watch. Now know, I typically hate watching others play video games, but for some reason, the view on the screen made the whole thing seem like a cinematic, rather than someone playing a game. This made it interesting to watch. I also noticed that my cousin, playing the game for the second time only, had the controls mastered and was flying and shooting like a pro. For those who don’t know, the flying is done on the TV screen, where much of the shooting is on the gamepad in a first person cockpit view.
After he beat the level, he handed me the gamepad and I tried the second level out, not knowing any of the controls whatsoever other than moving the gamepad was how you aimed. In under 30 seconds I figured out all the controls and had them pretty well mastered. So right away all the nightmarish reviews confused me. The controls were so easy to pick up and get used to and on top of it, it utilized the gamepad! Something rare for the Wii U, unfortunately.
It was so much fun to fly around in a Star Fox game again, blasting away at everything. It played and looked and felt just like you would expect it to. Switching from looking at the TV and the gamepad was easy and made for a different experience for each view. I found that this new type of gameplay added a certain tactical element to the game. Did I want to look at the screen to better see oncoming threats and fly more precise, or did I want to sacrifice that for more accurate firing? I found this choice to really add to the depth and strategy of the game, which added to the fun and overall experience.
And I know a lot of people would say, “If they made the targeting on the TV, you could have both!” To answer this, I would simply say, true, but then you would have to focus on one or the other anyway, possibly resulting in an overwhelming and crowded experience. With the two different screens, again, it adds new depth and unique characteristics to the game. Plus looking at the gamepad made me actually feel like I was in control of the Arwing, fighting alongside Falco and the others. I almost wished this game had come out for the virtual reality systems to enhance that feeling even more.
Speaking of adding depth to the game, the new Walker mode allows your Arwing to transform into a walking robot thing of mass destruction. The ability to change into this at almost any time during the stage allows you to flip the gameplay on its head with the push of a button. It feels almost like you have entered into a different, yet incredibly similar game. The Walker allows you to access different areas, attack from different vantage points, and more! And again, looking between both screens is amazing and extremely fun.
I then played through the third level, actively switching between flight and Walker modes and had a blast, the controls completely comfortable and mastered by now.
After I beat this level, I played the first level, but this time I tapped my Fox amiibo on the gamepad. This turned all the Arwings into their SNES Star Fox polygonal glory and even changed the sound effects to their 16 bit awesomeness and even added a graphic for the charged laser, something that was not in the original game. Best of all was the original music from the first Corneria, one of my favorite video game songs ever, started playing thanks to the amiibo. Even the Walker was 16 bit, probably the original design of the canceled Star Fox 2 for SNES it was supposed to appear in. That was a ton of fun to play through like that. Having Walker mode unlocked this time, I was able to go through different paths during the level and even defeated the stage boss in a different way, resulting in a different ending cut scene.
Next, my cousin and I tried out co-op. I took the gamepad, which meant I could do nothing but shoot around, while he watched the TV, so he was in control of flying, but also had a laser he could fire straight ahead of him. We had a blast playing this. I loved the fact that I had no control of the ship, because all the movements were a surprise. I felt like I was on a roller coaster when all of a sudden he would barrel roll or somersault, getting a first person view of the maneuvers the Arwing was doing. Awesome fun. We got to fight Pigma of Star Wolf like this, my cousin flying around trying to keep up with the ship, and me blasting away at it. I felt like I was in the scene from Star Wars: A New Hope when they escape the Death Star, but get chased by TIE Fighters. My cousin was like Chewie, flying the Millennium Falcon, and I was Han or Luke in the gun turret thing, trying to blast away at them. Having a feeling like that is amazing, especially since I love Star Wars.
The next part of the mission introduced a new ship called the Gyro something or another. This was great, especially in co-op. My cousin flew around while I shot at things, then he could drop down this little robot thing that I took control of to hack into things. Lots of fun.
So that was my experience from Star Fox. I absolutely loved it, and it just may be my favorite in the series, though I will wait until I complete the whole game when I eventually buy it to make the official judgement, for playing it took all my doubts about purchasing it and incinerated them in an Arwing laser blast. I hope this encourages anyone else on the fence about buying it to give it a shot. It is well worth it.
I already said I am confused about why the controls are getting knocked by reviewers, but I imagine that it is because the developers took a risk and broke away from traditional controls, and change is something a lot of people are not receptive to. Change can be a bad thing sometimes, but in this case, it is incredible and delivers an experience you can only get on Wii U.
Though honestly, the game is almost completely playable if you wanted to just look at the TV screen anyway, or even if you just looked at the gamepad. So work on mastering that if you have issues with doing both at the same time.
As for graphics, is it the best looking game on Wii U? Absolutely not, but it’s still a great looking game, and the graphical style is everything you would expect from a Star Fox game, so again, I’m not sure what people are upset about.
And as for the voice acting…it is just like its always been since Star Fox 64. Again, this game is everything you would and should expect from a Star Fox game, just with a ton of new features and gameplay mechanics that make it a worthy title in series and well worth your time. Plus it comes with another game with it!
Images from computergames.ro