Reviews: Star Fox

Star Fox Assault

Star Fox Assault while enjoyable, serves to remind one why Star Fox 64 was so much better. The game opens with an epic space battle, mimicking closely the famous Area 6 level from 64. This is probably one of the best opening levels I have played in my life. But then, the game dispenses with the scrolling space shooter formula and proceeds to focus on ground missions for about 60% of the game. These ground missions largely consist of "run and shoot all of the enemy spawn points" repeated ad nauseum. The game supplies you with a variety of weapons, but only a few are better than the standard blaster at destroying wave after wave of bugs. The Landmaster controls feel clunky, and it seems like the Landmaster is just a suped-up gun or a way to break the tedium of the ground missions. Branching paths are gone, leaving just 10 missions and little incentive to replay.

That being said, the three scrolling space shooter levels are top-notch, but I'm left wondering why there couldn't be more of them. The graphics are decent, but certainly a step down from the stellar graphics of Adventures (Fox's fur is simply painted on, not rendered in 3D). The voice actors seem to take the plot more seriously, and I'm not sure whether that's a good or a bad thing. Only characters like Slippy and Falco seem to retain some of their inherent cheesiness from 64, while Krystal seems to serve no purpose whatsoever. The score of the game is phenomenal, consisting of remixed and orchestrated tracks from 64. In particular, the Star Wolf theme with a new Flamenco flavor was good enough to be featured in Super Smash Bros Brawl alongside the original. But the game's real strength is in its multiplayer mode. Here, the various different weapons that you didn't bother to use in single player come in handy, and each character actually plays differently rather than being a simple skin. Almost every level from the game is available as an arena, as well as two more which weren't featured in single player. The only flaw seems to be that almost every mode available for play is a variant on Deathmatch, only Crown Capture offers any unique victory conditions.

The game succeeds best when it imitates 64, the new things it brings to the table are a mixed bag.

Star Fox Adventures

Star Fox Adventures is certainly the black sheep of the Star Fox franchise, getting a lot of flak from fans because it's really not a Star Fox game. While this may be true, it certainly doesn't make it a bad game. Right from the get-go, it's apparent that this is a Zelda clone. Everything, from how the camera is controlled to the types of puzzles involved to the combat and targeting system, is taken straight from Ocarina Of Time. Again, this is not a bad thing. There are even certain improvements made to the Ocarina system, such as the use of the C-stick to open an easy-access menu system to prevent constant menu-hopping (a severe flaw of the 3D Zelda games). However, it feels like certain buttons on the controller are wasted. Only Y is used as a shortcut item-assignment button, with X being used for rolling. The A button is used for the staff, and B is a catch-all "cancel" button. The game would have benefited by making B the staff button, with X and Y being used for items, and A as a generic "action/roll" button as in the Gamecube Zelda games. Combat is also a rather boring affair. 90% of battles can be won simply by mashing the A button, and there is little variety in enemy types until later in the game.

Control issues aside, the game is rendered beautifully, with some of the most gorgeous graphics ever seen on the Gamecube. Environments are lush and beautiful, and you can see just how well Fox's fur is rendered as it reacts to things like water and wind. The game is fully voice-acted, while some casting choices are better than others. In particular, the comical Scots-accented Warpstone exudes so much cheese as to end world hunger. The score, while not as bombastic or sublime as the music in 64 or the later Assault, is atmospheric and each tune fits the mood of its area quite well. The themes for Thorntail Hollow and Cape Claw stand out with their soothing chanting.

The plot is nothing to write home about. It's obvious that this game really doesn't concern the Star Fox universe at large, and it contains one of the most blatant examples of Hijacked By Ganon I've seen in my life. It's an enjoyable experience to play through a few times, but treat it as the decent Zelda clone it is, not as a "true" Star Fox game.