Video Games Weekly: StarFox Zero
Star Fox Zero was initially supposed to come out last year in 2015, but it was pushed back until April 2016. Since it was delayed for so long, Nintendo fans have been impatiently waiting for the newest installment to the Star Fox series. For this review, I asked my partner, Andres, to play the game in multiplayer mode with me because I don’t have much experience playing Star Fox games, and he has played the original N64 version.
Platform: Wii U
Single or Multiplayer: Both
Background: The first Star Fox video game was released on NES in 1993. The protagonist’s name is Fox McCloud, who is an anthropomorphic fox. Fox McCloud is the commander for a fleet of spaceships fighting against the enemy Emperor Andross. His fleet has other anthropomorphic pilots like a rabbit (Peppy), frog (Slippy), and bird (Falco). Each game takes place in space, specifically the Lylat System. The series is very much like Star Wars in the sense that it takes place in space and there is an evil Emperor that we must defeat for the good of the people. Each game is a scrolling space shooter game, meaning players control a spaceship on a 3D plane while shooting down enemies.
Storyline: Like former Star Fox games, the story opens with Fox McCloud introducing himself and his mission. He explains that his father, James McCloud, passed away five years ago while on a mission to investigate strange activities on a planet. Turns out James McCloud was betrayed by one of his crewman (who was working for Emperor Andross), and no one had heard from him since. Five years later, there’s an intergalactic war in the Lylat System, and Star Fox has set out to overcome the evils slowly taking over the galaxy. The main storyline takes about five hours to complete, but the game teases players to keep playing by having options with question marks that can only be unlocked after accomplishing certain tasks, like beating the game, or beating levels that use a specific ship.
Controls: The controls are difficult to grasp, especially for someone whose familiarity of Star Fox precedes Y2K. Players use the GamePad to move the spaceship around the 3D plane, which is displayed on the TV. On the GamePad itself, the screen only displays the cockpit. This is to help players shoot more precisely, and players can physically move the GamePad around to change their view. So, players are basically multitasking in order to play the game, and it’s difficult to get used to. It was funny to watch Andres try to move around because he was using the analog stick to move a ship already controlled by the rotational changes of the gamepad. This led to him being very, very, very bad at killing anything and running into buildings and dying very quickly. After ranting about the good ol’ days when you just had one joystick to control, he realized how much easier it is to kill enemies when you could see them in your cockpit. Two minutes later, he thought it was the most brilliant and fun way to use the GamePad.
Multiplayer Mode: Multiplayer mode is not what we expected. I assumed that Player 2 would take control over one of the other characters in the fleet while Andres assumed we would be fighting each other like in the original Star Fox N64 version, but we were both wrong. Instead, Andres used a Wii U Pro Controller to fly the spaceship around on the TV while I used the GamePad to shoot down enemies. Basically, we controlled one spaceship but split the work. The one pain in the butt was every time we started a new level, we had to tell the game that we were playing in multiplayer mode. Sometimes the game would continue without the first menu, so we would have to watch a cutscene, quit the level, tell it to start the level in multiplayer mode, then watch the cutscene again. Despite this setback, we had a lot of fun!
What is Old: I think the most disappointing thing about Star Fox Zero is they reused the some plot points content from the N64 version. The game was not marketed as a sequel or a prequel, but they really should have said it was pretty much a reboot. They basically took the same main plot point and added their own little twist with it to make it seem different, and it came off as very lazy. For instance, Star Fox Zero had Peppy shot down and crash landed into an arid planet for the team to save while in Star Fox 64, it was Slippy that was hit by a boss and crash landed into the planet for the team to save. In another example, they took the same exact boss in Corneria that you find after the waterfall in Star Fox 64 and made that the boss right before you fly to Venom in Star Fox Zero. A lot of the art/graphics are also reused, maybe to give the game a retro feel, but it wasn’t appealing to me. For example, the way they move their mouths is exactly from N64, as well as a lot of the dialog is taken straight from Star Fox N64 verbatim.
Also, the ending boss battle is exactly the same only with some minor changes! It is pretty much a rehash of Star Fox 64. Fox McCloud hearing his father navigate him to Andross (which they changed to occur before the final boss fight this time), battling a giant Andross head and floating hands, although they added a bit of a twist that involves looking at your GamePad. But in the end, it makes me wonder what the writers were paid to write since everything is practically the same.
What is New: They added new types of vehicles that Star Fox’s spaceship can change into. There is a walker-type vehicle that is good for navigating the terrarian; a heavy duty tank; and a quadrocopter. I’m a little disappointed we didn’t get to play more as the quadrocopter because when you are playing in multiplayer mode, the player with the GamePad gets to be play as a cute robot that is dropped from the quadrocopter to hack systems.
The other thing that is new is the levels take place on different planets with different terrarians. They also updated the graphics to accommodate 60 FPS (frames per second), which makes the game feel fast-paced and realistic.
Audience: All ages. This is a fun game to play in multiplayer mode because you are working together rather than against one another. Players need to communicate well in order to kill off enemies, and it requires the kind of focus that brings people together in high-fives and rambunctious celebration after trying to blow up an enemy for 10 minutes.
Verdict: Primary purchase for circulating collections and a solid edition for Teen Game Night programs.
Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me!
By: Alanna Graves (with the help of her copilot, Andres)
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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