The Adequacy Of Star Fox Zero

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The only thing out of this week’s Nintendo Direct that really caught my eye personally was Star Fox Zero. The rest of the stuff looked great, but I’m probably only thinking about buying that one (and Rhythm Heaven). I think it’s time I kind of wrote down something in defense of it.

Honestly, I never really saw the problem with Star Fox Zero ever since its first unveiling. When people talked about the graphics or the weird motion controls I just shrugged and said “looks fun to me.” I can understand if maybe some of the people who went hands-on with the motion controls didn’t like them, so I guess I’ll just have to see about that. What I’m not really critical of though is the other gameplay which looks very typical of Star Fox, and I’m fine with that right now, which is a bit surprising to me given how I’ve felt about the series in the past.

The Star Fox franchise has been in a sot of limbo since the second game, Star Fox 64, which is the one everyone looks fondly upon. I think the reason for this might be somewhat similar to what’s happened to Nintendo’s other franchises since the N64 era. Both the first two Star Fox games felt like appreciable steps forward in console game graphics and overall presentation for their respective times. Seeing actual polygons in a 1993 Super NES game was a novelty in itself, but in the original Star Fox you also got chatter from your wingmen, seamlessly flew in and out of capital ships. In general it felt more like a virtual world than possibly any Nintendo game up to that point. 64 felt like a proper sequel which advanced all those things with aspects like on-land gameplay, 3D movement, and voice acting. And then the series never really took significant steps forward after that.

Star Fox kind of just waddled around with different developers while a lot of the fans just wanted, basically “Star Fox 64-2.” I think a big chunk of the console audience loves seeing increasingly believable and encompassing virtual worlds, and Star Fox represented that upswing until 64. They wanted another game that presented the same hop forward on newer hardware but never got it.

Star Fox Assault had its moments in my opinion (especially that arranged soundtrack), but at its best I think it only managed to match 64, and too much of the non-flight gameplay was too flawed. It’s a shame too, because one of my hopes for Star Fox was always to have some kind of seamless on-foot-to-in-the-air action. There was one really cool moment at the beginning of Assault where I felt like I was in the middle of a scene from an episode of Gundam or Banner of the Stars or something. Maybe that could be some kind of end goal for Star Fox and games like it.

Anyway, Star Fox Zero kinda does look to me like “Star Fox 64-2.” Almost all the gameplay the Nintendo Direct showed off just looked like more of 64 but with a new coat of paint. I understand if people see that as dull and not a definitive leap forward for the series, but at this point I haven’t had a genuine new Star Fox game in so long I’m willing to settle for that. With Platinum Games at the helm we’re at least guaranteed fast, snappy gameplay with good level design. Maybe some see this as the Zelda Twilight Princess of the Star Fox series — a game that merely gives the fans what they already know they want. Maybe people aren’t as impressed with what’s technically the most advanced-looking Star Fox game yet because it’s not up to the standards of the most beautiful looking console games of the time like the original two entries were in their respective times. Maybe No Man’s Sky is already offering some what might be the logical conclusion of what Star Fox tried to achieve.

BULLETS:

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