For my Game of the Month for April, I’ll be looking at one of Nintendo’s sci-fi franchises – and no, it’s not Metroid. Not yet, anyway – I’m looking forward to talking about that one when it’s released.
Anyways, the game I’ll be featuring here is a collaborative effort between Nintendo and the mighty fine folks of PlatinumGames. I’m pretty sure that’s a dead giveaway of what it is for people who have been following all things Nintendo, but that’s generally what this opening statement is.
Star Fox Zero tells the story of Fox McCloud and his band of mercenaries known as Star Fox as they take on the evil scientist Andross by engaging in space battles. Well, some battles take place on planets, but I’m sure you get the gist of what I’m saying here.
Those who have played Lylat Wars/Star Fox 64 will find themselves in some familiar territory here – the game starts on Corneria, and you have to work your way through areas such as Zoness and Titania (amongst others) to get to Venom, where Andross is waiting.
Aside from the enemy fleets and Andross’s henchman, Fox also has to deal with rival team Star Wolf on a few occasions, led by Wolf O’Donnell.
All right, let’s just start with the controls. I don’t have any problem with them, but there are people out there who will refuse to play this game because of motion controls. I suspect they’re the same people who are missing out The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword – eh, if they can’t be bothered to wrap their head around a different way of playing a game, it’s their loss.
Playing with the GamePad is absolutely required for this game. You get two different views – the TV screen offers a view that will be familiar to those who have played Star Fox 64, whilst the GamePad has a cockpit view. You manoeuvre your vehicle with the control sticks, whilst ZR and R fire lasers and smart bombs respectively.
The cockpit view allows you to aim your lasers by using the GamePad’s gyroscopic controls. Useful for precision aiming.
Holding ZL will have the TV screen’s camera lock on to your objective, allowing you to get an idea of where everything is position. You can then use the GamePad to navigate towards your objective.
Naturally, there are people who are complaining about the motion controls, but I feel like if part of the fanbase weren’t complaining about something, they wouldn’t be happy. It just takes some getting used to, that’s all.
There’s a few different vehicles you will pilot over the course of the game, and might as well start with the most familiar one – the Arwing.
This is what you’ll spend most of the time flying. If you’ve played any previous Star Fox game, you’ll pretty much know what to expect with this. It comes with lasers and smart bombs for all your offensive needs, and you can have it do somersaults and barrel rolls (well, actually aileron rolls, but whatever) when you need evasive manoeuvres. Pushing the right stick forward will accelerate, whilst pushing it down will brake. Simple stuff.
The Arwing also comes with a new trick in this game. It can transform into a land-based vehicle known as the Walker.
The Walker is ideal for ground-based combat, and also gains a hacking ability later on.
The ability to transform your Arwing isn’t available until later on in the game, but once you’ve used it for the first time, you can go back to previous missions and perhaps find some alternate paths…
The second vehicle you’ll come across as you play through the game is one called the Gyrowing.
The Gyrowing gets used on the more covert missions. That robot you see in that image above is called ‘Direct-i’, and you can lower it from the Gyrowing to hack terminals, disable doors and pick up bombs to drop on your enemies.
And finally, we go back to another familiar vehicle.
The Landmaster is a land-based vehicle, with the ability to hover for short periods of time. It’s charged shot fires missiles instead of a laser, though they still home. You can also lock on to up to three targets with the Landmaster’s missiles. Much like the Arwing, the Landmaster can transform.
The Landmaster transforms into the Gravmaster, allowing to fly whilst there’s still juice in the boost bar. Other than that, it still functions just the same.
If you own them, you can use the Fox and Falco amiibos to unlock a couple of variations on the Arwing. Fox unlocks the Retro Arwing – the one that you controlled in the SNES game Star Fox/Starwing. The Falco amiibo, however, unlocks the Black Arwing, which is stronger and faster at the cost of taking more damage.
Star Fox Zero is an enjoyable game, and a worthy part of the Star Fox franchise. It does take a little time to get used to the controls, but things go pretty smoothly once you do. Besides, I can’t really think of many other recent games that play similarly to Star Fox (I mean shooting things in space in 3D), so this scratches an itch left after watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Oh, right, some copies with the game came with Star Fox Guard (either physically, or a download code), a tower defence game wherein you use the GamePad to flick between different cameras to fight off robots. I’ve never been a fan of the tower defence genre in general, so I just went with the standalone Star Fox Zero game.