I never played the original StarFox but I did play the ever-loving-snot out of StarFox 64 back in my college days. It ranked with Goldeneye, Mario Kart and Smash Bros. for most played game cartridge. Unfortunately every StarFox game since StarFox 64 (with the exception of Starfox 64 3D which was a remake and doesn’t count) has been in the range of mediocre to awful. I wasn’t setting my hopes too high for StarFox Zero and when Nintendo bundled a second game (StarFox Guard) in for no additional cost I began to suspect that once again we would have a dud on our hands.
I thought StarFox Zero was a new game in the StarFox series but I had heard rumors that it was a remake of StarFox 64. It turns out that it’s both new AND a remake. It’s a reboot of the StarFox Universe with some new mixed in. The first mission on planet Corneria will be extremely familiar to anyone who has played StarFox 64 although halfway through the mission it switches into new content. It’s a bit lazy storytelling-wis but I can appreciate that the world these anthropomorphized animals live in doesn’t lend itself to many story options. Rabbits, Foxes, Birds and Frogs living together in harmony in a world where there is nothing to fear except giant floating Gorilla heads? This stuff doesn’t exactly write itself.
So, how is the gameplay then? Early on Nintendo marketed StarFox Zero as a game that would use the Wii U Gamepad to great effect. The only effect however is that it makes it incredible difficult to play. The motion controls do not improve the experience whatsoever and switching between the TV and second screen is incredibly disorienting. I’d often be piloting myself into walls or buildings with my kids yelling at me that I was near death. I attribute all of my failures on this game to poorly implemented controls, and not any lack of skill on my part. It has been said that there is a difference between ‘challenging’ and ‘being hard to play’. StarFox Zero is the latter.
The only parts of this game that I really enjoyed were the parts where I wasn’t piloting any of the new vehicles, or looking at the gamepad (Essentially only the parts that played like StarFox 64). It’s a shame because this game really presents itself well, and my kids really enjoyed watching me play it. If you are not the one stuck fighting the control scheme StarFox is a lot of fun to watch. If Nintendo released a patch that fixed the problems with the controls I would recommend this game. In it’s current state I suggest you pass on it.
It’s worth noting that the game also came bundled with StarFox Guard for no additional cost. I haven’t tried Guard yet and I’m not even sure what it’s about. It may add a little more value to the whole purchase if you’re on the fence about it, but after playing the main game it’s hard to get too excited about anything else that came in the same box.
Is it fun: Meh
Length: 5 hours
System: Wii U
Genre: Action / Rail Shooter