Review cover Star Fox Zero (Nintendo Wii U)
Official GBAtemp Review

Product Information:

  • Release Date (NA): April 22, 2016
  • Release Date (EU): April 22, 2016
  • Release Date (JP): April 21, 2016
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: PlatinumGames, Nintendo EPD
  • Genres: Scrolling shooter

Game Features:

Single player
Local Multiplayer
Online Multiplayer
Co-operative
It's the successor to Star Fox 64 that everyone's been waiting for, and one of the final Wii U-exclusive titles; how does it hold up against such high expectations?
downloadfile-5.jpg

The center of speculation since its reveal at E3 last year, Star Fox Zero has been delayed many times and criticized for its lackluster graphics in trailers. Yet neither of these are the game's biggest hurdle.

A nostalgic adventure

Star Fox Zero is one massive tribute to Star Fox 64; everything from the map, the audio clips, and the missions to the story itself is sure to please Star Fox 64 fans who still feel nostalgia. Anyone who's even looked at SF64 will recognize the little references and mementos the game presents, from Peppy enthusiastically shouting "Do a barrel roll!" to the awkward-sounding "Good luck!" sound clip that plays before a mission.

zixwbkeyonvs3izc0u1o.jpg

maxresdefault-3.jpg Star-Fox-Zero-Arwing-Screenshots.jpg

Through the game's escapades with the gamepad (more on those later), the graphics suffer a little. They're not noticeably bad-- they're smooth, jaggie-free, and the framerate is consistently 60 FPS, but the models aren't very detailed. Fortunately, this works as a simplistic design choice, depending on how you interpret it. Either way, the graphics could definitely be improved upon as the game looks a little too much like a Wii U launch title.

There are some interesting experiments with 3D sound going on in the game. The main music comes through the TV speakers, while the radio messages from your teammates come through the gamepad speakers. This creates an increased sense of immersion, and certainly puts the gamepad to good use.

Short but sweet

Although the main campaign is very short, taking only a few hours to complete, it does a fantastic job of shaking up the gameplay as you progress. Never are two missions of the same type next to each other. The variety of vehicles help to ensure a lack a boredom during the campaign. Of course, the most fun levels are the on-rails sections in the standard Arwing. The game works best when it sticks to its roots, but that doesn't mean the Gyrocopter or Landmaster missions aren't a nice break from the fast-paced Arwing levels. Missions in All-Range mode allow the player to roam around 360 degrees of space, usually to fight a boss or team of enemies. This creates a nice contrast between the meat of a level and its final boss fight.

sfzerowiiu3.jpg

maxresdefault-4.jpg SFZ-008.jpg

There are boss fights after most levels, which are mostly very formulaic. They follow a distinct pattern of "hit the glowing red weak spot to cripple the boss, then hit the other, bigger glowing red weak spot". Some fights are fun, yet many are long slogs that get annoying after a while.

There are alternate exits in some levels just like Star Fox 64, encouraging playing through the campaign multiple times. There are also collectibles on each level, adding some replayability. However, even after collecting all that, the game doesn't last much more than 8 or so hours. The arcade mode provides more fun as well, though the game feels a bit short for a $60 price tag. The addition of Star Fox Guard helps as well.

The crucial stigma

Star Fox Zero tries very hard to be innovative while also preserving the Star Fox experience. Unfortunately, the game's unconventional controls have some great potential but end up hampering the experience and causing one too many accidental deaths.

The basic structure of the controls seems simple. On the TV, the player's vehicle is shown in a third person view with a reticle used for aiming, just like any other Star Fox game. On the gamepad is the cockpit view, which is supposed to be from the perspective of Fox. It has some basic lines indicating the windshield of the vehicle, used to estimate orientation. The reticle is visible on the gamepad as well, and the game advises that the gamepad be used for "precision aiming". This makes sense considering that the main method of aiming is with the gamepad's gyro sensor, which is typically very sensitive. (The gyro aiming can be turned off in some parts of the game, but is mandatory in others.)

star-fox-zero-april-release-date-wii-u-700x394.jpg

star-fox-zero-review-0003-800x450-c.jpg 300470_scr1_a.png

This control scheme poses two main problems:

1.) The aiming reticle very frequently gets off-center because of the gyro aiming, and though all it takes is a button press to recenter it, this gets frustrating quickly during, for example, a heated boss battle where you have limited windows to deal damage.

2.) Switching between the two screens to look at is *not* a natural process. I always end up staring at one screen or the other, and the moment I try to switch I've already lost the very enemy I was trying to aim at. You can lock on to an enemy with zL, which has the camera follow them on the TV incentivizing you to aim at them with the gamepad. However, this is not easy to do either as you quickly lose track of the position of your own vehicle.

Sometimes, I will lose half of my health due to me losing track of my own plane, or even losing track of my reticle. Keeping the gamepad in a neutral position to center the reticle is sometimes tough. The game forces you to play with what are essentially three axes to manage, from the left stick which controls the plane, the gyro to aim, and the right stick to control the throttle. This causes confusion; it's embarrassing how many times I accidentally launched a bomb instead of calibrating the reticle.

What's crazy is that these controls actually work when you get used to them. They actually make you feel like you're flying a plane once you figure them out. But the amount of time it takes to figure them out is about the length of the whole campaign, and there's still the chance to get confused and hit the wrong button. Innovative controls? I'm a fan! But innovative controls that too often hamper gameplay? Not so much.

Verdict

What We Liked ...
  • Great pacing in the main game
  • Fantastic on-rails sections
  • Satisfies nostalgia and rebirths the Star Fox legacy
What We Didn't Like ...
  • Controls interfere with gameplay
  • A small lack of content
  • Monotonous and frustrating boss battles
7
Gameplay
The levels are well-designed, the campaign's pacing is fantastic, and missions are varied. These are all things that point to perfect gameplay, but the awkward controls sadly bring the gameplay down.
7
Presentation
The graphics aren't glaringly bad, but the models lack detail. The framerate is consistent, yet this game looks like a Wii U launch title, and the Wii U has been out for almost four years now.
6
Lasting Appeal
The replayability falls a little short of standard for a $60 game, but it does alright with collectibles, challenge missions, and arcade mode. Still, I would have preferred a longer or even another main campaign.
7
out of 10

Overall

For a title that people have been awaiting for years, Star Fox Zero falls a bit short. It continues the Star Fox legacy in a nostalgic and venerable way, but its controls and length hamper its greatness. It is a good game, yet somewhere underneath its major problems is a fantastic one.
I got the game today, I haven't even spent most of the day playing and I already beat the main campaign. The game was fun and all but that just feels WAY too short for me and I honestly feel ripped off. It feels like it should have cost half of what it did, at most. A third of the price would be a good price for it. I haven't gone through all the optional stuff yet though but there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of it.
I had the same feeling of being ripped off when I bought Star Fox 64 3D but I already knew that game was pretty short, having played it as a kid, and it was 1/3 cheaper than this. I expected that they would fix the shortcomings of Star Fox 64 and make a longer, more fleshed out game, and it was more fleshed out in the different vehicle types and I felt the gameplay was more varied but it's still severely lacking in content for a full-price retail title.
 
  • Like
Reactions: hobbledehoy899
The length is exactly why the core essence of 'Star Fox' that the nostalgia fetishists are insisting the series be held to is doomed to lead to failure. The sheer amount of work that has to be put into a short stage a few minutes in length is a complete tar pit for that type of gameplay. It just doesn't work while also making the game super shiny.

If they made a CoD style or Metal Gear style Star Fox game and made them do other mercenary stuff, then the series could maybe have a game that actually took a while to play and even give the series the chance to have some depth to it. We're shown a bit of that from the animation, that potential for substance and story, but in the end the clamoring for more of something that is inhibiting to create will be the down fall of the Star Fox series. It ain't Metroid, guys.
 
I'm hesitant about buying this game, mainly because of the controls.
But in the graphic department I still think the vehicle designs of assault are the best.

Other of my complains is why reboot Star Fox once again??
They already did with 64. Are they running out of ideas for villians??
 
I'm hesitant about buying this game, mainly because of the controls.
But in the graphic department I still think the vehicle designs of assault are the best.

Other of my complains is why reboot Star Fox once again??
They already did with 64. Are they running out of ideas for villians??
Maybe it's because after Command and the way it was made, they pretty much were stuck in a rut and felt that a reboot would probably be a better way to start the story over and change some things around. Then again, it's just me speculating, so we can only wait and see.

Anyway, I haven't had too much problems with the controls. Sure, at the beginning it felt strange and has a rather weird learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, it's pretty great.
 
I got this on Sunday and from what I've played, I'm immensely disappointed with what they gave us. I loved SF64 growing up and never got tired of it - It was the perfect lay back and relax game. But this game, this feels like another job than a relaxing space tunnel shooter as the original was. I spent about an hour on Andross last night and still haven't beaten him because the controls are so horrible, not to mention bad camera angles in all range mode. How is it that what they did so right 15 years ago came out so wrong today?

And why in the hell can't we customize our control scheme?? I know we're forced to use the gamepad screen in certain situations, but let me turn off gyro completely, and make bombs the Y button instead of L, and barrel rolls R/L. Flicking the right analog (twice in the same direction) is just not natural while trying to concentrate on the other ten things you need to do while playing. I don't return any of my games when I buy them, but I'm highly considering taking this one back. It's more stressful than it is fun in my opinion.
 
S
No mention of the voices ONLY coming out through the GamePad? Someone did not do their homework properly.
 
S
The sound of the GamePad sounds flat and horrible.
 
S
I totally get that and that's what Nintendo was going with but it's still disappointing the sound isn't coming through the TV.
 
I think it's pretty good.... levels aren't that short, aiming is really nice. But the landmaster controls still suck and target mode/view is really annoying.
 
The name of the game included the review score... lol Endoverend your review was very kind to the game.

In my opinion the game is just horrible, ruined by the controls. If they had been optional things would have been vastly different and I would have loved it. lol
 
S
The name of the game included the review score... lol Endoverend your review was very kind to the game.

In my opinion the game is just horrible, ruined by the controls. If they had been optional things would have been vastly different and I would have loved it. lol
The game would have been great if it offered traditional controls because this is pretty much "Star Fox 64 HD" with gimmicky controls. I'd have loved Assault too if it didn't have those terribly boring ground battle stages.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Psionic Roshambo
Review cover
Product Information:
  • Release Date (NA): April 22, 2016
  • Release Date (EU): April 22, 2016
  • Release Date (JP): April 21, 2016
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: PlatinumGames, Nintendo EPD
  • Genres: Scrolling shooter
Game Features:
Single player
Local Multiplayer
Online Multiplayer
Co-operative

Reviews

  1. PlayStation 5

    Sonic Origins

    Taxman finally gets his shot at recreating Sonic 3 & Knuckles. It's the exciting release every Sonic fan has been waiting for, right?
  2. Hardware

    Corsair H150i Elite Capellix

    Summer is here, so it might be time to look into upgrading your PC's cooling. Does Corsair have what it takes to beat the Summer heat?
  3. Xbox Series X|S

    Industria

    Indie developer Bleakmill’s debut title Industria is now available on PS5 and Xbox Series X|S. Described as an FPS with a surreal Lynichan atmosphere, does it have what it takes to be your new...
  4. Nintendo Switch

    Mario Strikers: Battle League Football

    Mario and friends strike back in the latest entry to the almost-forgotten footballing frenzy.
  5. Hardware

    Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Gen 2 MAX

    The Stealth 700 Gen 2 MAX from Turtle Beach is an officially licensed gaming headset for Xbox, but is also compatible across a range of devices with Bluetooth connectivity. Let’s take a closer look!
General chit-chat
Help Users
    Dark_Phoras @ Dark_Phoras: I need to unsee that nipple