Let’s just say that I’m glad that I basically got this game for free since I used a contest prize to pre order this title. This isn’t the Star Fox game that we deserve. Star Fox Zero was supposed to bring this franchise back to life after its sad demise at the hands of Command. Unfortunately, Nintendo dropped the ball on this game in a big way. It’s not even so much that the game is short because length isn’t all that important compared to other aspects…sometimes…but the controls are some of the worst that I’ve ever played. Aside from Wii shovelware titles, this may have the worst controls for any AAA title. It really drains away any enjoyment that you could have taken from this game.
As far as the story goes, the game is essentially a remake/reboot of Star Fox 64 or the original. I forgot which one had this plot actually. Andross wants to destroy Corneria so a galactic war begins. Both sides suffer heavy losses and Team Star Fox is called in. They get the job done and their small group is more powerful than any army. The leader is Fox McCloud, a man who must avenge his father’s death by saving the universe. No task is too much for this young hero and he eagerly rises to the occasion along with his tough crew. Falco is the resident hot head who talks a good game even though he always tends to lose. Slippy doesn’t talk tough and still manages to lose a lot. Finally we’ve also got Peppy, the tough veteran who always ends up losing. Thing is, Fox is the only one who tends to win since the A.I. isn’t good against a villain attack in the gameplay. It’s a shame for them.
All right, let’s start with the positives because there are quite a few negatives here. I did enjoy the visuals. The space fights looked visually appealing and the game certainly looks pretty polished. The character models are not quite as good though and the game is pretty lazy which may have given them more time for the visuals. For example, the game uses the same recycled footage before each level as a mini conversation is had and there is really nothing to be found beyond the levels. More on that later.
The soundtrack is pretty fun. We have some nice remixes from the older Star Fox games and the themes are all very heroic and inspiring. It’s not quite Mario, but the themes never get dull and you’ll appreciate them. This may be the game’s greatest positive now that I think about it. A more mild one would be the fact that the characters are pretty charismatic. It barely counts since they are relying on character development from older games though. Fox and the others don’t really have much of a personality beyond a one line description that can fit each character. You are really just supposed to know who they all are at this point. Still, Fox has always been a cool character and that doesn’t change here. I don’t like Peppy, but Slippy and Falco are cool.
Unfortunately, we get a new character for this game who adds nothing to the story. There used to be a character named Krystal back in the day, but fans were really divided on her and she was axed from the series in this reboot. Instead, we have a new female fox who is naturally pink. I forgot her name, but her only role is to appear for about 5 minutes and flirt with Fox for the entire duration. That’s it…her role is just to flirt with Fox. Nintendo couldn’t have made a more unlikable, 2 dimensional character if they had tried. You could say the same for Andross although for different reasons. He’s also 2 dimensional and unlikable. Partially because of his design and just the fact that he’s not interesting at all. I think Pigma or Wolf would have made for a better final boss. Wolf’s cool as always, a shame that he gets around 2-3 lines here.
All right, let’s tackle the big issue in the room. The motion controls! Why would Nintendo revert back to this tired gimmick that got old a day after the Wii came out? Motion controls never work and they never will work. Sensors will never be accurate enough and it’s a hassle to keep on spinning in your chair to lock on to enemies and fire. As a result, the levels simply aren’t fun to play whenever you have to fight someone. That’s why I avoided enemies whenever possible and just zoomed through them. It is very difficult to aim and boss fights become artificially difficult. With proper controls, I’d say that you could breeze through these guys. As it stands, you’ll have a tough time of it. You can turn it off to an extent, but a slight one. Instead of always being on when moving, it’ll just keep on affecting your aim…which is just as bad. You still have to move the Gamepad in order to hit anything so that’s not much of a help.
It goes without saying that because of this you have to use the Gamepad. It’s a mandatory part of playing Star Fox Zero which is really a shame. I never liked the Gamepad and things like this remind me why that is the case. The instant I played the first level or two and noticed how restrictive the controls were, I knew that the game was going to have it rough. From fairly early on I had a feeling that a 6 was the highest it could go and the rest of the negatives kept it from reaching that spot.
Let’s talk about the game length. The game was nice enough to keep track of how long it took to complete it and I beat the game in 2 hours and 52 minutes. That’s considering that I was stuck on the boss for almost an hour and the fact that I lost to another boss once and in another level once more. This game is incredibly short for 60 dollars to the point where you could and should call it a ripoff. This is not worth 60 dollars and should have only been 30 upon release. You simply can’t justify the price point.
Replay Value is what could save the game from this short length, but there’s not as much as there should be. For starters, there is no multiplayer mode. Yes, there seriously isn’t a multiplayer mode in this game even though it would make perfect sense. Star Fox Assault had a terrific multiplayer mode. So, the only replay value is going back to get all of the medals and I don’t even know what doing that does. Maybe it unlocks a new level or something. There are 70 medals scattered around the 14 levels so that should buy you some time I guess. I definitely wouldn’t want to go after those. Even beating Arcade Mode sounds like a bit of a drag and especially when the only thing you unlock is Sound Test. I can’t verify that Sound Test is the final mode since I’m not going to try and unlock it, but that’s what I’ve heard around the web.
Yes, this game really won’t last you very long and it is easy to see why a lot of people are upset. They should be upset. This game got a lot of hype from Nintendo and it was even delayed a bit to polish up the graphics since it got bashed so hard at E3. Well, the graphics are better, but the controls are downright terrible. There was no quality control in this title and it feels so empty. I don’t think the developers put a lot of heart into this title. Even little things like the fact that the voices come from the Gamepad is annoying. Why do you have to hear the music from the TV on your right and then the voices from the Gamepad speaker below you? It makes no sense and it is like the game is trying to force you to just play with the TV off. Good luck with that.
After you beat the game there is a quick scene, but you won’t really miss anything if you didn’t stick around. I was hoping for an actual cliffhanger or something instead of what we got. Fox’s Dad seems to possibly be alive since he interfered a whole lot for a ghost so maybe that will be a plot in the sequel if the sequel has anything resembling a plot and if one is actually made. I don’t see this game selling all that well at all.
I almost forgot to mention the various gadgets that you have. The Landmaster, The Gyrowing, and the creature form of the Arwing. They’re all pretty bad I’m afraid. The Gyrowing is very slow and it is just around so you can use a Clank ripoff to hack the villain controls. It buys time for the levels. The Landmaster and the robot just suffer from terrible controls. Turning around is a hassle when it shouldn’t be and everything is made much more difficult than it otherwise would be. I suppose that these things wouldn’t be negatives without the motion controls, but that’s simply how the cookie crumbled this time. The controls are simply terrible.
Overall, Star Fox Zero is pretty disappointing and a final reminder for fans around the globe that we don’t want anything even slightly related to motion controls for the upcoming NX. It should be really hard to mess up with this kind of game, but Nintendo went above and beyond expectations on how to destroy hype. Making the motion controls mandatory was the main mistake here. 60 dollars for under 3 hours of story content is also pretty suspect in and of itself. Zero is a cash grab, nothing more and nothing less. Nintendo is hoping that enough loyal fans will buy the game to make a profit instead of trying to make a good game that everyone can buy. I don’t recommend buying this title and if you want to have a good space epic with Fox and the gang, just buy Assault instead. It’s a much better game than Zero in every single way. As sad as it sounds, I played the game for under 3 hours and I’m not sure if I’ll ever have a need to play it again. There is no real reason to go back to it and I actually think Star Fox Guard has a decent chance of being a better game when all is said and done. That’s quite scary. Nintendo, give us a proper Star Fox game or a new F Zero title for the NX. If not, I fear these two franchises may be gone for good.