Overall score 70

I’ve enjoyed the Star Fox games of old, like the original Star Fox on SNES and Star Fox 64 on N64. The games after, not so much. So it’s been a bit of bumpy road in terms of Star Fox releases that truly capture what made the originals so great. So when info of Star Fox Zero started rising up, I’ll admit that I got pretty excited at what I was hearing and seeing. Now after having completed Star Fox Zero, I can appreciate what it was doing. Unfortunately it still does fall slightly short in comparison to the originals.

The Good: Star Fox Zero keeps it simple for most part. You play level to level like traditional Star Fox, with each having some boss battle awaiting at the end. If you desire level design that’s reminiscent of the original Star Fox titles, Star Fox Zero offers plenty of that. This also applies to the story of the game. Not truly original, as it feels more like a re-telling of the Star Fox Zero storyline, but the presentation of it is well done and is sure to offer plenty of nostalgia for long-time fans.

Difficulty certainly ramps up in the later parts of the game, but no one level should take up too much time to complete. So it’s to pick up, beat a level, and move on. I think the short bursts of gameplay suit the Star Fox formula well. It’s also still enjoyable in long sessions too since you feel constant progression. Replayability is also present in a similar fashion to the Star Fox games of old with levels housing secrets that you’ll most likely overlook in your first playthrough.

There are also some variety in the vehicles as you won’t always be piloting an arwing. For the most part they do feel different. Certainly will draw mixed impressions, but I enjoy the variety and like how certain levels revolve around each of these vehicles like the landmaster.

The Bad: I really enjoyed the simplicity and straightforwardness of everything, but unfortunately the control scheme doesn’t follow that trend. With this being a Wii U title, Star Fox Zero is another victim of having things becoming too over complicated for the sake of Nintendo’s constant obsession of trying to validate the existence of the gamepad. I will say this first though, the controls do get easier to manage and at some point it will click. However, it was a frustrating road for me at times and in the end, even if I’m more comfortable with it than I was originally, I would’ve preferred a more traditional control setup.

The way things are set up in Star Fox Zero have the second screen (whether it’s on the TV or gamepad) set up as your cockpit view. While the other screen has the outer view around your ship. You pilot the arwing with the sticks and aim by tilting the gamepad around. You can charge a laser to lock onto a target or press a button during boss fights to focus your view on the boss.

At first it feels a bit odd. There’s certainly a learning curve I feel in becoming well at it. It’s not too complicated to be unable to pick up and play and to progress through the game. There will be moments of frustration though when may forget how to aim properly or maneuver your ship around, simply cause you’re entirely use to things.

The main reason I’m labeling this as a bad is because this control scheme didn’t necessarily better my gameplay experience. I can understand what they were trying to aim for, but I feel they failed in placing a control scheme that matches the fast pace dog fighting of Star Fox. It feels tacked on and forced because you have no option for a traditional control scheme. I think the traditional approach still would’ve worked nicely with the two screens.

Overall Thoughts: Star Fox Zero certainly succeeds at being a Star Fox game. It’s got the feel and presentation down. It was fun to play through the first time and was still fun on subsequent playthroughs. I won’t deny that I had fun with this game. However, the controls can be a hassle to mess with at times and may draw many away. It’s unfortunate that you are forced to this, since I feel like the game still would’ve been great and different enough with a traditional control scheme. The dual screen layout alone was a neat thing, so losing tilt controls wouldn’t have taken that away. I recommend those that are turned off to at least give it try and to stick with it. There is a learning curve, but it’s not impossible. For those long awaiting a true Star Fox experience, Star Fox Zero surely does fit the bill. You just have to get over the controls in order to get to it.

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