Game review – Star Fox Zero (Nintendo, 2016)

Star Fox Zero may seem like it has the potential to be a great game, but it certainly doesn’t deliver. Unfortunately for Nintendo, a disappointing release does nothing but expose the cracks on a project that has been doomed for many months.

As previously discussed in my post “Where is the Nintendo’s Wii U console right now?”, the struggling console is caught somewhere between a failed experiment and a disaster threatening the gaming behemoth’s position and reputation. There are so few games left on the horizon for Wii U owners, owners are left wondering how many more hours we’ll get to spend on it. I suspect that figure has now dropped into double figures, with the next console – provisionally titled NX – slated for a Spring 2017 release.

One thing that Nintendo had left up its sleeve to appease Wii U owners – and the word appease is spot on given they’ve semi-abandoned the previously exclusive Zelda game by announcing it will launch on the current and next-gen console simultaneously – is release an updated version of one of their biggest franchises to date, Star Fox.

This was met with excitement by the many fans of the series. It meant there was a reason to hang onto the console for a few more months and get a great exclusive title that an increasingly smaller but dedicated community would be able to enjoy.

Unfortunately for fans of the series, this isn’t really a revolutionary HD reboot to the franchise, but rather a remake of Star Fox 64 (despite supervising director Shigeru Miyamoto’s protestations to the contrary). Indeed, it is a hugely disappointing remake, plagued with controller issues and a criminally short total game time.

I decided to hold back from posting this for a few months and hope that giving it a chance to grow on me would change my mind. Unfortunately, the dreadful controls are something that simply can’t be ignored. Yes, they are very much integral throughout (who’d have thought?). The crafts are slow, their turning circles are the size of a small moon and the agility required to complete levels is far beyond their abilities. The worst thing is the inability to lock on to enemy crafts, made infuriatingly difficult by the gyro controls that can’t be fully turned off. It’s what happens when you try to shoehorn a controller that doesn’t work onto a game that doesn’t need it.

Additionally, the graphics are stuck in a rut somewhere between faithful reproduction of N64 graphics and a full HD realisation. What we’re left with is some clunky polygons with neatly drawn skins. This is a combination that has never looked good.

The one saving grace is that the familiar story mode is done and dusted in about ten hours of gameplay. Sure, they added in some frivolous reasons to replay the levels but the game is such a huge letdown I can’t bring myself to do it. So whilst it’s frustrating, disappointing and repetitive, at least you won’t have to suffer for very long.

Star Fox Zero was an instant failure and giving it time to grow on me just didn’t help at all. 

Funnily enough, I recommend buying a new copy of this and keeping it sealed. So few copies will ship that they will be collectors’ items in years to come.

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