Star Fox Zero

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Star Fox Zero
StarFoxZero.jpg
The long awaited disaster
Genre: Scrolling shooter
Platforms: Wii U
Release Date: April 21, 2016
Developer: Nintendo EPD
PlatinumGames
Publisher: Nintendo
Franchise: Star Fox
Previous Game: Star Fox Command

Star Fox Zero is a video game in the Star Fox series, released on the Wii U in 2016. It was the first Star Fox game released in almost a decade, after Star Fox Command in 2006 (not counting the 3DS remake of Star Fox 64). On retail, it also came with an extra game called Star Fox Guard.

Bad Qualities

  1. Executive meddling. Many of these issues as written below were caused by Nintendo's decision, not Platinum.
  2. Horrible aiming controls. In order to actually aim at anything, the player has to use the Wii U's gamepad motion controls to aim. This wouldn't be so much of an issue if the targeting reticule were on the TV screen, but instead they put it on the gamepad's own screen, which shows the cockpit view. There is no alternative to using this set-up, and it's incredibly frustrating having to constantly look back and forth between the TV and gamepad screens, as you can't aim accurately on the former, but can't effectively dodge obstacles on the latter.
  3. Unimpressive graphics. There's certainly far worse-looking games on the Wii U, but the graphics are inconsistent at best, with some looking impressive for the system, and others barely above the level of a 3DS game. Most of the characters looked better in Star Fox Adventures, which was released almost 14 years before this game on a far less powerful system.
  4. The storyline is the third rehash of the storyline previously used in Star Fox and Star Fox 64 (the fourth if you include Star Fox 64 3D).
  5. Short length; the game can be completed in just a couple of hours, with little more in the way of replay value than the early games in the series.
  6. Level design that has shown little evolution beyond Star Fox 64, a game from 1997.
  7. The "walker mode" introduced for the Arwings feels very clunky and unnatural, and hardly any better than it did in the unreleased (until the following year) Star Fox 2.
  8. Character voices can only be heard through the gamepad's low-quality speakers, which can make dialogue inaudible if you have the volume on your TV too high, and was a pain for Let's Players to work around.
  9. Multiplayer gameplay is incredibly half-hearted in execution, and crippled by the Wii U never getting support for extra gamepads.
  10. It did nothing to help the failing Wii U as that system was struggling enough as it was, and put the series on hold.

Good Qualities

  1. Several possible paths to completing the game, and in a less linear manner than in either Star Fox or Star Fox 64.
  2. Great soundtrack.
  3. Many of the bosses are quite visually impressive, and we also get updated versions of some bosses who haven't been seen since the original SNES Star Fox.
  4. A well made short was released to promote the game which does a good job at introducing the characters.

Reception

While the game's reviews weren't overwhelmingly negative, it was widely regarded as the weakest main entry in the Star Fox series, surpassing even Star Fox Assault, the previous worst-reviewed main game in the series. Certain reviewers were especially scathing, including Jim Sterling, who said that the game summed up everything wrong with the Wii U: technical deficiencies, an over-reliance on nostalgia, and ill-conceived gamepad integration.

In addition to being the worst-reviewed game in the series, it was also the lowest-selling Star Fox game to date, though likely because it was released when sales of the Wii U had largely flatlined, with most gamers waiting for the Nintendo Switch back when it was code-named the NX. The game is thought of by some as an ideal candidate for a Switch re-release, as this would remove its primary issue, namely the poor controls.

This will also likely go down as the final game actively worked on by Shigeru Miyamoto, who was reportedly "kicked upstairs" into a largely powerless consulting role at Nintendo as a result of the failure of both this game and the Wii U in general (though it should be noted that the last game he had involved in day-to-day development on prior to this was The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask which was released 16 years ago and it shows!).