Nintendo opened their E3 Digital Event with a massive preview of Star Fox Zero. We had known the game was coming it was briefly shown to a handful of press behind closed doors last year so no one was surprised, but it was great to finally see a proper Star Fox game in all of its glory.
Star Fox Zero is being designed as a re-imagining of the original hits that came out on the SNES and N64 when I was a kid. As a result, it doesn’t fit the mold of either a sequel or a “reboot.” (A reboot is when they take the same character and just start fresh; ignoring everything in previous games. The new Tomb Raider games are a very good example.) Instead, we are left with familiar faces, worlds, and star ships zipping their way under arches and blasting away enemies. While this might sound boring; it is anything but. There are several subtle differences that make this add up to a much richer experience.
First, the visuals really take the experience into the modern age. Previous Star Fox games have relied on very simple graphics in order to deliver on their promised action gameplay. The SNES version had space ships built using a handful of grey triangles. The Wii U is, thankfully, a bit more powerful than the SNES so it is able to deliver some beautiful backdrops and awesome lighting effects to really make the space battles pop on screen.
Second, each of the games multiple vehicles has a transformation mode that gives it different powers. The main ship in the game, the Arwing, can transform into a two legged mech for ground encounters. The Landmaster tank can transform into a jet for added mobility and to take out enemies that just couldn’t be reached otherwise. This is a fresh take of the series and a welcome one as the levels will likely be much more complex based on the hardware power Nintendo has at its disposal.
Not everything is looking perfect for Star Fox Zero right now though. Several journalists has had hands on time with the game and have reported that the controls are VERY difficult to use. You see, Star Fox Zero was made based on a company wide initiative that more games needed to be created that took full advantage of the Wii U gamepad’s technology. As a result, players are given two screens to work with that each serve a separate purpose. The main television screen gives you a wide view of the battlefield. This is where you fly your ship to avoid enemies and obstacles. Meanwhile players are expected to do fine aiming using the screen on the gamepad.
Peter Brown over at Gamespot.com had some significant concerns regarding the two screen control method. He found himself bumping into obstacles he couldn’t see while fine aiming and missing targets wildly while he was trying to avoid obstacles. As someone who has difficulty focusing on multiple tasks at once in video games this idea frightened me a bit.
The good news is that the game does not launch until this Holiday and Nintendo could change a LOT about the game between now and then. Keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for more info as the release approaches. We’ll keep you up to speed!
What do you think of the game? Sound off in the comments!