Review: Star Fox Zero

Star Fox Zero blends nostalgia with terrible motion controls.

Nintendo’s latest Star Fox game for Wii U, Star Fox Zero, possesses a sense of familiarity when compared to previous installments. Although it heavily relies on Nintendo’s latest innovation, the Wii U gamepad and touch screen, it fails to provide the individual with adequate controls, which instead causes the implementation of the gamepad to come off as a shoehorned feature, and the last ditched effort to justify its existence.  

Revisiting a familiar scene

Right out the gate, Star Fox Zero places individuals in Corneria. Of course, this setting is very similar to the introduction stage found in Star Fox 64. It certainly scratches that nostalgic itch that’s been lingering for almost 20 years, and that warm feeling you got from playing past iterations will definitely rush back to the soft spot of your heart while engaged in Star Fox Zero.

The only problem with this, however, is that it instantly shows Nintendo wanted to play it safe in terms of character and level design. Some stages and characters looked downright identical from those found in Star Fox 64, which is fine, but then Star Fox Zero seems less like an original Star Fox adventure and instead appears to be more like a remastered version of Star Fox 64. [pullquote align=”left” class=”” cite=”” link=”” color=”#FFFC7F”]”Star Fox Zero seems less like an original Star Fox adventure” [/pullquote]

Although 3D visuals are utterly jaw-dropping in 1080p at 60 frames per second, it would have been nice to experience innovations throughout the game’s entirety rather than to experience nuance from within the Wii U gamepad and motion control functionality.

Look up. OK, now look down. Then, repeat.

Nintendo’s inability to competently implement fully functional and comprehensive motion controls into Star Fox Zero heavily deteriorates 20 years of franchise nostalgia. Shouting at my television set became a natural and constant reaction to the recalibration of motion controls, which happened throughout most of the experience. [pullquote align=”right” class=”” cite=”” link=”” color=”#FFFC7F”]”Shouting at my television set became a natural and constant reaction”[/pullquote]

To be fair, recalibration is simply done by pressing the “Y” button. However, the need to dedicate one face-button to solving motion control issues illuminates the fact that Nintendo was aware of the issue in the first place. And covering it up with a dedicated button that slightly remedies the issue, albeit easy to initiate, pours salt over the wound. It’s worth noting that recalibration mostly occurs when operating land vehicles, which to be honest, pertains to roughly 50 percent of the experience.  

Nintendo’s constant reliance on motion controls and touch screen visibility is like an infant who is blatantly screaming for your attention. And that fact that they’re both implemented ineffectively only highlights that this feature was shoehorned into the experience, and in no way compliments both the Wii U and Gamepad.

Final Say-so

Star Fox Zero still feels very much like traditional Star Fox. Frustrating motion controls convolute the experience, which, unfortunately, breaks the immersion and causes the individual to lose focus. You’re likely to achieve some form of nostalgia while playing Star Fox Zero, but juggling back and forth between your television set and gamepad will likely disorient you. To Nintendo’s credit, it’s fine to see the Big N take a risk and try something different with the Wii U gamepad, but in the case of Star Fox Zero, it just doesn’t pan out as I had hoped. In reality, it fails to justify the gamepads existence to this 29 year-old Nintendo fan.

Score
2

    Pros:

  • Stunning HD visuals
  • Appeals to franchise veterans

    Cons:

  • Heavy emphasis on terrible motion controls
  • AI companion audio only heard via the gamepad
  • Nostalgia wears-off after first stage
Star Fox Zero was reviewed on Wii U using a retail purchased copy

 

Publisher Developer Reviewed On Release Date
Nintendo Platinum Games Wii U April 22, 2016

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