Review by Super Slash
"It looks pretty, it's fun, but how well does it hold up today?"
Star Fox Adventures has always been a mixed bag for Star Fox fans. Your average person is generally not aware, however, that it was originally developed as a game called Dinosaur Planet for the N64. It was scrapped, sort of, during development, and moved to the Gamecube and redesigned as a Star Fox game. The reason for this is likely because the characters in Dinosaur Planet looked very similar to Star Fox characters. Many people overlooked/hated this game because it took the series in a completely different direction, from on-rail shooting to Zelda-like action and puzzle-solving. On the other hand, some fans loved it because of this. The game starts off with a fox lady named Krystal boarding a boat to investigate a distress call on a distant planet she received. It is commanded by the leader of the SharpClaw tribe, General Scales. She soon finds her way into the Krazoa Palace, and finds an ancient Krazoa Spirit. After releasing it, she is swept back by an unknown force and encased in a crystal at the top of the palace. Enter the Star Fox team. Onboard the Great Fox, Fox and his crew are enjoying music on the ship, when General Pepper suddenly receives the distress signal and asks Fox to investigate. He then travels to Dinosaur Planet, finds Krystal's staff lying at the ThornTail Hollow, and uses it as a weapon. Thus begins his journey.
The basic gist of the plot is that the four SpellStones of Dinosaur Planet have been removed by General Scales, causing four chunks of the planet to tear off. It's up to Fox to recover these stones and place them in an altar within the confines of the Force Point Temples to restore the planet to normal. Along the way he meets a dinosaur child, who basically acts as the navigator of this game (much like in the Zelda series, although he cannot give information on or target enemies). He is used for several things throughout the game and is used to solve many puzzles, and can be used to find secrets in the ground and walls, unearthing new pathways. He also gains the ability to breathe fire early on in the game. Some of the actions he takes consumes one mushroom out of five, and when he gets hungry, he will not perform another action until you feed him. You can find mushrooms for food scattered all throughout the game, so it's never really an issue. Later in the game, Fox finds Krystal in the Krazoa Palace, and is told by the Krazoa God to gather all of the Krazoa Spirits and release them to free her. This game is similar to Zelda in that it has a big focus on puzzles, but it is also different in that it focuses more on outdoor areas than dungeons. Out of the four areas, only three of them have boss fights, and as far as I can remember, there are only four boss fights in the entire game. While the game is fun, it has several flaws that can make it a chore to play at times. For example, the game's difficulty has too many rapid swings; it's either too easy or infuriatingly difficult and/or confusing. Some puzzles are cake, while others you'll need your thinking cap on for.
However, those are few and far between, as most of the time when you get lost/confused, it's not due to a puzzle, but due to an "Oh, let's place this random object/secret in this totally random spot that you would never think to look in, and call it a day". This happens far too often, and is an example of the game being infuriating. You can contact Slippy for tips, but he's not always all that useful, especially when you need to go to a new area but don't know how to reach it, in which case he just tells you to contact Peppy, who brings up the world map. The map is kind of sort of useful, since it at least shows you which direction you need to take from the area you're currently in, but that's about it. There is also currency in the game, in the form of Scarabs, little bugs which you need a Scarab Bag to hold any meaningful amount of. You pay these to the only shopkeeper in the game in ThornTail Hollow for items that will prove useful on your quest (mostly maps, but there are a few other things you should/have to buy at some point in the game as well). The problem is, you can easily wipe out 95% of the shop's items within the first couple hours of the game, and that's no exaggeration. It makes scarabs feel largely useless, as you will not be using them much at all for most of the game. To put it into perspective a bit, there's only one item that costs more than around 30 scarabs, and it's not required until you're near the end.
There are also wells scattered throughout the game, and you get a Cheat Token for throwing 20 scarabs into them. You can exchange these at a "Game Maze" for various prizes that are kinda neat. This is a nice touch that even today, Zelda could and should do to add a little more flavor. However, this is as far as you'll get in terms of side quests (unless you count the staff meter upgrades you can skip and are very easily missed), as the rest of the game has you on a very set path that you can never stray from. It's also pretty much impossible to ever see a game over in this game, since there's also the equivalent of Zelda's fairies that, when you die, you'll be revived (to full health!) immediately. At first you can only carry one of these creatures, but you can buy a bag that lets you hold as many as 10. And they're everywhere. This makes most hazards completely pointless, since I found myself just running through them and letting myself get damaged. Why not? I have practically infinite health. I died a few times, sure, but it doesn't matter when all of my heath is refilled immediately after. Bad decision, Rare.
The music was composed by David Wise, the same man who composed the excellent music for the Donkey Kong Country series. However, his work doesn't really shine here, and only a couple themes throughout the game really stuck out to me (ThornTail Hollow and Krazoa Palace). The sound effects and voices are nice for the most part though (except for Slippy's voice, who sounds like a toad swallowed a toad that swallowed a toad). Another problem with the game is that Tricky was not utilized enough; only for a few puzzles, and he always functions the exact same way (find a secret, breathe fire, find a secret, breathe fire, stand on a switch). Fox could've easily done everything Tricky did by himself with a couple minor tweaks to the gameplay. Also, combat is bland. Unlike in Zelda, you don't actually have any control in the direction you swing in, so you're just mashing A blindly. There isn't much variety in the enemies you fight, either, so it's usually just "walk up and bash him to death", or "walk up, block, bash to death". Despite this, there is something oddly satisfying about the THWACK sounds you hear from hitting a SharpClaw with your staff.
Boss fights are fun, but way too few in number. A bit of wasted potential here. If you're hoping for a good ending by playing this game, then just...don't. All of that buildup with Scales throughout the game amounts to absolutely nothing, as you'll see when you reach the end of the game, which felt somewhat rushed and completely forced. Despite its drawbacks, this is a really fun game, but it doesn't hold much replay value. However, it has some really pretty graphics, nice areas that are fun to go through (especially Walled City and Dragon Rock), and might satisfy your adventurous urges for awhile. But there are simply too many problems, some of which I didn't even mention, that plague this game and make it needlessly frustrating at times. Still, you can find it online for $10 or less, so you really don't have much to lose by trying it out if you're interested.
+ Nice graphics, especially for a 2002 game
+ Voice acting is decent, with the exception of Slippy and one other
+ Boss fights are fun
+ The four areas you had to visit were all pretty fun, and looked cool
- Doesn't hold up very well
- The game is either too easy or too frustrating, making for a tedious experience
- Combat is bland
- The ending was extremely rushed and forced
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 08/06/12
Game Release: Star Fox Adventures (US, 09/23/02)
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