Review by UltimateRincewind
"What can hype do, and what SFA can not."
Star Fox Adventures, the game most of Nintendo fans have been eagerly waiting for. Starting out as a game for Nintendo 64, later moved onto Gamecube, and as we now know the last game by Rare. What has gone wrong? Quite a lot.
Ah the story. If you can call it that. The game itself starts out in an extremely promising manner, the sort of exciting unknown. However that is soon permanently lost. Cause we kind of really forget about the entire introdcution sequence and for about 5 hours of play time we're doing something completely different! Then we are FORCED into resuming the original story path and we still have absolutely no clue what the beggining was all about. The nemesis of the story has about 20 minutes of screentime all together in which we never really understand his motives, WHY on earth is he doing all of this? We never find out. Most of the characters in the game have little or no depth at all. You spend majority of the game doing dungeons and quests without a real sense of 'why am i doing this?'.The only explanation Rare could possibly cook up was that Fox was sent to Dinosaur Planet because it has become 'unstable' and if it exploded it would destroy the Lylat System. Thats about as much info as you get. You never really get a clear explanation of why you have to collect the things you are collecting or why ARE they for doing the things they do in the first place! The only story comes in with the weakest of plot twists which is obvious to anyone with a brain near the very end of the game. But even then it doesnt make much sense. You actually have to read the CHARACTER section of the manual to find out some CRUCIAL info about the story and atleast SOME form of an attempt to link things together.
If there is one thing that is Star Fox Adventures selling point then it is the graphics. The graphics are spectacular, one of the few things in this game. I must admit, most enviroments are varied and some really have you lookinng around. From the overworld, to the cape with beautiful water. It all looks nice together with the very impressive Fox model. However graphics only form a shell of a game. If the inside cant keep up with the quality of the graphics then it all starts falling apart. I suspect Rare knew this, that is why their entire Advertising campaign is based around the graphics, there really isnt more to this game than that.
Sound, the sound in the game is really a mixed bag. The music itself isnt terrible. Actually its rather nice in some places and upholds the mood the graphics create, unfortunately the voice acting is rather average to poor. Fox, the person who you'll witness talking through much of the game, just sounds a bit too young. We're meant to have a person here with years of experience in combat and not a college candidate. However I guess it goes with the model which also seems a lot younger then for example his Super Smash Brothers Melee counterpart. Thankfully the rest of the Star Fox team doesnt speak very often apart from the intro, ending and several story related cutscenes. Most of the time you just get several word phrases when accessing the characters in the menus. Your dinosaur companion thankfully doesnt have much major screentime so you dont hear him often as his voice is glass shattering. Anyone who has played The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of time for the Nintendo 64 knows how annoying your helper fairy Navi was with her constant repeating 'helpful' sound samples. This is much worse. Hearing prince Tricky call 'Bad guy' gets annoying extremely quickly and is repeated over and over throughout the whole game. The language which the dinosaur inhabitants speak in the game is strange. It sounds like Lord of The Rings elves trying to speak with a german accent. Most of the words are too sharp and unpleaseant to hear. In my opinion Rare shouldve chosen a more softer approach.
On a note some people might not notice, Rare reused some of their sound effects from past games such as Jet Force Gemini (a tedious at parts but noticeably better game).
Quite unfortunately this is the games weakest point. Based on the Zelda engine .... What could go wrong?? EVERYTHING. First of all the game offers no variety whatsoever. The first time you fight someone you will be WOWed. The fighting looks SO cool!...for about the three first monsters or so. Soon you realise that you are stuck with about 2 combos that you can execute. Not to mention that enemies only take hits when you succesfully finish a combo. Another major letdown is that you are stuck with your staff for THE ENTIRE GAME. In games like Zelda you get to use other weapons for variety, here you dont. The spells are handed to you just like that and for the most part are pretty useless. Except for the Fire and Ice spell you will gain spells that you usually use ONLY once or twice in the entire game and that in the events directly following. The C stick menu is not terribly intuitive. You can quite frequently end up not using the thing you intended too. Quite strange is Rares clone of the Zelda engine, why is it that I can only jump off a platform in ONE specific direction and not wherever I want? Who knows?
Now that we got the basics with gameplay lets focus on the puzzles. These are mostly straightforward. I find it hard to believe that Rare still counts on people running around the entire overworld doing ridiculous fetch quests. Seriously, why do we have to take an air lift, navigate a small river, get through a dangerous maze, fall down a well like place, only to climb out on the other side, pass through a village and THEN reach your intended location several times back to back? You might not think this is a bad thing but once youve seen how the places look like once youve seen it all, there should be no reason for you to have to see it a 2nd, 3rd or possibly a 4th time. Rare didnt even provide us with a warp system of sorts that could get you from location to location fast. Most of the other puzzles are the standar fare 'shoot, shoot, shoot', stand on switch. We even get the basic block sliding puzzle.
Like I said most of the game requires you to run back and forth between places and even dungeons to receive a single quest item. You have to retrieve 4 spell stones and put them back into their respective temples. The problem? Once you get the 2nd spell stone you go thru the same ordeal as with the first one with some MILDLY changed attributes. Then you have to face several challenges to receive the so called Krazoa spirits. You dont really have a sense as to WHY except for the most obvious reason, you just get over with the fact that you just plain HAVE TO. These challenges themselves are rather interesting and pose a certain degree of challenge and a massive degree of frustration. At the beggining of each one you must get through a type of obstacle course until you reach the place where the challenge will take place. The problem is, getting through the challenge is usually just a matter of luck. One challenge features you trying to match items with the places youve seen them with. The items are scattered around the room and you have to place them into coresponding paintings on the wall. By the time you go over the items and recognise the paintings the time haas ran out AND you go back to the beggining. Frustration continues. One nice challenge is the Fear challenge. The most frustrating one, its a simple manner of keeping the cursor in the center of a bar, not letting it slip to the edges, think Manuals/Grinding in Tony Hawk. The problem is it takes about a minute and you WILL have to repeat it several times. Which is a shame cause the action actually going on at the screen while youre desperately focusing on the bar is interesting.
The game throws these kind of challenges at you all the time, usually dodge this, bring this, protect this. The bosses themselfes can HARDLY be called bosses. Rare was apparently very lazy here as one of the later bosses is just a Rail on with you shooting out of your staff with virtually no way of dying yourself. Never in the game are you faced with actually needing to buy a map or anything from the shop. Neither did i understand the point of Fuel Cells which you use to get to other parts of Dinosaur Planet, i never really hunted them down yet I always had just enough to acess that new area. And if you dont, you can just buy them at the shop. Very lame. Once you finally FORCE yourself to finish the game you'll be treated to a ending that lasts about half a minute not even so. Why rare, why?
Star Fox Adventures had it there, the power to be a wonderful game, and a final goodybe from Rare. What ruined it? The inclusion of branded characters instead of original ones? Could very well be. I guess we will never know, perhaps it would've been better if this games stayed on the NIntendo 64, with its original characters, original storyline, and no interference from within the Star Fox world. Well Maybe next time.
Rent or Buy
I would say rent. Its possible to beat the game in one weekend and you really will be full of it. If you really want to have that 'last piece of rare' then do buy it, but wait untl the Price goes down because at the current one this adventure is not worth it.
Story - 4
Graphics - 9
Sound - 7
Gameplay - 5
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 07/29/03, Updated 07/29/03
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