Review by KnightsoftheRound
"Rare's final game for a Nintendo console is well worth playing, especially if you are a fan of the Star Fox series."
The Good: Spectacular visuals; widescreen support; gameplay is solid; good puzzle design; Star Fox characters are implemented well; great boss fights that only Rare can provide; Arwing levels are a fun bonus; it has that classic Rare adventure game feel to it.
The Bad: Some of the gameplay elements feel half-baked; constantly respawning enemies can be annoying in some areas; Arwing levels are fun but feel like an afterthought; Falco is absent for most of the game.
If there is one game series that should earn an award for changing genres so many times it would be Star Fox. Although Star Fox Adventures was the first Star Fox game to actually stray from the Star Fox formula, all of the future sequels, as well as sequels that never actually saw the light of day, have been completely different types of games than the original Star Fox and its remake, Star Fox 64.
Star Fox began as a space combat flight game on the SNES, and there was a sequel planned that was supposed to have dramatically changed the way the game played, almost entirely changing it's genre. This game never saw the light of day. Then when the N64 came around the original Star Fox was more or less remade as Star Fox 64, which is regarded by many as the best game this series has to offer. Then we had Star Fox adventures which turned the game into a third person adventure game, similar to the Legend of Zelda franchise.
Some people have criticized Star Fox Adventures for simply being a "Zelda clone" but labeling Adventures as a clone of a Zelda game would be a mistake, and disregarding the game for this reason is just plain ignorant. Star Fox Adventures in all honesty does feel very similar to the Zelda formula, but it manages to make itself unique, with its cast of characters and its setting. What's more, is that what is the point of writing a game off that plays like one of your favourite video game series but is actually a good enough game on its own to be worth playing? The fact is, is that there is no point in doing so. Star Fox Adventures is an excellent send-off from Rare for the Nintendo GameCube.
Star Fox Adventures begins with a blue female fox character named Krystal who is traveling the Lylat system (where the Star Fox universe takes place) for answers, as she is the sole survivor of her race of people. Unfortunately this is basically just a simple excuse to introduce Krystal to the game, since this game was actually originally planned to have Krystal as the main character, until Nintendo wanted Rare to make the game use Star Fox characters. This is where the half-baked ideas of Star Fox Adventures begin, because no matter how interested you are in Krystal's back story, there isn't any explained in the game other than this small introduction at the beginning. Without giving away spoilers, even when you finish the game, there is absolutely no resolution to Krystal's back story at all. Soon after playing a segment as Krystal you begin playing as the main hero of the game who is obviously Fox McCloud. It has been 8 years since the events of Star Fox 64 and Andross' death at the hands of Fox. The Star Fox team has not been doing very much, and this has caused Falco to leave the Star Fox team due to boredom. Peppy has retired as a pilot, and Slippy has been working on other projects. Fox quickly gets a message from General Pepper that a planet simply called Dinosaur Planet requires aid, as the planet is falling apart because of an evil dinosaur named General Scales, who is using his army to take over the planet. He has removed the four spell stones that keep the planet's energy balanced, and parts of the planet have begun to separate, which will eventually cause the planets destruction. Along the way Fox discovers Krystal who is frozen, and in order to save her, he must also collect the 6 Krazoa spirits and return them to the Krazoa palace.
This opens up your basic adventure. As fox you must explore dinosaur planet while trying to recover the spell stones, and the Krazoa spirits. Spell stones are recovered by completing interesting and fun boss fights, while the Krazoa spirits are recovered by completing challenges which challenge things like sight, combat, et cetera. The game is by no means open-ended though, you must follow a clear-cut path for the entire game, and there is no instance where you can actually complete the game however you want. This is somewhat typical of a Rare adventure game though, however they have usually let you do some things at your own leisure (Donkey Kong 64 for example). That brings up the games biggest flaw, is that it is linear to a fault, and nearly every playthrough of this game would be the exact same, so there isn't a ton of replay value here.
Adventures does keep things fresh with its buddy system, early in the game you will meet a young dinosaur named Tricky who will accompany you throughout most of the game. Tricky can be ordered to perform certain commands to help you solve and complete puzzles. For example, you can order him to stay on floor panels so you can gain access to new areas, where the doors would otherwise close if you were not standing on the switch. You can also order him to use his flame breath to burn certain objects. He has several abilities which can be useful, although there are many parts of the game where he doesn't see much use.
One of the better things that Star Fox Adventures does is that it has a menu system where all of your allies are accessible. Slippy, Peppy, and General Pepper all have their own sections in the pause menu where they "show you" things like where you need to go, what your status is, and what you are supposed to be doing. For example, if you are stuck, you can see Slippy on the pause menu and he will always have hints and clues, or sometimes even flat out explain to you how to complete an entire area of the game. Slippy is basically a built-in walkthrough, which can be convinient, but also sometimes detract from the game experience. Sometimes you wander into a new area and instead of even attempting to figure it out yourself to feel compelled to see what Slippy has to say. This is a good feature, and the good thing about it is that you can either use it if you want right away, or save it until you truly are stuck and need help. Peppy displays world map images and shows your current location, and if you are in the wrong area he also shows you where you need to go on the world map. General Pepper simply shows you your current mission status, as in what special moves you have found, and what items you have acquired.
This brings to the somewhat half-baked ideas of the single player. The combat in Star Fox Adventures is fairly straight forward. When you walk up to an enemy, you automatically lock-on to them, and you use the A button along with different directional pushes of the analog stick to perform different combos. There are only about three maybe four combos that you can do though, so combat isn't always entirely interesting, and is probably the least interesting aspect of the game overall. The puzzle solving is interesting, and is usually always fresh, although it will feel quite familiar to anyone who has played Donkey Kong 64 (secret switches hiding that you need to shoot with your staff, like you had to shoot with your guns in Donkey Kong 64). A lot of what you do in Star Fox Adventures is based on your staff, which you acquire pretty much at the beginning of the game. It is actually Krystal's magical staff but she loses it in the opening cinematic and Fox finds it on dinosaur planet. You will acquire various upgrades to the staff throughout the game, such as being able to shoot fire balls, spraying an ice blast, launching a powerful quake into the ground, and many more.
There are also a lot of areas of the game that need to be resolved by using items, and you can either find these by defeating enemies, or you can buy them from the shop keeper. You actually have to buy a lot of stuff from the shop keeper which is kind of annoying since you can't carry that much money at once, although you will acquire bag upgrades later on in the game. The most annoying thing about the bag upgrades is that once you have the largest bag available there is actually only one thing left in the store that you couldn't buy prior to this, and it is an item that is story related and cannot actually be used by the player like almost everything else that was in there. A lot of the items seem half-baked because they only need to be used in one area. For example, there is about three or four instances where you need to use a firefly lantern and use fireflies to light your path so you can see in the dark. It's good that they don't use this very often though because it is actually somewhat irritating when you have to use the lantern. But other things just seem pointless like planting seeds in the ground and making them grow into vines so you can climb up. Some of these things just don't have a lot of depth to them, so at times you will sometimes feel like what is the point of even having this in the game in the first place. Overall most of the aspects of the game are interesting enough, and they change up what you are doing quite a lot so nothing ever becomes stale.
Star Fox Adventures is quite the visual treat, especially for the GameCube. Everyone knows that the Xbox is the most graphically capable system of the previous generation, and that technically the PlayStation 2 is the least capable. The GameCube falls somewhere in-between those two systems and sometimes it has games that look just as good as Xbox games, but more often than not, it has games that have PlayStation 2 caliber graphics. Fortunately, Rare has proven of how much of a graphical beast that the GameCube can be. Star Fox Adventures is a monster in terms of graphics (in a good way) the graphics are amazing, and there is no slowdown at all. This game actually looks better than most Xbox games I have seen and played, which truly shows how capable a system can be if the developers really put their mind to it. It is unfortunate though that most developers do not take full advantage of a system's hardware, because Rare has proven that the GameCube can be a graphical powerhouse if you want it to be. As you know the Star Fox series involves anthropomorphic animals as the main characters, and you can even see some of the individual strands of fur on Fox, as well as other characters like Peppy. Adventures truly does look amazing, and offers some of the best eye candy of the previous generation, and it is unfortunate that most games do not look as good as this one.
The music in Star Fox adventures is all appropriate for the setting, and some of the tunes even sound disturbingly familiar to some of the ones found in Donkey Kong 64. The music is suitable for the jungle setting of the planet, and the other areas, such as where a moon crash landed into the planet has appropriately strange music, as well as the snow areas all have their proper sounding music. Where the game falls short a little bit is the voice acting, and some of the sound effects. Some of the enemies have annoying sounds that they repeat often (mostly the small flying enemies) and Tricky can be annoying at times. Overall there is solid voice acting everywhere, and the typical bizarre voices and British accents obviously appear in typical Rare fashion seeing as Rare is a British developer, and they seem to enjoy making some of their characters have humorous voices.
Star Fox Adventures is an appropriately lengthed, 20 hour or less adventure. Depending on how much you use the help feature can also add to how long it will take you to finish this game. It might not have the depth and replay value as other Rare adventure games, but it is still an appropriate length for the content that is offered. The only minor gripe you can really point out is that there are no collectible items that Rare's adventure games have always been known for. Previous examples would be Banjo Kazooie, and again Donkey Kong 64, with it's golden bananas.
In the end Star Fox Adventures may not have been the Star Fox sequel to Star Fox 64 you were hoping for, but out of the three Star Fox games that have been released since Star Fox 64, Star Fox Adventures is easily the best, and the most recommendable game out of them all. And despite the fact that it is an adventure game, it somehow manages to stay the truest to the Star Fox games of old. Don't be surprised if more than one old "friend" reappears in this adventure. Star Fox Adventures manages to stay original enough for the entirety of its single player game, and the added Arwing levels serve up some great nostalgia for fans of Star Fox. Don't be afraid to try out Adventures, as it is one of the better games available for the GameCube, and despite it's lack of replayability, it's one of the most recommendable games for the GameCube if you are looking to expand your collection.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/15/07
Game Release: Star Fox Adventures (US, 09/23/02)
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