Star Fox Adventures
Review by McGray
"A good game, but it just doesn't measure up."
Star Fox Adventures, while a somewhat entertaining title at its heart, just seems to be missing something. What it is, I'm still having trouble placing my finger on. This isn't to say it's a bad game, however; it does have interesting puzzles, beautiful graphics and gorgeous music, as well as excellent voice acting. Read below for further details.
Graphics: Star Fox Adventures boasts some of the most detailed graphics on the GameCube to date. There is no doubt that this game is visually stunning, and to deny this would be a lie. Fox's fur is beautiful, with each little hair being shown, it almost looks real. The scenic view of almost every area you explore is finally detailed, right down to the last portion of that wall over there. I've tried to find pixels myself, but this game hasn't let me.
If you thought Super Mario Sunshine's water details were the peak of liquid graphics as we know them, think again. Star Fox definitely puts on a show with its water; you can see reflections and below the surface at the same time, something that SMS lacked, and each wave bends the water and mutates the view below the surface, as does each ripple that makes its way away from Fox as he swims about.
Other than that, Rare has managed just to make stunning graphics of just about every area you see, from the watery Cape Claw, all of the way to the desolate Dragon Rock. Each of the many characters and enemies are also very well done. Rare made sure that the graphics would be memorable, and they have indeed succeeded.
Sound: For the most part, excellent music. Very well done. Each place has a different tune. The cheery and beautiful music play on Dinosaur Planet sets a nice background for a hub level. The area is bright and green, with trees and a small river flowing through, so the music fits perfectly. In great contrast to that, you have the eerie Moon Mountain Pass, constantly covered in a strange glowing darkness, a lot like, well, the moon. The sky stays dark and the music plays, giving you an isolated feel as you explore the area. It really adds depth.
The voice acting isn't so bad, either. Granted, at times it can be a little over the top, like an extra-dramatic anime, which is never a good thing. And Dinosaur Language, though unique, is plagued by naming some key object or character in the English language. It can get downright embarrassing to listen to Krystal speak in Dino: ''Blah blah blah blah blah, General Scales!'' Other than that, Dino isn't so bad, and I give Rare credit for taking the time to create a language and pronunciation alike.
Story: It's nothing we haven't seen before. Krystal, the last survivor of her tribe (an exotic tribe of blue-furred foxes with breasts), has picked up a distress signal and taken to the skies (on the back of some flying dino) to find its source. On the way, she's attacked by General Scales' flying ship and drops her magical staff. She explores it for a bit before making her way to the Ancient Krazoa Palace, a floating temple where the sacred Krazoa Spirits used to reside. She finds one of the Krazoa Spirits, returns it, but is soon after imprisoned within a large crystal (strangely enough). You then switch over to the Great Fox, where Fox and his two team mates, Slippy Toad and Peppy Hare, abide. It's been 8 years since the defeat of Andross, and now they constantly patrol the Lylat System, taking up any job offers they can. Slippy traded in his wings for a spot in R&D, whereas Peppy retired and became a tactics advisor. Sheer boredom has overcome our favorite bunch of animal bounty hunters, causing Fox's friend, Falco, to leave the team in pursuit of a more fulfilling job.
The team is briefed by General Pepper who reports that he needs Fox's help on Dinosaur Planet. The Star Fox team, willing to tackle any challenge, extremely bored, and running low on money, gratefully accepts. Your object now is to re-unite the 4 pieces of Dinosaur Planet that have blown apart, with the help of 4 Spell Stones, and to free Krystal from her imprisonment by collecting the remaining 6 Krazoa Spirits.
Gameplay: First and foremost, there is something missing here. It has something to do with originality and depth. Let's face it, the game controls exactly like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, or Majora's Mask, with slight changes. A is the action button, which also serves as the attack button; X is roll/dodge, depending on if you're in combat or not; B is the cancel button, functioning to close any open menus and to put away your staff; Z is free-look; R is shield; L is to center the camera directly behind Fox; Analog Stick is to move; C-stick is to open the Item/Magic/Tricky Command menu. Up and down are used to cycle through options, right or left are used to toggle which menu you want; Y is the quick-set magic function. Pick a spell under you magic menu and press Y. After that, pressing Y again will use that ability until you either reset the game or assign a new ability to that button.
You start out by landing the Arwing on the Dinosaur Planet. Shortly after you find Krystal's staff, which can be used for battle. Now this is where the lacking starts: in other games, you pick up the controllers, start the game and, WHOA! everything's new, everything's awesome. It's got that minty freshness to is. With SFA, there is no minty freshness. Not for me, anyway. It was more of a, ''I've seen this before.'' The truth of that matter is, I DID see it before, in the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. For one, the minty freshness is part of every game. If you start a game that doesn't have minty freshness, it detracts massively from the experience. Oh well.
Combat is fast, action-packed, and well worth the trouble. Oh wait, wrong game. Battle in SFA is mind-numbing. It's based on simple combo system. Pressing A will bring out your staff, and you'll auto-lock onto any opponent near you. Pressing A again will result in a normal attack to your opponent, while pressing A several times will result in a combo. There are a total or 5 combinations in the game, each controlled with a different control stick direction: neutral, forward/front/left, and backward. Neutral executes a kicking combo, left/right/forward prompt Fox to do another combo, which is ultimately the same each way, just with different openers...nothing special. Backward is the last combo, and the most impressive. By pulling away from your opponent and repeatedly tapping A on the controller, Fox will attack with a series of openers, switch to swirling his staff and hitting the enemy with it, much like a propeller, then charges his staff, before hitting them for a finisher. Sound cool? It isn't. The fighting engine is extremely restrictive. When you start a combo, you can still stop in the middle, but starting with a new attack is too time-consuming, as it seems Fox is still trying to figure out why he stopped, instead of just pulling off another move. Not only that, but the only moves that inflict mentionable damage are the finishers; everything else is just for show. You can still dodge with the X button and the corresponding direction, it is purely for show. The enemies you fight are too slow to catch you. Even with the addition of mid-dodge attack abilities, these are hardly useful. Using a side-roll and attacking will result in a quick kick, but due to the enemies and their constant blocking, you'll never hit them. Speaking of blocking, that's another thing with combat; the enemies are always blocking, making combat nothing but a basic pattern: block, attack. Some of the bigger enemies block right after they attack, meaning you'll have to block several more times looking for a weak spot. In other words, enemies are simple, redundant, and downright tedious at times.
The combos themselves are nice to watch, but only to an extent. To quote a friend of mine, ''I'll be sick of that by the third time.'' So true, so horribly true. As a matter of fact, shortly into the game I started intentionally avoiding battles; they're just that bad.
You run on a very linear and scripted path from one point to another to get this item or that. The bosses are all extremely simple, with no actual fighting involved; it's more finding a unique way to dispose of them. They are impressive, intimidating, and some of the time, fun, but I've seen better. Also, I must mention that there is a severe lack of bosses altogether, and you don't get to fight too many.
Most of the worlds aren't that big. The hub world, Dinosaur Planet, if taken as a whole, is extremely large. I'm talking huge. The thing is, it's split up into several smaller ''sub worlds''. On Dinosaur Planet (the planet, not the game), you can generally reach most of the areas in the game right from the start. The only drawback is, without a key or an item to help you, you won't be able to reach the area's main sector. There are also 4 different worlds to fly to, and each of these are relatively large as well, so you're looking at a decent-sized game, as far as territory goes.
Tricky, the native prince of Dinosaur Planet, is also played. He's mostly an annoying member, tagging along with Fox. You're required to feed him his favorite mushroom in order for him to perform special actions with help you progress. Usually, one action equals one mushroom. Tricky can eat a total of 5 mushrooms at a time, and Fox can hold about 15 in his pack. Add to that that the mushrooms are very common, and you'll find that Tricky is easy maintenance.
Replay Value: None. That's all I can say. Once you're through this game, you're done. There's NOTHING to go back for, and I mean that. Star Fox has no side-quests, no hidden objects to be found, aside from a few Staff Energy Meter upgrades you can find littered throughout the world (very sparsely). That and the Cheat Token Wells, but these things alone aren't enough to bring me back.
Rent or Buy?:But as said before, Star Fox Adventures is just missing something. To again quote the same friend, ''Where's the meat?'' SFA has no meat. You're waiting for it to take off the whole way through. To tell the truth, the story isn't in the least bit very epic or compelling. In a lot of games, namely Zelda (sorry for all of the references), you go to the new area because it's fun to do, and to see what happens next. I was never interesting to see what happened next in Star Fox Adventures; through the final quarter of the game, I finished it only so I could say that I did, and to write this review. The game is fun, but not original. I can't recommend anyone to buy this game and get away with a clean conscience. It makes a good rent, but due to the fact that this game is completely devoid of all replay value, it's not a good buy.
At the end of it all, we have Star Fox Adventures: a pretty shell with little inside. I understand that there are those who liked this game, but frankly, I wasn't one of them. It's a good game, but not the best. It doesn't come anywhere near excellence.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 10/19/02, Updated 10/20/02
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