Review by Crocomire
"Fox takes a break from the Arwing and goes adventuring!"
History of Star Fox
Team Star Fox first appeared on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System way back in the early 1990's. The game, titled Star Fox (Starwing in Europe), was the first Super NES game to use the Super FX chip which created some of the best graphics of its' time on any video game console. The game was an on the rails shooter where you took control of Fox McCloud in his airship, Arwing. Fox and his team mates Falco, Peppy, and Slippy go on a mission to defeat the evil scientist Andross who attempts to take over the Lylat System. The aim of each level is to kill as many enemies as you can and survive to the end of the stage where you must face the end of stage boss. There are many different bosses in the game due to the amount of different levels and each one requires different tactics to defeat it. Star Fox has to be one of the best Super NES games created and I think it fairs well against many other shooters of present day.
After much waiting, Nintendo brought us the next instalment in the Star Fox franchise in Star Fox 64 (Lylatwars in Europe) released for the Nintendo 64. This game took everything from the Super NES version and improved on it in every way possible. Once again, you resume the role of Fox McCloud and his Arwing on a mission to defeat Andross as he has now come back! Falco, Peppy and Slippy once again accompany Fox on his missions and now there are a variety of levels rather than just the flying stages. The bosses are bigger and harder than ever and some levels have more than one way to beat them. Voice acting is also present and apart from Slippy, everyone's voice is cool! The graphics are awesome and the game also uses the Nintendo 64 Rumble Pak which is fantastic. All in all, Star Fox 64 turned out to be a worthy successor to the first game and, like the SNES Star Fox, I think it still holds its' ground today, even with all the other shooters out there.
It's been eight years since Team Star Fox's last mission and during the years of boredom, Falco quit the team and went off on his own. Peppy has retired from the seat of the Arwing along with Slippy who has also dropped out of flying. Slippy now works on creating more mechanical devices and is forever coming up with new inventions to help the team. Star Fox's ally robot, Rob, has also been upgraded since he was last seen in Star Fox 64 too. The team hang out at their base, the Great Fox, which they use to travel around the Lylat System.
One day, while Star Fox are cruising around the Lylat System, the team get a message from their General, Pepper. General Pepper informs the team of a distress signal reaching them. Something is happening at Dinosaur Planet and Pepper wants the team to go and investigate. If the team can accomplish the mission, there will be a big reward of money involved! Fox and the gang get on it right away. Fox flies out with his Arwing to check out the happenings at Dinosaur Planet.
During the time this is happening, a young female fox called Krystal also hears the distress call and goes to see what's going on too. She flies on top a dinosaur known as a CloudRunner when they are suddenly attacked by an airship with a dragon on it which is firing at them. A blast of fire knocks Krystal's staff out of her hands and it falls towards the planet. Krystal gets aboard the ship and confronts the evil General Scales who is trying to take over Dinosaur Planet. Krystal doesn't stand a chance on her own and he knocks her over board. The CloudRunner saves her and takes her to the Krazoa Palace which is the source of the distress call. She finds injured dinosaurs about the palace and they tell of a war here. One dinosaur tells Krystal to retrieve a Krazoa Spirit'. Krystal must release the spirit in the palace. After she does this something jumps on her and pushes her into the beam of light that appeared after she released the spirit. Krystal is then taken to the top of the palace and is trapped in a blue crystal.
After Fox lands at the planet, General Pepper tells Fox that this mission will require tactical thinking and logic, telling Fox he should not be using his blaster. He must use his brains which Fox isn't too pleased about. He stumbles upon Krystal's staff in the ground and a message from her appears from the staff explaining how to use it. Fox masters it straight away and uses this as his main weapon throughout the game. Now Fox must explore Dinosaur Planet, find out what the problem is and save the planet!
As you already know, this is an adventuring game. Fox quickly learns that General Scales has hidden the four Spellstones and six Krazoa Spirits during the time his army attacked the EarthWalkers, a dinosaur tribe on the planet. The Spellstones hold the planet together and the spirits bring it life. Fox must return all the four Spellstones and the rest of the Krazoa Spirits back to their rightful place in order to return the planet to its' former self. Krystal had already released the first Krazoa Spirit back at the start, so Fox must find the remaining five.
Fox will soon save a young dinosaur by the name of Tricky. Tricky accompanies Fox throughout the rest of the game. Having Tricky as your partner allows for different ways of tackling puzzles and getting past certain points. You get to give commands to Tricky such as stay', find' and flame'. You can use the stay' command to leave Tricky on a switch while you go and check out what it has opened. Find' lets Tricky dig for things in the ground and flame' allows Tricky to breathe fire. You can use this move to fight enemies too. But for Tricky to do these commands you must feed him a special type of mushroom which he likes. If he hasn't had any food in a while then he won't obey you!
There are many puzzles to solve in SFA. Some require a lot of thought but others are easier. Tricky comes into play quite a lot in some puzzles too. One of the drawbacks comes in the fighting. There isn't much skill when you have to fight enemies. Basically all you're doing is smashing the A' button until the enemy dies. You can combine the directions and rolls into a cool move but it doesn't change anything much. You can use your staff upgrades to take out enemies and unleash Tricky on enemies too which helps to brighten it up a little. Three consecutive quick hits with the staff let Fox do a combo, and while it looks cool, it can get boring just tapping away when fighting enemies.
SFA can be difficult in some places but that's what adventuring games are about. Some puzzles will confuse you and sometimes you'll just keep failing on a certain part of the game like a boss fight or a test for a spirit. The game can be rather easy to complete though. But one great thing that makes up for it is the fact that you get to play Arwing missions just like in the old Star Fox games. They're a fantastic part of the game and if you loved the old SF games then you'll go crazy playing these missions. The most important thing though is that SFA is great fun and possibly one of the funniest games I have ever played! I forget how many times Fox made me laugh! His attitude and sarcastic comments are truly magnificent. Rare are great for humor and they didn't let us down with SFA.
Controls - 10/10
I think the controls are well suited to the GameCube controller. If you have played any Legend of Zelda games on GameCube then you will be quite familiar with the controls already. The Control Stick makes Fox move in the direction you want of course. The A button makes Fox swing the staff, pick up things, examine something or speak to someone. The B button cancels any command. X makes Fox do a forward or side roll. You can assign an item, command for Tricky or staff attack to Y which can be very useful as you determine what action goes there. I usually put the Fire Blaster on Y as I happen to use it a lot. The L button on the shoulder of the controller centers the camera behind Fox and lets him sidestep in the direction you want. R defends Fox from attacks. The D-Pad switches between what appears in the bottom left of the screen. You can choose from the area map, the Fuel Cell sensor and the info device. The C-Stick, when tapped in any direction, opens a small menu on the side of the screen where you can choose to use an item, staff attack or select a command for Tricky.
As you can see, it is very much Legend of Zelda but that is by no means a bad thing. I think the controls work brilliantly and as I find the GameCube controller the most comfortable of any console ever anyway, I never had any problems with getting used to playing the game.
SFA is one of the most beautiful games I've ever played. The graphics are absolutely amazing in this game. The Nintendo GameCube's power was really used to great effects here. When I first played the game and remember controlling Fox for the first time I was just in shock. I hadn't seen graphics like it before. The water effects were unbelievable. I was so impressed. The weather effects and night and day atmospheres are truly fantastic. I can't emphasize enough how beautiful the graphics are in SFA. I know there may be games coming out now that look a bit better than this but there's no denying at how gorgeous the graphics are. The fur-effect' is wonderful too. The hairs on Fox's body are just amazing. Everything looks so realistic. SFA has to be one of the most graphically enhanced games ever.
Just like the graphics, the sounds in SFA are superb. The music played in every location suits that area perfectly. You can feel the mood of that area just by listening to the music. There are some great echoing sounds and it's cool how the music fades out when you near or retreat from an enemy, just like in The Legend of Zelda. SFA features some brilliant tracks and it's great that you can unlock a sound test just so you can listen to the music any time. The sound effects and enemy noises are of realistic quality which is great too. Something which could well have ruined SFA completely is the voice acting. But do not worry, for the voices for the characters are top notch. Fox's voice is just dead cool as always and as I said earlier, he is very funny. No doubt, his voice helped put the humor into certain parts too. Everyone else's voice goes extremely well and unlike many other voice acted games, the characters do actually look like they are saying what is spoken aloud. And you might be pleased to hear Slippy's voice has changed from his high pitched annoying version from SF64, but it is still quite annoying in SFA too. But there are some great voices for a lot of characters like General Pepper's and the Warpstone's Scottish accent is cool. So the sound is just as good as the graphics in SFA. Top class.
Play Time/Replayability 7/10
SFA will take you a good while to complete. I reckon a newcomer to adventuring games could beat it in less than 30 hours. Maybe a lot less but as I have lost my original SFA game file I can't remember my first completion time for it. I have gone for a game file where I tried to beat the game in the quickest I could. I was aiming for less than 10 hours on my second play anyway, and I got under 8 hours so I was pleased with that. But that might tell you the game is quite easy too. It is easy once you know what you have to do, but then, that's the same with almost any game really isn't it? SFA does provide a challenge and that's a good thing for most people looking for an adventuring game. Replayability might not be so high for SFA. I seem to love the game and I love trying to go for my quickest completion time. There are many moments you'll want to see again so you are more than likely going to play the game once more after beating it your first time. You'll want to try getting the 100% out of it too; collecting anything you missed first time round. Going for a fastest time is always fun and this might also add to replay value but it's not got as much replayability as The Legend of Zelda games.
Star Fox Adventures is a wonderful game. Almost everything is perfect. The graphics are some of the best seen on any console, the music is excellent quality, the voice acting is bang on, the game has humor, it's fun and the controls are perfect. The slight disadvantages are the lack of any real skill in the fighting system, it's rather easy to beat, collecting items and running back and forth might get annoying, and the game is quite short. But there are a lot more good points than bad points and if you loved the old Star Fox games then you'd enjoy SFA just to play the Arwing missions! Any Star Fox, Nintendo, or adventure video game fan should buy SFA. Now!
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/20/04, Updated 10/20/04
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