Review by ChronoCactaur
An instant classic; Rare's last true masterpiece on a Nintendo system
Rare is known for, at least back in the day, innovation. Rare is the company that took Donkey Kong from being an arcade superstar to a blockbuster platforming series on the Super Nintendo in the form of Donkey Kong Country. How did they go about innovating the Star Fox series you may ask? Well... they decided to make it a Zelda rip off. Now is that a bad thing? Well, look at the score I gave this game and tell me if that's a bad thing.
If you're coming in expecting a sequel to Star Fox 64, I'm sorry to say that this isn't it. It's a completely new experience in the Star Fox franchise, the Donkey Kong Country of the Star Fox series as it may seem. Why does every game in a series have to be the same thing? Change isn't a bad thing if it is handled in the right way, and Star Fox Adventures is definitely a case of change gone right. Some people are afraid of change however, and gave this game a somewhat bad rep back when it released in 2002. The sad truth is that the game was ahead of its time by at least a few years, and only now are people beginning to truly appreciate its offerings.
Just about everything you'd expect from a Zelda game is present here. The main differences are that you don't collect heart pieces(though heart containers are still gotten with the acquisition of a spell stone), and there are no proper dungeons. Instead, the game is proceeded in a seamless fashion. So while Star Fox Adventures can be compared to Zelda, and is in many ways a copy, it still has unique material to set it far and apart from a Zelda game. Collectables include stuff native to your world, "Dinosaur Planet", and fuel cells scattered across the planet. The locale collectables include Scarabs, Grubtub Fungus, Bomb Spores, Moon Seeds... Put it this way, this game was developed by Rare, so having a large abundance of collectables is expected. Thankfully, unlike Donkey Kong 64, the huge amount of collectables rarely get in the way of the overall gameplay.
What can get in the way is the brief difficulty spikes spread through the adventure. Even as early as the first encounter with Prince Tricky you'll bump into moments that harken back to the days of the NES. Overall, the game never goes beyond a "medium" difficulty, but those brief difficulty spikes can make or break the experience for some, including myself who had to put the game on hiatus during two particular moments, with one of them being the infamous Lightfoot Village button mashing challenge. After that challenge however, the difficulty spikes are never anywhere near that calibur, and the whole game starts getting steadily more difficult as opposed to a random spike here and there. As frustrating as those are, it is very rewarding once you complete them and are able to progress further.
Star Fox Adventures is pretty lengthy, especially for a Star Fox game. While one runthrough of Star Fox 64 can be completed in roughly an hour or two, Star Fox Adventures clocks in closer to 20 hours if you're taking your time, or anywhere between 10-15 if you're going as fast as you can without it being a speedrun. Point is, this game will last you a while, with gameplay time matching the likes of Donkey Kong 64 and even some light RPGs like Paper Mario.
Back to Prince Tricky, he serves as a major gimmick through the game, and was probaly even present when the game was still codenamed "Dinosaur Planet". Tricky has his own abilities that are separate from Fox's and are also crucial to game progression. The best part is that you'll have found all of his commands relatively early in the game, so you'll never be in a situation where Tricky can't do something, provided he is adequately fed with the abundant source of Grubtub Fungus.
Long story short, if you're looking for a sequel to Star Fox 64, you're not going to find it here. Star Fox Assault is more of a sequel to Star Fox 64, and is available on the same platform. Star Fox Adventures is better for the gamer who wants something different in the Nintendo Universe, and I sincerely believe this is one of the most unique Nintendo experiences even today, with Metroid Prime also being up there. One final note is the graphics, which were revolutionary back in 2002, and even today they rival Wii games that were released as soon as 2010.
This is a true modern classic, and is worth every penny spent on it whether you had/have to spend $5 or $50. If you also happen to be a fan of both the Zelda and Star Fox universes, you'll appreciate this game even more.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Product Release: Star Fox Adventures (US, 09/23/02)
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