Review by TheMissingLink1186
Reviewed: 09/29/02 | Updated: 09/29/02
Guide Link, I mean, Fox through a great game!
Rareware, developer of such wonderful games as Donkey Kong 64, Conker’s Bad Fur Day and Banjo-Kazooie, has bid their final farewell to Nintendo and has moved on after a tearful farewell. Okay, so they went to the highest bidder, same difference. But before they departed, they finished one last game. And that would be Star Fox Adventures, one that the Gamecube had been in need of since its debut.
Do you want to buy this game or not? Here is something to keep in mind before you even take the time to read the review ahead or dish out the fifty bucks to pay for it. This is not your dog-fighting Star Fox games of old. No, in this game Fox McCloud, our hero, takes to the ground and out of the Arwing to explore a place called Dinosaur Planet on foot. So if you’re looking for something like Star Fox 64, this is not what you’re looking for.
Now, that does not mean this game does not deliver. Don’t misunderstand me, here. Star Fox Adventures, or SFA for short, plays much more like a Zelda game than anything else. Is that bad? Heck no. In fact, it is an excellent transformation, even incorporating short Arwing levels at certain points in the game. Ah, good old nostalgia… The times you are on foot, you wield a powerful, magical staff that you obtain very early on in the game. Fox uses it as Link uses a sword, slashing at things and hacking away at enemies. Fox’s acrobatic styling allows him to pull of maneuvers that Link never could, however, such as combos that include kicking, slashing, and twirling of the staff. This adds a new dimension of fighting, as different combos can be strung end on end to swiftly and efficiently clean away any opponents. Case and point, if you liked Ocarina of Time, you will love this game. If you want Star Fox 64 with better graphics, this is not the thing.
THE STORY — 9/10
Very good story. As you might know, this game was originally developed by Rare for Nintendo 64 and featured a different main character: Star Fox wasn’t even remotely involved! But Nintendo wanted a game where Fox was out of the cockpit, and Rare changed their preliminary version into this game, which ended up on Gamecube, obviously. At times it feels that Fox and co. is almost an ‘add-in’ so to speak, but overall it has a very good plot that plays fluently and keeps the gamer interested. Here’s the rough idea of it.
Far away in the Lylat System, the Star Fox Team is cruising around with nothing to do. Andross has been vanquished and the galaxy is safe. A good thing, except now the motley crew known as Star Fox have nothing to do. Running low on funding, they simply wait in the Great Fox, hoping General Pepper’s holographic image will pop up soon, informing them of a new mission…
Meanwhile, a she-fox called Krystal is flying through the air on a giant what-appears-to-be-a-Pterodactyl. It must be a Rare thing… Anyways, Krystal has received a distress call from a distant place called Dinosaur Planet and she is on her way to answer the beckoning. In her hand she wields a powerful staff, her weapon of choice. Along the way, however, the evil tyrant General Scales attacks Krystal and the staff is lost.
Back at the Great Fox, the call Fox McCloud, Peppy Hare and Slippy Toad have been waiting for comes. General Pepper informs them of Dinosaur Planet, and how it is so unstable it may explode. If that happens, he explains the entire Lylat system could be at risk. It’s up to Fox to get to the surface of Dinosaur Planet and make sure it stays in one piece!
Upon arrival, Fox discovers Krystal’s mysterious staff. A message from Krystal hints that she is in danger and that can only mean one thing. It’s up to Fox not only to save Dinosaur Planet from self-destruction, but to save Krystal as well. And so starts Star Fox’s latest and greatest installment yet…
GAMEPLAY — 8/10
Basically, a wonderful hybrid of the classic dog-fighting games and Zelda-style fighting and exploring.
In this game, there is much collection, like in a Zelda game. There are six of these things called ‘Krazoa Spirits’ that Fox must find, for one. Krazoa Spirits are what brought life to dinosaur Planet and are, needless to say, very powerful. Under possession of someone good, like Fox or Krystal, they can do great things, like creating peace. However, if someone evil like General Scales, leader of the SharpClaw tribe can get to them, they are capable of creating terror. When General Scales started his conquest of Dinosaur Planet, they were hidden so Scales could not use them. So, that leaves Fox with the task of collecting them to restore peace to Dinosaur Planet.
Also, there are four things called ‘SpellStones’ that must be found. Usually they reside in places called ‘Force Point Temples’ and there they create a balance for the world by absorbing the energy from within the planet, thus holding it together. But the SpellStones were scattered by General Scales and now the planet, as was mentioned earlier, is ready to explode. So Fox has to find those things as well.
Now if all that wasn’t enough, Fox has to return Krazoa Spirits back to the Krazoa Palace and the SpellStones, two water, two fire, must returned to their respective Force Point Temples, fire and water. That makes saving the world a two-part process: collection and delivery. This serves for an interesting sort of game, as to get from place to place you often have to use your Arwing. See how it all comes together? Quite nicely, I think. But how does it actually play? Here’s my side of the story…
In the early stages of the game, SFA plays pretty slowly and is hard to get into. But when you do finally get rolling, it is hard to put down. The variety is pretty good, as there is always something to do. The action never ceases to keep coming. There is always a Krazoa to save, a SpellStone to recover and, occasionally, a boss battle to fight. Now, the levels are large and the difficulty is moderate. Rare has earned a reputation for a difficulty level that at times is near maddening, and this game is no exception. There are some puzzles that sometimes can get irritating and the Arwing levels can be frustrating. However, completing the tasks is always rewarding, so what could have been a bad thing actually plays out nicely.
The boss battles are few and far between and most of them are pushovers. They do, however, add a different dimension to the game that generally makes it more entertaining. In other words, if the game had no bosses, easy or not, it would have been a bit more tedious experience overall. The boss battles work to break up the collection process a bit and I find them to be just perfect to help the game’s rhythm, keeping it fresh and interesting.
The main enemy you will face is called the SharpClaw, which look like your-size Tyrannosaurus Rexes that carry weapons and wear light armor. There are many other enemies, but for the most part the game is full of these guys. Now, this can be a problem at times as there is absolutely no skill whatsoever required to pound the crap out of them. You just walk up one, start attacking, and viola! It is no more. Only when attacked by swarms of them will a person acquainted with the game receive any damage at all. Unlike Stalfos from Ocarina of Time, which were incredibly fun to fight, SharpClaws are more so punching bags to take your anger out on after messing up a puzzle ten times in a row.
CONTROL and CAMERA — 9/10
Tight albeit confusing controls and a camera that will only bug people used to Super Mario Sunshine.
As I first started reading my instruction manual as to what the controls were for this game, I found myself lost in a sea of directions. I thought I would never be able to understand the controls, as they are a far cry from easy to pick up. But I proved myself wrong within the first half-hour, finding myself manipulating the staff and menus with ease. The controls, which do indeed seem a bit intimidating to someone used to a more simple layout, are a bit hectic early on but the game allows you to get used to them before putting you in a situation where you absolutely must use your skills or be doomed.
Your primary tool is the staff, which acts as a sword, a projectile, a rocket and many other fun things. To use your staff outside of battle, a simple tap of ‘A’ whips it out for a single slash and no more. In battle, however, things become more interesting. Walking up to an enemy, by pressing ‘A’ you “lock on” much like Z-Targeting in Ocarina of Time. You then can execute combos with your staff with simple combinations of ‘A’ and the Control Stick. For example, holding Down on the Control Stick and tapping A results in one combo. Different directions result in others. As you attack, it is simple to faze from one combo to another, starting a second or third when the previous ends. This style of fighting makes Fox nearly invincible against basic enemies like SharpClaws and formidable against tougher ones.
As you progress through the game, your staff will become more powerful and you will be able to use it in many ways, such as a Fire Blaster, a Rocket Booster and more. This is comparable to Link’s bow and arrow, with the special Fire arrows, Ice arrows, etc. Fox even has a magic meter, much like Link’s, that drains a bit each time he uses a special Staff technique. If your Staff Power is zero, Fox cannot use any of his special techniques. However, as Fox uses these powers a lot during the course of his adventure, refills for his meter are readily available most anywhere.
Adding to the complexity and fun of this game is your sidekick Tricky, a small dinosaur which follows you wherever you go. Unlike Link’s fairies, Tricky is actually helpful. As you progress through your adventure, he will learn new techniques on his own, and often in the nick of time. Wondering how to get past that large wall of ice? Suddenly Tricky will be at your side, calling for your attention. ‘Hey! Hey Fox! I just remembered that I can breathe fire! Isn’t that awesome?!’ Having him by your side is actually more than just useful but necessary. Many puzzles are incapable of being completed without the little dino’s help.
Again is the concept that if the camera is horrible, the game will not live up to its whole potential. The camera in this game, simply put, is near identical to Ocarina of Time. It moves around on its own yet only when it needs to, and you can always center it behind you if you feel the need. Unlike in Super Mario Sunshine, to which I confess playing far too much, the C-Stick is used for menus. So, if you have fell victim to the Mario syndrome as I have, you may find the camera a bit hard to get used to. Though once you are attuned to using the menus, the camera becomes no big deal and never gets in your way.
GRAPHICS — 10/10
There is a reason that this game took home honors of ‘Best Graphics’ at E3. This game is visually breath taking. If you have seen screenshots or videos and thought that they were shots from FMVs, you have been misled. SFA has FMV quality graphics throughout the game. Characters are amazingly detailed; you can see individual hairs on Fox during gameplay, for example. Enemies are equally impressive, with features both important and miniscule represented with fantastic detail. FMVs, as well, are wonderful. Fox’s facial expressions clearly relay his sarcasm and dry sense of humor. The different species of Dinosaur planet also have been beautifully rendered. Even when you talk to some local inhabitant, it is possible to see light reflect off their eyes.
Besides the characters, other things are done well graphically also. Shadowing in particular is very good, and the passage of day and night is clear and distinct. Lighting effects, including explosions, are painstakingly depicted. SFA surpasses most anything Gamecube has to offer in that department, except maybe Resident Evil. Water effects and reflections are perhaps not on par with Super Mario Sunshine but nevertheless are excellent. Overall, this game is brilliant in the area of visuals, and deserves at least a try simply for that fact alone.
SOUND — 10/10
The music in this game is what one would expect from Rare; a variety of different types of tunes that never get in the way and are never annoying. In other words, perfect video game music. Unlike other games such as Super Mario Sunshine, the music appeals to many age groups and many types of gamer. You don’t have to be a Star Fox veteran to enjoy what this game has to offer in the way of music. Some tunes are re-mixes, mainly Arwing levels. For the most part, however, SFA has many original compositions that work well with the times they are played. Meaning that the music always works well to fit the situation and give an area or level a certain ‘feel’ or ‘mood’ to it.
Sound effects are also good, even considering they range from hopping mushrooms to Arwing fire. Voice acting is also good, for a change. I find that most Nintendo games botch this area, but this time they got it right. Or Rare got it right. Or whoever. Fact is someone did a good job with it, as the voices vary as much as the species of Dinosaur Planet do, and never are badly done. Personalities such as the Shopkeeper and the Warp Stone in particular have wonderfully fit voice acting and are hilarious to listen to at times. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but talking to a giant rock who sounds like ‘Fat Bastard’ from Austin Powers just hits me as funny… =)
BUY OR RENT?
If you liked Ocarina of Time, you will love this game. If you hated Ocarina of Time, chances are you won’t like this, either. But don’t go by that alone, as this game is not solely a Zelda lookalike. It is a fantastic game with a riveting story line and intuitive controls that will keep you entertained for a long, long time. If you aren’t sure that it’s for you then rent it. I wasn’t exactly sure myself, but I took the chance and loved it. Worth every cent and every hour you put into those aggravating puzzles.
OVERALL — 9/10
Story — 9/10
Gameplay — 8/10
Control and Camera — 9/10
Graphics — 10/10
Sound — 10/10
Overall — 9/10
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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