Review by rgw

"Star Fox Adventures is a spectacularly average game, not exceptional one."

If someone asked me what Nintendo’s top three mistakes were; obviously I would say the Virtual Boy and the N64 cartridge, but many would be surprised that I place Star Fox Adventures in that infamous group. Do not get me wrong this mistake is better then some other products on the market, but this game seems ill conceived. Rare’s last game is mix bag, which is unfortunate compared to Rare’s usual high quality.

Star Fox Adventures starts ten years after Fox destroyed Andross on Venom. With the lack of violence in the Lylat System, the Star Fox team has been jobless. The situation got so bad that Falco left for mercenary work. The lack of funds has caused the Great Fox to deteriorate from the grand ship it once was. Thankfully, for the Star Fox team something finally goes wrong in the Lylat System. Dinosaur Planet is tearing itself apart, if it explodes the entire Lylat system could be affected. General Pepper orders the team to check out what is going on, and stop it.

After the first scenes this game no longer feels like a Star Fox game. A brief back-story into SFA’s development would explain why. This game was originally known simply as Dinosaur Planet featuring the protagonist Sabre. Mid-way through development Rare changed the game to a Star Fox franchise game, and the game feels like it. Magic and medieval staff fighting don’t seem to fit well into the usual mechanical universe that is Star Fox. I would love to see how this game would have been if Sabre wouldn’t have left.

Putting the inconsistencies of this game behind you, you’ll discover that this game’s gameplay isn’t that bad at all. The puzzles are creative and put Fox’s newfound skills to great work. The only problem is that the puzzles seem to repeat themselves every once in the while, but the increasing difficulty to complete them keeps me from complaining too much.

One thing Rare seriously dropped the ball on in gameplay are the enemies. Other then the bosses, the game’s enemies are nothing more then glorified staff-fodder. The AI for the enemies isn’t exactly intelligent: an enemy has never killed me. They only seem able to block hits, and sometimes they don’t even do that. The funniest thing is watching a group of Sharpclaws patiently wait for you to finish off the one you have targeted. It would have been nice if Rare could have gotten a few ‘claws to group up on you.

Rare did a wonderful job with the controls. If you have played one of the Nintendo 64 incarnations of Zelda, then you can easily pick up on the controls. Rare made the controls even better then Zelda. You can easily select items with the C-stick without having to pause the game. Of course, changing items in mid-battle is quite difficult, it is possible…though I wouldn’t take my chances. Staying true to the Zelda controls: auto-jumping and Z-targeting are in this game, too. The targeting system is much easier then Zelda, whenever you pull out your weapon it targets the nearest enemy. When fighting groups of ‘claws the targeting system might not chose the enemy you want, but the frustrations are few and far between.

The one thing this game is lacking is length. With or without a FAQ, guide, or help you can fly through game in 16-18 hours. The fact is that most new games don’t have expansive gameplay, and truthfully the old games didn’t either. I was just let down after hearing that this game was going to be close to a forty-hour experience. In all truthfulness there are only six levels in the entire game, and repeat two of them in slightly different areas. The good news is that these six levels are pretty large and can keep you busy with the many facets of the level. Thankfully this game didn’t become an item-collecting nightmare like the Banjo series. Any item in the game has a direct influence on your ability to complete the game. If you were actually looking forward to collecting tribals, jingos, and notes then look somewhere else.

Rare always does one thing good: making their games look absolutely beautiful. Star Fox Adventures is perhaps the most technically advance game on the Gamecube. Bump mapping, lighting, and atmospheric fog are all over the place. From the blades of grass waving in the wind to the masterfully animated characters, this game gets it done. To top it off Star Fox runs at a fairly constant 60 fps, the only lag you will ever see is during masked loading time. It is regretful that for all the polish this game received, Rare couldn’t keep this game from hiccupping when a new area loads. Sound is also has a solid showing. None of the original tunes Rare made are particularly memorable, but they aren’t obnoxious either. Rare snuck a few of the Star Fox jingles into game to help this botched Star Fox experience.

Final Comments

Gameplay: 7.5
Star Fox Adventures provides fairly solid gameplay. The problems I have with the gameplay are the lack of levels, repetitive puzzles, and downright stupid enemies. I just wish Rare could have made a few more boss battles, because they were genuinely awesome.
Graphics: 9.5
This is a truly awesome showing, enough said.
Sound: 7.5
Star Fox Adventures has pretty good sound, but it isn’t really awesome. The old Star Fox jingles are there, but the new tracks aren’t near as catchy. The voice acting isn’t great, but hardly any videogames have truly good actors. To top it off, the sound is all fleshed out in Dolby Surround Sound.
Replay: 6.0
Sure the game is fun, but it is nothing to play over and over again. The cheats aren’t useful, and they seem like afterthoughts. Enjoy the game once, then put it up for a while.
Overall: 6.0
I really hate to not like this game, but it simply doesn’t live up to my basic expectations. The gameplay is nice, but not great. The sound is excellent, but not catchy. The graphics are absolutely mind-blowing, but it can’t save this game. Star Fox Adventures is a spectacularly average game, not exceptional one. This game could have been so much more if Rare would have just stayed with the original Dinosaur Planet concept.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 11/30/02, Updated 11/30/02

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