Review by Nemo4ever

"Displays the good and bad side of Rare's exit from Nintendo"

Over 3 years in development, “Star Fox Adventures” originally began its life as a completely original Nintendo 64 game called “Dinosaur Planet”. However, the game was canceled for the ailing system and redesigned for the Gamecube, and picked up the “Star Fox” license along the way. As possibly Rare’s last game for a Nintendo system, “Star Fox Adventures” is a worthy end to one of the most successful video game alliances in the history of the industry.

“Adventures” places you in the role of Fox McCloud, a mercenary on a mission to protect the people of Dinosaur Planet. The evil General Scales is attempting to overthrow the planet, and many of dinosaurs’ tribe leaders have been captured. Not too far into his adventure Fox meets Krystal, a female fox who becomes trapped in a crystal while trying to help the dinosaurs. The space pilot then must delve deep into several dungeons to recover the “Krazoa Spirits”, powerful entities that can save Krystal and the planet itself. It’s worth noting that Fox’s role in the adventure is largely detached. He really has no emotional involvement save for the fact that he’s being paid for the mission. One can’t help but feel the license is kind of tacked-on and the original story would’ve been much more intriguing.

Instead of the intense space action of previous “Star Fox” games, “Adventures” is a third-person adventure heavy on exploration and puzzle-solving. Not surprisingly, the game borrows (or rips off) several gameplay elements from the Nintendo 64 Zelda games. Fox can lock on to enemies and strafe around them, he automatically jumps at the edge of ledges, and he assigns items to certain buttons. However, combat in “Adventures” fails to match Zelda’s excellent battles. You can repeatedly tap the A button to dispatch most enemies and you rarely need any item besides Fox’s staff to fight. Eventually, you’ll find yourself avoiding fights altogether unless absolutely necessary.

Soon after the adventure begins, Fox meets a young dinosaur named Prince Tricky who joins him in his mission. The dinosaur functions as a secondary character who you can issue orders to. Tricky performs tasks that Fox can’t handle such as digging up items and burning down bushes. His help is needed to complete several puzzles throughout the game.

Dungeons in “Star Fox Adventures” are generally well-designed and inviting. Puzzles populate each area and are fairly interesting without being too overwhelming. However, the experience is hampered a few too many “fetch quests”, in which Fox must retrieve a certain amount of an item to progress. There are also several occasions in which it’s not clear what you need to do next. Fortunately, you can contact Fox’s teammates anytime to clear up any confusion.

The game manages to mix things up every once in a while with a few vehicular levels and some boss battles. The boss battles are especially clever, requiring you to use different tactics as the fight progresses. The final boss battle will be particularly satisfying for fans of past “Star Fox” games.

Several space combat levels were included in the game. However, they’re all ridiculously short (a little over a minute long) and present absolutely no challenge whatsoever. They seem thrown together just to be consistent with “Star Fox” universe.

In fact, most of “Star Fox Adventures” takes it way too easy on you. You can find energy in virtually every room in the game. Even if he does die, Fox can be revived by “Bafomdads”, creatures that bring him back to life. He can carry up to ten of these at a time. Combine that with the overly simplistic combat and the fact that you can save anywhere, and it’s not hard to see what a cakewalk the game is.

When it comes to visuals, “Star Fox Adventures” destroys every other Gamecube game available. Many of the creatures in the game, including Fox, sport realistic fur textures, similar to Donkey in the movie “Shrek”. It’s so impressive that you almost want to reach out and touch the screen. The creature models are equally remarkable, with facial animations for each talking character. The environments boast tons of lighting effects and reflections to give them an authentic, convincing appearance. Even the water distortions are amazing, outclassing the already astounding effects featured in the recent “Super Mario Sunshine”. On top of that, the game supports progressive scan display, so those who have high-definition televisions will get an even better picture. Finally, the framerate is silky-smooth most of the time, although it pauses occasionally to load a new area.

The audio isn’t as thrilling, though. Most of the sound effects are fairly adequate, but the music seems muted. What music there is pretty catchy, and it kicks in appropriately whenever the action picks up. The game supports Dolby Pro Logic II surround sound, so if you have the system for it, be sure to take advantage. “Star Fox Adventures” uses voice actors to give personality each character in the game, and for the most part, the acting is pretty spot-on. Fox reacts to the events of the game with a cynical attitude that works pretty well. The inhabitants of Dinosaur Planet feature amusing, cartoony voices that rarely go over the top. However, the voices of Slippy, Peppy, and General Pepper have changed since “Star Fox 64”, and leave much to be desired. Fortunately, you can skip most of the dialogue with them.

In the end, “Star Fox Adventures” stacks up pretty well. The visuals are among the best of any Gamecube game out there. The occasional monotony is broken up by some cool boss fights and vehicular levels. The challenge never really kicks up, but the puzzles keep things interesting. The quest is fairly long (about 20 hours), and there are a few extra secrets to be found after you beat the game. The game is Rare’s bittersweet good-bye to Nintendo, and fans are sure going to miss them.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 12/05/02, Updated 12/05/02

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