Star Fox Command Review
Star Fox Command box art
System: DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: Q-Games 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Nintendo 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Aug 2006 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 - 6 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
Review By Ryan 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Star flop or Star fixed? Does Command return the series to its former glory? Read on.
by Ryan Schultz

Nintendo’s Starfox franchise has definitely seen its fair share of ups and downs in its 13 year history. The original Starfox became a hit by offering a great balance of gameplay, control, and graphics. Many would argue that the series high point lies with the excellent Starfox 64, where all of the original’s ideas came together with superb graphics for a perfect mix. For a while, things were good. However, then Rare released Starfox Adventures for the Nintendo Gamecube and things started to go downhill for the series. While Adventures was a good game in its defense, it nearly abandoned what made the series such a hit, the aerial combat. Things continued to spiral downward with the release of the Namco developed Starfox Assault. The game’s awkward gameplay and needless on-foot missions seemed to doom the Starfox series for good. However, to the surprise and delight of fans at E3 2006, Nintendo unveiled a new SF game, under the team who handled the original. The biggest news about this new game is that control of your ship would be handled entirely by the touch screen and stylus. Reports from the show floor showed promise, and now that we have our hands on a completed version, does the game live up to its expectations?

Star Fox Command screenshotStar Fox Command screenshot

Starfox Command is a game that knows it roots and knows them well. Staying true to the original, all combat aspects of the game take place in the sky. No tank or on foot missions; the sky is your canvas. The difference with Command though, is that every mission takes place in open-ended space instead of on a fixed track (that is of course, unless the game forces you to follow a certain path). As the story goes, after defeating the evil Andross from planet Venom, the Starfox team has split up and gone their separate ways. Peppy has been promoted to the level of General, Slippy finds romance and takes time off from flying, Falco decides to fly solo, and Krystal (from SFAdventures) has been seen gallivanting around with the StarWolf team. As peace seemingly spreads across the Lylat system, a new enemy, calling themselves the Anglars has emerged from planet Venom. As they begin to lay waste to the different planets in the system, Fox must scramble to re-assemble his team and take down this new threat.

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SFC is spread across the multiple planets of the Lylat system, which you must go through to eradicate the Anglars. Unlike previous games in the series, there are only two or three basic options available to advance to different levels. It’s kind of a let down that this option was left out of the final game, but it’s obvious that the development team was more focused on giving an experience more akin of the original game. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Starfox game without some sort of branching path, and you’ll be able to replay the game over again to experience every mission. In fact, there are nine different endings to SFC, and which means that replay value is high. While the single player mode can be considered on the “easy” side, there is plenty incentive to play trough multiple times.

The greatest twist to the franchise is immediately noticeable from the moment you start your first mission. As you begin each level, you are displayed with a map of your combat area. Everything from terrain, enemy planes and bases, and power ups are displayed on this map. This part of the game is essentially set up like a turn based strategy game. You can plot your course of action by using the stylus to draw out your flight path. From there, you can use a turn to get things started. The game also has you defending the Great Fox from enemy attacks, so you must plot your courses carefully and make wise decisions. The level of strategy isn’t something you’d find in an Advance Wars game, but it does add an interesting concept to the series. Once you intercept an enemy target, the game switches into the more familiar combat mode where you have total and complete freedom while flying around.

In this combat mode, you can try out the all-new touch screen controls. The stylus controls your Arwing in any direction you please, and thankfully its quite intuitive. Tapping and holding the top of the touch screen will cause your arwing to boost and tapping and holding down on the bottom of the screen will perform a brake. The touch screen also acts as your radar, which displays all enemy ships. Say you want to throw a bomb in an enemy’s way. Just click and drag on the B button icon and you can drop the bomb anywhere on the radar. It’s a fun addition to the already solid control scheme. My only major gripe with the controls occurs when you want to perform a barrel roll. To do this you must “scribble” back and forth with the stylus, which becomes a nuisance when you are turning and need to pull of a barrel roll at the same time. Aside from this minor problem, the game handles like a champ. I should also note that any button on the DS lets you fire your blasters, so you lefties have control options too.

Star Fox Command screenshotStar Fox Command screenshot

On top of the single player mode, Command features a basic, yet engaging multiplayer experience. Up to six people can compete in an everyone for themselves battle. But that’s about the only option for local play. No co-op is available, but that is made up for by smart and energetic action. After you down an enemy ship a star appears in its place and it’s either a rush or a hassle as players race to collect it. Offering up solid wi-fi play enhances the multiplayer aspect even further. By logging onto the Nintendo Wi-fi Connection, you can duke it out with three other players from around the world in a battle royale or one-on-one battle.

Starfox Command is easily one of the best looking games on the DS to date. The game runs smoothly at 30 fps and features some impressive texture work that even exceeds the quality seen in SF64. There are some minor hiccups when there are a lot of enemies on screen at once, but other than that, SFC will appease your eyes. On the music front, Command comes up aces by offering up a great mixture of original songs and classic tunes remixed from scratch. All in all, an impressive presentation.

Starfox Command is just what the series needed. It stays true to its roots by delivering an engaging combat and multiplayer experience and add some much needed depth in the form of strategic maps. Top it off with great graphics and sound and you’ve got a great game that belongs in any DS owner’s collection.

Features:

  • Lylat needs help. Players hop into their Arwing fighter and fight through a unique branching storyline of missions, all rendered in gorgeous 3-D.
  • Star Fox Command brings a whole new strategic element to the series with a commander's view of the mission. Using the touch screen, players can draw the routes they and their teammates will take, then battle the enemies they encounter as they take over bases and strategically advance across the map.
  • Players can blow their friends out of the sky as they dogfight with up to eight players over a local wireless connection or take on up to four players from around the world on Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.

    By Ryan Schultz
    CCC Freelance Writer

    Rating out of 5
    Rating Description

    4.3

    Graphics
    Silky smooth frame rates and fantastic textures come together to please the eyes.

    4.0

    Control
    Despite some barrel rolling issues, the touch screen controls work like a charm.

    3.5

    Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
    A decent soundtrack and trademark garbled voices get the job done.

    4.5

    Play Value
    Nine different endings plus an engaging multiplayer mode will keep players busy.

    4.0

    Overall Rating - Great
    Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.


  • Star Fox Command Preview

    Saving the universe one DS at a time. by Cole Smith

    Star Fox is coming to the DS and it's not taking any prisoners. Expect the action to be relentless and intense as you get onboard your Airwing fighter to battle all the evil in the galaxy.

    Star Fox is a 3D space shooter that commemorates the early days of the original Star Fox series. Utilizing the touch screen, and drawing with the stylus, players can outline paths through the star system that fellow squad members can follow. You want to get in the best possible position for combat, so there is some strategy to pulling off these moves. These moves are turn-based and you'll want to avoid going through dangerous places such as the asteroid belt. Once in position you are charged with the task of guarding your area and not letting any enemy craft past. When you are prepared to do battle the gameplay switches to real time.

    In battle mode you use the stylus to maneuver your Airwing. The face buttons are for firing the weapons. It's a little tricky at first to get the hang of the stylus but in the five minutes that I spent playing Star Fox I was able to improve my skills dramatically by the end of the session. You have to make very careful and deliberate strokes otherwise the craft becomes jerky and unstable. A targeting reticle helps keep the enemy in your sight. Once you got him, blast him.

    Overall the game looks as good as the original N64 version. Of course some concessions have to be made and you'll notice that there are less enemies onscreen at one time but the ones that are onscreen offer plenty of challenge. The ships look great, as do the foxy characters.

    Star Fox Command screenshotStar Fox Command screenshot

    We've been told the game will include an eight-player local-area connection mode in addition to a four-player Wi Fi multi-player mode.

    By Cole Smith
    CCC Senior Writer

    Screenshots / Images

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