Star Fox Zero Review
Star Fox Zero Box Art
System: Wii U
Dev: Nintendo EPD, Platinum Games
Pub: Nintendo
Release: April 22, 2016
Players: 1-2 Players
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080i Fantasy Violence
Shoot for the Stars with Star Fox Zero
by Jenni Lada

With Star Fox Zero, most people are going to go into the game thinking of it as a remake of Star Fox 64. That line of thinking won't last. While it certainly is a re-imagining of one of the most iconic and memorable entries in the series, it's far more than that. Rather, Star Fox Zero is the most versatile entry in the series.

But let's start from the beginning. Star Fox Zero is a dogfighting game where, for many points, you're on a preset path. It's only as you go along that you begin to notice areas where you can deviate from the standard course to jet off into new adventures within the same storyline. Yet, the general theme remains the same. Fox McCloud and his Star Fox team are initially called upon to protect Corneria from an attack by the traitorous Andross' forces. By taking on this assignment, the group ends up defending the Lylat system as a whole.

Fox mostly uses the Arwing in combat, but can also pilot the Gyromaster, Landmaster, Gravmaster, or Walker. Sometimes, this can happen unexpectedly. Many levels have you start in one vehicle for a phase, but you can transition to others as needed, depending on where the mission takes you or the decisions you make when faced with a boss. You can occasionally force these changes as well, if you'd prefer, in particular with the Walker. Doing so can even lead you to find some of the off-the-beaten-path areas.

I found vehicle shifts most helpful when looking for different tactical advantages. As an example, at one point during the first boss fight on Corneria, where I was protecting General Pepper in a tower, one of Andross' gigantic shops descended. I began the dogfight by taking out sensors on the top of the ship. Then, upon noticing an opening in the ship, sent Fox's Arwing in. It transformed into the Walker form automatically. The progression from one element to another happened quite naturally, further highlighting Star Fox Zero's versatility.

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This is represented with the controls as well. Star Fox Zero is a bit unorthodox. The GamePad offers a cockpit view, while the TV screen shows the Arwing in the field. You're supposed to look at the big screen while deciding where to go, and the small screen when participating in more intense shootouts. It takes some time and patience to master, to say the least. Adjusting the controls, to determine if you'd prefer standard or inverted steering or motion-activated (gyro) aiming, helps.

Star Fox Zero Screenshot

What I found worked even better was to focus on specific tasks. Star Fox Zero is great at letting you do that. I had trouble during the mandatory, introductory Arwing tutorial and decided to focus only on what the GamePad was showing me. Yes, it was more restrictive, but it helped me figure things out more quickly. For the first level, I turned my TV off and focused on Cockpit mode. Then, gradually, I reintroduced the TV.

Star Fox Zero Screenshot

It's all because Star Fox Zero's Cockpit mode is genuinely great. It really does help you focus in on opponents in a way that wasn't possible in previous entries in the series. You're able to really see exactly what's ahead of you and focus. Best of all, the game recognizes this and gives you more intense challenges where you need to hit very specific weak points that you'd never see if you were only looking at a screen.

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