Star Fox titles have seen some varying degrees of success since the series inception in 1993. Nothing is quite as satisfying as when you’re told to do a barrel roll or take down a giant walking mech. But these games have seen many drastic design changes over the course of the series, leaving a lot of fans unhappy. Fans and critics alike have often wondered why Nintendo changed the design so frequently, resulting in the series arguably losing its identity. So with this in mind, we need to delve deeper into the series and highlight where it all went wrong for Fox and gang.
1993 – Star Fox is released on the SNES
Many players and critics consider this to be the blueprint for what a Star Fox game should be, thanks to its fast-paced on-rails combat. The game was well ahead of its time thanks to incredible 3D graphics that had never really been before. It was also fairly challenging but fair, whereas many games around this time were often difficult for no reason. All of this came together to create one of the most memorable titles in Star Fox history and on the SNES as well.
1997 – Star Fox 64 is released on the N64
The N64 has always been known for its incredible amount of high quality and memorable games. With Fox and his team flying onto the stage at the perfect time, this title would become the best in the series. With the N64’s better hardware, the game had full 3D graphics, with impressive use of color and lighting. Furthermore, thanks to the N64 controller, flying Fox’s ship had never been easier and it simply improved on the previous game in every way. To top it all off, the re-release on the 3DS in 2011 has a worse meta critic score than the original! I think that shows you how good the original game was and why it was adored by Star Fox fans everywhere.
2002 – Star Fox Adventures is released on the GameCube
Here’s where things start to take a turn for the worse. When everyone hopped into Fox’s ship for the first time in Star Fox Adventures, everyone was taken back to the glory days of the previous two games. The graphics were great, the sound effects were explosive, the gameplay seemed so solid. Suddenly you land on a planet full of dinosaurs and now it’s become a Zelda game with Link being replaced with a Fox. This could be one the greatest genre clashes ever, going from an on-rails shooter to an action-adventure game.
Now it should be noted that the game is actually quite good, receiving an 82 on meta critic which isn’t a bad score at all. But a review written by ‘Play Magazine‘ sums up how most people felt about the game. They say that the game is “a triumph and a very bittersweet one at that”. This is because the game played well, but it wasn’t a true Star Fox game in many fans eyes. The question remained, where would the series go now?
2005 – Star Fox Assault is released on the GameCube
Star Fox Assault was a game that had so much promise. The series now returned to flying, with on-foot action combat segments also thrown into the mix. The reason for this was to provide an experience for the fans of the first 2 games, while also drawing fans of action-combat titles. The issue was that neither were done very well. The flying was fun, fast and fluid, but it didn’t feel as tight as other games. The on-foot combat had some memorable moments but often felt like a gateway to the next flying segment. All of this saw the series plunge further into the unknown, alarming fans as to whether they would see a true sequel to Star Fox 64.
2006 – Star Fox Command is released on the Nintendo DS
Fox and the team took a break from consoles in 2006, with the series now making a brace on the DS. Star Fox Command was a mixture of flying and strategy, tied together by an interesting narrative that had multiple endings. It was similar to the previous title in the way that it tried to merge two genres together but did it much better. By controlling your party’s flight plan, you could manipulate how enemies would reach you. The flying segments were also done very well, looking gorgeous and were well thought-out encounters. While it wasn’t a console release, this could be seen as Fox returning to his former glory days.
2016 – Star Fox Zero is released on the Wii U
10 years after the last true Star Fox game, Star Fox Zero had a lot of hype to live up to. After being teased at E3 2014, fans couldn’t contain their excitement for Fox featuring on a full console release. What followed is a game that, for the most part, did just about enough to appease the fans. The game is often seen as a re-imagining of Star Fox 64 and does that well with the impressive on-rails combat. It also manages to use elements from other titles in order to create on-foot segments that bring good variety to the experience.
But ultimately the title was held back by a questionable control scheme and camera problems. It could often take a player a whole run through of the game to adapt to how the game plays. This presented a big problem as people lost interest very quickly. However, it does highlight that Fox and the team have a place on consoles, showing that the series has potentially more to come yet.
What was your favourite Star Fox game? Leave it in the comments below or tweet me @pattydon101!