Note: this is not a review.
It may function like a review, and it may be my evaluation of the game after playing it, but it is totally not a review.
Because I suck at writing reviews.
Now that that’s out of the way, I can say that Star Fox Zero is my favorite game in the series. Granted, it’s not really replacing anything. There wasn’t really a particular Star Fox game before this that I necessarily considered my favorite. I appreciated each one for its own merits. But with Zero, everything just seems to click together for me.
As a fresh reboot of the Star Fox series, it pays great homage to Star Fox 64. It takes much of its inspiration from that N64 classic, having a similar atmosphere and plot, and even getting back most of the original voice cast. But it doesn’t really go much beyond being an homage, as most of the game is entirely new, with brand new levels and scenarios. Zero is a game that stands on its own with its own identity, and it’s nearly as much a re-imagining of Star Fox 64 as Star Fox 64 was to the original Star Fox on SNES.
One of my favorite aspects of the game is the immersive experience it provides using the Wii U’s Gamepad. It’s not just a dual-screen game, but also a dual-audio game, with all of the character chatter coming from the Gamepad speakers. I recommend playing the game with the volume cranked up on both devices. It’s a fourth-wall-breaking experience that really brings the game out of the TV and truly makes you feel like you’re surrounded by the world of Star Fox.
Of course, I can’t talk about Star Fox Zero without mentioning its most controversial aspect: the controls. Basically, it works just like Star Fox 64 with traditional controls, but on top of that, it layers on gyroscopic aiming, the cockpit view on the Gamepad screen, and the lock-on feature. It all ends up complicating things a bit more than you might expect.
All I can really tell you is that they work exactly the way they’re supposed to. (Otherwise, we wouldn’t already be seeing sick score runs on YouTube.) Whether or not you, personally, will be able to get a handle on them, I have no idea. It varies from person to person.
This is Nintendo swinging in the opposite direction of Wii Sports. With that, they made a game that anyone could play, including people who have never touched a videogame. With Star Fox Zero, they’ve created a genuine hardcore experience that even people who play games regularly may have trouble wrapping their heads around. It’s definitely not for everyone, and depending on how open you are to unique control methods, you probably already know whether or not it would be your cup of tea.
For me, though, it proudly stands among the best of Nintendo’s hardcore action productions, including Bayonetta 2, The Wonderful 101, and Sin & Punishment: Star Successor. It’s the kind of game that only gets better the more you play it, and I know I’ll be coming back to it many times in the future.
As for Star Fox Guard, I still need to spend more time with it, but that will require me to rip myself away from Zero long enough to do it, and that could take awhile.