Star Fox Zero – Co-op Chaos

After falling back in love with Lylat Wars (Star Fox 64) on my 3DS, it seemed like the perfect time to jump into Star Fox Zero on the Wii U, which I was gifted a few months ago.

Does it stack up? How does a modern Star Fox game look?  Is it worth a go?

Note: The death of the MiiVerse has left me unable to take screenshots on my Wii U which is gutting! So, there are no images from my gameplay in this piece.

Star Fox Zero

Straight off the bat, this is a Star Fox game going back to the Star Fox 64 style of play.  On-the rails land and air combat, using your arwing, a tank or a walker.  With open areas to properly get into dogfights with the likes of Star Wolf.

You could be forgiven for suggesting that’s it’s more of the same.  In fact, it is.  But it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to play a game like this on a TV, so it’s a faithful, modern adaptation of the classic Star Fox gameplay.  Something I’m sure most would agree, has been missing.

Aesthetics

With barely a glance towards the screen you could pick up the shapes and colours of this game, and know that it’s a Star Fox game.  It looks, sounds and feels just like you would expect.

Classic, but updated and sharper than ever before.  It’s nice to have the shinier “HD” treatment, and it sounds exactly like it should.  Your weapons sound the same, your allies spout the similar nonsense you expect of them and your enemies, too.

Story

I’m sure the story is more than I remember, but the gist of it is that Fox McCloud has put the legendary “Star Fox” team back together, bringing Peppy, Slippy and Falco with him.

Just as well, too.  Andross is back!  No idea how or why, or where exactly the games sits in the timeline of the Star Fox universe, but that’s fine.  It’s familiar, and incidental to the action and the fun.

Controls

This is the hot-topic for the game, people have both praised it and loathed it.  Honestly, I see both sides of the argument.  It’s novel, and it was obviously designed to make sure the Wii U gamepad is an integral part of the game.

It is, and it works, but I’d love an option to just use a pro controller and play it “normally”.

You control your vehicle with the sticks and buttons on the pad, and fly with the 3rd-person perspective on your TV.  Great!  Exactly how it should be.  However, when it comes to shooting, you have a cockpit view and gyro-controlled aiming…….It’s a little cumbersome to start, but it does work, and it isn’t as game-ruining as some would have you believe.

If anything, it’s just different, and has a learning curve.  Change is fine though, and a little time yields some satisfaction in manipulating both views and controls, and achieving your goal.

It isn’t perfect, and I would love a traditional setup, but it’s not the end of the world.

Multiplayer

One of my favourite things to do in gaming is a bit of classic “couch co-op”, sharing a screen and working together to get the job done.

Star Fox Zero offers this, but in a really weird way.

Firstly, you have to start each mission solo, quit out, select it, and then choose “co-op”, very odd.

Then, just as you’re getting controllers out and wondering which character you’ll choose.  You find that you’re both controlling the same ship!  One is flying and has the main TV screen.  The other is the gunner, using the Wii U gamepad and motion controls to shoot everything you can.

It’s a bit odd to start, and when your pilot is flying one way, whilst you’re trying to shoot the other, it could be the catalyst for a lot of falling out.  On the other hand, it could turn into this beautiful ballet, each participant in sync, working together and saving the universe.

For myself and long-time co-op compadre ScruffyJACK96, it was a mixture of both.  It took some getting used to, but then we just knuckled down and got to it.

It’s actually a novel way of playing and we had quite a lot of fun navigating the planets and entering dogfights.

Sadly, I haven’t mastered streaming any more than the main screen from the Wii U, so you don’t get to see the cockpit view working in tandem with the pilot.

It does work though, and I love that it wasn’t conventional, making use of the Wii U gamepad, and screen, at the same time giving a “true” Star Fox experience for the other player.

Overall

Controls aside, this is a classic Star Fox game, something that I, personally love.

It’s a great Star Fox game, it’s a great Wii U game, and it’s a great co-op game.  All the expected features are there, hidden paths to other planets, naff quips from your team, Andross, Star Wolf.  You name it.  It’s like a Star Fox paint-by-numbers, but it’s all the better for it, a nostalgic trip in high definition.

It meets all of your expectations and throws in a bit of a twist with the controls.  Classic Star Fox, is good Star Fox, it’s simple really.

Ninja Refinery definitely recommends Star Fox Zero.

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