PAX Prime 2015: Paws-On With Star Fox Zero

No, Slippy isn’t filling in for Fox…yet

One of Nintendo’s main attractions at PAX Prime 2015 was a demo for Star Fox Zero, the long-awaited sequel co-developed by PlatinumGames and headed by none other than Shigeru Miyamoto himself. AN went hands-er, “paws-on” (we’re talking about foxes here, after all) with the game and wrote down some quick initial thoughts of Zero and its new features and whether it stands up to the earlier installments’ hallowed reputation.

Jacob

Although I’m a big fan of Splatoon’s motion controls, I was a little hesitant when I caught wind of the GamePad’s function in Star Fox Zero. Would motion controls even be helpful here? Are they even necessary, or perhaps just a tacked-on afterthought disguised as a game-changing feature?  As it turns out, motion controls aren’t good, they’re great.

While they were surprisingly useful for fine-tuning aim during on-rails segments, the game’s gyroscope controls really shine in all-range mode. In both modes, the GamePad provides a display from the Arwing’s cockpit, which made checking peripheral views a snap compared to the laborious process of braking and turning around that Star Fox 64 required.  Frustrating dogfights in previous games are now a much simpler process since firing at an enemy on your side simply requires turning the GamePad in the proper direction. Additionally, by pressing the ZR button I was able to lock the camera on to elusive enemies, allowing me to keep tabs on their whereabouts on the TV screen while piloting my ship using the GamePad’s first-person view.

On top of the new motion controls, the entire control scheme has been completely revised from previous iterations. Instead of pressing Z or R twice, barrel rolls and other maneuvers are handled using the right analog stick. Tapping the stick forward or backward boosts or brakes, respectively, and double-tapping in either direction results in a barrel roll. Additionally, somersaults could be performed using either a quick up-down flick of the right analog stick or a simple press of the X button. As odd as it might initially sound, the controls honestly felt pretty intuitive. After a little bit of learning I was able to play pretty much the entire demo without my thumbs straying too far from the dual analogs.

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Watch out, Falco! GameXplain is on your tail!!

Trace

I, too, was skeptical about Zero. Nintendo hasn’t exactly had a good track record with Star Fox since the 64 installment between weird escapades on dinosaur planets or the space opera route where anything goes. Then again, Star Fox 64 was so good it’s no wonder Nintendo hasn’t had much luck with the series as of late. Zero, however, is looking to change all that by injecting established concepts with a modernized feel.

Billed as a prequel/sequel/reboot/reimagining of the series, Zero plays out like a fully realized Star Fox 64, which is by no means a bad approach. Star Fox isn’t about dinosaurs nor is it about slighting Fox’s dreams by slumming it in the F-Zero Grand Prix, it’s about exhilarating gameplay be it up in air, deep in the ocean, or, in Zero‘s case, on the ground. While Zero does feel remarkably familiar to 64, the new button reconfiguration on top of all the fresh mechanics help the game stand on its own two feet when compared to its predecessors not only in terms of its slick design choices, but also in the very literal sense as your Arwing can seamlessly transform into a bipedal mech at will, and, boy, is that walker fun to pilot. Handling the walker almost felt like controlling a PlatinumGames character like Bayonetta: agile, mobile, and devastatingly swift. I can already tell Zero is a return to form because there’s absolutely nothing disrupting the action, it’s just good old fashioned fun firing on all cylinders, all the time.

This is how a Star Fox game should play and that’s something to be excited about.

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All quiet before the storm…

Players won’t have to wait much longer for Star Fox Zero. The game hits Wii U November 20th, 2015, just in time for the holiday season.

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About The Author

News Reporter/Game Reviewer

Jacob Rifenbery is a content writer for Always Nintendo. While first and foremost a fan of strange rhythm games, he enjoys playing and writing about a wide variety of titles.