The latest installment of the beloved Star Fox franchise, Star Fox Zero,
is set to release later this week on April 22 for the Wii U and the reviews are coming in, but it doesn’t look to good for our furry Fox.
The general opinion towards Star Fox Zero is negative. There are a large amount of complaints about the split of the game on two screens, the Wii U gamepad and the TV resulting in a very confusing control scheme.
Hopes have been high ever since the E3 announcement of the Wii U game last year, despite the release date having already been pushed back from the 2015 holiday season to late April this year.
Star Fox: Zero releases April 22 on the Wii U.
Star Fox Zero’s fun stages and impressive boss fight give me a lot of reasons to jump back in and play them over and over and especially enjoyed them in co-op until I got a hang of juggling two screens myself. I’ve played 15 hours and I still haven’t found everything. Learning to use the unintuitive controls is a difficult barrier to entry, though it comes with a payoff if you can stick with it.
While I don't like the new control scheme, it's a small price to pay to hop into the seat of an Arwing. Though I feel like I've seen most of this adventure before, Zero is a good-looking homage with some new locations to find and challenges to overcome. It doesn't supplant Star Fox 64, but it does its legacy justice.
Hearing about how different Star Fox Zero was compared to its inception, it's almost like Miyamoto jettisoned most of the new ideas in favor of playing it safe due to complaints from testers. Even with Platinum's involvement, it's a confusing project that isn't quite sure of itself, wanting to try new things while simultaneously reigning it in. Despite these blemishes, I enjoyed my time with it.
Star Fox Zero isn’t ever bad, but it’s generally uninspired. It’s a musty tribute that fails to add much to the series, aside from tweaked controls and incremental vehicle upgrades. I loved Star Fox when it came out, and I’ll even defend Star Fox Adventures (to a reasonable degree). For now, I’ll stick to Super Smash Bros. when I feel like reuniting with Fox.
All of this would have been welcome in the early 2000s, but the years of disappointing follow-ups and the overall progression of industry standards leads to Star Fox Zero having the impact of an HD re-release rather than a full sequel. Being able to beat the game in 2-3 hours doesn't help, no matter how many branching paths or lackluster challenge missions are included. Even the moment-to-moment action doesn't have anywhere near the impact that it had almost two decades ago, as this limited style of gameplay feels dated in 2016.
In many ways, Star Fox Zero actually feels like a launch title for the Wii U console, full of half-fleshed-out ideas that don't quite stick. But the Wii U has been out for almost four years now, and I can't help but wonder what happened.
- This isn't a review of Star Fox Zero. Save for very rare, extreme circumstances, Polygon reviews require that a game be completed, or at least a good-faith effort be made to complete it.