Star Fox Zero Review – Slippy Turd

Barrel roll off a cliff and into a bunch of poison!

01

Developer: Nintendo EPD, Platinum Games
Publisher: Nintendo
Format: Wii U
Released: April 22, 2016
Copy purchased

Star Fox Zero is a dumpster game for people who want to have a garbage time, and it belongs in the toilet.

Masquerading as an innovative and all-new experience, Nintendo and Platinum Games’ miserable adventure is actually a bare-bones space shooter utilizing a deliberately obtuse control scheme in order to mask the fact it’s nowhere near as interesting as it pretends to be.

Robbed of its “inventive” little control scheme, Star Fox Zero is an unchallenging and rather humdrum continuation of the Star Fox series. If it didn’t handle like a wingless pigeon in a falling elevator it would’ve been an inoffensive way to spend a handful of hours – not exactly a remarkable or memorable experience, but at least tolerable.

Unfortunately, Star Fox Zero doesn’t control like a proper game, intent on shoveling a bunch of Wii U tech demo features down our throat as if the existence of motion controls has been enough to sell a game since 2008.

The GamePad is mandatory and you’ll need to constantly look at both the television and handheld screens in order to play with any degree of efficiency. The television displays Fox McCloud’s vehicle and the surrounding territory, while the GamePad gives a first-person view from the cockpit. The problem here is that neither view, on its own, is sufficient to play the game effectively.

The TV view is always seen from a skewed perspective that keeps the targeting reticule at an angle – an angle that will see the player frequently miss if they try to trust it with anything. In order to hit the game’s slow and unthreatening enemies, you’ll need to use the GamePad’s first-person view. Unfortunately, that cramped and restricted viewpoint leaves you unable to employ any spatial awareness, as you’ve no way of knowing what’s even directly around you.

So it is that Star Fox Zero expects its players to constantly look up and down, nodding along like crack-addled Jibber Jabbers, in order to play a game most developers can present decently with just one screen.

04

It’s a sly and rather pitiful attempt to make the GamePad feel more important than it ought to be, forcing players to utilize two screens when one would not only have sufficed, but would have served the user better. This is the real kicker with Star Fox Zero – its arrogant placement of faux-innovation above and beyond the comfort and usability of the audience.

Evasive maneuvers are unintuitive, with players needing to double tap the right analog stick and hold the left in order to do a barrel roll, while tilting the sticks up and down in opposite directions to somersault. Accelerating and braking are also performed with the right stick, which makes no sense whatsoever.

At least you actually fire with one of the trigger buttons. The fact I’m grateful this game does one thing normally is sad.

The gyroscope is, expectedly, used for aiming, which wouldn’t be a problem if one wasn’t constantly waggling the sticks around to steer and evade oncoming fire. In a game like Splatoon, the gameplay and interface were simple enough that motion-controlled aiming worked quite well. Here, it just contributes to the hot mess that is Zero‘s cluttered, unhelpful layout.

It also needs constant recalibration, because this game wants you to go fuck yourself.

With determination and time, you can force yourself to “get used” to the controls, but the very fact you have to when there are far superior, better established, and more user-friendly control schemes in the world is just baffling. Star Fox already had its gameplay down pat, and these unnecessary alterations make the experience notably lesser.

And it’s not innovative. Not really, no matter what Nintendo’s marketing department claims. I could rub paint on my dick and smear it all over the Mona Lisa, but that would be vandalism, not innovation. Taking something that works and ruining it on purpose isn’t clever, it’s the grubby domain of charlatans.

02

When you get right down to it, Star Fox Zero really is just another Star Fox game at heart. They stuck a screwdriver in its interface and waggled it around until everything was broken, but it’s a regular Star Fox game nonetheless. One that’s been turned into a load of shit because of some weird obsession with dressing mutton as lamb.

Even after you force yourself to get used to the controls, it’s still awkward and clumsy to play, and I don’t think anybody in their right mind would take this over any other Star Fox experience. I mean, I know some people have claimed Zero is the superior choice, but I’m talking about people in their right mind.

I haven’t even talked about the alternative vehicles, which is where things go from bad to GOP. At various times, the ship can be transformed into a chicken-like mech that runs around on the floor with fidgety manual movement controls that see the bloody thing careering off all over the place. There’s also a tank that just seems to do its own thing and fights the player over which direction to go.

The only vehicle that seems to be able to handle itself is the helicopter which actually does okay with Zero‘s monstrous controls. Sadly, the helicopter stages are also incredibly boring and sluggish, so even when the game is more usable, it refuses to be more fun.

03

Star Fox Zero is just plain rotten. An otherwise run-of-the-mill space shooter that couldn’t be content with its own mediocrity and subsequently mutilated itself in a desperate attempt to stand out. It’s certainly stood out alright – by being somehow even more obnoxious than Kid Icarus Uprising.

And don’t kid yourself – Kid Icarus Uprising was total shite.

At least Star Fox Zero looks nice. Not the most gorgeous game around, but by Wii U standards it’s a pretty little sewer explosion.

2/10
Bad

Robert Read
Guest
Robert Read

the final boss of this game made me wish my mom got the abortion.

Dany Rivest Gaudreault
Guest
Dany Rivest Gaudreault

I knew it was shit Nintendo can’t do anything right since SNES

Vinnie Vincent's Dead Dog
Guest
Vinnie Vincent's Dead Dog

I’ve taken dog shits with a less complicated control scheme than this.

Kiavikone
Guest
Kiavikone

Jim, have you tried applying to Polygon?
This kind of low-tier clickbait would fit right at home on that site 😉

Aria DiMezzo
Guest

Imo, the moment a player has to stop and think about the controls is the moment the control scheme has unequivocally failed.

able_to_think
Guest
able_to_think

I hate the controls too to the point where I’m losing my shit at it screaming at the TV. Yet for some reason I still keep playing. I’ve decided I have to unlock all the stages because I hate myself apparently. Then I’m going to play through the rest of the series in chronological order. So at least I’ve got Star Fox Adventures waiting for me. I love that game.

ThunderRazor
Guest

I disagree with most things in this article, but that doesn’t mean I think they are wrong. I just don’t feel the same way at all. Star Fox Zero has been fine to control. It clicked initially and after training was even fluid. There are dumb parts to SFZ, but all in all it gives me the challenge that 64 never did, and I’m really enjoying it. I have to actually be good at the game to proceed. I get the innovation debate but I don’t care as long as I have fun playing the game, which I have massive… Read more »

Robby
Guest
Robby

You did it! I was worried for a moment.

Bob Knee
Guest
Bob Knee

I knew you didn’t like it from the video yesterday, but I didn’t think you’d hate it THIS much…

Polonium Fist
Guest
Polonium Fist

The moment they showed the gamepad demo for cockpit and the main screen as third person I thought “this has SO MUCH POTENTIAL to get fucked up and be awful”

I AM A TENT
Guest
I AM A TENT

oh boy oh boy oh boy

Zaruian
Guest
Zaruian

Woah, the salt is strong in this one. You sound like every other reviewer that put a couple hours into the game and decided it was shit. Specially with how you describe “having to” play in a way that is completely wrong and sounds like a nightmare. The only real mistake with this game is giving shit of a tutorial. You don’t “have to force yourself into the controls”, you just have to “figure them out”. Wich of course is still a bad thing, but here’s the difference… once you do figure them out, it becomes good. Yes, GOOD. Once… Read more »

Panic_Center
Guest
Panic_Center

Having not played this game myself yet, I’ll withhold any gameplay-related judgements for later.

From a visual standpoint though, I will never understand why Nintendo thought that returning the visual style to its N64 days was a good idea. The damned thing looks worse than Star Fox Assault (2005) for the GC.

This game LOOKS like absolute shite.

If you want to go back to the roots in terms of gameplay, sure. Go for it. Absolutely.
Why are we moving backwards leaps and bounds visually, though?

Stephen Mc Devitt
Guest
Stephen Mc Devitt

It’s Metroid: Other M all over again. At least there’s still the new Zelda. Nintendo has been constantly churning new Zelda games that are fundementally the same, even the ones with motion controls like Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword, but they work and they get refined with each new installment. I really don’t want the new Zelda to suck like Star Fox Zero here.

Even Luck
Guest
Even Luck

Oh dear, I see the comments. It’s not gonna be pretty.
It’s not gonna be pretty.
It’s not
gonna
be
pre-
tty.
Anyway, it’s unfortunate you didn’t have a good experience unlike others.

Burgerpants
Guest
Burgerpants

I’d like to think the opening line contains a reference to “Garbageboy Stinkman Belongs in the Toilet” from Monster Factory.

The Creature Keeper
Guest

That’s a shame. The Arwing transforming into a walker is a feature from the finished-yet-canceled Star Fox 2 on the SNES, so I had been hoping that we’d end up with a similarly beautiful game here.

CutCrane
Guest
CutCrane

Well my online store cancelled my order on release so I guess they did me a favour.
Jim is there any chance you would visit cologne for Gamescom or is it not worth the trouble and anxiety? Would be great to have an opportunity to meet or see you in person.

Jonny
Guest
Jonny

I’m glad its rubbish. Maybe they will finally realize their gimmicks ruin games.

Landusk79
Guest
Landusk79

Whelp, Figure this was gonna do badly under his judgment all you do is flight in straight line never offer any thing new, also I take it same levels form 64.

so yeah I see why it a 2 also slipy.

FranzBrötchen
Guest
FranzBrötchen

FINALLY, I know how it feels to disagree with JimFuckingSterlingSon.

A great man once said that one shouldn’t be discouraged to have joy in playing Dark Souls III by people who say you’re doing it wrong.

I’ll apply this to my joy of Star Fox Zero.

FUCK.OFF.JIM.YOU’RE.JUST.BAD.AT.LEARNING.GAME.MECHANICS.

WildFire15
Guest
WildFire15

It’s a shame as there’s genuine simple fun hidden behind the annoying controls.

Oscar
Guest
Oscar

Fucking hell I wasn’t expecting that, hahaha!

Barnaby Jones
Guest
Barnaby Jones

I haven’t regretted paying full price for a Wii U game this much and I bought Devil’s Third. I played about 4 hours and rage quit hard.

Stephen
Guest
Stephen

Woah woah woah, why the Kid Icarus Uprising hate? That game was great.

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