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Star Fox Zero Review

Join team Star Fox in a new space adventure and experience the beauty of fast-paced levels through the eyes of Fox McCloud’s cockpit on the Wii U GamePad. Between barrel rolls, somersaults and u-turns, it’s easy to get trigger happy. But don’t let the awkward controls feed your frustration, just ditch the motion control and fuel your satisfaction the way Star Fox should be played.

From the makers of Bayonetta and The Wonderful 101, Platinum Games are one half of the technical brains behind Star Fox Zero after joining forces with Nintendo’s EPD division. As the sixth instalment in the series, the 3D action scrolling shooter is neither a prequel, a direct sequel or a remake of the first Star Fox game, but is somewhere in between, perhaps seen as a homage. Fans of the franchise will be pleased to see Falco, Peppy and Slippy join up with Fox McCloud once again, alongside familiar enemies such as Pigma and Wolfen. Plus, there’s even cameo appearances from characters, with Katt Monroe sparking some interest in one of the levels from her cool and sassy personality.

As with many Star Fox games in the past, Zero’s main story campaign is rather short and can be completed anywhere between six and eight hours. Each level, though, is distinctly different from the last with different missions on offer, bosses and glorious action to get those fingers twitching. From the memorable Corneria stage to the Zoness and Fichina planets, there are ten separate areas to experience and enjoy. For the game completionists there are, of course, 70 medals – with five to each mission – dotted around the levels, which open up some unlockable goodies when found. But don’t be alarmed, there are still new modes to be unlocked after beating the main campaign, giving fans a lengthier and deeper challenge.

With that said though, Star Fox Zero is no pushover. In true Platinum style, levels require strategy and forward-thinking to hit the highest marks. While some areas require you to shoot first and ask questions later in the space adventure, there are other moments that scream for precision with alternative pathways available. In particular, a boss fight with an extremely hefty metallic foe named Giggarilla will have players transforming seamlessly from Arwing to Walker to shoot its easy-to-spot weak points then, in its final stages, hacking with a cute little robot. It’s extremely tricky to master with maddeningly tight spaces to manoeuvre within but, once you do, the satisfaction is worth its weight in gold medals.

A sticky situation for many, the game’s unique dual screen controls can be a real frustration with motion control enabled. While the TV screen will show the general game screen in all-range mode, the GamePad offers up cockpit vision. Each level is designed to be played in either cockpit view or all-range, and some use a blend of both. You’ll have to determine which view is best utilised in each level, while keeping track of the GamePad’s gyroscopic cursor in comparison to what’s on the TV screen.

After meeting my doom within the first couple of hours in Sector Y (aka Gamma) from using motion controls, I was ready to throw in the towel and my team patch. What works for Nintendo’s colourful shooter Splatoon, is just absolutely diabolical for Star Fox Zero. From recalibration cursor problems to dizzying perspectives with laser near misses, I was blinking back my tears of frustration Skyward Sword-style as I catapulted time and time again into missiles, spaceships, and debris. I probably hit Slippy, too. Perhaps it’s just as well no one can hear you scream in space; though I’m not quite sure my neighbours felt the same.

Sensibly ditching the motion controls after a couple of hours, which you can do so on the GamePad’s screen, Star Fox Zero then becomes playable and, most importantly, enjoyable. Although the dual screen is still difficult to get to grips with, practice does make perfect, and soon enough gliding, boosting and barrel-rolling in the Arwing becomes beautifully fluid. There are still moments of dread when controlling three of the five vehicles in the game – namely the Walker, Landmaster and particularly the Gyrowing – which never quite feel as naturally malleable as the Arwing. Ironically, one of the best land vehicles in the game is the Roadmaster, sadly not available until later in the game.

Without a doubt, Star Fox Zero’s crisp visuals are not only aesthetically pleasing, they are also a joy to blast through at great speeds. It’s a shame much of the action is confined to cockpit view, since some of the finer details can only be seen on the larger screen in all-range mode. Yet despite the motion controls, the GamePad is utilised exceedingly well, especially with the title’s voice acting delivered through the control. It drives authenticity, giving players that feeling of being in complete control within the aircraft or vehicle.

As the main draw is Star Fox Zero’s story campaign, fans will also be able to experience it in co-operative play as well. While one player pilots the vehicle and shoots lasers by using the Wii U Pro Controller or a Wii remote and Nunchuk, the other uses motion controls on the GamePad and can easily get trigger happy with lasers and missiles as their arsenal. By working together as a team, players can take on each of the levels and, at times, can alleviate some of the pressure of the more difficult missions. A great tool for newcomers to get accustomed to the controls, co-op mode is intuitively designed. However, it is a real shame that you cannot use the Wii U Pro Controller anywhere else within the game; a missed opportunity for sure, especially when it feels so innate.

Of course, the game also includes training modes and challenge missions for those who crave a much deeper experience. Players can also use the Fox McCloud and Falco amiibo to unlock two different Arwing aircrafts, so there’s enough to variation to keep interest. New to Star Fox Zero is both the hacking robot and Gyrowing. Featured in two levels, they are a nice change of pace, albeit a little slow after the zany action of the previous stages. Nevertheless the hacking element still feels much more of an afterthought by the developers, essentially shoe-horned in with clear ties to Star Fox Guard.

Although not without its flaws, some of which are more painstaking than others, Star Fox Zero may not set your goose bumps tingling, but it’s still a solid space shooter for the Wii U. In the words of Falco, that was a close call, Fox.


Star Fox Guard, which is packaged alongside Star Fox Zero, will be reviewed separately at a later date.  

141 thoughts on “Star Fox Zero Review”

    1. I’m on the fence with that in all honesty. It depends what you were looking for in a Star Fox game. Personally I really wasn’t a fan at the beginning, then I grew to like it. It’s a “grower”.

                1. |||Nintendo Dark Commander Quadraxis-NX Prime|||

                  -||For me it ended once the movie was made and its artstyle changed a bit||-

                  -||Like 90% of the episodes since then always have to be about these boring human celebrities of today or political nonsense||-

      1. I’d assume there isn’t off tv play with this is there? like if you switch to off range view on the gamepad will that give you the aiming cursor on the gamepad screen?

  1. |||Nintendo Dark Commander Quadraxis-NX Prime|||

    -||Ambassador Colette, you’re just not a warrior to handle such complicated controls||-

  2. So it’s an actual Star Fox game with Platinum levels of difficulty, a steep learning curve and a non-conventional control scheme. Sounds right down my alley. Never had much of a problem with Skyward Sword either, so I’m sure I’ll be on the adaptable side of players.

    Nice Alien reference, btw. I admit I smirked.

    “Sensibly ditching the motion controls after a couple of hours, which you can do so on the GamePad’s screen”
    Wait, what? I’m assuming you mean you can just ditch arwing movement, right?

      1. They’re not completely turned off if you still aim with the gamepad. What I got from that is that the game’s default control scheme includes moving both the arwing AND the crosshair through motion controls, which sounds batshit insane to me. I don’t see how that would actually work without one thing getting in the way of the other.

        1. I guess I’ll find out first hand very soon. I can’t wait! Got it pre loaded and ready to play right at midnight! I’m going to be a zombie on friday morning at the office lol

        2. That is correct. You can turn off motion controls on the GamePad (as in gyroscopic) BUT they will still be on when you ZR lock target onto enemies, which is for precision. If you don’t use the ZR lock targeting, motion controls don’t confuse the mechanic scheme and you can aim with the left stick to control your crosshairs. Sorry that wasn’t explained in the review fully. :)

            1. Since I played it last July, I think, at Nintendo UK’s press event (which was the demo of the Corneria mission) and failed horribly because of the terrible controls back then, I can safely say that it has improved. But whether they are to your personal liking or not is another matter. :)

              1. I will say they’re not terrible. I will defend these controls until the day I die. They just have a high learning curve so you just have to get good at them or else you’re gonna be frustrated with them. Don’t fight the controls just get used to them.

                1. No need to fight the controls OR get used to them. Yay for the option to turn off what some perceive as crappy controls! Now if only Kid Icarus Uprising came with that option with the stylus control crap.

          1. this sounds perfect to me, i like having both analog and gyro controls on for sf64 3D, i just like using the gyro for that slight precision in aiming. can’t wait to play this!

        3. Maybe it’s like Splatoon, where you move with the left stick and move the Gamepad around to aim if you’re using motion controls. It’s no mouse-and-keyboard, but I can’t dual stick to save my ass, so I’ve adjusted to the point where if I get ambushed from behind I can whirl around and deal with the offender with decent accuracy.

          Maybe it’s like that?

    1. Thank you. :)

      As I said in a comment further down, you can turn off motion controls as in the gyroscope on the GamePad. BUT you cannot turn them off completely as when you ZR lock target an enemy, you’ll have to use the GamePad to move your crosshair. Again, apologies that was not explained fully in the review.

      1. Sorry if I didn’t get you, Colette. So may I ask you two questions? Even with gyro controls turned off, do I still need to mess around with the gamepad in other to aim the enemies? Also, do I necessarily need to share my attention between the TV screen and the gamepad screen when playing the game?

        1. When motion controls are turned off, they are turned off when you are not ZR targeting. So if you do ZR target for precision on enemies, you will still need to aim with the gyro. Although I worked around it by just adjusting with the left stick and trying to keep my GamePad flat. Sadly it’s a bit difficult to do so as the game is very quick.
          As the GamePad does play in cockpit view, there is an option to use the select button on the GamePad to switch your TV screen to cockpit view. But this only works in some levels as you need the all-range mode perspective. Example, the Giggarilla mission. You simply cannot see the weak spots or his position effectively in cockpit mode. You need to view him from ranged mode as he’s so large. So you’ll need to master switching between the GamePad and TV screen.

          I hope that answers your question. :)

          1. Thanks for kindly address my concern, Colette! I confess I’m still 50%-50% on this game… I think I’ll hold my horses and wait few days before taking my final decicision as I really hate motion controls.

            1. I prefer my motion controls to stick with 1st person shooters & melee weapon fighting. Anything beyond that & they can take the motion control & shove it right up their flaccid assholes. In fact, they can shove it so far up their ass that they won’t be able to wear hats! (I wonder if anyone will get that reference at the end.)

    1. That’s not how reviews work. This is her opinion of the game. You can’t say what her review score should be. You can disagree with the points she made, but it is still her review and her point of view.

            1. It may look awesome, but trust me, all who have played it (including me) know it has NO PLACE in the StarFox Universe! Its the federation force of StarFox!

              1. |||Nintendo Dark Commander Quadraxis-NX Prime|||

                -||It isn’t near the corruption FF is because it had still Starfox essence sometimes, FF has nothing||-

                  1. |||Nintendo Dark Commander Quadraxis-NX Prime|||

                    -||You had the arwing for the final boss, that alone makes it better than anything FF has||-

                    -||But in any case, I enjoyed it even though it’s kind of horrible as a Starfox game going by its essence and it should have been kept as an original IP as intended to from the beginning||-

                    1. Even as its own IP i despised it. Atleast FF looks enjoyable outside the metroid universe. Adventures is just not good.

                      1. |||Nintendo Dark Commander Quadraxis-NX Prime|||

                        -||Considering it was praised for its similarities with 3D Zelda games, I detect your judgement as illogical from a pure system analysis||-

                        1. No! It was like a watered down kinda Zelda-ish game, that was the worst part! It tried to be like the amazing zelda series, but failed so hard it was better if they hadn’t even tried!

                          1. |||Nintendo Dark Commander Quadraxis-NX Prime|||

                            -||I see, in your mind, which one is the worst? Adventures or Command?||-

                              1. |||Nintendo Dark Commander Quadraxis-NX Prime|||

                                -||I know what Metroid is and it’s my essence, there is nothing you or other lesser Metroid fans can say to me||-

                              2. This is one such thing where it should be judged by it’s cover. That artstyle is not Metroid. That gameplay is not Metroid. If Nintendo wants to do a crappy spin-off, that’s what Mario or Donkey Kong (Donkey Konga anyone? Bleh!) is for. We don’t need to play shit to know it’s not what we want.

                                      1. I need another bad Metroid game like I need another hole in the head. (Reference to a Prince song! Thanks for giving me a chance to use that, Hollow! :D)

                                    1. lol sounds like a starfox fan fic, i really wish i could find an old crt tv, i want to hook up the old gamecube in my house but it looks so terrible on big hd tvs. i live down the street from an indie gameshop that sells a bunch of retro games, i’d love to try out some of the gamecube games i never got to try out

                                      1. Want my opinion: its an okay game. Not the best game in the franchise, but it wasn’t even a Star Fox game to begin with…

                                      2. @Beats
                                        true, the game was first going to be made for and about Krystal from Star Fox but instead Miyamato suggested it for Star Fox and of course for Fox to be the star -.- . I honestly do looove the game, but I just wished they didn’t make Krystal the damsel in distress and eye candy for fox, in a game that was originally about her :( . Am I salty over this ? Of course not, …… :’) .

                                1. Regardless of how it fits into the Star Fox universe, it’s a pretty decent game. Does have frustrating puzzles though. I probably wouldn’t have even completed it if it weren’t for the internet’s help. One part in particular, something called “Test of Fear” I think, had me rage hard. Lol.

                                  1. Oh gods, EVERYONE had trouble with that. No one knew what to do; it was like the meter moved with no rhyme or reason. And if you failed you had to start ALL OVER AGAIN, and it’s a pretty long sequence.

                            1. I highly disagree, Star Fox Adventures was the only really enjoyable experience I’ve had with Star Fox. It may not be the highest on my list of priority games, but I found it to be enjoyable and different none the less.

                                1. Yeah it’s fine. It’s just odd considering it has fairly high reviews. I know I’m not the only person who liked it. So it’s fine, it was just a different take on the Star Fox formula. IMO.

                                      1. Perhaps playing the majority of the game with motion controls didn’t work in my review’s favour. ;) I try to be as unbiased as I possibly can.

                      2. I’ve heard from GameXplain that the first run is 3-4 hours long, but unlocking every path takes from 8 to 10 hours (Colette seems to imply it’s more between 6-8). Don’t quote me on this, but I think you can revisit different areas of the planets (optional content) if those routes are unlocked, effectively enlarging the number of stages. Meaning, it will take you 3 hours if you just do the bare minimum, but it will take you longer if you visit every area of one planet before jumping to the next one.

                        Again, these are just things I’ve heard people mention about the game, I’ll wait for Colette to correct me on that if I’m wrong.

                      3. I played 15 hours, which involved the main campaign, did some extra medals, did some training and the challenges. I didn’t feel the need to play any more than that in order to review it, since it’s quite short.

                        On a side note, I say 6-8 hours because I played half of it with motion controls (and failed lots of missions). I was pretty terrible at it. Then I got better through practice. So if you’re a veteran Star Fox player, it will probably take you less time. I was averaging it out on the amount of times I replayed missions in order to get some medals and to find the alternative paths. :)

                          1. From what I unlocked there are ten planets, with one seemingly still locked. I’m heavily embargoed until the 22nd, so can’t reveal any more than that. :)

                            1. |||Nintendo Dark Commander Quadraxis-NX Prime|||

                              -||Seems about the same as the original but I guess the phases makes it somewhat longer||-

                        1. It’s okay, Colette. We can always find out how to unlock it after the game has released & a bunch of fans make walkthroughs & whatnot on Gamefaqs if we can’t figure it out on our own. :D

                    2. Exactly what I was expecting after I saw those god aweful robot, gyrowing and walker gameplay elements during last years E3. Nintendo is killing all their IP by forcing those “innovations” upon the player, just like the forced gamepad usage. How did they get so fucking dumb in the last few years?! All their games used to have very sane design decisions, only the good parts stayed in and the boring and stupid crap was thrown out during development. That’s what made Nintendo so great. It looks like they gave up on quality control and even the stupiest ideas stay in the game.

                      1. I dont know man i ask myself that nintendo keeps going down the shitter over and over again and we think they will learn but its shit ass ass shit nintendo back at it again being retarded and the nx better not be shit but i think it will because nintendo have too much to do to try to keep up or surpass the competition

                      2. Least we can ditch the motion controls. But yeah. Why we no can’t use Wii U Pro Controller throughout the entire game!?

                      3. 1. The Walker was actually from the dropped Star Fox 2 game which was dropped due to the N64 coming out.
                        2. The Motion Controls are great. You just gotta get good.
                        3. Nintendo’s innovation sure takes risks, but all the games are still fun. I’ve been playing Splatoon and I’ve been having a fucking blast with the motion aiming in that game. As well as every other game I own on the Wii U.
                        (FYI: Been a Nintendo Fan since NES days)

                    3. If it’s a decent game, I’ll get it… I’ll Probably get it when I see a price cut of $10 somewhere on the internet. But Regardless thanks for your review Colette.

                    4. It sounds like it’s a good game that’ll satisfy anyone looking more Star Fox action after all these years of waiting(me being one of those people).

                      But to me, what really sucks is that it sounds like there isn’t a VS mode of any kind, which was one of my favorite parts of the Star Fox games. But at least Star Fox Guard seems like a nice replacement.

                    5. I’m on the fence, now. I’ve been dying for another Star Fox installment for almost a decade, but this control scheme seems just plain awful… X(

                    6. If Nintendo had scrapped the motion controls for a more traditional Star Fox control scheme, people would be b***hing about how it’s just a re-hash of SF64. They’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

                      1. No. You can’t just use blanket statements like that. Many people, myself included, would be much more excited for this game if it had the normal control scheme. I’m still getting it, but the control scheme is a shoehorned “innovation.” I’m sure even less people would be getting this game if not for the fact that Nintendo sucks with getting games out for the Wii U. The droughts have people looking high and low for anything to play. Not saying people will buy anything, but certain games people would normally be on the fence about are probably getting a boost because of the rarity of any heavy hitters. As I said, I’m getting this game, and I’m hoping it is good. But no matter what, it won’t be as good as it could have been with a normal control system. As it is, the graphics are suffering because of the fact that they are rendering on two screens, which sucks. Hoping for this game to be really good, but I’m not expecting a 10/10 at all.

                          1. Yep. The longer he stays around, the more he tarnishes his once impeccable legacy. It’s a shame. He’s still a legend, but his star does not shine as bright as it once did.

                        1. im no graphics whore but i think the graphics look fine, people complained about the art style and graphics of wind waker and claim it would be its downfall, they were wrong. people need to stop focusing on graphics, unless its n64 graphics then you can focus on it so shut up, play the game and judge the game in an unbiased manner, if you like it good, if not then good. i will skip the game simply because im getting tokyo mirage sessions #fe special edition and i will be spending a little over $92 because of s/h and tax from cheapskatestop ‘bend over and we will give you $2 for that $200 game’. should amazon get it soon then i will cancel my pre-order from gamestop and go for amazon, at least it will be cheaper.

                          1. First off, no need for the shut up comment. That’s just childish. Second, as I’ve read on other sites, the graphics aren’t terrible, but the game looks barren. Because of the two screen rendering, they can’t put out too much on screen at once. So that is a valid complaint. As for Wind Waker, many people are still turned off by its graphic style. It is still a good game, but the style is not adored unilaterally. I already said I’m getting the game, so obviously I’ll judge it myself when the time comes to play it. Doesn’t mean I can’t choice my opinion off of what I’ve read and seen.

                          2. But that’s Zelda where it was more of an artstyle choice rather than graphics choice. We can’t compare Wind Waker to this nor should we.

                      2. But even with the motion controls & forced Gamepad innovation, it actually still is Star Fox 64 rehashed. New vehicles, new gameplay, & an editing of the original SF64 story isn’t fooling me.

                        1. But, that’s where it’s at its best. You really want it to go down a route where even the series creator has no idea where to go after 2 games again? Because at this point, I don’t think SF can handle going down the absurd plot of “aquatic aliens appear for no reason at all and the main antagonist of the series was actually a good guy the whole time” one more time.

                          …Thinking about it, Command’s plot WAS garbage… Why did I ever defend that game was vehemently as I did?

                          1. Wait, what? Andross was a good guy this whole time because he was aware of a threat no one else knew of & was preparing the Lylat System for it!? Oh dear! This sounds familiar! Oh yeah! Star Wars Expanded Universe with Emperor Palpatine & the Yuuzhan Vong! xP

                    7. Star Fox is one of my favorite gaming series but I don’t think I’ll be getting this one. Nintendo could’ve given us a great multiplayer mode but instead they wanted to push gimmicks in spite of nearly 2 years of feedback.

                        1. Yea, it’s convenient being both an Xbox and Nintendo fan, cos Microsoft listens to it’s fans feedback and doesn’t force unwanted gimmicks and features on us and gives us a product we want while Nintendo ignores everyone and pushes out an unwanted product meaning I have more money to spend on Xbox. It’s great to see such strong teamwork between 2 of my favorite tech companies.

                          1. Of course xbox and sony will try to push unwanted shit your way but guess what they still shit on nintendo in everything variety of all kinds of shit whether you want it or not and obviously especially when it comes to games but guess what you dont have to buy or pay any attention to that shit if you dont want it

                    8. I just need to know one thing:

                      Does. This. Game. Let. You. Save. Between. Stages.

                      Or do you start over from the very beginning (Corneria) after you get Game Over (Sector Y, Macbeth, Venom, etc.)?

                      1. It saves between stages. If you get a Game Over you only fail the mission on the selected planet / stage, so you have to start over from Phase 1 if you don’t complete the boss in Phase 3, for example. Hope this helps. :)

                        1. Good, because I was scared that I would spend all that money and not be able to complete the game. In that case, I’ll get the game, but not until I complete Star Fox Assault. I’ll be skipping Command.

                          You have no idea how long I’ve been trying to get an answer from the internet. Reddit completely ignored me.

                    9. I haven’t read the article or comments yet. If she says the gyro controls are not optional, I’m not buying. EVER. Well. Here I go. Moment of Truth!

                    10. A huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders! Yay! I can fucking turn off those filthy guy-ro… jee-ro… gee-ro… gyro controls! Wait… No online/offline multiplayer mode!? *eye twitch* Fucking forced gimmick bullshit. <.< Retire, Miyamoto! Please! You are tarnishing your reputation with this crap! Time to walk off into the sunset right now while many of us can still speak highly of you! Pleeeeease! D:

                      1. Would be funny if this whole time Miyamoto was just playing and then his next game turned out to be the most amazing thing ever. Then he replied to you and says “What was that you were saying?” Lol.

                        1. As splendid as that would be, I’m not holding my breath. If he wants to be able to bow out of his career gracefully, that window is rapidly closing at this rate.

                          I will always respect the man, same as anyone who creates a good IP, but one must not pretend they never made mistakes.

                    11. Pingback: Amazon: Star Fox Zero And Star Fox Guard For $37 – My Nintendo News

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