It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly 20 years since I first descended upon Corneria, fourth planet of the Lylat System, as Fox McCloud in Nintendo’s Star Fox 64 for the Nintendo 64. At the time, I didn’t realize it was a sequel to Star Fox for the SNES, best known for its use of the graphics-enhancing Super FX chip, but I was captivated nonetheless: I found the game’s fast-based dogfighting, combo system, and charming characters immediately engaging. I spent countless hours trying to figure out the various paths between planets, uncovering the often-cryptic means necessary to do so, whether it meant flying through an inconspicuous waterfall or racking up the requisite number of hits.
With Star Fox Zero, set to come out on April 22 for the Wii U, I thought it would be a good time to enumerate everything about the game that I’m looking forward to. From its new control scheme to a companion game called Star Fox Guard, there’s plenty to get excited about.
Star Fox Zero expands on its predecessors by offering a whopping four vehicles to pilot. Of course, the Arwing is back, but this time, it can touch down on the ground and turn into a “Walker” — a nod to the cancelled Star Fox 2 — allowing the player to explore new areas at a more methodical pace. The Landmaster tank also returns and can transform into the Gravmaster, a heavy jet that improves mobility by lifting the tank off the ground, allowing the player to rain down targeting missiles from above.
The Gyrowing is a new hovercraft that can deploy a tethered robot called Direct-i to hack into computer systems and gather item pickups such as medals during a mission — similar to the collectibles from Star Fox Armada. The Direct-i can also fire at enemies to defend itself.
As an added bonus, players can use their Fox McCloud amiibo to unlock retro models of the Arwing from the SNES version of the game.
Brand New Controls
Star Fox Zero has an innovative control scheme that takes advantage of the Wii U’s second screen. On the television, players see the Arwing in a third-person view; on the gamepad, players see the cockpit from Fox’s perspective. Players aim at enemies using the motion sensor in the remote. In All-Range Mode, players will now be able to fly in one direction and fire in another, allowing for more dynamic dogfighting.
Shigeru Miyamoto has explicitly said that Star Fox Zero is neither a sequel nor a prequel to earlier games in the series, leading many to believe it is a reimagining of Star Fox 64. This means most of the series’ beloved characters will make a comeback, including the original squadron of allies — Slippy Toad, Peppy Hare, and Falco Lombardi — as well as their rivals, led by the ornery Wolf O’Donnell. Fans of Bill Grey and Katt Monroe will be excited to learn that they are also expected to return. All of the original voice actors from Star Fox 64 will reprise their roles for this new game.
Star Fox Guard
Star Fox Guard is a standalone companion game for the Wii U, starring Slippy Toad and his uncle, Grippy. It is a tower defense game where players place cameras to identify and destroy invading robots. Tapping the corresponding camera on the Wii U GamePad controller will allow the player to see the entrances and shoot robots down. As players complete missions, they will level up, unlock more missions, and gain access to special cameras which are used to defend each facility.
There are also online multiplayer and create-a-stage modes, which should make this a robust experience for the $14.99 price.
Even though it features a completely new control scheme, Star Fox Zero retains the classic dogfighting fans of the series love. Just like in past games, players can expect to jump from planet to planet across the Lylat System, discovering alternative pathways and defeating bosses at the end of each stage. Miyamoto has detailed two types of levels, mirroring prior games in the series: the on-rails corridor mode and all-range mode, which gives the player a pre-set area to navigate in all directions.