Star Fox Adventures - GCN Classic Review

Star Fox Adventures was the first Star Fox game to be released on the Nintendo GameCube, and also the first Star Fox game to be released in over five years. So was the long wait worth it? Or is Star Fox Adventures just one big let down? Well...

The Background of Dinosaur Planet:

Before Star Fox Adventures was announced for the GameCube, Rare had been developing a brand new adventure game for the Nintendo 64 called "Dinosaur Planet." In Dinosaur Planet players would play as two young human-like foxes named Sabre and Krystal as they explored Dinosaur planet and tried to save it from the evil General Scales. With the help of their partner dinos, both characters would make their way through this world, solve puzzles, and finally save it.

After the game was sent to Nintendo for Review, Shigeru Miyamoto noticed something strikingly familiar about the game. Both the world and characters reminded him a lot of something you would see in the Nintendo series Star Fox, and that is when it happened. Nintendo and Rare decided to take what used to be Dinosaur Planet, and rework the game into a completely brand new Star Fox game which they could then release as a launch title for the upcoming Nintendo GameCube. During this transition quite a few things were changed, but in the end the game finally did hit the shelves just like Nintendo and Rare originally planned.

Welcome to the Lylat System:

As Star Fox Adventures begins, a young blue fox named Krystal is flying on the back of a dinosaur as she responds to a distress signal which was apparently coming from somewhere close to the world "Dinosaur Planet." As she gets closer to the world she soon finds herself being attacked by a flying air ship, and is forced to return fire. Once the cannons on the back of the ship are destroyed, Krystal finally lands on board, and begins her search to see just who put out the distress signal; however she soon discovers the source is not there, and that the ship actually belongs to the evil General Scales, ruler of Dinosaur Planet.

After being tossed overboard by General Scales, Krystal and her dino pal fly towards an old building known as the Krazoa Palace, where she finally discovers who set out the distress signal. It turns out the Krazoa spirits, the source of life on Dinosaur Planet, have gone missing from the palace, and the dinosaurs need Krystal's help to find them. Sadly soon after finding the first Krazoa in the palace, Krystal is attacked by an unseen being who knocks her into a strange beam which then seals her inside a crystal. (Very fitting...)
Meanwhile elsewhere in the Lylat System, Fox McCloud, Slippy Toad, and Peppy Hare, are just flat out doing nothing as their Great Fox just floats through the galaxy. Slippy does some minor repairs on ROB 64, Peppy complains to fix about the new age music which is turned up too loud, and Fox is playing on his computer. Since the events of Star Fox 64, not much has really happened, and the Star Fox team is completely broke. The Great Fox is falling apart, Falco left the team (according to a comic which was released by Nintendo he joined up with Katt and her crew), and things just aren't looking good for the team; however all of that is just about to change.

After receiving a call from General Pepper, Fox finds himself heading out to Dinosaur Planet which has broken into many different pieces which now float around the planet. Fox's job is to land on Dinosaur Planet, find out what is going on, and put the planet back together again.

Once Fox finally arrives on Dinosaur Planet, he soon finds Krystal's staff, which she dropped when General Scales threw her off the ship, and he also meets up with the Queen Earthwalker (a triceratops) who asks Fox to save her son Tricky. With not much else to go on Fox then sets out to rescue Tricky from General Scale's men, not knowing that he is about to get caught in the center of all of the world's problems. Soon Fox learns all about how the Krazoa Spirits have gone missing, and how the planet has broken into many different pieces due to their powers vanishing from the Krazoa Palace.

With the young Prince Tricky by his side, Fox sets out on an adventure to save all of the Krazoa Spirits, and put Dinosaur Planet back together again.

The Legend of Star Fox:

Unlike what most might expect from a Star Fox game, Star Fox Adventures is NOT an on rail shooter, but an action adventure game instead. When you first start playing as Fox you will in fact find yourself flying through space as you head toward Dinosaur Planet, but this on rail shooter aspect of the game is very short lived. Whenever Fox goes to a new section of the planet, you are required to fly there, but it is not quite the same as the on rail shooter levels from Star Fox and Star Fox 64. All on rail levels take place in space, the level designs are very basic with asteroids, rock landmasses, and bombs to fly around, and there are enemies that will shoot at you, but these sections rarely last more than 30 to 40 seconds, and your only real goal is to fly through the gold rings. Each area requires a set amount of gold rings to enter, and if you fail to gain the set amount, you will be forced to replay the short level from the start.

After flying through the gold rings (or ring), Fox will land on Dinosaur Planet and the game will truly start. Star Fox Adventures is basically what you might call a Legend of Zelda clone. Fox has a type of "heart" health system which appears at the top of the screen, each "heart" has four pieces to it, and as you go through the game and beat bosses you can pick up more pieces which expand your health. This is the very system The Legend of Zelda has been using since the very first game, and it is a system not many would expect to see in a Star Fox game; however that is NOT the only similarities this game shares.

At the very start of Star Fox Adventures you will find yourself on the surface of Dinosaur Planet with almost NO guidance. There are dinosaurs walking around, and there is a general store, but other than that you are completely on your own. The very start of the game makes it very clear that this game is in fact going to be an adventure, and it will require a LOT of exploration.

As you explore the first area of the game you will soon find Krystal's staff which will open up a wide verity of options for you. You'll find switches which can be pressed, you'll be able to lift up rocks to find hidden scarabs which are used as this game's currency, and you'll also be able to combat enemies. Still many of the areas you'll be able to access by using this staff will only lead to more dead ends, and more puzzles you will have to come back later to solve. Just like with a Metroid game, you are COMPLETELY on your own, and you will constantly find yourself at dead ends.

Throughout the game Fox will be able to find many different items and power ups to help him on his adventure. While at times you'll find bigger wallets which will allow you to hold more scarabs (which will allow you to buy other key items which will allow you to advance), other times you'll actually find completely new powers that will allow you to access new areas. Early on Fox will come across a secret cave which will upgrade the staff to allow it to shoot, which will allow you to hit out of reach switches, but other power ups will also include upgrades such as the rocket which allows you to reach higher areas. All of these power ups are KEY to solving puzzles found throughout the game, but they are also useful in combat as well.

Combat in Star Fox Adventures is completely real time, and works more like a dueling system. Whenever you attack an enemy the camera will lock onto them allowing you to do back flips, side steps, and standard staff swings to hopefully take them down. The combat system is extremely simple and only requires some simple dodging and blocking, but this can be seen as a down side as well. Since battles are one on one, other enemies will NOT attack you while you're fighting, so you really only have to worry about whats in front of you, and most enemies can be killed just by mashing the attack button. Still the combat does look nice, and bosses normally do have to be fought in a puzzle solving manner.

Tricky Wants to Play:

Early on into the game you save Prince Tricky and he joins Fox on his adventure. While at first Tricky may seem to be that annoying side character who doesn't really add too much to the game, but that couldn't be any farther from the truth. Tricky is Fox's partner in this game and he is EXTREMELY important to progressing through the story. Tricky can breath fire to light things on fire, he can dig for hidden items, and he has a few other useful abilities as well. All of these abilities are very important, and are often used to solve puzzles. Still Tricky does require a bit of work to actually take care of, and you cannot just freely abuse him.
Like most "pets," Tricky does need to eat and using his special abilities does require energy. While Fox's staff's energy can be refilled by knocking off the glowing energy gems on some special plants, finding Tricky's food is a bit more tricky. Still just like with every other item in the game, if you cannot dig it up somewhere, you can always stop by the general store.

Since Tricky is still a young dino, he does like to have fun, and it is up to Fox to play with him from time to time. By buying a ball from the store you can actually play catch with Tricky to help build up his stats. The more you play with Tricky the better his abilities become, and he also slowly starts to change colors. If you want to save on your food supply this becomes a very important feature of the game, and you might want to take some time to "level grind."

The Dungeons of Star Fox Adventures:

While the main area of the game is filled with puzzles and exploration, Star Fox Adventures also has quite a few standard "dungeons" as well. Whenever you fly to a new area you can expect to find many, MANY different puzzles for you to solve, and they are not easy ones either. Unlike most adventure games, this game does not hold your hand and it leaves everything up to you to solve. Most puzzles are not marked, which results in you sometimes shooting random objects hoping they will fall to make a path, and most of the time you will have to search for hidden areas to find that one item that will allow you to progress. These puzzles can be quite challenging, and they only get harder as you go on.

Once you solve the dungeon like area, the dungeons actually do not end there. At the end of every area Fox will find himself entering a Krazoa shrine which is another dungeon in its self. These areas can also be quite challenging, and they normally focus on a gimmick, but once you get to the end the game finally changes thing up. Each Krazoa will require you to go through some type of trial which normally features some type of mini game. From finding the hidden Krazoa in a earn as it shuffles around, to keeping your sanity bar in the middle of the screen as your worst fears come true, these mini games range from both easy and challenging, and they can take quite a few tries to complete.

After you have finished the mini game Fox will receive a Krazoa, and then be sent to the Krazoa Palace where he will once again go through a "dungeon" before finally returning the Krazoa to its resting spot in the head of a statue.

The Mini Games:

Although it isn't a major focus, Adventures does in fact feature a few mini games which can be played throughout the game. Besides the Krazoa mini games which take place at the end of each of their trials, there are quite a few mazes hidden throughout the game which you can play through to earn extras as well. While most of the time these extras are just extra cash, there are quite a few "cheats" which can be unlocked just for the heck of it. They really don't add too much to the game, but they can be fun to play around with.
The game also features a few on rails hover bike segments as well, which are actually really fun, but these on rail parts pretty limited, and they only can be played at a few different key parts in the game...

The Detail of Adventures:

Although Star Fox Adventures originally started on the N64, it is easily one of the best looking Nintendo games you will play on the GameCube. The game not only has 480p HD support, but it also has a wide screen mode for anyone with an HD TV, and to go along with all of this, the game pays great attention to detail! Fox's fur looks very realistic, there's a wide verity of detail in areas around you (grass patches are not simply the same texture repeated over and over again), there's a day and night cycle, dinosaurs look pretty realistic and walk around the world going about their daily lives, the Arwing looks dirty and beat up, and rivers flow down stream.

The entire game is packed full of "realistic" detail, and because of this, Star Fox Adventures is filled with eye candy that you will WANT to look at. While normally you might just want to rush through an area and solve a puzzle as fast as possible, Adventures gives you a reason to actually slow down and enjoy the scenery.

The Good and the Bad:

Star Fox Adventures is a good game, and it does a lot of things right. This is the first game where we as players really get to step into the life of Fox McCloud and see what makes him tick. Sure in past games there was dialog throughout the levels, but the story was actually quite limited. In Star Fox Adventures we actually get to see a full story filled with cutscenes, and character development, and it is quite nice.
The game's characters are great, the huge open-like world is amazing, the great amount of detail makes the game one of the best looking GameCube games, and the puzzles are fun and challenging. The game also features a really nice mini map at the bottom of the screen which you can actually take full control of by using the D-Pad WITHOUT ever stopping the game. Sign and other important information is also displayed on the mini map, which really helps keep the game's faster pace.

Star Fox Adventures is in fact a solid game that is sure to please most action adventure game fans out there; however it really isn't much of a Star Fox game. The on rail shooting parts of the game aren't that great, the voice acting for the supporting characters is NOTHING compared to the original cast in Star Fox 64, there really aren't any outstanding quotes that you'll be repeating for the next ten or so years, and the story is basically unrelated to the rest of the Star Fox world. Sure there are some tie ins at times, but it's pretty easy to tell that they were just thrown in to help turn Dinosaur Planet into a Star Fox game.

Other than not being too much of a Star Fox game, this game really doesn't have any down sides. If you are a Legend of Zelda fan and Star Fox fan, you SHOULD play this game for sure. If you're just a Star Fox fan, or fan of on rail shooters, you might want to stay away from this one.

In the end, I give Star Fox Adventures a solid 7/10. It is a great game that you will want to replay over and over again, but there really just isn't much there when it comes to extras. Once you beat the game you are actually stuck at the final boss fight, and it is very easy to 100% this game on your first run through.

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