Nostalgia is always a double-edged sword for Nintendo, as it fuels interest in its long-term franchises, but also sets high expectations for new releases. Star Fox Zero is facing both sides of that nostalgia blade in early reviews.
Many of the early reviews recall their appreciation of the Star Fox series — typically the 1992 original and 1997’s Star Fox 64 — but note how Zero doesn’t live up to past incarnations.
Star Fox Zero is like visiting a place you remember fondly, but have outgrown.
Longtime fans will find some occasional pleasures, as all the old touchstones—rings, warp zones, a robotic voice saying “Good luck”—at least offer an illusion of continuity. But the illusion only goes so far. With no rise and fall to the experience, and no growing intensity outside of a handful of irritating difficulty spikes, Zero resembles a racing game with a limited series of tracks to choose from, a forced and utterly unconvincing story, and not much else.
Star Fox Zero’s status as a love-letter to the past is solidified. While it does a good job channeling a lot of what was great about Star Fox 64, it fails to really build on it in new and exciting ways, and stumbles because of the Wii U Gamepad.
The control scheme, particularly the reliance on the Wii U gamepad is a near-universal criticism.
2.5 out of 5
There is a good game somewhere inside Star Fox Zero, but its forced reliance on the Gamepad’s screen and motion controls cause it to barrel roll right into mediocrity.
Overall, however, Star Fox Zero’s notices are average to great, with the Metacritic score currently at a respectable 72/100.
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.
Attack of the Fanboy
Star Fox Zero brings the series back in a big way. Taking the franchise back to its roots, while amping up the action to new heights. Unfortunately not everything that was added was perfect though, with the Gamepad controls actually taking away from the experience, rather than adding to it. Once you get past them there is a great game here, but it will take some players quite a while to do that.