EDIT: Star Fox Zero's Release date has been pushed to April 21st. I was lucky enough to receive a pre-release of it. If you do not want spoilers, do not read this review.
DO A BARREL ROLL!
Imagine. The year is 2002, and it has been five whole years since Nintendo released Star Fox 64. Suddenly, an ad comes up, and you see it. You can't believe it! A new Star Fox game made by Rareware! STAR FOX ADVENTURES.
HAH. No, we are not here to talk about that catastrophe of a game.
We are here to talk about Star Fox Zero, the game that should have come out nearly 14 years ago. I can't try to describe the amount of emotion that my fiancee and I felt as we turned on our Wii U and started this game. This game is essentially the epic retelling of Star Fox 64, zooming us down memory lane with modern technology and HD graphics of beloved characters.
SPOILERS: IF YOU READ ANY FURTHER, IT IS YOUR OWN FAULT.
Star Fox Zero starts out like any decent Star Fox game, and jumps you straight into space inside the Arwing. However, something seemed a little weird. Peppy Hare shows up at the bottom of the screen, ready to direct our flight, and he is asking me to turn up the volume of the WiiU pad controller. Confused, I do as my beloved team member asked. Suddenly, his voice appears loud and clear from the speaker on my controller.
This is when I knew it. I knew that the real Star Fox sequel had come. Using the Wii U's technology, all of the voices of your team members now sound like they are coming directly from the cockpit, while any other action sequence or sound from your ship comes from your television, giving the effect that you are quite actually inside the Arwing's cockpit. From there, you collect the rest of your team into the wedge formation, and then you hear the old story of the betrayal of Fox McCloud's father, the Lylat Wars, and you go on your quest to keep the citizens of the Lylat System safe.
Star Fox Zero seems to have a central focus. Zero has been categorized as a 3D scrolling shooter game, so the point of the game is aerial combat. Now, I'm personally pretty terrible at aerial combat to the point where it is embarrassing. However, that doesn't stop this game from being incredibly fun. Though the cockpit view needs constant re-calibrating, the flight simulation is fun and the combat is satisfying.
During confined spaces, you get to walk around in The Walker, a new feature in Star Fox. The Walker is an alternative transformation of the Arwing for when you are in confined spaces. The Walker was supposed to appear in Star Fox 2, but we all know that was cancelled because some men just want to watch the world burn.
Though the controls on The Walker are equally as satisfying, what bugs me about this little creature is that it looks like a walking Pterodactyl, which is almost a throwback to Star Fox Adventures. And I don't want any of that monstrosity plaguing this game. The Walker can run around while firing lasers at oncoming enemies, eternally hover to higher platforms, and even barrel roll. It becomes especially useful in places like the Androsa Fortress.
What I'm sad about not being able to experience is the Falco amiibo, which is currently only compatible with this game. According to other sources, the Falco amiibo allows you to fly the Black Arwing, which is a huge throwback to the SNES. There is also a Fox McCloud amiibo, which is also exclusive to Star Fox Zero.
Essentially, the biggest skill you are going to need to play this game is the ability to multi-task. You have to be able to know whether or not to use the TV screen or the cockpit screen, be able to focus on multiple targets at once, and be able to use multiple flight and combat controls at once. This, unfortunately, is not the Nintendo 64, and you have to unlearn the urge to smash directly into a target.
The damage the Arwing takes in this game is great; three huge hits and you just might be done. You also need to be sure to follow your team mates around, because all too often they are being chased and need you to defend them. If you're having multiple issues I personally recommend co-op mode, because that way the two separate Wii U screens have separate responsibilities.
The missions themselves are pretty immersive, with detailed scenery and motion that make you feel as if you truly are in an action sequence. Corneria really has never looks this good.
All in all, Star Fox Zero is the long awaited retelling of Star Fox 64 that we've been waiting for. It's great for those who aren't RPG prone, who want an action game suitable for a range of kids, and it pays homage to the great Star Fox game that we of a later generation remember.
I mean really, even the banter and the mouth animation between characters is the same. Though I have to admit, the banter gets slightly repetitive. Though I guess that is the charm of the game.
I won't spoil much more, because I want some aspects of the game to be there for you to discover. If you feel like riding the nostalgia train, Star Fox Zero is a game I highly recommend.