Released in 2002, StarFox Adventures
has the distinction of being Rareware
's first and only Nintendo GameCube
game due to Microsoft
buying the company. It's a shame to see them go, but at least they
left us with a parting gift. SFA
is an amazing game full of all the Rareware
details and touches we've come to expect over the years plus it adds some new dimensions and characterizations to Nintendo
's famed StarFox
It is eight years after the events from StarFox 64. The StarFox team is still a hero-for-hire team, although Falco has grown bored with the lack of amazing adventures and has left the group. Peppy considered himself too old to be on the front lines and has taken to becoming a map specialist. Slippy has become a mechanical genius and develops new upgrades for the team. Fox is still doing what he does best: being the hero and team leader. One day General Pepper from Corneria calls the team and offers them their standard fee for responding to a distress call from Sauria, the Dinosaur Planet at the edge of the Lylat System. With dollar signs in his eyes, Fox accepts the job.
Rareware has taken the control methods pioneered in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and greatly improved upon them. No longer confined to his Awring spacecraft, Fox now freely roams the planet on foot. The A Button is the primary action button, causing Fox to attack with his staff. Staff? Yes. While previously we've seen Fox brandishing a blaster, he's instructed not to bring it to the planet, lest he accidentially blow something up. Never fear, however, as the staff is a powerful weapon capable of being upgraded to become a rocket pack, fire shooter, and much more. The B Button cancels out of menus. The Control Stick moves our hero, or course, with the camera being automatically controlled (although you can use the L Button to align the camera behind Fox). Using the Camera Stick opens the item menu where Fox can select an item to use, such as a bomb sprout or key. This menu also controls the newest hero in the StarFox world, Prince Tricky. This young dinosaur is capable of such abilities as digging up secrets, blowing flame breath, and standing on switches. However he's just like any other pet and required that you feed him and play with him from time to time. The X Button causes Fox to perform a roll along the ground, while the Y Button can be mapped to any item or ability. Fox is the main character, but like a part of any good team he's able to call his teammates for help. Slippy gives advice for almost any situation, Peppy accesses the world map, and General Pepper gives status updates. Never fear, classic StarFox fans, because while most of the game takes place on the planet there are several levels of Arwing action as Fox flies from place to place.
The graphics in the game are quite amazing, as the animal characters have realisitc looking fur and not just fur-colored shading. Flames have heat effects surrounding them. The GameCube's most impressive ability, to render realisitic water, is also used quite extensively. Let us also not forget the impressive audio, as there is a lot of voice acting in the game. Prince Tricky nearly steals with show with his childlike calls of "I'm hungry!" and "Let's play!". Almost every character talks (although subtitles are also provided) and, for some reason, all of the citizens of Dinosaur Planet speak with British accents. Of course, one could reason that this is because Rareware is based in the United Kingdom, but then why do the StarFox team speak with American accents?
It should be noted that this game originally began life as a Nintendo 64 game called Dinosaur Planet and did not feature the StarFox characters at all. Instead the action revolved around new characters, Sabre and Krystal (Krystal lives on in the Nintendo GameCube as being the damsel in distress), and their fight to save the planet from the evil General Scales (who also lives on as the primary enemy). When it became evident that Rareware would not be able to finish the game before the N64 was replaced by the GameCube, Nintendo suggested the addition of the StarFox license to boost the game's image (no doubt because Rareware's previous new original franchise, Jet Force Gemini did not meet sales expectations) and the game switched tracks to the world of Nintendo GameCube. Nintendo also acquired all of the characters and locations in this game when Rareware was bought up by competitor Microsoft. Krystal, Tricky, and Sauria itself appear again in StarFox Assault.
I strongly recommend the game to anyone craving a Zelda-style fix, however it seems that the game doesn't take very long to complete. I rented it and after only a few hours play I'd already passed the 20% mark. Also, there are an excessive amount of jump-through-the-hoops/step-on-all-the-tiles-before-time-runs-out puzzles. However, knowing Rareware there are lots of hidden secrets that I've yet to find. I've intentionally held back on revealing the storyline, as the plot twists and narrative are easy to be drawn into and I did not want to spoil the experience for you, although you can expect to see some old friends as well as old enemies. See you next mission!
Dinosaur Planet backstory from cube.ign.com and ign64.com