Star Fox Zero Hands-On Preview [E3 2015]

Star Fox Zero

Nintendo is slowly getting better at giving their fans what they want, as evidenced by their official reveal of Star Fox Zero just a few days ago. Fans have been begging for years for a proper sequel to the series, one that doesn’t feature dinosaurs and bo staffs and that isn’t just a remake of the N64 classic. So to start things off properly: thank you, Nintendo. It’s been too long.

Finally getting my hands on Star Fox Zero was a dream come true, but the nostalgia may have blinded me just a bit more than I initially realized. The demo I was given jumped right into Corneria, reintroducing an old favorite in brand new HD paint. While the controls seemed simple at first, it quickly became apparent that hairier moments weren’t quite so easy to escape unscathed.

The worst offender was the aiming reticule, which constantly needed re-calibrated and could never stay on the screen for long stretches of combat. You could look down at the screen on the controller and get a cockpit view of the battle for more precise aiming, but you lose a big chunk of the screen when you do so, making you more susceptible to bumping into the environment or unseen enemies.

Ground-based mechs are available from the beginning as well, and fiddling with the buttons early on had me stuck marching on the ground headlong into a group of baddies. I’ll chalk that one up to a beginner’s mistake, but if there’s one lesson to learn from my experience, it’s that you should always play the tutorial first.

Eventually I picked up the nuances of the new control scheme, and Star Fox Zero was an absolute blast from the past. Watching Fox’s Arwing gracefully cut through the sky brought back some great childhood memories, and constantly getting those bogies off of Slippy’s useless tail felt great. However, the second half of the demo, which opened up into a free rang dogfight, was a bit more of a pain to figure out.

Once again, the controls grew frustrating, especially when trying to circle an object while making precise shots. The undisciplined aiming reticle caused more than a few issues once again, as did the imprecise controls for pulling a 180 maneuver.

The free-for-all eventually turned into a short boss battle that ended with a short segment in the ground mech. Surprisingly, that version of the Arwing handled pretty well, utilizing gyroscopic aiming rather than using the sticks. The aiming was quite precise and a blast to use, redeeming the demo and leaving me with an overall positive impression.

Despite all of my control issues, I still had a great time with Star Fox Zero. It’s hard not to be excited about a title I’ve waited so long for, but it was still worrying to see that the controls still needed a bit of polish before launch. However, with just a few tweaks, this could be the next entry in the series we’ve all been waiting.

Of course, this could also be chalked up to me not playing the tutorial, but based on the reticles tendency to disappear every minute or so, I’m not entirely sure. Either way, be ready for quite the trip down memory lane once Star Fox Zero hits shelves sometime in Q4 this year!