Star Fox Zero Preview

Back in the cockpit again.

Nintendo hasn’t always been a big fan of their own furry creation. The last new release of a brand-spankin’-new title featuring Fox, Peppy, Slippy, and Falco was in 2006 as Star Fox Command, developed by Q? Games for the Nintendo DS. As much as it’s pointed to by the Big N as a sort of “big” character created by Shigeru Miyamoto, he hasn’t really been taken care of outside of Super Smash Bros. in nearly ten years. And don’t even get me started on the sadness that was Star Fox Adventures. *shudder*

But now, as 2015 gets underway, the fans of the Fox (like yours truly) can get their beak wet by the end of this year on the Wii U with Star Fox Zero. The scratch that was satiated with Star Fox 64’s port to the 3DS—nice a gesture as it was—can only be calmed for a moment before it comes roaring back for something new.

And new it is. This is a Wii U-specific game with a focus on what the series did best in SF64: the balance of on-rails shooter, all-range dogfighting, and a few vehicles thrown into the mix to keep things interesting. This time, Fox is piloting his trusty Arwing, the Landmaster tank, and two new vehicles, the Walker (think a mix between an AT-AT and a chicken, used via the Arwing Transformers style) and the Gyrowing (a sort of drone plane).

I wasn’t able to use the Gyrowing myself, but the Walker was a single-click transformation from blazing around a location to traversing the landscape to search for additional rings, level directions, and whatever else Platinum Games and Nintendo can think up.

After a brief playthrough, it feels as good as it ever has, and brought back fond memories of my first time with SF64. It’s amazing how a complete overhaul can make a new game feel like its previous classic, and in all the best ways. Shooting felt good, moving around was awkward with a second stick but got easy quickly, and using the gyro in the Wii U GamePad felt intuitive when flying over baddies and blasting them to bits. The only bad news is there isn’t any multiplayer, since everyone involved would need their own pad to have the full combat experience.

The current release schedule says Holiday of this year, so those haters who like to say Nintendo is on the way out? This should help shut down some of that talk.