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Star Fox Adventures

Review By:  AJ Middleton

Developer:  Rare
Publisher:  Nintendo
# of Players:  1
Genre:  Adventure
ESRB:  Teen
Online:  No
Accessories:  Memory Card
Date Posted:  1-20-03

Starfox Adventures has been hyped since who knows when. The game was supposed to have a gripping plot, great graphics, and, overall, be the best thing since sliced bread. I even RESERVED the game because I was so excited. Heck, I expected a long awaited great RPG from Rare. Oh, and speaking of Rare? It was their last game on Nintendo. It was bound to go out with a bang. So I got it and played itÖ

And played it some moreÖ

And had funÖ

And got to the endÖ

And HATED IT.

Starfox Adventures has to be THE biggest disappointment and most pathetic excuse of a great game ever.

OK, not all of it was bad. Letís look at the graphics. One word describes them: gorgeous. Everything is textured so well that some stuff looks real. I mean, the water looks so clear and beautiful that it makes me want to go swimming. And Fox has a plethora of facial expressions. Some of them are over exaggerated, but they certainly give him character. Overall, The graphics definitely show the GCNís full power in texture mapping.

I suppose a gameís script carries some weight as well. I mean, Golden Sun lost major points on its corny script. "Gee Isaac, what will you do?" "Mia, did you understand me?" "Kraden, do you know where we are? Are you sure Kraden? Kraden, you are super cool!" Golden Sunís dialog was so fake that it hurt to read. However, SFA uses natural speech. Fox moans, grumbles, and cuts people off. Tricky complains and makes fun of things. The dialog flowed, and it just seemed more realistic. And the voice acting unquestionably helped.

As we get to fun factor and gameplay, things start to look bad. Overall, the game is fun. Prince Tricky and his commands add a new layer of playing. Discovering new terrain is always exciting. The combat style with the staff is pretty interesting and different. The only problem is that it gets VERY repetitive after awhile. Battling becomes a burden more than a privilege. There could have been more interesting combos that required staff powers or different button combinations. And the enemies could have had more diverse moves too. Size of the enemy meant nothing. Also, in my opinion, it was ridiculous how if there was a gang of SharpClaw and you were fighting one, the others would watch and cheer. How slow are these guys? I mean, couldnít they have at least ganged up on you once in the whole game? Fighting was, therefore, never difficult.

Oh yes, difficulty. WHAT THE GAME LACKED. Overall, this game posed no challenge. Like mentioned above, the combat system was simple and easy. The "dungeons" were way too easy too. Why? Well gee, Slippy would tell you what to do whenever you were stuck! I admit, he could be broad sometimes and I did get stuck once or twice, but you would eventually find your way again. He should have charged you a number of fuel cells per hint or something. The hardest parts, in my opinion, had nothing directly to do with the plot or dungeons. They were simple puzzles that were just difficult. Basically, the difficulty was in the wrong places. Where should it have gone instead? How about into the bosses! This gameís bosses were horrible. They were WAY too easy and there were too few (There were only 4 I think.) Even the hardest was easy once you got the hang of it. The boss of the dark Dragon Rock was pathetic. A bit of foreshadowing makes him seem like heíll be a pain, and his look is intimidating, but heís a joke.

Another point of easiness- Bafomdads. They are these weird little rabbit-things that hide themselves in hard to reach areas. THEY INSTANTLY REVIVE AND REFILL ALL OF YOUR LIFE IF YOU DIE. There is no regret in using one, because you donít get punished at all for doing so. And itís not like you can only have one at a time. From early in the game, YOU CAN HOLD TEN. Mix that with the fact that you probably will never get many game overs, let alone get many from an enemy (most of my game overs came from dangerous terrain, like lava), and you get a practically invincible Fox.

Oh, and then you can save anywhere. Need I say more?

The repetition! This game repeats itself so much itís disgusting. If this game were a book, a theme would be "The Theme of Repetition". Repeats are all over the place, from the space shooting levels to dungeons. Yes, I said dungeons. You are forced to go through the same dungeons over and over again. The problem is that you have to solve the same annoying puzzles again as well. It becomes very tedious, especially for gamers who like to explore new areas.

Game music is a big part of the game experience for me, and SFA lacked it. The soundtrack consists of simple little island-ish themes used over and over again (there goes more repetition!). I bet I could list all of them right now. I mean, some sounded nice, but they were not at where I feel videogame music should be today. The music was more for background then for gamer enjoyment. Come on Rare! You did great with your N64 games! What happened here?

Ah, the plot. The plot was awful. This game really had none! It starts off with Krystal trying to find out what happened to her father, when she picks up a distress call (from something). Then she is trapped by something on Dino Planet. Then Fox gets thrown into the mess. Even though it seems like he doesnít care at first, he somehow starts to like saving these creatures. The transition is unclear. A lot of stuff is unclear. Fox finds a random staff and automatically can use it easily. Besides that, it just seems like a lot of things went unexplained. Events just happened and you went along with it. And many questions were left unanswered. Why donít the EarthWalkers and SkyRunners get along? Will they ever? What exactly is Moon Mountain Pass? The map data tells you that itís where the SharpClaw came from, but no character ever says anything about it. What exactly WAS Dragon Rock before Scales took over it? SFAís attempts at plot enhancements and twists easily became holes.

Many things were useless in the game. Take the WarpStone for instance. When I first saw him, I thought he would have some great use. Like, he would have the ability to warp you anywhere. I was wrong. The Stone basically grew moss during the adventure. His sole purposes were to warp you to the mountains once and then to Krazoa Palace over and over. Was a giant character really needed for that? No. Rare could have made some CloudRunner or simple warp device play that small role. Scarabs eventually became useless too, as did fuel cells. Fuel cells- the joke. There were tons of them, yet they were supposed to be rare (no pun intended).

Some aspects were useless because they were half-done. Look at the staff powerup called the Portal Opener. Whatís up with that? A whole spell to open a few weird doors? Give me a break! Also, there were the cheat tokens and the Game Well Maze. The cheating unlocked things such as "Sound Test" and "Credits". Woo. Some cheating there. Definitely not DK64 style. And back to the Maze, it was a waste of memory.

I believe that SFA was rushed. Very rushed. Why did it take four years but STILL come out rushed? I have no idea. Here are some clues:

  • The lack of a solid plot and the presence of many plot holes
  • The many overused and repeated elements
  • The parts that were half-done and useless
  • I expected the RedEye to be big and intimidating. They werenít.
  • The lack of large areas! Now, when I hear "Walled City," I think of a city in a wall. What we got was a temple with 1 room, surrounded by some puzzles and caves. I expected EVERY area to be itís own sub world. Put in Zelda terms, I wanted Walled City to be a Clock Town. CloudRunner Fortress should have been a Hyrule. Also, you should have had to visit all areas multiple times. I also wanted to see a large, RPG-like map in which all areas were actually connected. We didnít even get that. Doesnít modern technology allow us to do these things? Rare did not take advantage of the new media at all. In fact, sans the graphics and vocal work, SFA could have stayed an N64 game.

One of my largest complaints is the end of the game. First off, after getting the final Krazoa Spirit, a very random event occurs. It is not supported by anything that has happened at all. Sounds like a plot hole to me. Either that, or there was no time to make a legitimate reason for it to happen. And then it starts. Save here, and youíre at the point of no return. Why? The game forces you to go to final showdown, doesnít allow you to leave, and then you must beat the game. Why not create a backup file earlier? You canít! The game automatically saves to 1 file. You cannot copy them! In short, after the random event, exploration of the world is DONE. OVER. I fail to see why they make games like this. Donít game designers realize that we DO like to go back and revisit places? (Golden Sun also had this flaw.)

The final showdown is also quick and unorganized. There IS a plot twist. It is executed beautifully, but, unfortunately, it makes little sense. Now you save the game and the 99% completed mark of the game arrives. Save here and this is where the file will always start. The final and main enemy then is revealed to beÖhmm, I wonít say. Letís just say the reaction is "Gee, what a surprise."

The final battle was interesting, but it was, once again, too easy. Also, Iíve heard that it mimicked that of a past game. There goes the repetition again. The ending lacked. Nothing is truly resolved.

Now, my largest complaint is the lack of reply value. There are no real sidequests (I donít think finding a baby LightFoot in exchange for a fuel cell counts.) You canít miss anything, because the linear path of the game makes sure that you get all staff powerups and new energy containers. Oh yeah, maybe you missed some fuel cells. To get them all (which is unnecessary), you would have to start a whole new file. Great. If you want a game that you can play over and over in order to find secrets, new paths, and further understand the plot, then SFA is not for you.

Highs:

  • Beautiful graphics
  • Natural, real dialog
  • Voice acting
  • Overall fun to play

Lows:

  • Too many repeated elements
  • Low level of difficulty
  • Simple music
  • Weak plot
  • Plot holes
  • Useless and seemingly half-finished features
  • Appears rushed in many areas
  • A "No return" end of game- cannot go back after a certain point
  • Little to no reply value

Final Verdict:

Overall, Starfox Adventures was a disappointment. Rare went out with a flop. I heard 80 hours. It was only about 20. I expected an RPG. We got a bad cross between that and the traditional "platformer", now called adventure. I wanted a moving plot. We got none. I wanted sidequests, music, challenging bosses, and a great ending. Sadly, none of these came either. The packaging promised us that Krystal would have a big role, right? Iíll let you decide if she did. Worst of all, playing this game a second time would bring more boredom then fun to the gamer.

I DO NOT recommend this game to anyone who enjoys plot, music, or replay value. If you are curious, youíre better off renting it until you beat it. Youíll probably save some cash that way.

So where is the Starfox Teamís next adventure going to be? Right back to Electronics Boutique!

Overall Score: 4.0

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