It isn’t often I find myself so on the opposite side of these particular issues. Remakes, motion controls, et cetera. So, it was surprising when I loaded up an episode of my favorite review show to find out that it was being called a "toilet game for garbage people". If you think this next sentence is going to be about how they are wrong: YOU are wrong. I just might be in a position where I like a shitty game (despite all of its apparent flaws), and we are going to explore that.
So, Star Fox Zero is a bare-bones remake with forced motion controls, a near-identical plot that adds nothing, and worst of all, mandatory motion controls. Mentioned twice for emphasis. I hear you-- I actually agree in some ways. I still enjoyed the hell out of it. The same review I mentioned earlier brought this quote to my attention:
"We were very aware that we were doing something new and something that would take time for people to get used to while they played," said Hashimoto of potential complaints from old-school Star Fox fans — or even those from people generally confused by the controls. "That was something that did concern us, but we felt strongly enough to ask people to get used to it."
The idea of Platinum and Shigeru stubbornly not putting in an option to disable motion controls is unthinkable. However, from personal experience, once I “just got used to it”, there was something fun about it. So, maybe their insistence on the control scheme was coming from the right place. If we can entertain the idea of the highly-paid game designers occasionally being right in the face of backlash, we may be able to see eye-to-eye. Occasionally being an operative word.
The first point I will give to anyone willing to argue is this: yes, the dual-screen shooting is hard to get used to. Switching screens delivers the same disorientation as looking away from your windscreen to hock a loogie, or flip off someone while giving them the stink eye. It's not an easy-to-sell mechanic, but it is oddly-satisfying to master.
Expecting people not to be divided by this is... well, no one was expecting that. Nintendo most likely doesn’t care, since releasing Star Fox after this amount of time will get sales no matter what. So Plat-tendo was cocky, for better or worse. Hashimoto stood by his monumentally-stupid decision to flip off fans of traditional controllers. As an employee of Platinum Games, creators of Bayonetta and Metal Gear: Rising. Ha. HaHaHa. Hahahahahahahahaha!
Issues pile up even more since the game is just a re-tooled, re-booted, re-telling of a story all Star Fox fans know by heart: My Father is Dead, Big Evil Monkey, Hidden Paths, Flip-Evil Flight Squad, Dad is a Ghost, Defeat Evil Monkey.
Speaking of old tropes: Bill 'the Bulldog' represents a lot of what took me out of the experience. Really, Bill? How are you "THE" Bulldog if there are fucking 100 of you!
"Having Bill share a face with multiple guys who can die moments later might disrupt game play". That is a sentence I can guarantee was said, in some iteration, during a play-test. Then, as if propelled by sheer nostalgic rage, Shigeru rocketed into the room and choke-slammed that mouthy tester right into a pile of profitable IPs. Think that last sentence was confusing? So is having two characters be identical to each other.
Don't even try to justify this with "Bills helmet is green".
Then there is Kat. Like Amelia Earhart decided to personify the ideal of “obnoxious feminism”, this cat- fucking, this goddamn feline- says the word "lady" more than Jerry Lewis surrounded by a bevy of buxom nurses. Again, it is easy to defend this by saying, “well, they wanted her to be like in the old game”. Just copying stuff from the old game does not make it OK. Game-feel, story elements, beats, styles: these are what you copy over, the things that make Star Fox. Not the things that were in Star Fox last time.
So, yeah, so far, 100% get why Star Fox is a reviewers best reason to kick Big Brother Tendo in the balls with justification. Yet, I kind of feel like the omniscient Wii-U hawkers didn’t do this without reason. As I grind through the frustration that is mastering the controls, I again, and almost tiredly, refer to the fact that it still has the same fun factor that the original did. Is it clunky? Yes. Does it take a Masters-class in, “getting used to it”? Y-E-S. However, when I am zipping around deftly, executing strafing runs that look satisfying on two screens, and mastering the underutilized Gyrocopter, I am given the power of Willow Smith and Ke$ha before me to “Shake the Haters Off”, and enjoy what was offered.
Star Fox Zero is light-years behind its N64 and DS brothers, offering a distinctly-2010's “motion controls or bust” attitude that made the Wii a fucking tire fire in a myre of misused deep-fat friers. Its control scheme is worth getting used to, even if it’s something we shouldn’t be seeing from the fathers of modern gaming. Yet, as a labor of love, or perhaps, maybe just a general shit taste in whatever genre Star Fox falls under, I love it. I want to master it, and I can't bring myself to dismiss it outright. I love the improved story with emphasis on James McCloud’s history (something only covered in Nintendo Power Magazine). Mostly, I love that Platinum is keeping its Nick Cage-like ability to make shit games and walk it off like nothing.
Anarchy Reigns: didn't even flinch!
It's OK to like things despite their flaws.
Frank, Allegra. "Star Fox Zero Is about Trying New Things — Whether Old-school Fans like It or Not." Polygon. Vox Media, 22 Apr. 2016. Web. 25 Apr. 2016.
Sterling, Jim Fucking, Son. "Newtendo (The Jimquisition)." Youtube. Jimquisition, 25 Apr. 2016. Web. 25 Apr. 2016.