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Star Fox Adventures Review

Developer: Rare Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: September 23, 2002 Also On: None

Once upon a time Rare was working on a project known simply as Dinosaur Planet. It featured all original characters and took place in a world filled with the prehistoric beasts. Then Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto stepped in and that game changed to Star Fox Adventures: Dinosaur Planet. Eventually ‘Dinosaur Planet’ was dropped altogether from the title and gamers were left with the end product, what is essentially still the same game except now with the Star Fox team.

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There’s a story here and it involves aligning scattered pieces of Dinosaur Planet back together so that the world can return to normal. There’s an evil tyrant, a heroine in distress, both land adventure and space flight missions, and much, much more, but fans expecting a true Star Fox experience akin to the older games are in for a disappointment. The Star Fox license has been utilized sparingly to the point, in fact, where it feels totally out of place within the confines of this game universe. Fox is clearly only on this world at Nintendo’s request, not because he belongs. The character dabbles not in technology, but rather in magic; a staff left behind by Krystal, who has been imprisoned, becomes Fox’s weapon of choice. It can do everything from shoot ice to fire bursts, because mini-quakes activate switches and beat on enemies. He acquires magical items and useful ancient artifacts, from blow horns to bars of gold and much more. His blaster, though, is not used and the flight missions seem tacked on to the real game, which is definitely disappointing.

Still, regardless of whether or not Fox and friends feel at home on Dinosaur Planet, the game is a lot of fun, very engaging, long and ultimately satisfying. Rare has adopted the Zelda control scheme nearly verbatim so that Fox is manipulated and functions exactly as Link would with a modification here and there for good measure. Fox moves identically, can roll, pull out his staff and fight, while special functions (shooting fire, transforming into an enemy disguise) can be mapped handily to the Y button for quick access. McCloud, like Link, cannot be made to jump manually — it’s automatic, and it still works triumphantly. The biggest difference in the setup is that in Zelda the Z-trigger was used to lock-on and target enemies while in SFA it’s done automatically. This is largely a beneficial addition. The setup, as a whole, is one of the best in a third-person adventure game, just as it was for Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask.

Star Fox Adventures is an epic undertaking — a perfect companion to the Zelda series. Fox sets down in ThornTail Hollow, a green-filled, peaceful hub world with various dinosaurs grazing about. It’s not nearly as large or impressive as Hyrule Field was when gamers first saw it on N64, but it’s ambitious nonetheless. The hub leads out most of the other areas Fox can travel to, which range from beach locales to icy worlds, volcanic points and crater-filled, moon-like terrains. There are additionally several locations that the character can only reach by Arwing — scattered chunks of Dinosaur Planet adrift in space. The game moves in and around them.

Rare has done a lot right here. It has successfully created a vast world sewed together by a main quest and also connected by various sub goals. Fox must not only retrieve four Force Point Seals, but six Krazoa Spirits (ghostly entities that possess the power to free early-captured Krystal from her prison), too. He can only complete these objectives if he has first rescued Prince Tricky, a sidekick character that is more or less an annoying baby dinosaur. He must grow Tricky’s powers and simultneously level up the functions of his staff, both of which play an integral part. He must find and buy items that are useful in advancing, and much more.

There is enough in place to keep gamers busy — realistically — for 20 hours or more, which is very impressive. We’d be surprised if anybody managed to beat the game much quicker the first time through. Some less rushed gamers are likely to spend double that progressing through the adventure. There are more than a couple surprises waiting, too, including an ultra-slick finale, upping the incentive to keep playing considerably.

Graphics: 9.5
Sound: 10
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 9.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 9
Final: 9.3
Written by Shawn Review Guide