Nintendo’s greatest strength and greatest weakness as a company are the same: it provides experiences you can’t get anywhere else. On the positive side of that, titles such as Splatoon and Super Mario Maker are wondrous, creative games that challenge the status quo in ways The Division and Far Cry Primal cannot. On the negative side, lack of third-party support and the Japanese gaming giant’s insistence on adding extra screens or motion technology has often left Nintendo in a spot where they aren’t providing players with anything they actually want to play. While Nintendo can still lean on another Mario Party or Pokemon spin-off to drive sales and sustain relevance in an ever-expanding market, every now and then it just needs one hard-hitter to remind the world that this is the company that used to absolutely own the video game world.
With The Legend of Zelda Wii U at a distance and no new 3D Mario title on the horizon, Nintendo is banking heavily on a handful of games in the spring and summertime to reinvigorate its fanbase, but no other franchise is as critical to the success of the Wii U as Star Fox Zero, the next entry in the Star Fox franchise that gamers have awaited for what seems to be an eternity.
I was six years old when Star Fox 64 came out, and while I never actually owned it myself, I was amazed by it. All of my friends had it. Everyone loved it. The characters had gripping dialogue, the action sequences were engaging, and the game controlled beautifully. It always amazed me that only three other games in the franchise were released between then and now, and that doesn’t include the 3DS port of Nintendo 64 classic.
After watching the History Trailer for Star Fox Zero, it’s evident that the title plays heavily on nostalgia, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing; there hasn’t been an original Star Fox game since Star Fox Command in 2006, and there doesn’t seem to currently be any other major sci-fi action flight simulator to really challenge the series in that department. The Wii U lacks action-based games like Star Fox, and those mulling a purchase of the console will look for variety in game options.
When I look at my collection of Wii U games, none of them give me the same kind of experience a spaceship shooter like Star Fox can. Splatoon may be the only game where you can shoot anything, and all the rest are either Mario or Donkey Kong-based platformers, frenzied multiplayer games, or a Zelda remake.
Star Fox Zero probably won’t be “Game of the Year” material, nor will it even be especially original. It will, however, be refreshing in a gaming environment that often caters to both extremes of the spectrum: either games that are dark, gritty, and violent, or ones that might be a little too light-hearted and simplistic for the hardcore crowd. The new Star Fox will be action-packed, content-heavy, and just violent enough to bring in gamers from either side of the aisle. Most importantly, Star Fox Zero will make gamers nostalgic for their younger years, times when games like Star Fox 64 captured their hearts and taught them how to love gaming. If that doesn’t produce a hit, I don’t know what can.
Picture Above: wccftech