In all my years playing video games, I’ve had my fair share of contrary opinions. <em>The Last of Us </em>is grossly overrated, the ending to <em>Mass Effect 3 </em>is nowhere close to the worst ending in video game history, and everybody's problem with Samus' characterization in <em>Metroid: Other M </em>stems from their inability to recall <em>Fusion</em>'s story instead of Nintendo's so-called “betrayal” of her character are just a few that come to mind. Now, let's add another one to the list: <em>Star Fox Zero </em>is a good game.</p>
I know that seems nearly impossible after you read all those mixed reviews, watched countless gameplay videos with people struggling at the controllers, or glanced at the countless Reddit posts or YouTube comments dismissing it as an unplayable atrocity. In no way am I saying that Star Fox Zero is perfect. It sure as hell has some problems, but I get the feeling that people are brushing it off without giving it a fair chance.
Much like Ratchet & Clank, Star Fox Zero is a re-imagining of Star Fox's first adventure depicted on both the SNES and N64. Andross and his army still plan to conquer the Lylat system, and it is still up to Fox McCloud and team to stop the disembodied monkey head from doing so. While the main beats of the story are similar to the previous titles, what happens in between them is completely different.
In all honesty, I found Zero's structure and story do a great job in adapting this 23-year-old framework for a modern audience. It's fairly easy to deduce what requirements need to be met in order to open secret routes. Also having the ability to choose which missions to play — instead of being forced from one mission to the next — encouraged me to go back and replay levels more often than in past entries.
Speaking of secret routes, finding these alternate paths is all a part of Star Fox Zero's fun. They open up new missions to play, special bosses to fight, and new spins on already completed missions. One secret route, in particular, gives you full control of a fan favourite member of the Star Fox team along with the ability to use his catchphrase every time he performs a specific manoeuvre. I know I'm being vague, but it has to be experienced in order to fully appreciate its magnificence.
Now to address the elephant in the room — the controls. Your enjoyment of Star Fox Zero will come from how much you like the controls. They are daunting upon first impression, but it takes time (an hour or two to be specific) to acclimate to the intricate combination of the tablet, motion controls, and traditional controls. That steep learning curve will turn off many, but those that stick with it will find a rewarding scheme that gives you more control over Star Fox's machines than ever before.
As rewarding as the control scheme can be, it is at odds with the constant onslaught of enemies and obstacles thrown your way. There were a good number of times when the controls got in the way of properly manoeuvring through a level, which led me to being overwhelmed and later frustrated by everything going onscreen. I personally adapted my style with every life lost to alleviate the frustration, but I can understand others dismissing Star Fox Zero for the frustration it causes.
Is Star Fox Zero the worst game of 2016? Not even close. It has problems, especially when it comes to the disconnect between the controls and action in the game, but there is fun to be had with it. While I wouldn't recommend buying Star Fox Zero at full price, it is worth trying out down the road. Just don't count team Star Fox out without giving Zero a fair chance to win you over.