Star Fox Adventures (GameCube)
Star Fox Adventures was Rare's final game for a Nintendo home console and got released shortly after Microsoft got a hold of the company. It's also a game that started out under a different name (Dinosaur Planet) on a different console (Nintendo 64), but various decisions led to it becoming a Star Fox spinoff title for the Nintendo GameCube. The girl Krystal who plays a central part in the game's plot survived this transition. Ultimately, the dinosaur planet got integrated into the Lylat system and Fox McCloud became the hero who had to save the planet.
The game is more Zelda than Star Fox. While brief and very basic Arwing stages serve as connection between the segments of the planet that have been broken apart, the main focus is clearly about following gameplay elements that have been established with Ocarina of Time. Fox doesn't get to use his blaster, instead he finds a staff that allows him to perform a very limited amount of combos against enemies who are gentle enough to only attack one at a time. Different versions of The Legend of Zelda's bow and bombs are obligatory in such a game. Throw in some own ideas like riding a futuristic bike and tasks that have appeared in previous Rare games, and you get an appealing mixture of gameplay mechanics.
Where Star Fox Adventures falls short is that it only suggests freedom. While the player is allowed to freely move between already visited areas, there's hardly anything to find. The only thing that qualifies as a sidequest are fountains that you have to toss money into in exchange for cheat tokens which then serve as one-time unlockables in the game's main menu where you can, for example, listen to the game's soundtrack. Other than that, you really have no choice but to follow the instructions for the next objective.
The development history of Rare's swan song wasn't an easy one, so for what it's worth, they delivered a good product. At the same time it's a far cry from their peak in the mid-to-late 1990s. It's because of this that I think many people are very harsh on this game, similar to how titles in highly respected Nintendo series get bashed. Less than stellar gets equated with crap, but when you remind yourself to be at least somewhat objective, you'll have to concede that the bad game in question is still better than most of the other stuff out there.
|Controls||10||Button mapping and menu navigation is intuitive.
Only the aiming with the staff needs some time to get used to.
|Gameplay||Action-adventure inspired by Zelda, but with limited freedom.
Rail shooter segments connect the locations.
|Story||A "save the planet" mission gets augmented with a
"save the girl" scenario. Funny storytelling.
|Single-player||Combat, puzzles and a variety of other objectives keep
things interesting. Very linear though.
|Graphics||One of the best looking GameCube games. The fur
in particular was outstanding for its time.
|Sound||The soundtrack consists mainly of new compositions,
but there are also a few key pieces of the Star Fox IP.
|Value||With about 15 hours it comes nowhere close to its inspiration.
There's only one optional activity.
|Replay Value||Since there are no extras and the game only offers fake
exploration, there's not much of a reason to revisit this world.
|Score||7||Excellent execution for what amounts to a rather shallow game.
Everything works, but the developers played it safe.