StarFox Command
by Vanor Orion



Whoooo boy. Ya know, there was a time when I didn't have to go look on a website or find a review to know whether or not a Star Fox game was good. So imagine my shock when I bought this DS title that looked decptively like the old-school Star Fox games (64 and the SNES original), and I took it home, eager to finally go back to the good old days of blowing up lots of enemies with glee.

In under half-an-hour I gave up on the game. No, the game had given up on me. Star Fox is dead to me. I refuse to play that Legend of Zelda knockoff for the Gamecube nor will I play the watered-down version of Star Fox 64 that is Star Fox Assault. But Star Fox Command, this game commits the ultimate sin: It shits all over what made the first two games so great and memorable.

The first thing was that although the back of the box led you to believe that Command had gone back to the shooter roots of the first two games, it hasn't at all. The developers tried to marry together two seperate genres into Command: Strategy and Action, and they failed horribly. This game (and the developers) insults my intelligence so much I could feel my IQ plummet faster than the time I watched Snoop Dogg's Hood of Horror. So, with that said, let's go into a 3-step bulleted list of things that caused Star Fox Command to make me want to summon Pumpkinhead and damn my soul to Hell so that revenge could be leveraged against the people responsible for this atrocity.


"Representin' StarFox fans worldwide."


Step 1: The Strategy Elements.
Command partly incorporated strategy elements into the gameplay mechanics, but they're incredibly annoying. The game is essentially divided up into stages and you initially start off in the Great Fox on one side of the map and a bunch of bad guys on the other. You take your Arwing and try to intercept the enemy ships before they can get in range to fire on the Great Fox. If any of the ships actually physically reach the Great Fox, it is instantly destroyed and it's game over. If the bad guys get close to fire on it enough times, it'll get destroyed; game over. Sure, the Great Fox has it's own missiles....a limited number of them and you have to find more. Did I mention that when starting the game out, you only got Fox, and everyone else has to join you as things go along? It sucks. Not only that, but there are areas clouded over that obscure your vision of the overhead map and you have to clear it out with the stylus over time to show what you're up against and where to go next. Overall, it feels badly tacked on and very superficial, which is saying something for a series that was only about blowing up as much stuff as possible while staying alive, and it has zero business being in a Star Fox game.


"Hal, do robots dream of electric sheep?"


Step 2: The Lack of Controller Customization.
Oh boy. This really incensed me. Nobody ever really complained about the lack of controller customization on Star Fox 64 because the controls were thought-out well, and logically keyed to the N64 controller. But just like the strategy elements I mentioned above, the control layout on the DS for this game feels incredibly arbitrary. It's unwieldy, and trying to hold the controller while using the stylus to navigate in battle (when you actually get into battle) is incredibly cumbersome, not to mention uncomfortable for the player.

How it works is you use the stylus to move the arwing up or down, do a little circle to spin, and you hit a button on the bottom screen to perform a loop-d-loop, a U-Turn, or to fire nova bombs. Every other button on the DS is used to fire your lasers. That's it. This is really annoying that they couldn't have given us the option between using this layout and using a more traditional control scheme (ala the first Star Fox). But no, the developers were being too high-minded to do something so reasonable. Much like everything else in Command. What really stood out was seeing a video of someone playing the game, and they had literally rubbed a hole into their bottom screen because of using the stylus to spin the Arwing so much. No offense, but if being innovative means damaging my 129-dollar video gaming hardware, then I'll happily resign myself to a life of raising barns with the Amish. Bottom line: there is zero excuse for not having the choice between multiple controller schemes. Which if you think about it, since Nintendo is supposed to be catering to such a wide market, they'd wanna do that, but no. I guess they weren't really thinking about that when they were trying to cater to the Tacked-on, poorly-implemented, cumbersome, uncomfortable, hardware-damaging video-gaming demographic.


"When did Peppy get to be such a looker?"


Step 3: FUEL-BASED TIMER IN COMBAT!!!
This, this was the worst thing in Command by far. When you finally get your Arwing to intercept an enemy, you go into an area flying your Arwing in All-Range Mode (ala Star Fox 64) and shoot enemies up. The only problem is, your ship has fuel, and you have a timer and when it hits zero, you crash and it's gamer over. Shooting down enemies can yield fuel tanks, but actually shooting the enemies down is easier said than done due to the back asswards controls, let alone navigating through the areas. Even worse is that from stage to stage your fuel level is carried over. It doesn't regenerate in the slightest, so if you finished one area with 10 seconds of fuel left, that's what you have when you go into another battle. Bullshit gameplay mechanics like this is why save-stating exists on emulators and why most PC games usually let you save whenever you want (especially in FPSs) in case you catastrophically fuck yourself up to the point that you can't progress.


"is it fucking mating seasin in the Lylat System? There's one girl for every guy in the game!"


But that's not even the worst with the fuel. Couple this with the fact that the controls are incredibly imprecise, with the fact that you have a time limit that hinges on being able to turn on a dime to grab little icons that increase your time limit, and well, you got a one-two knockout to any fun that could be derived from this insipid little title.

But what truthfully infuriates me the most with the fact that the Arwings are powered with fuel goes beyond even that. I still have my Nintendo Player's Guide for Star Fox 64. There's a bit in there that shows the schematics for the Arwing, the Landmaster and the Blue Marine. Let me quote something that is stated explicitly in the Arwing's schematics:

"Both the Landmaster and the Blue Marine use propulsion system components originally developed for the Arwing. All three can synthesize their own hydrogen fuel for their plasma engines, giving them extended operating ranges."



I rest my case that the developers didn't for one single moment give any thought or care to the Star Fox heritage; they did a bunch of arbitrary, useless, annoying bullshit that has no business being in a video game series that was about nothing but simple, unbridled, fast-paced action. Star Fox has offically gone down the path tread by Star Wars, in that most of the fans disavow any movies being made after Return of the Jedi. There are no Star Fox games after SF64 . I can't believe they took such a simple and fun concept, and over-complicated it into a writhing, self-fellating mess. It just pisses me off beyond description and the people responsible for this piece of shit need to go back and play the first (only) two Star Fox games then come back and try to justify Command to any fan of the series.


"Not as much rage as I fucking feel towards this game..."






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