Developer – Q-Games
Publisher - Nintendo
Rumble Pak Compatible
Wireless DS Single-Card Download Play (2-6 players)
Wireless DS Multi-Card Play (2 players)
I have to be honest with you, my wife and I are in the midst of moving and this game arrived as we were packing up our townhouse in preparation of our move to our own detached house. Although I have not played nearly as much as I would have liked too I have had some time to sit down and play around with Nintendo’s latest franchise release, StarFox Command. Even with the limited time I have had with this game I have to say that it really brought back some great memories of StarFox of the past, but this time there are some new elements thrown in for good luck.
I would have to say that for a 3D game on the DS, StarFox Command really surprised me. It is a smooth moving game which looks great, especially on the DS Lite’s improved screens. The game seems to be locked in at a rock solid framerate, with very few occurrences of slowdown when the screen really filled with action. This random slowdown was so far and few between though that it did not take away from the overall graphical experience that I was thoroughly enjoying. I was also surprised by the small level of clipping that I saw in this title too. I was expecting a 3D game of this nature to show a lot clipping on the DS; however it was not nearly as evident as I thought it would be. I have to give kudos to the developer of this game as the silky smooth look to the game really hit the spot on Nintendo’s dual screened machine.
For those diehards of the series, I would have to say that the sounds of this game are somewhat of a throwback to StarFox 64. The character’s vocals are simple and incoherent gibberish for everyone who speaks. You read the text that pops up with the corresponding gibberish in order to follow along with the discussion. This approach really works well as it adds to the nostalgia of StarFoxes of the past. The rest of the sound effects really do a great job too from the sound of the lasers to the explosions on screen, each manages to sound pretty good on the DS’s stereo speakers. As for the in-game music, again I would have to compare this to StarFox 64. The music suits the gameplay to a tee. And for those really into the series, a friend of mine who is a true diehard Nintendo nut informed me that the same composer of the N64 version did the DS’s music. I cannot tell you if this is true or not, but it is an interesting tidbit nonetheless.
Some of my fondest Starfox memories are on the N64 playing the aptly titled StarFox 64. That game just had the right balance as it focused on what makes the franchise great, flying and combat. As I played StarFox Command on my DS it reignited the same feelings I had when holding the N64’s funky controller and flying Fox and Company through various missions. For those who follow the StarFox universe somewhat closely, this game has Fox McCloud out on his own as the StarFox team has been disbanded. If anyone remembers, Fox also got rid of Krystal due to an over abundance of emotion. Well the story in StarFox Command picks up where that one left off and we watch, and play, through a time where Krystal has joined a rival team and Fox’s emotions still play havoc with him.
This latest version of the StarFox franchise manages to do something right, it keeps all the gameplay in ships where they belong. Aerial combat feels more open then in previous games as you are able to fly all around the combat area blasting anything or anyone that you deem to be bad. As the DS is all about innovation control of your spacecraft is entirely done utilizing the touch screen. You slide the stylus around the bottom screen enabling you to move your ship in any direction. I have to say that the control is pretty innovative. There are some quirks to it, like having to double tap to hit the airbrakes, but you will get used to as time goes by.
Out of all the moves available, I would have liked to have seen one specific one assigned to a button, and that is the barrel role. Any diehard StarFox fan knows that the barrel roll has played a major part in the series for quite sometime. To pull this off you have to move the stylus back and forth (left to right or vice versa) repeatedly and your ship will roll. One of my major issues with this is that this can inadvertently happen as you are trying to just dodge enemy fire or move throughout the level. This accidental barrel rolling caused me to curse more then a few times, however in the big scheme of things I guess there could be a lot worse with the control in this game.
Gameplay length can vary in StarFox Command and it really has to do with how one strategizes during play time. As you are required to chart out a flight path you will fight various enemies in various areas depending on which way you decide to go. And should you plot out the wrong path, enemy fighters will reach your Great Fox ship and the game will just end. You need to intercept these enemies and defeat them in order to keep on playing. You can really can fly through the game (pun intended) via the shortest path, but that would just take all the fun away. As you enter each level you will find that they can be relatively easy. However it should be noted that StarFox Command rewards players for perfectly completed levels and you are given bonuses for such play and this is where the challenge comes in. These bonuses play part of your overall score and diehards will find themselves trying to eek out that little higher of a score.
Overall I would have to say that the single player experience is not all that difficult as you never run out of lives. Some people may find the gameplay somewhat repetitive now and then due to the relative easiness of the game; however that is not to say it takes away from the overall experience of StarFox Command as there are multiple endings. Now, as I mentioned earlier on, I did not get as nearly as much play time with this game as I hoped, but from playing around with the game, and talking to various Nintendo fans that I know, there are total of nine different endings, the only way to get them all is to play through the game multiple times. Most would hate this fact, but as I did get a pretty good sense for this game, it is fun enough that multiple play throughs are warranted.
Of course any combat game would not be great should it not include multiplayer and StarFox Command does add this feature. You can play up to five other players over a local network using only one copy of the game, or you can fight it out online using Nintendo’s Wi-Fi network. The multiplayer gameplay may seem somewhat basic (deathmatch type play), but as you take part in multiple matches you will start to understand how it becomes addictive as you not only take the enemy out but you fight to snag the star that was left over by destroyed ship. The feeling of satisfaction when you steal a star left by someone else’s kill is very rewarding, however on the flipside of this you will seek revenge when someone does this to you. My limted time online was filled with some pretty smooth games. The only frustrating thing I found was that people would drop out. After a few of these occurances it became evident to me that this was due to people trying to keep there win-loss record looking pretty good.
Anyone who has played StarFox on the SNES or N64 will no doubt love this game as it goes back to the roots it knows so well, aerial combat. StarFox Command utilizes the DS’s touch screen for flying controls with relative success, although the quirkiness of the barrel roll left me wanting an alternative method to do so. Bottom line, even though the game is somewhat easy it still manages to breathe new life into the StarFox franchise and anyone with a DS would be crazy not to pick up this title and give it a go.