Fox trades in his blaster for a magical staff in the final Nintendo game from fan-favorite developer, Rare.
Dinosaur Planet is being torn apart by some unknown energy. Fox must find out what's going on and try to fix it. Along the way, he is joined by Tricky, the young prince of the Earthwalker dinosaur tribe. With the help of Tricky and the power of a magic staff Fox finds stuck in the ground, Fox must find and return the SpellStones that will control the energies of the planet. There's a lot more to it, but that's well explained in the game.
This game is simply gorgeous. The textures, lighting, and even fur shading on the creatures and environments are all top-notch. The only thing that really stood out as being bad were some odd blocky shadows from time to time. The framerate is actually good as well. There are only a few brief pauses in some tunnels where the game loads the next area.
As usual from Rare, the music is quite good and fits the game well. Some symphonic sounding stuff, a touch of prehistoric tribal beats/vocals, and even a few remixed versions of classic Starfox themes. There is also voice acting which is well done and only occasionally cheesy.
The control is somewhat similar to N64 Zelda controls, which is what the game system was based on. 'A' is context sensitive, usually used for staff moves, etc. 'B' is usually used as a staff/item cancel button. The C-stick is used to access a rotating menu containing items, staff functions, and Tricky commands, any of which can be assigned to 'Y' for quick access. 'X' is used to roll/dodge. 'R' is to block/shield. 'L' centers the camera behind Fox.
This is a pretty typical adventure/puzzle game. There is a lot of collecting of items, as is typical in Rare games, but it's not as bad as in past platforming games like DK64 (collecting for the sake of collecting). All the items you get are required for you to continue in the game. So you must flip the switches to open the door to collect the key that will open the next door, which will lead you to the area that has the item required to open that other door, etc, etc, etc. I never really got tired of it, but that might have been different if the game was much longer. Essentially, you do end up doing the same basic things over and over again. There is some combat with bad guys, but it's not terribly complex. Wait for them to drop their guard, then keep hitting the A button. There are also some traditional Starfox flying levels to get between different parts of the planet. However, they're not that spectacular, and all look pretty similar. You just have to fly through so many gold rings to advance. Anyone looking for lots of traditional space-shooting action may be disappointed.
The game is about 15-20 hours long, which is decent. Any longer and it might have gotten a bit too repetitive. Like most longish adventure games, you might come back to it every once in a while, but other than the main game, there's really not that much to do.
T - Teen for violence against the lizard monsters.
Rare has always excelled at creating games with beautiful graphics and sound, and they do it again for the last time on a Nintendo console. The game's not terribly innovative, but it is pretty fun. Definitely worth a rental just because it's so beautiful. If you're fast, you can beat in a rental (or 2, like me). Maybe a buy, if you like this type of game. The only reason I didn't buy it is because I'm cheap and have little money :p
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