Read TYP's hands-on impressions of Namco's Star Fox game straight from the showroom floor!
Although Star Fox will have a single player mode, only a demo of the multiplayer game was on the showroom floor. The demo is limited, flagging the game’s early state, but it gives a good idea of what the final product's multiplayer will contain.
Modeled after the Star Fox 64’s multiplayer game, the arena Namco and Nintendo provide gives a good taste of what the final product will include. After choosing characters (Fox, Falco, Slippy or Crystal) the four competitors are thrown into what could be considered a military base. Much like the land-based zone in the N64 game, players must take advantage of the various structures that house power-ups and provide cover. However, Namco has integrated the arena and vehicles much more smoothly. Initially armed with a standard laser gun and his or her two feet, a player must destroy the other players as many times as possible within the time limit (two or three minutes on the showroom floor) to win. The default pistol isn’t particularly effective and weapon upgrades, such as land mines, rapid-fire guns and a sniper, can be found lying around. Two tanks and two Arwings are located in the base as well.
This brings us to the controls. On foot players can run with R (analog-sensitive), jump with Y, and strafe holding L. The player can pan the camera or switch into a first person view with the C-stick. Holding B creates a shield in the direction your character is facing which is useful for blocking weaker attacks. In the tank players can roll to the side pushing L, hover with Y and charge a shot with A. In the Arwing L and R tilt the craft, and the digital click initiates a barrel roll. Y is the air brake. Players can upgrade their Arwing’s gun by flying through silver and gold rings. Players can enter or dismount from a craft by pushing the Z button.
In case you couldn’t tell, the controls are VERY similar to the N64 game’s. In fact, it’s too similar: the controls are too sensitive. Players are currently better off never touching the C-stick, and I was fighting with the touchy controls whenever I was on the ground. I wasn’t alone either—most of my competitors had similar complaints, though those familiar with Star Fox 64 were able to adjust. The N64 was able to get away with questionable control on land since most action was in the Arwing, but the GameCube game’s augmented level design demands better. I have some gripes about the level itself, too. Although the radar is very useful in locating enemies and vehicles, the tanks and Arwing can still be difficult to find. But the setting’s big flaw is its poor balance. The level’s complexity almost works against itself: there are so many little tunnels and mini-forts that the Arwing is useless. It is obvious that Namco is aware of this, too: in an attempt to compensate the air brake can literally bring the Arwing to a HALT, and crashing into buildings simply stops the plane instead of inflicting mad amounts of damage.
These complaints aside, the game has a lot of potential. The level shown isn’t in its final form, and there will surely be a dog-fight arena or two solely for the Arwing. I had fun gunning down and running over little humanoid animals, and with more power-ups to salvage than its predecessor competition could easily become fierce. Namco’s Star Fox GameCube game could evolve into something great, but to do so the development team must target the game’s weaknesses as the game progresses.