(DS)

Game Review

Star Fox Command Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Lee Meyer

Command and conquer

Fox McCloud and friends are coming back in a big way this Holiday season with Star Fox Zero for the Wii U, and while the jury's still out on whether the title will live up to expectations, Nintendo has given fans a refresher course in barrel rolls by releasing Star Fox Command on the system's Virtual Console in North America. While this DS title suffers a bit from frustrating touch-only controls and occasionally infuriating spikes in difficulty, Star Fox Command is a charming entry in the series and offers a lot of replay value.

The story in Star Fox Command is silly and melodramatic, which is clearly intentional; when we first meet our heroes Fox has parted ways with his team. The sweet (and annoying) Slippy has gotten engaged and Falco's gone off to do his own thing, while girlfriend Krystal broke it off with Fox for being too protective and went and joined Team Star Wolf just to make him angry.

Yet when the Lylat System is threatened by the evil Anglar race, Peppy gets Fox and the gang back together to take on the threat. Returning and new faces appear throughout the adventure, and it's clear that a lot of thought went into the backstories and relationships of each character. While the story is clearly not Star Fox's strongest suit, fans may find it more interesting after Shigeru Miyamoto's comments around the series being initially inspired by puppet drama Thunderbirds. The story has several branching paths and different endings, making multiple playthroughs feel like new chapters instead of replays.

Star Fox Command's unique game mechanics make it stand out from the rest of the series. Each level takes place on an overhead map in which players have a set amount of turns to protect ROB 64 and the Great Fox from incoming enemies while guiding the deployed Arwings to the goal. Players draw a set path for the Arwings, which are usually en route to an enemy base or rescue; during each move enemy units will head towards the Great Fox, which can only defend itself with missiles collected by Arwings. If any enemy reaches the Great Fox, the mission is failed. While a simple system, there is a definite learning curve, and the game doesn't do the best job of communicating how it works to the player.

When an Arwing collides with an enemy, players enter a battle that plays like Star Fox 64's All Range Mode. While there are several different enemies flying around the screen, it's only required that the player take out the targeted aliens or ships. While the bottom screen displays where targets are, it can be frustrating to control the Arwing and locate the targeted enemy at the same time. Unfortunately, this is where most of Star Fox Command's problems arise. Everything is done with the stylus, including the all-important barrel roll which is required to destroy bases.

The stylus is finicky at best, and we had to replay several different stages because the GamePad didn't read it correctly; since the game isn't actually running on a DS, it's a pain to figure out the best way to hold the GamePad while playing. It's a matter of personal preference, but we ended up holding the GamePad vertically to emulate the feel of the DS as much as possible, which still didn't work out so well thanks to the stylus often hitting the "top screen." While we eventually got the hang of the controls, the clunkiness hampered our enjoyment until we found the right setup.

Star Fox Command is not the prettiest or most visually impressive title for the DS, but it runs smoothly and without a hitch. When blown up on the TV you'll notice the pixelation and somewhat dull colours, but on the bright GamePad it looks just fine. The music is classic Star Fox fare, but the voiceovers made popular in Star Fox 64 are nowhere to be found, replaced with Animal Crossing's cutesy sounds. Most of the story is told via still illustrations, which was likely a decision made based on the limitations of the DS hardware

If you can get past the frustrating controls, you'll find a lot to enjoy in Star Fox Command, and a lot of replay value. After completing the game once new paths are unlocked, and players will meet new characters, find unexpected twists, fight tougher battles and see several other endings. There is a multiplayer component in the original DS version that is unfortunately not possible on the Virtual Console.

Conclusion

Star Fox Command is a fun, challenging game that is brought down a little by controls that take too much time to get used to, and which don't adapt brilliantly to the Wii U Virtual Console. If you have can get past that hurdle you'll find an involving, robust adventure featuring charming characters that Nintendo doesn't feature nearly enough.

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User Comments (37)

ekreig

#1

ekreig said:

Yeah, this is the only Nintendo game I've played where I would die solely because of the controls. Even SM64DS wasn't this bad. Combine that with the furry fanfic storyline and you have a thoroughly awkward game!

Gridatttack

#2

Gridatttack said:

The idea of multiple endings was nice, but honestly, this game isn't for me.

I lost interest halfway through the game.

Also, I couldn't get used to the controls.

DarthNocturnal

#3

DarthNocturnal said:

I got every ending in this game back in the day. It was alright, but yeah, all stylus-only controls felt forced. Maybe if they had used a system akin to Kid Icarus Uprising.

The multi-player was bland like every Star Fox game sans one (I needs my Assault via GCN VC), so, nothing of value is lost there. If you're that desperate, just go get 64 3D.

XCWarrior

#4

XCWarrior said:

I think that is a perfect grade for this game. I LOVE Star Fox. 64, Assault, Adventures are all great games. The original is tough but still fun.

But the controls in Command are wretched, even on DS. I only played through the game 1 time. Ground Zero already looks about 100000000x better.

Would have been nice of them to put a new set of controls in this version. It's OK Nintendo to tweak Virtual Console titles up on release.

Cinaclov

#5

Cinaclov said:

"While the story is clearly not Star Fox's strongest suit, fans may find it more interesting after Shigeru Miyamoto's comments around the series being initially inspired by puppet drama Thunderbirds."

...

..Whuuh!? No one told me about this!

Spacey

#6

Spacey said:

I'll always have a soft spot for this game. It's the game that got me intrested in the series again. I only played the SNES one in the early 2000's, so I didn't have much of an expectation when it came to this game. Though, looking back on it now.,,I cringe at a lot of stuff in this game now.
Its mutiplayer wasn't ground breaking, but playing againsts friends at school was always fun times.

Meaty-cheeky

#7

Meaty-cheeky said:

I fear the mistakes made on this StarFox game will be transferred to StarFox Zero, tacking on some ridiculous control method that is unneeded.
StarFox Command could've have been a good game but they ruined it with bad touch screen controls and I hope they don't ruin StarFox Zero with crappy Motion controls. If you play StarFox Command for an extended time you will get some major hand cramping.

Knuckles

#8

Knuckles said:

I'd personally give this game a 7/10. It was the first Star Fox I'd played, so I had no idea what I was missing out on in terms of controls, but the gameplay was solid on a DS.

Fair warning though, later in the game, the game goes on rails all of a sudden and it can be surprising.

antipop621

#10

antipop621 said:

I remember almost throwing my DS while playing this one. I was trying to get a specific ending and there was a boss that was infuriating which I could never beat. I'll always love Starfox but I'm going to stay away from playing this again.

kkslider5552000

#11

kkslider5552000 said:

I don't know why people find it hard to adjust to different control schemes. I mean I know why, but I always find that to be one of the easier things to adjust to in a game, barring certain exceptions.

earthboundlink

#12

earthboundlink said:

I really liked this one when it came out. I don't remember having any trouble with it. I remember a bit of a learning curve, but I don't remember the controls being game breaking or anything. I got quite good at it, and I think I got all the storylines without too much trouble. Actually, my recollection was that this game was a little too easy.

@kkslider5552000 I'm developing a theory that a lot of people who spend a lot of time playing video games expect to be really good at the games really quickly because they have mastered the controller. Non-typical control schemes require a learning curve that is not necessary with button presses. They feel like it interferes with the game because they have to learn the precise touches or motions that make it work. You have to be more careful than with buttons.

For my part, I love weird control schemes for this exact reason because each game requires you to get good by more than just memorization. For example, in Skyward Sword, you become more powerful not because you found an upgrade to your sword or some item in the game, but because you have had a lot of practice with it and have learned how to properly wield it. That's a cool feeling to me that improves immersion.

But hey, it's just a theory. Not all control schemes are good, but not all unique ones are bad.

Spacey

#13

Spacey said:

I never had a problem with the touch controls. As what the user said above, it's fun mastering unquie controls like this that are non-traditionalI.

I've played the game using the d-pad and buttons to control the aircraft with the use of an Action Replay code. (Though, not perfect) It doesn't make the experience much better than the touch controls imo.

Grumblevolcano

#14

Grumblevolcano said:

@Cinaclov The E3 digital event had a lot of backstory behind the making of Star Fox Zero, Tri Force Heroes, Yoshi's Woolly World and Super Mario Maker. The Star Fox segment was the first one.

Hero-of-WiiU

#15

Hero-of-WiiU said:

I won't be getting any Starfox game until Zero comes out, I got 64 a little under a year ago and although I enjoyed it I never could save the game which really annoyed me.

Expa0

#16

Expa0 said:

Touch screen controls make this unplayable. Sad cus it seemed somewhat interesting at what it tried to do otherwise.

bofis

#18

bofis said:

Every 3D DS game will look horrible until they update the emulators to render the games in HD before outputting to the TV....that and without proper analogue controls this seems like a mess. Stick with Star Fox 64 on 3DS or VC until the new ones comes out...that or why isn't the SNES one on VC? Can't Nintendo figure out an SNES emulator that does SuperFX?

Fidu

#19

Fidu said:

@bofis I don't think it's that simple. There might be some licensing issues with SuperFX chip emulation since Argonaut Games made it.

Kirk

#20

Kirk said:

I'm thinking Star Fox Zero is going to score closer to this 6/10 than the scores that the original SNES Star Fox and Star Fox 64 received on Nintendo Life.

Stargazer

#21

Stargazer said:

I really enjoyed this game back in the day and I liked the controls. That said, I wouldn't buy it on the Wii U as it would look like ass on the TV and play weirdly (more weirdly) on the pad.

ULTRA-64

#22

ULTRA-64 said:

Guess this will be my first ds virtual console purchase then. Never played this or assault and love starfox so I'll pick it up when I have cash and give it a whirl.....

TravisTouchdown

#23

TravisTouchdown said:

I never had a problem with the controls. I had a blast with this game from beginning to end to end to end to end and to end

khululy

#24

khululy said:

Bought this game in a bargain bin for 10 euro had some fun with it but missed what I loved about the SNES and N64/3DS versions. It didn't feel like the fun nintendo schmup I came to love.

Spacey

#25

Spacey said:

>People who don't give a game a chance because it's not traditional controls.
-.- Seriously, the touch controls aren't that difficult. I use to hate Skyward Swords motion controls, but after a while, I enjoy them!
So yeah, I'm most certainly giving Star Fox Zero a chance. I just hope we can continue after the events of Command sometime. Better yet, make Star Fox have branched timelines.

CanisWolfred

#27

CanisWolfred said:

The thing that brought this game down the most was the "fog of war" mechanic in the strategy sections. It made the harder modes pretty much impossible without a ton of trial and error. But I am tempted to re-buy it a lot. I think I'll pick it up next time I see it in a store, though...

HawkeyeWii

#29

HawkeyeWii said:

I remember seeing this at gamestop years ago and I had never played a Star Fox game before. So of course I picked it up. Easily one of the most disappointing games I have ever played. I'm glad that this game didn't ruin the series for me, because I eventually ended up getting Star Fox 64 3D later and enjoyed it. If only we could get a realistic and more gritty looking Star Fox game some day. What Metroid Prime did for the Metroid series is exactly what Star Fox needs. a complete re-imagining.

WhiteTrashGuy

#30

WhiteTrashGuy said:

I still pull out my copy and play a few times a year. I know I am in the minority, but this game is a 9/10 for me. I never had any issues with the controls and love all of the story elements. I sold the original NSMB the day this came out just so I could afford it. Also, the strategy element, something that should be in all of the Star Fox titles. Seriously, after having online multiplayer in this title I was dumbfounded to see that it was omited from STAR FOX 64 3D. This game made ASSAULT look like it was made by a third party... oh ... wait ...

Danrenfroe2016

#31

Danrenfroe2016 said:

I bought this game for my DS years ago, and I found about 70 percent of this game not fun, it's specially the part where you are trying to protect the great Fox, also the controls nearly ruined it. Its like I would have just liked classic Star Fox, why did they have to shoehorn in all the touch screen stuff

Jarod

#32

Jarod said:

I couldnt get very far in the game unfortunately the controls were just too terrible i couldnt beleive nintendo would release something so unplayable

crzysortagamer

#34

crzysortagamer said:

I remember hating this game...... i dont remember why, but man i have some deep dark hate for it. But I am glad to see the VC getting more stuff.

Dpishere

#35

Dpishere said:

I still own this game's original cartridge and even though it doesn't compare to the greatness of Starfox 64 it is still a solid game although I felt that the stylus controls were a tad unnecessary. Being able to use a standard control system would have improved this game quite a bit.

masterpad

#37

masterpad said:

I don't know what is your problem guys, THIS GAME IS GREAT!
both the strategy and the shoot'em up part.
The controls are original and immersive. The stress due to the missile heading to the starfox base so great! The moment you have to destroy the ennemy headquaters with barrel rolls.
I had a so good memories about this.
People are just arguing, comparing Starfox Command to Starfox64. They had Starfox64 on 3DS and they found it boring.

Starfox Comand is my favorite Starfox game!

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