The near arrival of Star Fox Zero has certainly earned the Wii U title a lot of attention, and a key point for many will be how much performance Nintendo and PlatinumGames have brought out of the Wii U hardware.
The new Star Fox makes relatively unique demands of the system, too, as it needs to create and sustain two distinct real-time views, therefore increasing the processing required compared to a standard game with most graphical effort focused on the TV (or simply mirroring to the GamePad). Digital Foundry has turned its attention to this, producing a video to show the framerate in action, while confirming a native 720p outfit on the TV.
As indicated below, DF naturally attributes the game's fluctuations between 50 and 60fps (and occasional dips lower) to that dual-screen mechanic; like us, however, they seem to be fans of the concept.
Looking to the cause of these drops, we can't help but wonder if it comes as a result of its main party trick: the dual-screen gameplay. Rather than mirroring the main screen, the Wii U renders out two separate viewpoints of the game simultaneously; one to the HDTV, and the other to the smaller GamePad screen. The native resolution of the main screen is 1280x720 (no anti-aliasing applied here), but this also has to combine with the 854x480 resolution of the smaller display. Tallied together, the overall pixel output is higher than your typical Wii U title.
It's the core hook of the experience though, and Star Fox Zero benefits hugely from the dynamic it brings. It gives more power to the player, and with practice, there's potential to pull off some incredible level runs. But the fact that alpha effects cue each dip is revealing, and a telltale sign that Wii U's memory bandwidth is indeed a bottleneck in this instance - a resource also tapped into by the console's chosen pixel output. Delivering 60fps gameplay to two screens at once is no small feat, and while removing the second screen may well have locked the performance level, it would have robbed the game of its innovating gameplay mechanic..
In all, Star Fox Zero brings something unexpected to the table, and we've enjoyed our time with it so far. Due for release on April 22nd, it's one of the last major Wii U releases on the calender, but ranks alongside Super Mario Maker as one of the best uses of its unique GamePad. It's a great send-off for a system that now appears to be on its last stretch. Looking to Nintendo's plans for the NX though, it'll be interesting to see how backwards compatibility is handled - or not - for games so tightly woven into the design of its current machine.
Though Zero fails to nail a solid 60fps like some of Nintendo's other first-party releases, it nevertheless performs well in light of its (self imposed) challenge of supporting two screens.
Are you encouraged by this update on the game's performance, or perhaps disappointed? Let us know.
Seems like it won't matter if at all in the end. I've played plenty of the dual screen (P1 on gamepad, P2 on tv) style game play and my WiiU rarely dips in performance to the point where it's something to comment on. So a tiny dip every so often is survivable for Starfox.
They don't specify whether it's only the tv frame rate that drops or whether its both screens at the same time or if it's different frame rate drops on the different screens at different times.
Ultimately not relevant I guess, but then, the whole test is irrelevant really. And given the unique demands the game makes on the system, this would've been interesting information. If they're gonna test the frame rate, might as well get all the details.
Tried Hyrule Warriors? It's downright unplayable in multiplayer. Framerate and resolution might as well go into the minus numbers.
I still think anything over 720p and 60fps is way too overrated.
..sounds ok..they must have been the one person on the eShop that already gave it 5 stars...
@A01 Yes I have and it wasn't unplayable for me. It had such minor lag every so often, lasting not even a second at the most, but me and my friend played through a great portion of it together and never once did he mention anything. I noticed it, I'm sure he did too, but it didn't bother at all. The game that did poop out here and there was Sega All Stars Racing and even that you could play through. Not sure if somehow it matters but we were sitting pretty close to the system with the gamepad (not for any reason in particular) and the 2nd controller was a Pro controller. Now if we're talking about graphics being decreased, well that's a different story. HW scaled back the most, looking like a Wii game at it's worse, but it almost wasn't noticeable either unless you looked hard, probably cause of all the textures and that the game is pretty quick paced so you don't always get a chance to admire it even when it's at it's best. Pokken had awkward scaling back but never lags for me. All Stars Racing didn't scale back on imaging much, which is maybe why it would lag because it was trying to force out too much at once. Idk, I seem to get lucky with these things though so...
Nice to see positive comments about the gameplay. The numbers these guys focus on are pretty immaterial to me - if it looks decent and plays well, with innovative features, it's enough.
Another champion of the concept and its execution. The reward of mastering a new control scheme is something I look forward to. I hope gamers and critics give it a chance and that it lives up to its promise even if it's not perfect. It has potential to make this iteration of Star Fox a stand out.
Inb4 the comments stating that it's no surprise that the game holds its frame rate so well because it looks ugly and decidedly last gen...
So do I have to look at the gamepad or can I look at the TV and play the game? I don't want to spend most of my time looking at the Wii U gamepad and missing out on all the amazing quality of the TV screen! Still I don't mind about gameplay from what I've seen (which is a lot!) The game looks great even if it doesn't keep that 60fps benchmark it really does look fun and like star Fox 64 (for the 4th time ) I just really hope I can look at the TV screen I'll be turning motion controls to a minimum for sure! I turned them completely off in Splatoon, even though apparently hardly anyone else did which shocked me!
@Smokingspoon Did you mean over 30 fps? Most people will agree over 60fps is diminishing returns.
Yes, absolutely. After E3, Nintendo decided to modify the setup so that most of the game can be played without looking at the gamepad at all. Now, it is beneficial, and I think you will be able to do more and play better if you use it to your advantage, but the game is apparently completely playable on TV only. Exceptions being cooridors the little robot gets sent into. Those I think use the gamepad screen. But those instances are far and few between.
With that said, I think the gamepad isn't mean to be the sole focus anyways. I think it's meant to be an enhancement- a tool in your belt to use at your discretion.
@DoctorOverbuild Basically what @JaxonH said.
It's looking like the game's playable without looking solely at the GamePad, but, like the man in the video said, you can look there to fine-tune your shots.
Seems like it's going to be kind of like Splatoon in that regard.
Now, just imagine what this game could have been like if they hadn't used the stupid dual screen gimmick. . . .
@Kirk You don't.
Yup, I can see it now...
Same exact game, only less interesting with less control and less options. Sounds great!
In fact, why don't we just go back to everyone using a 5" joystick to play our games. After all, advances in technology should never be applied to video games. Gimmicky analogs and D-pads. Imagine how great Zelda would be with a pilot stick and detonator button up top
I bought it for the steel book. The game being fun will be an added bonus!
(Only half joking, I really did want the steel book more than the game itself)
In not convinced with the motion controls. Did you see how the guy playing was missing easy targets? It's like Amateur hour. If it's that hard to use the control setup... I'm worried. And all the videos I have seen so far it is like this. 😞
So the graphical fidelity was sacrificed for the dual screen mechanic, which makes sense enough. I'm disappointed that we have to wait maybe another entire console cycle to get a truly spectacular looking Star Fox, especially since games set in space can be dazzling with power behind them.
@Project_Dolphin Don't forget the eShop for the 3DS remake!
@Kirk bingo! My thoughts exactly. I don't understand this let's do something different just to be different, if it's not ultimately way better then the conventional than the conventional is better.
@Smokingspoon But... But....... But....... Numbers! Fun can't be quantified, but 1080p is definitely higher than 720p, so it MUST be better!
Mocking of that viewpoint aside, I agree with you completely. As long as it looks decent and plays well, I'm happy. Lots of my favorite games aren't the most visually impressive. I would love a locked 60 fps, but honestly, I'm happy to know the dips aren't too bad and it still strives for 60 and mostly works with it.
@MarioPhD I agree with you but... notice that even Nintendo life, had to make articles and videos and such saying no no no the controls are not bad, just different, noticed they did not say they're great or it is the best way to play, or it's revolutionary, it's just "bad err... No, they're different"
I believe technology has advanced SO much since the advent of the analog stick, that it's high time some of these technologies are used to enhance our games.
Now, some will point at the Wii and say "See! It's just a gimmick. No value added" but I believe, as with any technology, it must evolve to a mature, useful form first.
Wii games had a lot of adolescent, immature motion integration, but, it had its moments and you could see the potential shining through. This generation the technology has matured. Games such as Pikmin 3 and Splatoon are undeniable proof that motion has value. At worst it's an equal alternative that provides new perspective- at best it's a superior control scheme that, much like the PC mouse, simply cannot be matched by a standard analog alone.
I truly believe that the gyro/analog hybrid control setup is the way forward. It's proven to work. It's proven to offer more control. The analog was more difficult to learn compared to a D-pad, but once people mastered it games opened up to the Nth degree.
Likewise, I believe gyro/analog hybrid is the new analog. People suck using it now because they haven't invested time to learn it, but once they do they will see, as they did with analog over D-pad, that the level of control is unrivaled.
This isn't just about a Star Fox control scheme. This is about the future. This hybrid control setup is emerging and proving its worth game by game, and I believe if people would just stop being close-minded about it and open themselves to the possibility of something new, as people did with the analog, they will exponentially benefit from its use.
Once again the gamepad is the fall guy. Nintendo keep trying to prove how good the gamepad is.
Graphics being compromised, we have to 'stick with the controller' and it will come right in the end. And we will adjust to focusing from one screen to another. Already I am now not wanting the game.
This game will get released again in three or four years and without the game pad on the next generation console and reviewers will be saying how much it has improved, better graphics and just one screen.
Review: dispute the frame rate and the awkward controls and having to refocus on the screens all the time it is still worth purchasing 8/10.
But with all the hype and wait this should have been the Wii U's finest hour.
This is what I don't like. That Nintendo sacrifices performance to render 2 screens at once. I would rather have full performance on one screen than really stretch it to two.
@kyuubikid213 @JaxonH That's really good to know thanks guys! I'm really excited for this game you've told me that I'll look at the gamepad if the game gets too hard then!
What I like, is that most of the groups on the internet that seem to have similar tastes as me, have loved the game and the controls. This is good for me, actually great. I can't wait to play this game. Bad for those of you who already dislike the game for how it is designed, but what can you do other then skip it and hope for your type of StarFox the next go round.
The FPS and the resolution just don't matter to me, fun is fun so that part of the preview is irrelevant to me......but hearing from multiple sources that the controls aren't difficult to get a handle on and beyond that are well done and fun. That's what I needed to hear.
"Nintendo keep trying to prove how good the gamepad is."
Actually, Nintendo was doing a pretty fine job of NOT using the gamepad, or using it for negligible purposes (DKC Tropical Freeze, Mario Kart 8, 3D World, etc).
It wasn't until this very fanbase started riots on Twitter and Miiverse crying out for games that actually use the gamepad for more than a map, that Nintendo started putting a focus on it.
"...In all, Star Fox Zero brings something unexpected to the table, and we've enjoyed our time with it so far. Due for release on April 22nd, it's one of the last major Wii U releases on the calender, but ranks alongside Super Mario Maker as one of the best uses of its unique GamePad. It's a great send-off for a system that now appears to be on its last stretch. "
I can't wait! If you don't like it, just go back to Star Fox 64...I think you've made up your mind already to be close minded. Wii U has something the other systems don't - their gamepad, and I'm happy to see it being utilized. Platinum designed the game and I haven't yet played a Platinum game I didn't like. If the reviews come out and the game really sucks, then so be it, but I have faith.
Here is something they have two screens running at 480p and 720p at 60-40fps the Xbox one can only do 900p and 30fps on one screen so what is really under powered here.I wonder if the will u could do 1080 at 60fps or more with out gamepad
I will say though, even though I believe motion/analog hybrid is a superior setup that we will see become more and more prevalent with time, I also firmly believe in providing as many options as possible. I don't strictly propose this as the only available control scheme.
Splatoon's controls worked better, Pikmin 3 controls worked better, but they both allowed you to play using analog-only.
So I do think it's good StarFox has minimized the requirement- not only for the sake of those with staunchly conservative preferences, but also as a safety net in case the gyro/analog hybrid setup isn't implemented well (I believe in the control scheme, but that's not a guarantee it will be implemented properly)
So it fails with constant 60fps, and not only that, but drops to 40? And it's 720p?
The game looks unimpressive to say the least - it actually looks like one of those games that just got put together to release something. You would think that with resolution this low they will take some AA into consideration, but nope, the jaggies are plenty. Looks like another unoptimized crap that will get discounted month after release at retail and will get around 75 on metacritic, so some people will bother, but not enough, so the series will get shelved again for something like a decade.
Especially that there is Dark Souls 3 and disastrous May around the corner, so the discount is unavoidable for retailers.
A good many AAA games run at 30 and drop to sub-20. And that's displaying on one screen.
I'd say running at 50-60 displaying on 2 screens is impressive enough. And Idk, maybe I need my eyes checked, but the game I'm watching video of doesn't look that bad at all. It's not the best looking game on Wii U, but it's not the worst either. Looks about as good as Pikmin 3, which also had jaggies. Heck, most Wii U games have jaggies come to think of it...
@JaxonH All Wii U games have jaggies. Even the system's most beautiful game, Mario Kart 8, had jaggies. But it still looked brilliant.
@JaxonH and there are some running 60 looking good or even better than this. Don't know what's the point mentioning this.
Maybe gameplay will be saving grace on it, but even that is questionable when the game drops frames.
From first-party studio, I would expect something pushing boundries and hardware to the limit. You know, like the jump in graphics from launch to end of the console. Here it looks like it's not the case, which is a shame, because U supposedly is more powerful than PS3/360.
The comment form Miyamoto saying that they want it to be "cinematic experience" doesn't even sound comforting.
If it will be like 3 hours, then without Nintendo name slapped on it, it would be 10-20 bucks downloadable title tops.
Previous ones were not that long, but those were diffrent times.
I think it is amazing 😍 Nintendo pushing boundaries again!!! Looking forward to picking this up after tp and xenoblade are complete
That's fair enough, but I think this game was actually put together quickly because they needed games for the last year of Wii U. Not only do they support 2 platforms but also having to make games for the upcoming NX stretches resources thin.
So my expectations understandably aren't as high as a game that gets a full 3 year cycle with a full budget. The stills in the opening scene say it all- this game was made within the constraints of time and a budget.
I'm just happy we're getting a Star Fox though, and one that's not like Command was.
Pikmin 3 has a fair amount of slow down but nobody mentioned that in the reviews I've read
Digital Foundry writes lots of articles about games performance, not only Wii U games but PS, Xbox and PC games too.
From Eurogamer: "Performance is tested on the game's release code, and 60fps is the intended target with v-sync engaged. However, while long stretches of play hold at that top refresh figure, it's certainly not a perfect lock on that number. It's clear the first stage's deluge of water shaders and alpha effects really test Wii U's mettle, and the net result is intermittent dips to around 50fps. At its extremes in the following Sector Alpha stage, a space mission set around warring motherships, that can even lurch down to 40fps for the heaviest bursts of action".
@Dave24 Were you expecting anything else from a Platinum game considering that Bayonetta 2 can dip down to 20 FPS?
I've also heard the best way to play is to plug earphones into the gamepad as that way you get both TV and gamepad audio through one source so I'll definitely be doing that!
@Chaoz it's collab with Nintendo, with Nintendo being in charge and Platinum as little help, so I guess I expected better.
@Dave24 Yeah and Bayonetta 2 was a collab with Nintendo also considering the game wouldn't even exist if they didn't step in. Not saying you should expect better, but my point still stands.
it's by platinum games, makers of goty 2014. if anyone's gonna say this game is bad before they try it, then there's no talking to them. know what a bad game is? just look at those games on metacritic with an 85 from critics and a 3.2 from users.
nintendo isn't completely innocent there, as amiibo festival comes to mind, but that sure as hell wasn't an action game by platinum, and it sure as hell wasn't delayed to meet quality standards.
@TruenoGT this was all I could think.
The retro arwing unlocked by the Fox amiibo is the best looking thing in the game. They should have just made the entire game look like the original which would have put far less demand on the hardware and allowed it to run at 60fps.
Ok, there's the obvious grassy Corneria area (stage 1), and a Space area (stage 2). If you are a Starfox fan you know the graphically amazing stages and bosses roll in a bit later.
People making assumptions about graphics from just the first stages are probably new to Nintendo and don't realise that the best stuff is always being kept secret!
Personally, I'm glad the trailers and internet don't spoil too much and show only the classic easy route stages, but to mute the monkeys someone should upload a video from the badass medium and mindblowing hard route stages and bosses.
How's it running at only 720p when it's uglier than Smash 4? Lower budget?
Nintendo only helped fund it. IIRC Bayonetta 2 was already in development for the 7th gen consoles, but was put on indefinite hold until Nintendo stepped in to fund the rest of development.
@A01 Hyrule Warriors only has slight problems on the Gamepad during co-op. I actually find the multiplayer the best part of the game, so it hasn't really been a problem for me.
@andrew20 Yes, it can do it, just look at Smash Bros, 1080p and constant 60fps I bet this game could have done it too
@A01 unplayable? I've only played it in multiplayer since day 1 so I don't really know what I'm missing...which I guess is a "good" thing since we've managed just fine throughout the entire game.
Looks and plays much fantastic than what it originally was. Definitely picking this up day one.
@A01 I don't find Hyrule Warriors too bad in multiplayer. My daughter loves using the gamepad and the TV for me and we both seem relatively satisfied. Mind you, I only have a Wii U so I don't know about other consoles and their performance.
@A01 Unplayable? Wow that's a massive overstatement. Me and my wife beat the game on multiplayer and my nephews play together all the time with little issue. At times it definitely lags a bit, but games have been doing that since the NES days, and it's not consistent. There have been a handful of times it was kinda bad, but it's not very often and it straightens itself out right away. There's also less enemies rendered at a time while separated, and that's probably my biggest issue, but it's far from "unplayable". Either you had some bad luck with a poor first impression and wrote it off too soon, a HDD issue, or IMO are just way too picky. It's one of my favourite co-op games of all time and having my own screen is a big reason why.
@Kirk There's already 2 previous SF games and a 3D remake that play the exact same. Give me variety with Adventures, Assault, and Zero any day of the week.
@Amiiboy It sounds to me like they'd have been better off going for a locked 30fps. Not as impressive as 60 but it would have been stable.
"If you truly care about how many FPS a game runs at, then you are not a gamer, so GTFO. "
Absolute rubbish and disrespectful of others opinions. I've been playing games since the 80s and slowdown was horrible then and is horrible now.
I grew up with 50 Hz gaming, but still can't tell the difference over TV 24 fps.
@JaxonH Splatoon motion aiming was far easier for me than right stick aiming, but I did do both together. My accuracy is higher in Splatoon than in any other console FPS, and possibly better than mouse and keyboard.
@electrolite77 below 60 but above 30 fps isn't slowdown.
@Senate_Guard Oh, you mean like the three of the worst received and rated Star Fox games. I get ya.
It is if it's sometimes at 60 but drops below unintentionally. The difference between 30 and 60 isn't a big deal with me but I like it to be consistent. I enjoyed Super R-Type all them years ago but it would've been better without the slowdown.
Oh good, still digging. I always enjoy these (settles in chair, grabs popcorn). Tell me what a 'true gamer' is. Define it.
@A01 I guess Digital Foundary does not have a Gamepad with video out. Although, IIRC you can make the Gamepad screen show on the TV instead and vice versa (which makes me wonder if the game is actually rendering two 1280x720 screens).
However, it does leave me wondering how much the frame drops are influenced by what the Gamepad is seeing. It reminds me of GoldenEye time attacks where the strategy on many stages is to stare down as much as possible in order to mimimise frame drops (less graphics on screen).
@Kirk I'd rather have my own tastes than be apart of the herd-mentality who only likes games that score 8.5 and above.
@Senate_Guard Good for you.
All I want is great games, rather than clunky meh, which is what I think Star Fox Zero is. It just does not impress or excite me in any way, shape, or form, which is extremely disappointing for me personally because I truly loved the original Star Fox.
And it goes beyond just the controls too:
The whole game looks meh to me—from everything I've seen of it so far.
@Dankykong Those aren't tiny dips - those are deep caverns.
Tiny dips would be short segments of maybe 57 frames or whatever - this is going down to 48 frames for long periods of time.
Are you typing from Opposite Land?
Why didn't Nintendo released a VR gear for the Wii U tablet? Strap that tablet to your face and this game will be awesome.
@Scapetti I wonder if the Wii u can go and do a 1440p game.It will be nice if they could but I just wanted to know.And they said the Wii u is under powered.
@Danrenfroe2016 It seems like nobody has seen something like it quite yet, and I think people are largely just getting used to it. Honestly, with how similar the game seems to be to other titles in the series, I'm glad the controls will be notably different, if only to give it a definitive feel of being a new game, and not just another HD upgrade to an older one. Not sure if I'll love them either, but that's why I'm getting the hard copy: if I don't like it, off to eBay it goes while the resale value is still high.
@MarioPhD yes, I really really hope I love it, Starbucks is one of my favorite series comma but it seems like half the entries in the series I do not like, and it's been every time they wander from the core idea. We shall see what happens
@andrew20 it is underpowered... compared to Xbox One and the PS4.
Still looks very fluid n action packed even with the dips in frame rate.
Something just looks odd when flying straight with shots firing in all sorts of different directions.
OK. So what exactly qualifies you to decide what other people find fun?
They shouldn't haven even bothered with the second screen.
Looks purdy and shiny! I'm guessing the L2 and R2 triggers will be used for firing?
@vitalemrecords No you just don't want to accept that it was a tiny dip, and it didn't affect me or my friends at all. Sorry you had a bad time, I sure didn't.
@zool I agree. I can see this not doing so well because of the poor controls and then being re released for nx with proper controls. wish they just would have included a motion free controls option.
@electrolite77 I see, so it's like temperature or volume, a sudden change can be very noticable even if the level it changes to is in well within your level of tolerance.
I don't really notice it myself, but now I can see how many can.
@vitalemrecords 60 to 48 would be like 30 to 24, only a relatively small percentage, that some would notice but others won't. Maybe there are some who would find it a jarring change, but most won't care.
Yeah exactly. I've rarely got wound up about the actual framerate as long as it's playable but I prefer it to be consistent, drops can cause issues with the controls. Especially when it's a game that reaches for 60 but doesn't make it all the time, it seems daft to me to not just lock it at 30 which it can clearly do (or give players the option as PC games and I think a couple of recent console games do)
@MadAdam81 those aren't tiny dips - that is what I said - and that is the case. The frame rate drops are 20%. 20% is not a tiny dip. I'm not saying it makes the game not fun - but lets be honest here.
@Dankykong and it isn't a single drop - the game is pretty consistently down around 50 FPS - did you even watch the video?
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