Star Fox Command DS Review

Once again the Lylat System is in trouble, and it’s up to Fox to save all of the inhabitants of the Lylat System. He must be getting tired of this by now, surely? Fox storms onto DS in the first handheld incarnation of the Star Fox Series. Fox has been one of Nintendo’s lesser known mascots recently, falling into the shadow of characters like Mario, Link and Samus. This feels like a sort of injustice, as Fox has never starred in games that are anything less than excellent. From his debut on SNES, to the outstanding Lylat Wars for N64, to Adventure and Assault, Fox has morphed into an irreplaceable character. I apologise in advance for all the bad Fox jokes….

A Fox with Roots

So, what does the DS hold in store for Fox? Well, all, and I mean all, of the characters from previous Star Fox games make an appearance at some point, maybe with the exception of Fox’s dad (Fox trivia time: Fox’s dad isn’t dead, as far as we know, as he makes an appearance in Lylat Wars, but he jets off into the distance, and hasn’t been seen since. Fox sometimes has visions of his dad, but has not seen or heard from him since that time). This means a reappearance of nostalgic characters such as the loveable Katt and Bill from Lylat Wars, as well as the whole Star Fox team etc. Also, a range of new characters are introduced who all seem to have a tie with existing characters, and are all a bit cheesy. Now, you may be scared at how all of these characters can possibly fit into one game. Never fear, little person, as this Fox game is much more old-school than you might think.

Command uses the well worked formula of multiple paths, and subsequently multiple endings, which feels familiar from games earlier in the series. So, although the story mode can be raced through in about 1 or 2 hours, you’ll only have seen 1 of the 9 endings, and this means you’ll only have seen about a quarter of the levels that this game has to offer. Although the story mode starts with the same level every time, where you go from there could be very different on each play through. Another important feature that gives Fox so much replay value is that the levels get harder every time you play them. So, essentially, the more of the game you see, the harder the bits you see again become.

Can a Fox can change his spots?

It seems that, unlike in most previous editions, this time, Fox has been well and truly locked inside his Arwing. There are no alternate modes of transport other than flying. But, there are more vehicles in this Star Fox than any other Star Fox before it. Each character has a different ship, with different attributes and disadvantages. And there are a lot, and I mean a lot, of characters. Your roster will change as you go from mission to mission, so seeing all the characters requires you to get around a bit, as well as seeing all the endings, hence adding even more to the replay/addiction value.

The unfortunate thing is that, although this game does so many things right by being different from its predecessors, as well as bringing in new ideas, the way the game works means that it doesn’t have some of the features that you would associate with Fox. In other Fox’s, the level format when flying has always been that you fly through the level taking out different bad guys, trying to get to different routes, and ultimately coming up to, and destroying, a boss, all on a fixed course through the level. And this worked. It worked really well, and is what captured so many fans. Now, instead of being just a fly through stages format, you take the role of commander of the team, hence the name.

In each mission, you are presented with a map which will be filled with varied arrangements of enemy units and bases. Your team starts from one place, and you draw the route they take to enemies, power-ups or bases, which is shortened by fuel restrictions, and is all in a turn-based setup. When a pilot encounters enemies, you control them to defeat the enemies. Rather than being the grid-locked layout you’d expect, the fights are free roaming. You are launched into a smaller map in which you must seek and destroy certain enemies, whilst fending off others, and complete your goals.

This element, combined with the character attributes, brings a large strategic feel to a series that is used to being a fun and gun type game. You must now decide who is best equipped to do what task, and co-ordinate your team appropriately. Another new feature is a time limit. This runs down whilet you’re fighting and if it runs out, you lose a life. There is one timer for all of your pilots combined, so, take too long destroying one enemy and you might find that you have literally no time to defeat the next. The only way to recharge the bar is collecting time extension pick-ups.

Try as it might, this game can’t help but get a little repetitive, as the types of badguys, and the mini-bosses are very similar. Although still fun to play, you do feel disappointed that each world doesn’t feel massively different. The controls work in a very similar way to Metroid Prime Hunters, as the only button you actually use is L to fire, the rest is done by touch screen. It’s very easy to master and use effectively, and a load of fun to play. The difficulty isn’t taxing by any means, and you won’t die very often unless you’re attacking a boss, which still don’t hold you back nearly long enough to provide a challenge.

The Wi-Fi suffers the same drawbacks of every DS Wi-Fi game, which means a lot of sitting around waiting to connect, and a lot of very annoying people who disconnect when they’re losing. When you actually get to play, the multiplayer is extremely enjoyable and is very reminiscent of the Lylat Wars multiplayer. There is an easy to understand ranking system, so you know how good your next opponent is before playing them.

It’s all very Foxing

So it’s all change for Fox, but is it change for the better or worse? Well, if you just look at it as a game on its own, it’s very good, and new people to the series will only miss out on knowing that this game has gone back to basics in a big way. The game itself is superb, and a must buy if you own a DS. It is a very good reason for Fox being thrust into the limelight once again. The only problem is that it suffers from being too easy. In the short run, it can be all over very quickly, but it has a lot of replay value, which is still easy, but you get a lot more game for your money. It is ideal for people who like strategic games, but prefer to be in the action to enjoy their game to the max.

For Fox fans

All of you Fox fans out there owe it to yourselves to get this game, to revisit so much from the series that you may miss. If you are a fan of the series, you can bump the score up by 1.0, as it will mean a lot more to you than newcomers. Plus it has that awesome music for when you complete it. Ah, the memories…Bom bom boooom, bo-bo-bo-bo-boooooom.

Fox flies back into our hearts and builds up his reputation in one of the best games you will get for DS right now, both online and off.

7.9 out of 10