Star Fox Adventures: Better Than I Remember.
Spoiled and bitter. That pretty much sums up where I was during that awkward transition between the Nintendo 64 and the Gamecube. Let’s face it: my old friends over at Nintendo had just had their little yellow asses owned for the first time ever by Sony’s Playstation, despite a valiant first and third party effort (courtesy of in-house development and those genius british bastards over at Rare). It really burned my ass at the time. The N64 was (and still is) home to some of the best games ever made and yet kids back then sounded practically embarrassed to admit that they owned one. Probably because every asshole that bought a fancy pants CD based system wouldn’t shut up about how mind-blowing the load times were or how they could just sit there for hours and watch a bunch of CG cut-scenes that they didn’t even have to play.
Anyway, I want to talk about Star Fox Adventures a little bit because it’s a game that I really didn’t give a fair shake back when it came out for the GC in 2002. But what can I say? The fucking thing hit store shelves with an “air freshener” packed in implying that players were in for a stinky surprise. Huh. Y’know…now that I think about it, that might have actually been just another in a long line of cheeky moves by those boys over at Rare. Yes, I said cheeky because I’m talking about people from England.
So, by now the story is old. Rare had been developing their take *cough*rip*cough* on “Zelda” style gameplay with Dinosaur Planet ever since real dinosaurs ruled the Earth. The game (which featured some cute little animals running around battling a bunch of mean and ugly ones) was originally supposed to hit the N64 near the end of it’s life cycle but after multiple delays, Nintendo stepped in and suggested a Star Fox makeover. This decision pushed work on the title back even further and thus a GameCube release was born.
Some footage of what the game looked like before the operation.
There was a lot of weird shit happening at the time. Microsoft was just starting to really take the video game industry seriously with their little X-Box and made a bid to purchase Rare and Nintendo’s stake in the company. A monetary agreement was eventually reached and several decades of a seemingly mutually beneficial relationship between England and Japan had now become total war. Millions of lives were lost in those first few months alone as the terrifying apocalyptic nightmare that would come to be known as the “Fourth Generation Wars” raged on for several years. Brother fought brother and the world was torn apart at every corner. It wouldn’t be until 2006 when the white Wii of peace was released that players around the world would finally put aside their differences and unite in our universal desire to bowl while sitting on the couch.
Hey, the system’s original name WAS Revolution after all.
So as Rare’s final game for a Nintendo console before jumping ship, Star Fox Adventures had a lot of stigma attached to it. To be honest, I went in ready to hate the damn thing purely as a matter of loyalty and managed to do just that. The whole experience felt utterly derivative and despite some truly outstanding graphics, it wasn’t long before I sold my copy and bid farewell for good to the company responsible for Goldeneye, Donkey Kong Country and Banjo-Kazooie (amongst many other incredible titles).
But everything actually didn’t turn out so bad. Not long after being acquired by Microsoft, many developers and even Rare’s own founders, The Stamper Bros., split the scene leaving a hollow shell of what the company once was. To this day Rare has only released only a handful of titles for Microsoft’s consoles and none of them have left a truly memorable impression. There was a lame Luigi’s Mansion rip off called Grabbed by the Ghoulies that I read about one time and don’t know anyone who actually played it. There were sequels to both Perfect Dark and Banjo-Kazooie that I was compelled enough to at least play for a few minutes that thankfully left me completely underwhelmed. They even seemed to come crawling back to the big N briefly by kicking out some games for the Gameboy Advance! Meanwhile, Nintendo snatched up the Texas based team, Retro studios who have cranked out three excellent Metroid titles and even a recent sequel to Rare’s own Donkey Kong Country series that outdoes the original entries in pretty much every respect.
As you can tell, the sting has been lifted somewhat from those days. So with that in mind and out of total boredom, one day not long ago I saw a copy of Star Fox: Adventures sitting at GameStop/Crazy/Whatever used for like 3 bucks and figured that that price seemed about fair. I plunked down the cash and started up a file and can honestly report that y’know what?
It’s really not that bad.
The graphics hold up remarkably well, the combat is simple but fun, the puzzles are a little too straight forward but still sort of gratifying and that’s about it. Kind of a solid little game there. No more, no less. Sure, I was too hard on it before, but this isn’t some kind of lost masterpiece or anything. I mean, Rare is obviously continuing to coast on the foundation that they wait for Nintendo to develop. Look at how Diddy Kong Racing took what was thrown down by Mario Kart 64. Same goes for the way Banjo-Kazooie picks up where Super Mario 64 left off. This is just another in a long line of shameless ripoffs from those limey bastards and no, I’m sorry…this one doesn’t hold a red candle to the Zelda series the way those smug assholes would like to think. Fuck you, Rare. This game sucks and packing that air freshener in was the most forward thinking concept you jackasses have ever conjured up. I’m glad you’re gone.
Man, I tell you…it sure feels great to not be bitter anymore.