Starlink: Battle for Atlas is finally out. And if review scores are a sign of anything, it’s pretty good. If the Nintendo Switch version has an advantage over the other versions, it’s not that more kids play the Switch. No, it’s Ubisoft’s permission to use Star Fox.

Hey Einstein, I’m On Your Side

Given Nintendo’s history of overprotection since the Philips CD days, it still surprises me that they let anyone else touch their toys at all. But this has changed little by little over time. A Metroid Prime here, a Mario + Rabbids there. But this is Star Fox we are talking about here. If Nintendo were a parent, it would be their troubled kid who initially showed a lot of promise, but is always changing majors.

From Dinosaur Planet to Assault to Command, Star Fox found itself treading water, despite its niche fan base. Something that most people can agree on, though, is that the gyroscopic controls of Star Fox Zero were an alienating bad choice that hurt sales. I never owned a Wii U, but you didn’t have to, to see that it hurt sales. The release of the never before released Star Fox 2 on the SNES Classic could only help so much by this point.

All Aircraft Report

Now with Ubisoft’s use of the Star Fox franchise, things are looking up. Well, they look better than they did before. After all, seeing fan support of a fledgling franchise means there’s always hope. But if you actually play the Starlink campaign with Fox and his pals, it doesn’t really do anything to improve the niche factor of the franchise.

The team is on the hunt of Star Wolf. Nothing major. Nothing that Ubisoft perhaps had to fight Nintendo to do. But it wasn’t really supposed to. Still, I wonder if this is the way to save the franchise from being forgotten again. Is this franchise doomed to be known more for Smash Bros than for its own franchise?

We Need Your Help Star Fox

We don’t know if that Retro Studio Star Fox racing game is for real, but it raises a good question: Should Star Fox continue on with the Star Fox 64 style games or should they change and become known for something different than what it was initially? It didn’t work too well when they turned the previously independent Dinosaur Planet IP into a Star Fox game. The general consensus was that it was a good game, just not a good Star Fox game.

But you may forget it worked wonders for Spyro the Dragon. He had a good couple games that dwindled in quality as time went on. But he made his revival with the Skylanders series. And Starlink, also a toys to life game, seems to be doing ok, even given the genre’s lessening popularity.

Honestly, I don’t think this is Star Fox’s future. Starlink may be good, but not good enough to uproot what makes Star Fox special. And if you read my previous piece about Super Mario Party and what going back to a game’s roots actually means, I think what Star Fox Zero was missing was the simplicity. What made Star Fox and Star Fox 64 so good, in my opinion, was just the simplicity of the fun shoot em up flight sim and the matching charm of its characters. I think Assault had some good ideas, switching up gameplay styles, but Nintendo must make sure that the controls are tight and fun to play, not too repetitive.

Mission Accomplished

So how would I fix it? Gameplay should be the first thing focused on. Whether in the air, on foot, or tank, the game should be fun. The controls of Zero were ambitious, but Nintendo overshot their expectation of what casual fans would put up with. The quirky characters and fun interactions of the Star Fox team take care of themselves.

Lastly, please Nintendo. No more retellings of the Lylat Wars against Andross. Have him come back if you like; we just want a different story. But ultimately, I’m still hopeful for Star Fox’s future.

But what do you think? Does Star Fox need fixing? How would you do it? Let us know in the comments below!

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One thought on “Starlink And How To Save Star Fox”

  1. Nintendo’s fallen into a rut with the franchise, with very little concept of actually deepening Star Fox’s gameplay beyond slapping a gimmick on it. Adventures is just SF by way of Zelda, Command’s offerings of RTS/All Range Mode emphasis became monotonous, and and Zero feels far too much like 64 with worse controls. Assault was the least offensive in its attempts to try on foot missions, but even that comes at the expense of branching paths or significant expansion to the flying sections.

    In regards to Starlink I’ll say this: the base of the next breakthrough Star Fox game feels like its in here. Multiple weapon types, ship/gun modding, open world exploration via planets, and a sense of a solar system that’s constantly active. All without placing the characters out of the ships in Adventures/Assault, awkwardly changing the genre like Command, or utilizing a control/screen setup that was solving a problem that didn’t exist like in Zero

    An actual Star Fox sequel could build on what’s been done via utilizing more dynamic enemies, a deeply involved story, greater contrast with planet climates/effects, and utilizing a few select rail shooter segments (perhaps in specific spots not unlike Breath Of The Wild’s shrines) and it really would feel like the next step of the franchise.

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