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Star Fox Adventures: Dinosaur Planet

Update 6/03/02
Hands-On Impressions from E3
by Bryan Cashman

Once again, like any great tradition, Star Fox Adventure has been shown to the press. The title, which has been in development since the Nintendo 64 days as Dinosaur Planet, has been viewed so many times by Nintendojo that it feels like home -- this is the game all events must have. A glance at this full preview will show that the staff has drilled through the title on many occasions around the world, most recently at the European Nintendo Show, where Nintendojo's Gearóid Reidy said "it needs a lot of work." This time, however, Rare promised a polished, complete title, and for the last time before release in stores, Nintendojo gave the game a test-run, at this year's E3.

As an optomist, I couldn't help but enjoy the improved graphics of the title. Star Fox Adventures has limitless draw distance and seemingly limitless characters on the screen. In an early level, Fox explores a hilly area, with triceratop dinosaurs scattered throughout the area, nodding to Fox as he approaches. Rare has also implemented exaggerated graphical effects in every area of the visuals -- Fox's fur "crawls" off his body, extreme lighting creates an overly moody atmosphere, and when underwater, Fox appears as a blurred wave. Infact, one might call it Rare's first step into the artistic nature of games. Animations are very smooth as well, in contrast to last year's rushed appearance. Star Fox Adventure finally looks like what GameCube titles were meant to.

As a pessimest, however, Star Fox Adventures feels like a game imitating an engine created years ago. Indeed, the gameplay aspects of the title mirror Zelda: The Ocarina of Time almost exactly. While I was only given a half hour with the title, all thirty minutes seemed ripped out of a 3-D Zelda title. Instead of Navie calling my attention, I had a baby dinosaur directing me to odd objects. Other goals in the game included finding objects to get through barriers in the levels, and large areas where I could practice the Z-Lock-on.

I should add that Rare added shooting levels, where the gamer controlls an Arwing or a flying creature. While not as deep as Star Fox 64, the shooting levels provide a good, albeit short, alternative to the standard exploring gameplay. However, don't expect more than steering around meteors or finding the right area to shoot down an enemy.

Star Fox Adventures is a double-edged sword. Just leave the sword for the Zelda game. As a game designed to mimic one of the best games of all time, it can never get the respect it deserves. I couldn't help but wonder where Gannon was while exploring the game's gorgeous areas and interacted with the dinosaur life of the planet. On its own Star Fox Adventures is a breathtaking adventure that takes Fox throughout the universe -- but when placed on the timeline of videogame history, it's a mere clone rather than a progression.

New Media

Update 5/09/01
Hands-On Impressions from the Nintendo Show
by Gearóid Reidy

StarFox Adventures started life as an N64 title, and in the brief but ultimately frustrating tune that we spent with the game it was clear that we weren’t really playing something that was truly next-generation. The game played like an odd hybrid of Jet Force Gemini and Zelda – stealing the former’s look and feel and the latter’s combat, genre and Z-targeting (or in this case, L-targeting). Consequently, this mix of two N64 titles itself feels like an N64 title – something too many of the early Gamecube releases are succumbing to.

As befits its roots, SFA looks like an N64 title – albeit a very pretty one. The highlight of what we saw (other than the terrifying T-Rex boss) was the beautiful rippling water effect that rivals Wave Race’s. The Arwing level was fast and filled with explosions, but didn’t look that far ahead of the five-year-old StarFox 64 (aka Lylat Wars). The much-knocked textures were definitely not of GCN quality, and while Fox himself was impressively detailed, the landscapes looked quite barren in what we played – though the streaming video we saw at one of the demonstrations looked far more impressive.

Fox was easy to control, and giving commands to his partner Tricky was easy to get to grips with using the camera stick. The aforementioned L-targeting is straight out of Zelda, and like Zelda there’s no jump button. Fighting with the staff was simplicity itself, though not all it was ‘cracked’ up to be (arf!) – again, it was very similar to Zelda, right down to the backwards jump.

One Arwing level put in an appearance, taking Fox’s craft through a field of icy asteroids. Gameplay here is pretty much identical to that of the StarFox games, though we note that the lock-on laser has gone the way of the dinosaur (Arf! Another one!).

If SFA is to live up to its space-based predecessors, it needs a lot of work. With as large as game as this purports to be – twice the size of Zelda: TooT, no less – it’s hard to get a good feel of it from one level, a flight and a boss. While we’ve few doubts that the finished version will be anything less than fun, one gets the impression that it’s the same sort of fun we could have had on the N64. Perhaps Rare should have just released the original Dinosaur Planet, and planned bigger and better things for Gamecube.

And speaking of which, where in God’s name was Kameo?

--Gearóid Reidy

Rumor had it that the already amazing-looking Dinosaur Planet for N64 from last year's E3 was undergoing a system-spanning facelift and a change in franchise. Today at the Los Angeles Convention Center, Nintendojo confirmed that Rare's creative, original Dinosaur Planet franchise has been replaced with that of the Star Fox universe.

So what does that mean to you and me? Well, it means that we'll likely never see Sabre or Krystal again. It's too bad, because that host of characters showed a great deal of promise. However, the added graphical prowess of the Nintendo GameCube partially makes up for this abrupt alteration.

Check out this early sneak-peek video of Star Fox Adventures: Dinosaur Planet and keep it tuned to the Dojo for further updates from the Nintendo press conference and E3!



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Staff Avatar Gearóid Reidy
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"Compare your lives to mine and then kill yourselves."

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