Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Star Fox Command - Completed by John Blanco

A pee break can do a lot to change a man's life. Let me explain.

My wife and I were at Best Buy, browsing the Nintendo section, when she had to take a pee break. She's pregnant, so it happens a lot. I hung around looking at games, but there was nothing I wanted to get – and that's when I decided to play with the GameCube demosystem.

Well, in case you haven't noticed, the GameCube is all but dead. So, the demo disc they had was several years old. And what demo did it have on? Star Fox Assault.

10 seconds later, I was addicted.

So in the next few days, I bought every Star Fox game in the series, including the newest one, Star Fox Command! Star Fox Command is a choose-your-own-adventure style strategy/tactics game which includes certain parts of the classic Star Fox battle and introduces some new stuff as well.

The game is divided into missions. At the beginning of each mission is some storyline. The storyline changes depending on what "path" you take. It's just like a choose-your-own-adventure book from years ago. After the chatter, you are taken to a strategic mission screen where you see your team and you need to draw paths to determine who you attack. At first it seems weird, but then you realize you have a turn-based war sim on your hands alongside classic Star Fox combat.

And what about that Star Fox combat? Well, it's pretty standard. It will remind you a lot of Star Fox 64. The enemies look like Zaxxon graphics. Very weird, nothing realistic, but it's still fun. The big thing that is missing is your co-pilots. You are on your own. But rest assured, you still get commentary from them while you fight.

The game took a while to grow on me. The touch screen took some getting used to at first, but after a while it feels so natural you don't even pay attention to it anymore.

The enemies are pretty easy, though you'll run into some toughies from time to time until you really start to understand the capabilities of each ship. The biggest obstacle you'll face in your first few hours will be the missles. They can be a real trick. Just learn which ships are best equipped to take them down, some of the ships are terrible at it (Falco) while some are excellent (Panther!). Later in the game, all the ships will be quite good and capable of taking them down, thanks to multi-lock. (Multi-lock is yourfriend!)

The biggest treat of the game is the multiple storylines. Depending on which path you take, different stories unfold, with most of them integrating in with others. The neat part is that certain paths will result in power-ups for your ship, making previous missions easier the next time through.

With multiple storylines come multiple endings, too. You'll have fun finding them all, and unlocking all the missions and all the characters. After you finish about 3/4's of them, you might start getting frustrated as you've mastered the game but are spending a lot of time looking for new paths. I gave up at around this point -- it just wasn't worth the effort to get every last one anymore.

Some of us don't have Mobat's time after all. ;-)

Overall, I give this game an 8 out of 10. The stylus controls are fun to experience, the multiple storylines give you a reason to play over and over again long after you've solved the game (ala NSMB). The graphics won't overwhelm you, nor will the sound, but the gameplay is a treat.

And Krystal is!

John BlancoJava Game Development
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