Star Fox Zero video game by Nintendo is set for its April 22 release. Many people are looking forward to digging into it for real, because it’s impossible to get over its learning curve just playing it in demos.
Nintendo hasn’t produced a new entry in its anthropomorphic outer-space dogfight shoot-em-up series in quite some time now, so Star Fox Zero on Wii U is something of a comeback. The series’ hallmarks are all here: A crew of animal wingmen, an unfolding story told while you’re blasting your way through alien planets and asteroid fields, and hidden, branching pathways that lead you to new levels.
What’s new for the Wii U version, and what’s had early opinions on the game divided since its announcement, is the control scheme: You’ll see your ship on the TV screen in the traditional, third-person, behind-the-ship view. As usual. But if you look down at the second screen on your Wii U controller, you’ll see a first-person cockpit view.
This is not just a visual difference in the Star Fox Zero video game by Nintendo. But if you want to aim precisely at enemy ships, you have to look from the cockpit. But if you want to see the world around you and dodge out of the way of things, you have to look at the TV.
More to the point, you have to organically make those determinations yourself, as to where you should be looking. If you think that sounds difficult: You’re right! There aren’t many games out there that force you to look back and forth between two different screens, and so there’s a fairly big learning curve there just to break yourself of the habit of looking at a single screen. If you’d been in the room as I demoed the latest version of Star Fox Zero last week, you’d have heard a Nintendo representative keeping up a running commentary: “Okay, you should look at the TV screen to dodge those… you’re not going to be able to hit that guy unless you aim with the GamePad… okay, a big beam is firing at you, so look at the TV…” It seemed as if I was always looking in the exact wrong place to be able to react to whatever was happening at that moment.
The game will include, on a second disc, another game called Star Fox Guard. This is a tower-defense game formerly known as Project Guard that Nintendo showed off a couple of years ago at E3. It, too, uses both the television and the GamePad screen, although I felt while playing it that it makes a little more intuitive sense in how it tackles the two-screen problem. You have a base, which you can see from a bird’s-eye view on the lower screen. In it are several security cameras, which you can move around and point in any direction.
When you begin a round in the Star Fox Zero video game by Nintendo, robot enemies begin to invade your base. You have to find them on the cameras, the feeds from which are arrayed on your television screen, then blast them before they get to the center of the base. I think I actually enjoyed playing Star Fox Guard more than the actual Star Fox Zero game, although again, I don’t know if that will still hold true once I’m able to spend a decent amount of time with Zero. (If you want, you’ll be able to buy it digitally, by itself, for $15 on April 22.)