Starfox Command (Nintendo DS) Preview

By John Boyle 18.06.2006 7

It's one of those series that would never be considered as one of the AAA bunch (GTA, Zelda, Halo etc etc) but still manages to be both iconic and loved by the masses. The title music is imbedded in all our minds, enemy waves memorised and the mere mention of the phrase "barrel roll" makes your hands sweat in anticipation. It's both genre defining and disappointing; innovative and classic; beautifully intricate yet clinically basic and there is certainly no other game series that is quite like it. And now this game series is heading to a new mothership, called the DS, and is aiming to recapture the form that made it so loved. So get into your Arwing, ready your trigger finger and prepare to delve back into some familiar blasting action with Starfox Command on the Nintendo DS.

Quite how Nintendo kept this hidden until their E3 conference is beyond us here at C3. It's testament to how popular the announcement was, that the game wasn't swallowed up by the various bigger announcements of the Wii and the various next gen games across all platforms. Instead the game stood apart from the crowd as one of THE big E3 games, mostly down to the fans. Ever since Starfox appeared on the SNES 13 years ago the game has garnered a sizable fan base with it's mix of classic on rails shooting gameplay and innovative touches.

Be it pseudo 3d graphics, or a rumble pack, or even taking the characters into a Zelda-esque adventure each game in the series carries it's own slightly daring innovation to the series and Starfox Command is no exception. No surprises that the innovations this time come in the form of the touch screen and the Wi-Fi Connection.

Screenshot for Starfox Command on Nintendo DS

The touch screen is undoubtedly the more interesting though and certainly adds a new dimension to the tried and tested gameplay. Prior to the mission you'll have an overview of the game area and you will (for the first time in the series history) get to choose the path you and your team will take through the level via the touch screen. The idea is to intercept enemy ships heading for great fox, you get a set amount of fuel to intercept these ships and choose which ones to go for and when. You have several of these path choices in the one level and the mere inclusion of this marks a crucial moment in the series.

You see, when you intercept these fighters you enter "battle mode". And battle mode is not on rails, it's in the "all range mode" that was first introduced in Starfox 64... so it seems that the days of Starfox being a partially "on the rails shooter" is gone. One in this battle mode you will also not be controlling your ship in the standard manner, instead you'll be piloting with a stylus in your hand. Dragging the stylus moves the ship in the corresponding direction, with double taps of the top or bottom of the screen giving you a boost or a brake respectively. There are two "buttons" on the touch screen which (when tapped) will give you a loop de loop or a u-turn depending on what button is tapped.

Screenshot for Starfox Command on Nintendo DS

There is also a new way of detonating bombs, you drag a bomb onto the radar on the touch screen and it'll detonate exactly where you've dragged it. Shooting is on the shoulder buttons or the d-pad, all of which seem to be offering an extremely accurate way of controlling things. The notion of the touch screen as acting as an analogue stick was blasted after Mario 64DS, however going by early impressions it seems that Starfox Command could change everyone's opinion on it.

When the E3 conference showed those first glimpses of this game the one thought screamed through the collective Internet consciousness... online dogfights. And the modern, consumer friendly Nintendo has done what the Nintendo of the 90's would never have done and actually given the people what they truly wanted. So the next AAA title for the WFC will indeed be Starfox Command and it could be what pushes this game from interesting to hypetastic! So far we've not had a great deal of information released about the online mode, all we know is that there will be dogfights as well as the enigmatically termed "other modes". There's a 4-player maximum (as per usual on the DS) with 8 over a local wireless connection. If Nintendo can pull this off then it'll be brilliant, however it'll need those other modes to be up to scratch as even Starfox dogfights have their shelf life.

Screenshot for Starfox Command on Nintendo DS

Graphics are looking rather good at the moment. There's less on screen than in the previous versions but it all moves at very solid framerate and at quite a high detail. As usual with DS games put this somewhere between N64 and GC quality visuals, the ships lack detail and look "solid" but the environments are as immersive and good looking as they were in previous games of the series.

All in all Starfox Command is shaping up nicely for it's autumn launch. The removal of the "on rails" sections will lose it some fans but as long as the free roam battles are as intense as they were in Starfox 64 then it'll be all right. The kill or cure aspect will be the WFC parts and if they can stand up to the hype that is already surrounding it. We all know how amazing online Starfox could be and if it is done well then it'll sell the game regardless of how good single player turns out. However if the multiplayer is botched then it'll sour the rest of the game...we're going to have to wait and see which scenario is played out for us. Luckily we won't have to wait that long, Starfox Command is due for release in the US on 28/8 and it could be an Autumn of dogfighting fun for all.

Screenshot for Starfox Command on Nintendo DS

Final Thoughts

The hype level on this is quite high, and rightfully so. The Starfox series returning to it's roots after the somewhat disappointing Starfox Assault and it's shaping up very well. The bold step away from on the rails segments seems to be working well and the thought of multiplayer Starfox through the WFC is staggeringly lovely. If Nintendo play their cards right then they could be onto a winnere here.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (10 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


There are no replies to this preview yet. Why not be the first?

Excellent, I hope it carries the original soundtrack from Argonaut Software's effort, especially the Level 1 track.

lets hope this is getting better day by day. Who is developing it then? NST?

Anticipation rating 4.0!!!!

Are you kidding this deserves a 5!

Q-Games are developing this, and the only reason this didn't get a 5 was because there is a lack of info out about it. We've only got E3 and a few more screens to go on

I never really took to the Starfox series but then again I never took to the Zelda series until Link's Awakening came out on the original Gameboy in 1993. I'm hoping that Starfox Command on the DS will have the same immersive impact....! I'm really excited about this. (Come to think about it i didn't really take to Metroid until I played Fusion on the gba.....mmmmmm)

It's really pleasing because the head of Q-Games worked at Argonaut when they were co-developing the original Starfox/Starwing with Nintendo. I hold VERY high hopes for this.

Good work John :Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

Hmmm I'm not so sure about this game I dont think it will meet my standards...

I hope that there will be an alternante way to control the ship instead of the touch screen. Might turn outlike SuperMario DS

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