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Starfox Assault (GameCube) Review

Review for Starfox Assault on GameCube - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The Starfox franchise is one of those that has let many down in the past, yet still manages to cause great excitement amongst the throngs of Nintendo fans due to the original SNES game from 1993. However, after the last version went off at an unusual tangent in the hands of Rare, Namco’s Ace Combat team has been enlisted to reel Fox and friends back in to create a more ‘traditional’ space adventure. But has out-letting the series to someone other than the in-house team yet again worked this time?

The game instantly opens with a complete lack of originality in the form of the storyline. Just like Mario and his constant Princess rescue missions, it seems that Fox McCloud and his gang are fated to fight the same fight, over and over again. The Cornerian Government needs Team Star Fox to once more protect the Lylat System from an evil foe, with good old General Pepper dishing out objectives by the bucket-load and Rob the super robot passes on small updates every now-and-then. No real thought has gone into an intergalactic story, that is for sure…

Screenshot for Starfox Assault on GameCube - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

There was so much hype surrounding Starfox Adventures thanks to Rare’s masterful use of high level graphical techniques that push any system to its limits. However, we all know that books should never be judged entirely by their covers, no matter how pretty they are. Yet it does help to have both style and substance…and Assault, whilst impressive, is not the graphical powerhouse that would have been expected at this time in the GameCube’s lifespan. The cut-scenes leave you with a ‘wow’ feeling, with rich colours, great use of 3D and excellently animated characters. On the other hand, though, once the main game starts the level dips quite considerably, with a poor draw distance leading to foggy horizons, somewhat clunky movement when on foot and just a general air of not being quite of the standard set by Metroid Prime 2: Echoes.

The audio side is far more memorable, in all aspects – sound effects, background tunes and even voice acting! Part of the whole thrill of Starfox Assault lies in the huge explosions, weapons fire and general ship noises. But thankfully there is some excellent voice work thrown into the mix, with each character having ample speech that grates far less than the stupid garbled noises they used to make. There are a few that really do get on your nerves at times, but it is hoped that this is intentional as the characters themselves are meant to be annoying. Then, to top it off nicely, the music throughout is stirring and great for those who have played previous iterations as the reworked older themes are just as effective as they used to be. You will definitely walk away from the game with a feeling of space lodged in your mind…

Screenshot for Starfox Assault on GameCube - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The original Starfox was pure blasting action, albeit on-rails and people loved it – both Industry pundits and Joe Public. Then along came Lylat Wars and opinion on the game was split somewhat as extra elements had been added in that diluted the experience somewhat. Finally it seemed like the final nail had been hammered into the coffin when Rare’s Dinosaur Planet was transformed into part of the Starfox series and it did not exactly fit perfectly, especially the final scenes that just left many people utterly baffled as well as rather disconcerted. However, Namco has been drafted in to pull the series back into line and in some cases it manages to do this extremely well.

The pure flight scenarios are definitely classic Starfox through and through, with the usual mixture of barrel rolls, loop-de-loops and flips that have become commonplace to fans, as well as the upgrades and health items that can be collected by blasting various objects on-screen or picking them up from team members that drop them for you. Unfortunately, though, your team mates – now including Krystal in place of Peppy who now is in an advisory role, are rather weak compared to you. Sure, they were not exactly geniuses in the past, but now even the usually reliable Falco will be calling for help every five seconds. It can get seriously frustrating as you deviate from the main mission to chase after three pathetic little enemies on the tail of Slippy and company.

And there is a key word in that last sentence that can be applied elsewhere in the game – ‘frustration’. You see there are three modes of play in the game; space flight, driving in the Land Master and running around on foot. Each one on its own is perfectly acceptable in its own way. The space sections are reminiscent of the good old Starfox days, with insane action all the way. Driving around in the Land Master gives you a slightly firmer sense of control as you zoom around over hilly terrain, blasting at enemies both on the ground and flying around you. And even the on-foot parts of the game are not too bad, with a pleasing selection of weapons to collect and quick responses from Fox. But the fact that at times the three are thrown together can drive you round the bend.

Screenshot for Starfox Assault on GameCube - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Having to constantly wander round looking for targets to destroy, then hop into the Land Master to get rid of some of the trickier enemies or levitate up to some of the harder-to-reach sections and then get a warning from above that you must jump into the Arwing to protect your hapless comrades grows tiresome far too quickly. And the tasks themselves grow repetitive, with the whole ‘seek and destroy’ mantra running throughout. The only respite is the fact that you can actually save between missions, unlike in Lylat Wars, in Mission mode. There is still the opportunity to play right through without being able to save, but the chances of ridiculous deaths in this version means that this is not an unlockable feature that will please many. Climb over a hill and fall off the other side to your doom will have you pulling your hair out more often than not. It is a shame that after the stellar work on the Ace Combat series, the same team did not choose to focus on just the flying aspect. A great example of how messing with a formula that works is not always the best option…

In addition, unfortunately the game is over far too quickly. Both veteran gamers and those new to the series will find that things can be wrapped up in less than about seven or eight hours straight gaming. This is the same issue that Lylat Wars suffered from on the N64 and it is a crying shame that after such a long development period Namco has not been able to include either more levels or worthy extras that warrant a few more play-throughs. Instead the only real incentive is obtaining more medals by getting a certain amount of enemy hits on each level. Even the inclusion of the multiplayer does not help to elongate the fun as it is basically the same boring stuff that we saw in the N64 days – short-lived four-player antics in the ship, Land Master or on foot. But there is one pleasing inclusion, and that is Xevious. Sure we miss out on the other games that were included in the Japanese version, but it is better than nothing!

Screenshot for Starfox Assault on GameCube- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review


Gameplay-wise, the flight sections work just as well as they always have, but when mixed together with the tank driving and on-foot parts, nothing gels like it should.


Whilst the movie clips are impressive, the overall graphical quality does not live up to today’s standards.


There is some great voice work, with each character sounding as you would imagine. In addition the sound effects and background music stirs up the right emotions for this genre.


Unfortunately you can fly through this game quicker than you would think so for a game so long in development. There are barely any incentives to keep coming back either once completed!

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Good - Bronze Award

About this score
Rated 7 out of 10

Namco has been working on Starfox Assault for about three years, yet the end product is nowhere near the standards of both Nintendo’s own SNES and N64 versions, which is a crying shame as the team that worked on it has a strong track record. You can have lots of fun with this, but a straight space shooter would have been preferable.

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C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

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   

Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

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Senior ModeratorStaff Member

It was a little disappointing to find this game so frustrating and boring at times as I love the previous proper Starfox games! :sarcy: Ah well, here's for a DS version...

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

sigh....(goes and plays starfox 2 on emulator...Smilie

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I've played that as well and it is damn good. Such as shame it never saw a release!

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

I thought the game was ok, if a bit on the simple idea side. Multiplayer is fun, it even gets slowdown. Why is this? The graphics are toned down yet you still get slowdown.

360 Gamertag: shiptoncraig
PSN: shiptoncraig
Steam: Guess what?

Such a waste! Concidering how long this game has been in development it's more then a little dissapointing. Sounds a bit like Rebel Strike really, which I already own.

Now on twitter, predicting celebrity death headlines! @thedaytheydie

You're right it does sound a lot like rebel strike doesn't it? In that it's okay when u r flying but as soon as you on foot or anything it completely sucks.

What a sad turn for a deeply loved franchise.


sadly it does not include lylat wars co-op mode tho....

This helped me make up my mind, im not getting this game.....


VERY sad. :-(

I thought this would be the GameCube Zone of the Enders.

Next time give this to KONAMI Ninty!

I liked the game though it was not graphically impressive. I thought the multiplayer was good

Working like a fiend isn't very fun... and surprisingly isn't very fiendish either.

I think you we're too nice on it. I agree with every score exept gameplay. It was way too repetetive. I'd have given it a 6.2.

I guess that's not a very big difference, but still.

I love the game. Really fun and good. And arn't all Starfox games short? (Adventures was a bit longer, but hey).

I finished it in a day or two, but the multiplayer is fun and the unlockables are good incentives. I have no slowdown at all on multiplayer Craig...

You're all far too harsh on it.

Will be getting thhis after exams, sounds like all the other games to me, which is no bad thing at all.

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