The game takes place some time after the events of Starfox Assault, and once again there is a threat to the Lylat System - this time coming from the Anglar race hailing from the planet Venom. The Star Fox team has broken up, Fox broke up with Krystal, Slippy's too busy with his new girlfriend, and Peppy is now General of the Cornerian Army. But to defeat this new enemy the whole team needs to come back together one last time. This game has learned from past mistakes, and is now completely all-range as opposed to the on-rail segments if the previous games, which we think improves the overall gameplay. With over 30 missions, 14 characters, and nine different endings, this looks set to be one of the biggest Starfox games so far.
The main game itself is structured by missions on several planets, and is pretty linear. There's a lot of on-screen conversations between characters between the missions, so we'd guess that there is some kind of story or plot line running throughout - however, we can't read a word of Japanese, and the voices are so annoying that we have to play with the sound off. Hopefully, some regional voices will be used for the US and European versions, making it a little easier on our ears. After much skipping and prodding at the screen, we reach the main part of the game!
...kind of. You see, the 'command' part of the game's title hints to a strategy game, and that's what you get. A slight admission, we really don't like strategy games but you have to give this game the credit it deserves, it's still pretty cool, and uses the hardware well. On each turn, you can cover a certain distance with your ships, moved by dragging the stylus across the map. Don't worry if you make a mistake - you can change your strategy as many times as you want until you end your turn, then the ships move (as well as your enemies, also displayed on the screen). If your path collides with the enemy, then you go to the action mode, which is where the fun begins.
This is what we expected from the famed Starfox series. The upper screen shows your ship, in full 3D, and nearly all aspects of flying are controlled by using the touch screen. The basics are obvious, as well as a spinning motion on the screen to do a barrel roll, and loop-the-loops and other special moves by tapping buttons on the touch screen. The only thing not controlled by the touch screen is firing your weapon, which can be done by pressing any other button on the console (including both shoulder buttons to accommodate both left-handed and right-handed people). Overall, the controls are very easy to pick up, and we got to grips with everything within about five minutes.
The main action bits involve killing certain enemies within a certain time, this countdown lasting throughout the entire mission on the map, so being fast in nailing your enemies is essential. The bottom screen acts as an extremely handy radar, and can be used to drop bombs by dragging one of the bomb icons onto the corresponding area of the map. Unfortunately, although we see these sections to be the best parts of the game, it can get repetitive with only a few different enemies per planet, and not like the wide variety that is seen in the later bosses.
However, we do find it a little annoying that once you defeat all the enemies on the map, a big 'WARNING' sign appears on the screen and you go to the final boss of the map. Sure, it's effective and surprising the first time, but after that it just gets a little tedious. The bosses are varied and challenging, whether it be a rival gang of fighter pilots, or a giant enemy crab. We kid you not. You really do have to attack the flashing weak points for massive damage. Coincidence?
One thing that we don't like about the game is that sometimes you'll come across a certain enemy or boss, you try and battle it, die, THEN it tells you that you should have barrel rolled into it instead of shooting it. This can lead to playing through entire mission maps again, and could even make you stop playing due to sheer boredom. Like early Starfox games, there is a freedom of choice in the route you take through the story mode, but only after you complete the game once, and even then you end up playing through the same kind of stuff over again.
Although the main story is fun, we believe that the multiplayer will keep in your DS for some time. Using download play, you can have up to five additional players using your game cartridge for some deathmatch fun. And if you don't have access to five mates, there's always the online function, provided by Nintendo's WiFi service. There are several different battle modes available, as well as a ranking system, like we are seeing on most WiFi enabled games these days.
Overall, we would definitely recommend this game to any fans of the Starfox series, as it is more of the stuff that you know and love. And even if you've never played a Starfox game before, it's still a great fast-paced action shooter. The story mode can be a little short the first time around, but the other paths, if you choose to play them, can add many more hours to the lifespan.