Hands-On: Starfox DS

We unfortunately must report back that all is not good in the Lylat System...

Nintendo fans have waited long and hard for a return to form for once fan favorite, Fox McCloud and his cohorts, and they may have to wait a little longer. Announced at Nintendo's annual press conference in Hollywood, Star Fox DS raised eyebrows for fans hoping for a N64 port of what is arguably the last real Star Fox game. And playable at E3, we unfortunately must report back that all is not good in the Lylat System.

First off, players will notice that you must utilize the touch screen to play virtually all of the game. Star Fox DS starts off with a turn based, RTS-like overworld map, where players much direct and command Arwing forces to counter enemy forces. When the forces converge, an instance is create and launches the game into familiar looking 3D Arwing combat. However, this is a grave departure from Star Fox 64, which the DS game looks so much like.

Once players hop into Fox's trusty Arwing once again, you must control the Arwing entirely with the touch screen, using only one button to fire. Even to perform the franchise staple barrel roll requires circling on the screen, a frustrating execution considering the slow response of the DS' touch screen technology. And to add insult to injury, the game is not on rails, and is entirely free roaming, requiring even more touch screen use than it truly should (if at all). An enemy map is located on the top screen, so finding targets is pretty easy, but a time limit for such engagements makes for a challenge that can only be alleviated by hitting certain goals.

In terms of looks, Star Fox is by no means a visual juggernaut, but does seem to be using the DS hardware to the best of its abilities. The framerate was rock solid, and looked better than its 64-bit brethren, with a good deal of draw distance to boot. And although the floor demo was relegated to closed 3D arenas, they were in no means suffocating.

Nintendo is planning an assortment of multiplayer modes and unlockable goodies for those hoping to purchase a copy later this year. Hopefully, Nintendo will address control problems for Star Fox's DS outing, especially when there is a superior, albeit traditional, control scheme right at the company's fingertips. The RTS element, although a fresh element to the Star Fox series, seems forced for this kind of game. If Nintendo irons out both problems, then Star Fox fans could truly have game worthy of its namesake.

Will Federman
Staff Writer, Kikizo

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Star Fox DS
Direct feed gameplay   (DS - Nintendo)
00:35 5 DF, SD, 4:3

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