These are words that I really don’t think I would ever be writing about the game that was basically for ever the bad cross of what was going to be a very promising RPG and then got “smashed” into Star Fox.
For those who never played Gamecube here is a quick history lesson: Nintendo used to own Rare. Okay… Done. Just kidding. Rare was one of those studios that Nintendo did partnerships with. It was super rare… in that case as generally Nintendo does not trust or allow much development to happen outside of Japan.
But at the time the company that preceded Rare… Ultimate Play the Game was a company that made good PC video gamers durning the market crash in the Us for the ZX Spectrum and variety of other computers.
In 1986 Rare’s momentum as a developer changed radically as Nintendo was using them for racing and other video games and they were getting lots of work from a wide variety of publishers.
It actually makes sense that Nintendo would trust them as Rare’s track history as a company was actually really good for what they did. They Published some of the most popular NES games: Wizards and Warriors, Marble Madness, Captain Skyhawk.
I don’t think I need to talk about Donkey Kong Country or Banjo-Kazooie.
So let's talk about the game Dinosaur Planet. See at the end of the N64 life cycle Nintendo was sitting on a major overhaul to the system. To major upgrades to the system: Additional 4mb of ram: Like it really does not seem like a huge deal but everyone knew well that the N64 was bottled necked to the CPU due to it needing to talk to the GPU. While this did not really fix much it did create less of a reason for the CPU to need to wait.
The disk drive… If Nintendo had not sat on this… It would have been a game changer. The lack of advertising and the fact it had to be ordered not from Nintendo but some other cable/satellite service really proved that it was more or less an optional gimmick. But some of the best Gamecube games came from the N64 mainly Resident Evil Zero and Animal Crossing comes to my mind. (Also Doshin the Giant)
One game that was being developed during all this crazy business was Dinosaur Planet; A game developed by Rare that was going to be a Prehistoric Zelda Clone with some interesting flair.
Here is like an hour of footage? Like for a game that did not get released this is quite a bit of footage… For an N64 game it is gorgeous. For Gamecube conversion you can see they had a really solid foundation all done and ready when Nintendo basically asked them to turn it into a Star Fox game.
Then basically history wrote it off as an okay Zelda clone with Star Fox in it, and rightfully so.
I know this has taken a really long time to get built up to but one of the thing that Star Fox Zero really taught me is that having a pure rail shooter version of Star Fox is not going to work anymore. Everyone has been trying to figure out how to make a better Star Fox game:
Third Person out of Vehicle shooting Action
Alternate Utility Vehicles… With Gravity Challenges…
In many ways Star Fox has the same luck as Sonic. Every game it seems the team has less of an idea of what the fans want. Star Fox Zero had some very high points… and some very low points. Very much like Star Fox Assault has some high points and then also some very low points.
The question really becomes if Star Fox wants to escape the Shmups genre and become one of Nintendo’s evergreen titles…. What will it take?
And after revisiting Nitro Rad’s video on Star Fox Adventures… I think I know the answer that makes the most sense.
Variety and longevity.
One of the problems from a fundamental level with games and Shmups these days is that in the 90s it was okay to have Shmups that only had three continues and forced the player to “get gud”. Now that it is closer to 2020 people want a game with a lower skill ceiling and more longevity for the player.
So the question is how to do that? Dinosaur Planet it out.
Instead of having the Shmup version of Star Fox be the only part of a game. Include at least 2-3 hours of good fun RPG action with every stage of the next Star Fox game. It actually makes a little bit of sense that doing so would make the overall experience better as the game would have time to flesh out each of the Fox Team Characters, make even more hidden optional content, and freaking do what Mass Effect failed to do and one of the staples of the Star Fox Franchise had: Actions have reactions. Don’t kill the ship in time, a planet is irreparable changed for the worse.
As much as I love to keep my Action games pure and free of RPG mechanics… It would be cool if the RPG mode included gathering optional content for the shooter segments:
New R-wing designs
Weapons besides the classic blaster cannon
New characters to play as
Again optional tracks to play and story lines.
I loved the N64 game, but it is kind of a shallow shooter now that the spectacle is gone. Imagine if the Zelda team had worked on Star Fox Adventures… We are on the verge of a Hybrid Heaven… excuse me… that can bring much needed life back to the series.
If there was one thing that Star Fox Zero really did well, was the story. Sure it was a retelling of the N64 game, but it really showed off that Star Fox has a deep universe that is begging to be explored and if Nintendo had streamlined the gameplay from Adventures better and made it less of a pain to back track and had more space shooting levels/bosses… I honestly think that they would have made the PEFECT Star Fox game for that generation.
They made an anime... and it just makes me want moar!!!
Again Star Fox Adventures was rushed due to the fact Nintendo wanted to get it for launch on the Gamecube and before Rare was 100% Microsoft’s.
You know who could pull it off and not have it be a travesty?
With Xenoblade X it pretty much proves that they have the best scaling tech in the gaming industry when it comes to scope of detail and areas in a game. Considering they basically made PSO the offline edition and it was fantastic… I would be willing to give them a shot.
But only on the stipulation they would be working with Nintendo EAD team as the lead team. And that there is an optional Arcade mode that streamlines everything into similar to Star Fox 1, without ruining the plot of the game but then has a much higher difficulty curve for people that want an authentic arcade experience.
Well that is all of my ideas. I think it would be the best option forward, but I think unless some external team shows it off I doubt anyone will move forward on this.