By Steve Conger(jsslifelike)
Mass Effect 3 is the ultimate refinement(thus far) of a of a title that redefined modern role-playing games. Not only has it perfected the art of dialogue systems by introducing dynamic camera angles, but it corrected the series’ course of moving more toward shooter with a fresh take on mechanics such as weight and weapon modification. This third installment is the perfect end cap to a historical space opera conveyed through a digital medium and is the perfect design model to bring a well-known franchise back into relevance.
If Star Fox 64 3D is taken out of the equation, it’s been almost six years since the release of a full-fledged console space combat game in the series. Actually, it would be even longer(say, 15 years) as Star Fox: Assault was developed by Namco, but published by Nintendo(leaving the original N64 version). Let’s not even get into Rare’s Star Fox Adventures. Well, maybe I should… I’ll get to that.
It’s no secret that the WiiU needs to recapture the audience that felt alienated as a result of Nintendo’s current mini-game infested casual box. So, what is the proper approach to achieve such an end result? Bridging the gap between the core audience and their lesser key franchises(since Mario would NEVER be an option). The 3DS repacking of Star Fox 64 was the perfect gateway to make gamers aware that the franchise still lives(despite almost a six year console absence). Why the Mass Effect model you ask? Duh! It’s in space!
Mass Effect really never gave us real choice, but it did allow for the personalization of a great narrative that made each player feel like it was their own. Star Fox RPG(as I’ve titled it, or SFRPG for short) would only need simplistic dialogue trees to offer the same illusion, but leave the choice for the franchise’s strong suit- branching space and planetary vehicle combat. The omission of the Mako from ME2 and ME3 along with the blatant lack of interstellar dogfighting is where SFRPG could really shine. Imagine navigating a planetary map, selecting a destination, then launching from the Great Fox and flying planetside with Falco, Slippy and Peppy on your wings. That’s not all- this is where it gets interesting.
Upon landing the Arwings or parking Landmasters(hopefully no more Bluemarines exist), the player would then be given a choice to select two complementary squad members with one designated to hold the extraction point. Ground combat would consist of Star Fox Adventures-style mechanics, but better- think Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning’s empowerment. With each of the previously mentioned mechanics sprinkled in for pacing’s sake, all that’s left is wash, rinse, repeat with a little proficiency progression thrown in for good measure.
For me, this would make a WiiU purchase a no-brainer. Don’t get me wrong- a high-definition demo of The Legend of Zelda goes a long way, but at the end of the day, it’s just that- a demo. Not only is the Star Fox brand ripe for a return, it’s also due for more than just a fresh coat of paint. With Nintendo making baby steps in directions that they never have before, it’s hard to tell what the future holds- I just hope that it includes the core gamer.