‘Star Fox’ on Wii U: Transforming Spaceships, Dual Screen Play, & Tilt Controls

Published 11 months ago by

Star Fox on Wii U

Despite its place as a staple in both the Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64 console generations, in recent years Star Fox has been (mostly) relegated to appearing in cross-over titles and handheld remasters. The heroic space explorer was last seen in the 3DS remake, Star Fox 3D, but it’s been a long time since Nintendo actually developed an all-new adventure for Fox McCloud and his squad.

For years, gamers had expected Star Fox to hit the Wii, especially since Nintendo had utilized motion control in other aerial combat games, but a new series installment never took shape. Now, three years after the Wii U was first demoed at E3 2011, in the middle of an enormous software campaign by the Big N, a modern Star Fox project has officially been unveiled.

Surprisingly, Star Fox on Wii U was not shown-off during the E3 2014 Nintendo Direct conference – where a new Legend of Zelda, along with Super Smash Bros., and Bayonetta 2, among others, were featured. Instead, the next Fox McCloud adventure was revealed (along with two other Game Pad-centric titles) to select members of the press on Sunday night – prior to the normal E3 festivities.

Star Fox Wii U Leaked

Speaking about Star Fox on Wii U, beloved game designer Shigeru Miyamoto admitted that the project grew out of experimentation:

“Obviously the game started off as an experiment. The way that I design games is I start by experimenting with a lot of assets and play styles, then once we have that all kind of understood, we go into full production and add graphics and everything else.”

That said, according to the Polygon report, the title is still in early stages of development – and Miyamoto claims he wasn’t even planning to reveal the title until after E3.

“I’m looking forward to being able to share more news about the game and the production of it before launch […] Originally, we weren’t targeting E3 for the announcement of Star Fox. But in developing it, we really came to like [it] and I wanted to motivate ourselves to complete the game as quickly as possible.”

So what can gamers expect from the project? Most press members who went hands-on with the title at the pre-E3 event walked away with a mix of excitement and trepidation. Understandably, the demoed visuals were rough but it was the actual gameplay that appeared to be giving industry veterans pause. Growing out of experimentation, as Miyamoto put it, Star Fox on the Wii U is controlled by a (potentially overwhelming) mix of tilt and analog thumbstick mechanics as well as game-pad and TV screen synergy. To be specific, tilt moves McCloud’s vehicle and the analog stick adjusts the camera and aiming reticule – paired with dual-screen gameplay where the TV screen projects a third-person behind-the-ship view and the game pad screen posts a first-person image from inside the cockpit.

Star Fox 64 3D Star Fox Team

All four mechanics work in harmony to provide an immersive aerial combat simulation – one that Miyamoto promises is far more intuitive than it mind sound on paper. Still, in a time when motion controls are taking a backseat to more traditional control schemes (especially now that Microsoft has sidelined Kinect), it’s curious to see Nintendo placing such a heavy emphasis on peripheral-centric gameplay – not to mention in a franchise that did just fine with six buttons and a few triggers during the Nintendo 64 days. For now, we’ll just have to take Miyamoto’s word that the controls become more intuitive (and ultimately rewarding) as players spend significant time with the game.

Nevertheless, while the game designer has made certain aspects of the franchise more complicated, he’s streamlined other elements. Instead of separate vehicles, McCloud’s Arwing spaceship now transforms into the Landmaster tank form – allowing for diversified combat experiences within a single environment. In addition, the title will feature a Helicopter-like vehicle – where two players work together, one flying the helicopter, the other controlling a retractable  robot arm/cannon.

Star Fox 64 3D Gameplay

As for when gamers will get to play Star Fox in the comfort of their own homes, Miyamoto’s claim of “quickly as possible” means he’s hoping to have the title ready for customers by the end of 2015. Though, as with any in-development project, it’s possible the project might need to be pushed back. After all, with over a decade since the last full-fledged Star Fox game, shouldn’t fans be willing to give Miyamoto the time he needs to deliver a worthwhile follow-up?


Game Rant E3 2014 Live Coverage


Star Fox is hoping to release exclusively on Wii U by the end of 2015.

Follow me on Twitter @ benkendrick.

Source: Polygon

TAGS: E3 2014, Nintendo, Star Fox, Wii U

  • Josh Calkins

    “Over a decade since the last full fledged Starfox game”? I may be mistaken, but there was really only ever 1, right? The original came out around 1997 maybe. It established the formula and became a classic. Then in the GameCube era there was star fox adventures, a third person character controlling mascot tie in. It had a slight smattering of original style flight combat which was super perfunctory, with under a minute of gameplay each I believe. It really was a total spinoff. Since then there was the 3DS rerelease of the original. Seems like there was only one classic game, and it was about sixteen years ago.

    • Daniel Carlson

      Star fox ’93, Star fox 64 ’97, Star fox adventures 2002, Star fox assault ’05, star fox command ’06. but youre right, star fox adventures was a bad spin off and the series has not changed at all since the very first one. And it sounds like theyre making a simple flight combat game needlessly complex by adding the motion controls. I wonder if it’s still on-rails like the previous installments. I feel like that type of game is quite dated

      • Josh Calkins

        Good factoids, DC! Thanks. As for motion controls, it seems likely that they will balance the game to be played multiple ways. Mario Kart can be more fun with the plastic wheel, but probably not as precise by a long shot. I am open to any wacky nonsense, even Kinect in the case of xbox, but it has to be optional and supplemental, not intrinsic to the experience. An exception might be Zelda SS, with its motion controls. If motion controls are well done and optional, then they may win us over, and be a pleasant surprise.

        I forgot there was a SNES Starfox, with that FX chip to handle all the mind blowing math that those polygons required… The 64 game also is associated with new tech, as it was bundled with the rumble pack. (You probably knew that too.).

        • Daniel Carlson

          I agree that these motion controls can be fun. I loved playing mario kart with the wheel but eventually the novelty of it all wore off. I found rainbow road a lot less frustrating with the added help of a joystick. Zelda SS was a great game the only thing i disliked about the controls was if you ever went back to an area and encountered weaker monsters they never actually felt weaker. Sure, they died in less hits with the upgraded sword but a block still counts and does no damage. Every fight became time consuming. Sometimes, and especially if they’re something i’ve fought before, i’d like to just plow through them and not worry the EXACT angle my wii mote swung. If they are optional i am more than for this game but i don’t like to be forced

          • Joe

            The Zelda comment is the reason I’m SOOOO looking forward to Hyrule Warriors. Want to get my revenge by slaughtering hordes of those enemies in one power attack.