Star Fox: Assault
|Star Fox: Assault|
North American box art
|Genre(s)||Rail shooter, third-person shooter|
Star Fox: Assault (スターフォックス アサルト Sutā Fokkusu Asaruto?) is a 3D scrolling shooter and third-person shooter video game developed by Namco and published by Nintendo for the GameCube. It is the fourth released title in the Star Fox series. It was released on February 15, 2005 in North America, on February 24, 2005 in Japan, on April 29, 2005 in Europe, and on June 16, 2005 in Australia. The game was available at Blockbuster and Hollywood Video stores starting February 1, 2005 as a promotion.
Assault returns the Star Fox series to its space-combat roots after the previous game in the series, Star Fox Adventures, which took a more action-RPG approach. Assault takes place one year after the events of Adventures and introduces a new enemy named the Aparoids, a race bent on the assimilation of the Lylat system into their collective mind. Assault contains orchestral arrangements of music from Star Fox 64.
The gameplay of Star Fox: Assault is divided into three distinctive types. The player can either fly an Arwing (a spacecraft), drive a Landmaster (a tank), or perform certain tasks on foot. All three play types are available for multiplayer mode although some levels on multi-player mode are specific. For example, Level 1, "Fortuna: A New Enemy" is specifically Arwing. The game follows a completely linear track, unlike its predecessors Star Fox and Star Fox 64.
Arwing missions in Assault are similar to those of the first two games in the series. The player flies in space or close to the ground and shoots down enemies. Some levels are on rails, while others allow full freedom of movement in a relatively small area. As in previous games, the wing mates of Fox, the main character, occasionally call for help when chased by enemies. Additionally, in some levels, the player has the ability to hop in and out of the Arwing at will.
While in the Landmaster, the player has complete freedom to move about the level. They are free to shoot or run over enemies as well as assist their wingmates when necessary. Playing on foot essentially turns the game into a 3D third-person run 'n' gun shooter; the player starts armed with the blaster, a type of gun, and can acquire a variety of other weapons, including but not limited to a machine gun and a homing launcher. In two shooting gallery levels, the player rides on the wing of an Arwing or a Wolfen fighter, shooting enemies on the ground and in the air with a plasma cannon.
As an added bonus, by collecting all silver medals throughout the game, the player can unlock the NES port of the scrolling shooter arcade game, Xevious. The Japanese version of Star Fox: Assault also has the Famicom games Battle City and Star Luster as unlockables.
The game features multiplayer with support for up to four players simultaneously. This mode starts off very limited, with only a few playable characters, weapons, items, and maps; but many more can be unlocked by either playing a certain number of multiplayer games or achieving certain accomplishments in-game. Players are able to fight on foot or in a vehicle (a Landmaster, Arwing, or Wolfen), though some stages prohibit certain modes of travel. Playable characters include the entire Star Fox team (including Peppy) as well as Wolf O'Donnell.
Multiplayer mode offers several stages for playing, including stages from the single-player mode, "Simple Maps" (which look like they're made of building blocks), and other new maps. There are also several modes for play available, which can force a certain weapon (sniper, rocket launcher, etc.) or change the style of play (capture the crown, etc.). Also, there are a few customizable options, such as turning radar on/off, turning special weapons on/off, and turning Demon Launches on/off.
Multiplayer has a number of items and weapons, most of which are taken directly from the single-player mode. There are also special unlockable weapons such as the Demon Sniper and Demon Launcher (dubbed "The Loser Gun" by the gaming community, because one gets it when one is losing) which have the ability to kill in one hit. In addition, there are a couple special items such as jet packs (which give a player on foot a hovering ability similar to Landmaster's hover), and the "Stealth Suit", which can make the player invisible for a long period of time.
Weapons and items
Assault features a number of projectile weapons, such as the blaster, machine gun, Homing Launcher, sniper rifle and the hand grenade Also used is the Plasma Cannon, a rapid-fire gun with unlimited ammunition. This, however, is only used at two specific points in Assault. The game also has a number of special items, including personal barriers which deflect enemy attacks. The usual rings seen in other Star Fox games that restore a vehicle's shield are also present.
Setting and characters
Star Fox: Assault takes place in the Lylat system, a location featured in the previous games. All of the planets visited in the game, save for the Aparoid Homeworld, have been seen in previous titles. Venom, prominently featured in past installments, is not seen.
Assault features the core Star Fox team, with Falco Lombardi having returned, and Krystal taking over Peppy Hare's former spot. Peppy has retired from flying, and now resides in the Great Fox with ROB overseeing the missions. Star Wolf, absent from Adventures, returns as well. Pigma Dengar was kicked out, and Andrew Oikonny left. In their place is newcomer Panther Caroso. Slippy Toad's father, Beltino Toad, also appears for the first time.
The game marks the introduction of the Aparoids - insect-like creatures that are part-machine, part-life form. The Aparoids are capable of infecting other life forms and machines and transforming them into Aparoids. The game calls this infection Aparoidedation. Large Aparoids contain a core memory that contains instructions as well as information on contacting the Aparoid Homeworld.
The Aparoids are led by the Aparoid Queen (Aparoid Mother in the Japanese version) on their home planet. The Queen believes that all things in the universe exist for the Aparoids to infect, and that becoming an Aparoid is not infection, but rather a form of evolution. All Aparoids are networked together in a hive mind, meaning destroying the Queen would lead to the destruction of the entire species.
Star Fox: Assault takes place one year after the events of Star Fox Adventures. Andrew Oikonny, Andross's nephew, assumes leadership over his dead uncle's army and starts a rebellion against the Cornerian Army. The Star Fox team, consisting of Fox McCloud, Falco Lombardi, Krystal, Slippy Toad, and Peppy Hare (who has retired from piloting, and instead stays in the Great Fox with ROB to guide the Star Fox team through missions), quickly fly in to assist them. Once they fight their way through his forces, they follow Andrew to Fortuna, where he attacks them by transforming his ship into an imitation of Andross's final form, but much weaker. Before his battle with the team is through, however, his ship is destroyed by a strange, insect-like creature, which then attacks the team. Fox destroys it, and takes a partial "core memory" from it for research just before a large number of insects identical to the one just destroyed arrive.
Once back at the Great Fox, Fox and the team learn from Beltino Toad that the attacking creature was an Aparoid, one of a powerful species capable of destroying entire Cornerian fleets with little effort. The team also learns that a distress signal is being sent from Katina and they suspect Aparoid involvement. Fox investigates the planet on foot, only to be trapped inside the base with the Aparoids. With the help of a Landmaster, he is able to fight them off. After defeating a large Aparoid boss, resembling a giant UFO with four legs, he recovers another Core Memory. This is quickly stolen by Pigma Dengar, who sent out the distress signal himself and believed he can become rich from the Core Memory's sale.
The Star Fox team investigates the Sargasso Space Zone, a popular hideout for bandits, which is overseen by the Star Wolf leader, Wolf O'Donnell. However, they discover Pigma is not there, and the Star Wolf team, with Panther Caroso as their newest member, soon arrives. Wolf, Leon, and Panther engage the Star Fox team in a dogfight, but are defeated. Wolf then told Fox that Pigma was no longer part of Star Wolf. Panther, however, attempting to flirt with Krystal, tells her that Pigma is on the planet Fichina. When Fox and crew quickly rush over to the planet, they discover that Pigma had deactivated its climate control center, turning it into a snowy wasteland. After defeating an Aparoid that threatened to destroy the control center reactor, the team then follows Pigma through an asteroid belt. Once they catch up to him, they find that Pigma had been taken over by the Aparoids and had no control over his actions. He lets himself be assimilated into a large spacecraft with large tentacle-like metal arms as weapons. Fox fights and destroys Pigma, and retrieves the core memory, which has the information that will lead the team to the Aparoid Homeworld.
Krystal receives a sudden distress call from Sauria - formerly known as Dinosaur Planet - which is under attack by the Aparoids. Fox and Krystal arrive on the planet and destroy the Aparoid hatchers before the dinosaurs there are wiped out, later reuniting with Prince Tricky, now a teenaged EarthWalker. Back on the Great Fox, General Pepper informs that while the Star Fox team was on Sauria, Corneria City was hit with a full-scale attack by the Aparoids, leaving it and its fleet devastated. Fox, with the unexpected help of Star Wolf, who arrived to assist in defeating a common enemy, is able to take out most of the attacking Aparoids. They are soon forced to fight General Pepper, whose ship (with him inside) was taken over by the Aparoids. Fox is able to defeat him, but Peppy saves Pepper by using his Arwing to soften the crash.
After the battle, Beltino discovers that all Aparoids are vulnerable to apoptosis, so he decides to create a program to force all Aparoids to self-destruct. The Star Fox team heads for a large space station above Corneria, the Orbital Gate, which is used for warping to other planets. Before they can travel to the Aparoid homeworld, they are forced to defend the gate, again with the help of Star Wolf, from a series of Aparoid missiles. They destroy the missiles just as Beltino finishes creating the self-destruct program.
Once the Star Fox team reaches the Aparoid Homeworld, they realize that the entry to the core of the planet is blocked by a base and a large shield. Though the Star Fox Team is able to infiltrate the base, destroying a large amount of Aparoids as well as the first shield, a second, stronger shield quickly forms. However, the Great Fox - damaged by the Aparoids - appears and destroys the base. Peppy and ROB ram the Great Fox into the shield and open it long enough for the team to get through before it explodes. However, in the explosion, the Great Fox is lost, seemingly with Peppy and ROB aboard.
The team enters the core of the planet, with Star Wolf showing up again to help them. Right before they reach the Queen, they are attacked by an extremely durable swarm of Aparoids. Wolf, Leon, and Panther decide to distract them to allow Fox to proceed onwards to the Queen's lair. The team confronts the Aparoid Queen, who uses the voices of Peppy, General Pepper, Pigma, and Fox's father in an attempt to deceive them into joining her. The team ignores her, and fight her until Fox is able to shoot the program inside of her. However, the queen is able to repress it, and attempts to escape. The team follows the queen deeper into the planet and Fox is able to ultimately defeat her. The program launches, and the Aparoids go into self activated meltdown and are killed. The team escapes from the core of the homeworld, and soon discover that Peppy and ROB are still alive in an escape pod. Fox mentions the possibility of Star Wolf's escape and General Pepper being alive as well. The game ends with Fox thanking the team for their efforts.
Star Fox: Assault was first announced on May 8, 2002. It had a tentative release date of April 2003 for Japan, and would be developed by the same employees who worked on Ace Combat 2 at Namco. New information about the game didn't show up until a short video montage at E3 2003 in Los Angeles, which showcased the game's first-person perspective. According to Electronic Gaming Monthly, the video was booed by viewers, and EGM itself said the video was "remarkably unimpressive".
During development, the game had the working title: Star Fox Armada, but eventually came to be known as Star Fox: Assault. In 2003, the game was intended to be multi player oriented, and the ground missions of the game had a control scheme similar to the on-foot multi player mode in Star Fox 64.
At E3 2004, EGM, the same magazine that wrote poorly about it a year before, wrote a follow-up that said the game looked "much better than...a year ago". Assault was scheduled for a November 2004 release, but was delayed to the beginning of 2005.
Assault uses middleware provided by the Japanese company CRI Middleware as a game engine. Yoshie Arakawa and Yoshinori Kanemoto provided Assault with a musical score and sound effects with the music performed by the Tokyo New City Orchestra. Most of the score pieces use themes from Star Fox 64, composed by Koji Kondo and Hajime Wakai.
Star Fox: Assault was met with mixed to positive reception, and currently has an average score of 71% on Game Rankings and 67/100 on Metacritic. Some complaints were aimed at the control scheme during on-foot portions; IGN worded the complaint as "ground missions suffering from sloppy control". GameSpot noted that the multiplayer portion of the game has little lasting value, an annoyance that IGN felt as well. IGN went on to say the design was too simplistic. However, IGN noted that being able to switch between the Arwing and Landmaster at will was a "welcome addition". In Electronic Gaming Monthly, two of the reviewers gave it an 8 out of 10. Play Magazine gave the game 8 out of 10. Thunderbolt gave it 9 out of 10. Kevin Gifford said that "the game is aimed less at the Mario club and more toward the hardcore crowd". EGM also noted that Assault had an epic feel, helped by a great soundtrack.
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