I’ve talked at considerable length before about how I was a Starfox kid, so I’ll be totally honest here- I bought an Arwing figure, and I got a free game with it. I’m certain I’m far from the only one, and that’s kind of a shame; news that it bombed quite spectacularly was sadly unsurprising, and I have a lot of thoughts about why.
Most obvious issue is that few people have the storage space or disposable income to support a fleet of ships plus their arsenal of weapons. I think the weapons in particular were a bridge too far; the ships alone look pretty cool and make for nice display pieces, but with the weapons attached they look a bit silly- meaning those’re destined to live in a drawer forever once the game is done with, or just not bought at all.
But lets address the Landmaster in the room- the inclusion of the Starfox team in what was a multiplatform game.
Their inclusion is- seamless, almost. There are segments of the storyline cutscenes where Fox and co are noticeably absent, although even this is handled very well, with them walking off screen for actual reasons before what I assume is the original cutscene continues. In-game though, Fox and friends banter with the other characters perfectly, interjecting in ways that don’t at all feel “ALSO STARFOX IS HERE!”- it feels organic and like it could have been a Starfox game.
And that is what I think the real kicker is- it’s not a Starfox game, even though it could have been. People on other platforms are very clearly missing out on a lot of content so why would they bother?
Flip the balance a little, have the other characters star in the game as secondary to Starfox, make it an expanded Starfox Universe, and keep it Switch-exclusive, and I think they would have had a winner.
Maybe it’s useless to theorycraft this sort of thing, but just being a game by itself doesn’t feel like enough. If it wasn’t going to wholeheartedly be a new Starfox, it needed a different hook. A cartoon series, just like the 80s and 90s, could have been the deciding factor. I know kid!Beebs would have absolutely gone nuts over a game like this- a toy spaceship that lights up and you can put your actual ship into the game and play with it there too? That’s the coolest shit. Even as an adult I really like this sort of thing, though it comes with the sad ability to recognise why few developers ever take such risks.
To speak briefly on the build quality of the Arwing itself- really flippin’ good. Solid chunk of plastic, paint and decals are perfect, and you can even switch it from regular to All-Range mode. Very impressive, worth the cost of entry alone. You can arrange the wings and weapons in any manner you like, forwards or backwards, inverted left to right, and even stack both wings on top of each other, and the game recognises your configuration and will play accordingly. Magic!
Fin or Bin:
I’ve talked a lot about the game without talking about the game. It reminds me a lot of a Bethesda RPG, but in space. Object markers over a free-roam map, a quest indicator you’re going to completely ignore because there’s a million other things to do, even some statsy min-maxing to do. I’m having fun with it, and pretty much treating it as a Starfox And Friends title. Would’ve loved to watch the cartoon series based on Atlas if it existed, but I’ll settle for Finishing the game.