Rejoice, StarFox fans, as your favorite anthropomorphic pilot fox, Fox McCloud, once again returns to fly across the skies on missions and adventure on the Nintendo DS.
The game has not yet been released in Europe, but consider this as a special preview-review for those of you considering to take to the air!
Starting off with a familiar storyline to faithful fans of the games, gamers who are new to the StarFox series can also jump the bandwagon to get a sense of how the games start off: the Lylat system is in danger, and the elite pilot squadron of StarFox goes to the rescue. (But for right now, it just starts off with Fox McCloud.) Don't take my word for it though, the story does have a few surprises about the main characters in the beginning for those who are true followers of the StarFox series.
StarFox Command is also rather reminiscent to the style of the original StarFox for Super NES, where the player just.. flies. But with style, of course. There's also a twist – instead of using the traditional directional pad, the player uses solely the stylus to control movement, while the rest of the buttons, from the d-pad, A, B, X, Y, L, and R all become massive destruction tools, in other words, everything is the laser and to shoot things with. Interestingly enough, this makes it a true convenience to play for anyone who is either left or right handed.
But what about the other moves the aircraft can do? Those are controlled by the stylus, too. Players can accelerate the Arwing by double tapping the upper half of the screen, or brake/deccelerate by tapping the bottom half of the screen twice. U-turns and somersaults can be done by tapping icons representing these actions. And what of the ever-famous barrel roll, as Peppy used to urge you to do? Drawing the well loved shape of a circle with grace and style will enable you to perform long lasting barrel rolls to your delight, sending your Arwing spinning in a frenzy.
Yet one aspect that really makes StarFox Command stand out even more is the new system that lets gamers use the stylus to draw a path over the map of the current planet they are doing a mission on to encounter enemies. After their pilot character encounters enemies on the map, they engage into a timed free for all battle in an enclosed arena, in which most of the time, the objective is to collect enemy cores by destroying certain enemies that carry them within the time limit. Depending on what is done within the time limit, seconds may be added by performing certain actions or destroying enemies.
This isn't all, of course. There's more to just shooting enemies down and gathering enemy cores. A storyline has also been developed within the game, where gamers can change their course of path by visiting other planets of the Lylat system, depending on the conditions that are met and if the right actions are done. So even if you beat the game once, replay it again! You just might come across a few secrets or something you missed, or even get a new ending..
Another option which I have not tried yet (and actually look forward to trying out this evening as I write this), is the WiFi multiplayer ability. Pitting my stylus-piloting-Arwing-flying skills with players all over the nation, and soon, globe, is something that I am most definitely looking forward to.
Overall, StarFox Command truly is a most beautiful game, with wonderfully established ties to its predecessors. The backgrounds, maps, and music seem familiar and tied to much of what StarFox 64 had. Even though the gameplay is a little strange and maybe even difficult to grasp at first from using a stylus entirely for movement, gamers can catch on rather quickly, and experience the joy of flying as well as playing with (well, technically against) others in a game that, literally, shoots for the stars.