So, back in the 90s, I didn’t really get in to any of Nintendo’s big franchise games. I tried a bit during the N64 years – I bought the Mario game and the Zelda game – but, to be perfectly honest, I used the SNES mostly to play RPGs and the N64 to play Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, and Doom 64.
Wait, I did have F-Zero for the N64, and that was hella fun, so I guess I liked one of their franchises.
Anyway, point is, I had never played any of the Star Fox games until a few years ago, and the first one I tried made me really quite vexed.
See, I was in a store that had a Gamecube demo machine set up, and the demo they had running was Star Fox Adventures. I gave it a try, and quite liked it; the main character was a cute blue fox-girl, you were flying around on a pterodactyl of some sort shooting at a big enemy ship in a manner that reminded me of the Panzer Dragoon games, and then you had a sort of puzzle solving bit where you ran around an ancient temple throwing explosive barrels at stuff and solving puzzles.
I played it for about 10 minutes, just long enough to – and this is the crucial bit – ALMOST finish the first level, and then dropped $50 on my very own copy to take home and play.
See, when you finish the first level, the blue fox-girl character gets trapped in some sort of energy prism thing, and then the REAL game starts, the one where you’re playing as Fox McCloud and his cadre of Annoying Woodland Pals, where the gameplay changes to a Zeldaesque series of fetch quests. I’ve tried playing this game several times.
I always get to a point – about an hour in – where I have to win a hoverbike race to progress, repeatedly fail, and turn off the machine in disgust.
I still think Rare owes me $50 for that one. Hey, it can be $45, I am comfortable with the idea that the first level might have been worth $5.
I still, somehow, wound up with a copy of Star Fox Assault. I think I was in a bit of a state of denial about how much I really disliked Adventures, I was in a “well, someday I’ll get back to it and finish it and then I’ll be glad to have the sequel” sort of mood.
Is it any wonder I have 300+ games in my backlog?
Anyway, I tried Adventures again recently, got to the same point, got stuck, and promptly dropped the game onto my stack of “sell these to Toys B We the next chance I get”
Then I went back to the Gamecube shelf, grabbed Assault, and dropped it on to the same stack.
Then I took it off the stack, and went looking for reviews. There were plenty, mostly filled with incoherent nerd rage about how awful of a game it was compared to the older Star Fox games and how it was too short and too easy.
I like my games short and easy, and didn’t have any fond memories of earlier games, so I saved it from the “sell this” pile for two days while I finished it.
It was pretty neat. It still had the Godawful Annoying Woodland Pals problem, but you could skip through their dialogue most of the time and the actual levels consisted of shooting everything in sight, either on foot or in an X-wing Arwing. The last level was annoying as all get out, inasmuch as you spend most of it flying your X-wing Arwing through narrow tunnels at high speed and then having to fight an Annoying Multi-Stage Boss, but I enjoyed the game as a whole.
I also played through the Beatles: Rock Band story mode, though I really can’t count that as working on my backlog; I was visiting a friend who’d purchased it and there were two guitars handy and one thing lead to another and we wound up playing every single damn song.
I can’t really complain, though, because they had a bunch of pretty good songs, including plenty of songs that I recognized but didn’t realize they’d been the artists on. My excuse for that is that they apparently switched lead vocalists a lot, and, well, I’ve never owned any of their albums so I didn’t realize that they changed their sound quite often.
My friend, by contrast, has bought every Beatles album approximately eighteen times, knows the history of the band back to front, and was able to quote album name, side, and track number for every track in the game. To his credit, he was quite patient with me during the whole process; and gave me a name for my pain as it related to certain long guitar solos that I originally blamed on some malevolent and sadistic fiend.
Turns out it was just George Harrison.
Anyway, not a bad game. 45 tracks seems a bit light for $60, but the detail put into the stages and background visuals kind of make up for that; they put a lot of effort into this one and it shows.