Saturday, May 12, 2012

Retro Studios Wii U title speculation/wishlist

There have been some rumors circulating the web recently regarding the possibility of a new Star Fox game for Nintendo's upcoming console, the Wii U. Star Fox has became a big hit with Nintendo fans due in large part to the N64 version, which allowed players to take different paths through the Lylat system in order to reach the final boss fight against Andross. What I personally find to be the most compelling aspect about this rumor is that it is often associated with Retro Studios being the developer of said game.

Looking back on Star Fox 64, it really does not present that long of a gaming experience, but still plays brilliantly with its arcade-style gameplay and cool level designs. I have always found it a bit odd how many people have demanded a new Star Fox title for years on end, following the success of Star Fox 64. Many people act as if the three new installments (Adventures, Assault, and Command) since never occurred. I've never been much a fan of Star Fox Adventures. It felt too far removed from the traditional Star Fox gameplay, and took forever for the story to get going. The concept of a planet populated by dinosaurs was entertaining, but it felt off for one of Fox McCloud's adventures, especially considering the fact that he faced it without the aid of Falco, Slippy, or Peppy.

Flash-forward to 2005, and Nintendo released a Star Fox game that was in keeping with its SNES and N64 predecessors. Star Fox Assault proved a more linear approach to the ship-based combat, but offered variety in gameplay via on-foot missions and use of the Landmaster tank. To this day, I still hold Star Fox Assault to be one of the most underappreciated titles on the Gamecube. Certainly it's not perfect; the experience is rather short, and the difficulty is lacking in parts. But it looks gorgeous for the hardware, has a great soundtrack, and is a heck of a lot of fun to play.

If indeed Retro Studios is developing a new game in the series, I'm sure it will turn out splendid. Retro Studios has earned a lot of respect from me, primarily for their resurrection of the Metroid series. But they have also done a great job with Donkey Kong Country Returns. They know how to keep a seemingly-perfect balance of new content with the familiar roots that fans have come to know and love with these games. I would love to see a Wii U Star Fox that blends the decision-based outcomes of Star Fox 64 with the varied mission parameters from Star Fox Assault.

Prior to the rumors spreading, however, Retro Studios had already confirmed that they were working on a game that they said "everyone wanted them to make". It's true that a new console Star Fox game has been in relatively high demand for a while, and the Wii was never host to an entry in the series. But the re-release of Star Fox 64 on the 3DS still seems to be performing pretty well in sales. One title that could be in keeping with Retro Studios' trend of breathing new life into older games (SNES-era games, to be more precise) would be Earthbound. For those not so familiar with Earthbound, it is the RPG from which Smash Bros. contender Ness originated from. While Earthbound did not perform outstandingly in sales during its initial release, its quirky style and gameplay has earned it a cult following since. It is the number-one requested game for the Wii's virtual console, and since Nintendo has not yet appeased the masses with such a release, a new Earthbound could be their answer.

Frankly, I think it would be a great option. Not only would it please gamer who have been asking for a new Earthbound for years, but it could prove a prime opportunity to utilize the Wii U tablet controller. In the same vein as the Zelda tech demo displayed, a Wii U Earthbound could grant players use of the tablet to plan their attacks and keep an eye on their stats while the action takes place on the television screen. It could also be used to make the experience more immersive if, say, something as bizarre and haunting as Gigyas came onto the scene (I'm thinking along the lines of how Eternal Darkness would pretend to shut of the television and so forth). Both Star Fox and Earthbound would be great, especially if either one is being developed by Retro Studios. And who knows - maybe the title they are working on is something completely different. Hopefully we will get some confirmation at this year's E3.

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