Letters from Somnolescent December 5, 2021

You Don’t Have Enough Scarabs!

by borb

It’s been nearly a full year since the last time I posted to this blog! Did you miss me? I’m not too sure why I disappeared for as long as I did. I suppose I just didn’t feel I had the right idea for a fun post in a long time or perhaps just didn’t feel up to it? Who knows. Regardless, I’ve got a little game called Starfox Adventures I wanna talk about!

Hello again

So, to start us off, I’ve had a Nintendo Wii for the past 10 years, but prior to 2021, it hadn’t been hooked up for many of those years. Earlier this year, I moved rooms and one of the many things I wanted to do was buy a new Gamecube controller, hook the Wii back up and play some Wii and Gamecube games I hadn’t played since I was in middle school. I had a few games in mind, but for some reason Starfox Adventures stuck out to me. It’s a game full of dinosaurs and one I never got very far in all that time ago.

Now, Starfox Adventures is a Gamecube game, released all the way back in 2003 to mixed, dare I even say, negative reception. I will get to why it was taken poorly, but first I want to talk about the absolute MESS the development for the game was, because it was never meant to be a Starfox game to begin with!

Lets go a couple years back before its release, somewhere around the turn of the century. The company behind the development of the game, Rare(you’ll recognize them for games like GoldenEye 007, Banjo-Kazooie, and Conker’s Bad Fur Day) was working on a new title that was going to be a standalone title called Dinosaur Planet for the Nintendo 64.

I won’t lie, I wish we got this instead.

Promotional material, footage and even entire music tracks from the game had been made public and Dinosaur Planet itself was in a nearly completed state. However, somewhere nearing that point in the game’s development, the publishers of the game, Nintendo, and more specifically Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of Starfox and a whole bunch of other projects(seriously, he needs no introduction) came to Rare with a bright idea. Why not just make it a Starfox game? I mean the characters look like Starfox characters.

Just like that, the game Rare was almost finished making was set to transition from being a Zelda-esc game about dinosaurs and magic into being a Starfox game. Not only was this game being changed late in development, but it was also decided during said change that it would be updated for release on the Gamecube.

Somewhere along the way, ideas and characters were obviously lost in the fray. Krystal and Sabre were the two playable main characters of Dinosaur Planet, with their sidekicks being a CloudRunner(Pterodactyl) named Princess Kyte and an EarthWalker(Styracosaurus) named Prince Tricky respectively. By the time Dinosaur Planet became Starfox Adventures, only half of these characters were still in the game.

Krystal stuck around as a playable character for only the start of the game before being encased in a crystal for the rest of it(haaaaa), and Prince Tricky would be mostly unchanged. Princess Kyte and Sabre both fizzled out of the plot entirely. There’s hints of Kytes past importance that lingers in the finished game, but no mention of her outside of that, and Sabre got scrapped completely and replaced with Fox McCloud, who would became our new protagonist for the entire game.

Earlier this year, after 20 years of everyone being convinced they’d never get to see what could’ve been, a development build of Dinosaur Planet was found on a disc and made publicly accessible(you can go play it right now if you wanted to!). It shows exactly how far along it was in development once it started becoming Starfox. Pretty neat stuff.

This cover makes it look like you actually fight along these guys in the game. You don’t.

Now that the backstory is done, lets talk about why this game got ragged on so hard. I should start on the obvious fact that, if you’ve been keeping up, THIS ISN’T A STARFOX GAME! A bit dramatic, but it’s true! This was and still is a game more on the Legend of Zelda side of things and if you know anything about the Starfox series, it’s anything but Zelda. You play as a fox in space shooting shit with cannons! There’s flying tanks, robots and ENERGY FIRING PISTOLS.

Now after telling you this, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that an aggressive amount of Starfox fans felt betrayed with Starfox Adventures. The fast-paced shooting gameplay that Starfox was known for is only present in small doses in-between hours of puzzle solving, straight forward combat(usually, but that’s just me) and doing errands for dinosaurs(excluding the mammoths and the pterodactyls. don’t test me I will eat your hands if you call those dinosaurs)

I’ve spent so much of this talking about the development of the game and its reception without talking about the actual game itself, so I’ll do that real quick. I’ve never played through a Zelda game before(I know, sue me) but it’s very Zelda even down to the little animations when you find a new item. Fox has been deprived of his blaster because he’s “There to save the planet, not blow it up” so he instead wields a magic staff Krystal drops at the start of the game that you conveniently find a few steps from your ship after landing. With it, you solve a bunch of puzzles of varying difficulty(FUCK THE BOBSLED SEGMENTS, FUCK THEM HARD)

Fox was sent to “Dinosaur Planet”, a planet with chunks falling off it due to weird stupid magical shenanigans I will not even begin trying to explain to put it back together and also to defeat the planet’s ruler, tyrant and dictator, General Scales(his words, not mine). Outside of Tricky turning out to be actually racist holy FUCK, the plot is as you’d expect; Simple to understand, unremarkable, and even a little stupid.

I imagine it would’ve been better had they not tried to put it in the Starfox universe and kept it as a standalone project, but since they didn’t, there’s a lot of confusion about exactly how technologically advanced these dinosaurs are. They eat grass, but they have entire buildings, teleportation devices(THAT THEY CAN’T EVEN USE) and a forcefield that you have to unlock to land your ship(?????). Now it could be argued that these structures were created by an ancient race called the Krazoa of which are also part of this story for reasons you literally don’t figure out until really late in the game. They’re these weird not-dino humanoid people who are only around now as spirits, but were and still are incredibly powerful, but also apparently aren’t safe if they aren’t kept in shrines? I have no idea, man. This game is a fever dream sometimes.

If you like Zelda games, sure I’d check this game out if you’re curious, though you really shouldn’t expect anything groundbreaking. If you don’t like Zelda, you’ll hate this game. If you like Starfox, you probably already know about this game and disowned it back in 2003 when it released. And lastly, if you’re borb, you got this game as a gift as a child and think it’s the biggest “okay” you’ve ever played, but that the best character is the ShopKeeper.

Is that clear? Now get out!


Tags: gaming,

About borb

Hyperactive, loud, and the shortest member of Somnolescent. Likes to draw, write, and play video games in between fits of screaming. Basically the group's resident anime and dinosaur fanatic.

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