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A review of Starfox Adventures: Dinosaur Planet
by mitxela

We haven't had an article in a long time. Then again, that's because nothing much has happened to me of any interest to the public in a long time. Therefore, I choose to review a game that was released quite a while back and that I haven't played in ages. Yay!

Dinosaur Planet is one of those games no one knows much about. There's a bit of hype to it, but then, most people don't buy it. Just because it's the name of a shooting game, with the game play of a Zelda game, no one really has much interest in it. I admit - most of the game play is too similar to Zelda for it to be given full credit, but still, I believe this is a wonderful game.

The action follows Fox and his cronies in desperate financial need and in their willingness they head to the named planet, attempting to restore the havoc caused by one General Scales to normality. We soon discover the magical powers that power the energy of the planet and such, how the Krazoa spirits keep some spiritual stones in place or something. That may have been the downfall here - unlike a first play of Ocarina of Time, the story hardly stuck. By the end of the game, most things seem to fall in to place, but it's nothing special.

The graphics are very nice. You never catch polygons or glitchy landscape - it's all perfectly in place. The collisions might be slightly off in places, but visually, this game is stunning. When I first found it, I believed that finally, games had reached a peak, where graphics could not be improved. Because when watching, I truly think they succeeded in expressing all the love for the landscape and areas they had. Who cares if other games have had levels in both snowy areas, and fiery areas? This game doesn't care. There is a level of every style you could think of - be it icy waterfalls, molten caves, moonlike craters, foresty marsh, crumbling temples, desert beaches or dungeon-like castles. The water effects are brilliant - if a little too clear - they splash and spill, bubble and flow, reverb under your steps. It's not too heavy, like Baldur's Gate (where it always seemed like liquid metal), and yet it's not too light or over responsive. They made a wise decision not letting you dive.

What's nice is the attention to detail. If you use Action Replay to give you moon jumps (i.e. flying) and land on out-of-bounds ground, you'll be surprised to find that it's all solid. You can walk and climb on the decorational statues or landscapes in the distance. I was very impressed, if not so on Rayman III.

The music, forgive me Koji Kondo, is brilliant. I must admit - the tunes here are perfect. Not only do they fit the area so well, they are more tuneful than most games put together. Only Zelda themes can beat it. Go to VGMusic, and listen to them (gamecube section, 'specially Shackled Snowhorn: Night and Thorntail Well). Most of my compositions are based on them. The sound effects aren't brilliant, but they fit well enough.

The game play is interesting. The fighting is a bit too flowing; it doesn't feel like the bad guy is genuinely trying to kill you. If you manage to get lots to follow you, they'll not all attack at once, but wait their turn to give you more of a chance, which reduces some of the fun, in a way. What's more, the combos feel like once you've hit the button, you know exactly what's gonna happen, and you know the bad guy will never react differently. So, the close-combat could have been better.

The other part of the game play is the puzzles. Pushing blocks is quite an appearance - which, of course, is completely unoriginal. But they've used it widely and not overused it, along with the other elements. In most cases you can think of where the idea came from, but together, the game works very well. There's also the added parts where you need to use Tricky, the assumingly brain damaged young fire-breathing triceratops addicted to mushrooms and saving the planet. Most of those puzzles are done well, and so are all the puzzles for the upgraded weapons, and such. All in all, there is a very, very wide range of puzzles and game play, most of which I didn't mention.

The highlight of Starfox Adventures: Dinosaur Planet is that it really fails to bore you. Even if half of what it offers isn't original - as has been proved many a time, that's always good. A collection of other people's ideas along with some original content usually results in a success. But this is more than that, it's that attention and care has been poured into every step of it. I don't think at any point I felt like doing something else, which is something. None of it is overused - just as you begin to get bored, there's an explosion and you're racing along on some snow-mobile after unfathomably well tamed ape-like creatures. Next, you're transporting an explosive barrel through some advanced underground facility, and then, you're trying to free an argentinosaurus from its electrocuting prison on a red moon. Seriously. Even if possibly not quite that order, the idea that the planet has fragmented into different areas with different climates certainly does keep you interested.

For what it is, this is certainly one of my favourite games on the Cube. And nothing less.

Author: mitxela
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