Team Star Fox

The hype around Starlink: Battle for Atlas has put me in a bit of a Star Fox mood. I’m somewhat surprised to find on checking now that I’ve apparently only mentioned the Star Fox franchise on here twice before–both times in passing. Not that there have been very many relevant opportunities as of late!

I’m pretty sure that Starlink will be my next game purchase. It looks fun, and what little I’ve read has consistently supported the idea that the Star Fox team is well-used in the Switch version.

I don’t actually remember how I first encountered Star Fox. I never owned any of the games as a child, though I suppose that Fox McCloud did feature heavily in even the original Super Smash Bros. But I do remember somehow playing it, then rediscovering it in my adolescence at the game room of my church’s youth group after services. I bonded with a socially awkward kid there who loved the game; we’d often engage in virtual dogfights together. Since college, I’ve slowly collected many of the Star Fox titles, though not all. I’ve never played the original SNES game. I’m not a hardcore fan. But there’s a lot of nostalgia and genuine affection invested in the franchise for me. When people my age think back fondly on the N64 era, they might focus especially on Ocarina of Time, but my special nostalgic title is Star Fox 64 (though it’s in constant competition in my thoughts alongside Super Smash Bros., Super Mario 64Star Wars Episode I RacerDiddy Kong Racing, and the multiplayer in Conker’s Bad Fur Day).

It’s not just nostalgia, though! It’s a fun game franchise! The arcade-style dog-fighting was the perfect Nintendo take on aerial combat. The characters popped with personality, and the presence of Fox, Slippy, Peppy, and Falco in each new release is almost as comforting as the familiar gameplay. Plus, the plot and setting and style pull hard from Star Wars and Top Gun and a whole slew of animated films featuring anthropomorphized animals. It’s weird and cool–and I can’t help but notice similarities in basic premise and style between Star Fox and Beyond Good & Evil, another game I love, even though the actual gameplay is markedly different. Okay, actually, it may not be all that different when Star Fox Adventures, the Zelda-like action-adventure title, is taken into account. No, that’s not a game that I want swept under the rug; I loved it, inserting the characters into a radically different situation, playing with the universe a little more, taking Fox away from his greatest strength (and adding dinosaurs).

I’d like to see future games do more things like Star Fox Adventures. Not Adventures exactly; a Star Fox game is space-combat-focused and should remain as such. But slight iterations on previous gameplay, rehashing the same plot over and over, are getting stale. In contrast, I liked the experimentation with additional gameplay features in Assault, and the fact that it wasn’t just another copy of the original game’s plot, though it was probably still a little too familiar and safe. It still focused on arcade-style starfighter combat, but it at least wasn’t just the same game with prettier graphics yet again.

At this point, I’d like a new story, but I wouldn’t mind a recap of the original game if it gave more depth to that tired narrative, especially if that relatively short game experience represented only the first act of a new effort. Star Fox 2 seemed especially innovative in form and progression of story, and with its release finally happening on the SNES Classic, I wonder if we could see that developed into a current-gen remake. Meanwhile, the franchise obviously affords the opportunity to deepen characters and lore, even if the games rarely take advantage of this; the opening cinematic to the critically panned and fan-derided (and personally ignored) Star Fox Zero suggested those possibilities, and in fan project circles, there’s the hilarious and endearing A Fox in Space.

In fact, Star Fox has an unfulfilled promise of depth that causes a rare itch in me, the urge to actually write fan fiction. I rarely write fiction at all anymore, and fan fic is really low down on the priority list for me, but if I were to write it, my attentions would be divided between Star FoxStar WarsThe Elder Scrolls, and Jurassic Park. All of those franchises offer areas of lore, or off-screen events, or underused characters, or just blank spaces for wild extrapolations that I’d like to see explored more.

But the bottom line is that I’d just really like to see more Star Fox.

BG&E 2 is finally coming for real this time, probably

Pretty cool to see the new trailer for Beyond Good and Evil 2 yesterday. Timing’s a little bit funny for me, since I was considering a replay of the game (in Spanish) as recently as last week. Sometimes you pick up on something subconsciously, see enough rumors and start regaining interest just in time for a big new announcement. Sometimes it works that way. Pretty sure it was just coincidence in this case.

Also funny: I saw that designer Michel Ancel told fans not to expect a reveal of the game at E3, but that we could expect something later this year. Okay, so that was rather misleading. Then again, I won’t complain about seeing more about this game sooner!

The trailer’s cool and all, but it’s just a mood-setting cinematic and says little about plot or setting and definitely nothing about gameplay or appearance of the actual project. A cinematic Beyond Good and Evil 2 trailer is certainly not a guarantee of a near-future final project. (Speaking of, what was the deal with this? It took me long enough to find that old trailer, to the point that I almost believed I’d made it all up. Was that ever a real trailer? Was it a hoax? An abandoned version of the game? A PR announcement made way too soon and with too little developer input?)

The one thing that does seem to be explained by the new reveal is that this game is a prequel that will probably not have any recurring characters. I’ll trust the developers to create more memorable characters for me to fall in love with, but I do have to admit that I’m disappointed that we won’t apparently see more of Pey’j and Jade, unless they already have a Part Three in mind.

Anyway. I’m still putting off actually undertaking a Spanish-language game play-through, and in the meantime recommendations are still greatly appreciated (actually, recommendations are always appreciated). Before I tackle a game, I’m going to start reading Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal; a translation of a children’s book I’m already familiar with should be a good enough starting point.

Gaming in another language?

Basically just for fun, I’ve been learning Spanish. I took classes in college, but I forgot a lot of that. At this point, I think I’ve learned more than I had learned by the end of my college education, though I know my speaking’s atrocious.

I thought it would be fun to attempt to play a game in Spanish. It’s a back-burner idea right now, as I don’t have a lot of time for another video game in addition to Arena (yeah, Alien: Isolation predictably sputtered out for me), but it’s something I’m considering. Right now I’ve been tossing around either Beyond Good & Evil or Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. I’ve played them both at least a few times, I’m familiar with the stories, and they both should allow time to stop and look up words or take an extra moment to translate dialogue if I get stuck on something.

However, I’d love to hear any suggestions. There are just a few things I’m looking for.

I’d like it to be a game where I can have both Spanish audio and Spanish subtitles. I’d prefer a game that requires prompts to progress dialogue and where there is no metagame urgency to the dialogue (so I can take my time reading it if I don’t understand what I’m hearing). The games I’ve suggested are games that I have familiarity with, so I’m hoping it will be easier to pick up on things, but it doesn’t have to be a game I’ve played before. The game could have Spanish dubbing, or it could be a game natively recorded in Spanish.

Again, I’d really appreciate any suggestions!