The build of Star Fox Adventures shown back at E3 was a blurry, often-choppy version that didn't exactly stand up to the rest of the games on display at the convention. Here at Space World, however, Nintendo is showing off a much-improved revision of the game that eliminates those blurry, choppy moments, giving us a much clearer picture of what Rare is doing with it.
In many ways, the game controls like Ocarina of Time, complete with lock-on targeting to single out your foes. But instead of using a subscreen to select auxiliary items for the top and right buttons on the face of the controller, pressing the C stick brings up a small-but-slick rotating menu, which lets you assign items and special attacks to the other buttons. The only special attack we saw was a fireball that shoots out of Fox's staff. When you use the fireball attack, the camera zooms up close behind Fox's back, and a small targeting cursor appears. We played a level that we recognized from the old Nintendo 64 version of the game, featuring tight corridors and a T-rex that chased you around. Now, the T-rex and the surrounding level are GameCube-quality, featuring some excellent lighting and really nice dinosaur animation. Additionally, the game has some very nice effects, such as blurred visuals when your character is underwater.
One of the Arwing flight levels was also playable at the press conference, and it was so smooth that we found ourselves wishing that Nintendo would release a more conventional Star Fox game on the GameCube. The level, which was basically a large asteroid field buzzing with enemies, played just like you'd expect a Star Fox game to play. The L and R triggers are used to tilt your Arwing back and forth, and double-tapping one of the triggers lets you quickly spin to avoid enemy fire. The large A button fires your primary weapon, the smaller B button fires rockets, and the other two face buttons are used to speed up and slow down. Graphically, the Arwing level looks pretty amazing, using impressive lighting effects and nice-looking explosions throughout.
The game's levels are selectable via a large level-select map that shows different portions of a planet and gives you a basic rundown on the level's objectives. Selecting a mission brings up a more detailed description with one of Fox's allies telling you about the mission in English.
The graphical improvements in this build of Star Fox definitely bring the game up to par with the other first-party games we've seen for the GameCube, and the gameplay seems to be solidifying, as well. Star Fox Adventures: Dinosaur Planet is currently scheduled to be released in the US early next year.