Star Fox Command

Nintendo generally takes pretty good care of its mascots. Mario isn't often the hero of a poorly executed adventure, and the same could be said for Samus and Link. These characters are icons in the gaming community, and they've amassed a fanbase that demands quality. So what about Fox McCloud? The first two Star Fox titles propelled this space-pilot to a pretty righteous height in Nintendo history, and then ... something happened.

The entire direction of the series was changed when Nintendo released Star Fox Adventures, and Star Fox: Assault, on the Gamecube. Fans of the original titles were mostly unimpressed with the gameplay mechanics, and it seemed as if Fox McCloud would become the one mascot that Nintendo finally let slip away into mediocrity. It seemed that way; that is until Star Fox: Command was announced for the Nintendo DS.

With a harkening back to the series' roots, Star Fox: Command returns Fox McCloud to his Arwing, and promises that his furry little feet won't be touching land (or dinosaurs) anywhere in this release. Combat takes place entirely in the air and off the rails that the series previously made use of. While exploring separate free-roaming arenas in the Star Fox universe, players will be given the chance to fight off enemies using the DS' touch-screen control.

Piloting your Arwing requires you to use the stylus to perform movement and special aerial techniques including an air brake, boost, barrel roll, or loop-de-loop. Players can also drop bombs by dragging an icon to a specific location on their touch screen. While accepting the stylus commands for Arwing movement, the touch screen also serves as a radar that shows off the locations of enemies on the battlefield. Attacking those enemies is as simple as pressing any button, and holding a button in will activate a more powerful lock-on attack.

Touch screen functionality is also included prior to missions, which is where Star Fox: Command lives up to its subtitle. Players can drag the stylus and command their fleet of ships to certain areas for combat; the goal being to protect the mothership, Great Fox. Strategy becomes involved as players movements are dictated by a certain amount of fuel within their ships. Players progress in turns, and intercepting enemies opens the standard air combat of the series. By not letting any ships through they succeed in the mission.

Star Fox: Command has a list of features that seems to never end. The game includes wireless support for up to eight players, and Nintendo Wi-Fi support for four. There are over 30 missions, and 15 playable characters. The game supports the DS rumble pack, and well ... isn't that enough? For a title to be touch-screen dedicated, and include basically every feature the DS offers apart from the microphone is truly impressive. Star Fox: Command appears to make nearly the best use of the Nintendo DS' features to date.

Within the above features, 15 playable characters stands out, and ensures some familiar faces will be appearing in Star Fox: Command. Fox McCloud and his animalistic crew are obvious inclusions. So expect to once again be enjoying the wonderful catch-phrases of Falco, Slippy, and Peppy Hare. Voice acting has apparently been confirmed for the Japanese release, but no word as of yet if it will be included in the domestic release as well. The Star Wolf team, rivals to Fox and his companions, are also included as playable characters.

Each playable character also pilots a unique ship with particular abilities and supplies. Ships can be different based on the amount of bombs they carry, their targeting system, a laser system, shielding, and their boost capacity. The amount of variety this offers over 15 possible characters is impressive.

Star Fox: Command has the opportunity to revitalize one of Nintendo's famous franchises. An impressive showing of appreciation from fans could spur Nintendo to once again bring Fox McCloud to home consoles, hopefully with the dedication Star Fox: Command seems to be showing thus far. It should be noted however, Fox McCloud is simply not as cool as Falco Lombardi. So Nintendo, how about we get working on a Falco spin-off please?