Nintendo is collaborating with Platinum Games to create the next Star Fox game for Wii U, game designer Shigeru Miyamoto announced at a press event earlier this week.
Star Fox Zero, due this launch this holiday for Wii U, is not a sequel and not a remake, Miyamoto said, explaining that Nintendo and Platinum "built the game using the ideas of the past."
The new Star Fox brings back characters and vehicles from previous games in the franchise, including the Arwing and a bird-like Walker ship that originally appeared in canceled Super Nintendo game Star Fox 2. Fox and his squadron — Falco, Peppy and Slippy — will embark on a new story, battling familiar foes and former allies in the sci-fi action game.
The world of Star Fox Zero is loosely based on Star Fox 64, originally released in 1997, and Nintendo says it has built a wide range of new planets for players to explore. The structure of the game is similar to that of Star Fox 64, Miyamoto said.
Joining Miyamoto on stage to present Star Fox Zero were game director Yugo Hayashi of Nintendo and Yusuke Hashimoto of Platinum Games.
Hayashi, who previously worked on The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Wii Fit U, explained that Star Fox Zero will present a cinematic view of the action on the television screen and a cockpit view on the Wii U GamePad screen. Even during cinematic cut scenes, Hayashi said, players will maintain control of the game with the GamePad and can look around the play field.
Although Platinum Games is involved in the development of the game, Star Fox Zero is "comparatively simpler" in terms of action, Miyamoto said. Players control the game with a combination of dual-analog stick to fly and steer, and movement of the GamePad to aim. As Fox, players can execute U-turns and the series' trademark barrel rolls with simple button presses. They're critical to survival.
Hashimoto also addressed a commonly asked question: Is Platinum Games' Hideki Kamiya, a vocal Star Fox fan, involved in development of Star Fox Zero? No, he said, "not in any way shape or form." Kamiya's only input, Hashimoto said, is "Do your best."
Star Fox Zero also includes what Hayashi referred to as "Target View Mode."
"Up until now, you weren't able to track effectively targets that were behind you," he said. With Target View Mode, players can lock a yellow reticle onto a target to keep track of it in the midst of intense air battles.
In addition to flying the Arwing and piloting the Walker, players can also take control of the Landmaster tank — it too can transform into a ship with limited flight — and the Gyrowing, a new copter that's paired with a tiny robot that can explore the game environment. That robot is named Direct-I, and it can be deployed to solve simple puzzles and find hidden collectibles in areas where Fox can't explore while in a vehicle.
Missions in Star Fox Zero comprise two to three phases, some of them on a guided path and others that offer free-range movement. Some feature boss battles with multiple paths to success. We saw a variety of levels in a hands-on session with Star Fox Zero, including a mission set on Corneria City in which we battled a massive flying fortress and a free-roaming dog fight set outside a space colony. We also drove the Landmaster in an intense driving stage that culminated in another big boss fight that felt like a collaboration between Platinum Games and Nintendo, highlighting each developer's strengths.
Miyamoto said that Star Fox Zero is a single-player game, but that the developer is considering online capabilities.
Star Fox Zero is planned for release this holiday season, and will be a retail package release. However, Miyamoto told Polygon that additional content may be coming to Star Fox Zero after its initial release. When we asked Miyamoto about comments he made last year comparing Star Fox for Wii U to a television series and if Zero was the beginning of something episodic in nature, he said, "You might be on to something."
When Miyamoto unveiled Star Fox for Wii U at last year's E3, he showed it alongside two other experiments: Project Guard and Project Robot. The former, Miyamoto said, is still in development. Like Star Fox Zero, Nintendo is working with Platinum Games on Project Guard to complete the game. It's making great progress, Miyamoto said.