Once meant to be the dying breath of the N64 alongside Eternal Darkness, the game once known as Dinosaur Planet arrives on the cube in an unforeseably altered form, now involving the members of the Starfox team, mainly Fox. A clever trick to keep the rights of the game after Rare's sale to Microsoft (who knows how long they have been planning that?), or a meager marketing related move, the addition of the Starfox team adds little to the game and takes little away from it - it's pluses and minuses are elsewhere to be found.
A definite plus the graphics are, as Yoda would say. Visually, this is the prettiest game to be found on the Cube, and I daresay of any system to date. FFX still beats it, but Starfox has little to none aliasing, while featuring the ability to look around freely and - once you acquire a certain item - to zoom the view in and out (something I'd not exhagerate as it shows that many things are not as detailed as they pretend to be). Morrowind on PC still beats it, yet Starfox is colorful and does not have any fogging: you can see right to the horizon, even though in most cases it is blocked by randomly placed rock walls or trees, a little gripe that cannot obscure the simple fact that this game is a beauty to look at.
As for the character design found in the game, the question is simple: do you like walking and talking animals of various kind that wear armor and fly spacecrafts, drawn in a CG anime style reminiscent of Disney or that other children movie with dinosaurs? If yes, then this is your game. If not, and you like elves, dwarves, whiny teenagers, taciturn, brooding heroes and hot female sidekicks, then this game's visual style is going to irritate or, in a best case scenario, be utterly unimportant to you.
The same applies to the scenario and plot. If you are less than 15 years old or have seen little games before this one, you're going to love it. If, however, you are a seasoned and grown up player, well, then prepare for one huge disappointment: the plot in Starfox Adventures sucks. Not only is it straightforward and unpretentious, it also does succeed hard at making no sense at all, and a few scenes are bound to make you angry if you cared to know anything more than the raw basics of "go here and do that, don't ask why".
But, the most important question of all is, of course, "how does it play?". For the majority of gamers out there the answer is surely going to be "quite well, but could have been better". Aside from a few minor issues that managed to bother me more than was healthy (to avoid 10 seconds load times between levels, Rare forces you over and over again through narrow paths with no other purpose than making you lose 1 minute every time you need to go somewhere different, as there is no warping at all in here - my compliments, you really managed to bore me), there are two major gripes I have with the game, and both manage to be pretty severe after hours and hours of play.
a) SFA is like Zelda: OoT, only more stupid. You cannot do simple things as climb on a fence and hop down, you cannot defend while moving, your attack options are limited, there are few different enemies, the dungeons are much more straightforwards, you have only one weapon and few objects, and so on... if OoT had been ported with next gen graphics, it would have kicked SFA in the beanbag and sent it crying in a dark corner. Period.
b) SFA is also like Jak and Daxter, only without the jump button and loads of stuff to collect for some obscure reason. Actually, this does not hurt the game as much as its making you feel like some errand boy, instead of the hero saving the world - simply put, SFA is a giant fetch quest littered with short dungeons and many, many collectibles, all of which manage to be rather mandatory, thus disappointing even the most frantic collector. Yet, even though it lacks of depth, SFA is still rather fun to play, as the puzzles provide a mild and steady challenge and the settings keep varying quite a bit. I don't know if I've suddenly become good, but I felt the need to use a faq only three times druing the whole game. As a whole, you can try to overlook the above mentioned faults and enjoy the game as it is, even though it will be trying hard to remind you all the time.
There are no secrets and sidequests in this game. This sad truth is made even sadder by the shameful trick Rare uses to add replay "value" to the game. Once you reach 92% completion, and before you get the last 2 somethings you need to collect, the game does not allow you to walk around the world anymore, and you cannot do anything but proceed onwards to the final game, without getting the chance to walk around the world ever again. I had been warned about this, so I didn't save anymore after 92%, other might not have been so lucky and are going to have to replay the whole game if they want to visit any of the locations again. Why one woud like to is beyond me, as there is not a single things left to get once you complete your given mission goals. Still, those pretty graphics might be a good reason, for a while at least...
For those who think that no review is complete if it doesn't mention the music and sound, well, here is my mention: the voice acting is competent Disney-style stuff with an English accent, the music is standard Lion King meets Zelda stuff, and most of it sounds as generic as the definition, well, sounds... All in all, not bad, not good, somewhere in the nebulous in between.
So, the bottom line is: StarFox Aventures offers dumbed down Zelda gameplay with top quality graphics and a discreet tendency towards making you do stuff only when it wants you to and only the way it wants you to - there is no freedom in this game whatsoever and, no matter how fun you may to end up considering its simplicity, there is no doubt that the whole game falls in that "merely ok" category which it should have been saved from by its noble origins in a game that was revolutionary... a rental, if you can. No one is going to remember SFA in a few years from now, it is, and I hate being mean to it, a fun little game with no relevance whatsoever.