Final Status: Complete.
Put this on your box: It’s Star Fox without anything that you liked about Star Fox!
Most intriguing idea: Translating a sci-fi dogfighting character to a magical adventure setting. (It says intriguing there, folks, not good.)
Best design decision: The surprisingly smooth inventory/command system.
Worst design decision: The first-person targeting reticle’s aggressive recentering behavior.
In a way, I think the worst design decision in this game might actually be associating the Star Fox gang with this story and setting. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with a magical adventure set on a planet populated by cute dinosaurs, and there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with getting Fox McCloud out of the ship a little bit. Unfortunately, in this case the combination turns out more like chocolate pickle ice cream than Reese’s Cups. Having an ace spacefighter pilot run around a planet armed with nothing more than a stick would be stupid even if we weren’t talking about spells and spirits the whole time. More than that, travel between the different zones of the planet is incredibly inconvenient, something that’s difficult to square with the fact that Fox has a spaceship he could conceivably land in any of these places rather than, say, swimming through a sewer. Just as Star Fox doesn’t serve the game well, the game doesn’t serve Star Fox well. The Arwing flight segments are too infrequent to really get a feel for the flying, and they don’t have a very smooth difficulty progression. This creates a problem at the end of the game. At that point we have a completely nonsensical twist, leading to a final boss who won’t make sense to anyone but long-time fans of the Star Fox series, that you must fight in a very hard battle using the Arwing. Almost anyone who could understand who the hell this giant floating head is had probably bailed by that point, and nobody who was left could possibly be expected to be expert enough with the Arwing from just the limited earlier play to handle that battle without having to restart half a dozen times (hint: Do a barrel roll!). In the end, the combination of the original Dinosaur Planet idea with Star Fox elements just results in a goofy, incoherent jumble.
If you can’t say something nice…
Star Fox Adventures is a fine adventure game that still holds up pretty well in terms of its graphics and gameplay, if you can look past the fact that this character just doesn’t belong in this setting.