Star Fox: Assault is a mix between previous rail-shooter gameplay and on-foot third-person shooter levels. Developed by Namco and published by Nintendo for the GameCube on February 14, 2005.
The fourth game in the Star Fox franchise, Star Fox: Assault returns the main gameplay of the series back to its shooter roots (after the action-adventure Star Fox Adventures), allowing the player to pilot an updated Arwing spacecraft (through either a fixed path or with full freedom of movement) and an updated Landmaster tank (with full freedom of movement). Players can also perform certain tasks in the game on-foot (similar to the hidden multiplayer mode in Star Fox 64) and can enter/exit their vehicle at-will.
Set a year after the events of Star Fox Adventures, players resume the role of Fox McCloud as he leads the elite Star Fox team (Falco Lombardi, Krystal, and Slippy Toad, with Peppy Hare and R.O.B. on the Great Fox) throughout the Lylat star system to combat a new invasive threat (the Aparoids, a race of part-machine, part-insect creatures bent on assimilating other life forms). Along the way, they cross paths with current and former members of the rival Star Wolf team of mercenaries (including newcomer Panther Caruso).
As bonus Namco unlockables, players can play the NES version of Xevious and, in the Japanese version only, the Famicom version of Star Luster.
There are three different gameplay types in Star Fox Assault. These types place the player in either an Arwing, a Landmaster, or on foot. Many missions consist of only a single type, but some make use of all three. All three gameplay types are also available for multiplayer. Each mission is completely linear, not unlike previous Star Fox titles.
Arwing missions follow the same gameplay type as previous Star Fox games. Some missions are on-rails, with players defeating enemies in a certain level with a mandatory boss fight at the end. Other missions are in a small area where the player has a full freedom of movement, usually with certain objectives such as destroying certain Aparoid spawning points. Occasionally during missions, Fox's wingmates will be chased by an enemy, causing them to call for help. In some levels, Fox even has the option to jump out of the Arwing to explore on-foot (and possibly even jumping into a Landmaster).
On-foot and Landmaster portions of the game are all portions that give the player full freedom of movement. When playing on-foot, the game is essentially a third-person shooter. The player can pick up weapons such as a Machine Gun and a Homing Launcher, which can be switched on the fly. As with the Arwing missions, the player can aid their wingmates, but from the ground instead. In two levels, Fox is on the wings of an Arwing or Wolfen picking off enemies on the ground with a Plasma Cannon.
Star Fox Assault has multiplayer support for up to four players (2-4). The multiplayer mode is very similar to an open action mission in the single-player campaign. In multiplayer games, however, instead of battling enemy opponents, it is other players. Multiplayer starts out very limited, but there can be much more unlocked, such as playable characters, maps, items, weapons, and modes. Most maps allow the player to play on foot or in a vehicle (Arwing, Wolfen, or Landmaster), but some only allow the player to be in one. Every member of the Star Fox team (excluding R.O.B.) is playable, as is Wolf O'Donnel of Star Wolf -- team Star Fox's rival pilot group.
Star Fox Assault takes place one year after the events of Star Fox Adventures. Andrew Oikonny ( Andross's nephew) has taken control of Andross's army, and is now leading an uprising against Corneria. Right away, the Star Fox team (now consisting of Fox McCloud, Slippy Toad, Falco Lombardi, Krystal, and Peppy Hare) is called in to deal with the threat. They battle their way through Oikonny's forces, but Oikonny escapes to Fortuna. The team follows him, and fights a mock form of Andross's final form (albeit much weaker). However, before the battle is over, Oikonny's ship is destroyed by a large insect-like creature, which proceeds to attack the team. They manage to defeat it and grab its partial "core memory" before many more identical creatures attack the group.
The team regroups on the Great Fox, where Beltino Toad (Slippy's father) reveals to the team that the insect-like creature they fought was an Aparoid, a creature so strong that it could destroy an entire Cornerian fleet with little effort. Before they can do anything else, they pick up a distress signal coming from Katina. Suspecting Aparoid involvement, the team goes to the planet to investigate. Fox inspects the planet on-foot, but is trapped inside of a base along with the Aparoids. With the aid of his team (and a Landmaster dropped in), he fights off the Aparoids, as well as a large disk-like Aparoid with four legs. Before taking the Core Memory, however, Pigma Dengar (the original sender of the distress message) sweeps in and steals it, revealing that he hopes to sell it for a high price.
The team tracks down Pigma to the Sargasso Space Zone, a popular hideout for bandits such as Pigma. Upon reaching there, the team is encountered by the Star Wolf team (now consisting of Wolf O'Donnell, Leon Powalski, and new member Panther Caruso). After being defeated by the Star Fox team, Panther (in an attempt to flirt with Krystal) reveals that Pigma has gone to Fichina. The team reaches Fichina, where Pigma has deactivated the planet's climate control, turning it into a snowy wasteland. They manage to destroy the Aparoids threatening to destroy the control center, and follow Pigma through an asteroid belt. They catch up to him and find that he has been taken over by Aparoids and has no control over his actions. They fight and defeat him, to gain another Core Memory, this one with information that could lead to the Aparoid Homeworld.
Before the team can go defeat the Aparoid Queen, however, Krystal receives a distress call from the planet Sauria (the setting of Star Fox Adventures). The team goes to the planet and defeats the Aparoids before too much damage can be caused. Krystal and Fox reunite with Tricky, who is now a teenage EarthWalker. Tricky asks if they are coming back to Sauria for their honeymoon, to which Fox stutters and Krystal laughs. Again, the team is delayed before they can go to the Aparoid Homeworld. This time, General Pepper calls in to the team and informs them that the Aparoids have done a full force attack on Corneria, easily wiping out nearly all of the Cornerian Defense Fleet. With the aid of the Star Wolf team (who have come to help defeat a common enemy), they defeat the Aparoids. However, they learn that General Pepper's ship (along with General Pepper himself) has been taken over by Aparoids. General Pepper insists that Fox destroy him, and Fox complies by shooting down his ship. However, Peppy catches the General on his ship before he hits the ground. After this battle, the team heads to the Orbital Gate, a place where they can warp to the Aparoid Homeworld. Before they can warp there, they are forced to defend it from several Aparoid missiles ranging in sizes. They finish just in time, as Beltino finishes creating a program to destroy all of the Aparoids.
The team manages to make it to the Aparoid Homeworld, but the core of the homeworld is blocked by a base and a large shield. Fox infiltrates the base and destroys a large number of Aparoids. However, according to Slippy, the shields cannot be destroyed by mere laser power. Suddenly, the Great Fox comes into view, piloted by Peppy and R.O.B. The Great Fox is covered in Aparoids, and thus severely damaged. All power in the Great Fox is diverted towards its lasers, and it crashes into the shields, opening them wide and long enough for the team to fly through. The Great Fox, however, is destroyed, leading the team to believe that Peppy and R.O.B. are dead.
The team makes it to the core to confront the Aparoid Queen. In an attempt to dissuade the team, she uses the voices of R.O.B., General Pepper, Peppy, Pigma, and James McCloud (Fox's father). Wolf encourages Fox, however, and he ignores the voices. They blast through the Queen's thick armor, giving Fox enough time to deliver the program. Unfortunately, the Queen suppresses it. Slippy informs Fox that if he does not destroy the Queen, she will create an antibody. The team manages to destroy the Queen, carrying out the self-destruct program in the process. They escape the core, and find that Peppy and R.O.B. survived as well (they used an escape pod before the ship was destroyed). This gives them hope that others who sacrificed to defeat the Aparoids also survived.
Fox McCloud is the longtime leader of the mercenary squadron Star Fox. It has been one year since the events of Star Fox Adventures, in which Fox saved the planet Sauria (also known as Dinosaur Planet) from the menace that is Andross. There, he met Krystal, a female fox with mysterious origins. Since then, the two have developed a bit of a love interest. Fox is the strong leader and skilled pilot of the team; the person everyone looks up to. Of course, the player plays as Fox in the single player campaign, making him one of the most important characters. In this adventure, he must defeat the threat of the Aparoids, and keep them from consuming the Lylat System.
Falco Lombardi was mysteriously missing in the last game. His reason for being absent was that he had grown bored with no action in the team. He is back now, this time sporting a bright red jumpsuit. He is the ace pilot of the team, with skills exceeding even those of Fox. As an effect of this, Falco is incredibly cocky and competitive. Despite his constant arguments with Fox (and the rest of the team), he really loves hanging out with his team, and is an indispensable part of the Star Fox team.
Krystal is a mysterious female fox who has only recently joined the Star Fox team. She was first encountered as the "damsel-in-distress" of Star Fox Adventures, in which Fox rescued her from the menace of Andross. She has since decided to join the team, and is a decent Arwing pilot herself. Krystal and Fox are a little bit of an item, as they are both interested in each other (which is poked fun at during the game). She is without her trademark staff in this game, instead using the more modern weapons used by the rest of the Star Fox team.
Slippy Toad returns as the team's trusty mechanic. Slippy repairs all of the vehicles, manages the team's equipment, and provides information on bosses and other important things. Slippy isn't as good of a pilot as Falco or Fox, but he can still hold for himself during an aerial battle (although during the single player campaign, Fox will have to rescue him several times). If he is rescued, however, he drops an item for Fox to use. Many players have found Slippy to be an annoyance, but according to many, he wasn't as annoying in this game, and was rather tolerable.
Peppy Hare is the elderly Star Fox team member. He has been in the team since the days of James McCloud, yet he still respects Fox and offers his sage wisdom from time to time. Peppy doesn't actually fly around in an Arwing this game, but rather sits in the Great Fox with R.O.B., and commands the team from there. At one point during the game, he appears to sacrifice himself to the Aparoids, but he and R.O.B. manage to utilize the escape pod on the Great Fox, and fly to freedom.
Wolf O'Donnell is the leader of the Star Wolf team, and a longtime rival of Fox. Wolf is also an expert pilot, with his skills rivaling those of even Falco. In fact, in multiplayer, he is the character with the best stats (five stars in every area). Wolf may seem like a heartless mercenary, but he does assist the Star Fox team in Assault. The teams join together to fight a common enemy, but by Star Fox Command, the teams are back to their usual rivalry.
- Arwing - The main vehicle of the Star Fox team. Naturally, the ship is slightly renovated, which has lead fans to unofficially call it the "Arwing II."
- Landmaster - The Landmaster is a secondary vehicle of the Star Fox team; their "tank" ground vehicle. It also has many renovations, and fans have dubbed it the "Landmaster II."
- Great Fox - The Great Fox has been completely redone, as last time it was seen, it was crumbling away into ruin. Thankfully, it has been fixed up and is now much sleaker.
- Wolfen - The main vehicle of the Star Wolf team. There are some more substantial differences than other models of the ship, leading fans to dub it the Wolfen III.
Items and Weapons
- 1-UP - 1-UPs present Fox with an extra life. This allows the player to pick up mid-level, rather than starting over the game.
- Barrier Sphere - The Barrier Sphere is a helpful item that, when activated, makes the player temporarily invincible.
- Shield Rings (Gold and Silver) - Rings return from previous games to reward the player with ample amounts of health, if they are inside a vehicle. They can also be dropped by allies and enemies, so they are everywhere.
- First Aid Kit (Green, Silver, and Gold) - The First Aid Kits are the equivalent of the Shield Rings, except they heal the player when outside of a vehicle. The Green heals a little bit of health, the Silver heals about half, while the rare Gold heals fully.
- Special Flag - There are fifty flags in all to find in the single player campaign (five in each of the ten levels). Finding them will unlock various things, including the Devil Launcher in multiplayer.
- Smart Bomb - Smart Bombs are a Star Fox tradition. Smart Bombs can be picked up during the level (the player never starts with one), and then fired into a group of enemies, detonating and destroying them. They are much rarer than in previous games.
- Laser Power Upgrade (Green and Red) - Another Star Fox standard, the laser upgrades are the same that were in Star Fox Adventures and Star Fox 64. Picking them up will enhance the lasers, making them much more powerful, and changing their visual appearance.
- Stealth Suit (Multiplayer Only) - A multiplayer-only item that (upon being picked up) grants the player invisibility.
- Blaster - Fox's default weapon while on foot. Unlike many of the other weapons, it can be charged for a powerful blast. It also never runs out of ammo, making it an all-around versatile gun.
- Gattling Gun - The Gattling Gun is basically an automatic version of the Blaster. It lacks the ability to charge, but makes up for it in its ability to quickly clear large rooms of enemies.
- Homing Launcher - The Homing Launcher is a useful weapon that can even lock onto enemies. Its reload times aren't exactly stellar, however, so it is best to use it in an area with not many enemies.
- Machine Gun - The Machine Gun is essentially a more powerful version of the Gattling Gun. With a high rate of fire and powerful projectiles, it is a good alternative to the Blaster.
- Plasma Cannon - The Plasma Cannon can only be used during the single player campaign whenever Fox is riding on someone else's wing. It is incredibly powerful and has infinite ammo, making it quite fun to use when there is the chance.
- Sniper Rifle - The Sniper Rifle can only be used when the player is zoomed in and immobile. However, a fired shot is as powerful as a direct hit from the Homing Launcher. It can be quite helpful during a heated multiplayer match.
- Grenade - The Grenade is more of the icing on the cake than an actual useful weapon. It can be held onto, allowing the player to decide when it is detonated. It is pretty useful for clearing rooms of enemies, but otherwise it is useless.
- Sensor Bomb - The Sensor Bomb is essentially a motion sensing mine. The idea behind it is to lay a trap for the enemies. This makes it pretty useless in single player missions where Fox can run into a room guns blazing. However, it is useful during multiplayer matches, as the opponents are likely to stumble upon a Sensor Bomb at some point.
- Devil Launcher (Multiplayer Only) - The Devil Launcher is an incredibly powerful gun that must be unlocked for use in multiplayer. It is a "one-hit kill" gun, destroying anything that is aimed at.