Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (Wii U)

Just an illusion

Oh is this proper good. Properly proper good. It’s a very Persona-like JRPG (in fact, it’s a spin off from the same series Persona is, so that’s not surprising), and I’m really enjoying it.

I did get a bit hooked on Persona 4 Golden on the Vita a while back, but I never finished it, or even got that far into the game. Two reasons probably contributed to that – it was on the Vita, and I’d got to a bit where Personas could be merged or something and it all got a bit confusing and complicated. Also with Persona 4 there was always the slight worry I’d not finish the game, or at least complete all the side missions and stories, before the in-game year was up. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (the #FE is important, and is “sharp eff ee”, not “hash eff ee”, apparently) fixes all these issues.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE

At it’s core, it’s the same. You wander round some small areas, talk to people, buy stuff, and so on. Then you do dungeons, which in Persona 4 are accessed by entering the TV, but in Tokyo Mirage Sessions you go through gates that appear in various locations. Inside each of these gates is an Idolasphere, a corrupted realm inhabited by Mirages. Most of them are evil, some are not. So far, so the same as Persona.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE

However, whereas the Persona system of, erm, Personas (which provide skills and stuff) is a bit complicated, the Performas in this are much simplified. Things you do in the game, items you collect, and foes you defeat provide things you combine with Performas to give you permanent buffs (like higher HP, or ability to withstand one normally fatal hit per battle) called Radiant Unities. Weapons are forged in a similar way, and are called Carnage Unities, and using weapons in battle unlocks new moves and skills. It’s more straightforward than my description suggests, I’m sure.


So where does the #FE come in, you may ask. The sharp presumably references the musical element of the game – your characters (or some of them, anyway) aspire to be Japanese idols. You know, models, singers, that sort of thing, and singing is actually a power in this game. The FE references Fire Emblem, as characters from that game series appear in Tokyo Mirage Sessions as good Mirages that team up with your characters to allow them to have these ridiculous skills and abilities. I think originally there was to be more to the Fire Emblem link than that, but so far that’s as far as it goes.

As I’ve already said, the game itself is so, so good. There’s a great sense of progression as your team and powers level up, and the separate idolaspheres have so far been totally different to each other, and are more than just labyrinthine dungeons: They have puzzles, one way routes, secrets and even their own subquests. It’s a joy to play, and I’m currently 21 or so hours in, and have just been beaten for the first time (and surely not the last time) by the boss at the end of chapter 3.

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There’s Poop in My Soup (Mac): COMPLETED!


Yes, the game is really called that. Yes, you can defecate in someone’s soup. You can also do it on their heads. And on dogs. And everywhere. That’s the idea.

It’s a totally stupid concept but since it was just 52 pence (in fact, less than that as I had some free credit) on Steam I bought it, played it a lot, poo’d everywhere, got all the achievements, and have now classed it as completed.

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Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse (3DS): COMPLETED!

I whip my hair back and forth

The original Shantae on the Game Boy Colour (which I played on the 3DS VC not that long ago) was a lovely little platformer with some slight issues: it was very, very hard, and there was a lot of backtracking and wandering aimlessly. I really enjoyed it, but I was a little concerned the followups were going to have the same problems. Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse does not, I was pleased to discover.

Shantae and the Pirate's Curse
Maximum Spider

I picked the game up as part of that Nintendo Humble Bundle a while back and now I’ve played it I can say it’s a definite highlight of that pack. It looks incredible, especially in 3D, and fixes all of issues of the original game. There’s backtracking, but there’s an item that warps you to the start of each area and several upgrades and shortcuts you can use to speed around the place. It’s not exactly easy, especially the final area on the way to the end of game boss, but it is substantially more accessible than the GBC title. Baddies don’t take hundreds of hits, and those that do can be dispatched easier if you buy the available upgrades in the shop. I found that many could be defeated more easily later in the game using extra moves I’d unlocked too.

Shantae and the Pirate's Curse

These moves, like a dash, a triple jump and a down-attack also turn Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse into a Metroidvania type platformer, even more so than the (no longer available) animal morphs of the original, allowing access to new areas. There’s even a fill-in-all-the-squares Castlevania style map, and an dungeon filled with skeletons which apes Castlevania even more. As before, your hair is your weapon, and is basically a whip anyway!

Shantae and the Pirate's Curse
This bit was tricky

Hidden around the game, some more difficult to find and/or reach than others, are evil cacklebats, each corrupted by Dark Magic. A side quest, to unlock the “proper” ending, is to defeat all 20 of these creatures. I managed it although finding two of them took ages! There are also hidden squid which, when you collect four, gives you an extra health heart. I didn’t get them all, but they’re not important for the story.

Shantae and the Pirate's Curse
Filler boss

My only (tiny) disappointment with Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse was that each area borrows very heavily from areas in the first game, with most of the baddies from that returning. Yes, they’re redrawn and look incredible, but they’re the same as they were before. There are a few new ones, and it doesn’t really matter anyway. The bosses are all new (bar one, who literally tells you he’s a filler boss now, having returned from a previous game) and they’re all fun to beat.

Definitely one of Wayforward’s best games, although most of their output is pretty special. I’m really interested in playing their HD remake of the DSi Shantae game now too!

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Battlefield 4 (PS4): COMPLETED!

Very few fields, actually.

No sooner had I posted about playing Battlefield 4, did I complete it. I literally had just ten minutes of game left, and that didn’t even involve any combat. Of course, the credits were a hundred years long afterwards.


My thoughts on the game are this: It’s aight.

There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with it. It’s a straightforward, mostly linear shootmans with lots of swearing and some big set pieces. The voice acting is OK, the gunplay is fine, and the controls are perfectly usable (even if I do keep getting L1 and R1 mixed up and drop grenades at my feet). It even looks quite pretty.

Ultimately though, it’s not really my sort of game. I enjoyed it enough to keep playing until the end, but upon doing so I didn’t feel like I’d played anything groundbreaking or important, I’d merely been passing the time until it was over and now I’ll move onto something else.

I understand the multiplayer is fantastic. I wouldn’t know as I’ve no intention of playing it – I dislike most online shootmans more than most offline shootmans. Now the question is, should I start on Battlefield Hardline?

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Things I’ve been playing recently

Play ALL the things.

I’ve not done a roundup post for a while, but I have been playing quite a lot of stuff. Regardez:

BattlefieldBattlefield 4 (PS4)

I’m not a fan of shootmans, but I am a fan of bargains, so Battlefield 4 and Battlefield Hardline together for around a fiver was a steal. Then I did an odd thing: I actually played Battlefield 4. Not only that, but I think I’m quite near the end. It’s been quite good actually, although at this point I’m finding it a little bit repetitive – enter area, snipe everyone, move on. Naturally I could mix up my play style and use some different guns but when I tried that it didn’t go well. Tanks and boats and stuff did add some variety at least. Online? No.


Which is still amazing. There’s more DLC this week, but in the meantime I’m nowhere near finished. I have beaten the boss on the first Adventure Map (unlocking a second) and unlocked most of the characters. It’s just so much fun – I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it.

Unravel Demo (PS4)

I’ve actually bought the full game as a result of being impressed with the demo. That and 1) it was on offer, and 2) my daughter was quite adamant I had to. She’s played the full game but I’ve only done the demo. It feels a lot like Limbo so far, albeit brighter and cuter.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FETokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (Wii U)

Ever since seeing this when it was announced I’ve been interested. I wasn’t entirely sure why, as I had no idea how the game mechanics would even work – some sort of cross between Akiba’s Trip, Idolmaster and Fire Emblem? Maybe? Who knows. It didn’t matter. Turns out, having bought it on release, it’s Persona. And it’s very most excellent, even if I’m only a few hours in so far. I really should get back into Persona 4 Golden, actually. Stupid Vita.

Table Top RacingTable Top Racing World Tour (PS4)

This was a free rental on PS+, and it’s not very good. Somehow, though, I’ve been playing it off and on and I’m just over halfway through the game. It makes me pine for Micro Machines and how much better that is than this, which is slow and has boring (and very few) tracks.

Assassin's Creed UnityAssassin’s Creed Unity (PS4)

I’m still playing it! I completed it not so long ago, but I’m still having fun doing side quests and mopping up all the collectables. Been a few Assassin’s Creed games since I last did that, so it’s obviously pushing the right buttons.

ShantaeShantae and the Pirate’s Curse (3DS)

So many boobladies. In eyepopping 3D! But as well as that, Shantae is a fantastic platformer with metroidvania elements. I’d enjoyed the original GBC game on the 3DS Virtual Console so when it was available as part of that frankly ludicrous Nintendo Humble Bundle I was very pleased indeed. I’m quite a way through it too, having been unable to put it down for a whole weekend, and I’ve just one main area left to clear, I think.

The Temple of No (Mac): COMPLETED!

No no, no no no no, no no no no, no no there’s no temple.

Well, I say Mac, but in fact it’s a web browser game built in TWINE. It’s a narrative discovery game in the same sort of vein as Gone Home and Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist, the latter of which is by the same people.

Temple of No

As it’s TWINE, and therefore basically a text medium choose your own adventure, it isn’t as technically impressive as those other games. The story is fun, self referential and sarcastic. It’s short, I’m not sure it’s possible to not complete it (unless you just quit, I suppose), but it’s definitely worth a play. And it’s free, so you’ve no excuse. You can find it here.

Kirby: Planet Robobot (3DS): COMPLETED!

Kirby Your Enthusiasm

You know, I hadn’t even realised Kirby: Planet Robobot was out already, and then I got it as a Father’s Day present. And it’s only bloody excellent.

Kirby: Planet Robobot

I know some recent-ish Kirby games have been a step away from the normal “inhale baddies, copy their abilities” model of old, so I was a little worried Planet Robobot might be similar, especially as the core addition is Kirby’s new mech suit. I needn’t have worried though, as this is proper Kirby – and when in the mech? It’s still proper Kirby.

Kirby: Planet RobobotHappy colourful levels with definitely Kirby-sounding music mixes with metallic surfaces and robots, but it’s clearly a standard Kirby game. There are multiple (usually two, sometimes more) planes of play, with Kirby popping into and out of the screen in fantastic 3D, but this just adds to the game rather than change anything fundamental. Some puzzles (mostly to obtain Core Cubes, needed to unlock boss levels) use this fore- and background swapping to great effect.

Kirby: Planet RobobotThe levels themselves are pretty big, although with 6 worlds (and a final boss fight 7th world) and just 4 or 5 levels in each it isn’t a large game overall. At least, I thought that until I’d beaten the game and two more modes unlocked! One of which is to play a modified “remix” of the game again, only as Meta Knight, who doesn’t have any copy ability nor does he have a mech suit. That will make some of the mini boss fights interesting!

Kirby: Planet RobobotThe game itself was incredibly good fun. I raced through it in just a few days mainly because it was so much fun I couldn’t put it down. Sure, it isn’t difficult either (I died maybe five times in total, ending the game with over 40 lives) although getting a few Core Cubes is pretty tricky – I’ve not collected them all so that’s something left to do. My only complaint would be in the SuckySuck(TM) Bit at the end where there’s a Boss Rush (albeit with a powered up suit which makes short work of them all) and then the final boss has a multitude of additional forms. Not hard, so not frustrating, but a bit clichéd.

Best Kirby game in ages. Probably since the SNES Kirby’s Dreamland 3, in fact.

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Doom Demo (PS4)

That’s one Doomed space marine

Just a quick post about this, really. Not least because the demo is pretty short. Now, I did enjoy the original Doom games but Doom 3, as a more survival horror title, wasn’t my sort of thing at all. Since then, I’ve veered away from first person shooters in general, especially if the main thing they involve is, well, shooting. I prefer to have to think a bit, so Bioshock and Dishonoured both appeal more.

However, because it’s been getting a lot of good press and it’s there, I thought I’d try the Doom (that’s new Doom, please stop using the same name for different games, games companies!) demo.

And? I liked it! It’s big and fast and bright, exactly like Doom 3 isn’t. It’s wide open spaces not dark grimy corridors. It’s crushing the skulls of baddies in over the top ways. Mindless, quick, old-school, shooty fun. I was very surprised.

Assassin’s Creed Unity (PS4): COMPLETED!

Everything is permitted. Except parking here between 8am and 6pm.

You may think that because of the way I’ve haphazardly been playing this off and on over the last couple of months (or more) that I’ve not been enjoying it, but that’s actually not true. I have enjoyed it quite a lot, it’s just other games have been sidetracking me.

Assassin's Creed Unity

Over the last week I’ve made a conscious effort to “get it done”, in a straightforward way: just the story. I was finding it all too easy to be distracted by side missions and collectables and that in turn was having an effect on how I was following the story (and I do so like to follow stories), which coupled with intermittent play wasn’t conducive to getting through the game. The upshot is, that I barrelled through the last three or four sequences and finished the game.

Assassin's Creed UnityIn many ways, Assassin’s Creed Unity is a return to Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, with almost all the action taking place in Paris, not unlike how Brotherhood was in Rome. There’s no III/IV/Rogue boating nonsense here – it’s proper back-to-basics assassining which is familiar and fun. A downside is the number of weapons at your disposal are a little reduced, but it doesn’t really suffer for it.

Assassin's Creed UnityConcentrating on the story allowed me to ignore many of the many hundreds of icons on the map, which clutter the place and make the missions seem unwieldy. Just vantage point, targets and sometimes shops were generally enough, and now I’ve completed the game and acquired a fantastic new sword, I can merrily run around Paris with gay abandon mopping up all the chests, crests, cockades, side missions and other attractions.

So is it any good? A lot of people would tell you no, Unity is not. The story is not especially strong, and the plot muddies the water between assassins and Templars to the point where it doesn’t really matter which side you’re on – both have a stake in the French Revolution (but seemingly for the same reason), and there’s an uneasy truce between the two age-old adversaries for much of the game. In fact, the final boss (spoiler?) would appear to be a Templar working the Order for his own gain, dispatching more of his own “team” than those who would traditionally oppose him. It’s odd, but after previous games it’s something different, I suppose.


Assassin's Creed UnityGameplay is the same as before, albeit with the ability to create distraction or assistance opportunities when mounting an attack. Rescue some prisoners and they’ll occupy the guards, for example. There are more “predetermined” methods of offing your mark too, but that flies a bit against the free-form “do it however you want” way of earlier games. You can still do that, but you’re suggested ways of achieving your goal. Perhaps that’s for the casual players or something – I rarely stuck to them.

Graphically it’s a massive leap from Rogue, as you’d expect being on newer hardware, but aside from far more people roaming the streets and a longer draw distance when synchronising viewpoints, it’s not really that important.

Assassin's Creed UnityI’m not sure where in the hierarchy of Assassin’s Creed games I’d put Unity, but it’s certainly better than III and the first game, of course, and it’s probably the best non-boating one since Brotherhood. In the middle, maybe? It’s certainly pretty good, and I expect many of the complaints at release (bugs and performance issues) simply aren’t there any more. I’ve certainly not seen many – fewer than most titles in the series at least. Assassin’s Creed Unity is definitely recommended, especially if you loved the earlier games.

Here’s my almost complete, spoiler filled playthrough. If you’re interested.

The Lucky Dime Caper (MS): COMPLETED!

Platformers are a (lucky) dime a dozen.

Since I’m currently loving Master System platformers, I decided to give The Lucky Dime Caper a go. I don’t think I’ve ever really properly played it before, certainly not past the first couple of levels, anyway.

Lucky Dime Caper

Of course, it’s going to be compared to Castle of Illusion and sadly it isn’t as good as that. Donald’s levels aren’t as well designed, mainly having more straightforward platforming than the odd puzzle bit Castle of Illusion had. Donald’s main attack, usually a mallet, is tricky to time as enemies have to be really close for it to connect, and the frisbee he sometimes picks up is better but I found quite a few baddies – mainly bosses – it didn’t damage.

Speaking of bosses, they’re all very easy with the final boss being the easiest boss in any game ever. You literally jump on one spot for three seconds, before she can even properly start attacking you, and that’s it – you’ve beaten her. Pretty disappointing. The other bosses are more taxing, although not much more, but annoyed me as there’s no way of knowing how much damage you’ve done to them, or in some cases, if you’re even damaging them at all.

Lucky Dime Caper

The levels themselves were standard platform faire – forest, ice, volcano, water, Egypt, castle… in fact, some of the graphics seem to be ripped directly from the Illusion games. Or maybe the other way round, I suppose – I didn’t check the release order!

That said, The Lucky Dime Caper isn’t a bad game, it just isn’t as good as the Mickey Mouse titles or Asterix. It’s better than Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars though!

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Asterix (MS): COMPLETED!

“Getafix” was a drugs reference all along.

Definitely not a Thwomp

Yes, it’s another 8bit platformer. But you know what? It’s another good one! When I originally played Asterix on an actual Master System (actually, that’s not true – I played it on a Mega Drive with a Power Base Convertor) I remember it being very easy, once you knew the levels, up until the section near the end of the game with the leaf ride in the wind and the spikes. Imagine my surprise when I realised my brain had totally made that level up and it didn’t appear anywhere in my playthrough.

Save keys to open doors

How had I remembered something that didn’t exist? It’s my main memory of the game! That part was so hard that it’s stuck in my head for ever more, and yet it isn’t there. Bizarre.

For this play, I went through entirely as Asterix (aside from level 1-1 where you have to play through as both him and Obelix) as I seem to recall it’s easier and more fun. Mind you, I’d already misremembered a whole level so who knows.

Dogmatix bonus stages are hard

I’m pleased to say that, a bit of slowdown aside, Asterix is still a pretty good platformer. Some levels – mainly forced scrolling ones – are less fun than others, but there’s a lot of secret areas to find and a few levels have alternate routes. It’s very much like the Mickey Mouse …of Illusion games, which I’d not really noticed before, but that’s no bad thing.

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Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars (MS): COMPLETED!

They’re not “stars”, they’re “miracle balls”.

I’ve completed two Alex Kidd games before – Miracle World on the Master System, and The Enchanted Castle (which is essentially a remake) on the Mega Drive. Neither were anything special, but they were both reasonably good platformers. I’ve briefly played some other Alex Kidd titles, but never finished them. However, I’d never played The Lost Stars before today.

Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars
A couple of pointers

It’s a very simple platformer. Alex Kidd doesn’t have his big punch move, the collision detection is ropey and although the levels are varied none of them are particularly impressive. The graphics are big and chunky and very colourful, so I expect this was a decent show-off title to NES owners back in the day even though it’s nowhere near the same level as things like Super Mario Bros or Duck Tales gameplay-wise. It also suffers from flicker and slowdown a little, although not so much that it bothered me.

Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars
Bow Wow Wow Yippie Yo Yippie Yay

Alex runs and jumps through the levels (and swims, in one of them) from left to right mainly avoiding enemies although he can fire a limited number of whirlwinds at them with the right power-up. Other power-ups include a time-limited higher jump and an item that replenishes the health/time bar. Yes, just like Wonder Boy, The Lost Stars has a stupid combined bar which slowly depletes by itself, buy also loses a chunk when you get hit. It was rubbish in Wonder Boy and it’s rubbish here.

Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars
Bit garish

Speaking of Wonder Boy, at least one of the levels here appears to be a homage to it. Some of the other levels also seem to borrow from other Sega games – I’m pretty sure there’s a Zillion themed area for one, and there’s an Opa-Opa hiding one of the “miracle balls” you have to collect.

Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars
“Find the miracle ball!” says the speech sample

On the final level, which has very low gravity making all the jumps incredibly easy, there’s no miracle ball, but completing it throws you back at the start of the game again. Only, unlike Teddy Boy, the levels become harder and there’s a second set of miracle balls to collect. Only by running through all the levels again (which I did) do you get the True Ending: a black screen with the words “The End” on it. That’s it. Thanks, Sega!

Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars

Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars is a mediocre game with very little in common with the other Alex Kidd games, it would seem. There are plenty of better Master System platformers (Miracle World, Sonic, Asterix, The Lucky Dime Caper, Castle of Illusion… the list goes on) so there’s very little here to recommend it. Still, it wasn’t terrible, so that’s something? Oh, and the FM sound is lovely, so make sure you use an emulator with that turned on if you do play it.

I’m still confused as to why it’s called The Lost Stars when it’s actually Miracle Balls you have to collect, though.

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James Pond II: Codename Robocod (MD): COMPLETED!

Part Fish, Part Machine, All Cod.

Robocod was one of my favourite Mega Drive games in the 90s. I loved the silliness and the stupid things you could collect, the themed levels, and the penguins. Sadly, over the years when Playstation, Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS remakes were released, they ruined the memory of a once great game.


Going back to the original (well, the Mega Drive version of the original anyway) I was hoping to show how awful the more recent versions have been, but unfortunately it hasn’t held up too well itself. Of course, it’s still far better than the others, but it isn’t quite as good as I recall. Too many instant unforeseen deaths (things dropping out of nowhere on your head, for example), dodgy collision detection, and even falling through floors – all things I’d either not cared about back then or have forgotten in the meantime.

Robocod is still wonderfully nonsensical though, with creative baddies (busses that spit out grannies being my favourite) and some decent bosses, but it perhaps isn’t the best Mega Drive platformer that isn’t Sonic any more.


It didn’t take very long to complete either, so even though I died a lot clearly there was an abundance of extra lives (not to mention the ten minutes semi-invincibility you get at the start for collecting items in the right order). I got stuck on a level in the “transport” world trying to find a missing penguin, but eventually located it. Most of the rest of the levels were pretty straightforward. Fun but dated.

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Teddy Boy (MS): COMPLETED!

Not the Showaddywaddy type of Teddy Boy, it would seem.

Teddy Boy
Shoot ALL the ninja

Teddy Boy was one of the first Master System games I owned, mainly because it was under ten quid new, but I actually quite liked it. I’d never completed it though, and in fact I didn’t think you could complete it – I just thought it went on forever like arcade games of this sort generally did. However, over on RetroCollect someone posted they’d just completed it and I asked how – and it turns out the levels just loop round after level 50. Technically beating that level would count (to me) as completing the game then.

Teddy Boy
Level 51 with some lives left!

Way back when, I think a level somewhere in the 40s was about as far as I ever reached, so imagine my surprise when I managed to reach – and finish – level 50 on just my second attempt. On the first attempt I only made it to level 12 or so, but I quickly learned to be slow and cautious where possible, keep an eye out for the crocodiles especially, and always collect the little token things that come out of the baddies when shot otherwise they gobble up the time after a while. And the yellow bread things? You can’t take on more than one at a time.

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I found Teddy Boy to still be fun game, much to my surprise. It’s very jolly and cute, even if very simple.

Star Fox Zero (Wii U): COMPLETED!

What does the Star Fox say?

Star Fox ZeroA confession: I’ve never really enjoyed Star Fox games before. The SNES original looked very impressive at the time but it didn’t really interest me, the N64 game bored me, the Not Zelda Honest Gamecube mis-step was awful, and so on. But there was something about the videos for Star Fox Zero which interested me. Not when first announced, of course, as it looked rubbish back then, but when Nintendo came back a few months later with more information my interest was piqued.

Star Fox Zero

And when I came to play it, it was a lot of fun! Not too taxing, and although the dual-controls (on screen and on the pad) are initially confusing, it didn’t take too long to get used to them. I think that most of the time I ended up just relying on the GamePad in the end, but that worked out fine for me.

Star Fox ZeroThe levels were surprisingly varied, with standard “on rails” into the screen shooting sections, some bosses where you fly around an area freely, dogfights in space, levels where you have to dodge a load of stuff, some slow paced bits with a robot you deploy and control, and more. In fact, almost every level is different in how you play to those previous.

Now to go back and unlock some of the alternative routes, I think!

Star Fox Zero