Should Starlink be called Star Fox: Battle for Atlas?

Star Fox Starlink

Over the last week, my life has been consumed by Starlink: Battle for Atlas. This is partially because I needed to play through the game to review it, but also because I really enjoyed it. While the Xbox One X version of the game may be able to run it in 4K and visually provide the best console version, the Nintendo Switch is the place to play the game. This might seem like a strange statement, but the Switch edition has something that no other version of the game has: Team Star Fox!

My first console was the Nintendo 64. I picked up four games with the system, Super Mario 64, GoldenEye 007, Top Gear Rally, and Lylat Wars (aka Star Fox 64). I confess the only reason I got Lylat Wars was that it came with the Rumble Pak. It was a fortuitous coincidence, though, as I played the heck out of it. Not only did I complete the campaign on multiple playthroughs, but I also spent hours and hours playing the multiplayer with my best mate. I have such fond memories of Lylat Wars and it fueled my love for its furry protagonist. I spent more time with Fox on the GameCube in Star Fox Adventures and (the not quite so good) Star Fox: Assault. All of this meant I was delighted when I heard that he was coming to Switch as an exclusive character in its version of Starlink: Battle for Atlas.

It might seem like stunt casting, but putting Team Star Fox in Ubisoft’s new IP makes perfect sense because it is basically just like a Star Fox game. There is space combat, flying around planets, and combat on a planet surface. Even Fox’s nemesis Wolf O’Donnell is in the game. In fact, Wolf is given as the reason that Fox is in the Atlas system. In the Switch-exclusive missions, you will be hunting down your quarry and putting a halt to his plan. These missions feel like a natural extension of the rest of Starlink, possibly to a fault. They do kind of feel like they were missions the developers came up with that were then co-opted to become Team Star Fox missions.

Of course, Fox is not just limited to his exclusive missions. You can actually play through the entire game as Fox. In terms of gameplay, this works just fine. Narratively, though, it’s not the best move. The reason for this isn’t that you miss parts, but rather Fox gets in the way of the bonding that the rest of the Starlink team are supposed to be doing. Instead of the rest of the team talking to one another, they’re talking to Fox. There are also occasions where you can tell that the script was written without him in mind and they’ve had to insert additional bits to include him. It has to be said, though, that they have done a good job of including him in the prerendered videos that are spaced throughout the story.

What Starlink absolutely nails are the look and feel of Fox and his Arwing. Fox’s ship looks brilliant. The best it has ever looked in fact. It feels a lot more grounded and realistic. Well, as realistic as a spaceship piloted by a fox in another galaxy can do. It’s even possible to do Fox’s signature barrel rolls. The Arwing may handle almost identically to the rest of the ships in the game, but when that system is already so good, why would you want to change it?

So, should Starlink: Battle for Atlas be known as Star Fox: Battle for Atlas? I guess it depends on how much of a Star Fox fan you are. If you want to play this as a Star Fox game and see it that way, then go for it. What it does do is make me crave a new game featuring the furry pilot. It has been over 15 years since we had a good Star Fox title. (I’m not going to defend Star Fox Zero.) Maybe Nintendo should try to persuade Ubisoft Toronto to make a new game in the series. They clearly have a good working relationship with Ubisoft. The French publisher’s team in Toronto can clearly handle a game of this type. Nintendo has even farmed out the Star Fox franchise to other publishers before. (Star Fox: Assault was developed by Namco, and Zero was largely developed by Platinum.)

I really hope that all of this raises the profile of Star Fox. Nintendo will no doubt be keeping an eye on the collective response to his inclusion in Starlink. The general consensus seems to be that the inclusion of Team Star Fox is a good thing. Here’s hoping that it all leads to a new standalone venture for our favorite furry pilot, as I can’t wait to spend more time with him defending Corneria.

What did you think of Team Star Fox’s inclusion in Starlink? Would you love to see a new game in the Star Fox franchise? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below, and don’t forget to check out our review of Starlink: Battle for Atlas.

Steve Clist
Joint Editor-in-Chief at Xbox Enthusiast as well as a contributor for Nintendo Enthusiast and PlayStation Enthusiast. Steve is a musician and gamer who loves sharing his passion for each. You will normally find him at the front of the grid in racing games or on the other end of the kill cam when you've just been killed in a first-person shooter.