Star Fox Zero: The Battle Begins is what you’d expect, an animated short that promotes the game it’s based on and little else.
As a way to promote Star Fox Zero for the Wii U, Nintendo decided to release a 15-minute animated short that provides some background about the game. Created by Production I.G. (the Japanese studio behind anime like Attack on Titan, Ghost in the Shell, Blood: The Last Vampire and FLCL, among others) The Battle Begins tries to promote the Star Fox game in an unapologetic manner and you’ll be reminded of that again and again.
As soon as you start watching, you’re introduced to the Star Fox crew which include human-like characters such as Fox McCloud, Falco Lombardi, Peppy Hare and Slippy Toad. It seems Corneria is under attack by the Andross army and Fox and his buddies will try to defend the planet before the general is captured by enemy troops. Of course, this means that they’ll fly around in their ships shooting other ships.
As I mentioned above, The Battle Begins goes out of its way to remind you that this is a short animated movie based on a game: Falco plays Super Star Fox on an SNES, members of Star Fox talk to each other in a UI similar to that of the game, there are barrel rolls, there lines taken from the games and the end credits use footage from the Wii U game. Also, the story ends in a cliffhanger and if you want to know how it ends, you’ll have to play the game.
Visually, this is a divisive-looking film. I’m sure a lot of people will like its sharp look, but I’m not a fan of movies that blend traditional 2D animation with modern 3D graphics. This makes the short look contrived and I found the animation distracting. The music, on the other hand, seems to be taken from the games and it’s fantastic, so fans who have nostalgia for the games will love the musical pieces.
In the end, Star Fox Zero: The Battle Begins is what you’d expect, an animated short that promotes the game it’s based on and little else. The fan service, classic soundtrack and references to the game is something fans will appreciate, but since this isn’t a tremendous time commitment, everyone interested should go ahead and watch it.