Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Top Ten Star Fox Series Boss Battles

Star Fox Zero released several weeks ago. (Check out SuperPhillip Central's in-depth review on the game here.) After digesting all that game had to offer, I felt the need to take a look back at other games in the Star Fox series. This is where the idea for this top ten list today came from. It's dedicated to the best showdowns, aerial or land-based, in the Star Fox series's illustrious two decade plus history. Since there are spoilers of Star Fox Zero included, take a look at the list after the break.

10) Anglar Emperor (Star Fox Command - DS)

The final boss of the otherwise average Star Fox Command is an interesting showdown. For one, the encounter is entirely on-rails, completely forgoing the usual all-range mode 360 degree gameplay the game is known for. The Anglar Emperor is a giant angler fish that uses three pieces that surround and rotate around the creature's head. Shooting all three of these until they turn red opens up the Anglar Emperor for attack on his antennae. When enough damage has been inflicted, the battle continues, though this time the player has to contend with a bunch of girders that appear on screen. Flying through them masterfully while slowly chipping away at the boss is what is required to finally take him down for good. Star Fox saves the Lylat System once more!

9) Slot Machine (Star Fox - SNES)

An atypical boss from an atypical section of the original Star Fox, the Slot Machine boss, which marks the end of the Out of this Dimension! path, is an unusual encounter. It tasks Fox with shooting its arm, thus starting the spinning of its three slots. Through shooting the slots with proper timing, different results can happen depending on the icons that line up. Some involve the arrival of missiles and enemies that Fox needs to dodge. Others give Fox coins that heal his health. Ultra helpful after this level that preceded this encounter. Only by scoring three 7's in a row will the fight be over and the Slot Machine will self-destruct. Who would have thought that Fox and friends would be required to have Lady Luck as a copilot?

8) Meteo Crusher (Star Fox 64 - N64, 3DS)

I really enjoy the asteroid field boss in Star Fox 64 for several reasons. Sure, he's a pushover overall, but the fight enjoyable all the same. Destroying its two yellow energy cores while avoiding its purple circular waves that form from its side cannons is the approach to take with this boss. My favorite part is when the pilot admits defeat after half of its health is down. Thankfully, the Star Fox crew doesn't fall for the pilot's ruse with the pilot then exclaiming, "You're not as stupid as you look!" Then, he unleashes a massive wave of energy from his core, the exact weak point of the asteroid-destroying vessel. After shooting enough laser shots into the core, the pilot and his Meteo Crusher are eliminated with him yelling, "I can't believe I lost to this scum!" The Meteo Crusher is an enjoyable boss battle that is accentuated by the pilot's awesome dialogue and bravado.

7) Andross (Star Fox 64 - N64, 3DS)

Only Andross has the brain to control the Lylat System. If you take the easy route in Star Fox 64 (the one that leads to Venom from Bolse), you only take on the first form of Andross, a giant face that wishes to inhale and chew Fox McCloud's Arwing into scrap metal and two hands that want to swat McCloud out of the sky. In the hard path (approaching Venom from Area 6), once you take down this first phase of Andross, the maniacal monkey shows his true form, a brain with two eyeballs connected by electrical energy. Shooting down the eyeballs is the first move Fox McCloud should make, and following that, the big brain's medulla is its weak point. Blasting the brain is recommended for when it approaches Fox, as that will make it transport itself to a different location, making it so Fox won't get caught in its tendrils. U-turns are needed to get a good angle on the back of Andross's brain, allowing Fox to unleash various laser blasts at the brain, eventually putting the wannabe ruler of the Lylat System into hibernation.

6) Monarch Dodora (Star Fox Zero - Wii U)

Using the two screen approach of Star Fox Zero to great effect, Star Fox Zero's scuffle with the returning from Star Fox and Star Fox Command boss Monarch Dodora has players flying around the big bad two-headed bird while avoiding its fireballs that it launches from its mouths. There are four weak points on Monarch Dodora, one on its chest, one on its tail, and two on its back-- the hardest two to take down because they're so small. Soon, the boss starts flocking around the all-range mode arena, unleashing a destructive beam from its tail as Fox and friends pursue the big bird. Once two if its weak points have been destroyed, Dodora calls upon a series of twisters that surround the central platform. Through dodging its fireballs that it shoots at Fox while he moves around the platform, eventually Fox will be able to make chase against the boss once again. Monarch Dodora is a challenging fight in Star Fox Zero that requires tactical defensive maneuvers while aiming with the GamePad to take down this avian adversary for good.

5) Aparoid Queen (Star Fox Assault - GCN)

This three phase fight with the final boss of Star Fox Assault is one for the ages. At first, you fight a titan-sizes Aparoid Queen that rests in the middle of a chamber, playing mind games with the Star Fox crew by impersonating various characters from the series, including Fox's dead father. Shooting off its protective shards will allow Fox to blast the Queen's core. When enough damage has been taken by the Queen, the second phase of the battle begins. This takes place in an on-rails segment with the Queen in an insect/parasite-like form, retreating from Fox while unleashing a series of frantic attacks that the experienced pilot must carefully fly through. This three phase final fight with the leader of the Aparoid scourge infecting the Lylat is a fantastic and intense battle that one can only feel real proud of their abilities once the Queen has been exterminated.

4) Gorgon (Star Fox 64 - N64, 3DS)

Area 6 is the last line of defense for Andross's forces, and it's the penultimate level in the Hard path in Star Fox 64. The last line of defense for the last of defense is a large circular enemy vessel known as the Gorgon. This boss can transport itself in and out of the Star Fox crew's line of sight in a jiffy. The main aim of taking down Gorgon is to shoot and destroy the long, lurching arms of the enemy and then shoot at its energy balls that circle around its center when the Gorgon opens up. Gorgon can send its long, reaching arms at Fox in an attempt to swat him down, as well as unleash a behemoth-sized beam that takes up nearly half of the screen. However, don't give up, Fox! All you need to do is fire at Gorgon's core once the arms and energy balls have been eliminated in order to send this mechanical monstrosity to the junk heap.

3) Saucerer (Star Fox 64 - N64, 3DS)

This next boss battle invokes memories of Independence Day as the titular boss hovers over the central facility in the Katina level of Star Fox 64. The goal here is simple: shoot and destroy the four hatches on the Saucerer's underside to bring the colossal enemy mothership down. However, the hatches don't stay open for the entire time. They occasionally open, having one of Fox's friends Bill letting players known when the hatches are able to be attacked. Once enough time has gone by, a timer appears. Once the timer hits zero, the enemy mothership will obliterate the base. There's no time to waste, even though it's quite tempting to continue to shoot down enemy ships to rack up your high score. Shoot down the last of the four hatches and the Saucerer crashes to the ground. Though, you'd think that a massive enemy mothership falling on the base would destroy it like a giant blast from the ship, but apparently not!

2) Andross (Star Fox Zero - Wii U)

Somehow Nintendo managed to usurp Star Fox 64 as my favorite Andross encounter. In Star Fox Zero's finale, you have to utilize both the TV screen and the Wii U GamePad screen to survive Andross's onslaught. The battle has Andross is mechanical form inside a heavily guarded column that Fox McCloud needs to somehow maneuver his Arwing of many small holes in said column, but only through the player looking at the GamePad screen can players see the otherwise rock solid holes.

Once inside, Andross uses his two hands to unleash various attacks on Fox, who needs to strafe around the mad monkey scientist in his Walker Arwing form. Once both hands have been destroyed, the final act of battle begins, requiring Fox to dodge Andross's advances, such as a revolving eye laser and a bite attack, and shoot Andross in his mouth to stun him. Only then can Fox move behind him and shoot his weak point in the back of his head.

Once enough damage has been inflicted on Andross, Fox begins to escape. However, Andross, full of rage, closely follows, attacking Fox with his massive head. Soon, a familiar face to Fox zooms by, distracting Andross who turns around. Players can optionally perform a U-turn and blast Andross in his weak point during this phase, successfully escaping from Andross and destroying him in the process. A heavily involved boss battle, Star Fox Zero's confrontation with Andross is my second favorite battle in Star Fox's long history.

1) Star Wolf (Star Fox 64 - N64, 3DS; Star Fox Assault - GCN; Star Fox Command - DS; Star Fox Zero - Wii U)

My number one pick is actually a series of awesome battles that spans three games: Star Fox 64, Star Fox Assault, and Star Fox Zero. It's Star Wolf, a ragtag group of four, sometimes only three ace pilots dedicated to shooting down and eliminating Team Star Fox. Each encounter with the group features intense dogfighting action where your skills will be put to the ultimate test. Whether four vs. four encounters in Star Fox 64 or Fox McCloud alone against all four members in Star Fox Zero, where the members of Star Wolf can transform into both aerial and land-based vehicle forms, the battles with Star Wolf are always a highlight of the Star Fox games they are featured in. You're always going to get a challenging and rewarding fight from these ace pilots. That is why Star Wolf is number one of this list.

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