Growing up in the 90s Star Fox was - and remains to this day - one of my favourite games, so it just had to be Nintendo Switch when it came to Starlink: Battle for Atlas so I could be reunited with Fox McCloud 25 years on.
Starlink: Battle for Atlas is a space exploration, good vs evil action-adventure game from Ubisoft which attempts to revive the toys-to-life market so popular in the past with Skylanders and Disney Infinity.
That in itself would instantly narrow the audience for this new game to children but with the emphasis as much on digital downloads as physical peripherals that is not the case.
As per the name, the game is set in the Atlas star system and your mothership - the Equinox - is ambushed by the Forgotten Legion crashing into a nearby planet.
The captain is taken hostage - what did Bowser start all those years ago with Princess Peach! - and you battle the Legion and its leader, Grax, who is obsessed with tapping into the technology of an ancient race called the Wardens for his own dastardly deeds. Straight away fans of Star Fox will feel all nostalgic if playing the Switch version, which as a starter pack can be purchased with the legendary Mr McCloud and his ship.
Combat is great fun and if you want to spend the money you can build up quote a roster of ships, characters and weapons. These - and more - are also available digitally, though, albeit without the satisfaction of quickly changing weapons or on the ship mounted on your controller and the like. It is a novelty that will probably wear off quickly for older gamers but with plenty of depth digitally there is no reason that should limit the audience in any way.
I completed Starlink in around 23 hours over the course of 5 or 6 nights and had a blast doing it. There was always lots going on and targets to clear. The crowning achievement is the vastness of the universe you inhabit and the sheer excitement that comes with entering a planet.
If you have multiple consoles I would thoroughly recommend the Switch version, not only for the brilliant additional Star Fox content but it seems the game was made to be best enjoyed on Nintendo’s platform.
If you like collectables and don’t mind a fair bit of grind you will probably forgive Starlink’s repetition such as the format of battles becoming all too familiar like in the old days of video games.
Starlink can be enjoyed with or without toys but they are not a necessity to get the most out of the game, in fact you can do more digitally. They do add an element of fun for children, but I can’t see it proving popular enough to rejuvenate the fading toys-to-life genre.
All in all this is a super cool, super fun space adventure with bags of Star Fox nostalgia for Switch gamers. It looks great and plays great with the grind and brevity the only drawbacks stopping it from being great.