By Joseph Walter
It manages to merge the styles of all the previously games, yet doesn't sound too Frankensteined-together.
As a whole, the final musical product produces an enjoyable listening experience for in-game action, along with out-of-game rocking out.
So because of all that, it's time to discuss some of the stand-out tracks in this divisive game on the so-called "Weekly Soundcheck!"
Starting out, the track has a similar structure to the SNES' "Corneria" theme, which continues to mirror how the original track filled itself out as it went on, building upon the initial backbone.
The stand-out moment is at :45, where an epic rendition of the SNES game's main theme (or perhaps you're more familiar with its triumphant "Course Clear" version!) is powerfully interjected into the proceedings.
Thankfully, this isn't the only time this tune is referenced throughout the soundtrack. Zero's status as a love letter to the franchise isn't just limited to characters, plots, voices or gameplay, but also musically. It expertly ties together the three distinct sounds of the franchise, whether it be the electronic focused original game, the orchestral style of Star Fox 64, or even a brand new theme crafted for this specific game. All three are used together spectacularly, and only further the nostalgia-inducing atmosphere.
Overall, this theme is a perfectly desperate, high-impact tune that meshes very well with the idea of Corneria, the hub of galactic peace, being under siege. But despite this feeling of danger and chaos, the aforementioned SNES Star Fox theme kicks in at just the right times to make you feel like you're liberating the planet, and doing so in appropriately and admirably bad-ass fashion.
Fittingly, the "Sector Beta" theme is just as large-scale and intense as the battle that unfolds in this nebula.
A departure from the electronica-focused "Corneria," "Sector Beta" aims more towards the grand-scale orchestral compositions of Star Fox 64 and Assault.
Right off the bat, militaristic drum beats and forceful brass set the stakes for the battle, quickly followed by a fanfare in distress, calling to mind the dire straits of the Cornerian fleet ("It's as bad as it looks!" claims General Pepper). This sequence is quickly followed by a proud burst of brass that serves as a call to arms for the Star Fox team and the Cornerian fighter squadrons, who pour into battle against the Harlock-class frigates and, eventually, the Tactical Destroyer Granby.
The rest of the song is a great mix of desperate climaxes and heroic interludes, all forming a very intense atmosphere alight with danger and drama, perfect for the "last line of defense," Sector Beta.
Of note, this track also plays during an exceptionally bad-ass secret mission featuring another fan favorite character, but I won't go into detail, as it's worth discovering for yourself.
It strays away from a militaristic sound, taking a cue from "Corneria" and focusing more on an electronic beat with some great keyboard moments, and yet another fantastic rendition of the original Star Fox theme at :37.
You can almost picture the Star Fox team prepping their Arwing's and planning their next assault with ROB in the Map Room to this cool-but-contemplative piece.
Star Wolf's Theme
Because of Zero's focus on these dogfights, it's most appropriate that the beloved team's equally-beloved theme got a proper facelift.
While the 64 version gave a lasting impression, the fully-orchestral version of Star Fox Assault trumped it in every way, while also adding an air of posh superiority with those smooth horns. Star Fox Zero chooses to go in a different direction than both of those versions, instead opting for another high-energy and complicated track, this time with choirs to give it even more of an edge!
Following the opening fanfare, the track's uncertain start gives you reason to ponder what your next move in the engagement will be, and then the famous notes of the Star Wolf theme kick in, quickly followed by our first taste of the choral presence. Something that makes this version particularly cool are the fearless embellishments of well-established moments from the previous versions, which goes hand-in-hand with Star Fox Zero's general theme of "same-but-different."
Although it may be a little over the top for some, it's hard to argue with the intensity and spectacle it brings to the cinematic dogfights it accompanies. The only real shame is that the orchestra is synthetic. I'd love for this version to be given the orchestral treatment!
It's fitting that this track is so unique, as this game's version of the planet, Fortuna, features imagery and environments that are rarely seen throughout the series, barring Star Fox Adventures.
As you fly through the enormous vegetation and misty, sky-high forests, the song still has the patented Star Fox horns, but they're given a primal edge with great flairs, surrounded by the appropriately jungle-like drumming.
It's a great change of pace sonically, for a level that's such a change of pace visually and atmospherically.