It may have been a long time coming, but Star Fox Zero, Nintendo's space themed, ship flying, Slippy toad slapping shoot 'em up is almost here. The latest update in a long line of games that started out on the SNES, Star Fox Zero takes the series back to its laser dodging, screen-filling-with-fire roots - with plenty of enemies to blow up, and even more of their shots to dodge (by doing a barrel roll, of course).
With so much action going on on screen though, even Star Fox veterans can sometimes find that things get a little bit hairy, as their ship takes pounding after pounding - and that's without even considering how tricky a younger player, or someone less versed in games like this might find it. Ever keen to ensure their games reach the broadest possible audience, getting the difficulty balance right is something Nintendo are always keen to achieve with their games - which is why with Star Fox Zero, they've actually added an optional invincibility mode, to ensure everyone can get in on the fun.
An "on the rails" shooter of sorts, Star Fox Zero tells the tale of a group of anthropomorphic animals who also happen to be spaceship flying aces. Playing as titular hero Fox McCloud, it's up to you to take control of the Arwing ship, and blast your way through the levels.
While it may sound easy in practice, in reality, it can sometimes be easier said than done. That's why, in an interview with TIME, legendary developer Shigeru Miyamoto announced the game would be coming with a brand new invincibility mode, added to the game with the intention of making the game friendlier for kids - and those who've never played a shoot 'em up quite like this before.
As Miyamoto explained, "[beyond the co-op modes], we [also] have additional ones for people who like the game but find it too hard to get past certain levels. So, for instance, there'll be a way for them to get an invincible Arwing, so that they can fly through and see the levels. We recognize that there are probably going to be younger kids who are playing a Star Fox game for the first time with Star Fox Zero, and maybe this will be their first action game. So we feel we've designed the game in a way that it will be welcoming to those new users and help introduce them to this style of action genre"
It's a great idea, and one that makes perfect business sense, especially considering Nintendo's family friendly demographics. One of the biggest stumbling blocks people have when it comes to jumping into new games is wondering if they can "do" the game in question, and an invincibility mode answers that question with a resounding yes. Even if you struggle, you'll be able to finish the game. It's something we took advantage of hugely when we were growing up, as invincibility modes seemed much more common back then - and we're sure plenty of kids today will love it too. And, likely, some big kids too!
Miyamoto also pointed to the game's co-op mode as being another great way for beginners - or families - to play together. In co-op, one player handles flying the ship, while another player shoots - letting the more experienced player worry about keeping you alive, while the other player gets the fun bit of blowing things up. It's getting people to play together that's one of Nintendo's strong points, and it's great to see Nintendo still feel strongly about bringing folk together.
Of course, just because it has an easy mode doesn't mean Star Fox will be totally devoid of any challenge. The invincibility mode is, as ever, totally optional, and Miyamoto also hinted at other modes that exist to increase the challenge, for those who really want to test their space skills - a mode where your ship does double the damage, but also takes double the damage sounds like an interesting blend of risk and reward.
After a lengthy development, Star Fox Zero will be hitting shelves on the 22nd April, exclusively on Wii U. To find out more about the day one edition, that comes bundled with spin-off mini-game Star Fox Guard, check out our Nintendo Direct round-up.