Nintendo's upcoming Star Fox Zero is gearing up for release exclusively on the Wii U starting April 21. The game has undergone some slight frame-rate testing ahead of its release courtesy of Digital Foundry, and what they found was rather interesting.
The Digital Foundry pixel counters found that the game aims for 60 frames per second, but doesn't always manage to hit or maintain that goal at all times. It variably dips between 54fps and 60fps on occasion, and at its lowest point will drop to 40fps during heavy explosions and combat. You can see the test below where the frame-rate fluctuates like sine wave.
As is typical for most Wii U titles, Star Fox Zero makes use of the console's second screen. This enables gamers to view the action from first person. They note in the video above that the cockpit view is good for precision aiming and taking out bosses that require hitting specific points at specific times. It may take some getting used to given the way the game is designed, but one really cool aspect is that the game can be played cooperatively where one person flies the ship while the other person aims and targets using the GamePad. It's not a bad way to make use of asymmetric multiplayer mechanics.
Of course, the most important part about a frame-rate test is finding out how well the game performs overall. As noted above, Platinum Games gunned for 60fps, as is standard with their titles running on their finely tuned engine. However, Star Fox Zero averages between 54 and 57fps. This is mostly common for a lot of Wii U games that gun for 60fps. The dips usually occur when the screen is filled with action, shooting, blaster fire and explosions.
However, the dips aren't too bad even though the game is running at 1280 x 720p. Why are the dips not bad at such a low resolution? Because the Wii U is rendering two completely separate screens at once while maintaining 60fps. The first main HD screen is running 720p,while the second screen is running at 854 x 480 on the GamePad. Combined, the Wii U is processing more than 1.3 million pixels per second with both resolutions combined.
For those wondering, the two resolutions do not equate to a native 1080p output. The HD output and the GamePad output combined for Star Fox Zero is still about 742,080 pixels short of rendering on par to a native 1080p output.
Even still, the engineers at Digital Foundry found that Star Fox Zero runs well enough for what it's intended to accomplish. They also note that the graphics are passable for a fun-filled HD experience with a lot of replay values included in the levels that they played.
At launch, the game will come with the tactical strategy game Star Fox Guard. You can expect to see both Star Fox Guard and Star Fox Zero made available digitally and at local retailers starting April 21, exclusively for the Wii U.