EXCLUSIVE: Rare Revisits- DarkIce Mines

Despite being ever so slightly later than usual, I have arrived back from yet another trip down memory lane. This centerpiece of this week’s editorial comes straight from everyone’s favorite Rare title, Star Fox Adventures!

All joking aside, Fox McCloud’s first and arguably only foray into action-adventure territory is one of the most under-appreciated gems of the Twycross-based developer’s expansive catalog. While by no means is it even an adequate Star Fox game, Adventures’ rich environments, experimental combat, engaging puzzles, and thrilling boss battles made for one of the more admirable Zelda clones that I have experienced. The locales, especially, did an excellent job of evoking a genuine sense of place.

One of my favorite examples of this is DarkIce Mines, the first of four lands that have been separated from Dinosaur Planet. Here, the mammoth-like SnowHorn tribe has been enslaved into labor by the ruthless General Scales and his SharpClaw forces. Even on the snowy surface of this world, there is a distinct lack of whitewashing, as the few SnowHorn that are left have either been chained or have been left to starve to death.

That being said, an even more sinister aspect of this place is discovered once the player reaches the lave-filled caverns of the mine itself. All of the remaining SnowHorn have been crammed into uncomfortably-sized prison cells, forced to manually operate conveyer belts, or fed to the creature Galdon as an example. While we only hear whispers of the latter, this entire place is permeated by hopelessness and futility. It certainly doesn’t help that David Wise’s musical score is incredibly haunting.

Speaking of Galdon, however, the battle against this insect-dinosaur hybrid is perhaps one of the most memorable set-piece moments of any GameCube title. The immaculate lighting, the sense of scale, and the phases of the battle — one of which involves being regurgitated — perform so fluidly that I occasionally wonder how Nintendo’s first disc-based console was able to pull off this sequence.

I would definitely like to hear your thoughts on DarkIce Mines, though. Do you feel that it successfully captured its intended tone? Were you impressed by the Galdon fight, too? What are your thoughts on Star Fox Adventures as a whole? Feel free to let us know in the comments below!