Ever since Nintendo started adding gimmicks to its consoles there was always a risk of a gimmick too far.
And, let's face it, it isn't like they don't have form with missteps: for every DS there is a Virtual Boy, for every Wii a Power Glove or Robotic Operating Buddy.
You remember the Robotic Operating Buddy don't you? It was this little robot guy who held an NES pad in his claws and assumed the role of a second player for multiplayer games. Nintendo had to withdraw them from the market after a load of them malfunctioned and tried to invade Lichtenstein.
Unfortunately, whereas the Wiimote was an idea that everyone - gamer and dunce alike - could understand instinctively, by making the Wii U a hybrid of the second-screen idea and the Wiimote, the response was abject confusion.
We're approaching the end of the Wii U's lifecycle, and we've yet to play a game which makes a strong, compelling case for the GamePad. Star Fox Zero feels like Nintendo going "We'll show 'em! How dare they mock us?! Well we'll show 'em what a good idea the GamePad is!".
Regrettably, in trying to do that - in trying to crowbar the Gamepad into the heart of Star Fox Zero - all Nintendo has achieved is provide one last magazine of ammunition to everyone who has ever looked at the Wii U and pondered... "Why dey do dis?"
You've probably read a fair bit about the controls in Star Fox Zero. Let us do the most boring thing imaginable by confirming that everything bad you've heard is true.
The convoluted and fundamentally broken controls - YES, you do get semi-used to them, eventually, but by that time this all-too-brief game is almost over - are bewildering. The TV shows the external view of your ship. The GamePad screen acts as the view through your pilot's eyes. Your thumb steers the ship, your flailing arms steer your aiming reticle.
It's ridiculous, and while you will eventually get the hang of it, almost, the game would've been better served with a more familiar control system. Let players forget about the controls, and enjoy the game you've thrown them into.
Unfortunately, even if it had better controls, Star Fox Zero would struggle to thrill.
For anyone who has played a Star Fox game much of Zero will feel lazily familiar.
It "boasts" a familiar branching structure, there are multiple routes through the levels, and it's mostly an on-rails experience, with sections set in space, and others above the ground.
Additionally, there are missions featuring a Star Wars-esque chicken walker thing, and a number of puzzle-based sections wherein you control a plodding Gyrowing.
Star Fox and Star Fox 64 were always loved for their pace, for that feeling of putting the player in the midst of the action. They weren't hugely challenging to play, and therein lay their appeal; you could switch off and pretend.
Ultimately, there's just something a bit half-hearted about Star Fox Zero. The visuals are far from next-gen, the level design feels reheated from leftovers, and nobody stopped to question whether the intention to force the GamePad down everyone's throats was going to hamper what little enjoyment was on offer from the slight, 3-4 hour campaign.
Even the addition of Star Fox Guard - a fair-to-middling tower defence-ish bonus game - feels like padding, like they lost confidence in the main product.
The biggest shame about Star Fox Zero is this is a long-awaited return for one of Nintendo's flagship franchises. There was a time when Nintendo would have treated such a release with the care usually reserved for precious metals, and given us something brand new.
What does it say about the company's current mentality that they've churned this one out, seemingly as a final stab at justifying one of their greatest balls-ups? It's the gaming equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and going "Nyah nyah - I can't hear you...!".
SUMMARY: It's like trying to play Star Fox, with most of the fun removed.
SCORE: 5-and-a-bit out of 10-and-a-smidge.