Considering the natural freedom of touch-screen control, it's surprising that there haven't been more flight-based games on the DS. It's been crying out for a Pilotwings since day one (Freedom Wings, the only real flight game released thus far for the system, hardly fills the void). A proper Star Fox, though - a gorgeous, unforgiving, explosive, on-rails and above all flight-based Star Fox, not this Adventures and Assault nonsense - would surely be the next-best thing. Memories of the quirky and delightful Lylat Wars have encouraged me to really look forward to Star Fox DS; of all the N64 ports that have mysteriously failed to materialise on the DS, Lylat Wars must surely be near the top of the world's Most Wanted list.
Unfortunately Star Fox Command is nothing like Lylat Wars. Well, almost nothing. It has all the same characters in it and is still a space shooter, but it's not on-rails and it has none of the personality. Somewhat appropriately, it begins by systematically assassinating all of the characters that have ever appeared in Star Fox games, sending them off to get married or become military commanders or form their own squadrons or, in the case of Adventures' Krystal (who for some bizarre reason has become a brazen hussy for Star Fox Command and frequently switches romantic allegiance), run off with a member of the infamous Star Wolf team, leaving Fox McCloud broken-hearted and alone. As the game runs its course, the Star Fox team is brought back together in the face of a common enemy, whose troops are threatening the Lylat System once again. Without wanting to ruin what little story there is, this enemy isn't very impressive, but next to Lylat Wars' creepily disembodied tyrant lurking at the end of a series of claustrophobic tunnels on a deserted planet, we doubt that any foe would seem all that awe-inspiring.
Anyway, that's enough talking about Lylat Wars. That's the last time it will be mentioned for at least a paragraph. Structurally, Command is more a strategy game than anything else. Each mission presents you with a map, upon which several enemy clusters and a few bases usually lurk, sometimes behind fog of war (easily dispersed with the stylus). The Great Fox mothership sits in a corner, and Fox and whichever allies he has accrued typically deploy there at the start of a mission. By drawing routes for the little spaceships you determine where they will end up at the end of each turn, and consequently which enemies they will engage. At the end of each turn there's a little battle sequence where you take control of the characters directly and fight off aggressors in an Arwing, collecting the 'cores' of key enemies as they are defeated. Typically, an area will be absolutely packed with various foes and it will be necessary to defeat only a certain number; shooting extra ships out of the air leads to bigger scores, but a little timer at the top of the screen is always counting down, usually necessitating a quick exit from any given battlefield as opposed to a full-blown clearout.