Star Fox Command

The fantasy of flying a spaceship through hostile enemy airspace never dies. It just gets kinky. Star Fox Command recasts Star Wars-style space combat with a gaggle of anthropomorphic animals like ace pilot Fox McCloud and his amphibian sidekick Slippy. Most of the action takes place in the cockpit, as you dogfight with the minions of demented simian scientist Doctor Andross.

The Nintendo DS touchscreen control scheme is no substitute for a cockpit flight-stick, but it does the trick. It also helps that the airborne creeps you're after aren't too swift; taking them down is a little like shooting womp rats in a barrel. Fortunately, Star Fox Command mixes the mêlée with enough diversions to keep pilots frosty. Before scrambling jets, players engage in tactical maneuvers on a battlefield map, drawing flight paths of their team to intercept incoming missiles and squadrons. Even the game's narrative keeps players on their toes: Choose Your Own Adventure-style decisions fork the plot, occasionally throwing personal drama and betrayal your way. When McCloud's main squeeze Krystal hooks up with bad guy Panther Caruso, the emotional fireworks are just as flashy as a proton torpedo. It's hard out here for a half-man, half-fox.

Beyond the game: More than a decade after the series' debut, its talking animals with shapely human bodies veer dangerously close to the bizarro sexual fetish of furry fandom.

Worth playing for: Kooky relationship drama between McCloud and Krystal adds a humorous hint of emo pathos to the space opera.

Frustration sets in when: Nail-biting search-and-destroy missions send Fox chasing missiles through their slipstreams. Failure means you're nuked and have to start from scratch.

Final judgment: There's never been a great Star Wars game for a handheld system. Right now, Star Fox Command is the closest you'll get to taking a run on the Death Star.