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What a place to battle! Andross has turned Zoness into a toxic waste dump and is rumored to be building a supply base there! Fox, see what kind of trouble he is brewing up there. Watch out for mutated native life-forms- they're tough! Andross's refinery installations have security systems with high powered searchlights to scan through Zoness's tainted atmosphere. Don't let the searchlights spot you or you'll lose the element of surprise.
—General Pepper's Flight Log, pg 90

Radar Buoys are aquatic-based security SearchLights, programmed to floodlight the skies of Zoness, to seek out enemy star fighters. During the Lylat Wars, Andross's refinery installations had security systems with these high powered searchlights to scan through Zoness's tainted atmosphere.

Appearance

The Radar Buoys are cone shaped lamps that lay stationed still on the waves. The flood lights are easily spotted by white streams of light in the distance, but if just one is missed, the white will flash into red.

Enemy Recon

These seemingly harmless searchlights actually house powerful radar systems. They start off in a "passive" search mode, scanning only if an unidentified craft approaches. If you pass one without destroying it, it will switch to "aggressor" mode and activate the rest of the radar network.
—Official Nintendo Power Player's Guide, pg 91

Search and destroy

The success of this "stealth" mission depends on you remaining undetected by the enemy radar. If you fail to destroy even one radar buoy, the enemy will pick you up for sure, and then you'll be in real trouble! If the radar network switches to aggressor mode, the searchlights will turn red. From that point on, you can bet that Andross's fleet will throw everything the have at you. It will be still possible to complete the mission and challenge the floating Sarumarine base, but you'll be forced to bypass Sector Z and take the battle to another front.
—Official Nintendo Power Player's Guide, pg 92

Intelligence

Destroy every searchlight without being spotted to continue on to Sector Z.
—Star Fox 64.com

History

Watch out for the searchlight!
Slippy Toad

After the Venom Army invaded the vacation world of Zoness, 33 Radar Buoys were deployed. Rather then taking its defenses head-on, the team attempted to sneak in quietly. It was a hit-and-run attack. A series of radar buoys protected the main supply areas, scanning the skies with powerful flood-lamps, and formed an extensive early warning network. The team was able to destroy the buoys, with some surprise assistance from Katt Monroe, before they could alert the system and proceeded to lay waste to the infrastructure, yet the Sarumarine had already spotted them halfway using its periscopes.

Gameplay

In order to proceed to Sector Z, the player must destroy all radar buoys in this level. Should the player fail to destroy even a single one, the buoys will turn red and additional enemies will appear to attack the player. In addition, the point value of the remaining buoys will be reduced from three points to one, so in order to score a medal on Zoness it is advisable to destroy as many buoys as possible without alerting the enemy. Katt Monroe and your wingmen will also assist in destroying buoys at various points in the level, which can be of help to the player; however, this also results in fewer points for the player so it may be a good idea to use the boosters to speed ahead and steal the buoy kills before your teammates can get to them.

Gallery

Trivia

  • Slippy is the pilot to note the warning of the searchlights, however he will still fly ahead of them anyway. 
  • Each searchlight is worth 2 Hits, but if they detect the Arwing, they will become worth just 1 each. Lights that are shot by Katt will still award the Hit points.
  • If the player pauses after being detected by the radar buoys, the alarm system can still be heard on the pause screen.
  • The radar buoys searchlights were slightly altered between Star Fox 64 and Star Fox 64 3D, bearing a closer resemblance to real searchlights.
  • They make a reappearance in Star Fox Zero, with the player getting a game over if they are spotted. They are slightly larger and are affixed to walls as well as the ground, but overall function the same. In some cases, the player can destroy the lamps, although most times it requires the player to deactivate them remotely either with the Walker function's scan feature or via the Gyrowing's Direct-i.

References

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