So, I’m gonna come out and say it: I love Star Fox. It was one the first games of my childhood and I bought, played and enjoyed every single entry in the franchise. Yes even Assault, but I’ll get to that later. So to pass the time until Star Fox 64 3D comes out which I’m planning to review, I’m gonna blog about the Star Fox games.
In 1993, Nintendo and Argonaut Software created the first Star Fox game, an on-rails space flight shooter game, on the Super NES. With it’s Super FX chip, it had the ability to display 3D polygons and at the time, it was revolutionary. The story of Star Fox is set in the Lylat System, where anthropomorphic animals wage war in space. An evil scientist named Andross decided to take over the Lylat System and spread his crazy experiments across. In response to this threat, General Pepper of the Cornerian army enlisted the help of the Star Fox Team.
Oh yeah, that Corneria music is the best piece of video game music your ears will ever hear.
Ahem. You control Fox McCloud as you pilot your Arwing and lead your three wingmen, Peppy Hare, Slippy Toad, and Falco Lombardi, against Andross’s forces, traversing through 19 stages until you reach the final goal: Venom, where you confront Andross face-to-face.
With the game being a commercial success, work began on a second game for the Super NES.
The sequel, Star Fox 2, would be bigger and better game than the original complete with an upgraded Super FX chip. Andross has returned and caused another conflict in the Lylat System.
Star Fox 2‘s gameplay was different, but still kept the feel of the first one. First, you have to select between two pilots: The original four are accompanied by two new female members Miyu and Fay. Also each character has a distinct Arwing. Fox and Falco have rounded stats, Peppy and Slippy has high shields but low boost speed, and Miyu and Fay gives high boost speed for low shields. There are two gameplay modes: The overworld plays like a strategy game where you direct your two pilots to enemies and planets with enemy bases. Once you select your destination, you engage the enemy and destroy them. This gameplay feels similar to the original, but instead of on-rails, you fly in all-range. Also in some cases, you can transform your Arwing into a bipedal walker to deal with enemies on land. At the same time you have to fend off enemies while protecting Corneria. If Corneria takes too much damage, it’s game over. This game was also the first game to introduce Star Fox’s rival team Star Wolf. During missions, one member, either Leon Powalski, Pigma Dengar, or Andrew Oikonny (known as Algy), will appear and engage in a dogfight. The team leader, Wolf O’Donnell is the penultimate boss. Unfortunately, upon near completion, it was cancelled due to the fact that the Nintendo 64 was soon approaching. However the ROMs can be found on the internet, and there are gameplay videos available on Youtube, so check themout and see how awesome this game could’ve been.
However, most of its ideas were reused in later games in the series, like Star Fox 64 released in 1997 on the Nintendo 64.
If you asked any Star Fox fan which game in the series they remember most, nine times out of ten, they’d say this game. Considered the highest point of the series, Star Fox 64 takes the first SNES game and combines it with several recycled elements from Star Fox 2. It even incorparated two other vehicles alongside the Arwing, the Landmaster tank and the Blue-Marine. It also revolutionized gaming with the included Rumble Pak. Since then, it’s been a requirement for game controllers to have a rumble feature built-in. *cough*Sixaxis*. Not to mention it also was the first in the series to have multiplayer.
The next game in the series, 2002’s Star Fox Adventures for the Gamecube, is an odd case. It originally started off as an Nintendo 64 game called Dinosaur Planet developed by Rare. Since the Nintendo 64 was preparing to go out at the time, development of Dinosaur Planet was cancelled and redesigned in the Star Fox setting.
Star Fox Adventures was the biggest departure of the Star Fox franchise. It played similar to The Legend of Zelda series, with only a few Arwing missions scattered in between stages. It was well-recieved amongst the press and I liked it as well, but this was probably the game that polarized the fanbase, mainly because the majority of the game was on-foot, Fox’s love interest Krystal, and many other factors. Also since this was the last game Rare developed for Nintendo before being sold to Microsoft, lots of issues went during development. Like the reason why Dinosaur Planet was converted into a Star Fox game may have been to keep Microsoft from owning a potentially successful series. Also there was supposed to be a full boss fight between General Scales, the supposed Big Bad of the game with Falco coming back to aid Fox in the fight. (Falco’s absence in Adventures is explained in the one-shot side-story Farewell, Beloved Falco.)
In 2005, Star Fox Assault, the second Gamecube entry co-developed by Namco, was released, which was supposed to bring the series back to its roots. It was on the right path, but it failed to live up to the success of Star Fox 64, and is considered the least-recieved titles in the series. The main problem once again is gameplay is still on-foot, although the Arwing and Landmaster are available only during select missions.
Either way, I still enjoyed it. Hell, I enjoy anything Star Fox.
Ahem. The next year brought Star Fox Command for the Nintendo DS. If any game would be considered the closest thing to Star Fox 2, it would have to be Command. It has nearly the exact same gameplay. And as an added bonus, it was developed by Q-Games, whose founders worked on the SNES Star Fox. The game had multiple paths leading to nine different endings, depending on the decision that you make in-game. It was the first game in the series to incorporate online multiplayer. Although it was cool to see online in Star Fox, it wasn’t very well implemented. For starters, points are given to the player who grabs the star point when the player is shot down, meaning you can shoot down one player but another player would swoop in and steal your well-earned point. Secondly, should anyone ragequit during gameplay, the match ends regardless of points. Also according to Satoru Iwata, should they start working on a new Star Fox game, the story would be set after Assault, meaning this game is consided Canon Discontinuity.
Well, that’s the end of my look back at Star Fox. I sure enjoyed writing this blog, since Star Fox 64 3D is coming out in a couple weeks. I hope many 3DS owners will go out and buy this, because according to Nintendo, the future of the series depends on how well the game does. I really wouldn’t like to see this great franchise have its plug pulled.