The Ill Communication

Star Fox

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
N.A. Release: March 26, 1993

Box Quote: "Lead the Star Fox Team to Victory!"

When it comes to churning out successful franchises, Nintendo is second to none. During the NES era alone are a number of them that continue to stand the test of time to where even after 20+ years later new games still continue to come out. The biggest would be the Mario franchise along with The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, and Kirby closely following in wake.

The era of Super Nintendo was no different as the Nintendo factory continued on outputting new and lovable franchises for their latest console. One of these was an action filled, space adventure that demonstrated the power of what the SNES was capable of when tied to a new chipset they helped co-develop, the Super FX chip. Of course I’m talking about Star Fox!

The combined use with the Super FX chip allowed games to include polygons, allowing the possibility for immersing players in fully rendered 3D worlds as opposed to the industry’s standard of 2D side scrollers. For Star Fox, it flipped the popular Shoot 'em up genre on its head -- or rather its rear-end -- by positioning the camera behind the spacecraft and having the player fly inward towards enemies instead of scrolling sideways in a rightward direction towards danger. This angle of play would eventually create its own genre called the rail shooter.

Heavily influenced by Star Wars, Star Fox is a sort of space opera that includes traveling through space, flying down to planets, and traversing across asteroid fields. The main character is Fox McCloud, an anthropomorphic fox who is the leader of team Star Fox and includes other pilots such as a rabbit named Peppy Hare, a frog named Slippy Toad, and a bird named Falco Lombardi. Each of them pilots a prototype, next generation ship called the Arwing, which has the maneuverability and speed similar to an X-Wing.

They are dispatched by General Pepper -- who’s a dog -- to defeat Dr. Andross -- who’s a monkey -- and his army who have declared war on planet Corneria, the home planet of team Star Fox. Planet Venom is where Dr. Andross’ home base is located and team Star Fox’s primary destination for defeating him. But to get there, they’ll need to cross the Lylat solar system, which includes a number of planets in between Corneria and Venom.

With a control scheme easy to handle, you fly your Arwing, shooting down enemy ships and ground forces as you progress towards your destination. For quick maneuvering, you can turn your ship on its side, or in case of incoming projectiles, perform a barrel roll to avoid getting hit. The laser blaster is your primary weapon with unlimited ammo while the nova bomb is the powerful, but limited secondary weapon.

As mentioned earlier, Star Wars can be seen as an influence all throughout the game. Heck, at the end of every stage includes the well-known transition wipes the film franchise is ridiculously known for. For Star Fox, they exclusively use the clock wipe.

Instead of feeling alone on your missions, it’s great how they include a good amount of interaction between all of your teammates. Short radio chatter and video feeds of your wing men can be seen towards the bottom of the screen. If one is being tailed by an enemy, you have an opportunity to shoot it down. Then for a short while, your buddy will take the lead in taking down some foes. If you shoot at any of your teammates, they’ll shout at you with lines like: “Hey!! It’s me, Slippy!!,” “Watch your aim, Fox!!,” or “Watch it, Fox!!”

While Star Fox premiered on the SNES, it would be during the consoles following it with the Nintendo 64 and GameCube where the franchise started to produce a number of titles. This makes sense as the game was designed for 3D environments. SNES needed the extra oomph which the Super FX chip provided while its successor of consoles rendered polygons natively. But of all Nintendo’s franchises, Star Fox is one that has seen bumpier trails when compared to others. With a few canceled games and some lukewarm reviews for others, its wildly successful debut title may have actually been a curse as the bar was set way too high for the others to achieve. But hey, with players always being nostalgic for the original, the stars are what you have to reach for to achieve success. And if you want to be the best, you have to be smart as a fox.

Posted on: March 9, 2016