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Star Fox – SNES

Star Fox – SNES

Platform: Super Nintendo Entertainment System

Release Date: March 23rd, 1993

Developer: Nintendo EAD (With programming assistance from Argonaut Software)

Publisher: Nintendo

Genre: Rail Shooter

Nerd Rating: 8/10

My family never had a whole lot of money when I was growing up. There were a couple of Christmases where Santa just want able to make it down our chimney. That’s not to say that I had a bad or unhappy childhood, quite the contrary. It just made the bountiful times that much more special.

In 1993 I was definitely aware of the SNES. Titles like Super Mario World sure seemed like a lot of fun in the demos that I had played, but the SNES didn’t really become a must have in my mind until I first saw Star Fox. It might have been partially because of my love of aircraft, but there was just something about that game that captured my imagination and made me need a SNES.

So when the bountiful times came back for my family imagine a twelve year old Watchman’s surprise when my dad came home with a new SNES (with Mario World packed in) and a copy of Star Fox!

Your wing men will call out for help from time to time.

Your wing men will call out for help from time to time.

I loved that game immensely and played it to the point where I had a lot of it memorized, So when Nerd Bacon decreed February the month of retro goodness, I decided to strap on my flight suit and make a return trip to the Lylat star system and relive Star Fox.

The game follows a mercenary group of intergalactic space animals led by Fox McCloud, as they try to repel an invasion of the peaceful planet of Corneria by the evil monkey overlord known as Emperor Andross. The twisted ape was once a scientist on Corneria before he was banished because of his propensity for conducting dangerous experiments in the heart of Corneria’s most populated city. And just like any hyper intelligent spoiled brat, he fled to another planet where he built up an army and then launched an attack against Corneria and the rest of the Lylat system just to get some revenge.

The Watchman still has his original copy of Star Fox after all these years

The Watchman still has his original copy of Star Fox after all these years

Star Fox, the brain child of gaming’s Mozart Shigeru Miyamoto, (For anyone who does not know, Miyamoto is the genius who gave birth to Donkey Kong, Mario, Legend of Zelda, Pilot Wings, etc, and is generally regarded as the greatest and most influential game designer in the world.) is a 3D “on rails” space shooter in the same vein as Sega’s classic Afterburner. Star Fox was notable because it was the first of only a handful of SNES games to utilize an enhancement chip know as the Super FX Chip. This allowed the SNES to display very basic, non textured 3D polygons well before the 3D revolution of the PlayStation in 1995.

Game play consists of you piloting your fancy Arwing fighter across multiple stages as you try to shoot down enemy aircraft, ground-based weaponry, giant robots, and even strange space stingrays as they try to beat back Andross’s invasion. The Arwings themselves have a nice sense of balance to them, meaning that they feel like they have a little weight to them, but not so much that you’re unable to maneuver quickly.

Flying into this massive ship to destroy its core is of course, awesome!

Flying into this massive ship to destroy its core is of course, awesome!

One of the unique aspects of Star Fox was your ability to chose what course you took in order to make your way to Andross’s base on Venom. There are three different courses from, which also served to act as a difficulty select. Course 1 was a fairly easy route to take, while course 3 was pretty dang tough. Each course also has it’s own unique stages, so you didn’t see the whole game until you went through all three levels of difficulty. The stages themselves were actually pretty imaginative: ranging from asteroid belts and space armadas, to strange sea-life themed space nebula’s, and planets with a number of exotic inhabitants. Those stages helped break up the monotony of just shooting a bunch of enemies, and set Star Fox apart from a number of other shooters of the era.

As with any shooter worth it’s salt, there are weapons upgrades you can find to boost your offensive capabilities. Your standard blaster can be upgraded by two levels, nova bombs will help clear the screen of bad guys, and extra shields and lives will help cover you in case things get too hot. Nintendo seemed to take a more limited approach to weapons upgrades compared to other shooters, however including more weapons would most likely have upset the balance of the game too drastically. In addition to your weapon systems, the Arwings are able to perform a defensive barrel roll by double tapping either the right or left shoulder buttons. Timing the Barrel roll just right will allow you to deflect some enemy fire.

Fox’s squad mates also play an active, if somewhat limited role in the combat. Falco Lombardi, Slippy Toad, and Peppy Hare will all lend a hand in obliterating enemy craft, and they will even call on you to help shake a bogey off their tail from time to time. Unfortunately, they don’t really make too much of a difference in the fight, and you can easily make it through the levels without them. Although it is really fun to listen to their gibberish chatter over your com. The interaction between the squad-mates helps suck you in to the world of Star Fox, giving you the sense of actually being a part of a team.

So many asteroids! Better have a nova bomb handy.

So many asteroids! Better have a nova bomb handy.

Where Star Fox falls short is in the graphics department. The fact of the matter is that polygons just don’t age very well, especially when you are having to rely on models that have to use a very low polygon count and that have to forgo any sort of texture mapping, Even with the Super FX chip working away in the cart, there are still a few instances of slow down every now and then when there is just too much thrown on the screen at once. The dated visuals don’t take away too much from the game, however, it doesn’t retain the timeless quality that a lot of the hand drawn sprites from the same era have.

Star Fox, at least for me, just doesn’t seem as epic as it did when I was a kid. You know that feeling when you visit a place where you spent a lot of time when you were young, like a playground, or an old house, and every thing just seems so much smaller? In your memories what seemed like an endless backyard full of possibilities is now a little patch of land? That’s the feeling I had when revisiting Star Fox. I realize that this really shouldn’t apply to anyone who never had the chance to play the game, but keep in mind that this old gamer played Star Fox over and over and over again, so it’s a very personal title for me.

The bosses are all unique and have some really cool designs

The bosses are all unique and have some really cool designs

Personal feelings aside; the question we have to ask is this: Is Star Fox still a good game? The answer is yes. It’s graphics are dated for sure, and it’s characters and atmosphere are beyond quirky (for anyone lucky enough to have an original copy, check out how all the characters are portrayed by people dressed up in animal costumes. Can you imagine a publisher promoting a game these days in that way?) But nothing can ever date solid game play, and in that, Star Fox still delivers.

Star Fox may not seem as big now as it does in my dreams. But the Lylat system is still a place that’s well worth the journey to visit.

Nerd Rating: 8/10

 

I want to know what happened to these costumes!!

I want to know what happened to these costumes!!

Written by The Watchman

The Watchman


The Watchman is a journeyman gamer who has seen and played a good chunk of gaming history.
He’s also an actor, a reporter, a pro wrestling connoisseur, and some say he’s a cat whisperer.
If you have any questions or just want to drop me a line, hit me up at thewatchman@nerdbacon.com
Or follow me on Twitter @DavetheWatchman
You can also game with me!
Look me up on Xbox Live @ DJKhadoken
Or on PlayStation Network @ Eaglevision_dl

 
 

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  1. Pingback: Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past - SNES - Nerd Bacon Reviews

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  3. Pingback: Nerd Bacon Celebrates Retroary! (Retro + February = Retroary) - Nerd Bacon Reviews

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