- Publisher: Nintendo
- Developer: Argonaut Games
- Release: Super NES, March 1993
- Genre: 3D Action (Flight simulator)
- Players: 1
- Save: N/A
- Rarity/Cost: Common, US$10-20
*Sold as Star Wing in Europe.
In a world -- a solar system, rather -- populated by human-like animals, an army led by Andross, the emperor of the planet Venom, is extending its reach across the rest of the system -- the hard way. The only force who can stop him is Star Fox, a motley, elite fighter-pilot team consisting of four members and their space-capable ships, the Arwings. And that's where you come in. Before starting a new game, you get to set up your control scheme, which includes the option to switch the Up/Down controls. I guess it was pretty neat for them to have thrown that in as an option; perhaps fewer Super NES owners were familiar with flight simulators at the time. After that menu, you choose which of three paths to take in your game, which also serves as a difficulty setting. Each path contains five or six levels, and lasts an hour or less. It's a more linear version of the branching-path system later employed in Star Fox 64, but I like it here. There's more to each of the difficulties than the quantity of enemies and how much damage they take or dish out; but rather, each difficulty is a separate experience. And since there's no medal system, you don't have to play through 6 other levels you've already got medals on just to replay that one level you need.
|This screenshot will not prepare you for how poorly Star Fox runs in motion.|
The Arwing spacecraft utilises two weapons: a blaster and a limited supply of smart-bombs. The blaster can be upgraded with certain items, adding a much-needed boost to the spaces covered by your shots. Trust me, you'll appreciate the extra coverage, because aiming is a chore. Since most levels lack a targeting reticule, the only way to aim your shots is to adjust based on the last shot you fired. Some levels take place in outer space instead; and in these levels you can press the Select to switch the camera angle in and out of your Arwing's cockpit. Enabling this first-person view displays an aiming cursor, which is a big help for aiming. Except you can only do this in the space stages, not on the planets. Riddle me this, Star Fox: why would you add a convenience which addresses what I'd dare say is a major flaw in the game experience, but only apply it to a select few portions of yourself!? Oh yeah, and it's also possible to break one or both of your Arwing's wings, in which case your blaster goes back down to the base level, and all upgrade items get replaced with wing-repair items until you finally fix the damage. It's bad enough that these upgrades are rare enough as it is, but having to take another step before I can even re-start the process sucks even more.
|Helpful target cursors are available... but only on some levels.|
Out of all the sparse entries in the Star Fox series, the majority of the fans' attention seems focused on the follow-up Star Fox 64, and with good reason. I mean, the series' last activity to date was a remake of SF64 on the 3DS. And I cry foul on that account: if any entry deserved a remake on some halfway decent technology, it would be the original. Star Fox 2, its would-be sequel, may have been the most high-profile cancelled video game until Mega Man Legends 3 came along -- or rather, didn't come along. But let's face it -- Nintendo was right to focus on the Nintendo 64. Star Fox may have served as valuable experience for Nintendo in working with 3D graphics, but the finished product just wasn't ready for prime time. Let me put it this way: I'd give it an A for effort, but a D for execution.
+ Ambitious 3D graphics for its time.
+ Creative boss battles.
+ Some of the songs get me pumped.
- Poor frame rate, even with a lack of graphical detail.
- As a result, the game doesn't control well, either.
- Non-intuitive scoring system.
Control: 2 Arwings out of 5
Design: 3 Arwings out of 5
Graphics: 2 Arwings out of 5
Audio: 4 Arwings out of 5
The Call: 55% (D+)