The Super Nintendo was pretty much the king of the playground back when I played it. I didn’t get the system till much later in its lifespan, but when I did I rented every game under the sun. One of my absolute favorites to rent was Star Fox. Thanks to its use of the special integrated circuit chip inside the game cartridge itself, known as the Super FX chip, it made Star Fox possible.
What’s odd is how the storyline of Star Fox alludes to and builds an entire world that should have been explored much deeper than it ever was. Fox McCloud is the leader of the Star Fox team, an intergalactic team that helps police the galaxy and also the son of Ace starship fighter James McCloud. The story goes deep on the creation of the Star Fox team’s betrayal and splintering into the Star Wolf team, along with allusions in the F-Zero series that makes the games interconnected and gives us a “connected universe” that is so widely popular now.
The start of the first game is pretty much ingrained into my brain and I can’t think of a much better opening tune to start the game off. Even with the weirdly modulated game’s voice acting and scrambled emergency rush out of a launching bay, the game thrusts into action in a way most don’t. From the opening moments, it’s clear the game is setting out to do something different.
The game itself isn’t pretty to look at by today’s standard, but you always have to look at these games through the lens of time. Back when this launched it was bleeding edge for a console. Heck the game needed a special chip to even run. But even with its primitive polygonal frame of the ships and structures that build the world in the game, it’s beautiful to look at. The frame rate itself is really the biggest downfall, as it runs at a very low framerate and is definitely noticeable as “choppy”. Some might call it unplayable, but it’s not, it’s perfectly playable and really enjoyable. It wasn’t until the second to last level that actually gave me any type of issue, mostly due to the draw distance of some high damage dealing enemies. Popping up right before I crashed into them.
One of the coolest things I realized as I played through the game again was how rad it was hitting the select button and being able to zoom into a first person cockpit view. Again, it’s something that was so foreign to us as console gamers to have this sort of view and control in a game. I loved reminiscing about the feeling of playing the game as a kid and looking at the game with many more years of experience.
Sure the game is short, with only a handful of levels that can be played, but the brilliance is in it’s path system. Allowing the game to be played multiple times, finding different ways to finish a level and move to different planets. Along with that, the other Star Fox teammates like Slippy, Peppy and Falco offer a bit of variety and both help and complicate the missions in the game. Slippy (or others, but mostly Slippy) will need your help with getting rid of an enemy on their six. Or maybe Falco tells you to choose a different flight path. It adds a lot to the overall simplistic nature of a straight shooter.
Star Fox laid the groundwork for a really cool universe that ultimately never really got anywhere spectacular, and as we’ll see with the next game in the series, Nintendo has always been really unsure of Star Fox as a franchise. Sometimes putting it front and center, but always being really reserved about it.