Ten Facts You Didn't Know About Star Fox

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NESglider Screens

Star Fox was born of a prototype Argonaut Games had created for a game originally designed for the NES codenamed “NESGlider” inspired by their previous game for Atari ST and Amiga, Starglider. After showing the game to Nintendo first on the NES and then a few weeks later on a SNES, Argonaut founder, Jez San, told Nintendo that this was the best 3D work that could be done without a custom chipset.  Impressed by the work they had so far, Nintendo gave the go ahead and the result was the SuperFX chip, with Star Fox being the first game to be designed around it.

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Fushimi Inari-taisha

Fushimi Inari-taisha

Shigeru Miyamoto and Katsuya Eguchi were tasked with main game design for Star Fox.  The origins of the characters being anthropomorphic animals stems from Miyamoto’s lack of interest in making a series with a traditional human sci-fi story.  Miyamoto chose a fox because it reminded him of the shrine, Fushimi Inari-taisha, which was located near Nintendo of Japan’s headquarters. At the main gate of Fushimi Inari-taisha there is a fox with a key in its mouth.  Two other characters, a pheasant and a hare which would become Falco and Peppy, also were inspired from Japanese folklore.  

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Starwing Cover

In Europe, Star Fox was renamed to Starwing, due to the similarity in pronunciation to the German company StarVOX.  Later titles would also lose the Star Fox moniker, including Star Fox 64 which was titled Lylat Wars. 

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Super Starfox Weekend

Starfox Super Weekend

As part of the game’s marketing campaign, Nintendo released a promotional cartridge.  Entitled Super Starfox Weekend: Official Competition (Star Wing: Official Competition in Europe), it was the focus of a competition in malls and game shops across the US and Europe.  It featured a time-attack of three levels, a shortened version of Corneria and Asteroids, and a bonus level made specifically for the cartridge.  The contest ran from April 30 to May 2nd, 1993, and prizes included jackets, t-shirts, and trips to international destinations.  After the competition, a limited number of cartridges were made available for purchase in Nintendo Power’s 1994 “Super Power Supply” catalog.

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Star Fox's Success

Star Fox Box

Star Fox was a breakout success, selling almost 3 million copies during its publishing run.  Nintendo’s confidence in the sales potential of the new IP let them to have an unprecedented 1.7 million carts ready for launch.  Work on a sequel started 3 days before the Japanese release on February 16th, 1993.

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Star Fox 2

Starfox 2 Title Screen

Star Fox 2 was meant to take the series forward in every way.  Mixing the familiar on-rails shooting aspect with new 3D all motion sequences, this game was unlike anything that had been seen on the SNES.  The game was meant to use an upgraded version of the Super FX chip, aptly named the Super FX 2. This allowed the developers to concentrate on eliminating problems that had plagued the first game such as lack of textures and slow down.  The game initially also featured multiplayer, but that idea was scrapped at a later date.

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What could have been.

Starfox 2 Map

The primary villain was again Andross, but this time around there wasn’t a static level progression. Instead, there was a strategic map mode where you plotted your course.  When you moved enemy units moved and this brought a degree of urgency into the game.  You had to fight towards Andross while still protecting Corneria from an onslaught of missiles, capital ships, and fighters.  There was also 3 difficulty levels which would increase or decrease your objectives depending on which you chose.

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Star Wolf

Starfox 2 Star Wolf

Unfortunately, with the release of the Ultra 64 (later to be redubbed the Nintendo 64) so closely pending, Shigeru Miyamoto decided that he wanted there to be a clean break between 3D games for the SNES and 3D games for the N64.  According to the date on the ROM of the final beta that was leaked onto the internet the game was completed on June 22nd, 1995.  The game was quietly cancelled and many of its innovations went on to be featured in Star Fox 64, these included all-range mode, Star Wolf, multiplayer mode, and ground vehicles. 

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Star Fox 64

Starfox 64 Logo

Star Fox 64 (Lylat Wars in Europe) was released in the 3rd quarter of 1997 to critical acclaim.  It is not a direct sequel to the first game.  Instead it is a reimagining of the original Star Fox.  It was the first game for the Nintendo 64 to include support for the rumble pak, and the original print was packaged with one, resulting in one of the more unique Nintendo 64 game boxes.

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Nintendo Power Star Fox Promotion

Nintendo Power VHS

To promote the game, Nintendo Power subscribers received a VHS tape that advertised several of the game’s key features, such as the rumble pak support and the voice acting.  The information was presented in a skit in which Nintendo’s key rivals, Sony and Sega, kidnapping Nintendo employees and extorting information from them.