GameSpite Journal 10 | Star Fox

Star Fox | Dev.: Nintendo/Argonaut | Pub: Nintendo | Genre: Action Fuzzy Predator Sim | Release: March 1993

As a child, I often called Star Fox “that triangle game”. I wasn’t wrong; there are a hell of a lot of triangles in Star Fox. But in addition to triangles, Star Fox was full of ambition. Even though I wouldn’t necessarily call it a classic, Star Fox was an important step towards the 3D games that we enjoy today.

Star Fox is an on rails shooter where you play as Fox McCloud, leader of the titular Star Fox mercenary team. The game’s story is pulled straight from a half-dozen action movie clichés. You’re a gun-for-hire with a chip on your shoulder. You and your squad (the grizzled Peppy, comic relief Slippy, and smug jerk Falco) are called in to stop the bad guys since you’re The Best of The Best™ and Our Only Hope™. The game’s entire cast consists of anthropomorphic animals, so it makes everything a great deal lighter than it probably sounds. Despite being extremely ineffectual, your squad mates manage to be endearing since they spout amusing banter in each stage. The game is fairly straightforward. You fly around in your space ship, shoot bad guys, fight some bosses, stuff blows up, and eventually the day is saved.

Star Fox was Nintendo’s first real stab at creating games in 3D, thanks to the “power” of the prohibitively expensive Super FX chip. Of course, by today’s standards, Star Fox looks like something an grade schooler made on a MacBook in 20 minutes. But back in 1993, Star Fox was considered revolutionary. Capable of displaying hundreds of polygons at once, the game was a technological triumph. Although the game does display 3D environments and enemies, they are exceedingly simplistic and bland.

More importantly, the game chugs along like a frat student on a Friday. Lacking the power to render 3D truly effectively, the game is often slow and sluggish. But who cares?! It was 3D! 3D graphics on a console! Polygons! Holy crap! It may not have been the greatest looking thing ever, but back in 1993, nine-year-old me was freaking out right now.

Despite being a game that revolves around flying a spaceship that is evidently powered by molasses, Star Fox manages to be pretty fun. This is largely because of excellent level design and music (Corneria, am I right?). It’s worth noting that the game’s difficulty structure is somewhat unique. Rather than play through each level at different difficulties, you play through entirely different stages instead. Seeing everything the game has to offer means beating it multiple times, and with hidden paths and levels, there’s a good amount of replay value to be had.

So yeah, maybe Star Fox was slow. And maybe it has aged even worse than Keith Richards. But damn it, the game gave us 3D on a Super Nintendo. Do you spoiled young ’uns with yer X-boxes and PlayStations have any idea how cool that was? They may be the Bad Old Days now, but back in 1993, Star Fox was an amazing and exciting glimpse of what was to come.

By Alex Reo? | Dec. 21, 2011 | Previous: Final Fantasy V | Next: The Super FX Chip