|Developer(s)||Nintendo EAD |
|Platform(s)||Super Nintendo Entertainment System|
|Release Date||NA March 1, 1993|
JP February 21, 1993
EU June 3, 1993
Star Fox, known in PAL regions as Starwing due to trademark issues in those regions, is a rail shooter for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It is the first three-dimensional Nintendo game ever and uses the Super FX chip. It was developed by Nintendo EAD with the assistance of Argonaut Software and was published by Nintendo.
A mad scientist named Doctor Andross, now known as Emperor Andross, has fled to the planet Venom after being banished from the planet Corneria, and has now declared war on Corneria and unleashed an enormous army to wreak havoc on the Lylat System. General Pepper, the commanding officer of Corneria's defense force, has decided to dispatch a prototype high-performance combat ship called "Arwing." However, lacking in time to train pilots for the new crafts, he summons the elite mercenary unit Star Fox to defeat Andross. Fox McCloud is the leader of the team, and he is accompanied by his teammates Falco Lombardi, Peppy Hare, and Slippy Toad.
Star Fox is a rail shooter in a third-person and first-person 3D perspective. The player must navigate Fox's spacecraft, an Arwing, through environments while various enemies (spaceships, robots, creatures, etc.) attack him. Along the way various power-ups are placed in the stage to help the player. The player receives a score on each level based on how many enemies destroyed and how well the player has defended his/her teammates. At the end of each level there is a boss that the player must defeat before progressing to the next level.
Star Fox possesses certain unique elements that differentiate it from the standard scrolling shooter. Most scrolling shooters force the player forward at a constant speed. While this is also true for Star Fox, there are thrusters and retro-rockets on the Arwing that allow the player to temporarily speed up and slow down. These can be used to maneuver around enemy attacks and other obstacles.
The damage model is another difference. In the standard scrolling shooter, touching almost any object results in the immediate destruction of the player's craft. In Star Fox, the Arwing has a certain amount of shield energy that represents how much damage can be absorbed before the destruction of the craft. The game also has a small degree of locational damage detection: If the ship's wings clip against obstacles or the ground too much, they will break off, adversely affecting the craft's handling and the ability to upgrade weapons.
The difficulty in Star Fox is also set in a unique way. Most scrolling shooters, if they have selectable difficulty levels, allow the player to set the difficulty by choosing an option (e.g. "Easy," "Normal," and "Hard") at the beginning of the game. This option usually affects variables such as the number of lives a player has, the number of enemies encountered in the game, the speed of enemies, and so on. In contrast, at the beginning of Star Fox, the player is given a choice of one of three routes to take through the Lylat system. Each of these routes corresponds with a certain level of difficulty, but each route has its own series of unique levels. This gives Star Fox somewhat more replay value than other scrolling shooters that have a fixed series of levels each time the game is played. The three game paths all contain the planet Corneria (the first level) and Venom (the last level), but they each have different versions depending on the path taken.
In each level, the player is accompanied by three computer-controlled wingmen: Peppy Hare, Slippy Toad, and Falco Lombardi. At certain pre-scripted points, one will fly into the player's view, often either chasing an enemy or being chased and asking for assistance. Ignoring a wingman's pleas will result in him taking damage, or being shot down. They cannot be damaged by the player's own lasers (they will notice it nonetheless). Regardless of their survival, wingmen are not present during boss battles but rejoin the player before the next stage. A player may help his or her wingmen when they ask for assistance, as they will engage some of the enemies not destroyed by the player, and thereby make it easier to achieve maximum score in a given level. If a wingman gets shot down, he will not return for the rest of the game.
The game company Argonaut worked closely with Nintendo during the early years of the NES and SNES. They developed a prototype on the NES, initially codenamed "NesGlider", which was inspired by their earlier 8-bit game Starglider, and then ported this prototype to the SNES. Programmer Jez San told Nintendo that this was as good as it could get unless they were allowed to design custom hardware to make the SNES better at 3D. Nintendo assented to this, and San hired chip designers to make the Super FX chip, the first 3D graphics accelerator in a consumer product. The SuperFX was so much more powerful than the SNES's standard processor that they joked that the SNES was just a box to hold the chip.
By late 1992, the main game design was done by Shigeru Miyamoto and Katsuya Eguchi. Characters were designed by Takaya Imamura, and music was composed by Hajime Hirasawa. Argonaut brought the idea of using space ships, and Nintendo suggested the "arcade-style shooting" element of the game. Yoichi Yamada, a level designer for many Nintendo games, laid out and edited the Star Fox maps.
In the PAL regions, this game was released as Starwing. This is largely because of a game released on the Atari 2600 ten years earlier, also called Star Fox, which bears no relation to this title. While the developers, Mythicon, could not obtain a trademark in the United States for the name 'Star Fox', they were granted one in Europe, despite never using it. It is believed that Nintendo changed the name on the game's box artwork and title screen to Starwing in PAL versions to avoid any possible court cases with the then trademark holders (Mythicon disbanded soon after the US release of their version of Star Fox). It should be noted that no other changes were made in-game, i.e. the phrase 'Star Fox' still appears as is in-game. For similar reasons, Star Fox 64 was renamed Lylat Wars in Europe four years later.