Hints have been dropped that Nintendo are looking to develop a new Star Fox game on their console. This would be the first Star Fox game on a console since 2002 and would hopefully see a return to form for the stellar series after the woeful Star Fox Adventures on the Gamecube – a game that can barely be called a part of the Star Fox series due to the lack of lasers, outer space and, simply, being good. This provides a great opportunity to look back to where the Star Fox series first began, a humble space shooter for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
Star Fox (or Starwing in Europe) was released in 1993 and boasts the accolade of being the first Nintendo game in three separate but equally exciting dimensions. What Star Fox handily provided was an opportunity for Nintendo to show off their fancy Super FX chip, which would allow for greater graphical processing and hopefully blow their competition out of the water. This very much worked, as people in 1993 marveled at the impressive visuals of the title. Today, the graphics are not quite as impressive, although the graphics have retained a certain charm through their simplicity. The game does not look bad, it looks simple and entirely inoffensive. The simplicity means you are never confused as to what things are, you can tell instantly what is an asteroid and what is an enemy fighter and it is through this simplicity that the game’s visuals have gained a timeless quality. As far as other aesthetics of the game go, the sound is very good. In fact I would go as far to say this is some of the best video game music I have ever heard.
However, it’s all very well the game being aesthetically pleasing, or at least inoffensive, but that pales into insignificance if the gameplay is bad or even just not fun. Yet, that is one problem that Star Fox does not have. The gameplay is, like the graphics, basic. Star Fox is a rail shooter, so control over your Arwing (space fighter) is limited to how you move around the screen, this is 1993 after all. I must say, I almost prefer the rail shooter approach to the more open system used in the game’s successor, Starfox 64 (Lylat Wars in Europe), as that often entails you chasing round the final enemy in an effort to out-turn each other, something that can quickly get irritating and tedious.
There are 3 different camera views which add an essence of variety to the levels of which there are plenty. You choose one of 3 routes at the start of the game, so you’ll never play all the levels in a single play through. The three routes are actually the difficulty setting of the game: one being easy, one being medium and the other hard. Although to determine which is which the manual needs to be consulted. This is an interesting and rewarding way to have the difficulty, as increasing the difficulty also effectively unlocks new areas of the game. This gives the game great replay value as well as rewarding more skilled players.
Overall, Star Fox is a game I would recommend. Even though the franchise it started is not huge (Fox and Falco are perhaps more well known for their appearances in the Super Smash Brothers series) Star Fox is definitely a classic. The simplicity of the game means it has a timeless quality that equates to the game still being great fun to play 20 years after its release.