After the success that was Star Fox, Nintendo continued to do research and development on the Super FX micro chip technology that was created in 1993 to make a game like Star Fox possible. Games like Vortex and even Stunt Race FX saw an improved version of the Super FX chip, but there was never a drastic change in the technology.
That was the case until Nintendo developed the Super FX 2 chip, capable of rendering approximately 1000 polygons per second over a considerable draw distance. This technology would be used on Star Fox 2, a game which never actually saw the light of day. The game was canceled due to the upcoming release of the Nintendo 64, according to Dylan Cuthbert, one of the game's programmers.
Features originating in Star Fox 2 were later implemented in future games in the Star Fox franchise. The new aiming mode, which gave players complete control over where a shot was being fired, was included as "all-range mode" in Star Fox 64, while the strategy features of the game can be found in Star Fox Command.
After Andross' defeat on the planet of Venom he managed to escape with his life. Though the Lylat System is in a state of peace, it will not last for long. Andross, bitter from his miserable defeat, toils to create a new invasion army. An army of fighters, carriers, bio-genetically engineered creatures, and team made up of four mercenary pilots. Andross wastes no time in rallying his invasion army and waging total war on every world of the Lylat system. Planet after planet falls under Andross' control until Corneria is the one world yet to be conquered. Just when all hope seems to be lost, the Cornerians fight back with Fox McCloud and the Star Fox team at the forefront of it all. With new ships, weapons, and allies, the ultimate fight for Corneria and all of the Lylat System begins!
Star Fox 2's gameplay is similar in style to its predecessor, with several refinements and changes. Aside from having three different difficulty modes that have a steady graduation of difficulty, the game has a non-linear style of play that allows players to tackle certain missions out of order. Another change that stands as huge departure from the structure of Star Fox is the combination of multiple genres of game styles.
Star Fox 2, at its core, is a 3D space shooter as well as a real-time strategy game. To navigate from one mission to another the player must guide their ships to a mission area which could be anything from a cluster of fighters, missiles, or carriers to oppressed planets and so on and so forth. There are many boss fights in Star Fox 2, but they don't necessarily happen at the end of a level like other common conventions would dictate. The boss fights count as totally separate missions that chase down the player's ship on the map.
Another aspect introduced in Star Fox 2 is the real-time clock system. Before the player makes a choice on where to move (done by moving a cursor about the system map), time stands still. However, if the player is moving or is currently in a mission, the clock starts ticking. While the player is in the heat of battle anything can happen on the world map and to Corneria. When the game is paused a small version of the map shows on the screen and updates itself dynamically to give the player a chance to see if Corneria is in immediate danger or not. There may be occurrences where Corneria will be attacked by one of Andross' forces. When that happens Corneria will accumulate damage shown as a percentage. If that percentage reaches 100%, then Andross succeeds in conquering Corneria and the game ends.
This game introduces a new aiming format, which would later be adapted to Star Fox 64 as "all-range mode," allowing the player full control of the shop (instead of an on-rails approach). There are three types of attacks consisting of the wing blasters, special weapons, and the homing charged shot. The player is able to, while holding the fire button down, lock onto an enemy and unleash a charged laser shot at it to inflict a significant amount of damage. Managing boost is no longer in issue in the final test beta of Star Fox 2, but barrel rolls are still an essential mechanic for deflecting enemy fire.
Star Fox 2 adds two new characters, as well as the concept of pilots using different ship types (as opposed to solely Arwings in the first game). Miyu, a lynx, and Fay, a poodle, both join the Star Fox team and both make up the Light Fighter class, which boasts a higher speed stat, but has lower shields and meager fire power. Peppy Hare and Slippy Toad return as the pilots of the Heavy Bomber class, which has the most fire power and the heaviest shields, but is slower and has low maneuverability. Fox McCloud and Falco Lombardi are the pilots of the Arwing Fighter class that is the default average-in-all-areas craft. The Great Fox, a high capacity fighter carrier, houses these ships and has a tremendous amount of firepower, but cannot be piloted by the player.
While on a mission in which the player is fighting to liberate a planet, the player may encounter some parts that require the Arwing (or ship of choice) to be transformed into a mech walker. The mech walker is capable of traversing the mission at the player’s own pace and has an aiming assistance feature.
There exist two known prerelease versions of Star Fox 2 in a readily available format. These are both playable in both an emulated format, as well as on actual Super Nintendo hardware.
The first prerelease version is an alpha version, known for its two player competitive multiplayer. In the multiplayer mode, both players can choose one of several characters, as well as a level, and then face off.
The second and more complete version is considered to be in the late beta stage. It is largely a complete game, containing minor bugs, debug menus, several unfinished features, and the removal of the multiplayer mode found in the alpha version. The game has since been touched up by fans, removing the glitches, debug menus, unfinished features, and translating Japanese text into English, rendering the game completely playable from beginning to end.