Star Fox (known in Europe as Starwing) is a 3D sci-fi shooter developed by Nintendo EAD (with assistance from Argonaut) and published by Nintendo for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System on March 23, 1993.
Set in the Lylat System, a star system inhabited by anthropomorphic animals, players control the Arwing (a prototype fighter spacecraft) of Fox McCloud (the leader of the elite Star Fox team) as he and his three squadmates (Falco Lombardi, Peppy Hare, and Slippy Toad) journey throughout Lylat (in one of three main paths) from their home base in Corneria to counter-attack the invading forces of Andross.
Similar to other scrolling shooters at the time, the player does not have the ability to freely navigate the playing field; the controlled Arwing moves in a fixed linear path. Despite this, players can move the Arwing around their plane of movement (dodging enemies and obstacles while aiming at enemies in front of them) and perform special abilities to evade enemy fire (including boosting, braking, and barrel rolls). While most of the game is in the third-person perspective, the game can switch to first-person at certain levels.
It is the first game to use Argonaut's Super FX co-processor chip, giving the game the ability to render advanced 3D polygons in real-time. Nintendo EAD would later use this chip, as well as Star Fox's graphical style, for Stunt Race FX.
The game nearly received a sequel for the SNES with an improved version of the Super FX chip. Dubbed Star Fox 2, this sequel would have introduced a non-linear campaign with real-time strategy elements (where players have to traverse the Lylat System to liberate planets and prevent the conquest of Corneria), full ship control (instead of on-rails movement), and new playable characters (with new playable ship types). This version was nearly complete before being cancelled (due to the release of the Nintendo 64), although the alpha version was leaked onto the internet. Despite the cancellation, the original game would still spawn a series of shooters, starting with Star Fox 64 for the Nintendo 64 (which includes the "full ship control" mechanic from Star Fox 2).
A special promotional version of the game, known as both Star Fox: Super Weekend and Star Fox: Official Competition in United States and Star Wing: Official Competition in Europe, was distributed to gaming shops in those regions in 1993. Thousands of copies of the game were made and most were later sold through the Nintendo Power magazine. In this version, players have four minutes to rack up as much points as possible on three new levels (two of which are modified from the main game) with infinite lives.
A simpler remake of Star Fox (including the simple polygonal art style) was built for WarioWare: Smooth Moves as a minigame (known as "microgames"). Players pilot the Arwing with the Wii Remote's motion control through a short level before fighting a boss (a giant R.O.B. with a giant NES Zapper).
The story represented in the actual game is minimal, and as many older games is told exclusively in the manual. This is the story culled from material documenting this game exclusively, i.e. the expansion of character and plot in sequels or other media is purposely not taken into consideration.
The “Lylatian Conflict”, named after the Lylat System in which it takes place, originated from a declaration of war on Corneria by Emperor Andross. Andross was a brilliant scientist who worked in one of the most advanced laboratories on the planet Corneria, the fourth planet in the Lylat System. A child prodigy, his genius overshadowed other children, but as he grew older and began experimenting with Hyper-Space Energy, his ambitions blinded him.
He conducted dangerous experiments in the heart of the planet’s civilian center, endangering the inhabitants. Not heeding the governments warnings, he was ultimately banned and fled to the beautiful “evergreen” planet Venom at the other side of the galaxy. The people on Corneria forgot all about “Dr. Andross”, until a small reconnaissance team witnessed unusual occurrences on Venom. Strange flying objects were observed to be maneuvering in great numbers in Venom’s airspace.
It turns out Andross had overpowered and enslaved the technologically underdeveloped population of Venom and recruited them into his army, installing a military base on the once beautiful planet, which is now polluted and miserable. Although in service of Andross, the Venom people hope the Cornerian forces will overthrow Emperor Andross and free the Lylat System.
As commander of the Cornerian defense, General Pepper requested the help of the Star Fox team, and Fox McCloud answered the call. Together with his teammates Slippy Toad, Peppy Hare, and Falco Lombardi he formed the Star Fox team, a band of adventurers highly skilled in all military engagement. They would be piloting the new “ Arwing” craft, powered by a Hyper-Space Engine developed from Andross’s very own experiments.
Before the title screen, the game shows the flight of the aforementioned reconnaissance team from Venom back to Corneria, and the beginning of the invasion that followed.
The course the Star Fox team will take to Venom is chosen by the player. Three routes are available, representing easy (middle route), normal (top route) and hard (bottom route) difficulty settings. Different locations are traversed in each, although all obviously begin on Corneria and end on Venom, these planets pose unique challenges appropriate to the difficulty setting as well. A monologue from General Pepper precedes each mission, providing brief information on the new location.
The Star Fox team are shot from the hangar and so the journey begins through 6-7 levels (counting two levels on Venom). The player controls the Arwing of Fox McCloud, which can be moved anywhere within the screen, but is not allowed to stray much outside the play area’s edges, giving the effect of flying through an invisible corridor. Although this may sound limiting, once accepted it is not experienced as restricting and never obstructs the gameplay.
A variety of weapons and upgrades are available in the game, such as blaster upgrades, health rings, extra lives, and nova bombs. A more in-depth look at all the weapons and power-ups is below.
The main weapon of the Arwing, it never runs out of ammunition nor overheats. Pressing and holding the Y button fires three shots, but it doesn’t auto-repeat, so the button must be mashed for continuous fire.
An upgrade to the standard blaster, twin blasters are obtained when the appropriate icon is picked up. As the name says, it is similar to the single blaster except that it fires from each wing and shoots two blasts side by side. Because it is fired from the wings, when the wings are damaged the upgrade is lost and reverts to the single blaster.
Twin Blaster Type-B
When upgraded a second time, plasma cannons become available that do a lot more damage than the normal blasters. It is also fired from the wing so subject to wing damage.
A mildly powerful bomb that is most for useful taking out many enemies at once. Pressing A once fires it, pressing it again detonates it. The blast radius grows slowly, so good timing is required to use it most effectively. The Arwing starts out with three of them, and more can be collected by picking up the icon. The bomb loadout does not reset between missions, only after the Arwing has been destroyed.
A ring of yellow triangles that refills a small amount of the ship’s energy bar.
A ring of grey triangles that refills a large part of the ship’s energy bar and provides a checkpoint from which to restart when crashed.
Pick up the shield icon to become invulnerable for a view hits. The energy meter turns to the shield meter and the Arwing becomes a wireframe model while shields are active.
This item appears instead of the blaster icon when one or both wings are damaged. It will repair the wings, but won't give twin blasters.
There are rings of three blue-white-red diamonds, which when all three diamonds are hit, produce an extra life in the middle
Press R to bank to the right and L to bank to the left. Used throughout the game to get through narrow spaces.
Double-tap R or L to make the Arwing do a clockwise or counter-clockwise barrel roll respectively. Reflects enemy fire and deflects missiles.
Brake and Boost
Press X to boost and B to brake, necessary to get past all kinds of timed obstacles. Not as useful in combat.