The Star Fox franchise is a series of rail-shooters starring anthropomorphic animals. Star Fox is owned and developed by Nintendo. The series has seen many innovations since its inception, most prominently the development of the Super FX chip in the first game, which powered polygonal graphics on the Super Nintendo. The series is known as Star Wing (Star Fox 64 was titled Lylat Wars) in Europe due to a trademark issue. However, before the release of Star Fox Adventures, Nintendo bought the trademark so that future titles could share the name worldwide.
Nintendo has run a variety of Star Fox comics, some of which appeared in Nintendo Power.
The Star Fox series began as a forward-scrolling 3D rail shooter on the Super Nintendo. The original Star Fox featured the Super FX chip, which enabled the game the have a 3D look and feel despite the limitations of the system. The game was able to deliver polygonal objects, both flat and texture-mapped, which up until then was something that had only been seen in arcade games. Star Fox proved to be popular enough for Nintendo to create a competition centered around it. A special version of the game called Star Fox Super Weekend was made for the event. Only 2000 of these cartridges were made, rendering the item somewhat of a collector's item.
A shortened version of this game was featured in Wario Ware: Smooth Moves, which has players face off against some of the bosses from the original game.
A sequel was planned for Star Fox on the Super Nintendo, but the project was canceled before it saw a release. Star Fox 2 was said to feature numerous improvements, including a multiplayer mode, the Landmaster, the rival Star Wolf team, charge shot, and all-range mode. Many of the ideas were implemented into future Star Fox titles, most prominently Star Fox 64 and Star Fox Command. A ROM of the game in beta form was dumped and released on the Internet, which featured a near-finished version of the game.
The second game in the Star Fox series was released in 1997 on the Nintendo 64, and is still one of the more popular games in the franchise. Star Fox 64 was the first installment to have fully spoken dialogue. It also featured new vehicles, a multiplayer mode, real 3D graphics, and new characters. The game's marketing campaign was centered around the packaged-in Rumble Pak, which caused the controller to rumble in response to on-screen actions. Star Fox 64 is also the beginning of the canon Star Fox storyline.
This game was later re-released in an updated form for the Nintendo 3DS. Star Fox 64 3D features numerous graphical improvements (including the titular 3D graphics) and an enhanced multiplayer mode over Download Play.
With the release of Star Fox Adventures (developed by Rare) on the GameCube in 2002, the series took a drastic turn in terms of story and gameplay. Rather than flight-based combat, the gameplay was primarily played on foot. The storyline followed series veteran Fox McCloud and his newly introduced sidekick Prince Tricky in their quest to rescue a vixen named Krystal and overthrow a vile dinosaur king named General Scales. The characters introduced in Star Fox Adventures have appeared in future games, particularly Krystal.
For Star Fox Assault, Nintendo turned to Namco for development. The game was released in 2005 on the GameCube, and the emphasis on flying combat returned (although the game also retained on-foot missions). The game takes place a year after the events of Adventures and follows a new threat to the Lylat System: the Aparoids (a parasitic race of aliens which consume anything in their path).
Star Fox Command is the series' first handheld title, appearing on the Nintendo DS in 2006. Developed by Q-Games, Command took the original gameplay formula and put a spin on it. The game has a "strategy" system, in which the player maps out each character's path, and then watches them move. If a character bumps into an enemy, the gameplay turns into the more traditional flying mode (although it is not on-rails as in previous titles, instead the player has full 360-degree control). In this flying mode, the goals are usually to destroy a certain type of enemy, destroy all enemies, or destroy a mother ship. Star Fox Command introduced new ships (each character has their own ship with varying abilities), new characters (as well as old ones), and nine different endings (none of which are considered canon for the Star Fox storyline).
A Star Fox game was once planned to be released on the Virtual Boy, but the console's almost immediate failure killed the idea. The closest game to the tech demo of Star Fox was Red Alarm, another space shooter on the Virtual Boy. The tech demo for Star Fox on the Virtual Boy was shown both at E3 1995 and at the Winter Consumer Electronics Show 1995. Attendees were given 3D glasses so they could watch the action on-screen in the 3D that the Virtual Boy boasted.
A Star Fox arcade game was originally planned as a companion game for Star Fox Assault, however, for reasons unknown, it was never released.