After nearly 20 years how has the SNES classic star fox aged
My Star Fox video review
I give Star Fox for the SNES
Note: I took all the pictures used on the hub from the SNES game using a capture device. That said the Star Fox franchise belongs to Nintendo and whoever help develop the Super FX chip.
I remember over 20 years ago when I first got Star Fox for the SNES. There was an ad blitz, my brother the flying geek (who grew up to be a pilot) wanted to play it but he didn’t want to spend his own money on it. I told him no when it came to my choice of a birthday present and got Tiny Toons Buster Busts loose. But a few months later I saved up my allowance money and got Star Fox. Do I regret either decision, heck no Busters Bust Loose is a better game than Star Fox, but Star Fox is still a good game. But how has it aged and could I recommend it if it ever shows up on the virtual console. Well that is a bit of a tricky question, so let’s dive in and take a look at Star Fox for the Super Nintendo.
The story in Star Fox really doesn’t matter because it rarely is brought up in the gameplay. But basically an evil scientist named Andross tried to take over Corneria (after he killed James McCloud in an experiment that created a black freaking hole in the middle of the lylat system) and was stopped by General Pepper. Pepper rater then oh I don’t know executing the guy decides to banish him to a planet on the far side of the lylat system called Venom. Several years later because Pepper didn’t bother on checking up on the situation Andross returns from Venom with a massive army of ships, robots, and bio monster to get his revenge. The Corneria army after so many years of peace only has 4 weapons at its disposal, the Arwings. Experimental super powered fighter jets, unfortunately the only pilots able to pilot them Fox McCloud (son of James McCloud) and his star fox team have also been banish by Pepper for disobeying orders (yeah banishes the first guy to a place where he can build an army, then banishes the only people who can fight said army, we can officially call Pepper an idiot). Pepper begs Fox to have a go in the arwings itchy for some revenge and to get Pepper in his debt Fox agrees and it’s now up to Fox to fly to Venom and destroy Andross and his base.
Lots of back story good for comics and a whole series of video game if it lasted more than one game before being rebooted in Star Fox 64. The story itself doesn’t really matter because there is no real dialogue in the game. Just calls for help and health checkups are the only dialogue you receive from your wingmen. But that’s ok Star Fox works well because there is no real exposition you just go through a stage and blow stuff up until you get to the boss, and then blow it up. End of stage and story.
For it's time Star Fox had some revolutionary graphics
The graphics in this game were revolutionary for a 16 bit console that didn’t have a 3d processor. Using a Super FX chip to handle some of the tough calculations the game brought us 3d visuals. And it worked while the games visuals haven’t aged well now that compare to modern games it looks like your flying 3d origami ships and the frame rate isn’t that great or fast it’s still works and is more than perfectly playable despite a few hick ups. And there are a few things that impress even today like the explosions you see when you blow up a boss still leave an impression even today.
More impressive and aging even better is the sound. While a lot of people like to talk about the 3d graphics the sound is pretty good too. The music is awesome, we get several voice clips from both Fox and Pepper, which may not sound impressive to you youngsters now but whenever an audible audio voice pop out of my game console back in the early 90’s I was in awe. The explosion sound effects for the bosses are also quite impressive and let you get the scope of the ship you just blew up. Anyways Graphics have aged like milk but still have some charm, Sound hasn’t aged a day.
The Rock Crusher is toast.
What is a game without good gameplay. All the technical aspects in the world can’t save you if the gameplay is crap. And here is where Star Fox for the Super Nintendo is a bit of a mix bag. Like I said the frame rate is good it’s not choppy, it’s a bit slow but not choppy and the controls for the most part are pretty good. While a few hick ups might happen every now and then where the distance from something jumps a little faster than you expected it would leading to a crash into an obstacle the game is not bad and perfectly playable.
Anyways you start out choosing a route, each route has its own difficulty. For example the middle route is easy with short stages and now gimmicks to overcome, top route is medium, stages are a bit longer, more obstacles and there is a stage or two where you have to figure out a small puzzle to get past it. Finally the 3rd one has one extra stage, the stages are at least 1/3 times larger than they are in the first two routes and it throws everything but the kitchen sink at you.
First two routes aren’t that hard and can be beaten with a little trial and error. One of the things Fox can pick up is the twin blaster power up. One can give him two laser coming from the wings, rather then one coming out the nose. 2nd one gives you hyper blaster which has these balls of light coming out the wing that are really powerful. You get those hyper blasters you pretty much feel like an invincible bad ass, bosses go down quickly and regular enemies usually go down in a shot or two. And that is the problem with the game. Hyper blasters are a bit too powerful so it makes you feel like a bad ass, however twin and definitely your regular blaster feel to underpowered so the game feels out of balance. Especially frustrating is some bosses (especially on that hard route) can actually reflect regular blasters back at you unless your pinpoint accurate making the game ubber hard, and feel like it’s punishing you if you damage your wing or die. And to make matters worse on most stages in the game there is only one twin blaster power up, so dying sets you back in a way that feels unfair. Sure plenty of check points but without any fire power increases you can be stuck fighting some tough bosses with what feels like a peashooter.
And another frustration is your wing men, Slippy, Peppy, and Falco. They don’t do much, they come down occasionally in scripted areas to bail you out from enemy fire, if you don’t have to you have to shoot 3 or 4 enemies down in front of you while dodging small laser fire, whoo scary I usually have the enemies destroyed before they come down. Other than that they just run around asking for to be saved from an enemy that is chasing them. Save them they will give you some BS thanks response and then stay in front of you just flying straight and firing there laser. Which really doesn’t help you, in fact in a lot of cases they get in your way and I am so happy usually when they decide to fly away. Anyways if you decide not to save them from the enemy that is chasing them there life bar will go down, normally by half if you let the enemy really have them. If there energy bar slips to zero they usually yell out that there a gonner, you see there arwing blow up and there done for the rest of the game, and yes it is satisfying when you see that annoying toad crock.
Why isn't it coming to the Wii Virtual Console
Well it isn’t emulation issues, emulators have been able to run Star Fox for years, I am pretty sure Nintendo the company that build the SNES, developed the game, and help fund the Super FX chip could emulate this game. Problem is I hear since they “help fund” the Super FX chip they don’t own it. Therefore they have to pay license fee to whoever now owns the rights to that chip. Meaning Star Fox and other FX chip games (and this includes SNES Yoshi’s Island) would cost more on the Virtual Console then normal games. So 10 dollars say for Star Fox for the SNES, problem is 10 dollars gets you Star Fox 64 a game that has faster and better looking visuals, more voice clips, and just a whole lot better and more balanced gameplay. Therefore it’s not really in Nintendo interest I guess to pursue this game, which in some ways is a shame. While Star Fox 64 is a whole lot better game, Star Fox should at least have a chance for a newer generation of gamer to try it out.
Anyways I give Star Fox a 3 out of 5, it’s not worth going out and buying a SNES or an aftermarket clone console for. But if you have an SNES already you might want to check it out.