News Article

Round Table: Looking Back at the Star Fox Series

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Back in the Arwing

Fox McCloud is about to make a welcome return to the gaming scene, with the upcoming Star Fox 64 3D ready to blast onto 3DS screens. As a franchise, Star Fox has shown plenty of diversity, so we decided it was time to reflect on the adventures of good old Fox and the gang. Features editor Thomas Whitehead is joined by community administrator Desiree Turner and writer Peter Willington. There’s only one rule: no one can mention a certain phrase that involves the words ‘roll’ and ‘barrel’.

Thomas Whitehead: I’m joined by Desiree and Peter to look back at the Star Fox series so far. Please introduce yourselves to our readers.

Peter Willington: My name's Peter Willington, I'm a freelance games critic for a number of outlets, most notably of Pocket Gamer. I'm an EU reviewer here at Nintendo Life and when I'm not writing about games I'm writing about music. I am a rabble rouser.

Desiree Turner: I'm Des, I'm the Community Administrator here at Nintendo Life. There's not much else to say other than maybe my username, theblackdragon — most people here at NL already know who I am!

Thomas Whitehead: Excellent. So what were your first experiences of Star Fox on SNES, and what impression did it make on you?

Desiree Turner: My first experience with it was the commercial. So awesome! I remember it said, 'You are Fox McCloud' and it had that stuffed model of him sitting in the Arwing cockpit. Oh, and there were polygons, and man was that the coolest thing I'd ever heard of. I begged for it for months and finally got it for my birthday that year.

Thomas Whitehead: What about you Peter?

Peter Willington: I saw Starwing (as it was called in the EU) when it was at a GAME store in Tunbridge Wells — my home town — and it was running in a demo kiosk at the entrance. I walked in with my parents, I must have been 11 or 12 at this point, and I just became utterly engrossed in watching some kids who were already on it play through the training section. I waited for maybe half an hour to get a go and when I did, I couldn't play it, my tiny little child-like brain not understanding the whole "up is down, down is up" thing, or the concept of changing control settings. But yeah, when you're a little oik who had only seen NES games until this point, it was just amazing to see, mind-blowing even.

Thomas Whitehead: Interesting that, in both cases, the graphics gave a real wow factor. How important were the graphics in the experience? Did the gameplay stack up as well?

Peter Willington: I think it did, once I grasped how it was played. The thing I think people have to keep in mind is that — apart from maybe Space Harrier or Afterburner — titles like this just didn't exist on consoles, and I don't think those SEGA games gave such an impression of existing within a space like Starwing did. When you understand the basics, it becomes a really tight, quite heavily scripted arcade shooter with some wonderful set-pieces.

Desiree Turner: I can't remember having much experience with an on-rails shooter-type game before Star Fox, other than maybe some of those top-down shooters in the arcade, and I hated those. Star Fox took some getting used to, but once I got the hang of it I was amazed. At the time, the graphics were revolutionary — again, polygons — but now, though they still do their job, they haven't aged well.

Thomas Whitehead: So graphics and gameplay were great. What about the characters — at the time, did you enjoy talking animals flying spaceships?

Desiree Turner: Oh absolutely, and it's great to see people enjoying that kind of thing today in meme form.

Thomas Whitehead: What about you Peter, did Fox and the gang do it for you?

Peter Willington: Nah, I wasn't really impressed by the "characters" of Star Fox because, to me, Nintendo didn't understand who (or what) the real star of the game was, namely the Arwing. That iconic design resonated with me greatly when I was young and I remember thinking "I want one of these in real life". The world of Corneria, the music, the crafts you battle and battle in; they're the real stars.

Desiree Turner: I gotta say I'm a bit mixed on that point: granted, in terms of the original I'll give you that, but 64 brought much more personality to the plate.

Thomas Whitehead: Apparently, Shigeru Miyamoto was inspired by a statue at a local temple and designed Fox based on that. Rumours of a plumber statue are unconfirmed...

Peter Willington: Well there's a great myth in Japanese folklore of a flying fox and he supposedly used to visit that temple quite often. Interesting, extremely nerdy fact: the reason the game features just so many arches is because the path to the temple features them.

Desiree Turner: Ah, flying through the arches and getting power-ups that way is mad fun!

Thomas Whitehead: Moving on in the series, what did you think of Star Fox 64, or Lylat Wars as it was known in the EU. Was it another revolutionary step-up in graphics?

Peter Willington: I kind of skipped Lylat Wars largely as I never owned an N64 at the time. The one thing I really remember from it is briefly playing the multiplayer, which I thought was atrocious, but otherwise I'm looking to you guys schooling me.

Desiree Turner: Well, after the amazingness that was the original and the bazillion times over I'd played it, I remember we got a video as an advert — I think it might've been with Nintendo Power — and I was sold. That was another one I begged hard for, especially since it came with a Rumble Pak. Wasn't it the first Rumble Pak title?

Peter Willington: Yep, first game with rumble on a Nintendo console.

Desiree Turner: It was a definite upgrade from the SNES version. Suddenly everything had textures! It wasn't just flashing shapes and jagged lines, you could see detail on the ships and asteroids and broken parts flying around the various Sectors. As I said before, it also introduced some personality to the characters — especially since they had proper voices this time around.

Thomas Whitehead: The Rumble Pak didn't seem like a big deal to me, though they sure went to town with it! My older brother came home with an N64 bundled with the game, completely out of the blue. The graphics and gameplay blew me away, it was so fast-paced. As Des has mentioned, the voices added something to it as well. For arcade gaming, it was a stone-cold classic.

Desiree Turner: It also introduced the All-Range mode, where you could fly anywhere in a given space. I know that was one of the things they took from the cancelled Star Fox 2, but I really think that the SNES wouldn't have been able to give All-Range Mode the same justice that Star Fox 64 was able to.

Thomas Whitehead: So, would you say that this game took the series forward in a big way Desiree, taking advantage of the N64 capabilities, or was it a classy but un-revolutionary upgrade?

Desiree Turner: I would say it took the series forward for sure. It was a complete reboot.

Peter Willington: It's technically the first game in the canon isn't it?

Thomas Whitehead: I believe it is, yes.

Peter Willington: Is that important do you think? Did they start a strong narrative in Lylat Wars that could be continued in further games?

Desiree Turner: If Star Fox Command is any indication, I don't really think anyone knows where the 'canon' stands at the moment. It had what, 12, 16 endings?

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User Comments (46)

CorbsAdmin

#1

Corbs said:

Great read! I kinda lost interest in StarFox after the SNES title, but I did get the chance to sit down with StarFox 64 3D last night and I was shocked at how good it was. They really did a nice job on this one. :D

Noire

#2

Noire said:

That's not Des! That person capitalizes! :O

If they could just make a game where it's just go out in your Arwing and blow s**t up like it used to be, that would be great, but they want to add so much superfluous crap that I haven't been able to get into StarFox since the 64 days.

Chozo85

#3

Chozo85 said:

I'm really looking forward to the 3DS rerelease of Star Fox 64. Its actually one of my favorite games of all time. Its just unfortunate that the subsequent games have so abjectly failed to live up to the standards set by this and the SNES version. I really hope if this sells well then Nintendo will consider a proper sequel, developed in-house or by Retro Studio's.

Tails

#4

Tails said:

Nice article . Waiting to see really what this game can do now on 3DS. Really liked reading this round table look back at Starfox in the earlier years. Sure brings back memories. and "DO A BARREL ROLL!"

Tasuki

#5

Tasuki said:

Nice article there guys (and gal). It was very interesting to read your thoughts and such. Lol when TBD mentioned the Star Fox 64 promo video that brought back memories.

I have to say I only played Star Fox on the SNES and somehow I just missed Star Fox 64. I think what happened there is the rental stores wouldnt rent it out due the rumble pack being sold with the game. The GC games really didnt interest me when I heard that they went in a different direction so I skipped those ones. But I have say I am totally looking foward to play Star Fox 64 on my brand new flare red 3DS this Friday. Reading this article just wants me to play it that much more. Hurry up and get here September 9th!!!!

Link79

#6

Link79 said:

It's cool that they remade Star fox 64 and all but how about something new?
I don't want the 3DS to become the N64 rehash machine.
Star fox hasn't officially returned until we get a new game.
I can't believe the original Snes Star fox hasn't made it to VC yet.
What the ever living hell is the problem? The Wii is almost dead so get with it already!

Tasuki

#7

Tasuki said:

@Link79: As stated many times its because of the Super FX chip thats keeping it from coming to the VC. How many times are you going to ask whats keeping it from the VC when it has been answered so many times?

Link79

#8

Link79 said:

@ Tasuki
Nintendo themselves have never said the FX chip was impossible to emulate.
How many times do people have to tell you why Earthbound isn't coming to VC?
I'd say Star fox has a heck of a better chance.

y2josh

#9

y2josh said:

I love round table discussions. Thanks for making it a little bit harder to pass on the 3DS game. :)

theblackdragonAdmin

#10

theblackdragon said:

@feenie: lol, the capitalization wasn't me, i swear! Thomas prettied up my raw wordage quite a bit :3

@Tasuki: I'm pretty sure the whole 'FX chip is too hard to emulate properly' thing was never officially said by Nintendo — they never like to straight-up come out and say 'no' to things like that, lol.

@Josh: i know... i had no plans to pick up SF643DS originally, but now i'm kinda wanting it, haha :3

komicturtle

#13

komicturtle said:

Star Fox 64 is one of my favorite games of all time. I must have played through it 30 something times (Campaign).

I did enjoy SF Adventures and Assault. I just wished Assault was strictly flying, because the on-foot gameplay is better when you're playing against someone else.

Ren

#14

Ren said:

I don't get why someone here says that 64 is the "official" start of the series. Why would that be?
I also never understood all the hate for Command. I loved it and I think it's the only one that came close to returning to the elements that made the 1st two the best. Sure the map screen junk was dumb and it was pretty wordy but the battles were great in control and raw dog fighting action; online fighting was really fun too.
I don't think anyone ever cared about the characters, they've always been dopey, it's seems like they intended a silly irony in the first place that they're dumb cartoon animals in a hard edged space flight game: ignore them, that's not what it's about. I remember thinking from the begining that they intended for it to be a joke to highlight how much this kind of dogfighting action could carry itself without complex story, and that it was a new standard for air battle gameplay, but apparently people took these characters seriously along the way and other games never copied enough of battle gameplay to move it forward. Weird that even now, there aren't many flight games as fun as those ones; Why is that so hard to copy?
I don't get the barrel roll thing. Whats wrong with it? Is there some controversy about it that I'm unaware of?

Also it seems that people confuse the 'polygons' as being about 'awesome graphics'. It made things look nicer, sure, but that's not the point. It's the fact that it introduced the feeling of three dimensional space in a way that hadn't been done before, and had to be experienced to be understood. Stills of it, even then looked ridiculous to me, but once you see it moving or play it, it's like 'holy crap this thing moves like a real object in front of me; it has mass'. It was a great time to introduce the rumble and a great time now to give us the literal 3D upgrade of it.
Every time a game discussion comes up, people construe their game preferences as being about good or bad "graphics" when it's almost always about 6 other elements of a games design that make the experience what it is. I wish people could consider the things that define the entire tone of how a game plays so these kinds of discussions don't always sound the same. (in the comments, anyway, the NL discussion is great).
"those graphics suck"... " that looks amazing!"
game design is so much more than that

Odnetnin

#15

Odnetnin said:

I had no plans to buy it either until the Nintendo Power review, the IGN review, and now this.

Also, <3 these roundtables.

pikku

#16

pikku said:

I'll stick to my VC version, thanks. Though I do freaking love this game and want it on a portable. ;___;
drop it to $20, and I'll get it, sheesh

Kit

#17

Kit said:

I had a go at the Star Fox 64 3D demo in Game Station this morning. It's really really good, I'm definitely going to get it - time to flog my old Star Fox Command DS game. Like OoT I missed out on Lylat Wars.

TheBaconator

#18

TheBaconator said:

I really don't understand why "Do a Barrel Roll" is always said when talking about Star Fox. There were much better one-liners in the game than that one.

Kid_A

#19

Kid_A said:

Great read :)
I found myself agreeing with Peter; Command and Assault, while certainly flawed, are still great games in their own right. Quite frankly Command is my favorite Starfox game.

theblackdragonAdmin

#20

theblackdragon said:

@Ren:
(a) StarFox 64 was a remake of the original (as acknowledged by Miyamoto in a Nintendo Power interview iirc), thus it is officially the canon beginning of the series.

(b) Peppy saying 'Do a barrel roll!' in SF64 is an internet meme. it was much bigger a few years back, but when you see people parroting 'do a barrel roll!' or 'press Z or R twice!', that's what they're referencing.

(c) dude, I was 11 when StarFox came out. 'zomg polygons' was my general mindset at the time. i'd never seen the like before in an SNES game, and it looked so cool. i know now that game design is much more than that (and if StarFox had been boring to play, no amount of pretty spaceships and blinking lights would've kept me hooked on it, lol), but in terms of the original StarFox and how it made me feel at the time, I felt they bore mentioning. :3

EdEN

#21

EdEN said:

The 3DS release looks great as was the ase with OoT. I still think nintendo should release Starfox 2 on the Wii U VC since itS a finished produxt that us dans of the series should have a shot at.

Supremeist

#22

Supremeist said:

I can't wait to pick up Starfox 64 3D. Sadly I won't be getting it on release because I'm broke and saving for MW3 /:

Tasuki

#23

Tasuki said:

@Link79: I have only been told once why Earthbound isnt going to be released and thats cause of the fine line of copyright infringement Earthbound walks. Truthfully I just got tried of waiting for games to come to the VC I am just going to pick up the original cartridges. I just got tired of Nintendos excuses for this game not coming to VC and what not.

@TBD: Oh my bad I thought Nintendo are the ones that said the problem was the Super FX.

@EdEN: Starfox 2 was only finished in Japanese and even then it was in the alpha stage meaning it contained bugs and debugging code.

J-Forest-Esq

#24

J-Forest-Esq said:

I do love a good round-table. Top stuff everybody.

I loved Star Fox Assault. I completely agree about the sense of "epicness". It was actually one of the first games I ever completed, and I remember being almost overwhelmed by the scale of the final throes of the game. Also loved the Landmaster segments, I thought they were perfectly distributed. Looking forward to 643D.

JeanLuc_Vaycard

#27

JeanLuc_Vaycard said:

Hmm this or the amazing Kirby Mass Attack that has so much extra fricken content and is cheaper? My choice is clear.

FluttershyGuy

#28

FluttershyGuy said:

After seeing the impressive graphics overhaul they did for Star Fox 64 3D, I may get it. Nothing else to get right now (then again I don't have much time anyway). Star Fox and Star Fox 64 are actually the only games in the series I've played. Didn't hear much good about the most recent entries, so I never got them.

Something that turned me off on the series early on is that they had one game, ONE, rebooted it and pretended the SNES original never happened. So, it's turned out I've spent more time playing Star Fox characters on Super Smash Bros. games than I have playing games from the actual Star Fox series, LOL!

TheGreenSpiny

#30

TheGreenSpiny said:

@tasuki: Personally I think the Earthbound thing is BS. It supposedly involves music licensing rights or something. Here's a solution Nintendo: just change the music!

@ballkirby: It's because Peppy wouldn't shut up about it the game. On the first or second stage when he tells you to "try a barrel roll fox" he keeps repeating the damn line over and over to the point of annoyance.

@Ren: All the hate for Command stems from the god awful controls. Who knew the Arwing was so clumsy and slow? That and you start the game with these really confusing and pointless "draw your path segments." If any Star Fox game needed a tutorial it was that one.

kobe1724

#31

kobe1724 said:

So that's where "do the barrel roll" comes from! Wow, guess I'm not really in the know when it comes to Star Fox :)

Knux

#32

Knux said:

Nintendo just needs to release a new Star Fox game, period! Command was pretty fun, but it has been forever since an original Star Fox game has been released! But I am still excited about Star Fox 64 3D (which I have already pre-ordered).

JimLad

#34

JimLad said:

The Star Fox series basically consists of two awesome games (SNES & N64) one ok game (Assault) and two games that don't really fit in the franchise (Adventures & Command)
It's basically a 3D space shooter, the formula is not rocket science. Ship>Rails>Masses of baddies.
But it's clear Nintendo doesn't care enough about the series to make a new game. Hopefully one day they'll just hand it over to someone else, so we can start getting real Star Fox games again.

Luffymcduck

#35

Luffymcduck said:

Star Fox 64 is the best entry in the series, but Assault had the greatest multiplayer. We really had great time with it back in 2005.

moosa

#36

moosa said:

Nintendo owns the rights to about 300 different IPs/franchises. It's foolish to think they could satisfy fans of all of them on a regular basis.

Nin-freak

#37

Nin-freak said:

I hope they just make a Starfox on Wii U that goes back to 64's game style, only with a larger campaign and online system. And some more items. Nintendo has always neglected Starfox. Maybe Retro should do this one.

KLZ

#40

KLZ said:

I hope that Starfox 64 3D just boosts up the popularity of the franchise, so Nintendo can start making new starfox games!

NeoShinobi

#41

NeoShinobi said:

Star Fox and Star Fox 64 are two of my favorite games of their respected systems. But I'm not too excited about this 3D port. Porting Star Fox 64 didn't seem all that necessary.

Now if they ramade the original Star Fox instead, maybe smooth out the graphics while keeping the polygonal look, and increase the framerate. I would have been all over that.

WaveBoy

#42

WaveBoy said:

@Tasuki
I'm in the same wavey boat as you dude. I experienced StarFox for the SNES back in the day during it's release and it was just so unusual and striking to experience those polygons for the first time, plus the commercial was ace. B-)

However, i only had around 10 minutes game time with StarFox 64 with the rumble pack back in the mid 90's ish i think it was, and that was the last time i ever played a StarFox game.....Yikes, that must of been around 15 years ago....And I wasn't interested in the Gamecube releases either, not to mention StarFox DS which came years later wasn't exactly getting stellar reviews.

Anyways, I'll be nabbing StarFox 64 3D on day one. Pretty stoked for this one! But it cannot whatsoever reach my excitement for Super Mario 3D Land. :D

Tasuki

#43

Tasuki said:

@Waveboy: At least you got to play if for 10 minutes thats more than I ever did lol.

As I said due to the fact that the rumble pack was included with it the rental stores wouldnt care the game so I just missed out on that one. Heck I didnt even realize that it was on the VC untill a few days ago. If I would have known sooner I probably would have picked it up but since I will be getting it on Friday I dont see the point in getting the VC version now.

And yeah SM3DL is big on my list I even have it preordered on Amazon :D. I am so stoked now about getting a 3DS and the games that are coming out for it in the next few months.

eviLaTtenDant

#44

eviLaTtenDant said:

Nice Round Table as always. Didn’t know about the fox statues and the arches. :D
I have only dabbled in the Star Fox games so far. Made it through Star Fox 64 a few times without finding most of the alternaroutes and only played a few minutes of all the other games. But the original SNES game is my favourite so far. I loved its unique style, the jabbering of the wingmanimals and the audio in general. Wish i could play it on the Wii or the 3DS.
I agree that on the Wii U it should have online-multiplayer on a Warhawk scale.
The controller is an even better fit for tilt controls than the 3DS and with the touchscreen you could make choices where to go or give commands. :)

suburban_sensei

#45

suburban_sensei said:

Great round table! I usually skip these features, but I love Star Fox, and really enjoyed the banter, so I will be sure to start reading them from now on :) Friday can't come soon enough to replay one of my favorite N64 titles!

MetroidMasher17

#46

MetroidMasher17 said:

Cool feature. I like Star Fox, but not enough to buy SF643D. I mean, I have the original SF64, and there's no online multiplayer. Plus, I have SM3DL to think about...and pre-order!

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