News Article

Round Table: Looking Back at the Star Fox Series

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Thomas Whitehead: Let's take the theme of 'rebooting' the franchise. Star Fox Adventures on the GameCube was quite a departure, wasn't it?

Desiree Turner: This is where I step back, because I skipped the GameCube/GBA generation.

Thomas Whitehead: You're up Peter — what about Adventures as a departure?

Peter Willington: Yeah Star Fox Adventures was a massive sideways step for the series. Adventures started life off as a game called Dinosaur Planet — made by Rare — and featured Kristal as the lead character. It was meant to be a whole new franchise but Nintendo wanted a new Star Fox game for the GC, so Rare went back, changed some bits and pieces and slapped the Star Fox name on it. Aside from a few very short flying sections, it's really nothing like the rest of the series. It's essentially a Zelda clone, but much more basic.

Thomas Whitehead: So, even though it took the franchise in a new direction, do you think that the development history outlines flaws in the thinking; did the Star Fox brand get confused by this title?

Peter Willington: That's a really great question. Star Fox: Assault got released later in the console's lifespan and that went right back to basics, so I think they handled any potential damage limitation well. But I think it highlights a bigger issue in general, that Nintendo seems to treat the series with less care than others. Lylat Wars is the only game Nintendo developed itself, while the rest have been handed to other developers. While I think for the most part they're all really good, it's only natural that the brand has less identity than something EAD is hands-on with every single release like Mario or Zelda.

Thomas Whitehead: Good point, and looking at Assault in more detail, did you think the balance of old-school flight missions and ground based levels was right, did the game work as a whole?

Peter Willington: The best sections were undeniably the space combat — the on-foot stuff was fine, but very rudimentary, even when compared to other titles at the time. The thing Assault did the best out of the whole series though was getting across a sense of scale. The battles were really epic and energetic: leaping into a cockpit after taking out dozens of foot soldiers, then soaring into the sky and shooting down bogeys had a sense of kineticism that I don't think the others quite managed. As a whole, it's great, Namco did a great job, but those foot sections went on too long.

Thomas Whitehead: It seems that attempts to bring different genres to Star Fox have mixed results. Moving onto the DS entry, Command, what did you think of this attempt to bring the franchise to a handheld?

Desiree Turner: I was stoked to get my hands on Command — hell yes I'm down for some portable Star Fox goodness — until I started playing it, at which point I found myself wondering what had been done to the series I knew and loved so much. Everyone was so different (granted, I know that's because some of the characters involved were introduced and/or fleshed out further during the two GameCube games), and the interface had gone all strategy-based on me. Suddenly it wasn't so much about 'see enemy, shoot enemy, get best score' as it was ‘I can't see what's coming at me thanks to that stupid Fog of War, and I need this fighter over there because their abilities are better at shooting this kind of enemy'. It was incredibly different from the games I'd grown up with.

I'll admit I did like Command in my first play-through, I think I spent about three days getting all the endings and stuff. After that, though, I couldn't really stand to sit through it again.

Thomas Whitehead: Did you play this one Peter? What did you think, similar feelings to Desiree?

Peter Willington: I thought it was solid, not particularly special, but an acceptable entry. Q-Games started to do a "Sonic and his annoying friends" thing with the game which I found a bit abrasive, but the biggest issue I had was that everyone was referring to the game as having a big focus on strategy. The map screen movements of bad guys never seemed to change for me, which I think removed this "strategic" element. The game systems were still there though, the handling worked, even when they replaced the direct control with touch screen input.

Desiree Turner: I did like how the Arwings handled in terms of the touch-screen controls, but seriously, the pre-battle screens are laid out like a strategy game. I may as well have been playing Star Fox-themed checkers for all the fun I was having during those parts.

Thomas Whitehead: Command seems to continue the trend of the GameCube entries — new style not quite working. Is that a fair assessment?

Peter Willington: Absolutely, but I still really like the later games, simply for trying new elements, introducing new ideas.

Thomas Whitehead: Considering the direction of the series on GameCube and DS, what are your thoughts on Nintendo opting to re-release the N64 title on 3DS? Should it have done something new?

Peter Willington: In many ways it's completely fine, as there's been so much time that's passed since Lylat Wars' release that a lot of Nintendo fans won't have had a chance to play it. That said, I'm never a fan of re-releases, I think it's a bit lazy, and I'd much rather they made a brand new title to experience, perhaps take the series on a completely different tangent.

Thomas Whitehead: What about you Desiree, lazy or worthwhile remake?

Desiree Turner: Honestly, I think it's laziness, same as Ocarina of Time 3D. However, there are people (like Peter here) who've never played it or skipped that generation of consoles who'll be playing it for the first time, so it'll be a worthwhile purchase for those people.

Thomas Whitehead: Finally, what do you want next from Star Fox, in your wildest dreams, either on Wii U or 3DS?

Peter Willington: I'd really like the next Star Fox to use the Wii Remote in conjunction with MotionPlus. If you hold the Remote vertically, it makes an almost perfect flight stick and I definitely think that MotionPlus is up to the task of reading small movements. Perhaps with Wii U they can bring that on board, as well as include all the exciting improvements to the online infrastructure. I can imagine big scale multiplayer team deathmatch in Star Fox: the Warhawk for Nintendo systems.

Desiree Turner: I'm much more portable-oriented now than I used to be, so I'm probably biased toward the 3DS, but I'd love to see an honest-to-God return to the series' roots: a galaxy to save, multiple paths to explore and conquer, not as much of the annoying character interactions as Command. I think the N64 title had the best balance of character personalities and solid gameplay. No wannabe strategy, and more balance between on-rails shooter sections and All-Range Mode. Whichever console it happens on, that's what I'd like to see.

Our thanks to Desiree and Peter for giving their time and sharing their insight. Share your own memories and thought on the Star Fox franchise with us below!

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User Comments (46)



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.



Noire said:

That's not Des! That person capitalizes!

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 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 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 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 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 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 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 said:

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



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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.



theblackdragon said:

(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 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 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 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 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 said:

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



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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 said:

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



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.



WaveGhoul said:

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.

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.



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 . I am so stoked now about getting a 3DS and the games that are coming out for it in the next few months.



alLabouTandroiD said:

Nice Round Table as always. Didn’t know about the fox statues and the arches.
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 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 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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