News Article

Want to Know The Real Reason Star Fox Was Renamed in Europe?

Posted by Damien McFerran

Unravelling the mystery behind Star Fox, Starwing and Lylat Wars

It's funny what you take for granted. When we posted a photo of the N64 game Lylat Wars on our Nintendo Life Instagram account, we never thought for a second it would result in confused replies from our followers:

"I've never seen this....what kinda badassness is in that cartridge?"

"Wait what is this?"

"Lylat wars? What kind of crack were they smokin in Europe that made that sound like a good idea?"

You see, we'd totally taken it for granted that every Nintendo fan the world over knew that Lylat Wars was in fact Star Fox 64, just as Starwing on the European SNES is actually Star Fox. It never occured to us for a second that players from outside of Europe wouldn't know this trivial but interesting fact - and this in turn made us want to get to the bottom of this mystery once and for all.

Of course, theories regarding the name change are easily found online, and it's always been assumed that the root cause was a copyright issue with either the Atari 2600 title Star Fox (from 1983) or the ZX Spectrum/C64 game StarFox (from 1987). Indeed, such was our confidence in the latter being the reason that we even cited it as such in our Making of Star Fox feature a while back.

Keen to seek clarification, we dropped Dylan Cuthbert a line - one of the British developers who worked with Nintendo on the original game back in 1993. He's ideally placed to comment on this, because in addition to his coding duties he was also responsible for porting the European version of the game. Surprisingly, he wasn't aware of the naming clash with other titles, and instead offered up an alternative explanation:

I can’t be sure but I seem to remember vaguely someone at Nintendo telling me that there was a company or something called StarVox in Germany, and because 'F' is pronounced like a 'V' there they had to change the name to avoid confusion.

I think by the time the Star Fox Command and Star Fox 3D came out the company was defunct or perhaps the lawyers simply decided that there was no product confusion any more.

The only story I know is the 'StarVox' one, because it was an interesting problem - which is why I remember it.

Cuthbert's story is corroborated by Jez San, who was the head of Argonaut (the UK company which sent Cuthbert over to Japan to work with Nintendo on Star Fox and also created the Super FX chip which would power the game's 3D visuals):

Dylan's right. That’s what Nintendo told us. They said there was a German company called StarVox and that in a thick German accent, Star Fox sounded too much like StarVox. So to avoid a court case that might risk delaying the launch of the game, they changed the name.

Personally, I think both companies overreacted and there was no chance that Star Fox and StarVox would have created confusion between the two brands.

So there you have it, from the creators of the game itself. Another mystery solved by your friendly private investigation team at Nintendo Life!

More Stories

Related Games

User Comments (66)

Tasuki

#3

Tasuki said:

Well you were kinda on the right track with the Atari Star Fox game. Thats what I always though it was. Just out of curiosity does anyone know what StarVox was or is?

photofool83

#8

photofool83 said:

Starfox 64 is still one of my all-time favorite games. I played it for numerous hours on the N64 and now I play it for numerous hours on the 3DS. I'd love a new game in the series.

Luffymcduck

#12

Luffymcduck said:

I grew up knowing this name. I was really confused of these names later, why they weren´t called Starfox here, but Starwing and Lylat Wars.

edcomics

#13

edcomics said:

@Linkstrikesback

Thanks. Never actually owned one of the games, though I've played through a few stages when I've had the chance. My closest contact with Star Fox was the comic in Nintendo Power all those years ago. Good stuff.

ThomasBW84Admin

#14

ThomasBW84 said:

This was my first ever Nintendo game (well, my brother's), as I'd been a Mega Drive kid in the 16-bit era. My first thought was, 'what a weird name', but then it promptly blew my socks off.

Looking back now and understanding the history of it, I actually think Lylat Wars is a good name, though maybe Starwing: Lylat Wars would have helped to avoid confusion!

MariosLoveChild

#17

MariosLoveChild said:

Even though I'm in the UK Ive always called it starfox. Probably because I couldn't wait for the original snes version to hit the UK, so I emptied my bank account (I was about 14 then) and bought the jap starfox along with a brand new convertor. The fx chip rendered older convertors useless.

Anyway, lylat wars was, is and always will be a crap name.

Other_DaveStaff

#23

Other_Dave said:

And now I can't get "Star Vox" out of my head.

Semi-interesting fact: For its iQue release 'Star Fox 64' was simply called 'Star Fox'.

Bulbousaur

#24

Bulbousaur said:

I hate the name "Lylat Wars", and I hate this reason even more than the Atari/C64 reason...

C-Olimar

#25

C-Olimar said:

@JebbyDeringer The Starfox series takes place in the Lylat System. There are wars in it. This game is about the wars of Lylat, hence the name Lylat Wars.
Still, they could have mentioned StarWing somewhere in the title.

FluttershyGuy

#27

FluttershyGuy said:

Great, informative article! I'd wondered about the reason for the different names.

You ought to do one on Contra/Probotector (as it's been called in Europe). That one (along with why Contra isn't on VC) has always puzzled me. We had our weirdness here too, though. NES Super Conta was called Super C to avoid any comparison to the Oliver North Iran-Contra Affair.

KAHN

#29

KAHN said:

never liked lylatwars. i actually have a copy of that in my crawlspace, right next to those stupid cheerleaders...

sillygostly

#31

sillygostly said:

I don't understand why Nintendo of Europe feel the need to rename ANYTHING for the European market. -.-

Dezsi

#32

Dezsi said:

Finally! Seriously, I've been wondering about this. I never would have thought that such was the reason behind the difference in naming.

I actually think that Lylat Wars sounds really cool. It has a certain weight to it. Much cooler than just Star Fox (N)64. Of course, without the Internet, I never would have guessed that this was a sequel to StarWing.

Chuie

#38

Chuie said:

in the picture i see a banjo kazooie cartridge :D
on toppic i like the name lylat wars but im glad it was name star fox for us

Grodus

#39

Grodus said:

Wow, those poor europeans didn't even know it was a sequel to "starwing."

DamoAdmin

#41

Damo said:

@mieu-fire You should see the rest of the office. We're literally drowning in N64 cartridges, thanks mainly to @antdickens and his unhealthy obsession with owning as many copies of International SuperStar Soccer 64 as humanly possible.

Chunky_Droid

#42

Chunky_Droid said:

Good work guys! I remember back when Lylat Wars (as it's also known in Australia) came out, Nintendo Magazine in Australia stated it was renamed because of Star Wars and Star Trek, lol.

Henmii

#44

Henmii said:

Yeah, Lylatwars always sounded strange. But in the end it makes perfect sense, since the game takes place in the Lylat system!

GreenBanana

#45

GreenBanana said:

Of course you take it for granted. You take it for granted that this is the internet, forgetting the internet is world-wide.

Ras

#46

Ras said:

In the Land of Fairy Tales, Pikmin had to be renamed Lilac Wars because the Seven Dwarfs refer to themselves as Pick Men. True story.

Raiko

#47

Raiko said:

Maybe its because I grew up with those titles, but I much prefer the names Starwing and Lylat Wars to Star Fox. Star Fox sounds more like a kids tv show, whereas the other two names sounded more like an adult sci-fi programme.

XCWarrior

#48

XCWarrior said:

Any time you can post a story about Star Fox 64, my favorite game of all time, it's a great day. Now if only we could get a true sequel to this amazing game.

Capt_N

#49

Capt_N said:

Cool story. No really, it's a neat article. All I ever knew about it, was the name of SF64 was "Lylat wars" in Europe, & that was pretty much it. So, this has been informative.

Araknie

#50

Araknie said:

At least the name was most original than adding a 64 over the original name. Take that, rest of the world!

retro_player_22

#53

retro_player_22 said:

Lylat Wars huh, that is a strange name for a Star Fox title though to foreign gamer like myself, if I would have import it. The first thing I would ask myself is, is this one of Nintendo's Famicom Wars game? Yeap I know there's a Famicom Wars (NES), Super Famicom Wars (SNES), GB Wars (GB), Advance Wars (GBA), and Battalion Wars (GCN & Wii) and thought maybe Lylat Wars was the N64 game of that series. Oh how wrong I was.

ToxieDogg

#54

ToxieDogg said:

I always knew Starwing and Lylat Wars were just the Euro-rebranded versions of Starfox and Starfox 64 thanks to the Official Nintendo Magazine, but I still think they're sucky names. Starfox sounds way better and fits the game more (seeing as you actually play as a fox who's a member of a team called Starfox). The name Lylat Wars just screams 'Generic Action Game X' to me which is a shame as it's an awesome game.

MariosLoveChild

#55

MariosLoveChild said:

OK, Ive just thought of something. If the snes and n64 games were changed due to ze germans, why do we have star fox on gamecube, DS and 3DS here in the UK and im guessing the rest of europe? NO name changes!!!

MariosLoveChild

#56

MariosLoveChild said:

HA! just found this, although it is from wikipedia so its about as trustworthy as a politician.

"Due to trademark issues over the name Star Fox in PAL region territories, Star Fox and Star Fox 64 were released in those countries as Star Wing and Lylat Wars respectively. However, Nintendo bought the rights before the release of Star Fox Adventures so future games could be released worldwide with the same name".

If the above is true then starvox has bugger all to do with it.

On a side note, when are we going to see the entry of Hamster McNibbles in the LylatFoxWing64AssultWars 3D U ???

ouenben

#57

ouenben said:

Spelling mistake in the second paragraph (after the quote):
Occured

It should be; Occurred

I found Star Fox 3D to be pretty fun albeit short game, I owned but actually played very little of the original N64 version.

Have a nice day.
Ben

Iceberg

#59

Iceberg said:

That's interesting, I wonder why they called Resident Evil 'Biohazard' in Japan too.

@ouenben does it really matter?

DarkEdi

#63

DarkEdi said:

So the VC game is updated in Europe like StarFox or it continues like Lylat Wars?

Trikeboy

#65

Trikeboy said:

This is news? I've known that for years. Maybe not 100% confirmed but I was well aware of StarVox and that was the reason why it was changed.

Personally I prefer StarWing and Lylat Wars but I'm glad Nintendo can use Star Fox now.

Trikeboy

#66

Trikeboy said:

@Grodus
Do you really think Europeans didn't know Lylat Wars was a sequel to Star Wing? Of course we did. The name change came after the first screen shots showing Star Fox 64. Also, it used the same characters and same ship designs from Star Wing. We also knew Star Wing was called Star Fox in the USA btw. I hope your mind is blown.

Leave A Comment

Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...