Star Fox is 30 years old next week — yes, really. The SNES on-rails shooter celebrates its 30th anniversary on 21st February, so Q-Games CEO and lead programmer on the original game Dylan Cuthbert has sat down and shared anecdotes, stories, and tips on the game, and how Star Fox has influenced his game development.
In the video, Cuthbert shows us how to really play Star Fox while also sharing little insights into each of the levels. These gameplay segments are intersected by Q&A sections, answering questions from fans who have grown up with and love Star Fox.
There are lots of little tidbits to keep any Nintendo and Star Fox fan here. One of our favourites is how the iconic quartet of Fox McCloud, Slippy Toad, Peppy Hare, and Falco Lombardi each got their names. Falco's name had already been decided before the team approached Cuthbert with designs for all of the characters, but they needed help with the other three:
"...then they came to my desk — and I'm not sure WHY they came to me, but maybe they wanted good sounding, English names for these characters. And they had one design, one name already decided, which was Falco Lombardi. And the other three, they were like 'Well, this is a fox. This is a hare, and this is a frog or a toad'. And they said, 'Well...what can we call it?'
... I looked at the characters they'd drawn, these really nice little sketches, and I said, 'Okay, well... I think Fox needs to have a cool-sounding name, and he flies in a spacecraft, so... McCloud sound pretty good. Let's give him McCloud.'
And for the other two, I looked at them and I just kind of laughed because the names just came into my mind and I said, 'Okay, call this guy Slippy, because he looks a bit... slippery, and this guy looks old, but he looks like he's got lots of energy. Let's call him Peppy.'"
Of course, there are some sneaky little "I really shouldn't be telling people that" moments, such as Cuthbert's tip that playing in first-person reduces the collision detection and makes it smaller, making it easier to squeeze through tiny gaps. He also talks about Yoichi Yamada's "crazy" Double-Headed King Dodra boss, which Cuthbert describes as a "chicken".
Cuthbert also answered a question about the worst bug that he encountered during development, which the team came across right before Christmas:
"...about three days before Christmas it came back with a bug, on only the second version of the hardware that had shipped, maybe there were only 50,000 units of this Super Nintendo out there in the world, but it was the second version and only on the second version we had this bug on the stage select screen. And we were just getting like, junk on the screen for no reason on this one Super Nintendo. We couldn't work out why.
We got called back to do this at like 3am in the morning because they [Nintendo] really needed it to be ready before Christmas, so we could actually go home. And we were there at 3am, very bleary eyed, looking at the code, and I was looking at the code that was transferring the data over to the screen, and I was trying to work out like, 'Why? Why would this cause glitches, why would it cause junk to appear on the screen?'
And I thought, okay, well it's doing it on DMA Channel 3, I'm just going to switch the DMA channel to 2 and see what happens. And it fixed it! And that was it. And we still don't know why."
We won't spoil the interview itself, because there are many fun — and sometimes hilarious — stories from Cuthbert's time working on the game. Check out the whole video above for all of the insights — it's just a really lovely video.
Lastly, Q-Games is holding a giveaway, where someone could win a bundle of Star Fox games all signed by Cuthbert. You can find all of the details on this at @PixelJunkGames or by visiting the Q-Games website.
Don't forget, Q-Games is currently working on PixelJunk Scrappers Deluxe for the Switch, and that's due out later this year: