This is one of my personal favorites in gaming and it’s a franchise I continue to pick up and play to this day. Star Fox helped set a new standard for flying games back when it first released on the SNES and helped shaped the genre into what it is today. The first game, for the SNES, was truly revolutionary and featured the highly anticipated Super FX chip, which allowed for higher quality graphics, making Star Fox the first 3D game for Nintendo. Sure, the polygons look awful now, but back then this was an incredible feat.
Star Fox is, at it’s core, an on-rail shooting game (the same as Galaga, Xevious, and the like) except they took the top-down perspective and altered it into a third/first-person viewpoint. While that change may seem minimal, this essentially created the flying genre as we now know it on the consoles. You still followed a predetermined path, but the ability to adjust speed, alter direction, and take more than one hit were revolutionary for video games. It hadn’t been done before and needless to say the game became a huge success.
While Star Fox 2 on the SNES was ultimately canceled because the technology was being surpassed by the N64, fans were treated to Star Fox 64 which changed the genre forever. While it was really only a remake of the SNES game, it changed things so drastically no one seemed to mind that it wasn’t a new story. It remained on-rails, but featured boss sections and multi-player that allowed free range of motion. The controls were updated allowing for a wider range of maneuvers and abilities. Better graphics, stronger physics, and voice-overs were also thrown into the mix. Before the fantastic Star Wars: Rogue Squadron hit the scene, this was the game to have and set the standard for all others in the genre to come.
So what happened? This genre defining and best-selling franchise went downhill all to quickly and I place the blame solely on one thing: on-foot missions. The next entry, Star Fox Adventures, arrived on the GameCube and did away with almost all of the flying missions. Seriously, why on Earth would you take a flying game franchise and then take out the flying? It was a move that made no sense, and fans didn’t respond well (much like what happened to the Rogue Squadron games). Star Fox Assault brought flying back to the forefront, but with several on-foot missions implemented, it wasn’t enough for fans.
Since then, the series has been largely dormant (aside from a more strategy based DS game). No Wii version was ever released (unless you count the virtual console) and so far, there’s been absolutely no mention of it returning on the Wii U. Fans were treated to Star Fox 64 3D for the 3DS, and while it was only a remake, it was a return to what was arguably the series’ best entry. I was thrilled to relive the adventure and spent several more hours in the Arwing’s cockpit. While the game sold very well with fans it hasn’t seemed to spur Nintendo to put the franchise back into action.
We need more than just a remake. Star Fox is a phenomenal series that deserves to shine once more. What we need is a brand new game for the Wii U that can move the series forward with a new story and a focus on what made this game so great. It’s been a while since we’ve had a truly fun flying/dogfighting game, and I’m not talking about the realistic simulators. There’s a definite gap in the market today for this genre and a new Star Fox would fill that hole nicely. With all the capabilities the Wii U has with it’s secondary Gamepad the possibilities are droolworthy. Imagine playing Star Fox like usual on the big screen, but in your hands is the full cockpit, with the ability to change up shielding and weapons with a touch. It’d add in a whole new dimension.
My dream team for this would still have to be Nintendo. They’ve handled Fox McCloud well in the past, and while they’ve had a few blips, they can still bring him back to his glory days. Let’s just hope that fans will be vocal enough for a new console version for Nintendo to hear them. Hell, if Donkey Kong Country can come back (with a sequel on the way no less), so can this.