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Star Fox a retrospective look

For the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Star Fox first appeared in Japan on February 21st, 1993. The game would debut in North America a month later, with a June launch in Europe.

Nintendo EAD and British developer Argonaut Games collaborated on the creation of Star Fox. Nintendo’s Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto and his team would be in charge of the game’s level and character designs, while Argonaut would be in charge of its programming and technical aspects. Katsuya Eguchi, who designed Super Mario Bros. 3 and later created Animal Crossing, would take on the position of game director. The Super FX chip found inside each game cartridge was used to create the game’s 3D polygonal graphics, which would be first used by Nintendo.

In the Lylat System, Fox McCloud, the team’s captain and mercenary, teams up with his allies to defeat Andross, a villainous scientist who is waging war on the tranquil planet of Corneria. The player must control McCloud’s Arwing spacecraft through a variety of areas in this rail shooter game while also taking down foes and collecting power-ups. Each next stage can only be unlocked by defeating the boss that appears at the end of each level.

After producing a variety of titles for various home computer systems, such as the Amiga, Atari ST, and Commodore 64, Argonaut titles began to concentrate on home video game consoles during the late 1980s. At the 1990 Summer Consumer Electronic Show, Argonaut founder Jez San and his team contacted Nintendo with a 3D technology demo for the Game Boy that had been developed by Argonaut programmer Dylan Cuthbert.

After being impressed, Nintendo called San to come to the company’s headquarters. San explained: “They wanted me on a plane to Kyoto first thing in the morning to meet with Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi,” in a 2014 interview with Eurogamer. “They told me they wanted to do three games with us and explained their desire for us to teach them our 3D technology.”

Following this, both companies would work together on a number of smaller projects, including the 3D space shooter X. San proposed the usage of a specialized 3D chip, stored within a game’s cartridge, to assist Nintendo in their quest to adopt 3D graphics technology. This would theoretically increase the processing power of Nintendo’s SNES machine. The MARIO chip (Mathematical Argonaut Rotation I/O chip), later known as the Super FX chip, was created as a result of this concept.

Wanting to develop a game that would really showcase and demonstrate the capabilities of this new chip, the two companies collaborated in the creation of a title that would make effective use of the new hardware. Argonaut suggested including spaceships and an intergalactic setting, while Nintendo came up with the premise of the game being an on-rail, arcade-style shooter. Both Miyamoto and artist, Takaya Imamura, would draw inspiration from such areas as Japanese folklore in creating the game’s anthropomorphic animal cast. Each of these ideas eventually came together as the game, Star Fox.

The name of the game would be changed from Star Fox to Starwing when it was released in Europe. The true cause is far more unique to the European market and was previously assumed to be related to a possible copyright issue with two previously released video games carrying the same name, one for the Commodore 64 title released in 1987 and one for the Atari 2600 title released in 1983. Dylan Cuthbert would be the main person in charge of porting the game for the European market. He explained as follows in an interview with Nintendo Life from 2012: “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.” In the same interview, Jez San confirms this story. “Star Fox sounded too much like StarVox”, he shares. “So to avoid a court case that might risk delaying the launch of the game, they changed the name.”

Star Fox received a lot of good reviews when it was first released, with reviewers praising the game’s ground-breaking aesthetics, precise gameplay, and vibrant cast of characters. The game would eventually sell 4 million copies worldwide, establish itself as a Nintendo franchise, and give rise to a ton of sequels and spin-offs.


Star Fox 2, a sequel created for the SNES, was scheduled to release in mid-1995 but was canceled by Nintendo despite being finished to make room for the coming Nintendo 64 console. Star Fox 64, the first of these sequels produced, made its debut in 1997 for the Nintendo 64.

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