Published on October 3rd, 2012 | by Nichomaxwell0
Super Star Fox 2: WHERE ARE YOU?!
Wait, hold the phone! Star Fox 2, you say? Wasn’t that a game?
Why, yes! Yes it was! And no, I’m certainly not returning to the second released game in the series…the venerable StarFox 64. I’m talking about a game with the name Star Fox 2, developed by the very same Argonaut Software who was responsible for the original, and directed by that classy guy Katsuya Eguchi (yes, also responsible for the original), and produced by the legend himself, Shigeru Miyamoto.
Star Fox 2 was in line to be produced by Nintendo and released in 1995, but some really unfortunate timing left those in charge of the game scratching their heads over what could have been.
The scheduled sequel to the classic rail-shooter that was all but a Star Wars fan and/or furry’s wet dream never saw release, and it was all your stinkin’ fault, you overrated Nintendo 64!
Well, that doesn’t change the fact that Star Fox 64 itself was a fantastic game with its iconic “Do a barrel role!” line becoming a meme that even non-fans and…shudder…normal people know about. However, Star Fox 64 went from being the actual second game’s successor to becoming its replacement, mainly because Miaymoto, Eguchi, and the developers at Nintendo EAD anticipated an earlier release date for the N64.
As most of you remember, Star Fox 64 came out in 1997, right on the heels of the “groundbreaking” system’s release. However, with the N64 slated to come out circa 1995/6 alongside Sony’s PlayStation, Miyamoto and his staff shelved Star Fox 2, the development of which was confined solely to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and shifted to the 64 project in hopes of creating an even better game with the 3-D technology made available by the upcoming platform.
Okay, so…the 64 version comes out in 1997, but Star Fox 2, which, by the way, was SUPPOSED TO BE RELEASED two years earlier (which means development and production was 99% complete around 1994, giving Nintendo two potential years to work on the next project). So you have this game ready to go, and the next game doesn’t come out for some time. What were you thinking, Miyamoto?!
Well, while neither Miyamoto nor Nintendo shared their reasons with the public for why they cancelled the game, the lead programmer Dylan Cuthbert came forward with an apology…er…explanation on Nintendo’s behalf.
“The reason for non-release was the then impending Nintendo 64 which of course was intended to be released a lot sooner than it actually was,” Cuthbert explained. “Miyamoto-san decided he wanted to have a clean break between 3D games on the SNES and 3D games on the new superior 64-bit system.”
“In retrospect, he could have released Star Fox 2 and there would have been over a year and a half before the N64 came out. But hindsight is always 20/20.”
But hindsight can also burn holes in your retinas when you realize the millions you’ve let go due to a gamble….I mean, course of action…that you take.
And Cuthbert’s mere mention of a chance that Nintendo could have released this game on the SNES with time to spare for the N64 project hints at the potential that he believed this canceled gem harbored in generating sales for the company.
The fact that this game is both A) complete and B)pretty old, means that some smart and saavy folks out there have managed to find a way to translate a rom version of the sequel and put it out there for retro gamers to try out for themselves. Nintendo surely isn’t getting any money out of it that we know of, but having played the unreleased sequel myself, the belief here is that Nintendo could correct its mistakes and return the carts to a goldmine they should’ve never passed up in the first place.
First off, Star Fox 2 follows the trend begun by several old-school Nintendo series: keep the premise of the first game, but drastically change the game play.
Well, okay, the rail shooting itself stays the same…but the approach to beating Star Fox 2 takes on a completely different feel from the original.
THE GAME PLAY
SF2 on the SNES transitions from the linear form of play in the original to a free-ranged, Real-Time Strategy type shooter. Fox’s beloved attack, Corneria, is under attack from a very angry ape…and no, it’s not Donkey Kong. Fox’s arch-nemesis, Andross, dispatches enemy fleets to nearby planets to set up base and launch missiles at Corneria.
As Fox…or one of five other star-fighters in his squadron (including two forgotten newbies: Miyu the tomboyish lynx and the poodle Fay, who would have preceded Krystal as the series’ central furry symbol), you choose which planets you approach, while flying your ship around a fixed, overhead map of the galaxy and engaging missiles and enemy fighters that are free-roaming across the over-world.
Whenever your fighter makes contact with a planet, starship, enemy pilot from Star-Wolf, or missile, you take on the target or mission a la first- or third-person shooter mode. While perusing planets [specifically the underground portions for the sake of seeking out the enemy bases], you can, at any time, transform your blazing war machine of a space jet into a versatile land cruiser that can make turns and JUMP N SHOOT! The whole effect of turning your vehicle nails the free-roaming nature that the creators were going for with this bittersweet unreleased gem.
I must admit that the game on the Normal difficulty setting was waaaaaayyyy too easy. I demolished all of the bases, took out each enemy fighter with an average completion time of 10 seconds (not….lying…), and beat Andross, all within one hour of play time. That was underwhelming…but then, I moved on to the Hard setting, and eventually to Expert. The crafty sons of guns at Nintendo ensured that the expert player was rewarded with a far more fulfilling experience. In the harder modes, more planets emerged as power players in Star Fox’s struggle to save Corneria. Also, missiles and enemy fighters were more plentiful and presented far more of a threat. Multi-tasking became a thing. You weren’t just trying to accomplish missions on different planets…you were doing all this IN REAL TIME! Why you were goofing around in the center of Junopia or whatever the alien planets are called, Sergeant Pepper’s tail is singing from the fires being spread by the juggernaut of missiles raining down on all the cute and cuddly puppies and squirrels that live in Corneria. Those puppies…are Pepper’s children. How does that make you feel, Fox?
But seriously, the missiles are moving on your planet even while you’re in a mission, driving home the desperation factor. The realistic nature of the enemy threat prompts you to beat the game as quickly as you can, and although the game itself isn’t very long in any of the three modes, Nintendo’s emphasis on game play shines through and amps up the replay factor.
Complementing (and complimenting) Star Fox 2’s innovative formula for its rail shooter is the dynamic music and graphically stunning opening. For a Super Nintendo Game, the opening scene of a 3-D starship getting gobbled up by a flying mechanical dragon 30 times its size is pretty insane. I can say with confidence that SF2’s opening rivaled some of the cinematics from Final Fantasy VII…and I do repeat, with confidence.
Although the game never made it to America, fans can download an English-translated ROM off the internet, plug it into a SNES emulator, and enjoy all of its glory. Although one cannot be sure how accurately the English translation reflects the actual dialogue, it hardly matters, for it’s bouncy and involving. The story may not be too grand, but the translated dialogue does its job in ensuring that you’re along.
Anyone with a soul would be hard-pressed to come up with a reason why Star Fox 2 should not have been released…therefore, I guess I’m inferring that the good people at Nintendo do not have souls.
But I kid the stars at Nintendo, for although they overlooked a potential moneymaker in this worthy sequel, they demonstrated with Star Fox 2 their desire for discovering new types of games.
Although creator Takaya Imamura shot down the possibility of releasing this surprise of a playthrough for either Will Virtual Console of the Nintendo DS, a little more exposure of Star Fox 2’s greatness to the public may be the necessary element that gets Imamura to reconsider.