If you’ve never seen what the original Star Fox looks like, you may be shocked. Just one look at a screenshot would convince you that the game looks extremely archaic and laughable in comparison to today’s games. However, I promise you that there was a time when Star Fox was praised for its graphical achievement. Back in 1993, 3D polygon graphics were practically non-existent, and Star Fox was the first to implement them in a Nintendo game.
SNES couldn’t render 3D polygons at a steady framerate as it was, so Star Fox co-developer Argonaut Games worked alongside Nintendo to create the Super FX chip, which helped improve the system’s processing speed. The end result blew people’s minds, causing an absurd amount of hype to be drawn toward the game. Star Fox‘s groundbreaking graphics were a big reason why the game sold close to three million copies worldwide, effectively creating a successful new franchise for Nintendo. Even though the game came with a $60-$70 price tag, people were willing to spend extra money to get their hands on Nintendo’s latest innovation.
Of course, I personally wasn’t around when Star Fox stole people’s hearts in 1993. Hell, that was the year that I was born! Yet, when I played it for the first time a few years ago, I was still left impressed with the game. The graphics may not be revolutionary anymore, but it’s still an amazing Star Fox game that I can appreciate today. What’s not to like in a game that has talking animals fighting in space?
It was pretty easy for me to fall in love with this game at first sight, given that I’ve garnered an unhealthy amount of affection for Star Fox 64 in my youth. Since the SNES original created the foundation for the N64 sequel, a lot of the game’s mechanics felt familiar to me. For instance, the SNES Star Fox features similar on-rails combat, complete with barrel rolls, boosting or breaking, and smart bombs. There’s even back and forth dialogue between your animal allies, but instead of being fully voiced, it features gibberish voices that carry their own unique charm.
The way the levels are structured is very similar as well. The majority of each level is spent taking down incoming enemies to achieve the highest score, while occasionally helping your teammates when they need it. At the end of each level, you’ll take on massive bosses that have a bone to pick with you and your squad. Personally, the boss battles are a big reason why I love this game. Their sheer size and challenging attack patterns always left a huge impression on me, making each and every victory come with a sense of accomplishment.
My favorite thing about Star Fox is its level select screen. Before you jump into the game, you’ll have a choice between Level 1, 2, or 3, which all vary in difficulty. Think of Level 1 as easy mode, Level 2 as normal mode, and Level 3 as hard mode. However, each individual level is more than just a way to change the difficulty, since each one features an entirely new set of locales. So, players in different levels will access different planets with events and bosses that are unique to that path. This is a great way to motivate players on lower levels to master the game’s mechanics and see the rest of the game’s content.
Oh, and the soundtrack! Star Fox features one of my favorite SNES soundtracks of all time. Taking inspiration from styles like orchestra, jazz, and rock, the soundtrack boasts a lot of variety and perfectly conveys a sense of adventure to the player. Without a doubt, it’s Hajime Hirasawa’s finest work. Below is a sample of the music, which you may recognize if you’ve ever played on Corneria in Super Smash Bros. Melee.
If you’re a big fan of Star Fox like I am, then you owe it to yourself to play the original. Not only did it lay the foundation for future Star Fox games, it set a standard that future 3D games would follow. While some aspects have aged and are not as impressive as they once were, it’s still a fantastic game that is enjoyable to play. Star Fox pushed the SNES to its limit, making it one of Nintendo’s finest classics.