It’s been 20 years since the Arwings first launched and the team known as Star Fox reported for duty. In 1993, Star Fox (Starwing in the UK) came out for the Super Nintendo. Since then, we’ve had five distinct games and one remake bearing the Star Fox name over both Nintendo home consoles and handhelds. The series has become Nintendo’s seminal sci-fi shoot ’em up franchise, but it’s also branched out to include action-adventure and strategy elements as well. Fans of the Star Fox games love them for their intense action, re-playability, and chatty characters. Star Fox has had its highs and lows, but at any rate, 20 years is a grand milestone to celebrate.
Over the coming week, we’re going to be looking at the history, the characters, Star Fox’s greatest moments and the music. But right now, let’s take a look at some fun facts and trivia from the franchise. Check your G-Diffuser systems, because here we go!
In the development of Star Fox, the Arwing design and name came from the graphic capabilities of the time. The ship has a triangular design due to the limitations on the number of polygons the Super FX Chip could render. This triangle shape ended up informing the naming of the ships: “We called it Arwing because it was like one big wing shaped like an A.”
Shigeru Miyamoto was a fan of the English TV series Thunderbirds, a sci-fi which featured puppets. So, the art on the front of the original game was of real puppets, and in-game the characters’ mouths popped open and closed as if they were real puppets. This is very evident in the dialogue boxes in Star Fox 64.
A Star Fox tech demo for Virtual Boy was shown off in the early days of the system. It appeared to only be a tech demo, and no Star Fox game was ever released for Virtual Boy. However, Nintendo did release Red Alarm, a polygonal shooter with wire-frame 3D graphics, for the system.
Falco is not actually based on a falcon as his name would imply. He is actually based on a pheasant due to its presence in Japanese mythology.
General Pepper might be a thinly veiled reference to The Beatles, a band that Miyamoto is known to be a fan of. The album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band features the Beatles wearing marching band uniforms. General Pepper is wearing a similar outfit and is named Pepper.
Inspiration was drawn from Star Wars for the series in obvious places. The Cornerian military forces resemble Rebel Alliance forces in the movies. Characters also quote famous lines from Star Wars like “I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” among others. There is also an homage to the movie Independence Day in the Katina level of Star Fox 64. The enemy mothership hovers over the stage in manner very similar to the craft in that movie.
A Barrel of Fun
The famous barrel roll from Star Fox 64 is not a barrel roll at all. The maneuver is actually called an aileron roll. In a true barrel roll, a plane does not spin in place, but twists around an entire area in a cylindrical fashion, as if inside of a barrel.
Typing “do a barrel roll” in the Google search has surprising results.
Comedian Tom Green was famously targeted by pranksters on his internet call-in show Tom Green’s House Tonight. Callers constantly told Tom Green to do barrel rolls, which led to some funny interactions and made barrel rolling a running joke on the show.
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