Starfox Review – Super Nintendo


Until the dawn of the 16 bit era I was only able to get the big budget blockbuster experience when I went on holiday and found an arcade. I always wished for the day when I could get arcade quality graphics in the home. One particular holiday always sticks in my mind as it was when I 1st got a glimpse of what 16 bit graphics could offer with a two page spread on the classic Street fighter 2.

Starfox Snes reviewThat was the moment when I knew that the industry was changing and gaming as an art form was evolving. When I finally got my 1st Super Nintendo with Super Mario World it was the turning point in my gaming history. From that point on gaming was never going be the same again.

Back in the 90’s I was a kid with little income and unable to experience all of the fantastic 16 bit games that were available. However the small number of games I did play will always stick with me and will be very dear to my heart.

Games such as Street fighter 2, Super Probotector, Castlevania IV, Super Mario World, Super Mario Kart and Starfox made a huge impression on my young mind. One of the biggest and best titles for me was Starfox, it was truly revolutionary and something completely fresh.

In 1993 Nintendo released Starfox (Star Wing in Europe), a tale of four mammals and their spaceships. As crazy as it sounds the fact that mammals can fly planes was never an issue. Playing Starfox for the 1st time in the 90’s was mind blowing. Revolutionary Graphics, 3D Polygons, lush colours, triangular spacecraft and an epic soundtrack all melted into one sublime sci-fi experience.

Fox, Slippy, Falco and Peppy. Those four names bring smiles to the faces of a whole generation of gamers. Gamers who have been there since the 80’s watching on the side lines as the industry has evolved from 8 bit sprites to expansive open worlds. The 16 bit era was and always will be the greatest era in video game history. An era where developer’s took risks and the arcade experience was replicated in the living room.

starfox snes boxNowadays graphics have come a long way but back then the Super FX chip was the equivalent of seeing the new Frostbite 2 engine running Battlefield 3, your jaw literally dropped. However graphics don’t make the game, this is where Starfox excels, not only does it have super slick gameplay and fantastic character interaction but it has one of the best soundtracks ever committed to cartridge. Toe Tappingly orgasmic to this day, I can’t help but smile as I zoom along in my Arwing blasting enemies and saving that damn toad from an untimely death.

Going back and playing Starfox today it can take some adjustments to a gamers play style compared to modern Shoot-Em-Ups or Shmups as they are affectionately known. The digital d-pad isn’t quite as forgiving as a modern analog stick. Also there is no reticle to aim your weapon which can make shooting enemies a little awkward. Once you get into the groove though everything feels perfectly natural and most importantly fun.

Like all retro games you need to adjust to old style game mechanics. While this can be a little jarring you’ll find that you adjust pretty quickly. I’ve never had any major problems adjusting but if you find the older games to be a little clunky a bit of persistance can go a long way.

For gamers who are not fans of Shoot-Em-Ups or have never tried to play a Shoot-Em-Up this is a great place to start. Although very basic in its visual style and overall gameplay, Starfox is easy to pick up and play. The beauty of Shoot-Em-Ups is the sheer simplicity of the gameplay. Fly your ship and blast anything that gets in your way. While most 2D Shoot-Em-Ups are about the point scoring, Starfox tried to do something different.

Starfox introduced characters and a storyline to give the players a bit more depth than the average shooter. For the most part the story is your average revenge tale but serves its purpose and it won’t be long before you have decided who’s your hero and who’s your nemesis. For fans of the series Slippy the toad is a bone of contention as he is a thorn in Fox’s side. Constantly requesting help and never really putting up a fight Slippy can quickly make you want to kill him.

Starfox on the SNESI would recommend Starfox to anyone who needs something simple to play which doesn’t take too much thought. Modern games can sometimes take themselves too seriously so its a pleasure to play a game that is all about the gameplay and the experience of space combat.

Don’t be put off by the outdated polygons and traingular craft, just remember that gameplay is key. Within 10 minutes the rose tinted glasses came off and I found myself being absorbed into this fantastic world and my only goal was to survive.

Starfox is a classic plain and simple, from the revolutionary graphics, to the sublime soundtrack, simplistic controls and fantastic character design. You won’t find a better 3D Shoot-Em-Up on the Super Nintendo.

The Nintendo 64 saw Starfox64 (Lylat Wars in Europe) take everything to the next level with improved controls via the fantastic analogue stick and upgraded graphics,new vehicles and bigger worlds to explore. However for me the original is still the greatest as its so basic but so fresh.

Two more Starfox titles, Star Fox Adventures and Star Fox Assault were released for the Nintendo Gamecube. Both of which which put a severe dent in Fox Mcloud’s Arwing. The major flaw with both titles was allowing Fox to leave his Arwing and run around. While this probably seemed like a wise move to expand the gameplay and give the player a more complete experience I believed the developer’s failed.

The beauty of Star Fox has always been the space combat, as a fan of the series I have never wanted to climb out of my Arwing and run around. Should Nintendo release further Star Fox game’s on their upcoming next generation home console I can only hope that they have learnt this lesson.

With Starfox643D on the horizon for the 3DS, now is the perfect time to dust off your Super Nintendo and your Nintendo 64 and re-discover the genesis of this amazing franchise. Good Luck.

Reviewed by Snestastic

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