The story behind this game is well-documented, and worth reading about if it sounds interesting- for the purposes of this entry, here’s an abridged version.
The first Star Fox game (or Starwing as I knew it) was originally designed to show off the SNES’ new Super FX chip, an add-on that could be put into a cartridge which allowed the SNES to display fully 3D environments. As I understand it, Star Fox wasn’t really supposed to become as popular as it did, which meant a sequel took some time to come.
Star Fox 2 was in development and slated to be released right around the time that Nintendo were showing off their exciting new 64-bit system, complete with fully-rendered 3D landscapes and environments. Unfortunately for Star Fox 2, the N64 made it look a bit… dated. Despite being basically finished and production-ready, Nintendo decided to shelve the project entirely, not wanting to embarrass themselves with such an inferior-looking game just as their competitors were stepping into the next generation.
Instead, the next Starfox game to be released was Star Fox 64 (or Lylat Wars, as I knew it), and the SNES version of Star Fox 2 was thrown into the archives.
A playable version of it has been floating around the internet for many many years now, having somehow leaked to the emulator scene, but it was only officially recognised by Nintendo 20 years later, being packaged up as one of the games on the SNES Mini, which is how I came about it.
Now, I have to mention, since this is my blog and I get to make these things personal. As a kid, I was INTO Starfox. Big time. I played Lylat Wars to death. Every day after school, I’d do a run through of it (a full game takes maybe an hour? It’s very replayable). I collected all of the medals, and then I did it again on Expert mode, which for a 9-10-11 year old is a pretty huge feat. At lunchtime, me and my best friend would pretend to be Starfox. I was Fox, and he was Falco, and we’d make up space adventures together. It had a big influence on some of my fondest memories, and doubtlessly an influence on my creative endeavours and interests ever since.
It’s fair to say that, if Nintendo had made a different decision regarding Star Fox 2‘s fate, my life would be very different. Maybe it’s weird to say that about a video game? Regardless, it’s true.
To see this title screen for the first time, in an officially-recognised way- to see this relic of history, this alternate course of events that was never realised… I got pretty emotional.
Fin or Bin:
They certainly took Starfox in a cinematic direction, but it kinda feels like they forgot to put a game in there. The missions are over before you know it, and enemies seem to fall super easily. There also aren’t really any bosses to speak of, while the first title had a unique boss encounter at the end of every level. I wonder just how finished this game really was. Plus, the Super FX chip wasn’t really up to the task of these free-roam stages… it’s kind of a hard sell, looking at it from 2019. But, that’s not at all the point of this one. Getting to play this title is incredibly important in a historical sense- and Finishing it is something we were never meant to be able to do.