Retro Weekends – Star Fox 64

Looking at the repertoire of games in Nintendo’s portfolio, they had a multitude of genres already under their belt. So their next venture would be sci-fi, and they started with F-ZERO, a futuristic racer. It was launched early in the SNES’ lifecycle. But they wouldn’t stop there. Some years later, Nintendo would tap into sci-fi once again to test drive their latest Super FX Chip. Their creation: Star Fox. They wouldn’t stop there though. A new console was approaching, and they wanted to bring that series there. So strap yourself in as this weekend we barrel roll into Star Fox 64.

To Make One Game, The Cancelled Another

After the success of Star Fox with its gameplay and its limited 3D graphics on the SNES, Nintendo sought to continue the series and further their advancement with the Super FX chip. So they began development on Star Fox 2. This would bring new things to the table for the series, including the fly-anywhere all-range mode, a mobile tank mode, a strategic planet hopping element, the ability to play as pilots other than Fox, and the rival squadron Star Wolf. Things were looking up for the game and was even featured in Nintendo Power (and Game Informer from the little I remember). Just as the game was ready to launch, Nintendo decided to cancel it.

Shigeru Miyamoto, the series’ creator, opted to cancel Star Fox 2 in favor of a hybrid remake/original Star Fox game on the Nintendo 64. He explained that he wanted to make a clear divide between the graphics on the Super FX chip for the SNES and the Nintendo 64. On the flipside, he also didn’t want the efforts of Star Fox 2 to go to waste. And so begins the development of Star Fox 64. From Star Fox 2, he retained All-Range Mode, travelling on ground, and Star Wolf. From Star Fox 1, he’d bring back corridor mode and multiple paths (though this would be determined by actions and not difficulty selection, though said actions did lead you to more difficult courses). Star Fox 64 would also come with a Rumble Pak, a new innovation in the videogame industry that would become the standard today.

Star Fox 64, like stated earlier, was both a new game and a remake of the original Star Fox on the SNES. The game was played in two ways. Corridor Mode was like the original where you would fly in a pre-determined path, so all you had to focus on was weaving around obstacles and shooting down enemies. The game would mix things up with the inclusion of the Landmaster Tank and the Blue Marine. All-Range mode was an arena styled mode that gave you the ability to fly in any direction you wanted. These were relegated to some bosses and planets. Courses would be unlocked depending on the actions you took. For example, normally after beating Corneria, you’ll go to the next course on the bottom path. But if you had Falco still alive and flew through the arches in the middle of the stage, you’ll be led to an alternate path and fight the boss from the first Star Fox game instead. Beating him would take you to the upper course instead.

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