The best thing about the holiday season is the end of all of the hustle and bustle. After the turkey has been eaten, the presents opened, and the visiting finished, (for me this year that meant travelling all over southern Ontario) the holidays afford us a small period of peace and quiet before the new year kicks into full swing. This lull is a great time to grab a few beers, relax on the couch and play through some old favorites. For me, it was a chance to spend some time with some classics from my childhood.
This week I took control of an anthropomorphic fox, and his animal wing-men and flew my way through the Lylat system, to do battle with a mad ape and his vast aerial armada. Grab your pets, hop into your Arwings, and prepare for takeoff while we take a look at the sensation that launched a franchise. This week we take a look back at Star Fox for SNES!
Anyone who has had relatively little experience with the Super Nintendo System is immediately going to be thrown off by the graphics of this game, and that’s okay. While not at all impressive by today’s standards, back in 1993 when 3D games were a pipe dream, StarFox was a beautiful example of where games were going. The sooner you can make peace with this, the more you’ll enjoy StarFox, as the gameplay, great music and exciting enemies soon have you forgetting all about the slick 1080p rendered games of today, and will have you on the edge of your seat, as you make your way through the Lylat System.
If you let the title screen play out before you start your adventure, a dark sinister MIDI chorus fills you with a sense of foreboding as you get your first glimpse of the menace that makes its way towards your peaceful earthlike planet. The title screen kicks in, and after a brief tutorial, you’re on to your tactical map, where you can choose your course.
The great thing about this map, is that not only does it serve as a visual representation of the system you will be fighting to save, but also gives you three choices of routes depending on your skill level. This allows you to choose your own demise (and also how much you want to throw your controller) and is an interesting and unique way of choosing the difficulty of the game.
From there you get strapped in and fly off to save the day, with your pals Falco Lombardi (a well…falcon), Peppy Hare, and Slippy Toad (whose species you can guess) at your side.
The object of the game is to make your way through each stage, defeat the boss waiting for you at the end, dodge obstacles and avoid losing team mates along the way. This simple concept makes for an engaging experience, as many obstacles take skill, and deftness of hand to maneuver through and avoid. Interestingly, your wings can also take damage, and after enough abuse, can be ripped from your ship, making maneuvering more difficult, and downgrading your weapon power ups.
The stages themselves are lots of fun and the bosses at the end of each stage offer unique and progressively difficult confrontations. Depending on your difficulty, these stages can offer up quite the challenge, even to a seasoned pilot. For me personally, I started out cocky and put the game on its highest difficulty….and got destroyed. It was an awesome and humbling experience, walking into an older title thinking I could break down the door and clear through with no problems, but the game quickly reminded me of how difficult old games could be, and when I finally made my way to the end (I’ll admit this time on an easier difficulty), I felt a sense of accomplishment. StarFox makes you work for it, but you feel proud when the end credits roll and your final score tallies up on screen.
This isn’t to say that Star Fox doesn’t have its pitfalls. The nature of the game can push you into some tough obstacles that are extremely frustrating to overcome, and also some of the enemies may feel cheap (wait until have a wall of tiles launched at you) with very little you can do to out maneuver them.
Other than these small complaints, it’s easy to see while the Star Fox series has done well for itself over the years with exciting gameplay, an excellent soundtrack, and plentiful challenges. Add to that a reboot on N64, a couple of great sequels (and even some fan finished ROM ports of the scrapped SNES sequel), there’s lots to do in Lylat, and exciting adventures waiting for those brave enough to step into the shoes of Fox McCloud and his StarFox Team.
Have a game you think I should play? Disagree with something I’ve said? Throw it in the comments or shoot me an email and let me know how you feel at firstname.lastname@example.org