Star Fox 2
|Star Fox 2|
Official North American mock boxart promoting the game's release via the Super NES Classic Edition
Star Fox 2[b] is a space flight simulation and third-person shooter game developed for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System by Nintendo EAD and Argonaut Software and published by Nintendo. Cancelled shortly before its planned release in 1996, it was to be the sequel to Star Fox (1993).
Star Fox 2 continues the Star Fox team's battle against Emperor Andross, who seeks to conquer the Lylat system. It introduces semi-real time gameplay, new ship types, new Star Fox team members, and more advanced 3D game engine.
Although Star Fox 2 was complete, Nintendo cancelled its release due to the impending launch of the Nintendo 64 console and changing expectations of 3D games. Various prototype ROM images leaked online since. In 2017, a fully complete version of the game was released as an unlockable game on the Super NES Classic Edition.
Instead of following mostly linear paths inside predefined missions as in Star Fox, the player moves a team of two ships freely around a map screen that represents the Lylat system. When the player's ships make contact with enemy forces, the game switches to an action perspective, piloting the Arwing ship directly with controls and game play similar to the first Star Fox. When the player clears the specified objectives, he or she is taken back to the map screen to select a new destination.
The objective is to beat all enemy forces present in the map while defending planet Corneria, preventing its damage level from reaching 100%. The player must intercept fighters and incoming IPBMs (interplanetary ballistic missiles), while also dealing with battleships, which deploy more fighter squadrons, and planetary bases, which fire IPBMs. If Corneria's damage level reaches 100% or the player runs out of extra ships, the game will end. General Pepper employs a satellite that can shoot down enemies on a limited basis; the player must also defend this installation from special enemies that can take over the satellite, and use its cannon to fire at Corneria. The player also encounters the Star Wolf mercenary team and various bosses.
Star Fox 2 employs a semi-real-time strategy system. While selecting a destination on the map screen, the game is paused, but while the player's ships travel to their destinations, enemies and missiles also move toward theirs. While fighting enemies in the action screen, time counts forward at a slower pace than on the map screen, allowing other enemies and missiles to advance and cause damage; to prevent excessive damage to Corneria, the player may need to leave a battle to intercept another enemy.
After his defeat in the original Star Fox, the game's antagonist, Andross, returns to the Lylat system and launches an all-out attack against Corneria, using his new fleet of battleships and giant missiles launched from hidden bases to destroy the planet. General Pepper again calls upon the Star Fox team for help. Armed with new custom Arwings, a Mothership, and two new recruits (Miyu, a lynx, and Fay, a dog), the Star Fox team sets out to defend Corneria by destroying Andross's forces before they can inflict critical damage on the planet. Along the way, Star Fox must also combat giant boss enemies, bases on planets throughout the Lylat system, members of the Star Wolf team and finally Andross himself.
Star Fox 2 features six playable characters, the highest number of any game in the series until Star Fox Command. Primary characters include Fox McCloud, a fox who wears a green suit and leads the Star Fox team; Falco Lombardi, the cocky expert pilot with a green suit and a sometimes contentious relationship with Fox; Peppy Hare, a rabbit in a red suit and a mentor to Fox and the wisest member of the team; Slippy Toad, a frog in a blue suit and the team technician and childhood friend of Fox; Fay, a white dog with a blue suit like Slippy and a pink hair bow who is a new member of the team; and Miyu, a tomboyish lynx in a red suit like Peppy who is also a new addition to the team.
Development and cancellation
Star Fox 2 was extensively covered by game magazines at the time, with screenshots provided by Nintendo. A playable version was exhibited at the 1995 Winter Consumer Electronics Show. Early in development, Fara Phoenix from the Star Fox comic (called "Lady" in the alpha) and the Andross look-alike "Saru" (Japanese for "monkey") were in place of Miyu and Fay. Fay replaced a female sheep character.
According to lead programmer Dylan Cuthbert, after Star Fox 2 was completed, Nintendo canceled its release due to the imminent release of its next console, the Nintendo 64; producer Shigeru Miyamoto wanted a "clean break" between 3D games on the consoles. Nintendo also wanted to avoid comparisons with 3D games on the more powerful PlayStation and Sega Saturn consoles.
In an interview with Nintendo Life in 2015, Cuthbert stated that he had acquired a copy of the final Star Fox 2 ROM image during development of the 2006 Nintendo DS game Star Fox Command. The image contains many elements missing from the leaked prototype ROM images. He was legally unable to release it.
A ROM image was leaked of an early alpha version of the game, which came from a source code archive dating to early development. This version features a rudimentary multiplayer mode. Another ROM, compiled from a close to release source code, can also be found—this version is nearly complete and contains minor bugs, debug code, and unfinished features, however, it lacks the multiplayer mode found in the alpha version. These ROMs can be played using a SNES emulator and can be run on real hardware if burned to a cartridge with a Super FX chip. Additionally, a fan-made patch can be added to the near-final ROM, which fixes most of the bugs, removes the debug code and the unfinished features, and translates the game's dialog into English, although a version of this patch also exists without the language translation.
Super NES Classic Edition release
In 2006, Star Fox designer Takaya Imamura said it was unlikely that game would be released on the Wii Virtual Console or the Nintendo DS. In 2015, Cuthbert stated that releasing the game on the newer Nintendo eShop was unlikely due to legal disputes between Nintendo and Argonaut Games. In 2017, a Nintendo spokesperson stated that the game had not been released on Virtual Console due to the difficulty in emulating the Super FX chip, but that they had solved this problem for the Super NES Classic Edition.
On June 26, 2017, 21 years after its intended release, Nintendo of America announced that Star Fox 2 would be released as one of the games included in the Super NES Classic Edition microconsole on September 29, 2017. The game can be unlocked by beating the first level of Star Fox, also included on the system. Cuthbert was not involved in the release. Some of the original developers celebrated the announcement.
Reviewing Star Fox 2 on the Super NES Classic Edition, Eurogamer described it as "wonderfully surprising and inventive". Polygon described it as ambitious and fun. Nintendo World Report gave it 9/10 and wrote that it was "arguably the most important game in the Star Fox series, and one of the greatest Super Nintendo games". Nintendo Life gave the game 8/10, writing: "this 22-year-old relic is worth owning a SNES Mini for, and may well surprise you with its depth, complexity and challenge – so long as you're not expecting a straight sequel to the original." Destructoid gave it 7/10, describing it as "solid and definitely has an audience. There could be some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun." IGN gave it 5/10, complementing its "janky-yet-plucky aesthetic", but complained that severe frame-rate drops plagued the game and that it was difficult to control the ships. They stated it was the worst game in the SNES Classic Edition and that, "Looking back, it probably deserved to be cancelled".
According to Cuthbert, some Star Fox 2 code, such as the camera programs, was reused in Super Mario 64. Miyamoto estimated that 30% of Star Fox 64 came from Star Fox 2, citing ideas such as the all-range mode, multiplayer mode, and Star Wolf scenarios. Several concepts were reused in Star Fox Command, including the map screen and multiple playable characters with their own fighters and statistics. Some other gameplay elements, such as the walker mode for the Arwings, are used in Star Fox Zero (2016).
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