Star Fox 2
|Star Fox 2|
|Release||Super NES Classic Edition|
Star Fox 2[a] is a then-unreleased video game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System[b]. It was to be the second of the Star Fox series and the direct sequel to Star Fox. Both Argonaut Games and Nintendo developed the game, with Nintendo planning to publish it. This game was scheduled to be released in the summer of 1995. Despite its cancellation, over the years various Japanese prototype ROM images of the game were leaked online by various non-Nintendo parties, but it was not until 2015 that the public learned a fully mastered ROM image has been long realized, albeit unreleased until 2017 for legal reasons. While originally no official English version of the ROM image existed, an unofficial fan translation patch was released to work with the newest version of the leaked ROM images.
Star Fox 2's game plot continues the battle against Emperor Andross who seeks to conquer the Lylat system, with the Star Fox team assembled once again to defeat him. The game introduces a new semi-real time gameplay system, featuring new ship types and two new Star Fox team members. It also features a more advanced 3D game engine due to a new improved version of the Super FX powered GSU-2 chip.
The game's release was cancelled due to the impending release of the Nintendo 64, the desire to use the most advanced system available for a new Star Fox game, and competition changing expectations of 3D games. More than 20 years after its intended release, the game will be released as a part of the Super NES Classic Edition microconsole in September 2017.
The premise of Star Fox 2 is markedly different from its predecessor. Instead of following mostly linear paths inside predefined missions, 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 of the game is to beat all enemy forces present in the map while defending planet Corneria (located in the lower left corner of the map), preventing its damage level from reaching 100% due to enemy attacks. To protect Corneria the player must intercept fighters and incoming IPBMs (Inter-Planetary Ballistic Missiles), while also dealing with the sources of these attacks: battleships, which will deploy more fighter squadrons, and planetary bases which fire IPBMs. To assist the player, 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 throughout the game.
Star Fox 2 employs a semi-real-time game 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 occasionally need to leave a battle in order 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
The game was extensively covered by the various gaming magazines of the time, with many screenshots provided by Nintendo to generate interest in the sequel. A playable version was exhibited at the 1995 Winter Consumer Electronics Show. Since the leaking of the unfinished beta code, some individuals have managed to take and compile a large variety of screengrabs. These were taken using an emulator. 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 from the game's early development.
While Nintendo never disclosed the official reason for its cancellation, Star Fox 2 programmer Dylan Cuthbert shared the reasons for its cancellation:
"Star Fox 2 was fully completed. I was the lead programmer and while Giles made Stunt Race FX, myself and the rest of the original Star Fox team (ie. Nintendo's artists and designers) expanded Star Fox into a full 3D shooting game. The reason for non-release was the then impending Nintendo 64 which of course was intended to be released a lot sooner than it actually was. Miyamoto-san decided he wanted to have a clean break between 3D games on the Super NES and 3D games on the new superior 64-bit system. In retrospect, he could have released Star Fox 2 and there would have been over a year and a half before the N64 came out. But hindsight is always 20/20."
"The thinking was that if Nintendo released another 3D game on the Super Nintendo," said Cuthbert, "then it would be compared with the PlayStation 1, and the quality was completely different... Star Fox 2 was disappointing but I could understand the reasoning - the PlayStation and Saturn had come out and were obviously superior to the SuperFX chip," said Cuthbert. "Considering the rivalry between Sony and Nintendo I could see exactly where they were coming from.".
Emulation and release
A ROM image was leaked of an early alpha version of the game, which came from a source code archive dating to when the game was in early development. This version features a rudimentary multiplayer mode. Another ROM, compiled from the latest known source code before the project was cancelled, 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. In an interview with Nintendo Life in 2015, Cuthbert revealed he has a copy of the game's finalized ROM image, completely reviewed and debugged by Mario Club, which he acquired during the development of Star Fox Command, and stated that the mastered ROM image sustains many elements that remain missing from the leaked prototype ROM images.
When asked about whether or not the game would be released on the Wii's Virtual Console or the Nintendo DS, Star Fox designer Takaya Imamura said "probably not." In a 2015 interview, programmer Dylan Cuthbert revealed that releasing the game on the newer Nintendo eShop is also very unlikely due to major legal disputes between Nintendo and Argonaut Software, despite the fact the latter is defunct.
On June 26, 2017, 22 years after its intended release year, Nintendo of America announced that Star Fox 2 would finally receive an official release as one of the games included in the Super NES Classic Edition microconsole, scheduled for release on September 29, 2017. It can be unlocked by beating the first level of Star Fox, which is also to be included on the system. Cuthbert revealed that despite having worked on the game and owning a finished ROM, he had no idea that the game was going to be officially released, due to not having any ongoing work with Nintendo at the time.
According to Dylan Cuthbert, some programming elements done for the game, such as the camera programs, were adapted and reused for the development of Super Mario 64. Shigeru Miyamoto also stated that ideas such as All-Range mode, Multi Player mode, and Star Wolf scenarios came from Star Fox 2. He estimated that 30% of Star Fox 64 came from Star Fox 2. Additionally, several game concepts have been reused in Star Fox Command for the Nintendo DS — among these are the map screen gameplay element and the ability to choose from multiple characters, each with their own fighters and statistics. Some of its other gameplay mechanics, such as the walker mode for the Arwings, are used in Star Fox Zero.
- In Japanese: Sutā Fokkusu Tsū (スターフォックス2)
- Finally released with the SNES classic edition only
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