The year is 1993. We've seen 3D on TV and in the arcade. But at home? Only that one kid with the rich parents had a computer that could play 3D games, and the rest of us just had the same 2D sprites that had been kicking around since the NES days. Then here comes Nintendo, ready to once again blow you away.
Star Fox is a game about flying space triangles and exploding ground squares, or something. Maybe there's a monkey in there? The green circle at the end of the map, named Venom and piloted by the vicious Admiral Andross is turning itself into a technological powerhouse, and terraforming planets to suit his army of mechano-men, when General Pepper of the Cornerian Mothers Against Change launched a full-scale war.
Realizing an Venom was no match for his letter writing campaign, Pepper instead decides to send a small group of college dropouts from Furries United chapter 308 on a suicide mission to get this guy off me and bogies on their sixes. Star Fox, Star Peppy, Star Falco, and Star Slippy are just the
men boys grandmas creepy animal puppets for the job, so they cut their legs off, hop into their Arwings that they had to mortgage for the procedure (Why else would Pepper own them?) and blast off through six or so high octane, high flying, high energy, high-falutin, high dimension space worlds and space not-worlds.
Of course, I may be paraphrasing a bit. But when Star Fox was released to our grubby little fingers in 1993 it made us realize something: Video games could have as many dimensions as real life! Although 3D was not unheard of in video games, it still wasn't common, and usually wasn't very fast. With Star Fox, a great middle-ground was struck between presentation and style, and gameplay and speed. The game was so successful because it, unlike most other 3D games of the time, was fun! It didn't rely on 3D as a gimmick (Hint, Nintendo) and used it as a way to revitalize the SHMUP into a genre that was worth playing. (Just kidding shmup lovers! Please don't write angry letters!)
It's hard to talk about this game without going on and on about how incredible the graphics were for the time, but I'll try. How about that part where all the panels in Andross' face come flying out from behind you, forge into a single sheet, and then become his face? Oh wait, that's graphics again. What about the wicked cool three dimensional dinosaurs? Oops, graphics again! Seriously this game was incredible! Let's see the Mega Drive's blast processing do that!
Okay but for real, let's talk about something else. How about that music? Seriously, Corneria's theme? Easily in my top five SNES tunes. Probably in my top ten video game tunes of all time. And every song in the game is the same way, from the militaristic drumming of Space Armada, to the futuristic Meteo theme, and even Fortuna's funky mix all bring something interesting to the table.
But really, try not to get pumped when you hear that muffled synthesizer voice warn you of incoming enemies. The sirens blaring, the Arwings flying, it's a perfect opening sequence that readies you for danger, but doesn't waste your time. And then flying out into Corneria for the first time or the 100th. The mountain range in the distance, squealing guitars, and bogies on your six, and the whole sky bathed in a beautiful orange hue--if you choose Route 3, and why wouldn't you? Are you some kind of girl?
Star Fox was a tour-de-force, a game that defined the Super Nintendo, and a marvel of engineering. When I first played the game I wasn't able to put it down. Over twenty years later Star Fox retains a special spot in my heart, reserved for only the best of classic games. Maybe I don't pull my SNES out enough these days to give it the love it deserves, but changed everything, and for that, we thank you.