Friday, October 8, 2010

Game On: Let's Play 1.04 - Star Fox

Game: Star Fox
System: SNES
Developer: Argonaut Software / Nintendo EAD
Publisher: Nintendo
Player: Charles “Chack” Ackerman

Game Overview

Star Fox was the child of innovative technology from Argonaut Sotware and the game design of Nintendo. Argonaut Software had originally begun its work with Nintendo as a result of Dylan Cuthbert’s 3D game for Gameboy, a Japanese-only release known as X. Players can experience a sequel of sorts today on DSiWare entitled X-Scape, also developed by Dylan Cuthbert and his team. The moderate success of X had solidified Argonaut’s relationship with Nintendo, and Nintendo knew where it wanted the new 3D technology to go: the SNES. To ensure this was the case, Nintendo signed an agreement with Argonaut to produce three games exclusively for Nintendo, of which Star Fox was the first. Star Fox was developed by both Argonaut and Nintendo, the former focusing on the main programming and technological side and the latter working on the art and level design aspects of the title.

Star Fox is a 3D space shooter on the SNES, a first for the console considering it was previously a 2D game console exclusively. In Star Fox, players control Fox McCloud , the head of Star Fox, an elite group of space soldiers which protects the Lylat System. When an evil scientist Andross threatens the Lylat System with his creations, it is up to Star Fox to stop the menace before Corneria falls into the hands of evil. Unlike Star Fox 64, the game's direction is not guided by individual mission, but rather, the game has three distinct paths which designate a difficulty level. Also unlike its remake, Star Fox has the ability for players to go into first-person, provided they are in a space level. Helping teammates was less of a concern this time around, and free-range mode was not an option. Despite those factors, the game is not under any circumstance an easier game. In fact, it is arguably a harder game, even with a shorter game length.

The game was the first title to use the hailed SuperFX chip which introduced 3D graphics to the SNES, and its arrival came with great success around the world. What was originally a technical demo developed by Argonaut Software would then become one of Nintendo's large franchises.

Since then…

Immediately following Star Fox’s smashing success, two of the lead programmers, Giles Goddard and Dylan Cuthbert, went on to work on two more projects for Nintendo. Giles Goddard went to work on Stunt Race FX whereas Dylan Cuthbert went to work on the next Star Fox title. Only the former would see a release, however, as Nintendo decided to cancel Star Fox 2 in the face of the upcoming Nintendo 64; this would prove to be a poor decision, as the N64 was delayed a whole year, leaving ample space for Star Fox 2’s release. Star Fox 2 can be found in a nearly complete form online and can be purchased on reproduction carts, for those with the money. Giles Goddard, post-SNES, would work on other Nintendo games such as Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and 1080 Snowboarding. On GameCube, he is remembered for porting Doshin the Giant himself from N64 to GameCube. He would leave Nintendo to form Nintendo-supported Vitei, which has released Japanese-only Theta for DS and the WiiWare title Rock N Roll Climber.

Star Fox’s future has been said in the previous GO:LP, but it bears repeating. Star Fox 2 was cancelled, but its free-range mode and extra vehicles would be used in EAD’s Star Fox 64, an effective reboot of the original title. On GameCube, the series got an adventure title from Rareware, Starfox Adventures, which was actually a brand new IP before Nintendo pushed the franchise onto it. Following that, Namco’s Ace Combat team worked on a linear Star Fox title, Star Fox: Assault, but the hype and release were both ho-hum. Dylan Cuthbert would return with his new company Q-Games to produce Star Fox: Command, which is very close, gameplay-wise, to Star Fox 2, sans plot elements. Star Fox has yet to see a Wii release, but a 3DS remake of Star Fox 64 is in the works.

The Let’s Play

Following Devin Arnold’s semi-completion of Star Fox 64, Chack decided to go ahead and complete more Let’s Plays with our remaining time. The first choice was a good one: Super Mario World. However, the discussion was poor, and after a while, it was decided to do another LP, instead. The choice was odd, as Star Fox 64 had just been completed, but having been years since anyone had seen the original, it seemed like a novel idea.

He would select the Easy path, but was it as easy as it said it was? Find out by watching, or if you want to know how far he got, skip to the Post-Mortem.


We dubbed this day the “Day of Fail” for more than just the semi-fail Devin demonstrated in his Star Fox 64 Let’s Play (episode 1.03). The previously infallible Chack had fallen prey to the old-school difficulty curve that was Star Fox. He did fairly well throughout the game until he ran into Venom, when the game suddenly became difficult. He would fight a fairly difficult morphing boss multiple times, but he gave up after the second continue was spent.

As for the content itself, the audio of the audience was horrible this time around. I do not know why I kept the audio so high for the game, but at least Chack had some good commentary here and there. Not my favorite Let’s Play, especially with all the side conversations around.

Either way, the biggest fail was yet to come…

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