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Star Fox 2: Behind the Graphics

StarFox 2 Sorta Lives
Coulda Been; Almost Was

This colossal article (weighing in at an attention span-crushing 5500+ words), on the still-birth of Star Fox 2, is chock fully of geeky goodness (if a little heavy on ‘serious business’1):

2010 marks the 15th anniversary of the non-release of the highly anticipated sequel to Star Fox. By the middle of 1995, it was apparent that despite favourable reviews at the Winter 1995 CES, Nintendo was hesitant to release Star Fox 2 against the superior looking Saturn and PlayStation. The impending launch of the Nintendo 64 also played a part in its cancellation, with Nintendo wanting a clear break between Super FX 3D and N64 3D. Although Nintendo claimed it would be released in the September 1995 issue of Nintendo Power, it was swept under the rug along with other Super FX games like Comanche and FX Fighter. Through the course of time, alpha and near final beta ROM images were leaked. Despite its cancellation, Star Fox 2 remains a highly revered game for its excellent gameplay and intriguing history…

…From the timing of the statement in Nintendo, it appears that Star Fox 2 was completed in Summer 1995 (the “final” beta that was leaked has a time stamp of June 22, 1995 inside the test mode menu). Although the impending release of the Nintendo 64 factored into the decision to cancel the game, I’m sure the impressive release of of the PlayStation also factored into it. Despite sporting excellent gameplay that outshone most Saturn and PlayStation games released in 1995, the graphics were definitely not impressive in comparison…

…Thanks to the efforts of Aeon Genesis, Star Fox 2 was fully translated to English and the last of the bugs/cheats (i.e. the bug where the Arwing can transform in space levels and Corneria not getting damage when attacked) were fixed. The translation patch came out on October 17, 2004, over two years after the beta was leaked onto the Internet. Even at that point emulators had trouble running the game, though it appears that zsnes 1.40 came out a couple of months later with support. I’ll admit that I never got around to playing the patch until I started the article, which probably is why I never updated this page for years and incorrect information was allowed to perpetuate (many of the pieces of incorrect information on the Wikipedia page for Star Fox 2 appear to have come from the old article). I think the translation is excellent, though admittedly Star Fox 2 is not the most story driven game. The patch gives the game a nice bit of polish to make it look like it would have if it was released…

Worth reading in full, if gaming esoterica is your bag.

H/T: Games That Weren’t (but sorta are anyway)

(Sorta) UPDATE: Video for those that don’t want/care to muck around w/ emulators:

1 Still, you gotta admire something that heavily-referenced in Geekdom–it’s almost like actual…journalism.

  1. 03/26/2010 at 03:27

    I’m still shocked this never came out. Even a surprise VC release would garner some heavy attention. I mean, we all bought the “remake” on n64, loved it, begged for more, and Nintendo answers with Star Fox: Link Goes Furry, on Gamecube.

    Ain’t life grand?

    • ECM
      03/26/2010 at 12:01

      Hey! I actually kinda-sorta liked Fox’s Adventures in Furryland! Granted, it wore thin after about the halfway point, but, damn, if Rare couldn’t pump out a gorgeous-looking game on the nascent ‘Cube. (That said, of course I’d have preferred a ‘real’ StarFox to SFA cause I don’t dress like this.)

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