Nintendo has revealed that the SNES Classic Edition will be hitting stores on September 29th, and it’s coming with 21 SNES games for the suggested retail price of $79.99. 20 of those games are classic titles released on the SNES back in its heyday, with the likes of A Link to the Past, EarthBound and Super Metroid all being represented. It’s the 21st game, however, that took fans by surprise. Star Fox 2, the famously cancelled sequel to the original Star Fox, is now being released for the first time as a part of the SNES Classic Package. The story of Star Fox 2 is a compelling tale, dating all the way back to 1993, the year the original Star Fox was released.
An “up in the air” sequel
The history of Star Fox 2 has been documented through several interviews with Dylan Cuthbert, one of the bigger names at Argonaut Software, the team behind Star Fox and its cancelled sequel. According to Cuthbert, development on Star Fox 2 began in the middle of 1993, just a month after Star Fox had been released. Cuthbert had been experimenting with some new types of 3D modeling, much to the interest of Shigeru Miyamoto. Of course, this was a few years before Super Mario 64 changed the landscape of gaming, so 3D technology was incredibly raw and undefined. The Super FX Chip was also slated to return in Star Fox 2, although it was designed to be more powerful than the technology from Star Fox.
As far as game design goes, Star Fox 2 ditched the linear nature of its predecessor, instead focusing on defending a solar system from the evil advances of Andross. Fox and his crew would fly around the map, engaging in battles with enemies encountered while progressing. Meanwhile, Andross would use missiles to attempt to destroy the planet before Fox could eradicate all the enemies. The game allegedly employed a real time system, where the planet’s energy would slowly deplete the longer Fox took to end the threat. Cuthbert was very excited about the new mechanics, calling it a “new direction of gameplay.”
A new generation
Around the same time as Star Fox 2’s development, competitors Sony and Sega released their new, more powerful consoles, causing Nintendo to reconsider the release of Star Fox 2. The video game industry was about to see a new standard for 3D games, and Nintendo soon realized that Star Fox 2, released on older hardware, would be held up to the expectations and standards of the 3D games on the new machines. This, as well as the upcoming release of the Nintendo 64, caused Nintendo to pull the plug on Star Fox 2.
A finished product
Star Fox 2 was finished, according to Cuthbert, but it wouldn’t get to see the light of day for over 20 years. Due to licensing issues, Nintendo was never able to get the rights to the game. Essentially, the game was developed by Argonaut, but Argonaut dissolved soon after, leaving basically no place for Nintendo to look to for the rights to the game.
Inspiration was taken from Star Fox 2 in later entries in the series, including Star Fox 64 and Star Fox Zero, but Cuthbert says no title has successfully replicated the new direction that Star Fox 2 went. Illegal ROMs have been released of the game, but even these don’t represent the finished product that was basically ready for release.
Now, with the SNES Classic, we’ll finally get a chance to experience the proper sequel to the original Star Fox. The game waited over two decades to finally see the light of day, and I’m sure Dylan Cuthbert and all the other people who worked on this title can’t wait for their work to finally be published. This is the best kind of second chance story in video games; let’s just cross our fingers and hope that enough SNES consoles circulate for all of us to try out Star Fox 2!Leave a Comment