Star Fox 2 (Super Nintendo) Review

By Albert Lichi 17.12.2017

Review for Star Fox 2  on Super Nintendo

When Nintendo announced that the Super Nintendo Classic Edition would be shipping with Star Fox 2 as the 21st title included, gamers everywhere were stunned. This was a truly auspicious moment since Star Fox 2 had never been released. Originally planned to be released in 1996, it was soon cancelled after apparently being completed because Nintendo do not want to confuse consumers. The Nintendo 64 was coming out the same year and with it, Mario 64 would shape the landscape of 3D game design forever. Naturally, putting out a game out on hardware that was never meant to display 3D graphics could potentially hurt the image of what 3D gaming could be. Tragically, the world would not see Star Fox 2 over 20 years after it was meant to release. Was this for the best? Or does Star Fox 2 live up to the myth after over two decades?

2017 proves to be a huge year for Nintendo. It was the year the company released the Nintendo Switch which turned out to be a smashing success in spite of the various patent lawsuits. Both The Legend of Zelda: The Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey released to universal acclaim and huge sales. Even Samus got some love with Metroid: Samus Returns, an official remake that the fans have been clamouring for since the original game got remade on Gameboy Advance. When the Super Nintendo Classic Edition was announced to include Star Fox 2, it was another big moment for the Japanese game company's history. This was one of the earliest examples of a game going through development hell despite the fact the game itself was completed... allegedly.

Here is the thing with Star Fox 2 and its predecessor: they have not aged well at all. The Super Nintendo was a console that was just not built to render 3D graphics at all. In the 1990s when these games were made, it was a novelty to see 3D polygons at all in a video game. Even games like Doom and Wolfenstein 3D which advertised themselves as 3D action games were not actually displaying any 3D graphics at all but were just ray-casting 2D assets which looked 3D. The FX chip used in Star Fox 2 was an expensive little piece of hardware that overclocked the console's capabilities to just render the scant few polygons to make the in-game graphics. This low-poly and low-detailed aesthetic does manage to work for the art style thankfully and would be forgivable since these are the earliest examples of Nintendo experimenting with polygonal visuals. What does not work is the unbearable choppiness and low frame rate.

Screenshot for Star Fox 2  on Super Nintendo

Anyone who has played Star Fox Command will feel right at home because Star Fox 2 is its proof of concept. After selecting two fighter pilots, a map is presented and there are enemy ships and missiles shown en route towards Corneria, the friendly HQ. The object is to protect Corneria from taking too much damage while also intercepting enemy ships or sending the secondary fighter to an enemy satellite. When doing the action portions, most of the time it is done in a first-person view in all-range mode. Other times player-controlled Arwings will transform into their walker-mode as seen in Star Fox Zero. These third-person walker sections play out more or less like traditional rail-shooter sections that culminate in a boss battle in an open room and last a few minutes. This ebb and flow with the strategy and managing the protection of Corneria is the strength of Star Fox 2 and would make the experience worthwhile if the core-action gameplay wasn't an eye-straining choppy mess.

Star Fox 2 runs just barely around ten frames per second. It would be naïve to demand that it could be any smoother since the Super Nintendo was never really meant to render any 3D graphics at all. Fact of the matter is that Star Fox 2 was too ahead of its time and does not hold up the way something like F-Zero or Super Mario Kart which did not need an extra chip installed in their cartridges. Bearing in mind the 1990s did not have many games with polygons and this was selling itself purely on this gimmick. Much like Star Fox 64, this one attempts an all-range mode, but is so much choppier. It is playable, but just barely. It is a huge shame, too, because the pixel art and the overall design of the low-poly ships and style are actually very appealing.

Screenshot for Star Fox 2  on Super Nintendo

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 5 out of 10


The mystique and inaccessibility of Star Fox 2 is what made it alluring and mythical. Only those who managed to find the prototype rom online would play it via emulation. Now that it is out and in the open it is a lot less interesting. The most positive feeling to come from Star Fox 2 is the catharsis a long time fan will feel from finally getting to play this... only for it to be followed by immense disappointment. That is the power of this game and what will be taken from it: sometimes things are better left as a mystery. This is a very short game too; it takes less than an hour to get to Andross (who shoots out pictures of himself no less). After playing Star Fox 2, it becomes very obvious why Nintendo decided to not release it at the time. Would this have affected the sales of the Nintendo 64? Who knows? The technology just was not there yet and only a few years later, gamers would get a real sequel they deserved with Star Fox 64.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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