SNES Classic Star Fox for Nintendo Switch
Star Fox pilots his wing right into the docking station of the Nintendo Switch. It’s a franchise synonymous with the brand of Nintendo that has gone through many iterations on each console. The original game pioneered stunning 3D graphical models that incorporated polygons. This was unseen prior to its release in 1993 for the home console.
Three generations have grown up under the umbrella of Nintendo and with the re-release of SNES classics for the Switch, a renaissance of retro gaming is at the forefront. With this in mind, Star Fox is now available for download as one of the SNES Classic launch titles. Today, I will be evaluating if it has withstood the test of time.
Contextually, it has to be factored in as a product of its time and for what it feels like to play in the modern age. The on-rail shooters genre that Star Fox falls into is an uncommon one for 2019. Control is the basis for much of gaming in the past decade. We have open-world games where we can freely roam a galaxy and land on unfamiliar planets. Fundamentally, this generation wants more from their games. On-rails shooters are hard to market. Nevertheless, for what it is, Star Fox offers a linear experience where you can blast enemies from the sky to your heart’s content.
Notable with Star Fox is the ability to affect the speed of your spacecraft. Pulling backward and forward enables you to better assess each level and can help in taking down particularly tough enemies. Simple mechanics of this nature differentiate it from other rail shooters, where the standard is to force a player forward to complete a level. Despite the linear affair on offer, there are three routes available to players to travel through the game. The routes aren’t widely different from one another style-wise, there is a distinctive difficulty difference depending on the path chosen. Techniques such as the rolling motion from left to right are beneficial regardless of difficulty. Mastering a perfectly timed roll is the difference between success and failure in later levels.
The arsenal on display is thrifty as a game of its time. A standard laser fire weapon and a bomb used for special occasions. Working with these two features lends a challenge to the gameplay and at times frustrating. Thankfully, Star Fox is a game that rewards practice. Effortless flight is achievable from the beginning, but mastering it takes time. When you have mastered it, it will give a true accomplishment as you weave between tight spaces seamlessly into combat.
Star Fox can be hard to look at in current times. It hasn’t aged horribly, but it doesn’t feel like a stand-out in 2019. The graphics are servicable and were great for their time. The blocky polygons are difficult to focus on when you are attempting to blow up enemies on screen. It is one that initially looks the part, yet gradually wears on you as you start to feel them a strain upon your eyes. Stylized games work better in this genre due to their graphics being made to be timeless. The graphics of Star Fox were not developed or intended to be timeless. This is not a major gripe, nor is to be taken as a damnation of the work that was done on the game.
Outdated visuals require polishing in order to make them consumable for today. Certain titles that can get away with this usually have the luxury of a unique art style or a grand sweeping world to unravel yourself; Star Fox has neither. While traversing the galaxy is certainly a blast to behold, it is very much a handholding experience through a series of unsightly shapes. Visually, the character designs are what give it an edge. An introduction through text boxes livens up the frame of an otherwise standard affair.
From my perspective, the set-up to Star Fox is one of the best gaming concepts ever conceived. An elite team of anthropomorphic mercenaries are enlisted to stop a war of planets with wits and wings. A blend of Star Wars meets Dark Crystal, that adds a pinch of Top Gun in the mix.
Our main protagonist Fox McCloud leads the elite force to battle against Andross, an evil scientist banished from his home planet. His teammates Slippy Toad, Peppy Hare, and Falco Lombardi add comic relief and a guiding light through the unending tide of space bruisers. Charm is the greatest weapon in Star Fox arsenal. Burgeoning back to an Indiana Jones-style hero, you understand fully why he leads the team and why is the one to save the Lylat System.
Story progression is primarily done through text boxes of each character and is the top reason to engage with the game as a whole. They hit it out of the park by keeping it minimalistic.
SNES Classic is in its infancy at the moment. It has come out of the gates with a few heavy hitters and Star Fox is among one of them. The gameplay is fun to a degree for its genre. The graphics verge on a little too outdated to be fully immersive. However, at its heart, this is a charming and appealing game. It started a wave of future titles for a franchise that deserves its place in the annals of Nintendo’s hall of fame. I can recommend it on the basis of nostalgia and for an evening or two. It is not a title that you will get endless hours out of, in my opinion. There is a grand landscape of games out there in 2019 and this is one that can definitely be missed unless you are a particularly hardcore fan of rail shooters.
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