Star Fox: The Struggle is Real

Star Fox: The Struggle is Real

Give me a break, Miyamoto

Alex Legard

Written by for Retrospectives on

Star Fox is one tough SNES rail shooter. If you're like me, you probably shouted at the screen too many times while your poor ship explodes into a fiery husk. That being said, it can be quite a rewarding game so let's revisit this Super NES classic.

Star Fox SNES screenshot 1
Let's get right to the action, shall we?

First, let me tell you about the basics. Corneria is the first level and thankfully, it's nice and easy although I probably still died a few times. After that, you can choose between 3 paths to Venom, the final planet that's on the other side of the Lylat system. Path 1 is the easiest and it follows the middle path with 5 levels. The upper path is more difficult and it has 5 levels as well while the lower path is the hardest and has 6 levels; as if the first 2 aren't hard enough. There's also a black hole in between paths 1 and 2. I wonder how you get there... After you beat Venom, there's a final level with Andross as the final boss and he isn't pretty. Each level acts as a checkpoint but if you run out of lives, you have to start from the very beginning. Let's all thank Mario's mustache for the SNES Classic's save state feature.

With the D-pad, you can move your ship around but the camera always points forward while the face buttons fire your laser, deploy powerful bombs, use your boost, and brake. L and R turns you to the side which helps dodge walls and it increases your turn speed in that direction. You can also double-tap the shoulder buttons to do a barrel roll that can deflect lasers. I wish I knew that earlier!

Star Fox SNES screenshot 2
If Andross thinks I'm giving up, he's in for a big surprise!

Stages are linear so once you reach the side of the predefined path, you'll hit an invisible wall and you won't be able to see much of your Arwing because the camera barely moves with you. Anyway, stages are full of enemies who fire at you with an interesting variety of weapons. Missiles and blue balls deal a lot of damage but yellow lasers deal little damage so you want to dodge missiles and blue balls at all costs. You play as Fox McCloud and you're accompanied by 3 gunmen: Falco Lombardi, Peppy Hare, and Slippy Toad. Your allies don't seem very useful but they can take out enemies after they pass you which scores you points, whatever good that does.

At the end of each stage, there's a boss fight and I must say; I really enjoyed the musical score as it really helps build excitement for the approaching bosses. There are plenty of different bosses like Phantron and Flying Insector. I thought they were pretty awesome in general and they're my favorite part of Star Fox although there are still a few that I haven't seen yet since I only played path 1 so far. While I'm at it, I may as well bring up the final boss which is a Cornerian scientist named Andross who performed a bunch of twisted experiments on himself which is why he looks like a giant face thing. It definitely raised both of my eyebrows!

Star Fox SNES screenshot 3
Insector does some weird dance before spinning at you with its long legs

Star Fox is a difficult game for the wrong reasons. Being on SNES, it has a very low frame rate which is immediately noticeable. Speaking of slow, your Arwing doesn't turn particularly fast either. Sometimes, it feels more like you're controlling a paper plane than a high-tech spaceship. In any good flying game, you should be fast enough to dodge bullets in a split-second but that just isn't the case here. Also, enemy ships and projectiles can come from the side or rear without making you aware. In other flying games, you get a warning indicator whenever enemies approach from the rear. It's unfair flying through a level only to lose lives to things that you can't see.

Star Fox is just like many other SNES games: if you know that you're getting into a difficult game and you want to beat it anyway, you'll probably have a fun time. Therefore, I highly recommend giving the instruction manual a quick read as it has a bunch of useful tidbits of information that I didn't know on my playthrough. For instance, what the different power-ups look like.

Star Fox SNES screenshot 4
Venom is not looking so good; I wonder why that is...

Star Fox is a very fun game when you play it well. It brings an interesting variety of enemies, bosses, and clever stage designs to the table and it is one of the very few SNES flying games. So, give it a try if you're up for a challenging blast from the past.

Gameplay video for Star Fox 6:52
Super NES Classic Edition Trivia

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