RetroVision – Just How Much Has Star Fox 2 Changed?

The SNES Classic Mini is now only a matter of weeks away, and as such more and more information has been trickling out as to what we can expect on September 29th. However, amongst all of this information, possibly the most interesting of all is what the one game on the system that was never released has in store for us. Yes, it’s the lost chapter in the saga of Team Star Fox.

Originally developed by British based developer Argonaut Games under the guidance of Nintendo, Star Fox 2 was meant to continue the story that began in the Super Nintendo classic Star Fox. Sadly, despite the game being around 95% complete, Nintendo abruptly creased production over fears that it would fare negatively against the 3D graphics currently being seen on platforms like the PlayStation and SEGA Saturn. As such, the game unfortunately went unreleased, with Nintendo shifting their focus onto the in-house developed Star Fox 64.

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Nevertheless, thanks to the fact that the game was near enough finished, and a convenient leak, a playable build of Star Fox 2 made its way into the public domain. Consequently, over the years many a gamer has dived back into the 16-bit world of the Lylat System. Understandably then, when Nintendo surprisingly announced that Star Fox 2 would be on the SNES Classic Mini, many of us thought that it would simply be this previously established version, albeit one with a bit of polish on top to finish it off.

However, it seems as though this isn’t actually the case. In fact, based on recently revealed footage, Nintendo have actually gone one step further and have not only finished off the final pieces of production, but have also updated some of the already established aspects of the game. So, just what exactly has and hasn’t changed then?


STORY

When it comes to the story, much of this is the same. As was originally planned, Andross has returned to the Lylat System and has launched an all out attack against Corneria in order to enact revenge for the the defeat that was delivered to him at the hands of Fox McCloud and the team. As such, General Pepper once again calls upon Team Star Fox in order to put an end to Andross’ machinations.

That’s not all though, as the story still retains the new recruits Miyu the Lynx, and Fay the Dog, alongside the ever lingering threat of Team Star Wolf. Ultimately, much of the story is exactly the same as was originally planned, and still today seamlessly blends into the established tales of the Lylat System. So what exactly has changed then when it comes to the story?

Star Fox 2 Story Andross

Well, the big difference between the leaked ROM and this official release seems to be not what has changed, but what has been added. You see, when sitting down with this updated version of Star Fox 2, the one thing that is apparent is all of the added text that was never there originally.

The intro might be the same, but after that players can expect to see a lot more chit chat between the team members, including updated text, and brand new storyline elements. All of which has the effect of really fleshing out the story and considerably adding to the drama of Team Star Fox’s mission, and the threat of Andross’ attack.


GRAPHICS

Star Fox 2 understandably keeps to its 16-bit routes when it comes to graphics and display. I mean this is the SNES Classic Mini after all. As such, you can expect a much similar presentation to the one found in the original Star Fox. Yes, that includes the odd moment of run down with it.

Star Fox 2 Graphics

That doesn’t mean there aren’t any changes at all though. One quite noticeable change that can be seen within the preview footage released by Nintendo, is the updated logo found on the title screen, alongside a considerable increase in the number of animations that can be found in the character icons. Furthermore, there is of course the added box art that appears on the SNES Classic Mini’s menu screen, and across all of the promotional material. There’s even a cool Game Over screen to look forward to – well I say look forward….


GAMEPLAY

Ok, so if the additions above seem more like levels of polish to a game that always deserved to be played, then the alterations to the gameplay definitely sway more to fundamental changes. Let’s get the big one out the way, the lack of a lock-on function. Yes, you did read that right, this time around there is no lock-on function.

Now, you can still charge your weapons by holding down, however the missile targeting system will seemingly never activate based on these early previews. This has the effect of making the game infinitely more difficult, especially when it comes to taking down team Star Wolf, or God forbid Andross. Additionally, it also appears as though character abilities have been altered, specifically the lack of Miyu and Fay’s double blaster ability, though we’ll have to wait until the game is out to find out more on this.

Star Fox 2 Gameplay 1

Another gameplay alteration that is noticeable to anyone who has played the leaked ROM is the improved AI that is found it this completed version. That’s not all though, as not only are the enemies smarter, but they’re also more ruthless and will attack en-masse with ruthless efficiency without a second thought. Just another example of a significantly increased difficulty level. Are you seeing a trend here?

Finally, for anyone who has never played the leaked ROM, Star Fox 2 employs a semi-real-time game system, one in which the player must continually manage the amount of damage that Corneria is taking. This was, and still is a unique system, and something that adds another unique dimension to the game. It’s also another aspect in which the difficulty has seemingly been increased, as compared with the leaked ROM, the damage Corneria takes now seems to be an awful lot higher, and may even appear at random.

Star Fox 2 Gameplay 2

All in all, as you can see, the increased damage in the real-time system only seems to round off a trifecta of difficulty increasing alterations. Although, for anyone who remembers the original Star Fox, this isn’t exactly not in keeping with the original vision for the series. In fact, it all seems like it’s been done in a way that doesn’t affect the enjoyment that can be had with this long lost 16-bit title, although we won’t know that for sure until the game is released as part of the SNES Classic Mini.


Obviously this was only a sneak peak at Star Fox 2 and the alterations that Nintendo have done in completing one of the most famous cancellations in all of gaming. All in all it’s just nice to see the game given the release it has always deserved. What’s more, in a post Sonic Mania age for retro gaming re-releases, it’s also nice to see Nintendo giving it that extra level of polish that should make it more than worthy of the Nintendo Seal of Quality.

Simon Aubrey Drake

A lifelong gamer with a fanatical love of all things Nintendo and Japan. So much so that I've written a thesis on one and lived in the other. Currently on a quest to catch every last Pokémon. Follow me on twitter via @DudeXChill or @RingsandCoins.

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