Take a look at the box art for the original Star Fox (Not the European Star Wing box) on SNES (pictured below). Notice anything odd? Yes that’s right, Fox McCloud’s legs look cybernetic. This theory has been fuelled by a number of images that show the Star Fox team sporting these prosthetic legs (box art, Nintendo Power and promotional comic, SSBM trophy), but what are the facts behind it?
The theory suggests that the pilots of the Star Fox crew voluntarily had their legs amputated to aid in the piloting of their Arwings. Replacing their legs with mechanical counterparts is said to be a more extreme method of the way modern pilots wear tight clothing to prevent blood rushing to their feet, causing them to pass out. Amputation is required as the pilots would be under even more intense G-forces piloting their space ships and thus the tight clothing would not be sufficient.
Nintendo have never confirmed nor denied this theory but it is unlikely that this is true. The more likely reason for the mechanical looking legs is that Shigeru Miyamoto originally modelled the Star Fox characters on puppets and the movable parts. He was inspired to pursue this style due to his love of Thunderbirds, and hoped that one day a production company would turn the IP into a ‘supermarionation’ show. The influence of puppets can also be seen in the way that the mouths of the characters move up and down in a Muppet like motion, and the art style used on the European box art.
With no confirmation either way, we can never definitively say wether this dark theory is true or not. On the evidence presented though it would seem pretty unlikely. This debate became moot four years later when the series was rebooted with Star Fox 64 (Lylat Wars in Europe) and Fox, Falco, Peppy and Slippy’s feet seemed to return to normal… well normal for an anthropomorphic animal who can fly a space ship.