History of Star Fox (Part 1) – Gaming Historian


revoir what started as a showcase of technology turned into one of the most beloved Nintendo franchises this year the Star Fox franchise turned 20 years old The Adventures of a mercenary unit in the ligh light system continues to this day with the most recent game being on the Nintendo 3ds but the starfox franchise isn’t just entertaining its innovating it brought the world of 3d to Nintendo with the original game the release of Star Fox 64 introduced the rumble pack a device that vibrated the controller depending on the action in the game it has now become a standard in video game controllers so in honor of the 20th anniversary let’s take a look back at the Star Fox series enjoy in the early 90s a British company known as Argonaut games was working on 3d technology for console games Nintendo was interested and flew in a few programmers from the company including a young Dylan Cuthbert Cuthbert who was only 18 at the time had developed a 3d engine in Tendo was so impressed they put Dylan in charge of working on a gameboy game known as X only released in Japan X was impressive in that it was one of the first if not the first portable 3d games X got the cogs turning in Shigeru Miyamoto’s head who had risen to fame within the videogame industry for his work on the Mario and Donkey Kong games he had recently finished up pilot wings in f-zero for the Super Nintendo and felt a lot of time was wasted drawing sprites from so many different angles it was not true 3d Miyamoto wanted to use true 3d polygons on the Super Nintendo J’s son the founder of Argonaut games showed Miyamoto a prototype 3d game known as SNES glider it ran at 3 frames per second son stated that without additional hardware support this was the best the Super Nintendo could do Nintendo agreed in Gabe Argonaut $1,000,000 to develop the hardware necessary saw and hired an expert team of chip designers from Cambridge to develop one of the first 3d graphics accelerators they codenamed it the mario chip but we mostly know it as the super FX chip so what exactly did this chip do well in a nutshell the super nintendo couldn’t handle the math in order to render 3d graphics the system has to make tons of mathematical calculations since the super nintendo have limited capabilities to do this the super FX chip was used to assist in these calculations with their hardware in place Nintendo could move forward with their new game and Dylan Cuthbert was the lead programmer the team came up with several ideas including a tank game in a fully 3d roaming game but ultimately Miyamoto turned down these ideas because they were more cool than fun he wanted the game to be on Rails and thought a flying game would be most appropriate Cuthbert remembered development being somewhat frustrating due to the constant changes in the game the programmers had several ideas for the game but Miyamoto would shoot them down Cuthbert recalled he learned an important lesson during the process that nothing must go into a game not even if there are good ideas Miyamoto strategy was simple build a game that works and is fun the remaining pieces will fall in later eventually the game was 70% complete and it was time to build a world for the game to live in about 15 minutes from the old Nintendo headquarters is a shrine dedicated to the god Inari it’s known for its paths which are lined with thousands of torii gates and imagery of foxes it’s a popular attraction known as fushimi-inari taisha Miyamoto was inspired after visiting the shrine the torii gates looked like fun obstacles the imagery of foxes along with a local baseball team whose mascot was a fox gave Miyamoto his lead character he took his ideas to Takaya EEMA Mora the character designer Emma Mora added other animals from Japanese folklore including a hare and a falcon the toad however came from a different source according to Miyamoto a staff member at Nintendo used a toad as sort of a personal mascot in his work they adopted this mascot and made him the character of slippy since an animal theme was in place the phrase fighting like dogs and monkeys formed the storyline of a race of dogs led by general pepper up against monkeys led by Andres and the spaceships the starfox team would fly in a fighter known as the arwing purposely designed as a triangle due to the super Nintendos limitations with complicated shapes all of these ideas and concepts came together to form a truly unique game known as Star Fox with the game came a one-of-a-kind box art featuring a puppet version of the main character fox mccloud the inspiration Miyamoto loved puppet shows such as Thunderbirds so several shots were taken of the characters in puppet form in Europe the game was released as star wing due to a trademark filed on an old Atari 2600 game Star Fox was a critical and commercial success and was the largest release in video game history at the time gamers were blown away by the technology being used in the game and people fell in love with all of the characters in the lylat system electronic gaming monthly named it the best shooter of 1993 a new Nintendo franchise had officially been born to promote the release and build up hype nintendo created the super starfox weekend an event held at various locations across the world each store was given a starfox competition cart which was just the starfox game with a four-minute time limit today the competition cart is highly sought after among collectors currently going for around $800 on eBay it was clear Nintendo had a hit with starfox and the super FX chip soon other games would utilize the additional power like Yoshi’s Island but they weren’t done yet work began on a more powerful effects chip along with a sequel to Star Fox on the next episode of gaming historian starfox 2 the game that almost was

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