Star Fox seems to have fallen off the map with little support from Nintendo, which is a shame considering its once mighty position in gaming.
By Shane O’Gorman
Published Apr 01, 2021
Nintendo is a company of strange habits in its many years as a video game developer. Through its successes with the Wii and Switch, and slumps like the poor performance of the Wii U, Nintendo has had experience with both highs and lows. This pattern can also be seen reflected in Nintendo’s own IP’s, many of which fall into a period of bad luck before rising back to former glory (or not at all). While Mario and Link seem to get full support and quality control as the top Nintendo mascots, others often take turns falling off the map, with?Metroid?experiencing development issues on more occasions than one.
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One series that seems to suffer from questionable design decisions and years passing by without proper releases is?Star Fox. Making a big impression with its first release on the Super Nintendo, Star Fox?was a benchmark for 3D graphics and breathless action gameplay at the time, a trend which continued on the Nintendo 64 with the appropriately named?Star Fox 64. After that though, new releases began to dry up and, more controversially, seemed to change the formula for the worse with each installment, like?Star Fox Zero’s bizarre motion controls.
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As stated, the?Star Fox?series was at one point among the most popular brands in Nintendo’s repertoire, with the height of its popularity being maintained all the way into the late 90’s. The games on the Super Nintendo and N64 broke new ground graphically, while also boasting other innovative tricks that would become industry trend setters.?Star Fox 64?helped popularize the Nintendo 64 controller’s “Rumble Pak” accessory, enabling the controller to vibrate to help further create a sense of immersion. In the years to come, both Fox and Falco were featured as playable fighters in?Super Smash Bros. games, helping round out the cast and add variety to the selection.
After this however, darker days seemed to await Fox and his crew as they jumped into a new millennium and generation of games. Fans who eagerly anticipated a true successor to?Star Fox 64?on the GameCube were instead given?Star Fox Adventures, a game that was?adapted from the cancelled Rare game:?Dinosaur Planet. While not terrible by any means and boasting some of the most incredible visuals on the system, this marked the beginning of an identity crisis for the?Star Fox?series. It became more and more clear that Nintendo wasn’t sure what to do with the IP going forward.
In the years to follow, this distance from the series glory days seemed to extend further and further, with every creative choice taking one step forward, yet two steps back.?Star Fox Assault?seemed to be making a return to the series roots, with fast paced aerial combat, but bogged down the experience with dull on foot missions.
Then on the Nintendo DS,?Star Fox Command?was the first portable entry in the series and also featured an online multiplayer component. However the overall mission structure changed from an arcade action title to more of an RTS game, something which some critics and players found repetitive after a while. The final nail in the coffin came in the form of?Star Fox Zero?in 2016, a game often maligned for its cumbersome?control scheme.
Perhaps it was Nintendo having a lack of new ideas or the series continued critical downfall (or a combination of the two), but as of now, the?Star Fox?franchise seems to be on hiatus for the foreseeable future. It is truly a sad realization for dedicated fans of the series, to see what was once a mainstay for Nintendo relegated to just being a cameo in other franchises like?Super Smash Bros.
This is not to discredit the other major players like?Super Mario Bros?and?The Legend of Zelda, but those IPs have also had a share of disappointments while still maintaining support from Nintendo. The latter franchise in particular,?The Legend of Zelda, has two titles with a mixed reception for?Skyward Sword?and?Triforce Heroes, yet still came back in full force with?Breath of the Wild?in 2017.
The dismissal of?Star Fox?is only made more worrisome by Nintendo also seeming to cast aside other franchise like?F-Zero?and?Metroid, with releases sparse or not happening whatsoever. Within the launch year of the Nintendo Switch, it seemed like gamers were headed into a new era for beloved franchises. With both?The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild?and?Super Mario Odyssey?delivering a one-two punch, each respective series was given a new breath of life.
With this reinvigorated energy, players were hopeful that it would be a sign of hope from Nintendo for other franchises to return. The Switch just turned four years old, and it seems like many of the major releases for the console in its life cycle have starred either a wacky plumber or hero in a green tunic. For every?Paper Mario: The Origami King?and?Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, there is enough room to squeeze in a return for?Star Fox?on the Nintendo Switch as well. With fans showing continued support, and Fox’s inclusion in?Starlink: Battle For Atlas?proving to be successful, perhaps Fox’s Arwing will properly soar onto the Switch in the future.
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