StarWing (Old Review)

Don’t know what this game is, you don’t have any idea what this game is…it’s Starfox. Starwing was the European name, I don’t know why they changed the name when Starfox came here. Oh wait, I do, there was an Atari 2600 game called Star Fox, possibly released in the US, according to Digital Press, it was a bad game, the trademark for the Star Fox name was never filed in the USA, but Mythicon, Inc. managed to obtain the trademark in Europe, despite the fact they never used the name in Europe. When the company disbanded in 1983, presumably the trademarks continued to be held by certain Mythicon directors. Because the trademark had not been filed in the United States, Nintendo was able to release Star Fox game without any issues. However, when it came to the European release, the game was renamed Starwing.

Starfox (or スターフォックス Sutā Fokkusu?) or Starwing was released on February 21, 1993 in Japan, on March 23, 1993 in North America, and on June 3, 1993 in Europe for the Super Famicom/Super Nintendo Entertainment System, developed by Nintendo EAD and with some programming assistance by Argonaut Software (renamed Argonaut Games) and published by Nintendo. A 3D rail-shooter in which you blast mostly grey polygons. And when I mean 3D, I mean polygonal 3D and not pseudo 3D, the result of this is that it used the Super FX chip that made the game look like proper 3D…on a Super Nintendo. It’s the sort of stuff even the Sega Mega Drive couldn’t do (Unless Virtua Racing counts).

I would like to talk about the Super FX first, they’re co-processor chips that were only used in Super Nintendo games just like Mode 7. It was programmed to act like a graphics accelerator chip that would draw polygons to a frame buffer, which means that the full 3D polygons will be crisper on screen and would play smoothly.

The Emperor Andross, previously banished from Corneria after conducting dangerous experiments in it’s populated city, has returned to declare war on Corneria and has turned the planet Venom into a military base. So General Pepper, the commanding officer of Corneria’s defense force decides to assign Fox McCloud to fly the prototype ship ARWING along with his three partners in battle. That’s a very decent story, very dark and fits the setting for what’s about to come.

The game is split into 3 parts depending on the difficulty, go to course 1, it’s in the middle and it’s the easy mode, the others are more difficult for newcomers with course 3 being the hardest, but if you don’t have an instruction manual you’re not going to be sure what course is the easiest and some gamers might have to learn it the hard way, but there should have been a way to tell which is which.

You play as Fox McCloud, riding on a ship, it’s an animal Top Gun and he’s feeling the need for speed and thank goodness Fox hasn’t heard of Scientology. Anyway, the objective of the game is to basically shoot, shoot, shoot, blow things up. You must navigate Fox’s polygonal spacecraft, an Arwing, through polygonal environments while polygonal enemies (spaceships, robots, creatures, etc.) try to attack him. You can either just play the game or train to fly by flying in rings and is more controllable than Superman 64.

But in order to shoot, shoot, shoot, blow things up, you must master the controls, the control pad moves the ship, up to dive down and down to climb up, like a real plane (mostly), L rolls ship to left, R rolls ship to right and X will give you a speed boost but the most important manoeuvre is the barrel roll, press L and R twice, I look forward to reviewing Lylat Wars. For the weapons, the A button fires a Nova Bomb, B fires Retro-Rockets and Y fires your Laser Blaster which is the weapon you’ll use the most since this is the normal default weapon. However you can change the controls to your suiting.

You go to various levels, shooting, dodging and using specific tactics, hey, you need tactics to manoeuvre around to survive, but you need items to help you, Supply Ring which is a checkpoint and will restore your shield energy, Small Energy Supply does the same thing minus the checkpoint, Power Shield, shoot a specific enemy or a specific object, same goes for Twin Blaster or Wing Gyro in which you can fire beams simultaneously (Twin Blaster) and you can repair damaged wigs (Wing Gyro), extra nova bombs and 1-Ups or Extra Ships. The most important part of the game is your Wing Men, your team that will help you on your mission, but you also have to protect them or they’ll be shot down by enemies, there’s Falco Lombardi, Peppy Hare and everyone’s favourite to die, Slippy Toad, why, because he’s completely useless and you’ll probably let him die or you kill him yourself.

Did You Know? Star Fox featured anthropomorphic character designs by Nintendo artist Takaya Imamura, Shigeru Miyamoto wanted to use animals instead of the usual conventional science fiction stories with humans, robots, monsters, and superheroes. Miyamoto was a fan of English puppet dramas, such as Thunderbirds, so he wanted the game cover to feature puppets. HA! We British inspired a Japanese legend, take that everyone else!

Overall, this is a fun rail-shooter, and yes, the graphics are dated by today’s standards, but at the time this was fantastic, I appreciate the graphics, it pretty much showed what the Super Nintendo could do. I wished the game had a 2 player mode, but that was settled with Lylat Wars. With Miyamoto’s creativity, he has once again produced an atmospheric game, and being a 3D Rail Shooter it’s fantastic. It will get challenging over time but that’s the beauty of a retro game.

You can get it on the Super Nintendo Entertainent System/Super Famicom.



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