Legends of Vaporware: Star Fox 2 Feature - The Next Level

Legends of Vaporware: Star Fox 2

A look back at Nintendo's lost classic.

Article by Travis Fahs (Email)
July 25th 2006, 08:53PM

More surprising, though, was the unique level-structure. No longer did players proceed along rigid paths to move from one level to the next. Instead all action spawned from an interactive map screen. The planet Corneria is under siege by Andross, with a fleet of battle cruiser and planetary bases launching missile attacks. Fox must intercept missiles, take out the enemy fleet, and infiltrate the bases to defend the planet in something that resembles a cross between a real-time strategy game and Missile Command. Encountering an enemy on this field will take players into an action stage. Time will still progress while in these stages and completing missions quickly before Corneria's forces are overwhelmed becomes the key to success.

Perhaps the most important revelation to come from the leak was that Star Fox 2 was, in fact, a good game. It wasn't cancelled because of development problems, it wasn't cancelled because it was a weak sequel, and it wasn't reworked into a next-gen project (in fact, credits reveal that the team is virtually identical the one that developed the original, and does not share the same director or programmers as its 64-bit cousin). The real answer probably has more to do with the time frame during which it was developed.

In 1993, Star Fox represented the cutting edge of gaming, at least in the console world. Its sequel was originally slated for release during the holiday season of '94, and its timing would have been perfect. Unfortunately the title's release slipped into '95. Nintendo watched as their long-time rival Sega, and former ally Sony launched cutting edge 32-bit systems. Their once state-of-the-art product was rendered a dinosaur in a few short months, and Nintendo simply lost confidence in Star Fox 2's ability to impress.

Last year, hacker/translator extraordinaire Gideon Zhi created a hack of the leaked game, removing its debug features, translating its text to English, and creating a reasonable approximation of what a retail release would have been. This has brought a sense of closure to many fans around the world, as well as a sense of vindication for the ambitious design. It seems very interesting that not long after Star Fox 2 was finally leaked to and subsequently embraced by fans, Nintendo began work on a new title that would finally revive many of these ideas. Indeed Star Fox Command for the Nintendo DS seems to be using a variant on the real-time map employed by the late SNES title, as well as free-roaming, mission-based levels. It makes for one of those rare stories in the vaporware annals that actually has a happy ending. Fans now know what was, and the ambitious work that seemed all for naught will have a chance to shine again.

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