Starfox

Starfox - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot
Star Fox a.k.a Starwing (1993)
By: Argonaut Software / Nintendo EAD  Genre: Shooting  Players: 1  Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Nintendo SNES  First Day Score: 15,100
Also Available For: Nothing

I don’t know about you but I thought the 16-bit console era was a fantastic time to be a gamer. Both Sega and Nintendo’s offerings each had some unique and desirable software and each continued to push their hardware further and further. Then, at around the mid-way point of their war with Sega, Nintendo decided to up the ante with their ‘Super FX’ chip. Created by British developer, Argonaut Software, the chip was essentially a graphics accelerator which could be incorporated into a standard SNES game cartridge but allowed far superior graphics to be used. Specifically, for the first time the painfully slow SNES CPU could produce in-game polygon graphics and throw them around at a pretty decent speed. This would surely give Nintendo’s machine a crucial advantage over Sega’s powerhouse and also allow games that the MD couldn’t hope to rival. But did it?

Starfox - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot
In order to showcase their new technology, the alliance of Argonaut and Nintendo not only created a new game from scratch but an entire new franchise, and on paper it sounded promising. Centering around the star-faring Lylat solar-system, a mad scientist named Doctor Andross has been banished from the peaceful planet of Corneria (populated by anthropomorphic animals, of course). After fleeing to Planet Venom (also in the Lylat system), he declares war on Corneria and unleashes a huge army to that end. General Pepper of the Corneria Defense Force consequently summons the mercenary Star Fox unit to combat Andross and outfits them with state-of-the-art prototype combat fighters called Arwings (why are they always ‘prototypes’, isn’t there ever any ‘tried-and-trusted’ ships in the game world?). The leader of the unit is Fox McCloud, and joining him are teammates, Falco Lombardi, Peppy Hare, and Slippy Toad.

Starfox - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot
The gameplay takes the form of a 3D polygonal shoot ’em up and sees you and your teammates flying across various planets and through intervening sections of open space until you reach Planet Venom and ultimately destroy the ‘Core Brain’. There are three differing routes to your destination representing different difficulty levels and each features unique stages. You always start on Corneria and end up at Venom but even they have some differences depending on which route you take. You are always accompanied by your teammates who generally fly in formation behind you, but they occasionally break formation to pursue an enemy or if they are being pursued by one, and they often need your help (except the ultra-lairy Falco), but while you try you’ll have to be careful not to inflict friendly fire upon them (pay special attention, American gamers – hee hee!).

Starfox - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot
Whilst not exactly an ‘on rails’ shooter, your forward motion through all the stages is fixed, much like Space Harrier, for example, affording you a limited degree of movement within them. That said, most stages also feature numerous obstacles in addition the many enemies which must be avoided. The Arwing does possess thrusters and retro-rockets though, which allow a limited increase or decrease in speed, and it can also turn ninety degrees to the left or right to sneak through narrow gaps too. The game also switches between first and third-person perspectives with the former preferred for space stages and the latter generally used when flying over a planet or landscape of some sort. The enemies are all polygon-based too and range from small fighters and gun emplacements to huge battleships armed with various guns and missiles, and as well as taking as many of these out as possible you’ll also need to avoid the aforementioned obstacles which include buildings, asteroids, falling towers, floating debris of numerous types, as well as destroy the boss at the end of each stage.

Starfox - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot
To take on the forces of Andross your team’s Arwing fighters have been fitting with Laser Blasters, a limited supply of Nova Bombs, and an Energy Shield. It is possible to upgrade your blasters and replenish your supply of bombs by collecting the relevant icons you’ll occasionally encounter, and there’s also two types of ring. Flying through one kind will replenish some of your shield energy while the other acts as a restart point if you die. Your Arwing fighter can also be damaged if you fly into (or get flown into by) building or large enemies which can break off part of its wings, reducing its maneuverability in the process. Luckily these can also be replaced by collecting the relevant icon, which certainly helps the already tricky gameplay! That said, the difference between the three ‘routes’ to Planet Venom is noticeable, but you’re bound to want to see all the stages so you’ll have to battle on through the easy levels and hard levels alike! One tip to making the game easier is to protect your teammates – they take damage like you do and once they’re gone, they’re gone!

Starfox - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot
As the first Super FX-powered game, Star Fox certainly does its job of showing off the capabilities of the new hardware. I imagine certain sections of this game could be replicated by a standard SNES or MD but there’s no way either would be able to run everything so smoothly. Obviously things look pretty basic by today’s standards, and smooth or not the game has a pretty slow pace, but this is still a pretty impressive technical achievement, with enemies whizzing around, bullets and missiles flying back and forth, etc. The music is less impressive but still not bad and your teammates (who blabber on constantly – see the screenshots!) have amusing ‘talking’ noises. They’re a nice touch actually and add a lot of charm to the already distinctive gamplay. Once the novelty wears off though, it can be very a frustrating game, and replaying levels can get very choresome.

Starfox - SNES - Gameplay Screenshot

To be honest, prior to this review I hadn’t played this game much and I didn’t like it at all. I was intending to play it for a bit, confirm it sucked, then rip into it here, but I was surprised to find that it’s actually not bad! It plays like a cross between Amiga and ST classic, Starglider (also by Argonaut, probably not coincidentally) and After Burner, but brings a lot of uniqueness and character to the table as well. I still think it’s overrated and doesn’t warrant the adulation it received and apparently still receives, but neither is it a flashy hardware demo with no gameplay as I
previously thought.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCfM_uLyXoQ[/youtube]

RKS Score: 6/10

Star Fox

Star Fox- SNES Box
A game that left me wanting for more was the first ever Star Fox. Using the Super FX chip, the SNES took their graphics to a whole new level. It was something that we never imagined could be done but the true capabilities of the SNES left all of us in an awe. The game is quite simple. You fly around in your spaceship and complete missions. You have the ability to choose your path which can go from easy to hard. It’s up to you to pick which path you want to go through to challenge your skills. Of course, I suggest you go through the easy path first and then the hard path because it’ll make things a lot easier and a better gameplay experience.

Star Fox - Gameplay Screenshot

 

The game’s graphics were amazing for the time and got everyone out of their seat which really means a lot. We were just getting into the 3D era so anything three-dimensional would give us orgasms in a sec. It was that good! The music is also very impressive as it gives you that feel that you are in the game itself. You will have a lot of challenges and interesting characters to keep you playing the game.

Make sure you and your comrades work as a team. This means you have to help them out whenever they ask you, don’t be a douche. If there is someone behind attacking your comrade then be sure to save his ass! To conclude, the game is a thrill to play and very satisfying until the end. There is so much to love about this game and so little to hate. Be sure to check out the practice mode if you are new to the whole Star Fox saga.

Star Fox 2

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Star Fox 2

After the success of Star Fox on the Super Nintendo both Argonaut Games and Nintendo were excited to get to work on the direct sequel. As development began, the buzz was spread to a number of media outlets and everyone was waiting for its release in 1995. The Japanese version of the game was finished and was in the debugging and final beta stage when it was decided to hold the game back because of the upcoming release of the Nintendo 64 and their wish to release a updated version of the game which we all know become Star Fox 64.

Star Fox 2 - Screenshot 3

The story goes that after Andross’s defeat at the hands of the Star Fox team he returns to the Lylat system, home to Star Fox and his team members for revenge. Andross has his sights once again set on Corneria and brought along new battleships and bad guys to help him. This time around, Fox’s team has new Arwings to fight against the Andross forces and a new Mothership as a home base. One of the coolest things about Star Fox 2 was that you could play as six different characters.

Star Fox 2 - Screenshot 1

There was to be as playable characters, Fox McCloud, leader of the Star Fox team. Falco Lombardi, the loud mouth pilot who is a hotdog and does not like Fox very much. Peppy Hare, mentor to Fox. Slippy Toad, childhood friend of Fox and two brand new recruits, Fay, a white poodle with a pink hair bow and Miyu, a tomboyish lynx.

The gameplay was to be different as well and was to work a lot like a real-time strategy game. You start off with your overview map which shows Corneria on one end and the Andross base on the other. In-between is a series of planets. The overall goal was to protect Corneria, liberate captured planets, defeat all enemy forces then enter the Andross base and defeat Andross.

Star Fox 2 - Screenshot 4

How this worked was Corneria itself had a life bar and enemy fighters would attack the planet as well as missiles fired at the planet from captured planets in the system and you directed teams of two fighters to intercept both the enemy forces and the missiles. During these fights the game played much like the original Star Fox. In those battles, you could fight normal fighters, bosses and the Wolf Squadron (Andross “Fox” team).

When you went to liberate planets you would transport down and your goal was to destroy the generator in the Andross base which prevented them from firing missiles at Corneria. Overall, it sounded pretty cool because you had to think about your actions and who to and no to attack.

Now while the game was never officially released there were emulated versions made from the Japanese version. There were rumors that Star Fox 2 may be released for the Wii Virtual Console, but so far that is where it stands.

Ode to the Evil Twin

In almost every hero’s journey they come to question their actions and the possible outcome of their quest had they taken a step to the left rather than to the right. Could the world have been saved in a different method? Could the fallen comrade have survived? Could all this mayhem have ended swiftly if they only took the opportunity to finish off the antagonist when the moment presented itself? The darkest parallel thought a hero could imagine is “What if I had fallen to darkness instead of striding upon the path of the righteous?” For some few unfortunate heroes, this “what if” can present itself in a physical manifestation and even become one of the biggest road blocks in their journey.

Kill yourself or die trying
Kill yourself or die trying

Today, we take a look into some of the most iconic evil counterparts in video game history, what they represented to the hero, and the epic battles that proved as pivotal moments in the game’s timeline.

**SPOILERS BY THE WAY**

Dark Samus (Metroid Prime):  Poison has always been a substance that plagued any living organism but it remained passive and indifferent. It was only used for killing in the hands of its user. In Metroid Prime, the poison Phazon is not only deadly but also sentient.  Responsible for the death of two planets, this entity looked to spread its plague further and melded the DNA of Samus Aran and her foe, Metroid Prime to create Dark Samus.  To see your greatest foes taking your form as their avatar would fill any hero with rage. Our heroine managed to disintegrate Dark Samus into particles in the Agon Wastes and then once again by breaching the monstrosity’s Phazon Shield with a charge beam. Though defeated, Dark Samus has the potential to return in the future through the game’s savior by a Mark of Corruption left upon her. Only time will tell if we will ever see this enemy rise again.

Wolf O’Donnell AKA Star Wolf (Star Fox 64): Rival companies are always taking blows at each other. Look at Microsoft VS Macintosh, IPhones VS Droid, PS3 VS Xbox 360 for examples. While they normally dish out retorts via commercials or improving their own technology to eclipse the other, mercenary groups don’t normally play the same game. Star Wolf is the rival mercenary group led by Wolf O’Donnell. Their number one priority is to become the top dog group in the Lylat System. The only foreseeable way to achieve this is simple; recruit old Star Fox members, work for your rival’s mark, and hunt them down till they are left in a smoldering wreckage. While Wolf has been unsuccessful in defeating Fox McCloud he still remains a huge pillar for the team to overcome in every instance he has led an assault. He will be most remembered for telling Star Fox  he can’t do that.

Omega Zero (Megaman Zero series): Zero has always been a hero who walked that fine line between right and wrong but can you blame him? He was Dr.Wily’s greatest creation, he is supposedly responsible for the death of the original Megaman, and is rumored to be the bringer of the end of days. Like a rebellious child, though, Zero forged his own path and strayed away from the road Dr.Wily left for him and became a hero. However, the idea of bringing about total chaos and destruction never left Zero’s mind and weighed heavily upon him. Luckily for him, he isn’t the real Zero but only a copy. What a weight off his shoulders! Turns out Omega Zero is the true body of Zero and guess what? He wants to tear his copy a new asshole and end life as we know it. Finally seeing that dark “What if” version of himself, our hero vowed never to travel down that path and defeated his original body dying along with it.

Dark Link (The Legend of Zelda): Link has defeated zombies, ghosts, witches, blobby things, grand sorcerers, and anything else you can think of in all his journeys. The one enemy though who manages to stop Link in his tracks is his own shadow. Normally appearing in a large desolate and eerie hallway, this abomination knows everything about Link. He even knows what you’re going to do before you do it. Going to spin that sword around? He’s going to evade. Going to charge up a heavy sword slash? He’s going to poke you in the face quickly. Thinking a bomb might work? He will just throw it back at you. The best way for Link to defeat himself is to flail erratically and hope something lands while slowly dwindling away his hit points. To this day, Dark Link remains an iconic foe to add to the Legend of Zelda’s rogue gallery.

Metal Sonic (Sonic the Hedgehog): Thought I’d put Shadow the Hedgehog down? Nope, I don’t consider characters introduced when a series goes to garbage as cannon. Besides, Shadow never fought Sonic like his roboticized counterpart did. He has been used in many iterations in the franchise and has taken many different forms. He is superior to Sonic in every way. His spikes are sharper, his plated skin is more durable, and he is even faster than the series’ hero. His first appearance was in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 where the two would clash in a small enclosed area. He mimicked everything the hero could do and could even shoot projectile spikes to harm the hedgehog. This battle’s level of greatness is paltry compared to his battle against Sonic in Sonic CD. In Stardust Speedway, the only thing keeping Sonic from saving Amy and defeating Eggman is to defeat Metal Sonic in a race. Not only is he faster than our hero, he can destroy obstacles and is invulnerable to damage. The only way to defeat him is to haul ass through loops and leap over spikes while he eats shit behind you. It is like a Tortoise and Hare battle except there isn’t a tortoise and there are two hares. The difference between the two is that the other hare has a jetpack and dies when it barrages itself into a wall. I hope to see Metal Sonic return in some more worthy Sonic adventures in the future and to bring the level of intensity he normally delivers to a new generation of gamers.

There are many more video games out there with evil counterparts but this was just to name a few that I can still remember to this day. Are there any other instances where the hero fought their doppelganger that you remember? Post a comment if you recall any!