Star Fox, released as Starwing in Europe, is the first game in the Star Fox series of video games, released on February 21, 1993 the Super Famicom/Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It was the second three-dimensional Nintendo-developed game but it is Nintendo's first game to use 3D polygon graphics. It accomplished this by being the first ever game to use the Super FX graphics acceleration coprocessor powered GSU-1. The complex display of three-dimensional models with polygons was still new and uncommon in console video games, and the game was much-hyped as a result.
Star Fox featured arcade rail shooting and obstacle course style gameplay by Shigeru Miyamoto, anthropomorphic character designs by Nintendo artist Takaya Imamura, then music composed by Hajime Hirasawa. Star Fox was developed by Nintendo EAD with assistance by Argonaut Software, and was published by Nintendo. The game was a critical and commercial success, which established Star Fox as one of Nintendo's flagship franchises.
The game takes place in a binary solar system called the Lylat system, which is inhabited by humanlike animal races (e.g. foxes, frogs, dogs, birds, rabbits, apes, etc.). It contains the planets Corneria and Venom, representing good and evil, respectively. One can visit many other planets, asteroid belts, space stations, etc. while going through the course of the game. Which path the player chooses affects what places they will encounter.
Andross, a scientist, has fled to Planet Venom after being banished from Planet Corneria, and has now declared war on Corneria and unleashed an enormous army to wreak havoc on the Lylat system. General Pepper, the commanding officer of Corneria's defense force, has decided to dispatch a prototype high-performance fighter aircraft called the 'Arwing.' However, lacking in time to train pilots for the new fighters, he summons the elite mercenary team Star Fox to defeat Andross. Fox McCloud, the leader of the team, is accompanied by his teammates Falco Lombardi, Peppy Hare, and Slippy Toad.
Star Fox is a rail shooter in a third-person and first-person 3D perspective. The player must navigate Fox's spacecraft, an Arwing, through environments while various enemies (spaceships, robots, creatures, etc.) attack him. Along the way various power-ups are placed in the stage to help the player. The player receives a score at the end of each level based on how many enemies have been destroyed and how well the player has defended his/her teammates. At the end of each level there is a boss that the player must defeat before progressing to the next level.
Star Fox possesses certain unique elements that differentiate it from the standard scrolling shooter. Most scrolling shooters force the player forward at a constant speed. While this is also true for Star Fox, there are thrusters and retro-rockets on the Arwing that allow the player to temporarily speed up and slow down. These can be used to maneuver around enemy attacks and other obstacles.
The damage model is another difference. In the standard scrolling shooter, touching almost any object results in the immediate destruction of the player's craft. In Star Fox, the Arwing has a certain amount of shield energy that represents how much damage can be absorbed before the destruction of the craft. The game also has a small degree of locational damage detection: If the ship's wings clip against obstacles or the ground too much, they will break off, adversely affecting the craft's handling and removing the ability to upgrade weapons.
The difficulty in Star Fox is also set in a unique way. Most scrolling shooters, if they have selectable difficulty levels, allow the player to set the difficulty by choosing an option (e.g. 'Easy,' 'Normal,' and 'Hard') at the beginning of the game. This option usually affects variables such as the number of lives a player has, the number of enemies encountered in the game, the speed of enemies, and so on. In contrast, at the beginning of Star Fox, the player is given a choice of one of three routes to take through the Lylat system. Each of these routes corresponds with a certain level of difficulty, but each route has its own series of unique levels. This gives Star Fox somewhat more replay value than other scrolling shooters that have a fixed series of levels each time the game is played. The three game paths all contain the planet Corneria (the first level) and Venom (the last level), but they each have different versions depending on the path taken.
In each level, the player is accompanied by three computer-controlled wingmen: Peppy Hare, Slippy Toad, and Falco Lombardi. At certain pre-scripted points, one will fly into the player's view, often either chasing an enemy or being chased and asking for assistance. Ignoring a wingman's pleas will result in him taking damage, or even being shot down. They cannot be damaged by the player's own lasers (although they will complain if hit). Regardless of their survival, wingmen are not present during boss battles but rejoin the player before the next stage. A player may choose to help his or her wingmen when they ask for assistance, as doing so will allow them to engage some of the enemies not destroyed by the player, helping the player to succeed and additionally making it easier to achieve maximum score in a given level. Additional points are also granted at the end of each level depending on the health of each wingman. If a wingman gets shot down, he will not return for the rest of the game.
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