Star Fox (universe)
The Star Fox universe (スターフォックス, Star Fox) refers to the Smash Bros. series' collection of characters, stages, and properties that hail from Nintendo's series of primarily on-rails space shooter video games. While all have been published by Nintendo, most entries were developed by a different company: Argonaut Games (originally Argonaut Software), Nintendo themselves, Rare, Namco, Q-Games, and PlatinumGames. The series takes place in a fictional star system starring anthropomorphic animals, focusing on missions undertaken by the mercenary team Star Fox, led by the main character Fox McCloud, to pilot Arwing spacecraft into battle against interplanetary threats. Fox, his wingmate Falco Lombardi, and his rival mercenary Wolf O'Donnell have all been featured as playable characters in the Super Smash Bros. series.
During the early years of the NES and SNES, Nintendo worked closely with Argonaut Software, who had previously developed the 3D wireframe vector graphics-based space shooter Starglider for old computers such as Commodore 64. With them, Nintendo developed a prototype for a similar style of game on the NES (aptly titled NESGlider), but even after it was ported to SNES, it was found that the SNES hardware's capabilities for anything presented in three dimensions was severely lacking. Argonaut agreed to develop a custom chip that the SNES could use to make it better at 3D, and the final product, the Super FX Chip, was more powerful than the SNES' standard processor by leaps and bounds. Nintendo designed their 3D rail-shooter game, Star Fox (which was renamed Starwing for the PAL release due to trademarking issues), based on this chip that was built into the game cartridge itself, and in doing so released the first 3D graphics accelerator in a consumer product. Meanwhile, Nintendo opted to avoid creating a game with all of the conventional trappings of a futuristic science fiction space shooter, and therefore gave Star Fox a cast of anthropomorphic animal characters, born out of Shigeru Miyamoto’s passion for drawing caricaturized humanoid animals in his school days.
The 1993 release of Star Fox for the SNES was very significant in the gaming press and the eyes of the public, and the game won many accolades both for its ambitious three-dimensional presentation and its shooting gameplay. Star Fox is often credited with pioneering the use of 3D video game graphics on home consoles, and Nintendo took advantage of the opportunity to establish the IP as a series and franchise; however, despite a SNES sequel named Star Fox 2 effectively finishing development, Nintendo decided to cancel it, and a programmer explained it was because of the impending release of the Nintendo 64 and the presumed price increase of the upgraded Super FX 2 Chip (though the console would end up releasing much later than originally intended). Shigeru Miyamoto had wanted the next Star Fox game to make full use of the enormous advantages offered by the newest hardware, and so he produced Star Fox 64, which is for many intents and purposes a series reboot and a remake combining the story and gameplay elements of both Star Fox and Star Fox 2. Star Fox 64 (which was renamed Lylat Wars in PAL regions due to the aforementioned trademark issue) was released in 1997 to very enthusiastic critical acclaim and successful sales, becoming the single best-selling game in the entire franchise, and was regarded as an instant classic for the N64 for its refined rail-shooting gameplay, cinematic character-driven narrative complete with full voice acting, and branching paths that incentivized multiple playthroughs to uncover secret stages.
Despite the undisputed critical and commercial success of Star Fox 64 and its appearances in the Super Smash Bros. series since that series' inception, the Star Fox series underwent a five-year hiatus before being brought back to public attention via unorthodox circumstances; British developer Rare had originally intended to release an action-adventure title for the Nintendo 64 called Dinosaur Planet, featuring three-dimensional Zelda-style gameplay and a cast of anthropomorphic animal characters, including the newly created character Krystal. However, Shigeru Miyamoto looked over the product and noted its cast's similarities to Star Fox, and Nintendo subsequently requested that Rare transform the game into a Star Fox title. The final product was manifested on the GameCube as Star Fox Adventures and was released in late September 2002. While generally well-received and going on to become a "Player's Choice" title, Star Fox Adventures drew considerable criticism for being a particularly large departure for the series both in terms of core gameplay and setting. Rare, meanwhile, was subsequently acquired as a first-party developer for Microsoft; Star Fox Adventures was their final title for a Nintendo home console.
The Star Fox series saw two more installments that progressively returned to the space-shooting roots established by Star Fox 64. Star Fox: Assault was developed by Namco and released for the GameCube in late 2005, and features on-rails shooting segments as well as additional on-foot gameplay segments with third-person-shooter elements. Then, Star Fox Command was developed in conjunction with Q-Games and released for the Nintendo DS in mid-2006, and alternates between an all-range shooting mode and a real-time strategy mode. The series would enter an extended hiatus with no new titles being released or announced for another 10 years except for the release of Star Fox 64 3D, a remake of Star Fox 64, in 2011 for the Nintendo 3DS.
At E3 2014, during the Nintendo Digital Event, a new Star Fox game was teased to be in development for the Nintendo Wii U. The teaser showed Miyamoto testing an early build of a Star Fox-esque simulation and incorporating the Wii U GamePad's gyro controls. At the same time, two smaller projects were announced that would eventually interplay with this new Star Fox title: Project Guard and Project Giant Robot. One year later at E3 2015, Star Fox Zero, a reboot of the franchise using Star Fox 64 as a framework, was announced for the Wii U and co-developed by Nintendo and PlatinumGames. Star Fox Zero officially introduces a Walker mode for the Arwing, a mechanic originally designed for the canceled Star Fox 2, as well as a new hovercraft called the Gyrowing that deploys a tethered robot named Direct-i to collect items and complete various objectives. The voice cast from the Nintendo 3DS remake reprise their roles with newly-recorded dialogue, and the story was marginally retouched so that certain characters show slightly more depth.
The title heavily incorporates the Wii U’s GamePad for movement, aiming, and shooting, which drew criticism from outlets for making the controls clunky and unintuitive to learn. This, compounded with the fact that many key plot points and setpieces were lifted from Star Fox 64, even discouraged some critics from finishing the game and assigning a final score. As a result, Star Fox Zero went on to become the single worst-selling entry in the franchise. The resulting uncertainty for the fate of the Star Fox series lingered long after the game's release, with only guest appearances in Ubisoft's Starlink: Battle for Atlas for Nintendo Switch serving as anything completely new for the Star Fox IP. In the meantime, Project Guard was eventually rebranded in March 2016 as Star Fox Guard. This was a tower-defense game that followed Slippy and his uncle Grippy Toad as they defended a small mining facility from pestering robots. The game is structured as a camera-based tower defense game and even includes the ability to design one's own levels using the Wii U GamePad and share them. The game was released alongside Star Fox Zero, with Project Giant Robot being quietly canceled.
During the development of Star Fox Command, Q-Games programmer Dylan Cuthbert experienced a finished version of Star Fox 2 to use as inspiration. However, the prospect of an official release for the cancelled title was not probable, according to him. To the surprise of many, Star Fox 2 would see its first ever official release in September 2017 as one of the 21 games included on the SNES Classic microconsole, alongside the first ever reissuing of the original Star Fox due to both titles incorporating the Super FX Chip. The original Star Fox received its second-ever official rerelease in September 2019 as one of the first 20 games included in the SNES games service for subscribers of Nintendo Switch Online, with the second-ever official release of Star Fox 2 to follow in December of the same year.
The setting of the Star Fox series is a planetary system named the Lylat system, and Corneria is the Earth-like planet that supports sapient life in this system. All sapient life, however, is composed of anthropomorphic animals belonging to a wide variety of species, but nonetheless Cornerian civilization is technologically advanced enough to allow for interplanetary travel and starship dogfights not unlike Star Wars. A group of mercenaries named Star Fox, operating small assault spacecraft called Arwings and based on a mothership named the Great Fox, are regularly hired by Corneria's defense forces to conduct military operations against enemy forces that threaten Corneria and the Lylat system as a whole. The leader is Fox McCloud, a red fox who inherits his position from his late father, team founder James McCloud, and his initial wingmates are the pheasant Falco Lombardi, the hare Peppy Hare, and the frog Slippy Toad.
In Star Fox 64, a mad ape scientist, Andross, previously exiled from Corneria, launches an attack across the Lylat system, and Fox takes up the job to destroy Andross and his operations at the planet Venom and settle a personal score, while dealing with a rival mercenary team hired by Andross, Star Wolf, led by Wolf O'Donnell. Eight years later in Star Fox Adventures, Star Fox is assigned to conduct an on-foot investigation of a crumbling planet simply called Dinosaur Planet, and after the end of Fox's effort to stop the planet's self-destruction, the princess of another destroyed planet, the blue fox Krystal, joins the Star Fox team. The following year, amidst Star Fox's continued battles against vengeful remnants from Andross' army, Lylat is suddenly threatened by a race of mechanical insectoids called the Aparoids, and Star Fox must make an unlikely alliance with Star Wolf in order to save the day. Lastly, two to three years later in Star Fox Command, most of team Star Fox has disbanded, but Fox is given heavy incentive to bring team members back into the fold when one last threat, a fish-like race called the Anglar, emerges out of Venom's acidic oceans to strike at Corneria. This game's story allows multiple branching paths, and a total of nine different endings are possible; the question of which one, if any, is the "canon" ending is left to player speculation. In Starlink: Battle for Atlas, the Star Fox crew find themselves in hot pursuit of Wolf in the Atlas star system, who is attempting to search for additional firepower to begin his own takeover of Corneria. Both sides end up making allies in Atlas, with Wolf aided by outlaws Cash, Zonna, and Koval and Star Fox aided by the human crew from the Starlink Initiative in search of their kidnapped captain. After taking out a few of his lackeys, the Star Fox team finally find Wolf's hideout in Atlas and thwart his plans for conquest, but more help unexpectedly arrives in the form of fellow Star Wolf members Leon, Pigma, and Andrew. After one last hard-fought battle, the whole Star Wolf crew is defeated and sent tumbling back to Lylat through a transdimensional portal.
The Star Fox franchise is represented as one of several "standard universes" found in Super Smash Bros., which consists of one character and one stage. Fox McCloud was also among the first characters created for the pitch of Super Smash Bros. as a crossover party-fighting game, alongside Mario, Donkey Kong, and Samus Aran.
Super Smash Bros. features one Star Fox-themed stage:
Super Smash Bros. Melee features much more content than the original game, and the amount of properties from the Star Fox franchise is increased proportionally - though oddly enough, there are no battling items that represent the Star Fox series.
Super Smash Bros. Melee features two Star Fox-themed stages:
Main article: List of SSBM trophies (Star Fox series)
The series has seen a notable boost in representation in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, now with the focus titles being Star Fox Assault and Star Fox Command. Fox and Falco return as playable characters along with the debut of newcomer Wolf. The series also has features two stages, one Assist Trophy, a new item, many more music tracks, and many collectable trophies and stickers.
On the final character select screen (after all characters are unlocked), the Star Fox characters, joined by Captain Falcon, occupy the sixth column. All these characters are known to fly spaceships (hence having a choice of fighting only up to two of these in Classic Mode).
Main article: List of SSBB Music (Star Fox series)
Main article: List of SSBB trophies (Star Fox series)
Main article: List of stickers (Star Fox series)
Main article: Masterpieces
The Star Fox series largely remained dormant between the releases of Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Smash Bros. 4. The sole exception was the release of Star Fox 64 3D, a remake of Star Fox 64 for the Nintendo 3DS system. Some of its assets were used in Smash 4. Corneria - a stage from Super Smash Bros. Melee based on Star Fox 64 - appears exclusively in the 3DS version. Partnering with Namco Bandai - the developers of Star Fox: Assault - for the development of Smash 4 enabled more content from Assault to appear in the Wii U version. In correlation with Star Fox's inactivity, the playable character Wolf O'Donnell does not return from Brawl.
for Nintendo 3DS
for Wii U
Main article: Items
Smash Tour items
Main article: List of SSB4 Music (Star Fox series)
Arrangements and remixes unique to SSB4.
Arrangements and remixes from previous Smash titles.
Compositions and arrangements directly sourced from Star Fox games with no alterations.
Main article: List of SSB4 trophies (Star Fox series)
The Star Fox series is still strongly represented in Ultimate, but the representation is now skewed towards the most recent installment, Star Fox Zero. Fox, Falco, and the previously absent Wolf all return as playable characters, using their designs and voices from this title. Many other elements from Star Fox Zero, such as music, stage aesthetics, and Spirits make their way into Ultimate. In addition, content from previous Star Fox titles, such as a new Assist Trophy and several Spirits, is featured.
Bold italics denote an Assist Trophy new to the Smash Bros. series.
Main article: List of SSBU Music (Star Fox series)
There are no new Star Fox remixes in Ultimate.
Arrangements and remixes returning from previous Smash games.
Tracks ripped directly from the Star Fox games.
Main article: List of spirits (Star Fox series)
Games with elements appearing in the Super Smash Bros. series
Star Fox 64/Lylat Wars
Main article: Star Fox 64