Star Fox 2 is an unreleased game in the Star Fox series that was originally going to be released on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1995. While it was actually finished, it was never sold to the public and was essentially replaced with Star Fox 64 on the Nintendo 64. There are still playable beta versions on the internet by downloading an emulator. Leftovers of the game were used for Star Fox Command, and to a degree, Star Fox 64.
On June 26th, 2017, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System Classic Edition was announced. The SNES Mini included a playable, complete version of Star Fox 2, releasing over 20 years after its supposed release.
After his defeat in the original Star Fox, the game's antagonist, Andross, returns to the Lylat system, reclaims his army, builds a new floating base called Astropolis (apparently just over Lylat), and launches an all-out attack against the Lylat system capturing planets on the way, especially in the capture of his former base, Venom, which has been terraformed by Cornerian forces, using his new fleet of battleships, new bioweapons and giant missiles launched from hidden bases on each occupied planet and air base to destroy the planet. General Pepper again calls upon the Star Fox team for help. Armed with new custom Arwings, a Mothership, and two new recruits (Miyu, a lynx, and Fay, a dog), the Star Fox team sets out to defend Corneria by destroying Andross' forces before they can inflict critical damage on the planet. Along the way, Star Fox must also combat giant boss enemies, bases on planets throughout the Lylat system, members of the Star Wolf team and finally Andross himself.
The premise of Star Fox 2 is very different from the original Star Fox: Instead of following mostly linear paths inside predefined missions, the player moves a team of two ships freely around a map screen that represents the Lylat system. When the player's ships make contact with enemy forces, the game will go into an action perspective, piloting the Arwing ship directly with controls and game play similar to the first Star Fox. When the player clears the specified objectives in that encounter, destroying all fighters in the vicinity for example, the game will go back into the main map screen, where the player can select a new destination for his craft.
The objective of the game is to destroy all enemy forces present in the map while defending planet Corneria (located in the lower left corner of the map), preventing its damage level from reaching 100% due to enemy attacks. To protect Corneria the player will have to intercept fighters and incoming missiles, called IPBMs in the game, while also dealing with the sources of these attacks: battleships, which will deploy more fighter squadrons, and planetary bases which will fire more missiles towards Corneria. To assist the player, General Pepper will employ an immobile space station that can shoot down enemies on a limited basis — the player must also defend this installation from special enemy ships called viruses that can take over the satellite, and use its cannon to fire at Corneria.
If the player's ship makes contact with a captured planet on the map screen, they will be transported into another action sequence located on the planet's surface. There they will have to open the enemy's base entrance through different means depending on the level (by pressing a switch, defeating a boss, etc.) Once the player has been able to gain access to the base interior, he/she will have to go through a complex and destroy the base's generator at the end. The planet will be then liberated and no more missiles will be fired from it. Starfighters from the Star Wolf team will be defending some captured planets, and they will have to be fought if the player wants to liberate one of those planets. They eventually go after the player's Arwings when some time has passed. Bosses will also be dispatched to chase the player's ships at some point in the game.
The game runs in semi-real time: when the player takes an action, time starts counting and enemies will perform actions as well. This occurs whether the player is moving around on the map screen or has engaged an enemy in battle, making it possible for enemies to damage Corneria or new enemies to launch during that time. This forces the player to think tactically and defeat their enemies as quick and efficiently as possible. At times the player may even have to leave a battle to take on other enemies that are getting too close to the planet. In this way, Star Fox 2 bears considerable similarity to many real-time strategy games.
Once the player has cleared all enemy forces present on the map, his ships will then travel to Andross' base, located on the top right corner of the map, to face one last level and fight Andross himself at the end of it. Once Andross is defeated, the player has won the game, and his performance will be scored and ranked in a debriefing screen.
Difficulty levels have a great impact on the game, changing the layout of all levels and presenting stronger and more numerous enemy forces on each successive difficulty level. Each difficulty level also contains its own bonus items (dubbed "Pepper Coins" by fans), which will be hidden inside the game's levels for the player to find and collect.
Star Fox 2 features six playable characters, the highest known number of any game in the series until Star Fox Command. Primary characters include Fox McCloud, Falco Lombardi, Peppy Hare, Slippy Toad, and two new additions to the team: Fay, a female white coker spaniel with a pink hair bow who is a new member of the team, and Miyu, a tomboyish female lynx who is also a new addition to the team.
Most of the main characters in the game have an intensely positive or negative relationship with Fox McCloud and his team, particularly Andross, the game's main antagonist who has repeatedly organized invasions of Fox's home, the Lylat system. The supporting character Wolf and his Star Wolf team consisting of Leon Powalski, Pigma Dengar and Andrew Oikonny serve as secondary villains throughout the game. Most of these characters have reappeared in later games in the series, such as Star Fox 64 or Star Fox Assault, and also in other franchises, such as Super Smash Bros. The game was supposed to feature voice acting, but it was cut.
Development and Cancellation
The game was extensively covered by the various gaming magazines of the time, both at its one E3 appearance as well as in the many screenshots provided by Nintendo to generate interest in the sequel. Since the leaking of the unfinished beta code, some individuals have managed to take and compile a large variety of screengrabs. These were taken using an emulator. Though it's likely that a promotion video was put together at the time, no copies of it have ever been made public. The lack of media coverage about the compiled beta may be due to a fear of legal action from either NCL or NOA. Early in development, Fara Phoenix from the Star Fox comic (called "Lady" in the alpha) and the Andross look-alike "Saru" (Japanese for "monkey") were in place of Miyu and Fay. Fay replaced a sheep character (gender unknown) from the game's early development.
On the Internet, ROM images exist of two very early alpha versions of the game, which were originally shown at trade shows. Another ROM, compiled from the latest known source code before the project was canceled, was released in August 2002 by an anonymous Nintendo employee — this version is nearly complete and contains minor bugs, debug code, and unfinished features such as a rudimentary multiplayer mode. These ROMs can be played using a SNES emulator. Additionally, a fan-made patch is in circulation for the near-final ROM — this fixes most of the bugs, removes the debug code and the unfinished features, and translates the game's dialog into English. When asked about whether or not the game would be released on the Wii's Virtual Console or the Nintendo DS, Star Fox designer Takaya Imamura said "Probably not."
While Nintendo never disclosed the official reason for its cancellation, Star Fox 2 lead programmer Dylan Cuthbert shares the reasons for its cancellation:
"Star Fox 2 was fully completed. I was the lead programmer and whilst Giles made Stunt Race FX, myself and the rest of the original Starfox team (ie. Nintendo's artists and designers) expanded Star Fox into a full 3D shooting game. The reason for non-release was the then impending Nintendo 64 which of course was intended to be released a lot sooner than it actually was. Miyamoto decided he wanted to have a clean break between 3D games on the SNES and 3D games on the new superior 64 bit system. In retrospect, he could have released Star Fox 2 and there would have been over a year and a half before the Nintendo 64 came out. But hindsight is always 20/20." — The staff members of IGN suggested that high production costs and internal development problems also contributed to its cancellation.
According to Dylan Cuthbert, some programming elements done for the game, such as the camera programs, where adapted and reused for the development of Super Mario 64. Shigeru Miyamoto also stated that ideas such as All-Range mode, multi-player mode, and Star Wolf scenarios came from Star Fox 2. He estimated that 30% of Star Fox 64 came from Star Fox 2. Additionally, several game concepts have been reused in Star Fox Command for the Nintendo DS — among these are the map screen gameplay element and the ability to choose from multiple characters, each with their own fighters and statistics. Furthermore, Miyu's flirtatious attitude was given to Katt Monroe.
This game, in varying stages of development, is available in ROM form on the Internet, although in most countries it is considered illegal to possess without direct permission from Nintendo due to still technically being copyrighted material. Nintendo has made no attempt to either remove the distribution of the ROM or support an official release.
Most ROMs available are in Japanese, though a few English translations exist. One English translation has an odd glitch in which pressing select to turn into a walker when prompted will immediately take the player to the credits, which cannot be skipped, causing the player to have to reset the game and attempt to either go without the walker, or use a different ROM. The ones in the internet are beta ROMs of Star Fox 2.
The ROM used in the SNES Classic Edition is the Master Version according to Dylan Cuthbert.
- Fara Phoenix, a female character that appeared in the Star Fox comics in Nintendo Power magazine in 1993, appeared in an early build of Star Fox 2, but was replaced in the final game before it was ultimately cancelled.
- The game was reviewed in Nintendo Power V69 and mentioned the use of the Super FX chip. It was also listed for a Summer 1995 release date.