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Star Fox 2

Super Nintendo

Game Description:

For the longest time the holy grail of the holy grails of console game prototypes, the unreleased until 2017 Starfox 2 is apparently indeed the first developed sequel to the SNES 3D polygonal shooter Starfox. Fox McCloud and his equally anthropomorphic crew are back to battle the evil ape Andross, with two new female pilots, Miyu and Fay, joining the fight. In contrast to the first game, however, which features lots of arcade rail-shooter action, the sequel adopts a somewhat more strategic, exploratory tone. The game plays out on a galactic map, where you direct a pair of pilots around, intercepting enemy squadrons, attacking enemy bases, and so on. In the meantime, mean old Andross is launching missiles at your home planet of Corneria, and if you let too many get by, you won’t have any home left to save.

This shift toward strategy extends to the core gameplay as well. While there are plenty of Wing-Commander-style dogfights, many of the scenarios require the player to find switches to press or navigate through enclosed mazes. A key innovation is the ability to transform your Arwing into a bipedal gun turret and walk through some stages Doom-style, firing, strafing, and dodging. All the while, the clock ticks down as other battles rage elsewhere in the galaxy, and you will frequently get frantic radio messages from your commander about incoming missiles and other threats.

On “Normal” difficulty, the game can be beaten without much effort or time; I won my first game in under 15 minutes (and I’m frightfully bad at these games). The higher difficulty levels, however, feature new enemies, expanded stages, and a lot more gameplay in general. “Expert” level is truly demanding, but it’s also where you’ll see the most interesting developments. Factor in the challenge of topping your high scores and a healthy amount of randomness, and you’ve got a good amount of fun to be had for fans of this series who want to pull back the curtain for a glimpse of what might have been.