Star Fox 2: Nintendo’s Cancelled SNES Space Shooter

Star Fox 2 on the Super Nintendo
It’s Lylat Wars 2!

Right, this beast has an odd history. Nintendo completed all of it as a planned sequel to Starwing (Star Fox—1993) with a planned 1995 release.

Then it got cancelled and didn’t officially see the light of day until the SNES Classic Mini in 2017. What was going on? Let’s have a gander.

The Aborted History of Star Fox 2

In recent years the game has become readily accessible for all. Along with the SNES Mini, you can also pick it up on the Nintendo Switch’s online catalogue.

For a game over 20 years old at the time of its proper release, it caused a bit of a stir.

Wil Overton, formerly of the UK’s N64 Magazine and Rare, even produced this nifty front cover for a one-off Super Play magazine edition.

Had the likes of the PlayStation and Sega Saturn not been out and about, Nintendo would have released Star Fox 2.

But in comparison to the 32-bit consoles, the title’s jerky 16-bit polygon graphics didn’t really cut it alongside more advanced games.

The Japanese gaming giant was already on the way with the Nintendo 64, so a new sequel was planned with Lylat Wars (Star Fox 64) and launched in 1997.

But Star Fox 2’s fate was sealed at 95% completion, with England’s Argonaut Software once again helping with the series.

However, Nintendo pulled the plug rather than release an inferior product to the market. This caused some confusion amongst the press and gamers.

There was news of a delay to 1996 and the likes of US magazine Nintendo Power claiming it would definitely launch.

Nope. Although Nintendo did want the game fully completed, so it went through the final stages of localisation and QA testing to make it the real deal.

It just never hit the shelves. And when Nintendo began revealing projects for its 64-bit console, such as Super Mario 64, people stopped giving a toss about Star Fox 2.

Back around the time, we certainly have no recollection of the game even existing and saw no coverage of it in the UK gaming press.

And so the game became a myth. A legend. One eventually leaked online for fans to try out for the first time.

Before Nintendo launched it for real in 2017. So, is it any good?

In Review for Star Fox 2

Many SNES games have aged remarkably well, way above the PlayStation and Nintendo 64’s more advanced 3D romps.

That’s often thanks to 2D sprites in platformers such as Yoshi’s Island. It plays amazing, looks amazing, and is remarkably fresh.

Early 3D games with polygons just haven’t faired the same way.

Star Fox 2 is a good example of this. Although you can get a lot of enjoyment out of it still, its clunky gaming mechanics really show.

It’s a multidirectional shooter, with the point of the game being to gun down baddies. But it’s difficult to manoeuvre and shoot enemies with the archaic functionality.

To advance on the original, there’s a real-time strategy system and a free-roaming map to avoid the linear path of its predecessor.

Fox McLoud (the protagonist) also has a custom Arwing ship that becomes a sort of walking robot, adding variation to proceedings.

And so you go around shooting and completing stages, in what’s a pretty short title at around an hour of gameplay.

The result? Certainly what was an advanced and innovative title on the SNES.

But perhaps Nintendo was right to shelve it and focus on projects that would make jaws properly drop. Which its 64-bit console more than achieved.

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