Why I Love: Star Fox

(This post is from an archived post from July 17, 2019.)
Why I Love is a series about my favorite games. These are just my personal opinions. I just would like to share why they are so enjoyable to me.

There is something endearing about Star Fox’s polygons.  There are little to no textures at all on any of the ships or buildings.  I think this ambiguity kind of left room for me to imagine the textures, and by textures I mean nightmares.  I don’t know why but those shapes gave me so many nightmares.  I think it leads back to the fact that the enemies in Star Fox get up in your face.  I mean, they seriously get obnoxiously close to the screen.  Some of them just… man, it’s so uncomfortable.  

Keep in mind that Star Fox is one of the earlier 3D, behind-the-ship shooting games.  I think there was a lot of experimentation going on.  With the little hardware available and the new SuperFX chip working itself to death, there really wasn’t that much space of what they could put in there, but they really created a variety of things using just shapes.  Portraying thrusters with glowing yellow, orange, and red, is a great example of the maximum they could put in, and yet the ambiguity brings it to life again.  Enemy ship designs are very strange, even for a sci-fi game.  It’s those unknowns that, when brought to the N64 and beyond, create designs for ships that probably wouldn’t have been done if it weren’t for the limitations of what Nintendo had then.

The claustrophobia the enemies bring when they close in on you and the screen makes you very, very uncomfortable.  I don’t know if they intended this, but I feel like it helps bring the natural idea of flying a ship with that discomfort.  When you’re flying an aircraft anything you touch could cause major damage, and so the willingness of enemies to be up in your face kind of reinforces that idea that “Oh my gosh that thing is- Ahhh!”  is the kind of feeling you want.  It’s a weird, and kind of misplaced, thing where because sometimes you’re not in first person, you get that same feeling of running into something without them actually running into Fox himself.  I’ve never leaned back in my chair so many times in a game.

I love Star Fox because it works with limitations.  It is when you do that with a game, or any creative product really, that it reaches new heights.  Working with limitations means being creative, being strange, trying new things, and working smart.  Nintendo does this all the time, and it is one of the reasons why I love Star Fox on the SNES.

As of writing this, on the Ultimate Loosely-Thought Ranked Analysis, or ULTRA, Star Fox is number 106 (as of May 13, 2020) it is now number 128 due to additional games to the list).  The ULTRA consists of all the alumni from the Top 12 Games list.