A Brief History of Nintendo’s Unreleased STAR FOX 2

Shortly after the Nintendo Entertainment System Classic Edition was announced, the internet got ahead of itself, and a bunch of people ( us included) speculated about what sorts of fun a Super Nintendo version of the mini, fully-loaded retro console could bring. We all dreamed big about what sorts of games would be on this theoretical thing, from obvious picks to secret weapons, but there was one game nobody bothered to put on their list, not because we didn’t want it, but because it didn’t seem possible that it would be included: Star Fox 2.

[brightcove video_id=”4112844251001″ brightcove_account_id=”3653334524001″ brightcove_player_id=”rJs2ZD8x”]And yet, when the Super Nintendo Classic Edition was announced Monday morning, it revealed that the supremely unlikely is actually going to happen: Star Fox 2, the legendary SNES sequel that never came out, will be released for the first time on the SNES Classic. It’s taken a long time for Star Fox 2 to hit shelves, and you can blame the Nintendo 64 for that.

Dylan Cuthbert, a programmer who worked on the original Star Fox and its cancelled sequel, previously told Emulatorium:

Star Fox 2 was fully completed. I was lead programmer and […] myself and the rest of the original Star Fox team […] expanded Star Fox into a full 3D shooting game. We used state-of-the-art technology such as arbitrary plane clipping (which has only been seen recently in such games as Crash Bandicoot 2 & 3) to create some rather spectacular effects (for the time).

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-san 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 N64 came out. But hindsight is always 20/20.”

As Cuthbert said, though, the game was fully finished, and ROM images (game files that can be played using an emulator) found their way online. Nearly completed versions of the game started floating around the internet, so fans created patches for the game that addressed some bugs and translated the original Japanese dialogue and other text into English.

Despite the clear interest, in 2015, Cuthbert wasn’t optimistic that the game would be released on the Wii U Virtual Console, but he held out a sliver of hope: “The legal problems regarding the now-defunct [developer] Argonaut Software are probably a nightmare,” he told Nintendo Life. “Never say never, though!”

Based on the playable ROMs, the 3D graphics in the intro video are borderline Nintendo 64 quality (or at least a promising preview of the N64), and the gameplay is an expanded and more open version of the original Star Fox (as seen in the footage above). Hardcore fans have surely already found the ROM online and given Star Fox 2 a try, and it might be tempting to seek it out yourself, but that’s not necessary anymore; What would have been one of the Super Nintendo’s best games will finally be available in September. We’ve already waited nearly 25 years, so what’s another few months?

Featured image: Nintendo

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