Top 100 SNES Review: #17 – Star Fox (1993)

Geometric Joy

No matter your favorite polygonal structure (dodecahedron anyone?), you will enjoy flying through this math-class review of a rail shooter game. 

Screen Shot 2018-05-08 at 7.12.43 PM
Find the perimeter of the acute, isosceles triangle shown above.

Sydlexia’s Ranking: #17/100
Developer: Argonaut Software
My Rating: smooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-starsmooth-star

What a combination: a fox, hawk, toad and hare trapped within recessing parallelograms.

It’s hard for those who weren’t there to understand how interesting the promise of 3D games was. While the SNES was not ready to do it, many developers came up with “tricks’ to make the illusion of depth. Donkey Kong Country used rounded front characters on bubbled backgrounds to create a magic eye of 3D. Doom took advantage of Renaissance-era depth and perspective techniques to make it seem that monsters were moving positions.

Starfox did it through creating actual polygonal shapes, thus an actual precursor to what we would come to know from the psone and n64. While somewhat of an ugly first effort, the charm is still there, and the organic contributions of the four characters softens the hard edges of the environment.

Story: Fox and Crew inhabit the Lylat system where the evil Andross is banished to Venom. He sends his army to ravage the rest of the solar system, so Fox jumps in his arwing with Slippy, Pepper and Falco to take a trip across the solar system to defeat Andross and bring peace back to Lylat.

I think my favorite part of this game are the gibberish sounds your animal friends make:

I think my second favorite part is how worthless all of them are. You might want to concentrate on dodging the exploding rhombi and cylinders, but your cohort is never short on poor performance. Very reminiscent of being overqualified for a part-time job but needing the money, Fox finds no lack of reminders of his superiority. Thankfully, you somehow come to like your inept friends and enjoy the challenge of multi-tasking the actual level while bailing them out.

Screen Shot 2018-05-08 at 7.13.43 PM
Find the surface area of the shape shown above. Please show work or no credit will be given.

While the environment can be nauseating, there is a lot of fun to be had in the Lylat system. The game allows you to choose which route you take to get to the planet of Venom, giving you a little bit of autonomy while also allowing you to select the difficulty level. You also get some very creative ways to introduce this new polygonal world, in particular one boss where you rotate around a cylinder in both directions while having to dodge laser ropes. Weaving up and around these traps while being thrown from side to side is probably the high point of this game.

Screen Shot 2018-05-08 at 7.17.58 PM
In the diagram, if AC = 6 & CE is parallel to DE, what is the distance from A to E?

I think what attracts people to retrogames are a combination of things: memories, simple gameplay and charm. Starfox hits all three as there is something delightful about blasting off to the next planet with your animal army speaking congratulatory gibberish encased in their trigonometry space ship.

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