image image image image image image image image image image image image image image

Star Fox 2

The holy grail of unreleased Snes games finally came to life several years ago with the release of Star Fox 2 final beta rom. Long had it been sought after, with only tastes of it from two early alpha roms. The game promised freedom from the rails of the original, and a new walker mode, and it delivered. With its release date so close to the release of the N64, it was finally shelved, along with the other Super FX games, Commanche and FX Fighter.

Through the great efforts of Aeon Genesis (Gideon Zhi, d4s, Fusoya, and satsu), we now have a patch that fixes the remaining issues with the beta, as well as translate it English. You can download it from the Aeon Genesis website.

By Firestarter

-OK, this story is intriguing. This is one of the many games that are considered "vaporware" in the gaming circles (games that are in development, and get their developments halted)....until recently. There were two known roms in emulation circles under the name Star Fox 2, one was an early beta which had limited play, and then a beta which was more playable and is more commonly played. However, word has spread in the past that a final Beta was developed, and that several people have the EPROM cartridge containing it. Several game and emulation developers (among them, zsnes's pagefault) have asked for the cartridge to borrow for dumping and emulation purposes (some have paid). It has been dumped successfully, and there has been a confirmation (at this point) that a private FTP server has opened access, and there are over 70 confirmed downloads of the rom. Emulation will not be possible for a while, but this has brought a revelation of sorts. In a sense, this "final beta" makes Star Fox 2 the Earthbound Zero of the SNES. It also brings about a good amount of questions, which I think I can answer.

-Why now, and not sooner?
-I borrow from the Earthbound Zero story for an explanation: The people who owned the cart didn't want people to know about it at the time of cancellation, mainly because it would've caused an uproar at Redmond and Osaka. Plus, some timing helps: The news of EZ came about the time of the release of Earthbound in North America. I think they kept it secret until the Star Fox game after StarFox 64 was close to release. The Namco/Rareware game, "Star Fox Adventures," should be out within the next few months.

-Why not a year or two after?
-Well, the root of the controversy applies here.

-What's so big about StarFox 2 anyway?
-It was to be the only game that used the SuperFX 2 chip, making it possible to render more polygons on a 16-bit console. It also was supposed to open
new ideas for the shooter genre: A free-range mode which allowed movement in
all directions, and the ability to play vs. mode in 3d.

-So why didn't Nintendo release it?
-Here in lies the root of the controversy. Originally, many suspected that the cancellation was due to the fact that with the N64 in the horizon (it was developed in 95-96), a N64 StarFox game would be more fitting, and besides, they could just simply take the ideas from SF2 and implement them into the N64 game. Seeing that most of the screens that the press showed at the time of development were from the beta, it made sense. However, with this final
beta out, it does rid that reason, because when a game goes into final beta, it goes gold 99% of the time (one case it didn't would be, of course, Half-Life for the Dreamcast, or did that go gold and then get cancelled), and those that don't have good reasons. This doesn't now. It's another Nintendo mystery, though this lies at Nintendo HQ in Osaka, rather than in Redmond, where many more mysteries exist at NOA HQ.

-When will the ROM become available?
-Some people are just lucky enough to have the right connections. As said, an unindentified private FTP server has the rom, and several have downloaded the rom. Publicly speaking, however, don't expect it to be out in the open until an emulator can emulate it, and that emulator is out in the open.

-What emulator?
-pagefault says he's working on it for the next release of zsnes, and there's a bit of a chance that Snese might be doing some work on it too. Sorry, Snes9x fans, but I think those are the only two projects doing that right now, because for all I know, Snes9x has ceased development.

-When will those emulators (with SF2 running) be released?
-Commence guessing and lamers asking that question. Yes! Though lately, activity of the latter has declined......

-What are my chances of getting an original EPROM cart?
-Are you good friends with Iwata-san, Miyamoto-san, AND pagefault? No? Then
your chances are impossible. Considering the fact that there are only a dozen people who have it, and the fact that the game was never released at all, it's probably valued at $5000 or more. And I don't think those people are willing to giving the cart away under any circumstance.

By Sean Jacox (aka Koji)

There have been 3 Star Fox betas that have circled and encumbered the internet. All 3 showed various stages of the game and from the looks of it would have been an amazing game that would have made it big.

Beta 1-
This was a really early beta showing off the ships and levels. It was completely unplayable and was probably showed at an E3 or TGS as a demo of things to come.

Beta 2-
This was the first playable beta of SF2. This was most likely an internal beta used to try out various new things. Some of the things that really stood out in this beta were a definite 2 player mode that was being showed off. Besides that it showed off a meter to the side that showed exactly how high up you were as well as a new health meter. Along with this, levels were showing an “all range mode”, that is to say, levels where you weren’t forced to go in a straight line but rather given more freedom by being able to fly anywhere you want.

Besides that there were 6 player characters, each set of 2 had their own specific ship with its own specific transformation.

Beta 3-
This was the near complete version of the game that just began going around the internet. In fact the game is so complete; it was probably the very final beta before production. The only things that shows it was a beta was the frame rate display, various other status displays, and the test mode which let you access any and every level.

The gameplay itself is not very starfox like at all. It’s hard to describe without something to compare to… It seems like you are defending a large planet (possibly the one from starfox 1) from various ships and missiles attacking it. You choose 2 of any of 6 possible characters (2 people per type of ship just like beta 2) and go out to destroy these things before they hit the planet. When you move your little ships to where the enemies are a battle mode starts. The battle mode is just like star fox 1 style except it’s free range… you are not limited in any direction to go. Some times enemies will escape you going out of range. During my time playing I have run into several bosses… the most irritating are the 4 arwing like ships you fight against. It seems there is an error where every time you fight them they start out of range… The only way to beat them is to get into a fight with beatable enemies and then they will move into your battle and be able to be killed.

When you fight battles on planets or inside of space ships you can switch modes into the ground form of your ship. In the ground form all targets in front of you are auto aimed (very nice!) but the controls are pretty different and take a moment to get used to.

One of the nice things in this that wasn’t in the beta was the ability to charge and lock on with your regular gun much like in Star fox 2. But then there is the biggest downfall to me… the great looking battle mode in beta 2 was removed from the final game. I think it would have been a great addition and would have added a lot of replay value to it… but I digress…
(Points based on beta 3)

Graphics 9/10-
The graphics in this game blow away SF1… it’s just wow… the Super FX 2 chip really takes up the slack on the first one. The frame rate still isn’t perfect but it’s about 2x better then SF1 (20FPS now which is a lot smoother) and many more polys can be pushed as well as the occasional texture which is fairly well done.

Sound 8/10-
The sounds in this game really fit it; while not top notch it fits the game perfect. Plus it throws in an occasional true english voice acting (pitiful yes… but interesting)

Music 8/10-
The music is very stunning and well done. Not perfect but they fit the situations well.

Control 7/10-
The controls were very decent but at times were either a little sluggish (not near as bad as SF1) or sometimes a little too fast (at least when you got used to it acting slow)

Replay 4/10-
With more freedom comes less levels… all the effort was put into making the levels big (by the day’s standards) and fun to move around in. But the levels often look the same and don’t seem to be anything unique which ends up becoming repetitive.

Overall 8/10
The game is beautiful and plays very nice… and I think this game could have gotten a perfect score BUT… it still holds a quite a few horrid bugs that will never be fixed because Nintendo is never going to go out of its way to fix it…

Additional Info by John Weidman

I read with interest the Star Fox 2 article in the Rarities section of your site and saw your closing comments and I must tell you that some of your thoughts about this game are mistaken. (Ed. note: I removed my comments)

After the ROM was discovered I had made a Star Fox 2 cart and did quite a bit of play testing on it before giving it away to the discoverer of the ROM. The Star Wolf characters' attack you mention is not a bug, it's a feature. Once the game lasts a certain period of time these characters will start to come out to make your mission more challenging. They chase you down rapidly it is true so you quickly get your chance to go after them when they meet up with you (it's almost impossible to avoid them but that's the nature of the game), once they catch you it's your job to destroy them before they destroy you. You can attempt to run away but wherever you're running better be pretty close because they'll be right on you -- that's
their job.

And the other bugs you mention, ships disappearing and crashes, and other bugs like screen flashing I've heard other people talk about, they don't happen when playing on a real cart, only in emulation.

So, I can believe that this game was a final beta. It has great gameplay and no lockup problems when run on a cart so I can say that most if not all the issues are emulation issues. Once, in the course of playing it for a couple of weeks, I had a lockup. I attributed this to poor contact at the SNES cart connector. I reseated the cart and it did not re-occur.

This game was extremely fun to play but I think the thing I liked best about it is the music from the final credits after you've beaten the game, a victory theme in your honor with the credits rolling and the credits include a look at all the enemies you've defeated (which varies with the difficulty level) and tells you their names. Great stuff!

© Evan G. This site made by a Canadian, and fueled by beer. Do not use material on this site without permission.