Star Fox 2 Review

A Long-Lost SNES Classic

Star Fox 2 has quite the history behind it. Originally set to release in 1996 for the Super Nintendo following the success of the original Star Fox, the game was cancelled despite being reportedly finished. After more than two decades and a handful of sequels later, Star Fox 2 has finally risen from its dormant sleep…with a catch. You can only play it on the SNES Classic Edition, a miniature console preloaded with the game and 20 other 16-bit titles. The question is: is it worth seeking out the SNES Classic for this nearly forgotten relic?

Be sure to check out the Video Version for a closer look at the gameplay and the usual assortment of jokes and voices!

The story follows directly from where the first game left off, and the evil monkey scientist Andross has returned to wage war on the Lylat System. He’s already constructed bases on several of the galaxy’s planets and has set his eyes on destroying Corneria, home base of the crew of Star Fox. So Fox and his team of furries, including new characters Miyu and Fay, set out to defeat Andross once again. The story may be old hat, but the gameplay sure isn’t.

Star Fox 2 SNES Classic Edition Review Andross.jpg
I want a new Donkey Kong game with a playable Andross.

Upon starting, you select your main pilot and a backup wingman, based on your desired special powers and stats. From there, the only familiar gameplay is that you fly an Arwing spacecraft and shoot lasers at foes. But now, there’s an element of strategy. Instead of following a linear path of levels to get to the final boss, you can click on where you want to go using the top-down map of the galaxy. It’s a similar concept to the Nintendo DS’ Star Fox Command. But here, you have one mission: destroy all of Andross’ bases.

Star Fox 2 SNES Classic Edition Review Map.jpg
This map is your battleground.

However, you’ll need to carefully pick your destination. Every time you move, enemy ships and missiles also move toward your home base of Corneria. By approaching these incoming threats, you can destroy them, thus protecting your base. But if one successfully lands on and attacks Corneria, you’re one step closer to getting a Game Over. Destroying missiles isn’t usually a problem, since they go down quickly. Rather, it’s the element of time management that poses the biggest challenge. While your goal may be to reach the enemy bases, you may need to go out of your way just to stop enemy attacks. Or you may decide that a single missile isn’t worth pursuing and instead destroy the battleship that is readily firing them.

It’s this meta real-time strategy element that makes Star Fox 2 truly intriguing. How you approach the map is completely up to you, a rare design choice that frees the player. There’s an equally overarching pressure as you decide what to prioritize. In a sense, the real game is effectively clearing the map, whereas the dogfighting is merely the battle system. What I appreciated most was how these two aspects interacted. When you engage anyone in battle, the missiles outside continue to move. Suddenly, you’re in an exhilarating race to defeat your current foe so you can quickly jet over to the other threats. There’s a constant tug-of-war as Andross continues to send more bosses and the fan-favorite fleet Star Wolf at you.

Star Fox 2 SNES Classic Edition Review Dogfight.jpg
Can’t let you do that, Star Fox!

That’s right. Had the game been released on schedule, it would have first introduced Star Wolf as well as a major gameplay shift, all-range mode. As opposed to the original Star Fox, which was an on-rails shooter where your Arwing could only move forward, you can fly your spacecraft in any direction in this sequel. In fact, levels are exclusively all-range, which was disappointing for me as a fan of the classic on-rails gameplay. Star Fox 2 lacks that thrill of zooming through areas filled with surprising obstacles. Comparatively, this game’s flying segments take place entirely in small contained areas and lack variety. Between the ship’s clunky movement and an unreliable on-screen cursor, aiming in all-range mode is more frustrating than it should be.

The game’s saving grace is found in the planet levels. Each planet begins with a hunt for switches in a free-roaming environment. It’s followed by a 3D dungeon resembling a more compact version of what you might find in The Legend of Zelda or Metroid Prime. These dungeons house enemies, light puzzles, and minibosses. But by far, the best part is that your Arwing transforms into none other than the chicken walker, which would have also debuted here had it been released before Star Fox Zero. The walker can run in any direction, including moving backwards, which makes it easier to pilot than the Arwing. It’s as if Star Fox 2 were an early prototype for actual 3D games on the Nintendo 64.

Star Fox 2 SNES Classic Edition Review Walker.jpg
I’d like to see the walker do a chicken dance.

When you defeat a planet’s boss, you free the planet. And once you’ve reclaimed all of Andross’ bases, you’re whisked off to fight the big bad. This seems like it would be a lot of content, but Andross only captures two bases in Normal difficulty. Even if you ignore half of the missiles, you can easily beat the game within a half hour. However, the planet bases are randomly chosen for each playthrough, so it’s worth replaying to get a completely different experience. Plus, on higher difficulties, Andross claims more planets. And more importantly, there are larger dungeon areas and more real-time threats to keep track of, which more than doubles playtime. Your resource management has to be spot-on or you risk Corneria’s destruction and have to restart from the beginning. If this sounds too stressful, remember that the SNES Classic has a convenient function that lets you rewind up to a minute back, allowing you to retry that scenario.

The quasi-3D polygonal graphics are ambitious for the SNES hardware. However, it’s hard to make out certain objects since most lack detail or otherwise look blurry. Yes, I understand it’s a limit of the hardware it was developed on. But the rudimentary visuals can make it difficult to navigate the all-range areas and aim properly. And when multiple enemies are on-screen at once, the frame rate tends to stutter. The music isn’t as catchy as other tunes from the franchise, but its energetic pace keeps tensions high.

Star Fox 2 SNES Classic Edition Review Mirage Dragon.jpg
GOOD LUCK.

Conclusion

Despite its shortcomings, Star Fox 2 is a fun experiment that diverges wildly from the first SNES offering. It may not be one of the better games in the series, but it’s one of the most important. It laid out the foundation for many of the franchises’ later elements, including the chicken walker, Star Wolf, and all-range mode. All-range aiming and navigation aren’t perfect, and the game is missing the trademark on-rails segments, but the exciting real-time strategy portions make up for it. Answering the question posed at the beginning, I don’t necessarily think it’s worth seeking out the SNES Classic for this game alone. That said, the Classic Edition is worth it as a package of 21 stellar titles. A formerly unreleased relic from a beloved franchise is icing on the cake.

Score: 7/10

What are your thoughts on the Star Fox series and Star Fox 2? What’s your favorite Star Fox game? What do you think of the SNES Classic? Were you able to pick one up? Please share any thoughts and questions in the comments section below! Thank you for reading and watching!

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37 thoughts on “Star Fox 2 Review

    1. Glad we’re in agreement! I enjoyed the game, though to be honest, I was confused at first. Once I got the hang of it, it was a nice experience, but ultimately felt empty compared to other games in the series. I blame the lack of real on-rails segments.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’m doing a barrel roll over your fox-tacular review! Love the Simpsons reference! It’s funny that after decades of gathering dust, this game finally gets to see the light of day. It brings something new and exciting to the SNES Classic! So the chicken walker was actually invented years ago…interesting. Very sneaky, Nintendo. The time management aspect is different from what I’d expect from a spaceshooter. I glad this hidden treasure was finally unearthed from the Nintendo vault. It makes you wonder what other games never got released…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks as always for your kind (fox-tacular) words! It makes me feel Peppy! 😛 And yeah, glad you understood the Simpsons reference! 😉 Such a funny moment! 😀

      It’s surprising how many of these elements were invented years before we actually saw it, particularly the chicken walker. We eventually saw Star Wolf and all-range mode appear first in Star Fox 64, but we didn’t see the walker until Star Fox Zero. I think I read somewhere that quite a bit of Star Fox 2’s gameplay features made their way into other games since there was no intention to ever release this. Thank goodness for the SNES Classic Edition! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. One thing worth noting about this game is that reminds me of some old tactical strategy games, like Red Alert and Battle Command but what I like about this game is that it’s not afraid to use elements from other games.

    It does fall short on its performance though, for some reason I keep thinking the first one was better in both gameplay and scale of battle. However, I can be wrong about this, since Star Fox never was my game growing up (I’M SORRY ALL NINTENDO FANS, I only got a GameBoy, PS1 and PC…plus all the other stuff).

    Yet I’m still interested in the system, mostly because I’ve never experienced owning one of my own. From each review on the different games, I get more intrigued as time goes by.

    Stay Cozy and have a nice day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your wonderful comments both on the channel and here! I really appreciate it a lot man! 🙂 I’m not the biggest strategy fan, but I did enjoy this wonderful game called Ogre Battle 64. It’s a real-time strategy epic that I hope gets into an N64 Classic one day.

      And don’t worry about Star Fox not being your game growing up. It wasn’t mine either, and I only beat it on the same day I beat Star Fox 2! But I’ve enjoyed all the other Star Fox games, and they’re much easier to play because 1) on-rails are generally more approachable segments in these games and 2) the better graphics (even the N64 version) make it easier and more fun to play. Star Fox 2 is impressive for what it tries to do, but it’s ultimately less enjoyable than others in the series. I still had fun, though, and I’d recommend the SNES Classic Edition for the entire set of games, including this one. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. For real though, if you want a fantastic on rails shooter experience. Play Time Crisis, so many good memories there…and I do mean the original arcade machine version, that also came out on PS1 but still.

        What I love about games is that there’s something for everybody. For me, it’s mostly RPGs. I grew up with them and love them to this day 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think I’ve played Time Crisis in arcades! I’m not at all good at it, but I liked what I played. I have gone through Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, though. Good times had there!

        I love how many genres there are to please multiple gamers, whether hardcore shooter or casual player. I’m also a huge RPG fan! My favorite genres are platformers, RPGs, and graphic adventure games. What are your favorite RPGs?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh boy there are many, it depends what subgenre we’re going for.

        Final Fantasy of course. Then there’s Witcher, Fallout, Baldur’s Gate, Divinity, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic + Jedi Knight Jedi Academy, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Chrono Trigger, Neverwinter, Star Ocean, Deus Ex, Valkyria Chronicles, Jade Cocoon 2…there are many more but here’s a variety of games I played that is in the RPG genre.

        What might yours be?

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Those are great choices! I admit I’m not big into western RPGs, but I do like games like Baldur’s Gate and Gauntlet. My favorite RPGs are JRPGs, so Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, Tales of…, Pokemon, Dragon Quest, Earthbound, Xenoblade, and Super Mario RPG (and its Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi brethren). I also like anime-based RPGs like Digimon Story as you can probably guess. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Haha yes, I haven’t touched too much on anime-based games myself…let’s just say the roster is big and talking about it could take days before I’m finished 😀

        Funny enough I’ve never played Xenoblade series. Was really interested in the one that came out on the WiiU. Not so much for Xenoblade 2 as just by looking at the trailer…I can already guess 99% of the story, characters, themes, music, messages, twists and overall feel. But who knows, the gameplay did seem fun to do.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Hahahaha fair enough on the anime! I loved Xenoblade Chronicles X on Wii U more than the Wii version. The open world appealed to me. The sequel looks more like the first one with a much more pronounced anime inspiration, to say the least, haha. Gameplay looks like it will continue to be fun, though, based on the trailers!

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  3. I did remember hearing somewhere that quite a lot of the ideas in this game ended up getting recycled for Star Fox 64 and from your account of it, that would indeed appear to be the case. It’s interesting how long this game’s been in limbo, and it’s nice that unlike most vaporware, it finally saw an official release.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed! It’s surprising how much of Star Fox 2 has seeped into the other mainline titles. I’m sure Nintendo never once thought that it’d actually release this game, but here we are. I’m glad that it got a release eventually. I’d hate for a finished game to just be missing forever. It’d be missing a huge part of the legacy. Imagine if we never got Metroid II or Zelda II, but just heard rumors about how elements of it were implemented in later games!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Only having all take mode is a bummer. One of the reasons I didn’t like start fix command at all. I like a mix of both like start fox 64 had, and date I day, Star fox zero. Good and informative review

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot man! I miss the true on-rails segments here. Star Fox 2 is still fun, but it feels like it’s missing a big part of itself. Sort of like how Zelda II was okay but felt empty. Star Fox 64 will probably still be my favorite, though I did enjoy Star Fox Zero quite a bit! The controls were tough to get used to, though.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Awesome review. It looks like an intriguing game with the strategy elements coming into play, and I assume the harder modes must be a thrill. Too bad there is too much of all-range mode overall, which was also one of my complaints regarding Star Fox Command.

    I am surprised the game has slowdowns when there are too many enemies on screen. One would think that’s something Nintendo would address when taking the game to new hardware.

    “The question is: is it worth seeking out the SNES Classic for this nearly forgotten relic?”

    I have this question in my mind as well, but I guess I will eventually cave, buy a SNES mini, and play Star Fox 2.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot as always Matt! I appreciate it! 😀 I’m fine with all-range mode, but I vastly prefer the on-rails portions, and this game doesn’t have a real, substantial form of those. I believe Star Fox Command had a big inspiration from this game. What did you think of that one?

      The slowdown is there because it’s an SNES game and not technically a modern game. It’s an emulation, so technically any other games on the classic would have slow down if they did before. They’d just be doing so in shiny HD haha.

      I would overall recommend the SNES Classic, particularly if you haven’t played some of the games offered there or if you have fond memories of any of them. There are so many classics that I’m sure you’re quite fond of quite a few. But if it’s just to try Star Fox 2, I’d say it isn’t necessary. Have you played the first one on SNES?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are welcome!

        I am not a big fan of Star Fox Command. The focus on all-range mode made it dull to me.

        I did play the first one on the SNES! I have fond memories of it. And I have played pretty much everything that the SNES Mini has to offer. The games I have never played that are in there do not interest me that much.

        Hopefully Nintendo will release Star Fox 2 in a digital format eventually!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ahh, yeah, I can see why you feel that way about Star Fox Command. Which game in the series if your favorite then? I’d have to say the 64 version for me, but specifically the 3DS one. I liked the added gyro controls, and it just looked like the cleanest version of a great game. Star Fox Zero would have been really great had that game’s motion controls been better for me.

        Ah, then I would say that the SNES Mini may not be worth shelling out for you in that case. I really hope that Nintendo releases Star Fox 2 on the Switch someday. It definitely could, and I can see them doing that after they discontinue (grumble grumble) the SNES Mini. After all, they put Earthbound Beginnings on the Wii U Virtual Console!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yeah, the N64 game is my favorite too, but the original version. But that’s because I have never played the 3DS remake.

        I liked Zero. I think they could have done more with the alternative paths and levels, both in terms of number and content; and I also agree that controls are problematic, even if I was able to master them after a few runs.

        Hopefully the SNES Mini will have a longer run than its predecessor! =D

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I don’t actually own the original, which is probably surprising. It was back in the day when I could rent games, and it was the perfect game to rent. It was short, but I got my fill after playing it a few times before returning it. I decided I should own a copy once the 3DS version came around.

        I like the Arwing transformations in Zero, especially the walker. But there could have been more, I agree. Otherwise, a pretty good game!

        I hope the SNES Mini lasts, but we’ll have to see if Nintendo can deliver the supply.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I still remember when I got Star Fox 64. I got it as a birthday gift from my family, and I was super excited to see how the rumble pack would work! I had my arm in a cast because I had broken it when I fell during my birthday party, but that wasn’t going to stop me from playing Star Fox 64!!!

        Yeah, Zero is a pretty good game! =D

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Cool review! I’m actually really impressed with the graphics and range of motion this has! It’s probably more important to the development of the franchise than people realized. Hopefully one day it finds its way to VC.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We’d need a VC to put it on first haha! Thanks a lot my friend! You know, I’m so used to 3D gaming that sometimes I would forget that I was actually playing a technically old SNES game. I’m still very happy it came out. It’s important to preserve the legacy.

      Like

  7. I still haven’t found the time to play StarFox to unlock StarFox 2, I’m having a Street Fighte Turbo fever at the moment. The fact is that I’ve never been a fighting games maniac. But I’ll surely give StarFox a try soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had never played through the original Star Fox before, so I wanted to play through that and Star Fox 2 first! Street Fighter is good, too. I’ll admit I’ve never owned Street Fighter II or III for the SNES. My first one was a GBA port. I’m not big into fighting games either, but I do like finally having classic Street Fighter II!

      Like

  8. Sounds like it was ahead of it’s time despite the flaws you think the game has. Hopefully we’ll get a VC release of it someday. Not a Classic series collector as the vast majority of the titles are already on the Wii Shop/eShop and the demand is WAY too high for them they sell out online in minutes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, Star Fox 2 is very ambitious, and had it been developed for the Nintendo 64, I think they could have done more with it. Though I have no complaints that Star Fox 64 was their first N64 project for the series. I also hope it goes to the Virtual Console. It would likely sell well on Switch. Plus, it would be a good value to get on its own as opposed to as part of a large and pricey compilation, not to mention Classics are hard to find…

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