It is no secret that the Super Nintendo was lacking the CPU speed area and was simply not capable of large polygon based graphics on its own. Nintendo solved this problem with expansion chips, much like they solved dissimilar problems on the original NES. One of the more popular expansion chips was the Super FX chip developed in conjunction with Argonaut. With the added power of the Super FX chip, Star Fox was able to be completed and resulted in a good foundation for a new franchise that Nintendo revives on a whim.
For those not familiar with Star Fox, I am sure there could be a few, you are playing as Fox McCloud who is a fox that commands a squadron of fighters. One of your wingmen is a toad while the others are a bird and rabbit. The enemies are made up of robotic giants, dogs and monkeys. Think a slightly more “mature” Disney lineup an you would not be far off here.
Game play is best described as a 3D scrolling shooter on rails, something like Space Harrier with a little more freedom. As you can see from the screens, this is a “primitive” 3D game by today’s standards but let me tell you, back in the day, this was one of the titles to own.
Star Fox has a unique challenge level, rather than selecting a difficulty on a menu, you select one of three paths through the game universe. Each path represents a different challenge level and each brings its own set of levels for you to play through resulting in a good bit of replay value as your skills improve.
There was a sequel that was never released, though various versions are available at different levels of completion and there is an English fan translation. This unreleased sequel is also available on the Super Nintendo/Super Famicom. The reason Star Fox 2 was cancelled was probably due to Nintendo shifting focus onto the Nintendo 64 at this time (how cool would it have been had they simply upgraded Star Fox 2 for the N64?).
Star Fox has gone onto becoming a franchise of mistaken identities. There is an action role playing game style game (Star Fox Adventures on Gamecube), Star Fox 64 (similar to the first and on Nintendo 64), a similar shooter by Namco (Star Fox: Assault on Gamecube) and an on-line game on Nintendo DS (Star Fox Command).
There is a tech demo of Star Fox running on a stock Genesis (no add-on chips) available that is quite interesting.
There currently are no digital re-releases of Star Fox available so you will have to track down the original cartridge version to enjoy this classic.