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1. Bizarre F-Zero Connections
The connection between Star Fox and Legend of Zelda is mostly accidental. But the connections between Star Fox and F-Zero are very deliberate!
In the different games, the same G-Diffuser system powers the Arwings and the racing vehicles. And an F-Zero character named Octaman pops up in Star Fox Command. In F-Zero X and F-Zero GX, you can play as a Fox-like character named James McCloud whose car looks like an Arwing.
And speaking of Arwing cars: one ending in Star Fox Command has Fox and Falco turning their Arwings into cars to start their own racing league. The name of that league? G-Zero, of course!
2. Cyborg Pilots
Sure, you think you know the Star Fox characters. But did you know all of the pilots are cyborgs?
Look closely at the original SNES box art for the first game. And then check out the Nintendo Power cover above. We can see that all of the pilots have robotic legs. Some fans think this helps them survive flying at high speeds in the Arwings while others think it was just meant as a cool bit of visual flair.
3. The Super Star Fox Competition
Nintendo did some wild things in order to market the original Star Fox. But one of the coolest things they created was the Super Star Fox competition version of the game.
This version was called Super Star Fox Weekend (Official Competition) and it had modified versions of game levels as well as a new level. These cartridges were used as part of official competitions where winners could receive swag like flight pins and jackets and even global getaways!
4. Star Fox and Religion
Chances are you don’t really associate Star Fox with religion. But without religion, there would be no Star Fox to play!
In an old interview, Shigeru Miyamoto discussed how the arches you fly under reminded him of the Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine. And he said when you think about that, “you think of foxes” due to the fox statues in the shrine’s garden.
In the Shinto religion, Inari can represent foxes as well as things like agriculture, fertility, and prosperity. Thanks to the connections Miyamoto made between the arches and foxes, the protagonist of the game became a walking, talking fox.
5. Star Fox On the Virtual Boy?
The Virtual Boy is one of Nintendo’s biggest mistakes. Most of its library was bland and forgettable. But did you know the system had its own (sort of) Star Fox game?
One of the earliest tech demos for the system showed how Star Fox could look on the hardware. And while Nintendo never made the full game, it is likely that the design of Star Fox influenced another Virtual Boy polygonal shooter called Red Alarm.
6. Arwing Hidden in Ocarina of Time
Could The Legend of Zelda and Star Fox exist in the same universe? Thanks to a bit of leftover code, the answer might be “yes!”
In Ocarina of Time, you must fight a boss named Volvagia. His movement patterns were based on how the Arwings flew, and developers put an Arwing in the game to help map out his movements. When the final game shipped, both Volvagia and the Arwing were there, making it seem like Fox McCloud crash-landed on Hyrule at some point.
Even weirder, players have recently discovered how to spawn Arwings in Ocarina of Time without using any mods or cheat devices!
7. Game Delivered Via Parachutes
The Star Fox series is all about high-flying pilots. It’s only fitting that copies of these games were delivered via parachutes!
Marketing for the original game was very successful and pre-orders were through the roof. In order to keep up with demand, Nintendo had to drop shipments of the game by parachute to retailers such as Sears.
Fortunately, there are no documented cases of parachute shipments doing a barrel roll.
8. Unexpected Arwing Design Influence
The Arwings of Star Fox are some of the most iconic designs in video games. But these original designs mostly exist because of technical limitations!
The Super FX chip that powered the first game was revolutionary, but it also had its limits. It could only power so many polygons, and this led to the triangular design of the Arwing. In fact, the very name “Arwing” is meant to evoke the “A” triangular shape of the ships.
9. That Beatles Aesthetic
You might not think about the Beatles in connection with Star Fox. But that connection has been there from the beginning!
The leader of your forces is General Pepper. The name is a reference to the Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. And Pepper’s uniform even looks like it came straight from the cover of that album!
10. All Those Star Wars Easter Eggs
There are plenty of Easter eggs in the Star Fox franchise, including a really blatant Independence Day homage in Star Fox 64. But most of the Easter eggs come from a galaxy far, far away.
You’ll notice things like The Great Fox clearing out asteroids (similar to Star Destroys in Empire Strikes Back) and characters getting medals in a military ceremony straight out of A New Hope. When you are escaping the explosions of the final base in Star Fox 64, it’s impossible not to remember the Millenium Falcon escaping the second Death Star.
And even the premise of the game evokes Star Wars: it’s just you and a small, ragtag group against a powerful and seemingly unstoppable galactic empire!
11. Star Fox: The Puppet Show?
If you look back to the SNES game cover, the Star Fox characters look like puppets. This isn’t a coincidence: in fact, it represents one of Shigeru Miyamoto’s real passions!
Miyamoto just loved the hell out of the classic puppet TV show Thunderbirds. In fact, he once confessed that he hoped the company behind Thunderbirds would come over and produce a Star Fox show. While that never happened, the puppet inspiration continued into Star Fox 64 (just check out those mouth animations).
12. "Fighting like dogs and monkeys"
What if the entire plot of your hit video game came from a common saying? Well, that’s exactly the case with Star Fox.
In Japan, they have an expression: “fighting like dogs and monkeys.” This is very similar to the saying “fighting like cats and dogs.” Now, look at the leaders of the different factions in the game: General Pepper is a dog and Andross is a monkey!
Just think how much different the game would be without that saying!
13. A Game By Any Other Name
“Star Fox” is a pretty iconic name for an iconic game. But depending on where you first played it, this game might have a different name altogether!
In Europe, the original game was called Starwing (to avoid confusion with a German company called “Star Vox”). And when Star Fox 64 came out, it was called Lylat Wars over in Europe. The latter title isn’t bad, but we’re still big fans of the original.
14. Falco? Not a Falcon!
It’s easy to see what most of the Star Fox pilots are supposed to be. Fox is (wait for it) a fox, Slippy is a toad, and so on.
But what about Falco? Despite his name sounding like “falcon,” he is actually designed after a pheasant instead. Pheasants are important in Japanese culture and folklore, but most Western audiences just assumed he was a falcon based on the name.
15. Slippy Modeled After a Coworker
Out of the original pilots, Slippy is considered the most annoying. Which is why it’s so funny that he was based on one of Miyamoto’s coworkers!
How do we go from a human co-worker to a toad? Miyamoto explained he had a coworker who used a toad as a mascot and went so far as to write things like “ribbit, ribbit” on personal memos. Now, this bizarre behavior has been immortalized in the form of gaming’s most annoying sidekick.