Published on April 18, 2016

Star Fox: Barrel Rolling Through the Ages [Infographic]

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Star Fox: Barrel Rolling Through the Ages

The Star Fox series is a game changer, quite literally. Its development teams have pushed the limits of video games, innovating 3D spaces and polygonal graphics, even designing new hardware when current technology wasn’t enough. So as Star Fox Zero approaches, it’s time to do a barrel roll through the franchise history. We’ll cover the main titles, but we’ll also look at little-known releases (like Star Fox Super Weekend and Star Fox Game Watch), cancelled titles (Star Fox 2 and Star Fox Virtual Boy), their video gaming roots (Starglider and X), and even the games they’ve influenced (Pokémon Stadium 2 and Wario Ware). Let’s go!

Star Fox: Barrel Rolling Through the Ages

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Star Fox: Barrel Rolling Through the Ages Transcript

This classic rail shooter video game series has always been known for its visual aesthetics and innovations. See how the franchise has evolved in multiple reimaginings throughout the Nintendo consoles.


Star Fox Main Series:


Star Fox—Original Release: Feb. 21, 1993

  • Consoles: Super Famicon, Super Nintendo
  • Developed by Nintendo EAD with Katsuya Eguchi directing and Shigeru Miyamoto producing, the game broke ground with 3D polygonal graphics and an innovative approach to game difficulty.
  • Many elements were inspired by the sci-fi puppet series Thunderbirds, characters from Japanese folklore, and the arch structures at the Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto, Japan.


Star Fox 64—Original Release: April 27, 1997

  • Console: Nintendo 64
  • Along with the 64-bit visuals, the N64 allowed for full voice acting and additional multiplayer modes. The spoken dialogue from this title soon became some of the most iconic in gaming history.
  • Included Rumble Pak support years before vibration feedback became a standard built-in feature.


Star Fox Adventures—Original Release: Sept. 23, 2002

  • Console: Nintendo GameCube
  • Instead of a rail shooter, Adventures began as Dinosaur Planet, an action-adventure game in the style of recent The Legend of Zelda games.
  • Shigeru Miyamoto noticed a familiarity with the characters and it became a Star Fox game mid-development and also moved from the Nintendo 64 to the GameCube system.


Star Fox: Assault—Original Release: Feb. 14, 2005

  • Console: Nintendo GameCube
  • Many elements similar to those found in Star Fox 64 return, such as fighting on foot, Landmaster combat, and multiplayer.
  • Takes place after the events of Star Fox Adventures, with Peppy having retired, and Krystal now part of the core Star Fox team.


Star Fox Command—Original Release: Aug. 3, 2006

  • Console: Nintendo DS
  • Resurrects the turn-based strategy elements from Star Fox 2, along with the All-Range Mode dog fights seen in Star Fox 64.
  • The game features nine endings, and concludes the longest single continuity storyline of the series before it reset with Star Fox Zero.


Star Fox 64 3D—Original Release: July 14, 2011

  • Console: Nintendo 3DS
  • This rebuilt version of the Nintendo 64 classic was directed by series veteran Dylan Cuthbert.
  • This game comes complete with new voice recordings from the original game's actors.
  • Though gameplay was similar, Star Fox 64 3D featured enhanced graphics, stereoscopic 3D, additional play modes, and gyroscope control.


Star Fox Zero—Original Release: April 21, 2016

  • Console: Wii U
  • A reimaging of Star Fox 64, Zero involves a more complex storyline than previous entries.
  • Includes classic and newer elements such as branching paths, motion controls, an array of second screen uses, an updated Walker from Star Fox 2, and the ability to play as the original Super Nintendo version of the Arwing.


Star Fox Major Affiliations:


NESglider/Super FX Chip—Prototype Development: ~1991-1992

  • Consoles: Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo
  • NESGlider started as an NES port of Argonaut Games' Starglider and eventually became the prototype version for the original Star Fox on the SNES.
  • Facing several technological limitations while making the prototype, Nintendo allowed Jez San and the Argonaut Games team to co-develop the Super FX chip, the first consumer-grade 3D graphics accelerator.


Star Fox Super Weekend—Original Release: April 30, 1993

  • Console: Super Nintendo
  • These modified Star Fox stages were made for competitions at stores that sold the game.
  • A limited number of promotional cartridges were later sold through Nintendo Power.


Star Fox Game Watch—Original Release: 1994

  • Console: LED Wristwatch
  • This game was first available through a Kellogg's Corn Flakes promotion, and was later available for purchase in stores.
  • Gameplay involves four stages of dodging hazards and destroying an Attack Carrier on Corneria.


Star Fox 2—Release Date Pre-Cancellation: June 22, 1995

  • Consoles: Super Famicon, Super Nintendo
  • New team members were also introduced like Faye the dog and Lynx the cat.
  • Features such as split screen multiplayer, a turn-based map system, and controlling the Walker would later reappear in Star Fox 64, Star Fox Command, and Star Fox Zero, respectively.
  • Director Katsuya Eguchi returned to lead this sequel that was fully completed before it was cancelled.
  • At that time, it was too close to the release of the Nintendo 64 hardware and Nintendo decided to move much of the code and elements from the game over to Star Fox 64.


Star Fox—Release Date Pre-Cancellation: ~1995-1996

  • Console: Virtual Boy
  • A demo of this game was shown at E3 and Winter CES in 1995 but was never released.
  • A proper stereoscopic 3D game in the series would not debut until 15 years later, with the Nintendo 3DS version of Star Fox 64.


Super Smash Bros.—Original Release: Jan. 21, 1999

  • Console: Nintendo 64
  • Fox is available as a playable fighter and soon became a fan favorite in later entries.
  • Sector Z is featured as a stage along with music and vehicles from the series.


Dinosaur Planet—Release Date Pre-Rework: ~2000-2001

  • Console: Nintendo 64
  • Dinosaur Planet was being developed as a standalone game, but due to similarities with Star Fox characters it was reworked into Star Fox Adventures for the GameCube.
  • Early versions of what became Star Fox planets, like Sauria, and characters, like Krystal and Tricky, can be seen in early previews.


Super Smash Bros. Melee—Original Release: Nov. 21, 2001

  • Console: Nintendo GameCube
  • Fox and Falco are playable characters, and both Corneria and Venom are featured as stages.
  • Trophies are introduced in this entry and include 14 from the Star Fox series.


Star Fox Arcade—Release Date Pre-Cancellation: ~2005

  • Console: Arcade
  • This cancelled arcade game was in development before Star Fox Assault, and was to use the Triforce hardware along with F-Zero AX and the Mario Kart Arcade GP series.


Super Smash Bros. Brawl—Original Release: Jan. 9, 2008

  • Console: Wii
  • Playable characters include Fox, Falco, and Wolf and are featured in the adventure mode, "The Subspace Emissary".
  • The game also includes Lylat Cruise and Corneria stages, 10 music tracks, 23 trophies, and 32 stickers based on the series.
  • Andross makes an appearance as an assist trophy.
  • The music track "Tunnel Scene" from Star Fox precursor X can be heard in Star Fox's Lylat Cruise stage.
  • Also included is a timed playable version of Star Fox 64.


Star Fox—Release Date Pre-Cancellation: ~2010-2011

  • Console: Wii
  • A follow-up to Star Fox Command with a definitive ending was planned and was rumored to take advantage of Wii Speak and the Wii MotionPlus controller.
  • Dylan Cuthbert, who had directed Command, explained he wasn't interested in working on a Wii title at the time it was being developed. Its assets were later used in Star Fox Zero.


Super Smash Bros. for 3DS/Wii U—Original Release: Sept. 13, 2014 / Nov. 21, 2014

  • Consoles: 3DS, Wii U
  • Fox and Falco return as playable fighters, as well as the Smart Bomb item and Andross Assist Trophy.
  • Combined, these two versions include the Orbital Gate Assault, Lylat Cruise, and Corneria stages, a total of 14 music tracks, and 34 distinct trophies based on the series.
  • There is also a Fox Mii outfit and amiibo support that allows you to train and level up the Fox and Falco characters.


Bayonetta 2—Original Release: Sept. 20, 1024

  • Console: Wii U
  • An unlockable costume, Star Mercenary, gives a Fox McCloud-inspired appearance to Bayonetta and an Arwing that can be used in an on-rails shooting stage. Weapons also change to laser-blasting Arwings each with a member of Team Star Fox attached.
  • Director Yusuke Hashimoto continued Platinum Games collaborations with Nintendo and went on to co-direct Star Fox Zero.


Star Fox Guard—Original Release: April 21, 2016

  • Console: Wii U
  • This tower defense game was originally developed as Project Guard but was later changed to tie in to the Star Fox franchise.
  • Star Fox amiibos can also be used to call in airstrikes to take out enemies.
  • Features the debut of Slippy's uncle, Grippy Toad!


Star Fox Secret Route:


Starglider/Starglider 2—Original Releases: 1986/1988

  • Consoles: Commodore Amiga, Atari ST, MS-DOS, 2X Spectrum
  • Developed by Argonaut Games, these games were early 3D flight simulators and precursors of the original Star Fox.
  • Certain releases even included sampled speech and similar ship designs.
  • Programmers Dylan Cuthbert and Jez San would go on to design the technology for Nintendo that made the original Star Fox and X titles possible.


X—Original Release: May 29, 1992

  • Console: Game Boy
  • Dylan Cuthbert developed X and later worked on the first Star Fox and the cancelled but completed Star Fox 2.
  • Many of the elements for X, like flying controls and wireframe enemies, were later seen throughout the Star Fox games.


Stunt Race FX—Original Release: June 4, 1994

  • Consoles: Super Famicon, Super Nintendo
  • Star Fox signs and images of Fox McCloud appear in various sections and Arcwings make an appearance flying overhead.


Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars—Original Release Date: March 9, 1996

  • Consoles: Super Famicon/Super Nintendo
  • An Arwing model is located next to vehicles from F-Zero inside Hinopio's shop in Barrel Volcano.


F-Zero Series—First Series Connection: July 14, 1998

  • Console: Nintendo 64
  • There are recurring characters based on Fox's father, James McCloud, as well as Wolf O'Donnell.
  • The Little Wyvern vehicle is based on an Arwing design.
  • The fictional company Space Dynamics is responsible for the technology in both series.
  • Another racer, Octoman, also appears in Star Fox Command as an enemy. Various endings in Star Fox Command feature references to the F-Zero games.


The Legend of Zelda Series—First Series Connections: Nov. 21, 1998 / April 27, 2000

  • Console: Nintendo 64
  • The Arwing was used to model a boss in Ocarina of Time and can be fought using cheat devices.
  • Five wearable masks in Majora's Mask resemble Star Fox characters, Fox, Falco, Peppy, Slippy, and Pigma.


Mario Golf—Original Release: June 11, 1999

  • Console: Nintendo 64
  • The scoreboard includes references to other Nintendo characters including Fox McCloud.


Picross NP Series—First Series Connection: Oct. 1, 1999

  • Console: Super Famicon Nintendo Power Cartridge
  • Various Star Fox characters show up as picross puzzles and were primarily featured in Picross NP Volume 4.


Mario Artist: Paint Studio—Original release: December 11, 1999

  • Console: Nintendo 64 Disk Drive
  • Characters and vehicle images from Star Fox 64 can be used as in-game stamps in this Japan-only follow-up to Mario Paint.


Pokémon Stadium 2—Original release: Dec. 14, 2000

  • Console: Nintendo 64
  • The player can decorate their room with an N64 that will sometimes display an image from Star Fox 64 of the Corneria Attack Carrier boss fight.


Animal Crossing Series—First Series Connection: April 14, 2001

  • Console: Nintendo 64
  • Katsuya Eguchi, director of the original Star Fox, went on to create the Animal Crossing series.
  • An Arwing item that plays the Star Fox theme can be displayed and some villagers in the game reference Star Fox characters. A Star Fox emblem e-reader card can be scanned to unlock that pattern.


Donkey Konga Series—First series Connection: July 1, 2004

  • Console: Nintendo GameCube
  • Badges featuring characters such as Fox, Falco Krystal, Slippy and Andrew are awarded in Donkey Konga 2.
  • The main theme from Star Fox: Assault can be played in Donkey Konga 3.


Daigasso! Band Brothers/Jam With the Band—Original Release: Dec. 2, 2004

  • Console: Nintendo DS
  • This rhythm game series includes many tracks from Nintendo franchises including the star Wolf Theme from Star Fox 64.


Warioware: Smooth Moves/Warioware D.I.Y.—Original Releases: Dec. 2, 2006 / April 29, 2009

  • Consoles: Wii, Nintendo DS
  • In Smooth Moves, three simplified stages from the original Star Fox are included, ending in a battle against a robotic Operating Buddy boss.
  • D.I.Y. features a microgame where you can tap the screen to shoot at enemies.


X-Scape/X-Returns—Original Release: May 31, 2010

  • Console: Nintendo DSi
  • In this sequel to X, Dylan Cuthbert returned as lead designer, this time with his team at Q-Games. The boss from the original X that inspired Andross returns.
  • Influenced by early combat simulators like Starglider, X-Scape retains the retro style and gameplay from those games, along with a few nods to other Nintendo series such as referencing G-Zero from Star Fox Command.


Streetpass Mii Plaza—Original Release: Feb. 26, 2011

  • Console: Nintendo 3DS
  • Puzzle Swap features a Star Fox 64 3D panel.
  • Mii characters can wear unlockable Fox, Falco, Wolf, or Arwing hats for use in Mii Plaza games.


Tekken Tag Tournament 2—Original Release: Nov. 18, 2012

  • Console: Wii U
  • The Wii U edition features a costume based on Fox McCloud and is available for multiple fighters such as Lee and Steve Fox.


Nintendo Land—Original Release:  Nov. 18, 2012

  • Console: Wii U
  • Metroid Blast was originally Star Fox-themed. Samus' hovering gunship was originally planned to be an Arwing.


Mario Kart 8—Original Release: May 29, 2014

  • Console: Wii U
  • The Fox amiibo is compatible with this game, allowing Mii characters to wear a Fox costume.


Steel Diver: Sub Wars—Original Release: February 13, 2014

  • Console: Nintendo 3DS
  • This submarine game includes both Peppy Hare and the Blue Marine ship.


Ace Combat: Assault Horizon Legacy +—Original Release: Jan 29, 2015

  • Console: Nintendo 3DS
  • Using the Fox amiibo unlocks a Star Fox-themed Falken aircraft.


Yoshi's Wooly World—Original Release: June 25, 2015

  • Console: Wii U
  • Both Fox and Falco patterned Yoshies can be unlocked by using the respective amiibos.


Super Mario Maker—Original Release: Sept. 10, 2015

  • Console: Wii U
  • Star Fox costumes can be unlocked by completing a challenge or tapping an amiibo.
  • Each costume has its own pose animations with sound effects such as the Walker transforming into an Arwing.


Monster Hunter X/Monster Hunter Generations—Original Release: Nov. 28, 2015

  • Console: 3DS
  • In the Japanese version, a Fox Felyne Palico costume could be unlocked by connecting to 7-Eleven's 7SPOT Wi-Fi.


Which Star Fox release is your favorite? How about the related titles? And what about those cancelled games, do you wish you could play them or do you think cancellation turned out for the best? (They did always lead to bigger and better games, after all!) Let us know in the comments below! And while you’re waiting for that Star Fox Zero pre-order to arrive, take a look through the hundreds of Nintendo gifts we have in stock now!

Design Credit: Brady Johnson

Wyatt Edwards
Wyatt Edwards

Wyatt Edwards is the Internet Wizard at, where he is lead editor and writes about superheroes and pop culture. He is an avid toy collector and a yearly judge for The Poppies, an industry pop culture collectible award.

What’s fun for Wyatt? Playing Dungeons & Dragons, making wild guitar noises, and buying ridiculous toys that might look good on a shelf someday. He seriously has way too many hobbies. You can find him on Twitter @whatandwyatt.