Today, Nintendo announced the forthcoming SNES Classic’s release date, as well as the inclusion of Star Fox 2 which had been canceled for the SNES in 1995. It’s understandable that the SNES Classic’s announcement is taking priority, overshadowing the Star Fox 2 reveal. Yet that shouldn’t undermine the reality of a major sequel to one of the SNES’ most popular games suddenly being confirmed for release in 2017, nor the story related to its cancellation and rebirth.
Star Fox, originally launched in 1993, is a wildly successful SNES sci-fi rail shooter. It was the first Nintendo game to use polygonal graphics, ushering in graphical shift on consoles previously exclusive to PCs. A sequel by the same studio, Argonaut, began almost immediately after the game’s release, but was ultimately canceled in 1995. Years later we’d learn that Star Fox 2 was canceled as a result of the pending launch of the Nintendo 64 and fears of comparison to other 3D titles on competitive systems like the PlayStation.
Reports in recent years confirmed that Star Fox 2 was a finished game, though some of it had been re-purposed into Star Fox 64. Nintendo had simply shelved the game after its cancellation without plans to bring it back. Time has a way of shifting priorities, however, with Nintendo deciding that Star Fox‘s inclusion on the SNES Classic as one of its 21 different game is the best way to release the game to the public.
Nintendo’s put a caveat into Star Fox 2‘s release, though. Those that purchase the SNES Classic will not be able to play Star Fox 2 until they complete the first level of the original Star Fox, after which the sequel will unlock. The company is clearly uncomfortable with the game being judged on its own, preferring it instead be evaluated as a direct continuation of the original Star Fox. If Star Fox 2 had launched in 1995 it would be similarly compared.
Star Fox 2‘s release seems a lot like how Nintendo initially released Super Mario 2: The Lost Levels in the west. The Lost Levels was initially deemed too difficult for the western audience, only being released years after its Japanese launch. The Lost Levels was bundled into the Super Mario All-Stars SNES compilation, where it could be compared directly to the original Super Mario Bros. game. It became a special, limited release positioned contextually so fans wouldn’t be confused about what it was, much like Star Fox 2 will be.
Star Fox 2 will launch on September 29 exclusively as part of the SNES Classic, which bundles 21 of the SNES’ best games into one miniaturized standalone console.