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    A Star Fox fan's response to Emily Rogers.


    DZComposer
    • Teaser Paragraph:

      (Open article to read entirety)

      I'm DZComposer. I've been a Star Fox fan since the N64 days, and I've been active in the online Star Fox fanbase since 2000. I currently run starfox-online.net, one of the last remaining active Star Fox fan communities. But enough about me.

      For those that haven't read it, Dromble writer Emily Rogers published a scathing piece on Star Fox that many fans will probably consider to be a hatchet-job. You can read the article, and I recommend you do before reading my response, here: http://www.dromble.com/?p=6282

      I will start by saying that I normally respect Emily's work, She often seems to have her finger on the pulse of the industry and has a reputation for publishing articles that are well-researched and well thought-out. To her credit, I will start by saying that she made some fair and reasonable points in her piece on Star Fox, but I think she may have went a bit too far.

      I will start by going over what I feel was unfair or incorrect. I will then go over what I agree with followed by my own thoughts on a future for the series.

      The thesis of the article is that Star Fox in its early years depended on left-over demand for arcade shooters and hardware gimmicks and that since then the series has declined because arcade shooters have become a niche audience, and Nintendo has not used Star Fox to introduce a new "gimmick" since Star Fox 64, and the only way to save the series is a radical genre-shift.

    Evolution vs. Unoriginality

    The first claim she makes in the article is that Star Fox "never offered anything original to begin with." After making this statement, she goes on to list overhead and rail shooters such as Starblade, Space Harrier, and Star Wars on the Atari arcade and Atari 2600. To go for the jugular on this point, she includes a screenshot of a robot head from Silpheed and puts it next to Star Fox 1's Andross. She fails to disclose that the robot head from Silpheed is from an intro cutscene, and is not a boss (Though in her defense it does represent the "Big Bad":

    The real problem with an argument like this is that video games as an art have been evolutionary. Sure, you couldn't have Star Fox without Space Harrier, but you wouldn't have Call of Duty without Doom or Ratchet and Clank without Super Mario 64. Truly genre-shattering or genre-defining games are rare. For every Portal you point to, there are hundreds of Calls of Duty. Does that make every FPS less of a game because there were similar FPSes before it? What was so original about Halo when compared to Half-Life or Tribes or even Quake? Yet Halo is considered one of the greatest FPSes of all time despite it not offering much in the way of original gameplay.

    But it gets worse. She goes on to speculate on whether or not Star Fox 1 would be a noteworthy game if it came out on another system or from a different publisher. This is meaningless filler. It literally is asking "What if the game was what it isn't?" It doesn't matter. Star Fox was not published by Namco. Star Fox is a Nintendo title on a Nintendo system. That is part of the very identity of the game. These "what ifs" ignore that and really add nothing to the point of this section of the article.

    This was a very sloppy argument and I really expected better from Emily. She has to know that games don't have to reinvent the genre to be compelling. Star Fox 1 was challenging, technologically revolutionary, and above all fun to play. Sure, its main draw outside the technological achievement was its character design, but it doesn't matter. The game may not be a Portal, but it does stand on its own and that is why it is included on all of these "100 greatest games of all time" lists that get published from time to time. Sure, the great shooters like Starblade were a base for Star Fox to stand on, but Star Fox 1 deserves its place on the great shooter shelf just as much as Starblade, Galaxy Force II, Space Harrier, or any of the others Emily mentioned.

    Correlation and Causation

    The next argument rolled-out was "Star Fox Can't Sell Without Gimicky Technology."

    There is an old adage in the world of Statistics about claims like these: "Correlation does not imply Causation."

    Star Fox's series-wide sales chart is not pretty to look at:

    Yup, that's a serious downward trend. In fact, this chart is probably a big factor in why we haven't seen a new Star Fox game in a while.

    Emily says that SF1 sold millions of units "because it was the FIRST SNES game to use the Super FX chip" and that SF64 sold millions of units because it "was the FIRST console game to support rumble."

    She goes on to say that Stunt Race FX would probably have outsold Star Fox if it came out first, and that people bought SF64 because they wanted rumble for Goldeneye (which, according to VGChartz, sold twice the units SF64 did) and Star Fox gave them an "extra" game.

    Again with the hypotheticals. Both SF1 and SF64 blew well past the 2m sales mark. In fact, Star Fox 64 was once held the North America launch week sales record until Goldeneye snatched it away a few weeks later.

    She compared Star Fox 64 to Wii Play, which was recieved by the critics. While critic ratings for SF1 are hard to come by, SF64 was well-reviewed according to Metacritic and I don't doubt that critics received SF1 well, too, I just can't find the data. What an insulting comparison. I don't deny that the hardware innovations positively influenced sales, but to claim that they turned mediocre games into blockbusters is dubious and really needs some additional data support.

    Gamers have POSITIVE memories of these Star Fox games. Very few have positive memories of Wii Play, assuming they played it for more than 5 minutes.

    She then points to the other games, without hardware, and points to their lesser sales performance as evidence. She bases this off of ONE VARIABLE. Let's look at how Nintendo market Star Fox games, for instance. SF1 and SF64 were hyped to all ends. Game stores were sent 3' statues of Fox McCloud for SF1's release. Star Fox 1 got a huge display at Space World. SF64 had a corny infomercial and also a significant Spaceworld presence. The rest of the games in the series were not considered marketing priorities. Star Fox Adventures did receive some marketing support, Star Fox Assault got a little, but Star Fox Command got almost nothing. Star Fox 64 3D got a little, but it was in the shadow of the other N64 3D Remake, Ocarina of Time. Also, the genre taste changes that Emily mentioned were a contributor as well, but more on that later. Does she take any of these variables into account here? Nope. It must be hardware.

    Once again, I am not saying that hardware didn't help the sales, especially in SF64's case. But these games stood on their own. People positively remember them. They were well-received by critics. The exact impact of the Rumble Pak on Star Fox 64 is difficult to measure, and the impact of Super FX, which WAS NOT a peripheral, is even harder to measure.

    The argument sees a correlation and assumes causation when there are other variables. Instead of bolstering the claim with data, the claim is "bolstered" with hypotheticals.

    So, what did Emily Rogers get right?

    Short

    I'm sure most Star Fox fans agree with her here: The games, especially the later ones, are too damn short. Though I will pause and posit that Star Fox 64 has something called "replay value," meaning the game is fun to play through multiple times.

    Anyway. I agree here. The Games are getting are expensive, but they are short. Emily rightly points out that this is an industry-wide problem. And trends like pre-planned DLC that should be part of the main game exacerbate the problem.

    Now, you can make games longer, yes. But that is expensive, which is why it doesn't happen. 30+ Hr games are rare. Another way to address the problem is replay value. Star Fox 64 had it. Many games today, especially on mobile, have it. But many don't.

    Yes, please give us a longer game. Or at least make it fun to play repeatedly. And if you're going to make it short, don't charge me $60 for it.

    Blame the Fans

    Emily's final section compares Star Fox to Donkey Kong. I don't agree with the comparisons she makes (The original Donkey Kong was a platformer, so there really wasn't as great a genre-shift as she claims), but there is some merit to her suggestions.

    She shows that she unfamiliar with the Star Fox fanbase: "...for some reason, nobody is cool with the idea of the Star Fox franchise branching out to other genres, or trying something new and experimental. Nobody is cool with the idea of Star Fox broadening its appeal outside of a currently unpopular niche genre (shoot em ups, railshooters) so it can become more marketable."

    This is forgivable, though. Sure, the fanbase has its purists. Hell, I used to be one myself and still am to a degree. But Star Fox Adventures brought a new breed of fan into the fanbase. One that is more open to the very changes Emily is suggesting.

    I do see that the arcade shooter is a genre that has been supplanted. No one but a few dedicated fans are interested in them. This is not something that can be denied.

    But I think Emily failed to see what Star Fox fans really disliked about Star Fox Adventures. SFAd is a better game than Star Fox Assault hands-down (SFAs had potential, but it was not met). But, I find myself more drawn to SFAs than to SFAd. Why is this? Because SFAd, no matter how much Miyamoto wanted it to be, is not a Star Fox game. Is this a swipe at the genre? No. It's a swipe at how Star Fox Adventures came to be.

    While I cannot say much for the gameplay, the story for Dinosaur Planet was better than the one for Star Fox Adventures. The code repository for Star Fox Adventures was not cleaned-up prior to final compilation. The result is that quite a bit of the original Dinosaur Planet remains on that Star Fox Adventures disc. While I do not condone the use of emulators to play pirated games, the emulation community has pounced on this unclean repo and a lot has been learned. For sake of length, I will not go into much detail, but it is much darker than Scales stealing spell stones and causing the planet to break-up. How about Sabre's father killing Krystal's entire tribe? Anyone game for some time travel? How about a brewing war between god-like races? A wealth of DP information can be found here: http://www.rareminion.com/dp.html

    This game was gutted, fileted, and then reassembled with Star Fox characters and elements in a manner that was not only disrespectful to Star Fox, but to the original game. The Arwing missions were pointless. The ending was a letdown with them bringing back the same Andross battled that debuted in the Expert run of Star Fox 2. Even the more open-minded fans saw through it. Now, the game did bring new people into the fanbase. Had Star Fox Adventures been built from the ground-up as a Star Fox game, I think the fans would have liked it more.

    Also, the fanbase hates Star Fox Command, the closest of the new games to a classic game, though this is more over what the did to the story (what little of it there was) which many fans classify as a first-rate atrocity.

    Inverse of the Flaws of Marx

    The Diagnosis was wrong, but the prescription was right.

    I'll just come out and say it here: despite all of its flaws and terrible set-up, I actually agree with the article's conclusion.

    I will use a different analogy: Metroid. Metroidvania is a genre that is also pretty much dead. Games like Ocarina of Time showed that in the age of 3D, adventure games had to be on a whole new level.

    Yet, Metroid got a move to a similar modern genre and was done in a way that retained the best things about the original while adding some new. I'm of course talking about Retro Studios' excellent Metroid Prime trilogy.

    Star Fox needs a Prime. Modernize the franchise in a way that preserves its identity while allowing new generations of gamers to enjoy the series.

    The story doesn't necesarilly need a reboot, though starting-over would not hurt at this point given what has been done.

    Vehicular combat should remain the focus of any new Star Fox game. Vehicular combat in action/adventure games is usually done as a side-mechanic. Star Fox started with a focus on vehicular combat, so it should continue. Arwings, Landmasters, Blue Marine; let's see it all. Heck, let us fly Great Fox for a mission or two. Though we need to keep the cheesy dialog and redundant character names to keep the feel there. Vehicle upgrades. Side quests. Etc.

    In the end, though I don't see it being likely. I honestly don't think Nintendo has an idea for Star Fox anymore. The series seems to be in the same hole F-Zero is in. We remain hopeful, though.

    While I agree that rail shooters cannot survive in today's market, I think Emily really missed it on her reasons why the first games did as well as they did. I also think she misunderstands the fanbase. We're NOT the Sonic fanbase here. We're just like any other fanbase: the purists are vocal, but most of us just want a new game period.

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    Shes right that it must evolve to compete on the market. Honestly if it was more multi-genre'd we would be seeing of SF around today.

     

    But I fear this is the end, the final end.

     

    Starfox ~ 1993 - 2006

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    "Characters aren’t drawn cutesy and adorable like Yoshi, Kirby, or Animal Crossing"

     

    Sonic says hi

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    First, let me say, I saw some grammar errors in this response. Second, did Rogers consider that Starfox hasn' t had a spectacular original game since 1997! Maybe that's why no really cares any more. third. There was no gimmick with the FX chip or rumble pack. The Fx chip wasn't a peripheral or controller so that's already wrong and the rumble pack was optional that's also wrong. What's wrong here is that Nintendo has been focusing on their more popular IPs so and didn't even try with Starfox games that people lost interest. They were executed terrible and that's another reason why Starfox games have lost interest. Question:Is it just me or is the comment box really small?

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    I personally think the sales didn't go too well for the franchise after SF64 was because the games weren't advertised properly. There were commercials for them, but what was demonstrated didn't really show as well quality. It just made the games look bad. Plus Miyamoto won't do more with the franchise than they capable of. The games (more like about the 3DS one and if there will be one after) would be more fun if they added a global online feature. So far, they have been normal multiplayers in-home or friend code related ones. They have the potential to do far better, but the creators don't seem to want to have anything to do with them, as well as F-Zero and Metroid. Plus it seems like Nintendo wants to attach themselves to the Super Mario series and the Legend of Zelda series to focus on other franchises that are on the top of their bookshelves to collect dust.

    The last real game for Star Fox was Star Fox Assault in 2005, almost 10 full years. Command would be last, but it was badly developed and bad prologued to even consider. Between those 10 years were uncountable Mario Games (no joke, check yourself... o.o) and 5 Zelda games. Nintendo just focuses on the popular franchises.

    This is MY personal opinion, keep your flame to minimum, but Star Fox doesn't belong with the games being made now. What games are those? Child or family-oriented games. A lot of games are being made by Nintendo to make it more entertaining for kids, I'm looking at these "Super Guides" they have, etc. It just doesn't work. Kids back in the 90's, maybe 80's as well, didn't have on-game help (there are hints, but other than that...), just guides in book form. We handled pretty well.

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    I agree with almost every aspect of this response, and the Dromble's response that Giladen posted. I have, however, one big disagreement with the latter, and it addresses the same disagreement with something a lot of non-fans of Star Fox have been saying in recent years.

     

    Assault's story was not "animu" or bad by any means,  and I think it’s exactly what the series should strive for.  

     

    Most of Assault actually feels like a dramatic sci-fi in the likes of Star Trek TNG or Battlestar Galactica. It’s somewhat corny and not entirely original, sure, but it has a dramatic flair and regards its threat with a little more ominous tension than we ever got with Andross and his Venomian Army. Characters like Fox, General Pepper and the Star Wolf Team were better written and yanked out of their Saturday Morning Serial personalities found in 64. Also, the story was really emphasizing on how the new alien threat was targeting familiar, long-time aspects of the Star Fox series---attacking and assimilating old enemies and allies, finding Star Wolf’s wrecked ships in an invaded asteroid field, returning to a war-ravaged Corneria and a brainwashed General Pepper…it was some bold stuff. I’d like to see more Star Fox games follow that formula. It was like an expansion of the sweeping, space opera-type tone found in Star Fox 1 & 2. It’s a bit of a more digestable balance of cheesy and serious than the campy, Adam West-style Star Fox 64.

     

    The “animu†moments being referred to about “Fox deciding whether or not he has a boner for Krystal†is only highlighted in one cutscene out of the entire game. The “romance†between the two is such a background aspect of the game, that fans actually complain about how little interaction they have. I know the popular thing to do is to blame the blue anthropomorphic vixen for being a downfall of the game’s story (even though her negative response is more attributed to how the internet and all its creepy cyber-dwellers have done to her, rather than her presence and role in the actual game), but I really don’t feel like Krystal’s presence was the problem in Assault, or Adventures for that matter. She had a pretty limited role in both, despite what outside sources and reviewers would have you believe.

     

    Now, the point in the series where the story became a problem, especially where Krystal is concerned, is Command. Every aspect of the game was far worse than any “animu†cliché could ever taint it with. It wasn’t like a bad anime…it was a bad fanfiction. Everything, from the dialogue, to the plot direction, to those atrocious endings was enough to make Metroid Other M’s story seem like a Metal Gear plot. THIS is where Krystal’s presence in the game became a problem. Her personality and her role in the story were stupid, uncalled for, and in some of the endings’ cases…needlessly edgy (You all know which one I’m talking about. I won’t elaborate). But that’s because of bad writing, not because of her presence in the game. You can still have her as a well-written and active part of the Star Fox cast, and it would be fine.

     

    It’s not the shift in tone from 64 to Assault, nor the new type of story, nor the presence of one particular character that made the series go sour. It was because of the abysmal way Command was handled. I’d like to see a competent story for the Star Fox series…one in the vein of Sly Cooper, or Ratchet and Clank. I know Nintendo is capable of good writing----games like Super Mario RPG, Fire Emblem, and even the Metroid Prime games (to some extent) are proof of that.

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    so is this the end for star fox

    Shigeru Miyamoto still wants to make a new Star Fox game for Wii U. That guy has a habit of carrying out desired projects, so I wouldn't abandon hope just yet.

     

    Besides, he recently announced after the release of Super Mario 3D World that he's officially "retired" from working on Mario games, in an attempt to spend more time on what he called "smaller projects." I hope that means what I think it means.

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    Let people talk negative things about Star Fox. I've learned too much to know you can draw a horse to water but you cant make it drink. We haven't seen a new star fox game in almost a decade ( excluding the 3ds), so obviously people are going bash. People have a right to their own opinions, and quite frankly, this article isn't going to effect developers decisions in making better Star Fox games; especially for a company such as nintendo. I am however concerned that because of the WiiU, that any chance of a new Star Fox game ever coming out wont happen until they can fix the current problem of their 8th generation console not meeting up to their estimated sales margin.

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