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Star Fox 2 Sat In Nintendo's Archives For Over 20 Years. Here's Why

Star Fox 2 is the most famous Nintendo game that wasn't — until it was. A sequel to the original Star Fox, Star Fox 2 was set to reinvent the arcade spaceship shooter wheel with semi-real-time strategy mechanics that forced players to balance attack runs with defensive plots. The game was ambitious, impressive, and, most importantly, canceled when it was 95-percent complete.


Nintendo eventually released a new Star Fox title in the form of Star Fox 64 and recycled many Star Fox 2 mechanics for Star Fox Command. However, Star Fox 2 sat in cold storage for years until Nintendo dusted it off and touted the game as a selling point for the Super NES Classic Edition. Gamers clamored for a chance to legally play the legendary time-lost title, but that raises the question of why Nintendo canceled Star Fox 2 in the first place. The company has pulled some shady stunts in the past, but axing a game that's almost complete just sounds counterintuitive.

Keep reading if you want to discover why Star Fox 2's launch was in abeyance for over 20 years.

Sega (and Sony) does what Nintendon't ... right before Nintendoes

The video game industry is a convoluted web of rivalries. Every studio competes with every other company, so when one leaps ahead, others scramble to either keep up or steal the lead. This fierce dance often comes at the cost of in-development titles.


According to an interview with Star Fox and Star Fox 2 programmer Dylan Cuthbert, progress was going smoothly on Star Fox 2. He was living in Japan, working on the game, and his team was pleased with their progress. Thanks to the Super FX 2 chip, Star Fox 2 squeezed graphics out of the Super NES nobody thought possible, but then Sega and Sony transformed that impressive feat of digital sorcery into an outdated relic Nintendo assumed nobody would want.

In the summer of 1995, the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation wowed Japanese gamers (even though the Saturn's fame would eventually fade), which caught Nintendo off-guard. These 32-bit consoles completely changed what audiences thought 3-D video games should look like, and Star Fox 2 simply couldn't measure up. Fearing the game would invite unfavorable comparisons, Nintendo axed Star Fox 2 at the 95-percent completion mark. Cuthbert was able to push the title through QA and actually finish it, but he wouldn't see it line store shelves until the SNES Classic launched.


It's all a matter of timing

While Cuthbert claims Sega and Sony were (kind of) to blame for Star Fox 2's cancelation, Shigeru Miyamoto has a slightly different recollection of events that revolves around cold feet and looking toward the future.


During a Star Fox-themed interview with Miyamoto and fellow directors Takaya Imamura and Tsuyoshi Watanabe, they were asked why Star Fox 2 was included with the SNES Classic. Turns out the mini-console's producer insisted that the game be included, and Miyamoto also revealed that Nintendo initially canceled the game due to the Nintendo 64's looming release. The company felt publishing Star Fox 2 so close to the N64's launch would have been "awkward," as Miyamoto put it.

Moreover, since the SNES isn't meant for rendering 3-D polygons, and Star Fox 2 sported higher graphical fidelity than the original Star Fox, the sequel would have required the Super FX 2 chip. This chip would have driven up production costs as well as the game's MSRP. Miyamoto claimed these factors coalesced into a decision that ultimately canceled Star Fox 2 and began development of Star Fox 64.