Once upon a time, video games were available exclusively on physical mediums like cartridges. These games were usually packed with instruction manuals explaining how the game worked. Some of these booklets were thin, printed in black-and-white, and reeked of low effort (and cheap ink). But many companies, including Nintendo, made full-color manuals that were borderline art.
As game distribution went digital, so did instruction manuals (gotta love those in-game tutorials). But the SNES Classic Edition is all about nostalgia, which is why you can access scans of the included games' manuals (a la the NES Classic Edition).
What about the SNES Classic's odd game out: Star Fox 2? Nintendo's follow-up to the original Star Fox never received an official release, even though it was ready to go. But was Nintendo so ready that Star Fox 2 even had an instruction booklet printed and ready to distribute with the game cartridge?
Nintendo has an answer: Nope. That's why it constructed and published a digital booklet for Star Fox 2. You can access it on Nintendo's website, and you should; it's packed with original art and fun character bios. Oh, and it explains how to play the game – using a scan of a Super Famicom controller. Interesting!
Much as I miss the days of printed-and-stapled instruction booklets, the Star Fox 2 manual offers a few convincing arguments for the superiority of its digital format. You can download high-resolution copies of the new art, and Nintendo even included a link to some Star Fox 2 design documents. They're in Japanese, but it's always fascinating to see games in their pencil-and-paper stage.
There's also early concept art of Star Wolf, the rival mercenary team forged for Star Fox 2 and made famous in Star Fox 64. Wolf and his comrades seem to be as recognizable in Star Fox 2 as they are in Star Fox 64 (I forgot Wolf O'Donnell is named after Chris O'Donnell, which is indelible proof of the Star Fox series' '90s heritage), with one big exception. Andrew Oikonny, Andross' milksop nephew, is replaced by his predecessor, a lemur-monkey-thing named Algy. According to the Star Fox 2 booklet, Algy is "rumoured to be the most devious creature in the cosmos," and "he exploits the weaknesses of his targets with merciless precision." Going by the aforementioned concept art, he's also tiny – but as I can personally attest, it's the small ones you need to look out for. We know a lot about poisons and slipping daggers into small but vital areas.
Will Star Fox 2 be enjoyable in a world that already knows the joys of Star Fox 64? I don't know, but I do appreciate Nintendo taking the time to make this cool little project. Even if Slippy's bio says Slippy is "hard to dislike." Why must you turn your website into a House of Lies, Nintendo?