Exactly 25 years ago today, Nintendo threw a fox into the world and ordered him to fly. He did, and he threw in a couple of barrel rolls for good measure.
When Star Fox hit the Super Famicom on February 21, 1993, its 3D visuals piqued a lot of interest. The graphics, rendered with the aid of Nintendo's fancy-sounding Super FX Chip, look incredibly simple by today's standards, but they have a distinct style that's still fun to behold. The environments you fly through and the enemies you shoot down shine with imagination. Even modern shooters can take inspiration from the hollow, bloody tunnels of Macbeth, the vivid, icy sunsets of Titania, or the towering flora and fauna of Fortuna.
Star Fox isn't the industry's smoothest rail shooter by a long shot. As I point out in my SNES Classic Edition review for the game, I have a difficult time going back to it now that my muscle memory is tuned into games that run at 30 to 60 FPS. Star Fox 64 is much easier to go back to, and some fans (Kat) argue it's the better game of the two.
But as much as I love Star Fox 64, I feel it misses some vital trait that helped me bond with Star Fox to a point where I can still one-life the first game's hardest path (though I have to get warmed up first). Maybe it's 64's lack of a space orchestra.
Indeed, Star Fox generally seems to be a series Nintendo has a hard time improving upon. Star Fox Zero's controversial motion controls have fewer fans than Falco has apologists, and Star Fox 2's ambition cancels out the first game's simple, adrenaline-fueled fun.
By no means should Nintendo put Fox down, though. The ace pilot built up a great deal of goodwill with his best games, and his maiden flight certainly counts as one of his best. If Nintendo wants to give us a re-imagining of the very first Star Fox and slap it on the Nintendo Switch, I'll press "Z" or "R" as many times as it takes for me to roll my way into the nearest game store.