Theory Evaluations and Other Thoughts: 'Starfox' Edition
In which I answer two commonly asked questions in forums and offer a long-winded final thought on something that continues to bug me to this day.
Is the famous "Barrel Roll" possible in real life?
There have been doubts about this one, but it is indeed possible. Look no further than this video.
Why don't the pilots have real legs?
Creator Shigeru Miyamoto once stated that the metal legs were simply a character design choice, but there's reasons that have been suggested as to why a pilot might have their legs amputated: so that they can handle the high speeds during flight. Their blood won't go to their legs, instead making it easier to pump it back to the brain and stop them from passing out. The problem with this theory is that mobility and blood capacity would be compromised, thus affecting one's overall health, according to FuzzyWazzyWasnt on Reddit.
The Ups and Downs of Fox McCloud's Designs Over the Years
Does anyone else think that Nintendo tends to miss the mark with Fox's character models, or is it just me?
Everyone else always looks great and more or less like themselves in every installment. It's just Fox that's the problem, and it's really off-putting considering his role as the main protagonist in the franchise. This isn't to say that he didn't have his good moments, but for the most part, not only are his designs inconsistent, but they also look quite jarring to the modern-day eye, exhausted from extreme image fatigue.
Now, my apologies for making you do so, but please take a gander at these pictures for a minute and tell me that you're seeing what I'm seeing:
- Star Fox, 1993
Guys, I'm a 90s kid. I totally get it. But still, this looks like an amalgam of bad taxidermy and baby's first attempt at photoshop.
- Star Fox 64, 1997
This one doesn't actually look that bad, especially considering the time period in which it was conceptualised. In fact, the game as a whole is probably one of the best looking that's available for the N64. While Fox looks a little boxier that I would've liked, his character model is nevertheless relatively smooth, has a colour scheme that's easy on the eyes, and has details you didn't see on many characters during this era of video games.
His model in the first Super Smash Bros is pretty much the same, but his revamped look for Melee is very well done.
He better resembles a wolf than a fox in terms of his facial structure, but he nevertheless looks worthy of his top-tier status as a nimble fighter in tournaments.
That being said, his model in Star Fox 3D is, without a doubt, the definitive version.
- Star Fox Adventures, 2002
Rareware did an amazing job with Fox here. As far as I'm concerned, this is the best he's ever looked. He's proportioned like a true anthropomorphic animal, has the perfect colour scheme, is just furry enough (keep the comments to yourselves), and not to mention, the gleam in his eyes oozes with cool.
The only—though unfortunately, major—damper on this pretty picture is how he's portrayed in Adventures. His idea of cockiness is uncharming, he's shallow beyond belief (if his reactions to Krystal don't make you pull a muscle from the dramatic eye roll, I don't know what will), and only cares about the money. These aren't exactly traits that spring to mind when I think of the faithful leader Fox McCloud as we knew him up to this point.
Thankfully, our next entry fixes these problems, but not without a price to pay:
- Star Fox Assault, 2005
Just when I thought we were doing so well. Absolutely nothing about the design looks natural. He's too pointy and not furry enough (again, don't you dare) to make up for it. These muddy textures and Christmas colours aren't doing him any favours either. Above all, I hate how gem-like, yet narrowed his eyes are, and while he's serving us a creepy, pencil-lined smile in this shot, Assault is the beginning of his even creepier teeth.
At least his personality is totally refreshing after the mess that is Adventures. He is composed save for when Tricky pushes his buttons, sensible both in briefings and in the fray, and committed to the heavy responsibilities shouldered by a true leader while everyone else is foolishly getting their tails chased.
Now to be fair, he is less of a mercenary in this game compared to the last, and he leaves us with an impression of legitimacy in his line of work. If his Rareware counterpart were to maintain these likable characteristics, then the Adventure would be much more tolerable.
- Star Fox Command, 2006
I'm on the fence about this one, to tell you the truth. Yes, he's pointy and his face is all squished up, but at least there's consistency in his build, features, textures, and colour scheme. I also think the fact that his eyes are darker and softer, as opposed to how serpentine they looked in Assault, tips the vote in this design's favour.
Brawl's counterpart largely kept to this design with improvements, including neat additions like the cartoony boots à la Kingdom Hearts, although his ears are way too small.
Naturally, SSB4 had to go and mess that all up with googly eyes and scary teeth.
SSBU was wise enough not to repeat this motif, however, and even gave Fox a more mature look to make up for last time.
Needless to say, for every good round, there just has to be a stinker - or two - that follows:
- Star Fox Zero, 2016
Uh, yeah, no thanks. I don't need enchanted piñatas chasing my tail.
- Starlink: Battle for Atlas, 2018
Where's the "nope" rocket when I need it? I swear, Fox is looking more and more like a villain with each appearance—and definitely not like he's chillin'. Maybe he and Wolf O'Donnell should reconsider their rivalry and chew up the scenery together.
What bothers me the most about these designs, in general, is how little Fox actually looks like, well, a fox. Foxes are supposed to have big, triangular ears, narrow muzzles, somewhat of a mane on the upper part of their faces, and high cheekbones. Nintendo is widely hit or miss with these features. You tend to see a mismatch of them, if anything.
Here's to hoping that they'll someday find a happy medium—and stick to it.