itt a gay lizard on the internet usurps the King of Retro
Hey Phil and other Phorum users. I just got done watching Phil playing Star Fox 2 and I wasn't too impressed. At all. In fact I feel that there were many areas in which Phil could have drastically improved on and had many an opportunity to both educate and entertain the audience, only to fall rather flat and leave himself looking rather ignorant and uninformed during. There are many things that Phil brings up which are genuinely misinformed, assumed and could probably have been avoided due to ignorance on the players part. Personally, I find this to be a pretty bone idle way of covering such a game and will now go on to analyse and correct some statements and mistakes the so called King of Retro™ made and how they should have been handled or presented.
First, for reference, the video direct from Phil's channel itself. I will also be providing time codes in regards to certain areas and statements which could be improved upon:
PLEASE NOTE: ALL SOURCE LINKS AND IMAGE LINKS PROVIDED IN THIS POST ARE UNABLE TO BE VIEWED DIRECTLY BECAUSE OF REASONS - BUT IF YOU HIGHLIGHT AND RIGHT CLICK THERE SHOULD BE AN OPTION TO OPEN THE LINK DIRECTLY OR IN ANOTHER TAB. DOES THIS SITE USE BBCode? LEMMIE KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW. YOU PEOPLE ARE SMART, YOU'LL FIGURE IT OUT.
"But they just released it now for free on the Nintendo Switch." 0:33
It's not free. You need a Switch Online Membership to access the library of SNES and NES games. It's pretty much a bonus for subbing to the service. Any Switch owner would be able to tell you that. But don't take my word for it:
source - https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/Super-Nintendo-Entertainment-System-Nintendo-Switch-Online-1632515.html
"This game was officially released on September 2017 [...] it never came out before the Super NES Mini. No one could play it." - 4:02
Yes. But no. Code of a demo was released online in 1999, then in 2004 a more complete build of the game was compiled and released online. These could be played via numerous emulators which are easily available online at the time. The 2004 version is also noted to be practically in the same state as the official 2017 SNES Mini release. In fact, it's been stated that there was never any idea in regards to officially releasing the game by Nintendo until the producers of the SNES Mini system demanded it so.
source - https://starfox.fandom.com/wiki/Star_Fox_2
This is a VERY watered down version of the story and many other articles regarding the history of these ROMs and be found via a simple internet search. There are also numerous videos on YouTube regarding the history of the game and it's leaks which are just as easily discovered. That said, any retro gaming fan worth their salt and with access to the internet knows about this and it's surprising none of this was mentioned on Phil's stream. Even in passing.
"Select? There is no Select Button." - 5:05
On the Nintendo Switch, you use the JoyCon's Minus button as a Select button for SNES and NES games. Not only is this kind of a standard when it comes to most controllers with a two buttons for lesser used functionality, but it uh... It's on the bottom of the screen, my dude...
"This might actually be a worse frame rate than the original Starfox. Maybe this is why they never released it." - 5:22
The frame rate on all of the games using the Super FX chip to produce polygonal graphics are not the best, true. I give my opinion in regards to performance in the next statement. However, Nintendo has never given an official statement regarding why the game was never released. However, Dylan Cutbert who worked for Argonaut (the guys that helped with the Super FX chip) has:
“Starfox 2 was fully completed. I was lead programmer and whilst Giles made Stunt Race FX, myself and the rest of the original Starfox team (ie. Nintendo's artists and designers) expanded Starfox into a full 3D shooting game. We used state-of-the-art technology such as arbitrary plane clipping (which has only been seen recently in such games as Crash Bandicoot 2 & 3) to create some rather spectacular effects. (for the time)...The reason for non-release was the then impending Nintendo-64 which of course was intended to be released a lot sooner than it actually was. Miyamoto-san decided he wanted to have a clean break between 3D games on the SNES and 3D games on the new superior 64 bit system. In retrospect, he could have released Star Fox 2 and there would have been over a year and a half before the N64 came out. But hindsight is always 20/20.”
There was also costing and internal development issues that helped contributed to this, allegedly. But without an official statement from Nintendo these are still just speculation.
source - https://starfox.fandom.com/wiki/Star_Fox_2
"The sound effects are terrible. The graphics are terrible. The gameplay is pretty terrible. Everything is terrible." - 6:08
The sound effects are very similar to the original game in the series, they also reuse a few too. In fact, approximately 30% of the games content was actually reused within Starfox 2. Probably to save time and costs, no doubt. Makes sense.
Graphically, yes you could argue that the game is bad. However, what you are not taking into consideration that that not only is the game nearly 30+ years old but is also running on both hardware not designed to even run three dimensional polygonal graphics, but is also using a built in chip to help actually create the rudimentary look. Infact, the Super FX chip originally started off as something for the original Nintendo Entertainment System but was bumped up to the SNES as a move to compete with other companies at the time considering the dated look of NES software in comparison. They literally had to upgrade currently existing tech to the newer platform that was the SNES.
source - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_FX
Also, regarding graphics, consider the game Cybermorph on the Atari Jaguar. A mathematically more powerful and underused console. The game itself was released during the same year, 1993.
Despite the potential power of the console the draw distance seems slightly worse than what the SNES was pumping out, but some of the models seem to have better anti aliasing. In comparison, both games have their share of positives and negatives. But frankly, I'd lean towards Starfox being my go to if given the choice.
Also consider the Sega CD's Silpheed, also released in 1993.
Visually, much more appealing than Cybermorph and much more critically praised at the time. However, take in considering that the game's overall performance was boosted by being on a system that not only boosted the original system it was a peripheral to. But also used non-cartridge based media to be played on, the superior CD-ROM at the time.
Considering that many different developers were using very different hardware, software and techniques to create this polygonal effect - which again, was very groundbreaking and extremely new at the time. All these titles ought to be praised for their achievements and further enhancement of hardware capabilities an gaming opportunities. After all, the Super FX chip lead on the development of the Super FX 2, which was used to help produce effects in games like Yoshi's Island and bringing Doom to the SNES, despite it's inferiority to the original PC/DOS versions offered people without access to personal computers a chance to see what the fuss was all about and still provide a moderately enjoyable experience regardless.
I also feel that Phil is comparing the game to the capabilities and accomplishments to more current games, which are created by teams of 100s of people, which a heck of a lot more money, time and experience put in. Plus, a lot of tools which can be used for game development, such as engines like Unreal, or other things like Havok being able to be implemented into them to allow games certain features, premade aesthetics such as lighting or 3D development. To create a polygonal game, on mass, using one microchip to help create these visuals by a small team of people back in the good ol' 90s was nothing short of an engineering miracle. And I honestly don't understand why Phil doesn't get that. Pearls before swine, I suppose.
In regards to gameplay, I expand on this a little more in a later in regards to the overall mission structure and how the game is played.
"I died? I couldn't tell. Where's my health bar?" - 12:28
Very much like the Select button. Phil doesn't seem to look around at the on screen elements that are there to help provide this information. Granted, a seasoned Starfox player could be forgiven in not seeing where the new placement for the health bar is. From the top right, to the bottom right. It's represented by little orbs that change colour and is clearly marked SHIELD.
"Pretty much almost unplayable, dude." - 13:09
Looks like any other 3D Super FX game to me. This seems like personal hyperbole on Phil's part and is a legit unjust criticism towards what is a fully functioning game. Again, bringing more modernised standards to an older game created way, way before these standards became commonplace.
"I'm not sure how I'm supposed to dodge it because I can't see anything because the frame rate is so bad, you know?" - 13:22
Barrel Rolling to avoid and deflect shots which can be done by double tapping R or L, using R or L to position the ship vertically and turn left or right at a highly sharper and increased way, speeding up and applying the brake to help maneuver out the way are all effective means of dodging and dealing with enemy fire. It's been in every single Starfox game. Also, the frame rate is not having a negative effect on the gameplay to the point of it being an issue. Also, the target you need to be trying to dodge and fight against can clearly be seen throughout when not on screen by a little HUD indicator, on the mini map and has a very striking model when in full view.
"[...] it has a very interesting mission structure to this game [...]. Very different from Starfox 1 and very different from Starfox 2 as well." - 14:55
I suppose this is just a little brain fart, but he obviously meant Starfox 64. Or for us Britbongs; Lylat Wars. However, this could have been a perfect opportunity to bring up Starfox Command, which features a very similar mission structure. Almost identical. This is also an opportunity to comment on how this could have been the basis for a lot other features that would appear in numerous other games from here on out. Such as a psudeo-All Range Mode, the charge shot, the introduction of other side characters who are not directly linked to the Starfox team (granted he does mention Star Wolf when Leon shows up earlier, he's allowed that. Good job.) and the infamous little mech robot which can be used within bases and other bigger ships and how this could have influenced the use of the Landmaster Tank and the Blue Marine in Starfox 64/Lylat Wars. However, this is immediately followed by:
"I'm dead. He shot me. When did I get hit? [...] I didn't see a bullet or nothing." - 15:04
You entered this mission with practically zero shields. Your shield indicator was red, meaning that one shot would be enough to take you down. The one, killing blow did not need to make itself known visually and the enemy pilot did not need to tell you that it was going to begin firing at you. It did it's job and it did it's job with accuracy. It's not the game's fault that you started the section with no life. It's like complaining that you didn't hear the bullet leave the gun after getting shot in the head. Because you wouldn't. You'd be dead. He then goes on to blame the frame rate again which I've discussed before and the fact still stands.
"You got to wonder. Maybe they cancelled Starfox 2 because [the frame rate similar to that of Starfox] was just as bad?" - 15:28
Again, lack of research or knowledge here and just speculation. This has been discussed before in this post. More ignorance on his part. We're living in an age where ignorance is a choice, and a 10min internet search would provide you with all the more material you need to understand the full story. He then goes on to talk about how Starfox 64 was better. And yes, many different aspects of the Starfox formula were improved. But it was running on a more powerful system that had more than enough capabilities to be running polygonal models and other aspects that it's predecessor could not. Kind of a moot point.
"I dunno what's background, what's an object, what's a blip coming at me." - 16:06
That sounds like a you problem. I played the game on both the SNES Mini and on the Switch SNES feature and have had no issue distinguishing what is what. Enemies are simply designed and have bright, colourful parts that help pop out against the cosmic backgrounds of the stages, which are also designed very nicely. Whenever you're getting hit, the screen will flash red and indicate that you are being attacked, then it's your job as the player to use the tools given to you (mini map, ship information and your overall piloting skills) to deal with the situation at hand.
tl;dr your stream was bad and you should feel bad about it, thank you for coming to my TED talk
xoxoxox <3 ya boy, SassyGayLizard