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Star Fox 2! It’s finally happening after 22 years of wait. The NXPress crew have talked about the game on the podcast, but now it’s my turn. I just happen to be a big fan of Star Fox 2, going as far as speedrunning the leaked ROM. Imagine my excitement when Nintendo announced the SNES Classic, complete with none other than Star Fox 2 onboard. Now imagine my excitement when I found out I would be given the opportunity to speak with the man behind its development!
Mr. Dylan Cuthbert worked as a programmer and designer at Argonaut Software during the SNES era. Argonaut is credited with the development of Star Fox and the SuperFX chip, which opened up the possibility of true 3D graphics on the SNES. The importance of Argonaut Software’s, and Dylan’s work to the history of not just Nintendo, but all gaming, cannot be understated. Dylan went on to found Q-Games, the development studio responsible for the PixelJunk series and The Tomorrow Children. Their upcoming release Eden Obscura is a reimagining of the fantastic PixelJunk Eden, rebuilt from the ground up for iOS and Android devices. Below is my short, yet very informative chat with Dylan.
Casey Corrigan – How many people were on the Star Fox 2 team?
Dylan Cuthbert – Myself, two Japanese Nintendo newbie programmers (assigned so they could learn from me), a 3d modeler, Eguchi the director, of course, Yamada the assistant director, sfx and music, and a 2d artist, so roughly 9 people?
C.C – What was your job title at the time?
D.C – Lead Programmer.
C.C – Do you recall what the budget for Star Fox 2 was? How much were you personally making then?
D.C – No idea about budgets sorry, I just kept my head down and made the games. It was probably fairly cheap by today’s standards.
C.C – How involved was Nintendo in the development process? Who were your contacts at Nintendo during this time?
D.C – Well apart from myself the entire team was Nintendo employees and we were making the game at EAD.
C.C – What was that process like? Working through a language and time zone barrier must have been incredibly difficult, especially in the pre-internet days.
D.C – Well it was post Star Fox so my Japanese was getting a little better, but the Japanese staff members tried hard with their English too, especially Eguchi. The miscommunications actually probably led to a lot of the creative touches and discoveries.
C.C – What games were you influenced by when designing Star Fox 2?
D.C – The arcade game StarBlade by Namco and Argonaut’s own Starglider 2.
C.C – When was the last time you played Star Fox 2?
D.C – During the development of StarFox Command because Nintendo gave us a copy of the QA-complete rom so we could reference elements of the gameplay.
C.C – Many of the gameplay concepts from Star Fox 2 made their way into later releases, mostly Star Fox Command. Was that a goal for you during the early stages of its development, or did that happen over time?
D.C – Miyamoto and Eguchi always wanted StarFox Command to draw upon StarFox 2 and use the touch screen so we concentrated on the strategy and encounter elements of the game.
C.C – What aspect of Star Fox 2 are you most proud of/excited for people to finally see?
D.C – I think just the sheer amount of content in the game and the way the game is different every time you play through it because of the encounter system.
C.C – Do you have any ideas for the future of Star Fox? Would you work with Nintendo on a new entry if given the chance?
D.C – I think I would need full creative control in order to do that, I have a lot of ideas about how to take it back to its roots in a good way. I doubt that is going to happen though!
C.C – What’s next for Q-Games?
D.C – Eden Obscura is coming to iOS and Android! This isn’t a port of PixelJunk Eden, we constructed the game from the ground up to be for mobile and it is a huge amount of fun.
A great thanks must be paid to Mark Lentz, the community manager at Q-Games. Without his help, this interview would consist of me shouting “I CAN’T LET YOU DO THAT STAR FOXXXX” very loudly into the void, only to find no reply. Thanks to Mark, I look *slightly* less crazy.
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