Sin & Redemption Part 4
By Karl Castaneda
NES Goes Super Saiyan
MEGA SEGA & SUPER NINTENDO
By the time 1986 rolled around, the NES was still doing phenominally well in Japan and oversees. These were the glory days; the days when Miyamoto and a couple other guys could have some bad sushi, and in the process of clutching their stomachs, have a stroke of genious and develop a game around it. These were the simple times of 8-Bit Bliss. And then, as usual, Sega fucked it up...
Sega, formerly known as Service Games (and before that, Standard Games), was a moderately successful coin-op amusement company that also owned a few bowling alleys (some of which held Gunpei Yokoi's earlier efforts, oddly enough). But as time progressed, they got into the increasingly more profitable game business. They had launched their first console back in 1981with the SG-1000, but their efforts were mostly in vain until 1986, one year after the NES launched, when they released the Sega Master System (also known as the SG-1000 Mark III; and they wonder why it didn't sell...). It gained some notoriety with games like After Burner and Alex the Kidd, but the system still failed to match the bottomless pit of hunger that was the NES.
However, a more legitimate attack on the throne was released in 1989 with the Sega Mega Drive, known in other areas as the Sega Genesis. With its 16-Bit processor and EXTRA BUTTON, the supermacy of the NES was opposed. Hiroshi Yamauchi's eyebrow twitched a little, I swear. It didn't help that it was actually selling well. So Nintendo was all like, "Nuh-uh, biyatch! SUPA-SAIYAJIN! SUPA FAMICOM!" Sega, only being able to do Kaio-ken x10, began doing the Oh Shiz Dance.
Really, that's how it happened. I was there.
When we last left our heroes, Jez and Co. were given the chance to look at the prototype of the SNES, or Super Famicom. Essentially, they were given a deal. Miyamoto showed them early builds of three games: Super Mario World, Piltotwings, and F-Zero. Each utlized a feature of the SNES known as Mode-7; it was basically able to flip and rotate sprites, mimicking a type of 3-D movement. Argonaut's boys were asked if they could take Pilotwings and make it 3D in the next three months.
Hahahahaha. Oh wait, they were serious.
Jez said that even they couldn't do something like that, but that they'd be able to make a chip for such a thing that they could use in later games. Nintendo agreed to those terms, made a few calls, and started up development on what would be the the second best thing Argonaut ever created: the Super FX Chip.
The first title that used it was a game called Super Mario Kart, which we're all quite familiar with these days. The second one was a 3D (or, at least, close to true 3D, for the time) space shooter that utilized the best of Jez and the Gang's ability. They took it to Miyamoto to evaluation. He played through the demo, looked at his shoes, and sucked wind through his teeth. I don't know what he was thinking at the time, but I'm sure it had something to do with pink slips of paper.
But no, Miyamoto doesn't just give up on people. He helped them through development by tightening up the gameplay. And after they had the shell, he broke out his famous sketchbook and showed the Boys from Britain a group of now-famous characters. A story was built around the crew; it was a sci-fi epic with a very different feel from what Nintendo was used to, but it still contained the quality expected of a first-party title.
This, my friends, was how Star Fox was born.
More like Argo-not, AM I RITE?
Following Star Fox, Argonaut basically fell apart. Key members of the team were hired to Nintendo, and even though Star Fox 2 was technically made under the Argonaut name, they didn't have nearly as much to do with the sequel, and some of the big-wigs from the first game weren't even on the project. It's not surprising the game was canned later on and that Argonaut kind of dropped off the map.
So what's it up to these days? You guys remember Malice? Yeah, me neither.
And The Next Time... On DRAGON BA-Er, I mean Sin & Redemption
Be sure to hang out next time. I'm gonna spit hot fire on a little company called Rareware.
Sin & Redemption Part 1
Sin & Redemption Part 2
SIn & Redemption Part 3