The Bullet Points:
Everyone criticizes Nintendo’s treatment of Star Fox, but who exactly is the audience for Star Fox? Last year, Japanese gamers were asked in a survey about what their top ten favorite Nintendo franchises were. Star Fox was not listed anywhere in the top ten for males or females. In fact, more women in Japan prefer Pikmin over Star Fox, and males preferred F-Zero over it as well. The “Mother” franchise hasn’t released a new installment since 2006, but the franchise was ranked at number 7 for Japanese men.
The original Star Fox capitalized on shoot em’ ups at the height of the genre’s popularity. When the shoot em’ up fad was over, the Star Fox franchise became a lost chicken with its head cut off. This isn’t any different from how skateboarding games and music games (Guitar Hero, Rock Band) were once popular trends that eventually faded away.
Contrary to popular belief, Star Fox is not an easy franchise to reboot. The franchise is too hardcore to appeal as a family game like “Mario Kart”, “New Super Mario Bros”, and “Wii Sports”. It struggles to appeal to the Titanfall/Gears of War audience because it has talking animals for protagonists. Star Fox struggles to attract small children because the characters aren’t drawn cutesy and adorable like Yoshi, Kirby, or Animal Crossing. Nobody plays Star Fox at competitive tournaments like Super Smash Bros or Pokemon. It lacks Japanese appeal like Monster Hunter, Persona, Dragon Quest, Fire Emblem, etc.
The main story modes of “Star Fox” and “Star Fox 64″ didn’t last much longer than two hours, and they were both originally released at the price of $60-$70. The best Star Fox games were designed as short games that players would replay multiple times to unlock everything. Nowadays, too many gamers care more about a game’s length instead of it’s replay value, and today’s gaming media would absolutely crucify a $50-$60 Star Fox game that is shorter than five hours long without some extremely solid online multi-player.
Shigeru Miyamoto is constantly labeled as “crazy” or “out of touch with gamers” because it was his decision to add Star fox to Rare’s Dinosaur Planet. Trusting Rare to reinvent the Star Fox franchise with Zelda gameplay was no more crazy than having Rare reinvent the Donkey Kong IP with Super Mario World gameplay.
And yet, for some reason, nobody is cool with the idea of the Star Fox franchise branching out to other genres, or trying something new and experimental. Nobody is cool with the idea of Star Fox broadening its appeal outside of a currently unpopular niche genre (shoot em ups, railshooters) so it can become more marketable. There will never be a large audience for a pure, traditional Star Fox game until there’s a market again for linear shoot-em-up’s and railshooters. As long as games are being sold for $60 a pop, I can’t ever see that genre making a huge comeback in the near future.
I found this article quite interesting, and agree 100%. What do you think?
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