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Star Fox Command interview

We get the inside line from Dylan Cuthbert, co-founder of Q-Games
With Foxy and the gang now established on a fourth Nintendo format, thanks to Star Fox Command, we asked Dylan Cuthbert - former coder with original Star Fox developers Argonaut, and now co-founder of Command developer QGames - for some background.

A fox? Flying a spaceship? Where did that idea come from?
We'd developed the shooting part of the game to about 50% when Mr Miyamoto came along with the idea of using a fox as the main character. During the very initial stages of development, when it was still codenamed 'SnesGlider' (because Argonaut was famous at the time for Starglider), we all went to the famous local Fushimi Inari fox shrine. It's well-known for having thousands and thousands of red gates arranged in a winding path to the top of a mountain. This is also where the idea for a parallel scrolling stage came from - Mr Miyamoto imagined flying through those gates.

How did the personalities and designs of Fox, Slippy, and co develop?
They are roughly based on the Japanese members of the original team. Mr Miyamoto is Fox; Mr Watanabe, the model designer, is Falco; Slippy is Mr Yamada (assistant director, whose self-designated character is a frog) and Peppy is Mr Eguchi (director). You can blame me for all the names, apart from Falco Lombardi, which was Mr Imamura, the 2D artist and scenario designer.

Can you tell us who was responsible for those slightly unnerving Star Fox models that graced the Super Nintendo box and manual?
I'm not sure actually. Apparently, they're in a Nintendo warehouse somewhere - probably better than dogs for warding off the bad guys.

Who's your favourite member of the Star Fox team? Fox himself, of course.

You must have seen plenty of bizarre Star Fox merchandise and promotional material. What made you raise your eyebrows the most?
Hehe, no, I tried to avoid all that. Although I wouldn't have minded getting a copy of the Competition cartridge, which is something I knocked up while beginning development of Star Fox 2.

What were the biggest influences on you while designing the original game?
The many years of playing 3D games on the Amiga and the Spectrum must have had an effect, but Starblade was probably the biggest influence. Even now it's a very good game. I was fortunate enough to be able to borrow it from an arcade machine collector some years ago.

Any funny stories about your time spent working with Shigsy in Kyoto?
Well, there was the time when Mr Miyamoto told us his joke about how to go the toilet when you only have one square of toilet paper - while we were eating lunch. It was mostly a blur of hard work, though.

How did you react when you found out Star Fox 2 wouldn't be getting a release after all that work?
Well, of course I was disappointed, but I could kind of sense it - the market had moved on. In 1995, people had just seen Ridge Racer for the PlayStation and they suddenly wanted all these 30-60fps arcade conversions. Star Fox 2's low polygon rate and 20fps was just old hat, no matter how much fun the game was.

How do you feel now that Star Fox Command is done and dusted?
It's always difficult to take a series and try to add new gameplay, but that's what we were asked to do by Nintendo. Mr Miyamoto is totally against just rehashing old ideas in a new skin and I agree with that philosophy. Some people might simply want Star Fox 64 Mk2 but where's the challenge in making that? From the beginning, Star Fox has always been about trying out new ideas - it would be seen more in that light if Star Fox 2 hadn't been cancelled, of course.

Could you give an expert Star Fox Command tip to our readers?
Barrel rolling is even more important than before, so use it well!

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