Like any long-running group, the Star Fox team has been through some ups and downs over the years, with some incredible gaming highs serving to make any titles less that life-changingly awesome feel, well, a bit disappointing by comparison.
The sentiment that the Star Fox franchise never got better than its first sequel is relatively common — and understandable — yet the series has played host to some wonderful non-64-bit games. From the tactical nuance of Q-Games’ Star Fox Command, to Rare and Namco’s dalliances on GameCube, and Nintendo’s own experiments during the Wii U era, the series has been a test bed for interesting game design ideas and has produced some fascinating, if flawed, results. They may not be all-round, cohesive classics like Star Fox 64 — which celebrates its 25th anniversary today — but each of them offers something intriguing, often many things. There’s a reason the fandom flame still burns bright for this foxy franchise.
So, we asked Nintendo Life readers to rate every Star Fox game they’ve played in order to assemble the ultimate reader-ranked list of the best Star Fox games (and conversely, the worst ones, too), and the result can be found below.
Thanks to everyone who rated the games they’ve played. If you missed out, good news — you haven’t! You can still rate every game you’ve played in the list below — the ranking is updated in real time according the each game’s corresponding User Rating in the Nintendo Life game database. Even as you read this, it’s entirely possible to influence the order after publication. If you haven’t rated your favourites yet, simply click the ‘star’ of the game you wish to rate below and assign a score out of ten right now.
So, let’s take a look at every Star Fox game ranked from worst to best by you, dear readers.
Note. We’ve included both the 3DS remake and the original Star Fox 64, plus Starlink: Battle For Atlas in the list below thanks to its copious amount of Star Fox content.
Nintendo set out to build an experience centered around the Wii U GamePad with Star Fox Guard, and the result was a great little experiment — if a wee bit overwhelming. How much you get out of Star Fox Guard will ultimately depend on your tolerance for its particular brand of attention-splitting gameplay. Some may take to the tense onslaught of robots like an Italian plumber to a mushroom, whereas others might play a few rounds and get completely exhausted with its mix of tower defending, twitch shooting, and puzzling. Beyond that blend, there isn’t a whole lot of diversity in gameplay here, and in many ways what you see is what you get. What we see is a terrifying but satisfying game wrapped in charming Star Fox attire.
It also broadened our knowledge of Slippy Toad’s extended family. Mileage may vary and all that, then.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: PlatinumGames
In terms of pure mechanics, content and structure, Star Fox Zero is a pretty close match for the 1997 64-bit release that remains the series’ high watermark; it follows the same non-linear branching pathways and packs each level with bonuses to collect and secrets to discover. The Walker, enhanced Landmaster and Gyrowing vehicles each bringing with them different tactics, strengths and gameplay possibilities, although these alternative modes of transport are only fun to use in short bursts — the Arwing is much more entertaining to pilot.
Some players found the controls troublesome, but perseverance is key — once you’ve mastered them, you’re faced with an outing on-par with the excellent N64 entry from which it draws so much inspiration. A solid instalment in one of Nintendo’s most underused franchises, then, and one of the last good-great Wii U exclusives.
Star Fox Command is a fun, challenging entry in the series featuring controls that take time to get used to. Developed by Q-Games, those hoping for a more traditional Star Fox experience will likely be left disappointed. What Command instead offers is an experimental evolution that takes the base experience and tinkers with it in very interesting ways. If you have can get past the hurdle that this isn’t your papa’s Star Fox, you’ll find an involving, robust adventure featuring charming characters that Nintendo doesn’t feature nearly enough.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Argonaut Software
Star Fox 2 is a fascinating curio — an unreleased but completed Super NES sequel and ‘museum piece’ until it being officially released on the Super Nintendo Classic Mini console, and later on Nintendo Switch Online. This game was fully developed for the SNES but shelved at the last minute when Nintendo saw the writing on the wall for 16-bit 3D graphics and wanted to avoid direct comparison with the impressive polygonal games incoming on more powerful hardware.
Many of this abandoned sequel’s ideas found their way into Star Fox 64 instead, and fans of the series will enjoy seeing the ideas that began here and eventually saw the light of day in other games. Despite being seriously impressive considering the hardware, it’s perhaps a little tough to go back to — especially if your Star Fox journey didn’t start in the 16-bit days. We’re still very grateful to have the option, though, and seeing the genesis of ideas that would come to fruition later is thrilling for any fan.
With its exclusive use of some substantial Star Fox content that gets you in the cockpit of an Arwing on Switch, Nintendo’s console got the best version of Starlink: Battle for Atlas — and with a more accessible and ultimately enjoyable version of No Man’s Sky‘s gameplay mechanics (certainly compared to that game’s launch versions) and Mass Effect’s original vision, you’re getting one of the best dogfighting/space exploration games you can buy outside of Elite: Dangerous. Its gameplay loop does run out of steam after a while thanks to the required grind, but with a surprisingly ungreedy approach to content access and toys-to-life integration, Starlink makes you think there might be some life in the genre yet. What’s more, you can pick it up for a pittance now — it’s certainly worth investigation if you’re a Star Fox aficionado.
“Flawed but fun” is how we described Star Fox: Assault in our review, and that still stands looking back on it. After Star Fox Adventures strayed from the series’ roots, this collaboration between Nintendo and Namco aimed to mix the on-foot mission style from Adventures with the on-rails missions from the earlier entries. The results were mixed, with the game’s controls hampering the ground mission levels (tricky inputs seem to be a running theme with polarising Star Fox games) and a disappointingly small number of on-rails missions. Those who give the game a chance, though, will find plenty to enjoy, though.
Star Fox Adventures was Rare’s only GameCube release and the developer’s swansong on Nintendo hardware before becoming a Microsoft Game Studio. This game — which began life as Dinosaur Planet on N64 — is a solid adventure with lush visuals and fun characters, but dull controls put a dampener on things and despite so much promise, Star Fox Adventure is lacking when it comes execution. There’s a sense that it could and should have been so much more, especially considering the pure gold Rare produced the previous generation. Still, taken on its own merits, this is still an engaging action-adventure that gives you a chance to explore the world from outside Fox’s cockpit.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo EAD
Star Fox is obviously a classic, and its use of the Super FX chip resulted in an experience that felt awe-inspiring to anybody who witnessed it on their Super NES back in 1993. It’s a little more jarring for players these days, especially anyone who got into the Star Fox series later on. Players who are violently ill when viewing anything less than a silky 60fps will want to sit this one out, but the underlying game design still shines even if you can’t muster enthusiasm for the game’s achievements with some 16-bit historical context.
Those who were there at the beginning and are pining for the return of Fox, Peppy, Falco, and maybe even the ever-rubbish Slippy will thoroughly enjoy jumping back in the cockpit of an Arwing and saving Corneria again, though. The fact that it’s now available on Switch makes accepting that mission all the easier, too.
Post-Star Fox 64, subsequent entries in the series have had interesting elements and plenty of great moments, but none have quite captured — certainly not consistently — the formula we fell in love with back in 1997. Fortunately, this 3DS remaster reminded everyone just how good it can be, with sumptuous stereoscopic 3D added for good measure. Of course, we miss the chunky Rumble Pak and the N64’s peculiar pad, but Star Fox 64 3D is arguably the best way to find out why we still get a tiny buzz every time someone cracks out a tired ‘barrel roll’ reference.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo EAD
Known as Lylat Wars in Europe, Star Fox 64 originally came in a whopping great box containing a Rumble Pak and was many a gamer’s introduction to force feedback on console. It paired beautifully with the cinematic battles and derring-do of Fox McCloud and his team’s cinematic dogfighting in this on-rails shooter. It’s still an excellent game all these years later, with thrilling action, delicate and precise controls, stirring music, humour, spectacle, and edge-of-your-seat excitement. Sure, it’s got a surplus of Slippy Toad, but you can’t have everything.
Whether you’re enjoying it on original hardware or playing via the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pak, a quick blast through this and it’s clear to see why so many people think the Star Fox series peaked with its first sequel. It’s not just the nostalgia talking — it really holds up beautifully two-and-a-half decades on.
Totally and utterly unsurprised by the result? Let us know your personal takes in the comments below, and remember that this is a live list — the order is governed by the User Ratings of each game on our database, so feel free to rate the games above if you haven’t already and influence the ranking.
Also, unleash your favourite Star Fox 64 quotes below. Try a somersault!