Star Fox EX, Super Nintendo

Star Fox EX is a recently-released ROM hack for the Super Nintendo classic, Star Fox, that takes ROM-hacking to another level. It was created by “kandowontu” (and a team of other contributors) and was first released in November 2022. The “EX” means “Exploration Showcase“.

The story goes something like this: “The Mario Bros. have decided that the Star Fox franchise no longer has a place within the grand Nintendo universe, and has set out to destroy the Lylat System forever, with the help of characters from more successful Nintendo IPs. They have also posed as Andross in order to hire the infamous Star Wolf team, a rival band of mercenaries led by Wolf O’Donnell, to distract Star Fox while they pull off their plans. Can Fox and his team put aside their former friendship with the Nintendo All-Stars to save both the Lylat System and everything associated with their franchise?” Which is pretty wild…

Star Fox EX features: a brand new map with 17 new levels, new bosses, music, enemies, and more; a pre-game menu to customise the game and set up cheats; support for the SNES mouse, the Super Scope, NTT Data Pad, and Multi-Tap (allowing up to five people to play simultaneously); wireframe mode; colour palette changes; customisation of crosshairs; a model-viewer; “noborder” mode; full camera control; the “rainbow laser”; model size choices; background choices; show collision boxes; increased Super FX speed (enables the full Super FX chip capability at 21.7 MHZ); secret levels; and a FPS counter. Plus the game can be played in “Classic Mode” with the original levels intact (although you can also apply some of the features of the ROM hack to them).

Games modes in Star Fox EX include: Scored Mode (enables the on-screen score counter and applies some gameplay changes); Hard Mode (disables all laser upgrades; laser damage halves; secret bosses on stages 1 to 4); Endurance Mode (back-to-back levels and a boss rush); Multiplayer Mode (two-player; Multi-Tap enables up to five players); Team Assault Mode (either multiplayer or with CPU-assisted wingmen); Super Scope Mode (enables Super Scope Control); “Nan Mode” (enabling “Wonderful, mysterious things”; basically a collection of some of the hack’s weirdest fun features); “Bouncy Death Mode”; and Max FPS Mode (allows the game to be played at 30 or 60 FPS and is only available in emulators). Note that Multi-Tap mode is not recommended for real hardware as it can make the PSU hot.

And not only does this hack feature a smorgasbord of wild and wacky additions and changes, but it also has a variety of subtle enhancements, like the game now being re-playable after the credits (which wasn’t possible before). Other undocumented features and secrets also exist, which have yet to be found. Note: to access the secret level on level 6-3; destroy the seven green asteroids that appear throughout the level. This will then spawn a yellow asteroid. Destroy this, then fly into the fire…

Having spent some time playing this mod I have one big question: what does “no border” mode actually do? I had hoped it would allow the game to run full-screen (because the reduced screen size has always bugged me about Super FX games), but that doesn’t seem to be the case. If anyone knows: please let me know as it doesn’t explain this in the instructions and I can find nothing about it online.

As far as increasing the frame rate goes: firstly you need to have the latest version of the emulator you’re using (in my case: SNES9x 1.60); go to Emulation > Hacks, then set “CPU Overclock” to “Max”, then increase the Super FX clock speed to something between 200% and 400%. This may differ depending on the emulator used and the specification of your host computer. Then in the EX setup menu you need to set “Max FPS” to “60”. If you turn on the FPS counter you’ll then be able to see what the frame rate is during the game. I did notice that the rate dropped quite a bit during play (depending on what’s happening on-screen), although it does run at 60FPS most of the time, and it does make a difference to the look and feel of the game.

Star Fox EX is undoubtedly an amazing piece of work and an outstanding achievement. Playing the game is fun, and messing around with all the different settings will provide hours of entertainment for retro gaming enthusiasts, old and new alike. And it gives this classic game a new lease of life. Of course it’s unofficial and might give some people a moral dilemma if they don’t own an original SNES cartridge. I also wonder what Nintendo thinks of it. Are they impressed with it, or not?

Note: the patch requires a no-header “Star Fox (USA) (Rev 2)” ROM to work, and is a BPS file, so also requires a BPS patcher to apply. It’s easy to do but just make sure that you download the patcher from a reputable place (or use an online patcher). If it doesn’t work you’ve likely got the incorrect base ROM.

More: Star Fox on Wikipedia
More: Star Fox EX on romhacking.net
More: Star Fox EX on YouTube

3 thoughts on “Star Fox EX, Super Nintendo”

  1. Great review!! No borders mode allows you to flow as far left/right/up/down as you want, basically removing the borders of movement.

    Thank you so much for the article!!

    And I don’t know about Nintendo, but some of the original developers and people involved in the original game have voiced their approval 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really enjoyed playing it. In fact: am still playing it. I appreciate all the work that’s gone into it. Such a great ROM hack. I would’ve loved there be no actual borders on the screen, but I guess that if that was possible you’d have done it! 🙂

      Like

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