Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. An eclectic group of anthropomorphic animal characters has adventures in space. This is the most laconic description I can arrange for the Nintendo video game franchise Star Fox. Still, you could argue that the description is a fairly accurate summation of my Cosmic Dash stories. Star Fox is one of the “big three” influences that led to what Cosmic Dash is today, and I have had a long on-again-off-again relationship with the series.
How influential? Well, let’s talk about the game as a concept first.
What is Star Fox?
Star Fox is a Nintendo rail shooter video game created by Nintendo and Argonaut Software. The first game, 1993’s Star Fox, would launch a long-running video game franchise following consistent characters and gameplay. The game was one of the first 3D video games developed by Nintendo and served as a technical showcase for the Super FX graphics chip for the SNES. The game used relatively primitive polygons to render 3D environments in an on-rails shooting game. This on-rails shooting experience would be the most consistent gameplay element in the series over the following decades.
The 1993 game was followed by an unreleased SNES sequel that wasn’t released until nearly two decades later. However, the franchise would land its most successful and beloved entry with 1996’s Star Fox 64 for the Nintendo 64.
I suggest watching the multi-part series by Gaming Historian for the entire franchise’s history. It’s a fascinating topic.
Star Fox is a series I latched onto quickly as a kid. I had a copy of the 1993 game, but I found it incredibly hard. As I got older, with the arrival of the Nintendo 64, I saw Star Fox 64 far more accessible. Star Fox 64 was one of the most played games in my collection, if not the most played. I was obsessed with the game. When I wasn’t playing the game, I would build LEGO Arwings and use vending machine toy spaceships to “fly” through canyons dug in my front yard.
The gameplay was something I came to love, but beyond that, I also loved the characters and the style. It is common knowledge now that the distinctive animal puppet look of the cast was influenced by the show Thunderbirds Are Go in addition to folklore about foxes and monkeys in Japan. I didn’t know any of this at the time. It was like Muppets going on space dogfights; each character had a fun and distinct personality.
My interest in the franchise waned in and out with various releases, but I recall distinctly being incredibly ambivalent about Star Fox Adventures (2002). While I don’t play many releases after Star Fox 64 too often, I will play the first three games once a year.
Star Fox and Cosmic Dash
So, what are some connections between my comic and this classic video game series?
The most significant association is the usage of animal characters. Star Fox uses anthropomorphic forms of different species to populate its fictional Lylat system. In Cosmic Dash, I do not use anthropomorphic animals but rather use them as design elements for different alien species. Are the Terrekin based on turtles? Absolutely. They’re not turtles, but I find the distinctive aspects of turtles to be fun to play with. Maybe this is splitting hairs – there is no doubt that Cosmic Dash can be seen as a furry comic, just as Star Fox can be seen as a furry game.
Another element of the game I feel influenced Cosmic Dash is banter. Fox, Falco, Slippy, and Peppy, talk a lot in the game, and I appreciate how much character the writers developed from some pretty basic archetypes. Part of the fun of a playthrough is hearing the dialogue.
Including the more infamous, meme-worthy lines.
I write a lot of dialogue in Cosmic Dash and try to set up situations where characters will talk to one another even as action scenes go on. I feel that is something I learned from Star Fox. Hell, even the title Cosmic Dash evokes the naming of the Nintendo franchise. The influence of that Nintendo game is inescapable for me.
I have tucked a few references into the comic, such as an Arwing (check the sky in the first panel). One I had intended as far back as the second issue was to have team Star Fox in the lab Orthos stumbles onto – an experiment of the Cult of Y’tun Sargon. I ultimately opted not to, but I will eventually get some expies into the comic somewhere.
There are many other exciting ways the video game has influenced Cosmic Dash, and I would love to hear what you think. If you’ve been reading the stories for a while, please let me know what connections you have seen. I guarantee that are many, even some that are probably subconscious.
Here is a series of pictures I did a while back, placing my characters in the roles of the characters from the video game. I should do another round of these.