Nintendo has struggled to make the Star Fox series feel fresh and engaging for a long time now. Star Fox Zero was the last time we saw Fox McCloud, and it was a disappointing outing for fans that had wanted the series to evolve beyond the template that made past games special. Nintendo famously tries to make sequels that meaningfully add to the formula of a series. One approach to this recently has been with Nintendo Switch Online battle royale games. Tetris 99, Super Mario Bros. 35, and Pac-Man 99 have all demonstrated how the battle royale template can breathe new life into tried-and-true game formulas. Perhaps battle royale could work for Star Fox too.
(For the last part in this “what if” series, check out The Legend of Zelda as an MMO.)
Where are we barrel rolling, boys?
Nintendo’s attempts at the battle royale genre have stuck to a simple formula thus far: use the original mechanics of a classic game and update them to feel natural with multiplayer. I think Nintendo could take this route with Star Fox or also go an entirely different way, but first let’s discuss the former.
Many Star Fox stalwarts agree that Star Fox 64 was the creative and mechanical peak of the series. In the same vein as Super Mario Bros. 35 using Super Mario Bros. as its base, a Star Fox battle royale could use the template of Star Fox 64. Players could progress through the classic levels with a time limit that can be increased through various means. Killing enemies, flying through rings, and completing levels would all give you more time in the match.
Successfully carrying out these tasks would also let players send obstacles and enemies to other players that would be viewable on the miniature screens around the center. Unlockable cosmetics would let players change up their colors, and seasonal events could provide crossover content with other Nintendo franchises. A Zelda event could give players the chance to earn a Triforce-themed Arwing, while a Splatoon event could reward players with an ink-covered ship.
A second approach for a Star Fox battle royale would be to make it an open 3D game. In a fully 3D Star Fox battle royale, players would take control of their Arwing from third-person or cockpit perspectives as they fight to be the last pilot or squad alive. Players would fly around in open space, trying to acquire better weapons and armor that can be randomly found around space stations, asteroids, and so on. Think Star Wars: Squadrons or the Star Fox content in Starlink: Battle for Atlas for an idea of how this could look. Instead of dropping onto a map, a Star Fox battle royale could start with players flying into space from familiar planets in the Lylat system. Obtainable weapons would be essential, but the game could also include fun power-ups such as super armor that encourages directly crashing into opponents.
Controllable speeds, wily barrel rolls, and flares could provide plenty of evasive maneuvers to guarantee that there are always options in combat. Using the environment to your advantage, such as luring a powerful player into an asteroid field, could also work to your advantage and ensure that the game rewards the piloting skill of players. During seasonal events, limited-time items could even add some fun to this formula, such as Mario’s Super Star or Link’s Hookshot.
Individual components of the ship could be tailored to your taste, and a variety of skins could let you change your pilot to numerous Star Fox or Nintendo guest characters. Unlockable skins from seasonal events could turn your Arwing into glorious references to other Nintendo characters like Mario or Donkey Kong too.
In either a classic 99-style battle royale or a more elaborate 3D battle royale, Fox McCloud and friends would finally have a new lease on life, and the Star Fox series could reach greater heights than ever before. How far could you make it in your Arwing?