Atari 2600 Star Fox FAQ and Scoring Guide September 11, 2003 Version 0.80 =============================================================================== Table of Contents: 1. Introduction 2. Star Fox Story 3. Controls 4. Scoring table 5. Main Game 5a: Practice Mode 5b: Mode A 5c: Mode B 6. Origins of Star Fox and Mythicon, Inc. 7. Frequently Asked Questions 8. Special Thanks =============================================================================== 1. Introduction ---------------- Thank you for reading the Star Fox FAQ. This guide covers the video game Star Fox for the Atari 2600 home console system. In this guide you will find tips for surviving the enemy drones and a table to show you how many points each enemy and crystal are worth. Additionally, I will also answer some common non-game play related questions that often appear on the Game FAQ message board for this game. Yes, itís true! The first Star Fox game was not on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. I hope you will find this FAQ both interesting and informative, whether you are aiming to max your score, or want to learn more about the very first Star Fox game. 2. Star Fox Story ------------------ It is the distant future, the month of August in the year 4024. A friendly robot freighter has crash-landed on the planetoid Beta-7, located within your quadrant. This freighter holds a cargo of extremely valuable trimetalisium energy crystals. An enemy star cruiser with a squadron of fighter drones is on route to Beta-7 to confiscate this precious cargo. Your mission is to race to Beta-7 and recover as many of these important crystals as you can. Destroy any enemy fighter drones that you encounter. Recover the trimetalisium crystals before the enemy beats you to them! 3. Controls ------------- Star Fox is compatible with the Atari 2600 standard controller or a ball controller. Game Select Switch: The Game Select switch on the Atari console will allow you to select 1 which game mode you wish to play. There are a total of 3 game modes, 2 of which have an additional option of selecting 1 or 2 players. This gives you a total of 5 options to choose from. Game Reset Switch: Starts the currently selected game mode. Difficulty Switches: Not used in Star Fox. Their position does not affect game play. Standard Controller: Use the joystick to move in any direction you wish. Tap the red fire button to shot your ships laser. Hold the red fire button for to shoot a steady stream of laser. The red fire button can also be used to start a game mode from the game selection screen. Ball Controller: The Star Fox manual states "BALL CONTROLLERS work very well with STAR FOX. Higher scores should be possible." Personally, I have never used an Atari ball controller and the Star Fox manual does not give any further directions. If you are playing with a ball controller, you will have to figure out the controls on your own. 4. Scoring Table -------------------- Ramming an enemy drone : 10 points Shooting an enemy drone: 100 points Collecting a crystal : 200 points Maximum possible score: 9999 points. 5. Main Game -------------- All right, its time to get into the good stuff, the main game. Are you ready to experience the true Star Fox? Without further delay, lets get into the 3 modes for this game! 5a. Practice Mode (1 player only) Practice mode is indicated on the game selection screen by a man standing next to a happy face. Practice mode is just what it sounds like, a mode used for practice. There is no scoring in practice mode and you have unlimited lives. This is the perfect place to get a feel for your ship so lets go over some of the flying rules. Your ship can move in any direction, but can only fire lasers directly to the left or right. You can't shoot up or down or at a diagonal. You can continue to move freely while shooting your laser so feel free to hold the fire button as you fly through over Beta-7 planetoid. Speaking of Beta-7, see that orange at the bottom of your screen? That's the planetoid. This is where objective of your mission is located, the trimetalisium crystals. However there is a slight problem. The crystals have ionized the gases to such an extent that your horizontal drive is useless at low altitudes. In other words, you can't move left or right whenever you are in the orange area at the bottom of the screen, only up and down. Additionally you cannot fire your laser while in the ionized gas. When a trimetalisium crystal appears in the atmosphere, it will bob up and down within the orange layer, but never move horizontally. Your job is to swoop into the atmosphere and pass over a crystal to collect it. In Practice Mode, you will face all but the strongest enemy fighter drones, but you will never face more than 1 drone at a time. The first drone you meet is fairly large, fairly slow, and fires few shots. As you continue to play, the enemy fighter drones will get smaller, faster, and fire more frequently. Both you and your enemy can be destroyed with a single hit. You can also destroy your enemy by ramming it. In Practice Mode you have unlimited lives. If you are destroyed, simply press the fire button to continue. Every time you destroy an enemy fighter drone, a stronger one will take its place. However, pressing the Game Reset switch on the Atari 2600 console will reset the enemy fighter drones back to their easiest variety. Spend as much time as you like honing your skills here, when you are ready for the real mission, press the Game Select switch to move onto your real mission. 5b. Mode A (1 or 2 players) Welcome pilot! Have you finished your training simulation in Practice Mode? If so, then you are ready to travel to Beta-7 and engage real enemy drones! The trimetalisium crystals must be recovered. The enemy is gunning for you, so make every move count! Mode A is identified on the Game Selection screen by a single man for a 1 player game, and 2 men for a 2-player game. At first glance, Mode A looks identical to Practice Mode, but there are some important differences. 1. You have 3 lives. 2. Scoring is enabled. 3. Enemy drones become more powerful after every 2000 points. 4. The strongest enemy drones can appear. Now, lets learn about your enemies. The enemy fighter drones are surprisingly intelligent for an Atari 2600 game. Even the most basic enemy can put up a good fight. While you are flying above the orange gas atmosphere, the enemy fighters will attempt to circle behind you and attack with missiles. If you reverse direction to face the drone, it will again attempt to loop behind you. The drones rarely attack from the front. If a fighter drone feels you have too much of an advantage, it will attempt to flee and return moments later at a different angle. If you are in the orange gas of Beta-7, the enemy drone will position itself above you and drop bombs. As if that weren't bad enough, after every 2000 points, the enemy fighter drones will be replaced with a stronger model. In order to succeed, you must get a handle on space combat, so lets go over some tips for destroying your foes. Your foes are a bit more maneuverable than you are, so rather than trying to out fly them, you need to learn to anticipate where they will go. An important thing to remember is that unless a drone is in bombing mode or fleeing from you, it will be attempting to keep itself directly behind you. You can use this to your advantage by rapidly reversing directions to face the drone. This will cause the drone to keep moving in an attempt to get behind you, and the more it moves, the less chances it has to attack you. Hold the red fire button and move your ship in a tight circular motion as you work to keep your foe in front of you. Time it right and your foe will loop right into your laser fire and explode, scoring you 100 points. Whenever possible, you want to hit your opponent from behind. Though they don't do it often, the fighter drones can shoot you from head on, especially the more advanced models. An alternative to shooting your foe is to ram it. Ramming a fighter drone will not harm your ship, so don't hesitate to do so. Ramming a drone is easier than shooting one, but will only earn you 10 points, significantly fewer than shooting a foe. Nonetheless, ramming will be an important part of your quest to max your score. As the enemy drones become smaller, faster, and deadlier, they also become extremely difficult to hit. Even the most basic drone can be a challenge to tag with a laser, and the smaller models seem almost impossible! You'll soon find that ramming your enemy is much more effective, despite the 90 point difference compared to shooting one. After all, what good is that 90 extra points if it costs you a life to acquire them? When you reach the final two versions of drones, you may even discover that ramming 10 of them can take less time than trying to shoot just 1. The best way to ram an enemy is to face it, and then quickly turn and swoop into its path as it attempts to circle behind you. If you are hit, the game will display how many lives you have left. Press the red fire button to continue play. If in 2-player mode, the other player will take their turn after a the other player loses a life. The game is over when all 3 of a players lives are lost. Regardless of how you destroy a drone, another one will arrive a few seconds later. Use this time to snag a trimetalisium crystal as quickly as you can. There is a trick to collecting the trimetalisium crystals. They appear just off-screen behind you as you are flying. So rather than flying great distances to the left or right, travel in one direction for a few seconds, than quickly reverse direction. Almost immediately, you should find a crystal floating in the atmosphere. You must dive into the atmosphere to pick up the crystal, but this can be trickier than it sounds. You are most vulnerable to your enemy when you are trying to retrieve a crystal from the atmosphere. Remember that once your ship enters the orange gas, your ship will not respond to left or right movements of the joystick until you leave the atmosphere. Although you can position yourself directly above a crystal and lower yourself onto it, I strongly recommend against doing so. This maneuver leaves you very vulnerable as it requires you to come to a complete stop above the crystal. Not only is it difficult to line up correctly with the crystal from above, but the fighter drones will drop bombs on you as you lower yourself into the atmosphere. A better method is to swoop into the atmosphere at an angle. Even though your horizontal engine drive will kick out, your horizontal momentum will carry you right into the crystal if you dove into the atmosphere close enough to it. Then you can quickly rise up out of the atmosphere and move clear of the bombs the enemy drone will begin dropping on you. Each crystal you collect is worth 200 points. Your goal is to achieve the maximum score, 9999 points. If you accomplish this feat, you have mastered Mode A. Once you reach this score, the game will not change the fighter drones, the models you are facing are the strongest there is. The game will continue at its current difficulty until you lose all of your lives. 5c. Mode B (1 or 2 players) Welcome back pilot. How did your mission in Mode A go? Pretty tough wasn't it? Well don't relax! Itís only going to get tougher. This mode is for experts only! Only the best of the best will survive here! Welcome to Mode B, identified by a Man and a Diamond on the selection screen. Two men and a diamond for the two-player variation. So, you have scored 9999 points in Mode A and consider yourself an ace pilot? Well, you've come to the right place to prove it! Its time to return to Beta-7 for another round of trimetalisium crystal gathering. But this time things will not be so easy. The same rules apply here as in Mode A, except for one very important difference. Ramming an enemy will destroy your ship. That's right! That ramming strategy you used in Mode A to handle the strongest of drones and boost your score won't work here! Sure you will still get 10 points if you ram an enemy, but it will also cost you a life. This simple rule change completely changes the flow of the game and separates the men from the mice. Do you have what it takes to truly be a Star Fox? In order to survive here, You must master the art of luring your enemy into your laser and avoid their potential counter attack. At first this isn't too difficult, but by the time you have 4000 points, the enemies are so fast and small, you may find yourself frequently being destroyed by a counter attack, or accidentally ramming your foe and losing a life. You must perform extremely tight circles and be ready to quickly rise or lower your altitude to avoid your enemy as they circle around you and fire their missiles. I have yet to max my score in Mode B but one tip I have found is that you may fare better by concentrating on avoiding your enemies rather than destroying them. Gather the crystals to increase your score and change directions to maneuver an enemy drone out of your way. Accidentally ramming your foe is a huge threat here, making direct combat risky. An alternative way to battle your foe is to pursue your the drone when it tries to retreat off-screen. Quickly give chase and fire a stream of lasers. Your ship is faster than the drones in horizontal movement and they do not try and loop behind you while retreating. This is your best opportunity to destroy the more advanced models later in the game. By all means, experiment in Mode B and find what works. I will continue to test new strategies in this mode and try and find more weaknesses to the enemy drones. Until then, good luck! 6. Origins of Star Fox and Mythicon, Inc. ------------------------------------------- In 1983, a company called Mythicon, Inc. released 3 games for the Atari 2600. These games were Fire Fly, Sorcerer, and Star Fox. Mythicon, Inc.'s marketing strategy was to sell quality video games at the bargain price of only $9.95. However, things did not pan out as well as the company had hoped. The games sold poorly, and players felt the quality of the games were poor. All 3 of Mythicon, Incs titles frequently found themselves in 99-cent bargain bins. In fact, my copy of Star Fox, which I purchased off of E-bay, has a 99-cent tag on it. When the video game industry collapsed later that year, Mythicon, Inc. closed its doors and the small company dispended. Now all of Mythicon, Inc.'s titles are somewhat of a rarity, even on auction sites like E-bay. Mythicon, Inc. was such a little known company that most people have never heard its name, but I have been doing research into them for some time now. A difficult task indeed with so little information sources available to go on. Like all their games, Star Fox was meant to be the first game in a series. On the game box, it reads "Game 1 in the Star Fox series." After Mythicon, Inc disbanded, the Star Fox series came to a screeching halt... or did it? Now, 20 years later, I have successfully contacted a former programmer of Mythicon, Inc. And through a phone conversation, the storyline started in the Mythicon Star Fox game just might get a second life... 7. Frequently Asked Questions. ------------------------------- Q: Did Nintendo make this game? A: No, this game was produced by Mythicon, Inc in 1983. Q: Is Fox McCloud in this game? A: No, this game was created well before the Nintendo Star Fox series was made and the two are not connected in any way. Q: Who is the pilot in this game? A: The pilot is un-named. Q: If this is the first Star Fox game, could Nintendo get sued for using the name? A: I can all but guarantee you that Nintendo will not be sued. Mythicon, Inc went out of business 10 years ago, so all the living employees have gone onto other things. Additionally, when Mythicon, Inc copyrighted their game, they copyrighted it under the name of Star Quest. The copyright was filed before the game was actually released. It looks like when the game was released, Mythicon. Inc decided to rename the game Star Fox but did not make any changes to the copyright filed. So according to US Copyright records, this game is called Star Quest. Nintendo now has a patent on the name Star Fox so no future games can use the name. Q: Who was the programmer of this game? A: His name was Bruce De Graff according to the Mythicon. Inc programmer I talked to. Q: You said the Star Fox Series might continue. What do you mean? A: Please read my answer to the next question for the answer to this one as well. Q: What is with your obsession of this game? A: An obsession you call it? Heh I guess you could call it that if you want to. Well fair enough I can answer that. I am a bit of a fan-fic writer. I purchased an old Atari 2600 on E-bay a while ago. One day while I was looking up some reviews for the old Star Fox Super NES game I noticed this one here for the Atari. At first I thought the name was some kind of mistake, but further research revealed that this game does indeed exist. Well ever since I was a little kid it has been a dream of mine to own the rights to a video game. One of my goals is to not write fan-fiction, but to write fan-fact. To write something and have it be an official continuation of the story. This game fascinated me for reasons I can't quite grasp. This game is the true Star Fox game, the very first. This game was, as far as sales go, a total flop. In fact all 3 of the games made by Mythicon, Inc did poorly and found their way into 99-cent bargain bins. After about 1 year of business Mythicon, Inc disbanded forever, abandoning everything they were working on. Somewhere locked in a vault is a game called Diver that was never released, and possibly never finished. Since this game did so poorly in sales, and the staff has gone onto other things, I saw a chance to go for my childhood dream. This game does indeed have a story, a very simple one, but one that has so much potential to go much further than this game ever took it. I did a lot of researching. I actually found the workplace of one of Mythicon, Inc's former programmers. I set up a phone interview and within a week, I was able to talk to him. Unfortunately he was not able to contact the person that you would consider the "Head" of Mythicon, Inc and though he gave me the name of the man that specifically programmed the Atari Star Fox game, I have not been able to contact him. The person I talked to worked on a different game. Nonetheless, I told him about what I wanted to do. Though he couldn't help me purchase the copyright for the Star Fox game, he did encourage me to continue the storyline. So I now have verbal authorization to continue the storyline of the Mythicon, Inc Star Fox game, which is in no way related to the Nintendo franchise. So to continue the storyline I am going to have to change the name. Instead of Star Fox I am planning to call it Space Fox. I am currently in the process of developing the next chapter of the storyline. So I don't have any documentation or official forms saying I now have the rights to officially continue the games storyline. All I have is the verbal permission of a programmer of the former company. Although legally verbal permission is all I need, its not something that can be proven should the extremely unlikely happen and I be taken to court. If Bruce De Graff wants to sue me over it, I'll cross that bridge if it ever comes. But as of now, I have permission from an official representative, and thatís enough for me. Itís sort of like having a license on the story. I don't own the original story, but I will own everything I make from this point on, and it will be an official connection to the original story. 8. Special Thanks -------------------- I'd like to extend special thanks to former Mythicon, Inc. programmer, Mr. Thorston Bradsher for helping me to learn more about Mythionc, Inc. and Star Fox during an interview held earlier in the year. You're the best Thor!