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Image: Nintendo

In July 2020, the source code for the original Star Fox leaked alongside a number of other Nintendo titles as part of the now infamous 'gigaleak', and it seems like, in the intervening years, modders have been hard at work developing some interesting, new alterations to the game. This includes adding exciting options like multiplayer, new weapons, maps, and even a new game+ feature.

KandoWontu is the leader behind the Star Fox Exploration Showcase, which is the name of this new patch. He tells me that he grew up playing Star Fox, which is one of the reasons why he decided to take a closer look at the source code and see what he could do with it.

"I definitely remember being blown away by the 3D graphics on the SNES, and I don’t think I ever noticed any slowdown at the time," KandoWontu tells us. "Of course in retrospect now playing the original game can be painfully slow at times, but that was the magic of it! That, powered with Nintendo Power issues pumping it up made it a memorable game for sure."

Originally, his goal for the Star Fox Exploration Showcase was just to try and enable the all-range mode from Star Fox 2, as well as implement a set of camera mods created by his fellow modder Starxxon, but the project eventually grew in ambition from there.

As KandoWontu says, "After that, I thought why not make the ships changeable? And the weapons? And before you know it I was adding new features and hidden codes. Then one day I figured out how to make a basic menu for toggles! At this point I’ve added a full second map with the original intact and still playable, the new map has 3 new courses, a secret level, new backgrounds/enemies/bosses/music, and much more!"

According to him, his new goal is simply to modify anything and everything he can and make it toggleable from a menu. He shared with us a demonstration of his progress so far in the form of a new menu image, and it's safe to say he's been super busy.

In fact, here's the full list of features being added to the game:

  • Full Pre-game Mod Menu
  • In-Game Pause Menu
  • 2 Player mode
  • 2/4 Player CPU mode
  • New Ships
  • New Weapons
  • New Views
  • New 4th Course
  • New Game+ Feature
  • Endurance Run code
  • Level Features Code
  • God Mode Code
  • Full Camera Control

Patching all this into the game hasn't been easy. KandoWontu had no experience with assembly language prior to starting, so he compares the process of tampering with the code to throwing a bucket of darts at a wall and seeing what sticks.

The possibility of a two-player mode, in particular, threw up some interesting tech and design challenges, like how to create the movement controls for player 2 and what to do if they die. For the former, he modeled most of the ship's controls after player 1 with modifications to use separate variables and instructions, while, for the latter, he eventually decided to just have the second player disappear for a few seconds and then respawn onscreen.

KandoWontu has had quite a bit of help to make this all a reality. He tells us that SegaRetro92, assisted him with figuring out the palette, graphics, and textures, while phonymike, livvy94, and MrL314 cracked open the music. Additionally, the modder Euclidium helped him crack the model conversion process, while Sunlitspace542 did all of the additional avatars, and chuckborrisnorris did some extra modifications to the Super FX code. The patch even apparently has a lead composer involved, named Random Stuff, who has contributed both original music and models to the game.

KandoWontu announced last month that the patch would likely be launching at the end of this month (August), but he now expects it to come out sometime in October instead. That's when you should be able to download it from here.

As for Nintendo's lawyers, he believes as long as he's only distributing a patch and doesn't profit from it in any way, he should be fine.