21 years ago this week, Nintendo shot Star Fox into space

21 years ago this week, Star Fox showed off how Nintendo games could thrive in 3D.

Star Fox was an extremely important game for Nintendo. Besides launching them into a new genre, it was also a showcase for their Super FX chip. With its then-impressive 3D graphics, it was a technical showcase roughly on par with that of Donkey Kong. The game was developed by Argonaut Software, which caught Nintendo's eyes with a presentation showing that 3D graphics were actually possible on the Game Boy. But Nintendo had grander goals.

The studio would lead the way on the development of the Super FX chip, while Shigeru Miyamato came up with the idea of casting a motley crew of anthropomorphic animals as the protagonists. Star Fox was a success; but most fans remember the series for the superior Star Fox 64, which in 1997 had the distinction of being one of the fastest selling games ever.

Sadly, Star Fox has mostly dropped off the map. Outside of cameo appearances in Super Smash Bros., Fox and his crew haven't been seen since the Star Fox Command--a decent but not particularly memorable outing on the Nintendo DS.

So in a way, February 21 is bittersweet for Nintendo fans. It's nice to remember the past, but it would be even better for Star Fox to have a future.

This Week in Gaming brings you bite-sized gaming history every week. Come back to find out what the past can tell us about the future, and to reminisce about a time before high-definition visuals, always-online DRM, and digital distribution.