Wednesday, 17 May 2023

Exploring all of the Super FX Chip Games on the Super Nintendo - What SNES Games Used the Super FX Chip?

During the 16-bit era, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System revolutionized gaming with its impressive library of titles. Among the many innovations that pushed the console's capabilities to new heights was the Super FX chip. Developed by Argonaut Software, this little chip empowered game developers to create immersive and visually stunning (for the time) 3D experiences. Without further ado, let's delve into the world of Super FX chip games on the Super Nintendo, highlighting the titles that left an indelible mark on gaming history.

Star Fox (Starwing)

Star Fox SNES Super Nintendo Box Art

Released in 1993, Star Fox (known as Starwing in Europe) was the first game to utilize the Super FX chip. Developed by Nintendo and Argonaut Software, this rail shooter introduced players to the thrilling intergalactic adventures of Fox McCloud and the Star Fox team. Its groundbreaking 3D graphics and fast-paced gameplay showcased the capabilities of the Super FX chip, setting a new standard for presentation in a video game and pushing the boundaries of what was possible on the SNES. It's a true classic with a ton of character, one of the best games on the console, and has an absolutely banging soundtrack as well. 10 out of 10!

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Stunt Race FX (Wild Trax)

Stunt Race FX SNES Super Nintendo Box Art

Arriving in 1994, Stunt Race FX (Wild Trax in Japan) brought arcade-style racing to the Super Nintendo. Developed by Nintendo EAD and Argonaut, this title showcased the Super FX chip's ability to deliver reasonably smooth racing in a fully 3D environment, and it featured some very impressive physics for the time. With a strong variety of tracks, adorable anthropomorphic vehicle designs, vibrant visuals, and personality to spare, Stunt Race FX offered a very unique racing experience to those who had the chance to play it back in the day, and it's still pretty fun and incredibly charming today. 

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Vortex SNES Super Nintendo Box Art

While not as well-known as the previous two titles, Vortex made its way to the SNES in 1994. Developed by Argonaut Software, this space combat game employed the Super FX chip to create a visually impressive and unique gameplay experience for the time. The game has you piloting a transforming spacecraft through 3D environments, engaging in battles with enemy forces. It's definitely not a great game, to be sure - it's overly complicated while also managing to be really, really boring - but it's at least interesting as an early attempt at a 3D action game on a home console.

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Dirt Racer

Dirt Racer SNES Super Nintendo Box Art

Dirt Racer, developed by MotiveTime Ltd. and released only in Europe in 1995, showcased the Super FX chip's potential in a different genre - off-road racing. With its impressive-for-the-time scaling and rotation effects, Dirt Racer offered players a peak at what a next-generation dirt track racing game might be like. It's extremely jank and kind of sucks, to be honest, but yeah - it's a Super FX chip racing game with graphics that are somewhat impressive for the system. It's sort of worth checking out just on that basis alone. If you're looking for a good Super FX racing game though, just stick with Stunt Trax FX.

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Yoshi's Island (Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island)

Super Mario World 2 Yoshi's Island SNES Super Nintendo Box Art

Yoshi's Island, released in 1995, marked the culmination of the Super FX chip's journey on the Super Nintendo. Developed by Nintendo, this iconic platformer presented a vibrant and whimsical world filled with imaginative level design and charming characters with a watercolor-esque visual style. The next generation Super FX 2 chip enabled the game to showcase some impressive visual effects, including sprite scaling and rotation effects, as well as some polygon-based 3D effects. Oh yeah, and it's just a great game from a gameplay perspective as well. Yoshi's Island remains a beloved classic, demonstrating the Super FX chip's ability to enhance both gameplay and artistic presentation, even in a 2D platformer. One of the best games on the system for sure - if you haven't played it yet, you should definitely check it out ASAP.

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Doom SNES Super Nintendo Box Art

Doom, the iconic first-person shooter developed by id Software, made its way to the Super Nintendo with the assistance of the more powerful Super FX 2 chip. Released in 1995, Doom on the SNES offered a shockingly faithful adaptation of the groundbreaking PC original. While the Super FX 2 chip wasn't as powerful as most of the competing platforms that Doom appeared on at the time, it still enabled the developers of the port to deliver on the intense horror action the game was known for, albeit with some major compromises in terms of visual fidelity and frame rate. Still, in some ways it was actually the most faithful console port of Doom that was released in the 1990's, besting even the PlayStation version in terms of having more complex level design that mirrored the PC original, rather than the simplified levels the other console versions offered. An impressive port of an all-time classic game, Doom on the Super Nintendo was a great addition to the console's library and really showed off what was possible with the Super FX chip. 

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Dirt Trax FX

Dirt Trax FX SNES Super Nintendo Box Art

Developed by Sculptured Software and released in 1995, Dirt Trax FX was another racing game that utilized the Super FX 2 chip. This off-road racing title aimed to provide a more immersive racing experience with its dynamic track conditions and realistic physics. The Super FX 2 chip allowed the developers to enhance the game's engine and graphics with smooth scaling and rotation effects in addition to the impressive 3D polygon track. And as a racing game it's actually not too bad - sure, it's a bit repetitive and has some annoying quirks (like the weird horn honking that plays every single time you go from 2nd to 1st place and vice versa), but it actually runs and plays quite well and it's kind of fun. All in all, Dirt Trax FX is worth a look if you're curious.

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Winter Gold

Winter Gold SNES Super Nintendo Box Art

Winter Gold, also known as FX Skiing in Japan, was a sports game developed by Funcom and released in 1996. It featured a variety of winter sports events, including skiing, bobsledding, snowboarding, and figure skating. With the awesome power of the Super FX 2 chip, Winter Gold showcased some pretty impressive graphics and stylized cutscenes, immersing players in the snowy landscapes and competitive atmosphere of the winter sports arena. While it's technically more of an FMV game than it is a 3D one, it nevertheless boasts some really cool visuals for Nintendo's 16-bit console, with a level of presentation that managed to rival early 32-bit titles for the PlayStation and Sega Saturn. The game itself offers some pretty simplistic extreme sports gameplay, but there's some fun to be had here if you don't require your games to have a ton of depth.

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The Super FX chip revolutionized gaming on the Super Nintendo, introducing players to a new level of visual and gameplay innovation. Titles like Star Fox, Stunt Race FX, Doom, and Yoshi's Island pushed the boundaries of what was thought possible on a 16-bit console, captivating gamers with their stunning graphics and immersive experiences.

Although the Super FX chip library was relatively small, the impact of these games can still be felt today. They served as a testament to the ingenuity and creativity of game developers during that era, and their influence can be seen in subsequent generations of consoles and games.

As we reflect on the Super FX chip games on the Super Nintendo, we appreciate the pioneering spirit that drove developers to push technological boundaries and deliver unforgettable gaming experiences. These titles stand as milestones in gaming history, reminding us of the transformative power of innovation in the ever-evolving world of video games.

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