Before StarFox Adventures: Dinosaur Planet
featured the StarFox
crew, it was a Nintendo 64
game called, simply, Dinosaur Planet
. Initially conceived and developed by Rareware
in 1998, Dinosaur Planet
was to chronicle the adventures of foxes Sabre
as they fight to stop the evil General Scales
from ruling their homeland, Dinosaur Planet. Each fox
had a unique set of moves to perform with their weapon of choice, a staff
, and players could swap characters by going to the character that in the StarFox
redo is known as the Warp Stone
and asking him to make the switch.
As for our heros, each comes with their own backstory in typical Rareware fashion. Sabre was a twenty-year-old warrior and son of Randorn, the great wizard. When his older brother was killed on the battlefield, his father was grief-stricken and disappeared without a word into the wilderness. After many years of torment, Sabre decided to track him down. As for Krystal, she was orphaned at the age of six and found herself adopted by the wandering Randorn. Their paths eventually crossed in their quest to destroy General Scales. When the game became added the StarFox theme, Sabre was sent to the ashcan and Krystal became the damsel in disress. Other characters, such as the boss Galdon, were retained and beefed up to become even more impressively frightening.
The cartridge was to make use of the Nintendo 64's Expansion Pak to allow Rareware to include lots of shadows and light effects (such as the kind seen in Donkey Kong 64). The cartridge itself would have contained 512 megabits of data, one of the largest cartridges on the system. Of course, being a N64 game the graphics were not as refined as their GameCube upgrades went on to be, and as such the characters suffered from extreme polygoning (that is, their bodies were obviously a handful of polygons with a texture mapped to them).
In traditional Rareware fashion the game underwent delay after delay until, finally, in 2000 it dropped off the N64 release list, only to reappear for Nintendo GameCube and featuring the StarFox cast of characters in 2001. With the N64 in its final days, it's understandable why the change was made. The screenshots of DP (still available on the Internet) show an impressive game, but one that obviously could have stood to be improved upon. Such an epic quest deserves top-notch graphics, something that the aging cartridge-based console had difficulty with in an age where gamers demand near-perfection. As for why the StarFox license was added, perhaps Nintendo feared another Jet Force Gemini on their hands and feared another original Rareware license that didn't strike a chord with gamers. People loved Fox McCloud and Fox McCloud sells games. Sabre and Krystal, they probably decided, do not. In the end the new foxes never had the chance to prove themselves, but perhaps one day they will return.