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Miyamoto: Thunderbirds inspired Star Fox

Wanted Gerry Anderson TV series.

Nintendo's sci-fi shooter Star Fox was partly inspired by British puppet TV series Thunderbirds.

Top designer Shigeru Miyamoto revealed the sixties show's influence during a new Iwata Asks interview with company boss Satoru Iwata. Both are Thunderbirds fans.

Miyamoto imagined Star Fox becoming successful enough that Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson would come "all the way from England for negotiations to adapt it into a puppet drama".

Licensing the game would have been "a dream", Miyamoto confessed. "So for Star Fox 64, even though we would usually want the character animation to look natural, we had puppets in mind, so the characters' mouths pop open and closed."

It also cut down on animation, he added.

Miyamoto decided the series should star animal characters to contrast with the majority of Japanese sci-fi at the time, which largely featured robot anime, superheroes and monsters. "I wasn't interested in doing the same thing," he explained.

"We were like, 'But animal characters in a shooting game?' and then 'That's precisely why it should have impact!' and started thinking about which animals to use."

Meanwhile, the series' Arwing starship was designed as a triangular shape since it was the "only choice" possible on the SNES' limited rendering technology.

It was named Arwing because of its resemblance to the letter A, and the design stuck. It has been used in almost every Starfox game to date.

The aerial shooter's arches, through which Arwings fly, reminded Miyamoto of Japanese shrine gates, and in particular one often linked with the imagery of a fox. A baseball team near his former studio who used this imagery was also named the Foxes. "So it was the English word 'fox' from the start."

The game's other animal races were derived from Japanese folk tales, except for Slippy Toad. He was inspired by a former member of staff.

"There was a staff member who used a toad like a personal mascot," Miyamoto explained, "always writing 'ribbit, ribbit' and such on memos."

Upcoming Star Fox 64 3D, a Nintendo 3DS re-imagining of the N64 classic, launches in Europe on 9th September.

Five minutes of Starfox 64 3D.

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Tom Phillips


Tom is Eurogamer's Editor-in-Chief. He writes lots of news, some of the puns and makes sure we put the accent on Pokémon. Tom joined Eurogamer in 2010 following a stint running a Nintendo fansite, and still owns two GameCubes. He also still plays Pokémon Go every day.