Nintendo has revealed the original Star Fox artwork during a fascinating Iwata Asks discussion.
As you can see, Tayaka Imamura’s sketch shows Fox McCloud, Slippy Toad, Peppy Hare and Falco Lombardi, the animals who would become the stars of the series.
During the discussion, Shigeru Miyamoto spoke of how he came up with the idea of using animal characters in a shooting game.
“Most of the sci-fi in Japan back then was robot anime, superheroes and monsters. But I wasn’t interested in doing the same thing, ” said Miyamoto. “I had been drawing animal characters for a long time, so I suggested animal characters to Imamura-san. He was surprised.”
He went onto explain the inspiration behind Fox McCloud. “Star Fox has a lot of scenes in which the fighter goes through arches, which reminds one of the gates at Shinto shrines called torii. And torii made me think of the thousands of such gates at Fushimi Inari Taisha. In a prototype, there were lots of scenes like going through there. And when you think of Fushimi Inari, you think of foxes.
“Fushimi Inari Taisha is about a 15-minute walk from our former head office, and there used to be a boys’ baseball team in the area called the Inari Foxes. I thought, “Foxes! Now that’s cool!”
If you look at the artwork you’ll spot a torii by Fox McCloud’s feet.
So that’s Fox but what about the rest of the crew?
Mitsuhiro Takano who worked on script and character dialogue for Star Fox 64 picks up the story. “I heard directly from Imamura-san that he drew upon Japanese folk tales. That’s how he decided on Peppy the hare and Falco the pheasant.
As for Slippy Toad, Miyamoto said: “That is a bit unusual. (laughs) I remember when Imamura-san was drawing that picture, I said, “A toad might be all right, too. There was a staff member who used a toad like a personal mascot, always writing “ribbit, ribbit” and such on memos.”
Later on, Miyamoto also commented that Yoshi was also inspired by a member of staff.