- “Communications Line, green.”
- —Fox McCloud
Communications Channel is a general term in non fiction and science fiction for telecommunications and visual networks, the method of a character's contact. This technology has been developed and used by the Cornerians, Venomians and the Lylat System's population alike, in every Star Fox game and spin-offs, differing from highly advanced technology to lower tech throughout the series.
Its continued appearance in the main games and Super Smash Bros. series has made it become a trademark feature in the Star Fox series. The main design of communications is text boxes, displaying static signals followed by the characters' cropped heads to indicate varied speech from the game's script to any character's reactions. Every starfighter and vehicle in the Star Fox series is equipped with comm-links to stay in contact on the field of battle, including the Arwing, Landmaster and Blue Marine. Some characters like Fox McCloud are equipped with Comm-link wrist pads for easy contact.
The line opens and closes with static. The Great Fox does not yet make an appearance in the series, making it unknown how General Pepper manages to stay in contact with Team Star Fox. Before the Arwings enter the next mission, Fox is seen entering a quick briefing with General Pepper when selecting a level. These differ from the planet status to Pepper's questions about the conditions of his Arwings.
When Fox enters the tunnels on Venom to reach the final boss, depending on the flight route taken to the planet, Andross will make contact with him to offer discouraging threats or even express surprise at the way the team chose to approach Venom.
Following the same role as the original title, visual contact with General Pepper is established at the beginning of every mission, to reflect upon the war efforts. The Great Fox is able to stay in touch with General Pepper at his Cornerian Army base, even as far as Venom's orbit. The teammates display their shield gauges above their icons and when forced to retreat they will show wrenches across their Communications Channel as they sign out.
For gameplay purposes, ROB 64 will make contact with the C>>> icon or touch screen to provide item supplies and cover firepower. Andross will use the same technique to hack into the line in Area 6 and on the plains of Venom and tunnels of his palace, offering discouraging threats. In Andross's case, it's implied that his accessing the Star Fox Team's communications channel was the result of his telepathy.
Fox McCloud also accessed the communications channel through his Arwing helmet, as evidenced by the ending of the game where he received a message from ROB informing him that the Great Fox's departure levels have been cleared, as he put his hand over the side of the helmet.
- “Keep your eyes and ears open at all times. Your wingmen will often point out a foe's weakness, uncover a hidden path or give you vital clues to the survival of the Star Fox team. Though you may not like to be interrupted in the heat of battle, your wingmen wouldn't do it without good reason.”
- —Official Nintendo Power Player's Guide, pg 6
Call for Backup
- “ROB 64 will sometimes contact you via sub-space radio during battle. When you hear a chime and see a yellow icon flash, press the right C Button to open a channel. ROB will send you a Supply Container with an item in it.”
- —Official Nintendo Power Player's Guide, pg 16
Andross on Line 1
- “That's not ROB 64 on the com-link, that's Andross! The vile monkey has tapped into ROB's subspace frequency just to taunt you. Since you're busy with a squadron of fighters (hit them with charged, by the way), just ignore his hail.”
- —Official Nintendo Power Player's Guide, pg 103
The allies of Fox are represented by disembodied heads, projected by Fox's comm-link wrist pad, named by General Pepper as the Communicator. Fox can use the START menu to activate communications with Slippy for gameplay advice, Peppy for his world atlas and historical records and General Pepper to read items, staff upgrades and Tricky's Sidekick Commands. And also to save progress and quit a save file.
When captured by General Scales, Fox must break a hole in the CloudRunner Fortress prison's tower to receive his SharpClaw Disguise from Slippy, as the stone walls block the signal. Due to atmospheric conditions on the planet, some areas like Galdon's cave will receive limited to no reception.
Aside from the above, the Great Fox was also similarly equipped with such a communication channel, although much larger and more grounded. This version also gave holographic displays, as evidenced by General Pepper using a display showing the breaking apart of Dinosaur Planet during the briefing at the beginning of the mission.
- “Press START/PAUSE at any time to pause the game and bring up the Communicator, allowing contact with the Star Fox Team.”
- —Instruction Booklet, pg 27
- “Displays you current overall status.”
- —General Pepper
- “Displays the Dinosaur Planet Map. This shows your current location [displayed as a Fox head] together with where you should be heading next [a flashing symbol].”
- —Peppy Hare
- “Displays clues and advice. If you get stuck on a puzzle or task, you can always turn to your friend Slippy.”
- —Slippy Toad
- “Select the Memory Card to save the current game.”
- —Memory Card
- “Select the Quit icon to exit the current game.”
- “!!! The Communicator also allows tour teammates to get in touch with you. look for the STAR/PAUSE symbol on-screen and press it as soon as it's displayed.”
- —Instruction Booklet, pg 27
- “NOTE: Krystal only has the Memory Card and Quit options. Also, atmospheric conditions on Dinosaur Plnet sometimes provent you from getting full access to the Communicator options. Continue you journey and keep trying; you'll get through eventually!”
- —Instruction Booklet, pg 27
Named as the Communication Window in the manual, there is less static and more fluent, cleaner transmissions, allowing a higher reception between Fox and his allies and enemies. Fox reads his Arwing's signal before departing the Great Fox as green, indicating a clear transmission. This time, any heavily damaged teammates will display a red reitre stamp across their comm link icon as soon as they are forced to retreat and will display it again on the results screen, losing the ally medal.Cutscenes involving a briefing on the upcoming mission are displayed as fully bodied holograms. When arriving at the Sargasso Hideout, one of the criminals hacked into the Communications to warn them off the territory. However, upon learning their identities as the Star Fox Team, they decided to instead block them from leaving and attack them. Messages can also be recorded and delivered such as when Slippy received a message from his father Beltino about the Core Memory before they invaded the hideout.
The Aparoid Radar Jammers play a crucial role during mission 7 when communications between the Star Fox team and General Pepper are disrupted by Electromagnetic pulses. As seen in the briefing, Pepper was about to make his plea for Fox to hurry when he was already under attack and cut off from the screen and made the rear image read out a connection failure. Only after destroying the Radar Jammers are the communications rebooted.
- In Assault, contacts with General Pepper are immediately lost just after he pleaded "Please Fox, I'm already..." followed by Pepper turning to see his ambush. Pepper's quote "Its about time you showed up Fox! You're the only hope for our world!" resembles Princess Leia's plea to Ben Kenobi. These may be more references to the Star Wars franchise.
- “This shows message text and the face of the character contacting you. During the missions, it will also show vehicle endurance or physical health of you team-mates.”
- —Instruction Booklet, pg 12
The Communications Channel is still featured and performing the same as it has done in previous games. Character dialogue is displayed on the top screen, both on the map planner and within gameplay. Before and after missions, the Great Fox is the centre of cutscenes and communications between characters, which will influence the available choice of gameplay routes after the key of destiny is unlocked.
In Command, characters are highlighted in blue and static tint when communicating with the Great Fox, a possible reference to the Star Wars series.
In the 3DS version of Star Fox 64, players now witness character dialogue on the Arwing cockpit within the touch screen, and are required to respond to incoming messages from ROB 64 by tapping the touch screen, or ROB's backup will go unanswered.
The communications channel appears on the TV screen, while characters that communicate are now highlighted in a slight green, static tint around the edges instead of base colours, likely for more dramatic effect. The characters on the window use projections of their heads resembling their realistic artwork renders, but characters returning from Star Fox 64 3D such as Granga and Caiman use icons identical to the later game.
An unblurred image of Shigeru Miyamoto playing a test of the game revealed Falco reciting a quote from Star Fox 64, using his icon from Star Fox 64 3D which was a placeholder.
The Communications Channel reappears in Star Fox 2 where it performs as it has always done. In the opening, Andross's air force advances while he is shown using a wide range transmission to declare his act of revenge on the Cornerian federation for his past defeat. General Pepper retaliates by contacting the Star Fox team to protect Corneria from certain annihilation.
Fox, Falco and Wolf have secret taunts on the Star Fox stages which activate Easter egg in game transmitted conversations. There can be only one per match. The Corneria and Venom stages use brighter Lylat Wars style icons while the Pleiades-class Cruiser stage uses newer icons matching recent character looks. These are halted if the character has been KO'd.
Snake from the Metal Gear series has a similar communication device to communication channels, called the Codec or radio. As such, he can also perform this action on his own stage. Slippy will gently hack into Snake's personal channel on the Shadow Moses Island to give him details about Falco. It is also implied from the frequency that the frequency he used to hack into Snake's channel had belonged to that of Colonel Roy Campbell. Slippy will react to Snake getting KO'd in the same manner as his allies, and when Fox is downed in his own games.
In the Star Fox microgame featured in WarioWare: Smooth Moves, Fox, Falco, Peppy and Slippy appear in their SNES designs, offering piloting tips and player encouragement.
The Communications Channel appears in the Lylat Wars Comic, performing like it does in the games. In the very beginning, General Pepper projects himself from the Communicator to grab Fox by the throat in desperation of aid against Andross's leigons. This humourous form of contact actually predates the form of contacts used years later in Star Fox Adventures.
The Manga begins with Katt sending an distorted S.O.S signal to Falco as she's being attacked by Goras. After rejoining with his old gang of rogues, Falco finds that the Hot Rodders have acquired Venomian Transmissions with their data tracers. Deception from Captain Shears led to the Star Fox Team attacking the Hot Rodders, only to have their signals blocked with the use of a Radar Jammer.
- Even character deaths are taken into the games script, as seen when Fox, various Cornerian and Venomian soldiers perishes. The channel remains open even when Fox's allies react to his death.
- In Star Fox 64, Andross is the only character whose comm-link's dialogue box has a different color than other instances (being red in his case).
- NINTENDO POWER Star Fox 64: Official Nintendo Player's Guide. Redmond, WA, Nintendo of America. 1997.
- Star Fox Adventures (Instruction Booklet)
- Star Fox: Assault (Instruction Booklet)
- Star Fox: Farewell, Beloved Falco