GameSpite Journal 12: Psycho Fox

Where did Psycho Fox go wrong? Pretty much any way you slice it, Psycho Fox was Sonic the Hedgehog before Sonic the Hedgehog. Levels are huge sprawling affairs, with multiple paths at differing elevations. We have a cute cartoony animal mascot whom one can reasonably say is possessed of attitude. He has a set of personal physics that rely quite heavily on momentum, and allow him to reach ridiculous speeds. Arguably, Psycho Fox has the edge on Sonic thanks to a mechanic where reaching a high enough speed lets him skip across the surface of a body of water rather than sink to his death. Then on top of that, we have power-ups that let you take on other forms with differing stats, like switching characters in Super Mario Bros. 2, and a pet bird which follows an incredibly nice arc, clearing out oncoming enemies and resting on the ground to be picked up and thrown again instantly.

And yet, nobody really seems to have any love for Psycho Fox. The fact that it wasn’t particularly popular at the time is somewhat understandable. Platformers in its vein were much more popular on the NES, while the SMS was known for more exploratory intellectual games. Still, platform obscurity isn’t a barrier to people first discovering games through the internet, and between the the unique physics and multipath levels, Psycho Fox would lend itself wonderfully to tool-assisted speed runs. Besides which, the similar Sonic the Hedgehog was the game that made the Genesis a success to begin with, and the spiritual successor to Psycho Fox, Decap Attack, wallows in similar obscurity for that system.

Perhaps it’s a cultural thing. While most games for the NES, SNES, and Genesis were careful to scrub all of the decidedly Japanese imagery from their games for international appeal, games for the Sega Master System practically revelled in it, with bouncing daruma as enemies in the original Alex Kidd, and “shinto sticks” activating the character transformations in Psycho Fox. The ending of the game in particular is one of the most astoundingly Japanese scenes to play out in any game to have a North American release.

A collection of caroony animals gathers around a shine, one smoking a pipe while another uses a fan featuring the rising sun. Then Psycho Fox himself takes center stage, wearing only a fundoshi, clapping and stomping his feet sumo style, causing the word “DOSUCOI!” to fall from the sky with each impact. This repeats several times before fading to the in-joke-filled ending credits.

Or maybe it’s just a lack of that special early ’90s “attitude.” Perhaps if Psycho Fox were prone to impatiently tapping his foot, it would him causing fans to cry over a legacy of awkward fishing cats and baffling werewolf transformations.

Article by Jake Alley

GameSpite Journal 12Psycho Fox

8 thoughts on “GameSpite Journal 12: Psycho Fox

  1. There were actually times where Sonic could skip over water (in 2 and 3), but levels weren’t generally designed like that. I think a bit difference is that it’s harder to attack enemies and keep moving in Psycho Fox, whereas you can jump on enemies heads or roll through them and keep moving in Sonic.

    Plus, well, Master System. Just too obscure of a system back in the day for North Americans.

  2. Every time I see Psycho Fox it warps me back to ’93, in my friend’s bedroom, where we would play The Incredible Crash Dummies, Micro Machines, and of course, Psycho Fox.

    Ahh, the Master System. Good memories.

  3. After being spoiled on the ending with the header image I feel a strange obligation to play Psycho Fox, because any game that has a cartoon fox do a sumo routine up on stage with a lion and moose with onlookers like a derped out horse in a suit is certifiably insane. What makes this all the more interesting is that the game was never actually released in Japan.

    Speaking of weirdly Japanese stuff, New Adventure Island has between world intermissions that are often distinctly Japanese. Almost makes it worth playing. Almost.

  4. I never ever touched a real master system during it’s original run. I actually once beat up a kid at school who dared to say that Thunder Blade was better than Tiger-Heli. Seriously people, Tiger-Heli may not end, but isn’t that what makes it awesome? The posibility of getting a higher score all the time! Screw Thunder Blade and its stupid 15 minutes of gameplay.

    Thanks to emulation I played Psycho Fox, and I was glad I was on the Super Mario Bros. 3 side of things instead.

  5. The only thing I know about Psycho Fox is that he met the Gamepro guy in his comic. It’s probably the only Master System exclusive game I’ve wanted to play, but it seems to keep being neglected in Segas countless collections. Of course, those collections lean towards Genesis games and their arcade counterparts.

  6. I gotta play Psycho Fox someday. I keep meaning to.

    Why do I gotta play it? Because apparently the gameplay was cut-and-pasted into one of my absolute favorite Sega Genesis games, “Magical Hat Turbo Adventure”, which was insanely weird and awesome. I prefer it to its American remake, where they took out the (never shown in the US) anime license characters and story and replaced them with ugly, UGLY graphics, creating Decap Attack.

  7. I sometimes see Psycho Fox praised by the most devoted proponents of the Master System. You know, the people who insist to this very day that the console was superior to the NES because Alex Kidd could ride a bike and Mario couldn’t.

    For me, Psycho Fox is another of Vic Tokai and Seibu Lease’s middling, loosely linked platformers, along with Kid Kool, Decapattack, and Socket. I wish the company’s development teams were documented better; did the people behind Psycho Fox also make Clash at Demonhead?

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