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Japanese video game giant Nintendo has announced that Star Fox Zero, a brand new game for Wii U, will be released at the end of this year.

It may not be as big an IP as Mario or Zelda, but Star Fox has garnered a huge and loyal following since it launched all the way back in 1993 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, so today’s announcement will no doubt have put big smiles on a great many faces.

For this brand new outing, the first on Wii U, Nintendo has taken great pains to make full use of the Wii U gamepad’s many features, allowing players to tilt it to look and aim their ship’s crosshairs, as well as being able to divide their attention between the gamepad’s “cockpit view” and the TV screen when choosing whether to focus on shooting or acrobatic flying.

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The new game will also mix up the usual Star Fox formula by allowing players to transform their Arwing fighter ship into a variety of other vehicles including a tank and a walker, the last of which creator Shigeru Miyamoto commented was originally intended to be a part of Star Fox 2 – a game which was due to be released for the Super NES but was cancelled late into development.

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Star Fox Zero is not a direct sequel, nor – thanks to its new control modes and additional vehicles – is it a simple remake of the original Star Fox. For this reason, Mr Miyamoto commented during the presentation, it was given the title of Star Fox Zero. It also just so happens that the kanji character for ‘zero’ reminded the game’s creator of a fox’s tail when written with a brush, calling to mind the design process for the original SNES Star Fox when he would wander around Kyoto’s famous Inari Shrine.

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▼ “I wanted people around the world to see this cool kanji character in the logo,” said Mr Miyamoto. “It reminded me of a foxtail – it looks cool.”

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Perhaps the best news for fans of nerdy internet memes, however, is that many of Star Fox 64‘s original voice cast will be returning for Star Fox Zero — you can be sure that Nintendo will squeeze at least one “do a barrel roll” into the game’s dialogue at some point.

Here’s hoping Fox and pals’ latest adventure is as much fun as the original SNES and Nintendo 64 titles were.

Source/screenshots via Nintendo