- “Never give up. Trust your instincts.”
- —James McCloud
James McCloud was a legendary and astonishing pilot who became the founder and leader of the legendary Star Fox Team, a mercenary-for-hire squadron in the Lylat System. James was talented in terms of fighting, piloting, and adventuring. He was well known for holding an unwavering loyalty to his friends. After his apparent and supposed death, James was later succeeded as leader of Star Fox by his only son, Fox McCloud. Fox McCloud was a cadet at the Cornerian Defense Army Academy when he heard the news that his father, James McCloud, had met a violent end at the hands of the twisted genius, Andross. The senior McCloud had been betrayed by his own wingman, Pigma Dengar, and delivered into a deadly trap from which there was seemingly no escape. Only James's wingman, Peppy Hare, managed to limp home in his badly damaged starfighter. As the only survivor of the original Star Fox Team, Peppy insisted that the young Fox take on the leadership of the group and form a new team of pilots. Thrust into the leadership role that he wasn't prepared for, Fox recruited the hot-tempered Falco Lombardi and the mechanical genius Slippy Toad to make up the new Star Fox Team in his father's honor.
Formation of Star Fox
As an ace pilot and avid adventurer, James served in the Cornerian Army with his friends Peppy and Pepper, before pulling out to start an elite commando unit of mercenaries-for-hire, known as the Star Fox team, initially working on a freelance basis. The team consisted of James himself, who was the leader and founder of the mercenary squadron, Peppy Hare, who was already a close friend, and Pigma Dengar, who proved himself to be a cunning teammate in the Star Fox Team. In the course of their duties, James and Star Fox traveled the length and breadth of the Lylat system, pursuing jobs and settling disputes. The team earned overflowing wealth to the point that James decided to upgrade the team's headquarters and purchased a mothership called the Great Fox, which was so expensive that James took an 80-year loan from a bank to transport the trio across the system faster and more efficiently. For a price, this crack group would fight against any threat to the Cornerian star system. Although it may have appeared that the Star Fox Team is motivated only by financial gain, it would only accept missions that serve to uphold justice.
Reports of strange activity were detected on Venom - a barren, inhospitable, and desolate planet on the far edge of the Lylat System, where the mad scientist Andross had been exiled to it just a few years before. General Pepper, worried for the safety of the entire system, and he hired the original Star Fox team to go on a scouting mission to Venom and determine the cause of the strange activity.
Upon their arrival, Pigma betrayed the team to Andross, who had bribed him with the promise of immense riches. James and Peppy were immediately captured by Andross at the onset of the betrayal. Peppy managed to barely escape, and flew his damaged Arwing back to Corneria. When he returned, he informed General Pepper and James' son, Fox, of what happened to James, Pigma, and himself during the failed scouting mission. While it is unknown what exactly happened to the missing James, he was declared dead. The Star Wolf leader Wolf O'Donnell was also suspected to have been involved in James' disappearance as well. Upon hearing this, Fox eventually vowed to get revenge on Andross for murdering his father and bring the traitorous Pigma to justice.
After Peppy returned and delivered the news of James' fate to Fox and General Pepper, Fox decided to follow in his father's footsteps and resume leadership of Star Fox. Even though Peppy was older than all the other Star Fox Team members, he declined the leadership role and insisted that the younger Fox McCloud take over the team after Fox's father was slain by Andross. Using both the Great Fox and ROB 64, a robotic humanoid purchased by James for the team but never given the chance to be utilized, Fox recruited Peppy, Slippy Toad, and Falco Lombardi to fight together and defend peace wherever it was threatened, thus creating a new Star Fox Team to be formed. General Pepper, still feeling guilty of sending his old friend James to his doom, decided to take responsibility of his son Fox's career. Pigma Dengar succeeded at his mission, got paid a huge sum of money, and instead joined Star Wolf, a rival mercenary-for-hire group. However, he was kicked out due to his incredible greed and distrustful nature after the Lylat Wars. He was later assimilated by the Aparoids and was apparently destroyed by Fox. The Aparoid Queen later used James McCloud's likeness to attempt to trick Fox into surrendering. However, it ironically exposed her deception due to "James" telling Fox to effectively give up, something Fox knew full well his father would never tell him to do. In most Star Fox: Command endings, Star Fox remains together and may even have a new generation.
The legacy that James McCloud left behind is one that the citizens of the Lylat System are indebted to, but the ultimate fate of James was never revealed. Most believe that he was executed at the hands of Andross, imprisoned, or even brainwashed.
James has, temporarily, returned on occasion, to help his son and his friends in their time of need. Below are some instances when James makes an appearance in the games:
- The first was on Venom, where Star Fox was concluding their mission during the Lylat Wars to re-take the conquered Lylat System from the Venomian Army and defeat Andross. Fox ventured into the subterranean command center to fight Andross himself, and was poised to defeat him. The dying mad scientist self-destructed, intending to destroy the base and take Fox with it. James, riding in his Arwing, came and saved Fox, guiding him out of the base as the destructive flames raged behind him and led him to safety. James expressed his pride in his son, saying how strong he had become and also saying some helpful hints to him, and upon emerging from the exploding base, James disappeared into Venom's sky. Fox was somewhat saddened by him leaving again, but when questioned by his teammates, Fox insisted nothing was wrong, as his father was still watching over him. While some fans take this to mean that James McCloud is still alive, it was heavily implied that this was a vision or ghost that came to his son. If one watches closely, there is a shooting star that likely represents James on the right corner of the screen in this ending, which is symbolism for his passing. The player also cannot interact with James' Arwing during the escape sequence. If the route taken leads to Venom 1 rather than Venom 2, however, there will be more references to James' death. When doing the Bolse mission with Star Wolf's arrival, Pigma, when giving his entry transmission, will taunt "Daddy screamed REAL good before he died!" (although he only says the "died" part if Andrew Oikonny isn't present, as otherwise Andrew Oikonny will cut in; also, in the Japanese version, Pigma's taunt was a lot more explicit, as he tells Fox that James McCloud was waiting for the latter in Hell.). While Fox is traversing the base's tunnel and is about to face the Andross decoy, Andross will taunt "You will die just like your father!" The Japanese Star Fox 64 manual also uses more explicit wording to refer to James' doom.
- James' next appearance was possibly nine years later, during the Anglar Blitz, where Star Fox made its final raid on Venom to defeat the Anglar Emperor. In the Venom mission that leads to the Dash Makes a Choice ending, James suddenly appeared in his Arwing, and aided Fox, Falco and Dash Bowman in their battles under the Venom oceans. Oddly, Fox seemed to be the only one that was able to see him, despite Falco asking: Fox! you seein' things or what? There's no one there!. After defeating the Anglar Emperor, James says: …Well done… and disappears afterwards.
- In Star Fox Zero, James McCloud led Fox to Andross, although he warned his son that it will be the point of no return beforehand. He later aids Fox in escaping from Andross, telling him he needs to return to his friends for their sake as he flies straight towards Andross. It should be noted that during the latter instance, unlike in prior entries where Fox is the only one who actually sees James at all, Andross is shown to be aware of James' presence in addition to Fox, as he explicitly turns around and yells "Curse you, James McCloud! Why won't you stay dead?!" shortly after James flies towards him.
Star Fox Comics
- Fox's father was given a name and backstory in the non-canon Star Fox comic adaptation by Benimaru Itoh. In it, Fox McCloud Sr. (as he is known here) was born and grew up on the planet Corneria. Much of his past remains unknown, but he graduated from the Cornerian Academy, married Vixy Reinard McCloud, and had only one child, whom he raised on his own. Jealous, Andross rigged a bomb into Fox Sr.'s car and since Vixy's car was out of gas, Fox Sr. offered to let Vixy use his car, unaware of Andross's scheme. When Vixy turned the car's ignition, the bomb exploded, resulting in her death. Both Andross and Fox Sr. were stricken with grief by the sudden loss. Later, Fox Sr. was presumed dead when an experimental bomb testing "went wrong." Designed by Andross, then a Cornerian scientist, the bomb was secretly supposed to detonate when Fox Sr. reached critical velocity. However, the Black Hole was created from the explosion. This resulted in his exile to the planet Venom. Fox Sr. is later seen to be alive in some form when the hidden Space Whale who releases items from Sector Y is revealed to have Fox's father on board. While he is still alive, he is confined to exist only inside the Black Hole and is unable to return to the other side.
- Meanwhile, in the Japan-only Star Fox Mission File Printout guide book (also illustrated by Benimaru Itoh), another background for Fox's father was given. Fox Senior-Gunsō (or "Sergeant"), apparently a high-ranking member of the Cornerian military and dear friend of General Pepper, was chasing space pirates in the Asteroid Belt. He narrowly missed a mysterious smiling asteroid, which suddenly turned into a Black Hole vortex that swallowed him in. The appearance of a foreign Black Hole is believed to be due to the presence of Andross's experiments in the area. After hearing the news, his son Fox McCloud dropped out of the Cornerian Academy. Fox's close friends -- his former rival Falco, Fox Senior's associate Peppy, and the mechanically-inclined Slippy -- all joined him in the struggle against Andross.
Lylat Wars Comic
While James himself did not appear in the manga, he was mentioned. When Fox chases after Pigma in revenge at the Meteo Asteroid Belt, Wolf delays him to let the traitorous Pig escape while making snide threats about sending Fox to join his father, thus Fox concludes the rumors surrounding Wolf's involvement with the ultimate fate of James. Later at the Great Fox's hanger, Peppy retells the backstory of the original Star Fox Team to Slippy. The Rabbit blames himself for losing his best friend, calling himself a coward and only hoping that someday he'll see "Jimmy" again. The affectionate nicknaming indicates just how close James and Peppy were together.
James and Fox appear strikingly similar. The telltale sign that one is looking at James McCloud is that he is never seen without his sunglasses. However, Fox is sometimes seen with sunglasses. Besides the sunglasses, there have been various other differences between Fox and James.
- In Star Fox 64/3D, James has a narrower head and darker fur, while having a noticeable nick in the skin of his left ear. This tear only appears when Fox is leaving Andross's exploding Palace, possibly due to torture from his capture on Venom and presumed execution. The tear is missing in later games, possibly due to the influence made by the developer change.
- James is also under noticeably different lighting conditions from Fox; James has a red and green light on his right and left side respectively, contrasting with Fox's uniform yellow-white light.
- On the Expert difficulty mode Fox wears a pair of sunglasses and looks almost indistinguishable from James. Also, Fox's name doesn't appear during transmissions he sends out during the course of Expert Mode, further referencing his appearance as James, as James has the same color box around his mugshot as Fox's.
- In Star Fox Command James wears a yellow scarf rather than a red one. Fox references James's trademark appearance when he too wears sunglasses again in his own fatherhood, as seen in the Star Fox Command ending, Goodbye Fox.
- Also in Star Fox: Assault, James is grey fringed, in comparison to his son, Fox's white striped forehead.
Each time James is voiced, it is the same voice actor as Fox McCloud (English versions only).
|Star Fox 64/3D||Mike West (English)|
Tomohisa Asô (Japanese)
|Star Fox: Assault||Jim Walker (English)|
Hirohito Kakegawa (Japanese)
- In early Benimaru Itoh illustrations (seen in the Star Fox comic adaptation and Star Fox Mission File Printout guide book), "Fox Senior" is depicted without shades, showing that this version of Fox's father had blue eyes. Until his trophy in Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 3DS/Wii U, this is the only appearance to date where James's eyes have been revealed.
- Wolf's advice to Fox "Don't hesitate, when the time comes, just act!" is a spin on James and Peppy's own catchphrase, hinting another connection between the implied history of their rivalry.
Names in Other Languages
|Japanese||(ジェームズ・マクラウド, Jēmuzu Makuraudo)|
- NINTENDO POWER Star Fox 64: Official Nintendo Player's Guide. Redmond, WA, Nintendo of America. 1997.
|Star Fox Team|
|Founding / Former||James McCloud • Pigma Dengar|
|Current / Official||Fox McCloud • Falco Lombardi • Peppy Hare • Slippy Toad • Krystal • ROB 64|
|Associate / Honorary||Bill Grey • Katt Monroe • Lucy Hare • Amanda • Tricky • Free-As-A-Bird|
|Other||Marcus • Slippy's son • Peppy's granddaughter • Miyu • Fay • Fara Phoenix • Saru|
|Vehicles||Arwing • Landmaster • Blue-Marine • Great Fox • Walker • Gyrowing|
|Other Vehicles||Arwing II • Sky Claw • Bullfrog • Cloud Runner • Sky Bunny • Tadpole • Catspaw • Cat's Paw 2 • Great Fox II • Defense-Class Arwing • Interceptor-Class Arwing • Mothership|
|Cornerian Army||General Pepper • Peppy Hare • Captain Shears • Bill Grey • Dog Soldiers • James McCloud|
|Inhabitants||Beltino Toad • Dash Bowman • Vivian Hare • Yaru de Pon • Vixy Reinard • Grippy Toad|
|Companies||Cornerian Defense Force • Bulldog Squadron • Husky Squadron • Cornerian Academy • Space Dynamics • Corneria Precious Metals Ltd. • Star Fox • Free-As-A-Bird • G-Zero Grand Prix • Star Falco|
|Vehicles||Cornerian Fighter • II • Cornerian Fleet • Cornerian Flagship • General's flagship • Monkey Arrow • Cornerian Assault Carrier • Pleiades-class Cruiser • Cornerian Transport|
|Technology||Radar Sites • Sentry Bot • Re-block • AegisCam • RE:BOT • Self-destruct program|
|Bases||Fichina Base • Katina Frontline Base • Katina Outpost • Corneria City • Climate control center • Orbital Gate • Area 3|