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A Pilot is normally an aircraft pilot or aviator, which is a person who actively and directly operates the directional flight controls of an aircraft while it is in flight. In the Star Fox series, pilots can be controlled outside of their vehicles depending on the game, but can only be played as within an All-Range Mode and that has ground.

In the games

SF64 Multi

Star Fox 64's Multi Player mode with all forms for gameplay displayed.

Star Fox 64

Once you earn medals in every mission playing in Expert Mode, you will be able to use Rocket Launchers in VS. Mode.
—Star Fox 64.com

After gaining every medal in Expert Mode, the four Star Fox team pilots can be used in Versus Mode as playable characters, except in the Sector Z stage because it is a space quadrant with no ground. Pilots are selected before the match starts or a player is downed by pressing the top C button which is marked by a fox head. Pilots are very slow and easily targeted compared to the Arwings and Landmasters, armed with large, shoulder mounted "Rocket Launcher" blasters, controlled and looking similar to the Homing Launcher and Plasma Cannons in Assault. The pilots are controlled by holding down the R button to run, pressing the A button to shoot, B to launch a Smart Bomb and Z to jump. Pilots cannot charge or lock-on their laser, but can still pick up Laser Upgrades and launch Smart Bombs. Laser upgrades will give the player's laser twin spiralling bolts like the Landmaster's.

Characters

Like the communications channel and radar, characters are colour coded by their ammunition to tell their shots apart. They are controlled by whichever player has the following controller in the Nintendo 64's console socket:

Controller Socket Character Base Colour
Player 1. Fox McCloud Yellow
Player 2. Peppy Hare Red
Player 3.  Slippy Toad Green
Player 4. Falco Lombardi Blue

Fly / Drive

Once certain conditions have been met you'll also be able to select a Landmaster tank and a hologram of yourself armed with a bazooka!
—Official Nintendo Power Player's Guide, pg 114

Fox Vs. Falco Vs. Peppy Vs. Slippy

You can also earn medals in the expert missions, giving first-class pilots some fresh challenges. If you collect another full se of medals, you'll enable one last special feature: the ability to select Star Fox team members in Vs. Mode. Along with spaceships and tanks, you'll be able to pit bazooka-toting animals against each other in combat!
—Official Nintendo Power Player's Guide, pg 120

Note that the gameplay statistics, including running speed and jumping is not affected by the chosen character.

Star Fox Adventures

In Adventures, gameplay is mostly restricted to outside of the Arwing, likely because of the game being an adaptation of Rare's Dinosaur Planet. Fox remains on foot unless needing to travel to other lands in orbit by Arwing or riding a certain dinosaur or vehicle.

Star Fox: Assault

Starfox-assault-(1)

Pilots in the Vs. mode character select.

Stages where you control Fox and move around a contained area are all-range stages. You clear these stages by destroying a set number of targets. You can also pilot Arwings and drive Landmasters on some all-range stages. When you change weapons in Pilot Mode, the name of the new weapon is displayed.
—Star Fox: Assault; Instruction Booklet

Similar to both Star Fox 64 and Adventures, Assault features third person stages in both Single Player and Versus Modes, depending on the mission or stage. With the exceptions of Missions 1, 5, 8 and 10, all stages use ground based gameplay. Pilots are controlled like before, but now feature unique skills on certain categories unlike previous games such as running speed and jumping height. Vehicle management comes into effect in both single and versus modes where situations will require characters to proceed on foot if places that are too small for vehicles are near to enter. Every pilot can pick up and use the various weapons on the ground using the cursor aim like the Landmaster, while each pilot has the standard Blaster as their default weapon as it is impossible for a pilot to be unarmed. Pilots can enter and exit vehicles to fit situations and will be forced to continue on foot if their vehicle is downed, but can be KO'd inside a vehicle if there is not ground or enough damage has been done to the pilot's health gauge. Pilots can use Rolling like a barrel roll but will only dodge attacks rather than shielding them.

Characters

Character Health Speed Jump Arwing Landmaster Pilot Special
Fox McCloud ★★★ ★★★ ★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★ N/A
Falco Lombardi ★★★★ ★★★ ★★★★★ ★★ ★★★ N/A
Slippy Toad ★★★★ ★★ ★★★★ ★★ ★★★★★ ★★★ Charge Speed X2
Krystal ★★ ★★★ ★★★ ★★ ★★ ★★★ Barrier X2
Peppy Hare ★★ ★★★★★ ★★★ ★★★ ★★★★ Charge Speed X4
Wolf O'Donnell ★★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★ ★★★★★ (Wolfen) ★★ ★★★ N/A

Other info

  • No character in Assault's Versus Mode has a below 3 star Pilot skill.
  • The Super Smash Bros. series uses its playable characters in an identical manner to pilots, in that they are characters fighting outside of vehicles, although it is 2-D side-scrolling rather than third-person gameplay.
  • Star Fox 64 3D does not include the option to play as pilots in its Versus Mode making the pilot mode the only manner of playability not to return.

Trivia

  • The Nintendo Power Star Fox 64 guide implies that the characters are holograms of themselves.

References

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