Patent news website Patent Arcade has unearthed a hillariously detailed patent that seems to describe some of the more middling features of the Star Fox series. Issued in 2001, the 23,000+ word document details important game features such as "a score-giving condition is detected according to a relation of the player object to another object." (read: shoot stuff for points) and "... a plurality of different courses through which a player can successively advance by successfully completing a current one of said plurality of courses" (read: a level select screen)
The patent seems to focus a lot of energy on unoriginal, pedestrian features such as location-specific hit-detection and allowing players to replay a level for a higher score. Are they really trying to claim ownership of such basic video gaming ideas, or is this legalese just boilerplate that gets filed as a matter of course? Either way, if Nintendo ever files a patent-infringement lawsuit against some game that "makes it possible to... advance to a same course (i.e. replay) even after clearing a course or scene difficult to manipulate," we'll be sure to cover it here.
Read -- Patent Arcade summary
Read -- Full patent at the USPTO