Join me as we take a lighting quick look at the fastest racing series ever! Seriously, it leaves Wipeout and Extreme G in the dust! YOU GOT BOOST POWER!
Back in 1990, this game blew peoples minds with its incredibly smooth and fast MODE 7 graphics! Not only were the graphics outstanding for the time, it was also a very fun game to play… If you had the skills needed to survive flying through futuristic cities at over 1000MPH! I really wish I was around back then to experience peoples reactions to it. As it stands today, the game is still a blast to play and is avaliable on the Wii and WiiU Virtual console for everyone to enjoy.
Compared to the rest of the games in the series, it is extremely basic, with only fifteen courses, split over several Grand Prix modes. There are only four cars to choose from. It may not seem like much, but due to the games fast pace and tight controls its endlessly replayable even today!
This is also where the famous Captain Falcon got his first appeance, these days though all he seems to do is punch people…
BS F-Zero Grand Prix
People in Japan were lucky enough to get an expansion for the game if they owned the Satellaview adaptor for the Super Famicom. Allowing players to effectively download new content for games over a sattel;ite connection. These expansions, called BS F-Zero Grand Prix and BS F-Zero Grand Prix 2 introduced new cars and tracks.
To play the game you had to hook up this lovely looking piece of kit and link it up to a sattelite connection which would then download the game onto the cart! Downloading games and DLC way before consoles had a proper internet connection!
Some online companies have released the game as a repro, which makes the ROM avaliale to buy as an actual cart that can be played on the SNES!
The jump to the 64Bit era made the snes F-Zero look like a sunday driver simulator in comparison! This entry in the series is still regarded as the best by many. A huge jump in graphics was coupled with an enoumous character roster, with 26 different vehicles to choose from, each with adjustable stats to improve speed or acceleration.
The game runs at a constant 60fps making for a very smooth experience, and although some people complain about the lack of graphical detail, I don’t really see it as a problem considering most of the time you’re going too fast to notice anyway!
As well as the obvious GP and Time Trial modes, the game also introduces a new mode, Death Race in which you have to try and destroy as many other opponets as you can using new attacks which are performed by using the Z or R buttons.
The soundtrack was equally amazing with some tunes that are still thought of today as some of the best in the industry. Just listen to some of these…
F-Zero X Expansion Kit
Much like the SNES game before it, F-Zero X also had a Japan only expansion released. This expansion came on the underappreciated 64DD System. It allowed players to design their own tracks and gave them access to even more new levels as well. This is extremely hard to find and expensive these days and a very sough after collectors item! I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of it in Japan last year… but I think thats as close as i’ll get to owning it for a long time…
F-Zero Maximum Velocity
The first handheld game in the series took a lot of inspiration from the SNES game, with simmilar graphics and gameplay. The simmilarities end there though, this game was kind of strange in the fact that none of the original cars were included, instead, gamers were introduced to a whole new range of vehicles which have never been seen since…
As one of the first GBA games I owned, it got a LOT of playtime and I was able to learn all the nuances of the controls, including the underlooked technique of tapping the accelerator as you go round a corner to improve the handeling. This is a really important technique to master if you don’t want to be sliding round the stage like a lunatic!
It’s a pretty simple game compared to X with fewer courses and cars, but it has more connent than the original. It also has some great music and track designs including a course in the sky and track obstacles such as sliding sand and wind which pushes the car around the track, making it even harder to stay in control! Once again boost is awarded after each lap, unlike X however, you only get one single boost per lap, making for much more precide racing lines in time trial mode!
Co-Developed by SEGA and Namco, this three way colaboration created one of the best games for the Gamecube, and a superb entry in the series. This game boasts incredible graphics that still hold up well today and gameplay that was as fast and precise as ever. Maybe even more so with the GameCubes analogue L and R buttons providing much more control over the use of the air breaks which help with making sharp corners.
As well as all the modes from the previous games, this one introduces the biggest update so far, a Story Mode. This mode was a challenge mode of sorts with each challenge proving more difficult than the last. They are all very memorable and probably caused many controllers to be thrown at walls by frustrated playes at the time! (Me included…)
As well as the GameCube release, thwere was also an arcade version with completely different tracks, called F-Zero AX. This was the first of what was planned to be many arcade games using the new Triforce system. The system allowed players to take their gamecube memory cards and use them in the arcade to upload and download data such as custom cars and high scores. Sadly, these machines are extremely hard to find these days. I was lucky enough to find one on holiday one year and it was a fantastic experience to play F-Zero in an arcade machine like that!
F-Zero GP Legend
GP Legend was for many what Maximum Velocity should have been, with the retun of fan favourite characters and new versions of classic courses like Mute City and Big Blue aswell as new versions of their iconic themes! This game also incuded a story mode, which was even more in depth than GX, made to tye inwith the new Anime that was airing at the time. As with GX, the story mode is split up into smaller races and challenges. Overall, this game was a great addition to the series and a huge improvement over the first GBA game! It was also the last F-Zero game that would ever get a release outside of Japan…
The last F-Zero game was a Japan exclsive for the first time since the add on for F-Zero X. It was a direct sequel to GP Legend and seems to be more of the same. I have not played this one so I can’t really commenton how good it is. From what I’ve seen it also includes a story mode and something a lot of fans had hoped would make a return, a track editor! It’s a shame this never got an international release. Maybe Nintendo will be kind enough to put it on the Virtual Console one day? Probably not but one can dream!
Gone but not forgotten…
Although there hasn’t been a new F-Zero game in over 10 years, Nintendo keeps reminding us about its existance, through some subtle and not so subtle inclusions in other games. From Captain Falcon’s contunual appearences in the Smash Bros. Series. To a model of the Blue falcon in Animal Crossing.
The most promising signs of a comeback come from the WiiU though. Not only does Nintendo Land feature an F-Zero area. Mario Kart 8’s newest DLC features an enture course based on the series, as well as the inclusion of the Blue Falcon as a new vehicle!
Most of the games are available to play now on the WiiU thanks to the virtual console, so if you’re interested in playing some, go check them out!
Thanks for reading!