From zero to sixty…million. Review

F-Zero GX,F Zero Gx Info

genre

  • Racing

players

  • 1 - 4

Publisher

  • Nintendo

Developer

  • N/A

Release Date

  • 12/31/1969
  • Out Now

Platform

  • GameCube

rating

From zero to sixty…million.

It’s unfortunate that H.G. Wells’ vision

of the future
does not include super fast hover cars.  If only it did, because

a story about the devolved working class (the

Morlocks
) running over the future bourgeois (the

Eloi
) in souped-up, streamlined rockets is a story I want to read.  

Even though Wells missed out on a top-notch plot twist, you can still get

your fill of the future with the latest in the F-Zero series,

F-Zero GX, created through a partnership between Nintendo and

Sega.  

The two former enemies sharing one title screen is a beautiful thing. And

make no mistake: through their combined efforts, F-Zero GX

is one beautiful game, but damn, is it a difficult one, probably even more difficult

than it was for Nintendo and Sega to finally shake hands and be friends.  

The

original gang of four, Captain Falcon, Dr. Stewart, Samurai Goroh, and  Pico,

return from the SNES F-Zero with all their pals, about 30 unlockable

racers in all. If you think about it, a Captain, a Doctor, a Samurai, and a

Green alien are kind of like a future version of The

Village People.

Among the other racers are some F-Zero-ified versions of

familiar Nintendo faces. Mr. EAD bears more than a passing resemblance to a

certain mustached man, while Samus and Fox McCloud make their own transmogrified

appearances.  

Each racer has a custom F-Zero vehicle with specific ratings. Besides

the basic accelerate and brake, there are side ‘dashes’ that can be applied

to corner the turns more tightly. While the basics of F-Zero GX

are quick to learn, the depth comes with mastering the different track layouts

and the speed boosts  

When you use speed boosts, vehicle health is depleted. The key to mastering

any stage is learning when and where it is best to boost. The tracks have revitalizing

strips that re-energize the racer when driven over, so each stage has its own

unique timing cycle of boosting until empty and then re-energizing to win.

The combat side of F-Zero GX is a bit more random. There

are two kinds of attacks: a basic attack and a spin attack that cuts down speed

but hurls the centrifugal force of your craft against enemies. Spins are used

less often in traditional competition; destroying another racer doesn’t offer

any extra score bonuses. Five kills does net one extra try for the competition,

but it’s easier just to focus on the race.

The main Tournament gives you a limited number of tries before it forces you

to throw in the towel. It can be aggravating to get all the way to the last

of five races, only to run out of tries, but thankfully there’s a Trial race

mode that lets you assign multiple variables for your practice runs.

There are four cups in the Tournament competition: Ruby, Emerald, Sapphire,

and Gold, which requires you to beat the other three cups first.  At five tracks

per cup, one set can sometimes feel a little long, but there’s greater clemency

towards messing up and placing poorly on one or two of those tracks. When you

place in the top three in the Cup tournaments, you are rewarded with tickets

that can be spent on car upgrades or to progress the Story mode.

Story mode puts you in Captain Falcon’s shoes as he fights for good, justice,

and the right to wear odd spandex costumes. Each chapter features a different

challenge, from finishing first to literally destroying the competition. The

story is somewhat hokey, but come on, this is F-Zero.

The

tickets you acquire can be used to buy more racers or car parts to create your

own vehicle. You can even design a little logo for your craft. Your custom vehicle

can then be transplanted to F-Zero AX arcade machines, where

you earn bragging rights and even more tickets to use in the Gamecube version.

Even though the Gamecube is well behind when it comes to online gaming, there’s

still plenty of the technology there to provide LAN gameplay. The split-screen

of the multiplayer mode is decidedly less enjoyable than what a system link

could provide.

What F-Zero GX does provide is a visual barrage, with

lightning that winds through urban fields and tracks that twist in a trippy,

Mobius mind screw. The actual designs are pretty arcadey, but when you’re barreling

down the tracks, the lasting impressions are the pure sense of speed and the

velvety smooth framerate. There’s enough minor cursory action happening in the

backgrounds to you give the realms some life.

There’s also a good variety of music, including individualized themes for each

racer.  Mostly techno or rock, the music fits the game’s atmosphere. The electric

hum of each craft and various other sound effects complete the game’s aura.

F-Zero GX is truly knuckles-scraping-against-asphalt hard,

but not impossible. It’s completely rewarding when you finally overcome the

odds. Yet at the same time, it’s a daunting game and is best to take on gradually

in small doses. I’ve noticed that if I keep at any one stage for too long, I

just won’t get it. But if I try again the next day, it suddenly comes to me.

With its sweet graphics, high speeds and imaginative tracks, F-Zero

GX
races to the lead of the Gamecube pack. Then again, there isn’t

much competition. But whether compared to games like Extreme

G3
or just rated on its own merits, F-Zero GX is a delightfully

difficult game that will more than satisfy your hunger for a challenge.







REVOLUTION REPORT CARD

Rating8
Silky framerate and plenty of eye candy
Good depth
A challenge that keeps on coming
Might be too hard for some
Marginal combat elements