Review by Captain Karma

"F-Zero is so intense, it's like if someone wailed a guitar so loud that it exploded the Sears Tower, and then slammed it over my grandmother."

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INTRODUCTION
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A couple weeks ago my mom noticed that the fireplace in our house was making a weird noise as it sat latent during the summer season. It sounded like a small whistling noise that you could only really hear when you were just close enough. Concerned as my mother always is, she called a guy to do something about it. The guy who came out was observing it and then asked my mother to turn it on to see if it still operates correctly. Then the fireplace exploded. I'm not kidding, it was one of the most awesome displays of fireplace power in the rich history of fireplaces. The noise from the glass blowing into pieces and the inferno flying from the fireplace was enough to be heard from my neighbors house.

With that said, that explosion holds nothing to F-Zero. Captain Falcon and crew make that explosion look like a Tupperwear party. The speed, the difficulty, passing 1,000 miles per hour down a futuristic race course against ninjas, lizards and spandex-clad bounty hunters... you thought Nintendo and Sega joining forces was intense? Well, this game both laughs at and slaps you for thinking such a thing, and probably would also give you a wedgie if it wasn't so intense it lacked the time and effort. But don't get me wrong, though - this game loves you and you love it. Not only is it intense, but it is pretty damn fun, too.

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GRAPHICS
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This, by far, is where the biggest improvements to F-Zero 64 were made. If you didn't like the old graphics of F-Zero, these new ones will blow you away. This adds heavily to the intensity, with a lot of highly-detailed objects speeding by at what seems to be the speed of light. Sometimes you can even get captivated by the graphics around you so much that you fail to drive well (though not purposely distracting). The character models and the levels are extremely well done and make you feel more apart of the F-Zero experience. I remember one level had a gigantic R.O.B. in the background, and if you are an old school gamer like I am, you'll appreciate these kind of cameos being added.

Story mode brings us cutscenes of the game which are extremely well done. Captain Falcon still shops at the nipple-tight spandex store, but that is to be expected, since what would a speed demon bounty hunter be without visible nipples for his bad guys to ruthlessly purple nurple? :-)

If you like graphics, I am pleased to say that these graphics work with the Gamecube rather well and is the greatest improvement to ancestor game F-Zero 64.

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SOUND
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Graphics and sound go hand in hand, as I always say. When you see Mario swimming in Super Mario Brothers, the Underwater theme fits perfect to it, and in similar fashion, when you see your nemesis fly off the edge and blow up into what resembles a burnt TV dinner, F-Zero doesn't miss the opportunity to wail it's guitar victoriously.

I absolutely love the music in this game. It fits with the intensity all around you. It's the perfect background music to what you see on the screen. It's fast, pulsing and generally encompasses you with intensity like everything else until you scream. This isn't a bad scream, though - this is a scream of pure adrenaline rush. Like that one guy who sends an anti-drug message by ripping a phone book in half, only multiplied by about two hundred.

The only thing I can say that's wrong with it is in story mode, some people have complaints about Captain Falcon's voice. I don't, but some people do. I think those people are just jealous that Captain Falcon has steel nipples AND a smooth radio DJ voice, but that's just me. Also, the other voices for the other characters in the cutscenes are wonderfully done. They fit what you are seeing in front of you and it's not like, ''Samurai Goroh voiced by Jim Carrey!''

Also, concerning the sound effects - I miss the guy in F-Zero 64 who did the beginning race countdown. His voice just had that eerie-yet-cool futuristic sound to it. But it really didn't sound healthy, and I wouldn't be surprised if that guy happened to have died of cancer.

Still, sound effects are not improvised in the quest for intensity - the sounds of the cars around you, the explosion of the engine when you hit the turbo button... it's all done rather well.

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GAMEPLAY
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Sometimes here, it comes down to either having it or not. You either have the reflexes and skills to master extremely difficult situations in this game, or you don't. You can work on it, but some people don't have the patience. I do, but some people just don't. If you've ever not liked the gameplay of previous F-Zero games, you won't like the gameplay of this game.

This is a classic example of, ''Why fix what isn't broken?'' Much of the same concepts the previous F-Zero's relied on are the same in this new one. You still can slide with the L and R buttons, you still can use boost which compromises your health, you still can spin attack and you can still air break. Machines are still graded by body, boost and grip. But here's where the similarities end.

Aside from most of the old guys coming back to race again, this new F-Zero has a completely different gameplay experience. With the enhanced graphics and sound, also added is the tickets and store, which allows you to buy characters and even FMVs. There's even a custom shop here - which I haven't tried yet - but here, you are allowed to make your own personal racer, which sounds like a completely awesome idea if exploited.

You get these through tickets which you collect playing in the various game modes which allow you to purchase these additions to the game and unlock characters. It's a very good concept to add to F-Zero and makes playing single player a lot more fun.

Also, there is the addition of the storyline. Story Mode adds more depth to a lot of the usually shallow characters of F-Zero, with FMV cutscenes using voice acting (see above) that details the life and tribunals of some of the F-Zero racers. This is one of the greatest additions to the game, because with a background to why the hell your racing other than to rock the face of your opponent, this also amplifies intensity, which is a common motif as you may or may not know by this point in F-Zero GX.

Overall, gameplay is similar to previous F-Zero games (which involve using raw reflexes to overcome difficulty) only it's added to with Story mode and other features.

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VALUE
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If you have friends who love competitive racing games, this game should have no problem competing in value of other such Gamecube multilplayer hits. With a huge selection of racers and a lot of course selections, there's quite a bit of stuff to prevent you from getting board of any one thing too quickly.

If you are new to F-Zero and haven't played this before, I suggest you rent it and see if you like it. As I said, a lot of people either have it or they don't, and many do not like to put up with high difficulty. This game has a small learning curve yet a high mastery curve, so keep that in mind.

But if you are a veteran to F-Zero and love the games, you might possibly be shouting this one to be the best chapter in F-Zero yet. Nintendo's seperation from direct development from the project seems to have done nothing but actually make it better.

As a buyer of this ultra-intense game, I regret nothing. This game will be in my Gamecube for a long, long time.

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FINAL THOUGHTS
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in·ten·si·ty ( P ) Pronunciation Key (n-tns-t)
n. pl. in·ten·si·ties
Exceptionally great concentration, power, or force.
Physics. The amount or degree of strength of electricity, light, heat, or sound per unit area or volume.

The strength of a color, especially the degree to which it lacks its complementary color.
See F-Zero GX.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 08/28/03


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