Review by LastStand
"WARNING: This game has been known to produce Terets Syndrome in some gamers"
First off, let me say that Nintendo, Sega, and Amusement Vision cannot be held responsible for any broken or damaged equipment, be it a controller, the GameCube console, the TV, the wall, a window, yourself, a friend, your dog, or anything of the like, caused by uncontrollable rage induced by this game. Furthermore, it is highly recommended that casual, inexperienced, or impatient gamers do not play this game in order to avoid the aforementioned incidents. If you do not belong to this group, read on and play at your own risk.
Yes, this game is hard…really, really friggin’ hard. But it’s a good hard. Not the kind of hard where you find yourself shouting, “WHY IS MY MACHINE GOING LEFT WHEN I’M TELLING IT TO GO RIGHT?”, but rather the kind of hard where you get yourself a good challenge that is not created by some game glitch, and one that leaves you with a wonderful sense of satisfaction when you finally attain your goal. The game is hard, but it is so fun in the process that even through you will lose again, and again, and again…that you will always come back for more, even after you break your window, punch a hole in the wall, go out and buy a new controller, and count slowly to ten.
Remember F-Zero X? The N64 game that was able to put 30 machines on one screen all at one time but had to sacrifice detail to keep it running smoothly? Forget all that. F-Zero GX is an amazing graphical masterpiece. Thirty racers on one screen, beautiful detail, awesome backgrounds, and realistic roadside detail, all running at a smooth, uninterrupted 60 fps. Everything has so much detail, and everything moved without lag, even in four-player mode. This demonstrates perfectly the awesome graphical power of the GCN. Just take a look at the backgrounds alone. Beautiful, especially Green Plant-Spiral, which has to have one of the most beautiful backgrounds ever, at least in a racing game.
Yes, this racing game has a storyline, but I only am considering the one in story mode. Captain Falcon, the last winner of the F-Zero Grand Prix and the defender of justice, is seeking to win the next F-Zero Grand Prix, but there are other racers with their own motives who are out to stop him, not the least of which is Black Shadow, the King of Darkness, his sworn enemy. Yeah, it’s your traditional “good guy-justice fighter goes out to beat this bad guy who lives to do bad stuff” fare, but the story really doesn’t matter much, does it? It’s a racing game for God’s sake.
I love the music in this game. When I first began playing it, though, I was slightly disappointed. Where was the classic Mute City theme? Where was the awesome classic Big Blue theme (it’s there, by the way; you just have to find it ;) )? However, after I got over that, I realized that the rest of the music and even the new themes were very good. Gone are the retro ‘80s guitar riffs from F-Zero X and in are the awesome quasi-techno themes of F-Zero GX. All the tracks have awesome theme music. My personal favorites are those of Green Plant and Aeropolis. Even the pilots, under their profile menus, have their own theme music, some complete with original lyrics. It’s all here. I’m unsure whether or not this game supports Dolby, mostly because my household is so behind in the times that I couldn’t take advantage of it, but if it does and I had the equipment to support it, I’d certainly utilize it.
The sound is crisp and clear. The only true flaw I can find in it is the extremely corny voice-acting (wait til you hear Super Arrow and you’ll realize how corny it all is), but that is basically the fault of the script writers and not the actors.
If you don’t know how F-Zero works, you race around tracks suspended high in the sky above cities in hopes of beating your other 29 competitors. Cups consist of 5 tracks, and you receive points corresponding to what place you got. The Grand Prix champion is the one with the most points after 5 races. The races are risky and many pilots are lost in the process, but the prize and fame is unmatched.
Your machine has a certain amount of energy: if this runs out, your machine explodes. After your first lap, you can boost, but each boost slightly depletes your energy. Energy can be replenished by running over pit strips around the course. In order to help you, you can ram the side of your opponents or perform a spin attack in hopes of destroying them. This comes well into play when you are in a critical race in which you and your rival are in a dead heat. Destroying a racer gives them no points for the race, which can drastically alter the standings.
There are basically five game modes you can choose from: Grand Prix (the main mode in which you choose a cup and go through five races to get highest score), Vs. Battle (two or more players go up against each other in a single race), Time Attack (try to get best time on tracks and beat the staff ghosts), Story Mode (play through Captain Falcon’s story and complete certain objectives), and Customize (buy stuff and create a custom machine). In all this, you can earn tickets (sort of like money) that you use to buy things in customize mode to add nearly infinite replay. The most tickets can be earned in Grand Prix mode, which gives you more tickets for the higher the difficulty level and the higher you placed. Tickets can also be earned by getting a good time in time attack mode and even more for beating the seemingly unbeatable staff ghosts.
To add a ton of replay value, you can earn machine parts in Grand Prix mode and in Hard Mode in Story Mode to build your own custom machine, in addition to the 40+ pilot-exclusive machines that are already available to earn or buy. In Very Hard mode in Story Mode, you can earn F-Zero AX-exclusive vehicles to buy, a very, very daunting task. Experimenting with these vehicles is where most of the fun is.
The tracks themselves are all unique. They are set in a certain location: Mute City and Port Town are set in bustling cities; Big Blue is on the ocean; Sand Ocean is in a desert; Lightning is in a perpetual storm in an industrial city. Each track has some kind of motif that gives it a subtitle, such as a pipe, a cylinder, a corkscrew, or a big drop-off. Each track is very fun and unique. I haven’t met a single one I don’t like yet.
There is so much to do, and it is all executed perfectly. A standing ovation to the development team for creating what is, in my humble opinion, the greatest racing game ever.
Play Time/Replay Value: 10/10, 9/10
You will be playing this game for a very, very long time, especially if you’ve never played F-Zero X. If you have, you may find yourself skipping past the novice mode, but that’s about it. There is so much to unlock in this game that you will seemingly never run out of new stuff to do. I may never unlock all the AX vehicles. If you somehow do get everything done, you will want to do it again and again. Four player mode is a blast, especially if you all have your own custom vehicles or are able to mix it up with so many vehicles and tracks. More replay value than any other racing game, period.
Challenge: Very High
As if it really had to be reiterated in other words. Once again I will say it: this game is very, very hard. This game is for hardcore veteran gamers who are patient enough to put up with the failures they will endure. Not only is this game the hardest racing game I’ve ever played, it is quite possibly the hardest game ever. Even though I’ve earned all but a couple of the staff ghosts, I’ve only beaten one of them: Green Plant-Mobius Ring, and that’s one of the easiest courses. Be ready for a big challenge. Just try not to break anything, please.
-26 unique tracks in five cups, two of which are secret
-40+ pilot-exclusive vehicles, all but four of which need to be bought
-Custom car feature
-Long and difficult story mode
-Four players can play at once
-Tons of unlockables
-A good, almost too good, challenge
-Really, really hard; too hard for much of the gaming population
-Cookie-cutter story mode
-No multiplayer grand-prix mode
-No custom track mode (hint, hint Nintendo)
The Bottom Line:
Get this game if you really want to challenge yourself. A must-buy for any hardcore gamer, but if you think you may not be up to the challenge, give it a rental to ensure that you don’t end up breaking every controller in your house and then some. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 03/22/04
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