======================== F-ZERO: MAXIMUM VELOCITY IN-DEPTH GUIDE/FAQ By Phil Armstrong email@example.com Version 1.00 ======================== __________ DISCLAIMER __________ This guide has been written specifically for personal use, and can only be reproduced after receiving full written permission from the author. No part of this document is to be used in any form of sale, trade or other profitable exchange between individuals and/or companies. I am a tolerant person, and so just by _asking_ first, you can save us both a lot of potential hassle :) This document is best viewed in Courier New font (or similar). ________ CONTENTS ________ 1.0 INTRODUCTION 2.0 GAME OPTIONS AND CONTROLS :2.1 Saving Data :2.2 Erasing Data 3.0 GAME MODES :3.1 Grand Prix :3.2 Training :3.3 Championship :3.4 Multi-Pak Link :3.5 Single-Pak Link :3.6 Demo 4.0 SPECIAL FEATURES :4.1 Jump Plates :4.2 Dash Plates :4.3 Speed Down Areas :4.4 Explosive Traps :4.5 Spin Traps :4.6 Pit Areas :4.7 Ice :4.8 Pulse Magnets :4.9 Gravity Magnets :4.10 Black Bombs 5.0 VEHICLES :5.1 Vehicle Overview :5.2 Vehicle Codes :5.3 Hot Violet :5.4 Fireball :5.5 J.B.Crystal :5.6 Wind Walker :5.7 Sly Joker :5.8 The Stingray :5.9 Silver Thunder :5.10 Falcon (Mark 2) :5.11 Fighting Comet :5.12 Jet Vermilion 6.0 TRACKS :6.1 Pawn Series Overview :6.2 Pawn One :6.3 Pawn Two :6.4 Pawn Three :6.5 Pawn Four :6.6 Pawn Final :6.7 Knight Series Overview :6.8 Knight One :6.9 Knight Two :6.10 Knight Three :6.11 Knight Four :6.12 Knight Final :6.13 Bishop Series Overview :6.14 Bishop One :6.15 Bishop Two :6.16 Bishop Three :6.17 Bishop Four :6.18 Bishop Final :6.19 Queen Series Overview :6.20 Queen One :6.21 Queen Two :6.22 Queen Three :6.23 Queen Four :6.24 Queen Final :6.25 Championship 7.0 END NOTES ________________ 1.0 INTRODUCTION ________________ Maximum Velocity is the third of Nintendo's F-Zero racing games, and the first (though hopefully not the last) to appear in ready-when-you-are portable form, courtesy of the Gameboy Advance. The other two F-Zero games are also great games, and while Maximum Velocity shares many resemblances to both of those titles, I see no need for comparison here. While there are already existing guides for this game, I feel there is still a void of truly detailed strategies pertaining to the individual cars, driving techniques and, in particular, the game's many tracks. This is the main justification I have for writing a guide for a game that already has guides written for it. I have not rehashed other authors' material in any way. All opinions are my own. This is a general game guide and so is intended to improve your overall skill-, enjoyment-, and understanding-level of the game and its many intricacies. It does not contain brain-dead instructions such as 'when the game says _press_start_ you have to press the start button', and is intended for those with at least a rudamentary understanding of how to use the Gameboy Advance hardware. I have not included a seperate section for racing techniques. This is because I have included in-depth tips for each and every track and vehicle already, and the techniques needed for each track can be found under the section for that particular track anyway. I have made absolutely _no_ shortcuts in the detailing of this game, as I hope you will realise and appreciate :) This guide is based purely on the 'Maximum Velocity' version of the game, which differs slightly from the Japanese version. Please be aware of this, and apply to the Japanese version with a hint of caution, and at your own risk. _____________________________ 2.0 GAME OPTIONS AND CONTROLS _____________________________ Upon accessing the game's options, you can make the following personalised* alterations to the play: = You can change the number of spare cars available during a Grand Prix. You can have 5, 3 or just 1, with the default setting being 5. The car you start off using counts as the first car, though, so the number of _spare_ cars is actually 4 (or 2 or none). = You can alter the controller type; 'what controls what', in simple terms. Personally, I have always been satisfied with the default setting of: A BUTTON = ACCELERATOR B BUTTON = BRAKE SHOULDER BUTTONS (L&R) = BOOST but everyone is different and so Nintendo have included another five(!) unique setups. The diagram below shows the six different control setups, with 'C' representing both 'L&R' buttons (being pressed simultaneously), and 'U' standing for 'up' on the D-pad: TYPE 1 2 3 4 5 6 ACCELERATOR: A B A B A B BRAKE: B A C C B A BOOST METHOD: C C B A U U For boost details, see 'Special Features' section. = You can choose to have the in-game music 'on' or 'off'. * The game settings made under one person's name will not interfere with those of another. Up to three people's names can be stored in the cartridge's memory at any given time; no more or less. 2.1 Saving Data --------------- This game has an automatic save feature, meaning race data is automatically saved when you finish each race. What could be simpler? 2.2 Erasing Data ---------------- To erase _all_ game data, hold the L and R buttons when turning the game ON. The prompt will ask you to confirm 'yes' or 'no' before anything is erased, so don't panic if you accidentally select 'erase'. To erase individual game files, choose 'CLEAR' from the File Select Screen. Select the file you want to erase and press 'A', then 'OK' to confirm that you wish to erase the given file. ______________ 3.0 GAME MODES ______________ This section contains detailed analyses of all the game's modes of play; the rules behind each mode; how to unlock the different bonus items in each mode; etc. 3.1 Grand Prix -------------- The F-Zero team at Nintendo obviously have a thing for chess, as they keep naming their different circuit categories after the names of chess pieces. This time around there are initially three 'leagues', each one more difficult than the last: = PAWN = KNIGHT = BISHOP 'QUEEN' is the top category in this game, but is not initially selectable. To open up this series you must successfully complete all three existing leagues (or, 'series') on the 'Expert' difficulty setting (not as hard as it sounds). Before starting a Grand Prix, you must choose what 'Class' you want to race in. This means 'choose your difficulty setting'. They range from: = BEGINNER = STANDARD = EXPERT = MASTER* *This class can only be accessed upon successfully completing the given series (e.g. PAWN) on the 'EXPERT' class, and even then it is only limited to that specific series (at that time). The colour of a class (on the select screen, after selecting the desired series, e.g. PAWN) depends on whether or not it has yet to be completed. Once completed, it will change from grey/colourless to bright green. After completing a series in all four classes (yes, including master), a gold chess piece (a pawn, knight, bishop or queen) will appear on-screen every time you are asked to select your Series. This is there as a reminder - it tells you 'which-crafts-you-have-completed-what-in' exactly, in case you want to complete the game over and over with different vehicles, whilst making sure not to repeat yourself (by using the same vehicle). Every racing series (PAWN -> QUEEN) contains five tracks. Each and every race consists of five laps, and in order to qualify for the next track you must finish third place or higher at the end of the five laps. However, this does not mean you can cruise around like James Bond for four laps and then put your foot down in the fifth. To ensure consistency is met throughout the entire race, Nintendo have included certain guidelines for all Grand Prix courses: = LAP ONE: PLAYERS MUST FINISH IN TOP FIFTEEN = LAP TWO: PLAYERS MUST FINISH IN TOP TEN = LAP THREE: PLAYERS MUST FINISH IN TOP SEVEN = LAP FOUR: PLAYERS MUST FINISH IN TOP FIVE = FINAL LAP: PLAYERS MUST FINISH IN TOP THREE = PLAYERS MUST NOT FALL TO 20TH POSITION If the above guidelines are not met, then you are disqualified immediately. If you have no spare 'cars' at this point, then it is 'GAME OVER'. Cars can also be disqualified from a race if the energy gauge in the top right-hand corner of the screen is empty (i.e. no longer green). More energy can be gained by driving (slowly, if necessary) through the green 'pit' area(s) - each track has at least one. Energy is depleted by hitting mines, walls, and other obstacles, including other vehicles (more on this later). 3.2 Training ------------ In my eyes this should have been called 'Time Attack' because it is more than the humble practice mode it alludes to be :) The ten best times are recorded for every single track in the game, with the best lap time also being stored. Also, to add to the personlised nature of the game's setup, the game also allows you to view just _your_own_ best ten times (in case you wish to compete purely with your own times), emitting to show others' times. After completing the Grand Prix mode over and over, this is where the really fast times come from, and where you will come back to again and again to scrape hundredths of a second off your (or somebody else's) best times. You don't have to race alone in this mode though - you can select a CPU opponent from any of the available vehicles and Classes. As for tracks, you can race on all those you have currently unlocked in Grand Prix mode, plus you can get a preview of the Queen tracks before you ever see them in GP mode (though not all of them). All tracks consist of five laps, same as in a Grand Prix. 3.3 Championship ---------------- The Championship is not readily accessible. To unlock it race once on each one of the 15 immediately available tracks (i.e. all PAWN, KNIGHT and BISHOP tracks). Only one track in this 'championship' I'm afraid to say (good though it is). Different to the Training mode in that a ghost car is recorded and can be raced against. Initially this is the CPU, racing as Hot Violet. You will think the CPU time is impossible to beat at first, but after a few tries you should be able to beat it (and then, in time, you should be able to _destroy_ that time). The ghost can be turned off for those that are easily destracted. Also, the best timed race can be played back to see exactly how the time was made - this can be useful if you want to know when to use your boosts, which vehicle to use, and other such details. I will describe the actual Championship track in detail in the 'Tracks' section, but needless to say that it is one of the more 'interesting' tracks ;) 3.4 Multi-Pak Link ------------------ All tracks and cars are accessible to play against your friends in this game, providing you have more than one F-ZERO Gamepak. 3.5 Single-Pak Link ------------------- Single-Pak link is much more limited in that only one vehicle is selectable. Only one track is open too, which is a shame. Music is only available to the owner of the Gamepak, but this is not a big deal, in my opinion. 3.6 Demo -------- Press 'Select' on the logo screen and you get to see a short demo of some of the gameplay features. The demo will begin automatically if nothing is pressed for one minute. 4.0 SPECIAL FEATURES ____________________ The tracks in Maximum Velocity are full of obstacles; some more helpful than others. I will detail them here, as well as explaining other miscellany relating to the gameplay (such as boosts). 4.1 Jump Plates --------------- Jump plates are the small blue squares you will see on many tracks throughout the game. As the name suggests, driving over these plates will launch you off the track's surface as you momentarily 'fly' through the air. At first you may try to avoid them, believing they will ultimately slow you down. Don't make this mistake. Jump Plates can be very useful, and represent one of the game's many small skills that must be mastered in order for you to progress further into the game; not just by getting further into the game's Grand Prix mode, but by significantly improving some of your course records. When driving over a Jump Plate, and whilst in mid-air, you should hold 'DOWN' on the D-Pad to help maintain maximum possible speed and distance travelled. Some tracks feature Jump Plates positioned in such a way as to allow a short cut to be taken, such as the 'PAWN FINAL' course. I will detail this tactic in the 'TRACKS' section, under the appropriate Course title. Points to note: = The CPU (and any crafty friends you may have) will try to ram youjust before hitting a Jump Plate - make sure you keep a look out as getting bumped at this point in a race could result in disaster. = It is possible for cars to collide in mid-air. = On descent, make sure you land safely back on the track. Falling anywhere else will result in instant 'CRASH OUT', meaning the end of your race. = On landing, make sure you don't release holding 'DOWN' too early. 'DOWN' should be held until about a second after landing. Releasing too early results in a significant loss of speed and momentum. = The altitude and distance covered after hitting a Jump Plate is directly related to which car you have picked and how fast you are travelling at the time of impact - remember this and act accordingly. 4.2 Dash Plates --------------- These look like arrows on the ground and are _generally_ beneficial. Go over one of these and your speed will increase by about 200km/h almost instantly (well, in a second or two). Use these to gain speed (duh) but beware of over doing it - using a Dash Plate just before a hairpin (where some of them can be found) is sometimes unwise, especially if you are: a) not yet fully familiar with the track; b) using a craft with tight handling (understeer), such as The Stingray. Unlike in some other racing games, the Dash Plates in this game will _always_ send you accelerating in the direction at which the plate (arrow) points, no matter which way you are facing when you 'drive' into it. For example, driving into a DP side-on will result in a jolt as your craft is sped off at a ninety degree angle. 4.3 Speed Down Areas -------------------- Pretty self-explanatory, these dark areas (usually a large collection of squares of strips) will lead to a rapid and drastic loss in speed. There aren't many advantages of driving over them, but they aren't totally problematic, and should not always be avoided. The advantage to using these areas lies in the fact that they are sometimes placed directly over the 'RACING LINE', and so, with the help of a boost or a Dash Plate, it is sometimes recommended (by me) that these areas be used (to cut corners). 4.4 Explosive Traps ------------------- These look like land mines, and that is for a reason because that is essentially what they are. Hitting one will result in a very significant decrease in your energy level, and it's generally recommended that they be avoided at all costs. However, by hitting the outside edge of an explosive trap (or, mine) you can propel your vehicle forward at a slightly increased speed. Use this trick if you are in a desperate situation (such as being in fifth on the last lap), but be careful, as the ricochet can be difficult to handle. When racing in Master Class, be very careful when approaching these traps. Even if you aren't on line to hit one, a CPU opponent will always be at your heels doing its damnedest to make sure you do. Other points: = Collisions also result in a loss of speed (as well as energy); = Once hit, a trap will spread out into a small(ish) Speed Down Area, which should always be avoided; = Once detonated the traps will _usually_ remain inactive from then on. This is not always the case. 4.5 Spin Traps -------------- These babies will command your respect immediately. They look like miniature whirlpools, and can only be found on the third track in the Queen Series (where they unfortunately feature extensively). Unlike Explosive Traps, Spin Traps do not explode on impact. Worse. They spin you around 180 degrees, losing all of your hard-earned momentum. Tips: = Learn the circuit so that you at least have an idea of where they are; = On collision (which should be avoided at all costs!) do not fight the direction you will spin in. Instead, continue to go with the flow that the ST has (annoyingly) given you. = If you do hit one, hitting another one can _sometimes_ be beneficial in helping you to turn around again. However, this does not mean you should drive in the wrong direction for five minutes until you find another trap to spin you back around - just use one if it's in the immediate vacinity. = Use common sense, and remember to keep your composure. Hitting one trap does not mean you are out of the race. 'Spin Traps' is my own term. Do not use it without permission from me, the author :) Seriously. 4.6 Pit Areas ------------- Every track has at least one green pit area. They are used for refilling your energy bar. Sounds like a bright idea, but unfortunately there are drawbacks: = The green pit areas _do_ slow you down. Not as much as the Slow Down Areas, but nevertheless it is true that speed is lost in these pit areas; = Going into the pit areas can often necessitate taking the slower of two routes in a fork, or can mean vearing to the side of the track (every millisecond counts in this game) as your opponents maintain their course past you. Refilling your energy bar is useful not only to prevent a 'CRASH OUT', but also because your craft will travel more slowly once the energy bar drops to a certain point (about 50%), and even slower from then on (if it continues to lose more energy). 4.7 Ice ------- Ice features in only a few tracks, and is blue in colour. Going over ice means a loss of grip, making steering more precarious. Avoid ice if possible because it also slows you down (at a similar rate to the pit areas). Brake as you go into icey hairpins because it can sometimes seem like you are going to make the bend even though you are really about to crash into the far wall. Tapping 'ACCELERATE' rapidly usually works instead of braking. Holding the appropriate shoulder button (L or R) is also a viable option (and one i use myself). 4.8 Pulse Magnets* ----------------- These strips are only found in a handful of tracks, but are still worth mentioning. They pull your craft to one side of the track, then to the other side in quick succession. Simply steer in the opposite direction for every pull, and you should be fine. Daunting at first, but not to be worried about after a while. * 'Pulse Magnets' is my own term, and is not to be used by anyone other than myself without permission. 4.9 Gravity Magnets* ------------------- These appear after Jumping Plates and pull your craft down, hindering your trajectory. Fly around them before quickly swooping back onto the track. Thankfully these irritating things only appear on a very small number of tracks. * 'Gravity Magnets' is my own term, and is not to be used by anyone other than myself without permission. 4.10 Black Bombs ---------------- These hover over the track and have the same effect as mines. Only show up after a while into the race. Highly annoying at first, but easy to see in advance after practice ;) ____________ 5.0 VEHICLES ____________ 5.1 Vehicle Overview -------------------- This iteration in the F-Zero series features ten unique craft. Only four are immediately available: = Hot Violet = Fireball = JB Crystal = Wind Walker ('Crazy Horse' in Japan) The other six must be unlocked, and there names are as follows: = Sly Joker ('Dirty Joker' in Japan) = The Stingray = Silver Thunder = Falcon Mk2 = Fighting Comet = Jet Vermilion 5.2 Vehicle Codes ----------------- Here is how to unlock the hidden machines. = Sly Joker: Complete Pawn, Knight and Bishop Series on 'Standard'; = The Stingray: Complete Pawn, Knight and Bishop Series on 'Expert'; = Silver Thunder: Complete Queen Series on 'Expert'; = Falcon Mk2: Complete _any_ of the four Series on 'Master'; = Fighting Comet: Complete all four Series on 'Master'; = Jet Vermilion is a special car and there are three ways to unlock it. However, I will only list the first two ways because the third is simply a cheat code, which I do not believe should ever be used ;) 1. Clear _all_ Series with _all_ nine existing cars on 'Master'; 2. Complete the Championship course 255 times. 5.3 Hot Violet -------------- Personal Commentary: The gorgeous purple design cannot disguise the fact that this machine is not really deep enough for it to be worthy of your loyalty :) It is good all round but doesn't really excel in any one given area. Decent for beginners who wish to learn the game from scratch. Good, but not great. Technical Specifications: Top Speed: 422 km/h Top Boost Speed: 579 km/h Boost Duration: 6 seconds Body Strength: 69/100 Turn Performance: B Balance: C 5.4 Fireball ------------ Personal Commentary: Fireball looks the coolest, in my opinion. This craft is very slow to get going but has one of the best top speeds among all ten vehicles. The handling is not to everyone's taste because you can't cruise around corners like you can with, say, Crystal or Joker, but Fireball's speed is not to be overlooked. Overall I prefer Fireball to Violet, though it certainly isn't the best craft... Technical Specifications: Top Speed: 440 km/h Top Boost Speed: 565 km/h Boost Duration: 6.5 seconds Body Strength: 82/100 Turn Performance: C Balance: B 5.5 JB Crystal -------------- Personal Commentary: It won't take you long to see that this is the most user-friendly car (among the starting four). It is the craft I chose to unlock many of the game's secrets, and benefits from excellent 'Balance', which means it handles well around bends. This car may seem perfect whilst still trying to get to grips with the game, but it really doesn't stand the test of time too well. By this, I mean that it is let down by a very measily top speed, and will therefore let you down on straights (against good opposition, e.g. Master level CPU). Comes highly recommended for beginners and for learning how the game feels when starting out. Also noteworthy is its excellent boost time of 9.5 seconds - way longer than the other three starting cars' boost times. Technical Specifications: Top Speed: 418 km/h Top Boost Speed: 560 km/h Boost Duration: 9.5 seconds Body Strength: 63/100 Turn Performance: C Balance: A 5.6 Wind Walker --------------- Personal Commentary: Not recommended to anyone starting out at the game, but a decent intermediate car due to its high boost speed and A-grade turn performance (which is hard to initially appreciate). With its slippery handling around corners (which novices won't like one bit), this is probably the poorest of the four initial cars, though it was the first car I used to successfully beat the CPU's Championship time, and so I guess it deserves some credit. Along with Violet, I have yet to use this vehicle enough times to properly comment further on it. Technical Specifications: Top Speed: 428 km/h Top Boost Speed: 585 km/h Boost Duration: 5.3 seconds Body Strength: 50/100 Turn Performance: A Balance: D 5.7 Sly Joker ------------- Personal Commentary: Similar to Crystal, though not as similar as some would have you believe. This car does share many trates with JB's craft, but there are some differences. The main ones are: = Joker ranks higher than Crystal in _both_ 'Top Speed' categories (i.e. with and without boost); = Sly Joker's boost is less than a third (!) that of Ms Crystal (3 secs to 9.5 secs); = Joker has a significantly stronger shell and so can take more hits. Joker is an all rounder, with great handling and balance, but he's not perfect. His main weakness is his unbelievably short boost time of just three seconds. However, one some tracks this can be the ace up his sleeve as long boosts are sometimes more of a hindrance than a help. One of the very best. Technical Specifications: Top Speed: 436 km/h Top Boost Speed: 591 km/h Boost Duration: 3.0 seconds Body Strength: 75/100 Turn Performance: C Balance: A 5.8 The Stingray ---------------- Personal Commentary: There's lots of fun to be had with this cool looking craft. The handling is more like Wind Walker than Joker, so beginners should stay away. For the rest of us, it's fun time because, apart from being cool, The Stingray has unbelievable jumping (or should that be flying!?) capabilities. Seriously, this guy can go way further than the usual suspects (Joker, Crystal, Falcon) and on certain tracks he can really excel (the first Queen track, for instance). His boost is extremely long (12 seconds) but is overrated because, at just 525km/h, it is more like a semi-boost than a real one :( Overall, The Stingray is not a good all rounder; more like a specialist at certain tracks, and good for having fun with. Great on straights and through the air, but let down on tight bends. Technical Specifications: Top Speed: 460 km/h Top Boost Speed: 525 km/h Boost Duration: 12 seconds Body Strength: 85/100 Turn Performance: C Balance: C 5.9 Silver Thunder ------------------ Personal Commentary: I must confess to not having used this guy much, but I do know that he is basically a tank pretending to be a racing craft. His body strength is his forte, but I can't see him being a popular choice due to his dire acceleration and horendous understeer (he won't turn!) :). His boost time is also poor (nearly stooping to the Joker's level) at just 3.7 seconds, though it is a very fast boost while it lasts. I think he is supposed to be an expert's choice (similar to Bowser/Koopa in Mario Kart) but I still haven't become accustomed to him and so can't say with any real accuracy if this is true or not. One for enthusiasts (and wannabe tank drivers) only. Technical Specifications: Top Speed: 464 km/h Top Boost Speed: 589 km/h Boost Duration: 3.7 seconds Body Strength: 90/100 Turn Performance: D Balance: B 5.10 Falcon Mark2 ----------------- Personal Commentary: The star car from the SNES F-Zero game (well, an updated version of it), and this time around it is probably the best all round car too. Best _all_round_ car, that is, but certainly not special in any one given area. Not much more to say about it except that it is one of my favourites, it handles like a dream, and is good in pretty much all areas. Also, it is a great choice to us in Grand Prix mode because, with being a solid all rounder, it can handle all the tracks pretty comfortably. Technical Specifications: Top Speed: 448 km/h Top Boost Speed: 573 km/h Boost Duration: 7.2 seconds Body Strength: 66/100 Turn Performance: C Balance: B 5.11 Fighting Comet ------------------- Personal Commentary: Boosing is this car's speciality, although it is a pretty good all round craft too. Doesn't handle as easily as, say, Sly Joker, but is just as good as the Joker at setting hard to beat lap and course records (on certain tracks). It is the only craft in the game that can compete with The Stingray in terms of jumping ability - it really is outstanding at that particular technique. Technical Specifications: Top Speed: 412 km/h Top Boost Speed: 593 km/h Boost Duration: 9 seconds Body Strength: 56/100 Turn Performance: D Balance: B 5.12 Jet Vermilion ------------------ Personal Commentary: The top secret car, Jet Vermilion is overrated but perhaps misunderstood. It isn't supposed to be perfect in _all_ areas like I think some people were expecting it to be, but it _is_ the only vehicle to have a boost speed of over 600km/h, plus it has a perfectly solid shell (literally 100%). An excellent choice for setting fast times. Disadvantages include: = poor jumping ability (especially compared to Stingray or Comet); = slow to accelerate (understatement); = doesn't turn nearly as well as craft such as the Sly Joker; = overrated, and so may come as a disappointment to some. Technical Specifications: Top Speed: 456 km/h Top Boost Speed: 602 km/h Boost Duration: 4.2 seconds Body Strength: 100(!)/100 Turn Performance: E Balance: B __________ 6.0 TRACKS __________ Now, onto the game's courses :) 6.1 Pawn Series Overview ------------------------ The Pawn Series is the least demanding Series, but is still fun and not to be underestimated. The five Pawn tracks are listed as follows: = BIANCA CITY: Stretch Circuit = STARK FARM: First Circuit = EMPYREAN COLONY: Dash Circuit = STARK FARM: Second Circuit = CLOUD CARPET: Long Jump Circuit 6.2 Pawn One: BIANCA CITY: Stretch Circuit ---------------------------- The first track in the game, and it is expectedly straightforward, with plenty of over-taking space and no major obstacles (compared to some of the game's later tracks). Racing Line is very important to all racing games, and to all tracks in this game, and this track is no exception. There is one Jump Plate on this course and it should be used on all laps except for the first lap, when you won't be going fast enough for the jump to be benefical enough to make the small shortcut. Speed necessary to clear the 'gap' and maintain and advantage over a craft that has avoided the ramp is about 500km/h so do not attempt the jump if you are going slower than this (such as on the opening lap, as already mentioned). Use your boost as soon as you have descended from the jump and can see the first Slow Down Area. Go straight across _both_ of these areas (whilst boosting, and keeping tight to the corners) for a small but significant shortcut. One the opening lap, do not take this shortcut. Instead, go the long way around, totally avoiding all Slow Down Area sections. The Slow Down Area in the middle of the track after the orange coloured Slow Down Areas on both sides of the track should not be driven over - go round it on either side (it doesn't really matter which). Be sure to slow down slightly for the hairpin at the end of this track, and try to hug the inside of the hairpin (the left side of course) as much as is possible. It goes without saying that both Dash Plates should be driven over on the final straight - make sure you turn tightly enough around the hairpin so as to be able to make the first (central) one. With machines like The Stingray, this can sometimes be difficult, but you should still make the effort as making both Dash Plates means your time will be about 0.3secs faster than if you just make one of the second ones. That clear? :) You should be able to come first on this track on all difficulty settings because the time gained by the boost shortcut (which the CPU doesn't take advantage of) is considerable, especially with a fast boosting craft such as the Fighting Comet or the Sly Joker. TIME TO AIM FOR: any sub-2 minute time is an achievement on this course. 6.3 Pawn Two: STARK FARM: First Circuit ------------------------- One of my least favourite tracks because it's just a boring collection of chicanes (quick turn one way then the other) and hairpins. Those machines with a short but fast boost (e.g. Sly Joker) have an advantage on this track because I recommend using the boost on the start/finish straight....but those with a really long boost will have problems using the boost here because they will be going too fast when they reach the first hairpin. In the case of vehicles with long boost times, I recommend using the boost slightly earlier: just after rounding the final hairpin bend. If doing this then you will need to hold 'R' and tap furiously on the accelerator for a few seconds to avoid crashing on the final couple of bends. If you are approaching a hairpin (big, tight turn) too quickly then you will need to turn sharply using this method: = hold either L or R; = tap accelerator extremely rapidly; = if you are still going to crash, tap both accelerator _and_ brake buttons rapidly to turn at a very tight angle. The above tips can and should be applied to all tight turns in the game, and are not limited in any way to this track. Experiment, try new things for yourself and find out what techniques suit you personally. TIME TO AIM FOR: 2 minutes 10 seconds is a rough marker here, but anything better than 2'20 shows you know how to play the game to a decent standard. 6.4 Pawn Three: EMPYREAN COLONY: Dash Circuit ----------------------------- Use the same hairpin tips as above for this course because you really should be able to handle them by now :) The main features of this circuit are the dash plates. There are several in quick succession (four, to be exact) and you should aim to travel over _all_ four. I take the left-hand route around the junction but it doesn't really matter if you take the right. Again, I recommend you experiment in order to see which one feels better to you personally. Maybe you are better are turning one way than the other; I certainly prefer holding the L button to the R button; it feels more natural to me for some reason (on tight bends). Boost about 2 seconds after hitting the final dash plate, but make sure you memorise the final chicanes because you can save valuable time by doing so. TIME TO AIM FOR: By using Jet Vermilion it is quite possible to reach times sub-2 minutes. However, any time around 2 minutes 10 seconds is good enough, and even 2'15 isn't shameful. 6.5 Pawn Four: STARK FARM: Second Circuit -------------------------- Personally I find the STARK FARM circuits quite dull, but anyways, they still need to be mastered, so here goes. The major hairpin on this course appears after what is basically just one massive straight (with a slight left turn). Make sure you are prepared for it by keeping to the left-hand side of the track throughout the straight. As you turn right into the bend, make sure you hug the right-hand wall as much as possible so as to be able to take a nice racing line around the hairpin (hugging the slow down area on the left. Hugging, that is, but not actually touching it). You can use the boost on the main start/finish straight if you wish, but be careful not to over do things by going too fast when approaching the hairpin. The boost can also be used as soon as you turn right onto the slightly wider track area (with a slow down area in the middle of the track). Take the right side around this area, and, like the previous track, try to memorise the last few bends because they all look similar and can initially be confusing. TIME TO AIM FOR: anything under 2 minutes 20 is respectable, though sub- 2'10 times are reachable. 6.6 Pawn Final: CLOUD CARPET: Long Jump Circuit ------------------------------- This track really show off the game's amazing graphics, and is one of the best tracks to look at in my opinion. Being set in the clouds is supposed to ruin your visibility, but in reality this is just a gimmick, so don't worry about it. After the initial straight, make sure you stay to the right on the next short straight so that you can take a good racing line around the impending right-hand hairpin. After cornering around this hairpin, you should boost (or, if you have a short boosting character, then the start/finish line is also an option). Some areas of this track are very narrow, fast and twisty, so make sure you learn it as soon as possible. There is a shortcut to be had on this course. When approaching the bit where the track 'ends', you can fly over to the left and reach back onto part of the track again safely. Aim for the left-hand dash plate at a 45 degree (left) angle. If you (somehow) miss the dash plate and get the blue end strip instead, don't worry; still aim for the shortcut (unless you are going very slowly) as the blue strip works in the same way as dash plates. After landing (being sure to be still holding 'D'), make sure you aren't going too fast because of the upcoming tight right-hand bend. You may need to use the 'R' button for this, and possibly even the furious accelerator and brake tapping I have mentioned before in this guide. TIME TO AIM FOR: I have yet to reach a sub-2 minite time on this course. Anything under 2'15 is respectable, though 2'10 is a true achievement and should be made after practice. 6.7 Knight Series Overview -------------------------- The Knight Series is the second Series; harder than Pawn, but not as tough as Bishop or Queen Series. The five Knight Series tracks are listed as follows: = TENTH ZONE EAST: Snake Circuit = BEACON PORT: Crossroad Circuit = SYNOBAZZ: Explosive Circuit = ANCIENT MESA: Split Circuit = STARK FARM: Third Circuit 6.8 Knight One: TENTH ZONE EAST: Snake Circuit ------------------------------ The first Knight track is very straightforward, with only a couple of tricky turns. In fact, this is about as straightforward as tracks come, and so I can offer no more tips other than to say to stick to a tight racing line (hugging the inside of bends), and use your boosts wisely (i.e. not before the one or two tight bends). TIME TO AIM FOR: 2 minutes 5 seconds. 6.9 Knight Two: BEACON PORT: Crossroad Circuit ------------------------------ A sharp contrast from the Snake Circuit, this track is full of speed and interesting moments. If choose to hit the first dash plate, make sure you are ready for the upcoming left-right chicane as this can catch you out quite easily and in no time at all. In fact, this tactic of simply knowing when the chicanes are coming after dash plates is the main one you _need_ to be good at on this circuit. At te figure eight, I take the left-hand side around both 'loops', but it comes down to personal preference and doesn't really make much of a difference to your time. Boosting is very dependent on which vehicle you are using on this circuit, and it probably favours craft such as the Sly Joker because extra long boosts can be hazardous on this course. TIME TO AIM FOR: I have seen times of around 2'05 quoted on the Internet, but anything sub-2'20 is not to be ashamed of. 6.10 Knight Three: SYNOBAZZ: Explosive Circuit --------------------------- This track has a dark, moody setting, but can be very annoying at times, and isn't to be underestimated. After the first few short straights, you come to two semi-hairpins; one right, the other swooping to the left. Be sure not to make the fairly common mistake of entering this section too speedily! Trust me on this one ;) As you swoop right round the mine-filled, huge hairpin, be sure to stick to the right-hand wall (without touching it too much, of course). This will give you a safe path through the mines (or, explosive traps, as they are officially called). As you finish the hairpin (this time turning left), be sure to make the ramp on the right and avoid all the Slow Down Areas. The rest of the track isn't too tricky or noteworthy - just go easy, don't over do it. TIME TO AIM FOR: 2'40 is good, though you can cut lots of time off that after plenty of practice. 6.11 Knight Four: ANCIENT MESA: Split Circuit --------------------------- Woah! Look at the shape of this thing! Indeed, but it isn't nearly as tough as it looks. Once you have navigated your way to the extremely wide, open area (with the four dash plates), make sure your are assertive in quickly choosing which of the four dash plates you are aiming for. Once hit, you will accelerate very quickly into a narrow area (either left or right; doesn't matter which). Get ready to turn, then turn again (this time very sharply, so get ready to use the appropriate shoulder button). You will be facing two dash plates. 'Hit' one of them, and either turn sharply or simply go straight into the bigger dash plate sticking out in front of you. You will be propelled in the direction the plate is facing, but you are still on ice so be prepared to steady yourself slightly so as to avoid the walls. Once through the short narrow lane, turn left and use your boost (as seen on the demo). You will have to then turn right (sharply), and fly over onto the track ahead. You can go left in the air, though, to take advantage of a small shortcut, so be aware of this possibility if you are going fast enough. TIME TO AIM FOR: 2'15 is respectable, but very beatable after a while. 6.12 Knight Final: STARK FARM: Third Circuit ------------------------- The best of the Stark Farm tracks, in my opinion, and it is a track that has an interesting junction in it - going left is very different to going right. I usually go left as this way is less complicated, and therefore much easier to memorise. Use your boost as soon as you are on the long straight before the junction and you should be fine. If you do turn left, don't hit the right-facing dash plates at the end of the route unless you are fully prepared to slow down very quickly for the last bend. Turning right means a less straightforward route, but, again, you should experiment and have fun; don't always take my opinions at face value - test out things for yourself to see what you prefer. TIME TO AIM FOR: anything sub-2 minutes will do here, though don't be satisfied with that if you make it - go for faster times, and then even faster ones! :) 6.13 Bishop Series Overview --------------------------- The Bishop Series is the second hardest Series. The tracks in this series are as follows: = BIANCA CITY: Tightrope Circuit = ANCIENT MESA: Skating Circuit = CRATER LAND: Skid Zone Circuit = CLOUD CARPET: Icarus Circuit = BIANCA CITY: Ultimate Circuit 6.14 Bishop One: BIANCA CITY: Tightrope Circuit ------------------------------ Akin to the first Knight circuit, this course is fairly uneventful and acts as a steady introduction to the Bishop Series. Keep a tight racing line, and your your boost on the start/finish straight. TIME TO AIM FOR: 1'55 is respectable, but aim to cut a good few seconds off that in time. 6.15 Bishop Two: ANCIENT MESA: Skating Circuit ----------------------------- Boost on the start/finish straight, but beware not to crash as you pass through the narrow(ish) track just before the ice starts. Again, this section should be memorised. When passing around the loop, I take the left, but you can go right if you wish - it doesn't really matter. All throughout this loop section, make sure you stay tight to the centre wall and that you are continuously pressing accelerator (in order to maintain grip on the ice). Try to avoid the ice sections when possible, sticking to the brown-ish areas of track instead (ice slows you down). The very tight turns toward the end of this course should not be taken lightly, especially the final one, which will require fairly fast accelerator tapping. You will also need to hold 'R'. TIME TO AIM FOR: 2 minutes dead is decent, but keep progressing and pushing yourself. In this game, every one hundredth of a second can be crucial. 6.16 Bishop Three: CRATER LAND: Skid Zone Circuit ------------------------------ This track features three two-way break-offs (junctions). They feature the following game elements: JUNCTION 1: LEFT: Dash Plates RIGHT: Pit Area JUNCTION 2: LEFT: Dash Plates RIGHT: Dash Plates JUNCTION 3: LEFT: Pit Area RIGHT: Dash Plates Obviously, you should head for the dash plates where possible, but sometimes you may need to fill up your energy bar, and so be sure you know the above information (about the junctions) before attempting this course on Master. This track is the first to feature 'Pulse Magnets' (see section 4.8 on how to handle these). Boost on the back straight. TIME TO AIM FOR: 1 minute 45 is good. Aim for sub-1'40 though, as times of less than 1'35 are possible. 6.17 Bishop Four: CLOUD CARPET: Icarus Circuit ---------------------------- Boost down the start/finish straight (like on many of the tracks in this game). Take it easy through the very narrow stretch of track. Try to cut the corner (45 degrees left) with the second dash plate (the one just before the severe hairpin near the end). When landing from this dash plate, get ready to immediately slow down and turn into a sharp right hand bend (the aforementioned hairpin). Otherwise, it's just a matter of keeping cool on the ice (no pun intended), and you should do OK. TIME TO AIM FOR: 2 minutes dead is extremely good, but even if you can only make 2'25 it'll usually be good enough. 6.18 Bishop Final: BIANCA CITY: Ultimate Circuit ----------------------------- Learn this track as soon as possible because it contains several potentially nasty hairpin bends. I recommend using the boost near the end of the lap, just as you see the Slow Down Areas. Cut directly across these areas if you wish (if you're boosting); it won't do any harm to your speed (well, hardly any, but this is made up for in the fact that you are taking a superior line). TIME TO AIM FOR: 2 minutes dead is respectable. 6.19 Queen Series Overview -------------------------- The Queen Series is home to the most difficult, challenging tracks in the game. It's in this series that we see the welcome return of the infamous FIRE FIELD circuits. The tracks in this series as listed as: = CRATER LAND: Loop Circuit = TENTH ZONE EAST: Plummet Circuit = EMPYREAN COLONY: Twist Circuit = FIRE FIELD: Land Mine Circuit = FIRE FIELD: Warrior Circuit 6.20 Queen One: CRATER LAND: Loop Circuit ------------------------- This track is much more interesting than its shape would suggest, and there is a lot of fun to be had with craft such as the Stingray on this course, due to the opportunities it has for cutting corners in mid-air. Make the first dash plate (on the right of the third straight) and hit the first jump plate to cut the corner over to the right. You will land past another jump plate, and should hit the following one to vault over the small Slow Down Area straight ahead. As this is a course that features jumping extensively, make sure you don't fall foul to basic errors, such as not holding down on the D-pad for take off, in mid-air _and_ on landing. Stick to the left-hand side on the penultimate straight to avoid the explosive traps (mines), and to achieve a smooth racing line around the final bend (you should practically be touching the right-hand wall as you veer round). Boosting shouldn't be a hindrance on this course - just boost down the back straight. TIME TO AIM FOR: 1 minute 30 seconds. 6.21 Queen Two: TENTH ZONE EAST: Plummet Circuit -------------------------------- This is a specialist track, in that it contains a lot of one thing, jumps. Yup, it contains no less than five different jump areas, and these are _not_ optional. This 'Plummet' Circuit also features several 'Gravity Magnets'. See section 4.9 on how to deal with these. All else for me to say is that you should always keep your composure: the cpu (on Master) will bump you a _lot_ and will try to get you to crash out by means of failing to land on the track after a jump. Also, caution is needed when landing from all jumps. Remember the order of the ramps - some need you to veer drastically to one side, while others you will need to stay straight for. Also know that there are a few fairly tight turns on this track, and so be sure you aren't going too fast when landing from any jumping you do. Boost down the start straight (as soon as you come onto it). TIME TO AIM FOR: 2'30 will do here, though there are times on the 'net quoting around 2'10. 6.22 Queen Three: EMPYREAN COLONY: Twist Circuit ------------------------------ This track will seem impossible to complete on Master at first. Believe me, once you have memorised the position of the _evil_ Spin Traps (my term ;) it isn't nearly as hard as you first imagined. Tips for this course: = Read section 4.5 of this FAQ on Spin Traps. DO IT NOW! :) = Make _sure_ you memorise this course's narrow section ASAP because they contain some potentially deadly turns. Once mastered, these narrow sections can provide you with some serious speed. These sections appear in between the two main 'Spin Trap' areas. = Do not rely too much on reflexes. Plan your route beforehand (on Training mode or from memory) so that you can navigate through the Spin Traps safely. = Don't _rely_ on them, but your reflexes should still be put to use. Do not fall for basic errors, such as running into a Spin Trap which you _thought_ was a Dash Plate (doh! indeed). After practice you should be able to navigate safely through the entire course without crashing into walls or Spin Traps _once_. Don't totally avoid Dash Plates; just make sure you have a plan in your head of which route you are going to take (in order to avoid the walls and especially the deadly Spin Traps). TIME TO AIM FOR: 1'40 is very good here, and shows you have finally mastered the Spin Traps :) 1'45 is also respectable. If you don't seem to be able to manage beating, say, 1'50, then you should use more of the dash plates (whilst still avoiding the Spin Traps). 6.23 Queen Four: FIRE FIELD: Land Mine Circuit ----------------------------- This course features gorgeous lava-effect graphics, and is up there with the CLOUD CARPET tracks in terms of how well the setting works. Anyways, ignore the graphics for now - you've got land mines to worry about. Lots of 'em. Unlike the previous track, with its deadly Spin Traps, this course feature Explosive Traps, and I think that, rather than memorise the mine patterns, reflexes should be used instead. By the time you are on this course on Master, you should be fairly well accustomed to the game's incredible speeds and the controls. If you do hit a mine (or several mines), don't panic by using boosts unnecessarily or whatever. Just steady your craft and build up your speed again as if you were starting the race from scratch again. This is because boosting or trying to do something else drastic in order to compensate for hitting the mine can mean your situation will go from bad to worse, possibly hitting other mines or walls. Boost on the start/finish straight, but be careful if you are using a craft with a longer boost time than, say, 7 seconds because you will still be travelling at 'boost speed' when you approach the first mine field. Thankfully the CPU (on Master) will hit many of the mines, clearing them (see section 4.4 for more details on the mechanics of these traps). TIME TO AIM FOR: 2'00 is a great achievement here. You won't need to be that good to win against the CPU though, so don't panic. 2'30 will suffice. 6.24 Queen Final: FIRE FIELD: Warrior Circuit --------------------------- This track features Jump Plates which launch you directly over Explosive Traps and/or Gravity Magnets(!). The safe bet is to avoid the traps, so do this if you are in a comfortable position. If you haven't done so already, you should read section 4.4 about Explosive Traps now - it will help you if you have problems dealing with this particular obstacle. Another two way choice on this course comes right at the start. Take the left to go through the Pit Area; right if you are already topped up. One tactic is to use your boost whilst travelling through the Pit Area. This kills two birds with one stone (so to speak), and I use it myself quite often on this track (and others). Again, the rest is up to you. Use common sense, keep a good racing line, etc (I can't stress this enough, in case you hadn't guessed :). TIME TO AIM FOR: Anything sub-1'50 is to be proud of, though 2'05 will be good enough. [END OF THE GP TRACKS] 6.25 Championship: SYNOBAZZ: Championship Circuit ------------------------------ The best track? Maybe, but that doesn't matter here. On with the details. Stay tight to the first bend (on the right). Miss the explosive traps and use the 'R' button and tap on the accelerator to glide smoothly around the next bend (hugging the right-hand wall). On the first lap, navigate carefully between the Slow Down Areas, whilst making sure not to veer too wildly away from them. On the other laps, use boost over the Slow Down areas on the left until you come to the Jump Plate on the right (around a couple more turns). Use the jump plate to cut across the gap to the right and then hit the left-hand Dash Plate (on the ice). Veer to the left slightly so that you can cut in to the right to take a straight line through the two icey bends. Use the shoulder buttons to turn on the ice. Once out, make sure you hit _both_ Dash Plates, an stay as straight as possible until you reach the end post. TIME TO AIM FOR: 1'30 is extremely good. Get this time and you no longer need this guide :) _________ END NOTES _________ This guide was written unaided and from absolute scratch by Phil Armstrong, August 4th, 5th, 6th, 2001. Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org Any additions, comments and corrections are most welcome. This Guide is Copyright of Phil Armstrong, 2001. 'F-Zero: Maximum Velocity' is Copyright of Nintendo, 2001.