Review by matt91486
"The greatest Super Nintendo racing series makes an appearance on the Nintendo 64"
The F-Zero series was by far my favorite racing game series on the Super Nintendo. Nintendo did a wonderful job making those games innovative and ahead of their time. Nintendo did a good job updating this classic, and getting rid of those horrid Mode 7 graphics, but the series has lost some of its luster, with the Need for Speed, Gran Turismo, Daytona, and Ridge Racer series out there now.
F-Zero X offers kind of a cross between futuristic racing, and battle racing. One of your best bets to win a race is to cause some of your opponents to self-destruct, or fall of a ledge. You also have an energy bar that is drained every time you use a boost, run into a wall, or strike another vehicle. This energy bar can be filled at the energy bar stations, of which there is usually one per track. But, the similarities to the battle racing sub-genre end there.
The rest of F-Zero X is a pure futuristic racer, much like WipeOut EXL for the PlayStation. You need to rank as high as you can in the ranking system after all of the six races are complete. There are six races in each circuit, and three circuits in F-Zero X. This gives you a fairly large selection of which races you want to race. There also are thirty possibly vehicles you can gain. Unfortunately, you only start with six, which can make the going difficult at first.
There is a decent selection of game modes in F-Zero X. The main mode, in which you race through all of the circuits, is the GP Mode. This is also the way you unlock all of the secrets in F-Zero X. There also are the other usual modes that you would expect, a Time Trial Mode, a Practice Mode, and a Versus Mode. There is one other mode, that has yet to be mentioned, which is called the Battle Mode. No, this is not like the Battle Mode in Mario Kart 64. In F-Zero X’s Battle Mode, you and the thirty other vehicles will pile onto one track, with very little walling. Your goal is to destroy all twenty-nine other computer controlled vehicles. This is an excellent mode. The only thing that could have made it better would have been two or four player support, so you could work together as a team to take out the computer controlled vehicles.
Gone are the ugly, blocky, Mode 7 graphics from F-Zero on the Super Nintendo. Here, are high resolution, polygonal, masterpieces. There is still one prevalent problem with the graphics, although it is not nearly as bad as the problem with the blockiness in the Super Nintendo F-Zeros. This problem is polygon tearing. Occasionally, throughout each and every race, your vehicle will seem to come apart at its ‘seams.’ This does not look all that pretty, and it really detracts from the overall graphical experience of F-Zero X.
On the plus side, however, most everything else looks fantastic. The waters look almost as good as the waters in Sonic Adventure. The energy bar stations are no longer little pink and yellow lines on the ground, as they were in F-Zero 2. Now, they are solid, flourecent pink slicks, that seem to be bubbling up. Most importantly, everything is colored in thousands of vibrant shades.
The music is probably the best that I have ever had the privilege of listening to in a racing game. Even a racing game not on the Nintendo 64 cannot stand up to this spectacular music. The music in the F-Zero series has always been excellent. The music for the games on the Super Nintendo were far ahead of their time. Most importantly, the music in F-Zero can stand up to the best that the RPGs on the PlayStation have to offer, not in style, but in quality. F-Zero uses guitar rock in doses, something I can stand. (If you have read some of my other reviews, you may know about my hatred for most guitar rock.) Most importantly, some of the best tunes from the earlier F-Zero games, most notably the song from Big Blue in F-Zero 2, make an appearance in F-Zero X, either as track themes, or otherwise. Also, these tunes have been ‘tuned up’ to meet today’s higher standards in audio.
The sound effects are almost as good as the graphics. The announcer can get a tad annoying which lowered the score, but, for the most part, everything he tells you is relevant to the game. He tells you when you are far ahead of your opposing racers, and when there is one right on your tail. Nintendo must have known they had to include him or a rearview mirror, and this announcer fits F-Zero X so much better than a rearview mirror would have. Nintendo also did a nice job of making the announcer’s voice sound futuristic. Besides the announcer, all of the other sound effects are top-notch. The beeping is as good as I have ever heard before.
Using F-Zero X after playing a slower racing game, such as Ridge Racer 64, can be deadly. While Ridge Racer 64 relies more on slow precision in steering, F-Zero X’s racer’s seem to jump across the track at the slightest nudge of the Control Stick. And I would not have it any other way. The jumpy controls in a different game would be annoying, and basically, horrendous. But, in the futuristic racer F-Zero X, they seem to fit everything perfectly. Maybe it is the high speeds, maybe it is the fact that the game is set in the twenty-sixth century, but the controlling scheme seems made for F-Zero X.
F-Zero X just about exactly equals it’s predecessor’s scores in this department. Without the Battle Mode, however, the score would be a bit lower. Other than the Battle Mode, really all that has changed from the Super Nintendo versions is the superficial categories, graphics, music, and the like. But the core gameplay has not changed at all. Not one little bit. Keeping the sequel to a successful idea is all right with me, but not changing it at all is stretching it a little bit.
CHALLENGE--MEDIUM TO HIGH
When playing the Jack Cup, the easiest one, on the Novice and Standard difficulties, you will find F-Zero X really rather easy. But, the rest of F-Zero X is nearly impossible. For example, a normal Battle Mode racer takes me about three hours to get all twenty-nine other vehicles off the course. The Kings Cup and Queens Cup on all difficulty levels took me many attempts to beat. While it is nice to have a racing game that is not a cakewalk, I think that this difficulty is just a little bit much.
REPLAY VALUE--MEDIUM TO HIGH
The replay value is not as high as I believed it would be when I purchased F-Zero X. While you will play the Battle Mode over and over, well, at least when you have enough time to spare, the races really factor in to the replay value the most here. I am sure you are all thinking “Duh...” but let me elaborate a bit. Basically, every race in F-Zero X, no matter how bad you do, should take more than three minutes. On average, all of the races in F-Zero X take me around one minutes and forty-five seconds to complete, apiece. This kind of leads into the Minesweeper factor. You can play through a race or two when you only have five minutes to spare in your life. It is good that we have a racing game with thirty second laps.
*New Battle Mode is an innovative and fun addition.
*More cars and tracks than its predecessors.
*Music may the best in a racing game ever.
*Way too much polygon tearing.
*Battle Mode takes forever to complete.
*Nothing really new gameplay wise than F-Zero and F-Zero 2.
I really have to recommend picking F-Zero X up, because you can probably find it for twenty dollars new at many retailers. I just picked it up because of the price, and I ended up with one of the better futuristic racing games on the market today.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/18/00, Updated 07/18/01
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