Review by Tenshi No Shi
"I feel the need, the need for speed."
Though to this day I still can't explain why, F-Zero X was the first game I imported for the Nintendo 64. Not that I'm not a huge fan of the series, but it's usually a Zelda, Final Fantasy, Castlevania or Treasure- made (yes, Sin & Punishment did follow) game that gets me motivated to mod my console and pay the extra cash over a domestic release. Needless to say, this review has been a long time in coming...
Though this game takes place centuries after the original F-Zero Grand Prix for the Super Nintendo, F-Zero X really doesn't have a plot. Some mention is made of a "revival" of the sport, but a game that's all about driving as fast as possible doesn't really need a story (despite the more recent attempts on the GameCube, Gameboy Advance and even the Saturday morning cartoon)- Just strap me into a barely controllable rocket, give me an insane course to run and I'm a happy guy!
Though it looks simplistic (even for a Nintendo 64 game), F-Zero X is still a rather impressive graphical feat. Perhaps it's the eerily realistic sense of speed you get playing the game. Or maybe the vertigo inducing heights you suddenly find yourself plummeting from. Or even that the framerate stays rock-solid, even with 29 other cars on the screen. Whatever reason you pick, just remember that while the screenshots look bland and sub par, it action F-Zero X is a thing of beauty.
As for the soundtrack, now Nintendo has just outdone themselves- A wonderful mix of classic F-Zero themes redone with a grittier edge along with a slew of new songs will keep your adrenaline pumping race after race. Is this really a cartridge-based game? Naturally the sound effects are up to snuff as well, though you'll hardly notice with such an incredible music selection to keep you distracted. Why is it that so many Nintendo 64 games have better scores than most Saturn or Playstation games?
Likewise F-Zero X's controls are damn-near perfection, with sharp handling and precise controls that'll leave no one but yourself to blame if you slide on a turn and end up sailing off the track. Even though the game is in 3D, it really doesn't play that much different than the Super Nintendo classic, so pros should easily be able to adapt to the Nintendo 64 controls while newcomers will only have a marginal learning curve (basically just learning how to shift the weight of your vehicle).
Being that this game is 3D, it's not hard to imagine that there would be some sort of fundamental redesign with a sequel a Super Nintendo game. Gone are the completely flat but curvy tracks of the 16- bit era, replaced with insane, roller coaster inspired tracks that offer stomach- dropping leaps, inverted twists, corkscrew loops and 360 stretches of raceway- both in tunnels and out on barrel-like areas- all perfectly placed to give you a thrill like you've never experienced on a console. With the return of classics modes as well as several new one (including Death Race which consists of wrecking the other 29 cars), you're sure to find something interesting to keep you playing.
The only thing there is to really unlock in F-Zero X is other machines to race with. Not that I'm complaining- some of the other racers are pretty damn cool- it just feels like you see everything there is to see rather quickly, so your left just trying to beat your best times. Granted, I really can't think of anything they could have added (though if they could have incorporated the design-your-own-track feature from the 64DD add-on, that would have been a nice touch), I still feel that the game is somehow lacking in the bonus department.
If you like racing games and don't mind the futuristic theme, then you've got yourself a must-have for your Nintendo 64. I realize that I'm many years too late with this review (what with the Wii's stranglehold on the market and the GameCube well and truly dead, this is several generations too late), if you still own a Nintendo 64 and don't have this game it's worth tracking down.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 08/12/09
Game Release: F-Zero X (US, 09/30/98)
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