Review by BrakZero

"Would I like a ride on this vehicle that travels at 1000 miles per hour? Um, no thanks."

Ever wondered what driving would be like in the future? Have you ever imagined driving a hover car along a floating racecourse at speeds of one thousand miles per hour? Well, you've got your chance to drive that floating car that you've thought about in a video game, with the 64-bit version of the original futuristic racer — The 16-bit F-Zero. F-Zero was a racer that debuted on the SNES in 1990, and pleased players with its fast paced, destructive futuristic racing theme, and now it's been upgraded into a 64-bit racer that exceeds F-Zero's speeds by far. This, of course, was known as the ultra quick destruction racer, F-Zero X.

F-Zero X is, by far, faster than almost any other racer released. After choosing a hovering vehicle to drive in, you sit idly on a course until the counter counts down three numbers, and WHOOSH, you're racing at nearly one thousand miles per hour in a matter of seconds, at the very most. The turns come toward you at an amazingly fast speed, so a player will need some good reflexes and skills to safely turn around the course curve. And if you happen to crash while trying to turn, you'll end up smashing into the side of the course only to bounce yourself and smash onto the other side, starting a bad series of hard crashes. So, I'm sure you can imagine how fast you're actually racing. Even when you take your finger off the gas button and you seem to be going very slow, you may notice that you're still traveling at a whopping 400 miles per hour! And depending on what type of vehicle you choose, your max speed will increase or decrease.

If you don't feel like you're moving fast enough, then you can wait to finish the first lap and start the second one off with boost power. After you accomplished the first lap, a very stupid-sounding voice yells “You got boost power!” and from there you can push the B button to boost up your speed dramatically for about a second. Using boost effectively proves to be an extremely handy tactic at times, and pumps up the excitement of the race. Using boost at a bad time and wasting it proves to be unwise, since using a boost drains your energy bar a little bit every time you use it.

As I mentioned before, crashing might prove to be a bad thing while playing. Every time you smash into something hard, your energy goes down. Overuse of the boost power and constant crashing may bring your energy down to a dangerously low level, and your vehicle will start flashing red. When this happens, you are in some desperate need of the “pink healing stuff.” If you happen to run out of energy and slam into yet another object, your car will either simply break down or it will explode. And when this happens, you probably already figured out that it means Game Over. In order to keep your from running out of energy, each course has some “pink healing stuff”, which slowly recovers you car when you drive over it. These areas are usually before the finish line at the end of the lap, so that a player can refresh the car and have it in good condition for the next lap.

The vast amount of different vehicles and tracks within F-Zero X is very delighting. You first start out with six vehicles, and then you can keep unlocking more and more, until you finally can have a selection of about thirty crafts. Each one is very unique with its own design and rider, and each has different statistics. By statistics, I mean how good its ratings are for Body, Grip, and Boost. The better the body of the car, the longer it can outlast severe crashes and keep its energy up. The grip of the car determines how well it turns, and the boost rating, of course, determines how effective one boost can be. Each of the statistics are given a grade between A and E, with the “A” grade being the best and “E” being the poorest.

The tracks are divided up into different leagues, namely the Jack, Queen, King, and Joker league. Competing in the GP Mode allows you to pit against other computerized racers in these courses, and winning them allows you to open up new ones. In all, there is a very large amount of different tracks, and each one always proves to be unique in some way compared to all of the others. Each one is usually filled with different types of crazy turns, jumps, half-pipes, pipes, etc. Eventually, you can go on to say that F-Zero X actually has an unlimited amount of tracks. You can use the “X” random track generator to instantly find a course that can surprise you in many different ways. Overall, the amount of race courses and the way that they are presented is very nice, and should not disappoint anyone.

When you first boot F-Zero X up and start playing, you'll be greeted right away with many different options. All of these options allow you to race or use your vehicle in some ways, and there are many options laid out in order for you to choose your style of driving. These selections include Time Attack, Practice, GP Race, Vs. Battle, and Death Race. In Time Attack, as you may have guessed, you are in a race against time, and your goal is simply to speed your way through the floating course as fast as possible, setting records if done fast enough. If a player doesn't feel experienced enough, he or she can use practice mode to experience the twists, turns, obstacles, jumps, etc. before actually facing of against the AI racing opponents that are seen in GP Mode. In GP Mode, you have to square off against a couple dozen of those computerized vehicles to win a championship cup, therefore allowing you to open up several other tracks. Of course, each course gradually gets tougher as you complete them, so a player will obviously need some skill as well as experience or luck to win.

Vs. Mode is not at all different from any other Vs. Mode from another racing game in terms of the actual racing, but there is an interesting feature that is available when one of the human players either falls off the course or runs out of energy. When someone is unable to race, they are allowed to use some slots. The player can choose when to stop them and hope to get three of the same picture, just like a typical slot machine. The effects of these slots can be very dangerous to the other players. For instance, if the disabled human player gets three skulls on the slots, then all the remaining racers' energy bars are instantly brought down to a minimal amount, thus putting them in a “one-hit-and-you're-dead” situation. This is a pretty interesting feature in my opinion, and it adds a whole load of fun to the Vs. Mode, thus making it much more enjoyable than most racing games.

The Death Race is a very unique mode of gameplay, different than the others because of the fact that you don't race. Instead, you are put onto an extremely short course with a jump, and you circle it constantly until all of the 29 other vehicles are destroyed and disabled. While attempting to accomplish this, there is a timer on the screen, and you'll want to win the Death Race as fast as possible to set a good time. Fortunately, to make your job much easier, you are allowed to use a special power shot while driving along. You can double tap the Z button to power smash a bit to the left, or you can double tap R to smash on the other side. This way, you can usually destroy a vehicle instantly with good timing and distance judgement.

However, the Death Race can get quite irritating at times. The course is unbelievably boring, as it is just a loop that looks as though it is one, straight, never-ending path. And since I mention the word straight, I think you'll know that it means the course is free of any twists and turns. There is one jump, but it's small and unimpressive, so you'll have to take all the enjoyment of this feature from the destroying of the other racers.

And overall, the gameplay is outstanding. There are a very large variety of different vehicles and tracks that are all unique in some way, and when they are paired along with the different types of modes, it proves to be a very enjoyable experience.

Visually, F-Zero X is beautiful. The entire game, from the start-up logo to everything on the race is extremely colorful and a pleasure to look at. The vehicles have a great amount of detail put into them, and the course itself is surprisingly detailed. However, the best time to catch these details is before the race, as the game runs too fast to really see it all. And because the racing is so fast paced, there wasn't that much detail in the backgrounds of the course, other than the slightly blurry cities far down below the track. Luckily, since the game was meant to be so fast, it did not suffer from any slowdown whatsoever, and the fun was brought out to its fullest. A slowdown in F-Zero X would be very bad, and ruin a large portion of your fun with it.

Electronica-type music is usually what is heard during the gameplay. It fits in unbelievably well with the whole game, seeing that it is a futuristic type that contains high floating courses. Some of the music may be familiar to gamers who have played F-Zero X, but of course, it is composed much better and can be heard more clearly with the power of the Nintendo 64. Overall, the music of the game was done extremely well, and is not disappointing at all.

I had some gripes with some of the sounds in the game, but they're not serious enough to hurt the game too badly overall. The best example to give is the voice of the announcer. He sounds very strange, is hard to understand, and listening to it constantly is quite irritating. Luckily, the other sounds were not bad at all, such as the sound of a crash or the engine rip from the boost power.

This game can be very challenging at times, especially if you are inexperienced. Skill is something that you'll need in the game if you have any hopes of winning, as it is not easy to master the twists and curves. Some of the obstacles found on the courses may be strange for some newcomers as well. But, with some practice, you should be able to breeze by some of the GP races without a problem.

This game is very fun as well, especially in the two player Vs. Mode. You may find yourself playing this game with friends for hours, losing track of the time as you are swept into the whole game. Other modes of play are fun little time-wasters, such as the Death Race, which may take as much as thirty minutes to beat if you don't know exactly how to tackle the situation. Overall, the game is fun, and is worth playing over and over again to unlock many new tracks and improved vehicles.

Final Word
If you own a Nintendo 64 and you're a fan of racing, F-Zero X is an absolute must. Its fast paced, futuristic action almost always manages to capture the attention of the player, and it will account for many hours of fun. If you have doubts, you should rent it to give it a whirl, and if you enjoy it, don't hesitate to spend some money on this game.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 09/19/01, Updated 09/19/01


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