Review by Bolt_Thrower
"Excuse me while I take a breather..."
In 1991, Nintendo unleashed "F-Zero" for the SNES. Revolutionary due to its "Mode 7 Scrolling" (a graphical technique used to simulate 3D environments), "F-Zero" was a landmark in the advancement of The Third Dimension, concentrating on fast, furious, and combat-heavy racing. A sequel was released in Japan, but "F-Zero X" became the 1st "true" sequel to the series.
The 1st "F-Zero" was known for its graphical innovations, and while "X" doesn't invent a Fourth Dimension or anything, it follows up quite nicely. You'll sometimes see 20+ racers on the screen, streaking past buildings and into tunnels, and not a single ounce of slowdown will hamper your performance. The 3D models in the game look somewhat prohibitive (It IS the N64, after all), but they are illuminated by a nice shader that illuminates shine on the machines. Textures are again, somewhat basic, but serve the game well. Besides, who wants slowdown in an F-Zero game?
Audio-wise, it's a killer. Instead of the generic techno or orchestrated crap of common N64 games, "X" speeds away from these conventions and uses an 80's-Metal-styled soundtrack. You won't be able to go 20 seconds without hearing a Wah pedal being used! However, it fits the tracks wonderfully, creating single-note squeals that seem to indicate peril, or thrashing riffs that make you feel the intensity of the race itself. Overall, very pleasing.
Gameplay is the area where this game excels the most, however. You race other racers, win, and repeat. Although it may seem fundamentally simple in premise and execution, a major change has been brought right out of the blue: The Accel-Speed bar. It is a bar that you may customize before each race, choosing to emphasize acceleration over speed, vice versa, both, or anything in the middle. It adds a ton of strategy to each race, and it IS vital to know the bar AND the track in order to master it. The track selection is very diverse, encompassing futuristic cities, lava-ridden worlds, dense utopian forests, and a vast desert. Several staples of the first "F-Zero" game make their triumphant return here, such as Mute City, Big Blue, Red Canyon, Silence, Sand Ocean, Port Town, and Fire Field. Additionally, there are a few unusual tracks, such as "Mario 64"'s Rainbow Road or a giant hand (Watch out for the turn on the thumb!).
The controls are another item worth mentioning, despite again being simple: A is accelerate, C-Down is brake, and you control your machine's trajectory with the control stick. However, the R and Z buttons are used to quickly shift your machine to a side, hitting another machine. This is mainly used to combat other machines, but they can also be used to cut across sharp turns quickly. However, they will slow you down if you do so.
The replay value is immense. With 5 Cups, 4 difficulty levels, 30 unlockable racers, a Death Race, Time Trial, and 2-player, it is impossible to be completely finished with this game.
Now excuse me while I go try to shave off a second from my Mute City record...
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 01/24/06
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