Review by DandyQuackShot
"I Shall Win to Honor Beautiful Women Everywhere!"
F-Zero takes it to the max with the Super Mario Kart 3-D racing experience. This Super Nintendo classic is one of Nintendo's best racers and it is a wonder why a series never took off with this game. F-Zero has a lot going for it and a lot that could have made a much more fun game to play but with only a sequel to follow it up on the Nintendo 64 I would say F-Zero is a wasted opportunity. I had a great time playing F-Zero after finding the game with the box and instructions. Half the fun is the game's instruction booklet which gives you all sorts of neat tips on racing in F-Zero and it provides a decent background and story for our hero Captain Falcon and the F-Zero story. Without it I would have been lost trying to figure if there was a story to this game as it was an early nineties game so unlike Mario Kart you do miss a multiplayer and other things that might have made this game a little better.
Some racing games have stories. Racing games set half a millenium always need a story. From the instruction booklet you will read that some big time corporations decided to sponsor their own version of the Formula 1 races of centuries before. Instead of wasting four hours of your day watching cars go round and around you will see that these guys have installed anti-gravity tracks with futuristic racing machines that hover barely a foot above the track. Also thrown in are very fatal obstacles such as mines, magnet rails, other racers, and walls that deplete your power. The brutality first offended spectators but of course now they love it. And the racers have egos the size of the tracks themselves. Only four characters, well, racing machines can be chosen from Captain Falcon the bounty hunter in his blue racer, Dr. Stuart the scientist following in his father's footsteps, Pico the aggressive alien, and the renegade samurai Goroh. There is enough bad blood that you can fully expect to bounce off of these guys a time or two on the track.
There is no story in the game and once you complete a circuit you will just get a review of your best track times for each race. If you have the instruction booklet there is a short comic featuring Captain Falcon that sets the game up to make you want to get started.
The first thing you will notice about F-Zero is that it is a one player game only. No Super Mario Kart split screen on this deal will allow you to race against your brother. Of course F-Zero is entirely different from Super Mario Kart with much more obstacles and faster speeds. I am not a fan of the metric system but I would say a max speed of 500kmh is quite fast. In fact I am pretty sure that George Lucas definitely stole from this game and made the pod race in Star Wars: Episode One from F-Zero's inspiration. Anyway, you have the Grand Prix, Practice, and Records as the only options for this game's main menu. The Grand Prix features three circuits of the Knight, Queen, and King races with the King having the most challenging tracks. You can select the difficulty before beginning the circuit. Each circuit has five distinct tracks, or races. It does not take too long to get through the five races in a circuit and you could easily get through the whole Grand Prix in half a day.
F-Zero's main goal is to beat your own records as the game does save your best times forever. There is no save system or record resetting so that is a big plus for a game of the early part of two decades ago...sheesh I got that right. Two decades ago.
In the Practice Mode you can simply test your best time on a track or practice for a circuit. Here you can definitely try to best your times.
As for the racing itself the game play is very competitive even on the beginner difficulty. You will have to calculate jumps and short cuts around obstacles as well as take it easy in sharp turns. The worst part is running up on another racer and getting into an altercation while trying to both take the same jump or curve. You will lose most of the time when you bump into another racer. After the first lap you also start to lap these yellow racers that serve no meaningful purpose other than to clog your way on the race track. Your only competition are the other three racers but the yellow guys just show up for pure spite.
The laps are numbered to about four or five per race and when you take damage the tracks have areas on the track where you can restore some of the power you have lost through damage. Of course if you take too much damage, well you blow up and back to the starting line you go. The obstacles can be very surprising as some courses have environmental effects on your machine such as wind and gravel to slow you down. Of course running over mud or gravel or whatever that stuff is that slows you down should not be a factor for a vehicle that hovers over the ground. I could not figure that one out. Other obstacles like mines and the magnetic rails are very interesting obstacles as you have to weave your way in and out of the mine fields and turn the machine ever so slightly to avoid being pulled into a magnetic rail that zaps your power out.
The game is set up with the 3-D effects the likes of which you see on Super Mario Kart. It is easy to keep your eyes on the track and the overhead view allows you to prepare for turns and obstacles well ahead of time. Nothing is worse than to hear that power down sound and then miss a sharp turn or run into somebody and hear that quick boom to end your race. The music is fun, not as memorable, but goes along with the different race tracks in the game. It would have been cool to see some in game rivalry get displayed between racers as the story shows that these guys have quite the ego. Comic book dialogue bubbles would have been awesome when the pilots bump into each other.
Final Recommendation 7/10
F-Zero definitely deserves a remake or a next generation sequel, or something other than a Falcon PUNCH from the Super Smash games. My first introduction to F-Zero unfortunately was Captain Falcon's debut on Super Smash Bros, so you have to think that a super charged smash into another racer would be pretty sweet. The story and the characters could go much further and Nintendo needs a futuristic racing game. The racing for the Super Nintendo game is fun and fast and for a classic it is worth having in your collection. I feel lucky to have found a copy with the box and the instructions because you do not run into that at the bargain store hardly at all any more. Here is another thought: Captain Falcon and Samus Aran hooking up....oh yeah!!
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 04/20/11
Game Release: F-Zero (US, 08/13/91)
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