Review by JPeeples

"Hot time, summer in Mute City..."

F-Zero GX is the first F-Zero game to not being developed by Nintendo, and many fans of the series, myself included, were surprised to learn that a Sega development team (Amusement VIsion) would be working on one of Nintendo’s most beloved series. It was certainly surreal, and the doubt it left in the minds of F-Zero fans was enormous. Could Sega’s AV team could do an F-Zero game correctly? Thankfully, they did, and then some. The F-Zero games have had speed at the forefront of them, and this is the fastest of the bunch. GX is also the best looking racing game I’ve ever played, and one of the best looking games ever on top of that. The game’s fancy graphics and lighting effects are a welcome change from the generic, simple-looking appearance of things in F-Zero X. Overworks did an amazing job at capturing the spirit of F-Zero games, and I commend them for it.

The gameplay in GX follows the F-Zero formula to a tee. Fast racing? Check. Back-and-forth racing? Double check. Fantastic course design? Yup, that’s in here too. There are also some new wrinkles added to the mix as well. A new attack has been added, bringing the grand total of attacks up to a whopping two. The new attack doesn’t siphon speed like the original vehicle-spinning one did, but it does less damage. It’s definitely a welcome addition to the game, as it adds more variety to the gameplay and brings more excitement to a race. The course design in this game also adds a few things that either haven’t been used in the series, or have been used sparingly, such as the multi-tiered track sections, where the track ends up being like a staircase, which makes for an interesting racing surface as it causes a nice jump in speed and an increase in racing strategy due to that. If you’re familiar with the F-Zero series, you’ll feel right at home with GX. The game plays pretty much the same as before, only with some revisions and omissions to the mix.

First off, the much-beloved X Cup from F-Zero X is kaput, however, the all-new story mode is a nice addition. Sadly, the story cutscenes are horrid, but the racing challenges in between them are pure gold. Each challenge will test your racing prowess in every way possible, emasculating you time and time again until you finally put them to rest. The sense of accomplishment felt after finishing up just one of these bad boys is immense, and only gets higher as you chip away at the story mode and progress through it. Take out the cinemas, and you’ve got a winner right there.

One new addition, aside from the story mode, is a much higher degree of difficulty throughout the game. As someone who found F-Zero X to be a cakewalk most of the time, this is a refreshing change for the game. Gone are the days when you could breeze through a track without worrying about a thing. Now, you’ve got to stay on your toes throughout a race, as sharp turns and sudden leaps could send you off of the course and into retirement.

GX’s controls are virtually identical to those found in F-Zero X, barring the addition of the new side attack. Every command is responsive, and does what it needs to do when it needs to be done. The GC’s fantastic analog stick works wonders for this game, and is so responsive that a single error in your judgement could mean the difference between you getting through a turn, and careening into a wall for a seeming eternity.

Now we come to the most overhauled part of the game, the graphics. Man oh man, mere words cannot fully describe how beautiful they are. Sadly, this beauty does come with a price at times, but I’ll get to that in a bit. First things first, the simplistic machine designs of F-Zero X have been given a sizeable tune up, and are now packed to the gills with details. Things like the “Blue Falcon” text on the sides of Captain Falcon’s machine can now be read, sadly, Dynomutt is nowhere to be seen, but ROB the robot makes an appearance. Anyways, back to the graphics. The backdrops are now full of life and personality. In the Big Blue tracks, you will now see waterfalls flowing freely, in the Lightning tracks, thunder and lighting will greet your sights. All of these little touches combine to make each track unique and memorable, with a distinct mood throughout each one. Sadly, some of these little touches get the in way of gameplay. Things like the overused neon effects in the casino area make it nearly impossible to tell where side of a track ends, which can, and most likely will, cause you to die some needless deaths. Hopefully, you’ll be able to curtail this problem with a sharp eye, but don’t be shocked if you lose a race or two due to the glitz. Personally, I think the visuals could have been toned down a bit, still had the same effect for the mood in the race, and not suffer the consequences that come along with them.

The sound is pretty much what you’ve come to expect from the F-Zero games. There are some nice remixed tunes of classic songs in the game, like the Mute City track theme. The original songs are pretty good as well, with the Aeropolis theme being the most memorable for me. The sound effects pack a bit more punch than before. The seemingly stifled sound effects of past F-Zero games are gone, replaced with sound effects that have some impact to them. The new sound effects certainly do a better job of conveying machine damage than their predecessors, and they’re more appealing on the ears as well.

The replay value in GX is pretty high, although the lack of the X Cup certainly puts in a notch below that of F-Zero X, it’s still higher than most games on the market. The regular racing is addictive, and reason enough to keep coming back for more. The story mode has its’ moments, with the racing challenged within it giving you plenty to play through. The unlockables in GX are quite unique, as they require you to either achieve a goal in F-Zero AX (the arcade version of GX), or have superhuman gaming abilities to unlock them without the arcade game. Either way, you’re in for quite a bit of F-Zero racing, which, in the end, is rarely a bad thing.

All in all, F-Zero GX makes for a fine addition to the F-Zero series. It’s worlds ahead of Maximum Velocity on the GBA, and compliments F-Zero X quite nicely as well. I’m stunned at how improved the graphics are in the game, and I’m pleased that the sound and control didn’t have to suffer due to them. Sadly, the gameplay does suffer a bit from them, which is a shame. Hopefully, if a sequel is done, the problems in this game will be ironed out, and the X Cup will make a glorious return, if not, this game is fantastic in its’ own right and deserves to be played by all.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 09/16/03

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