Review by QXZ

Reviewed: 08/14/01 | Updated: 10/26/01

XG delivers what it advertises ... Extreme-Gs. Be sure to equip a barf bag...

At the announcement of the Nintendo 64, Nintendo was eager to announce F-Zero X as on of the system’s early releases. But F-Zero X suffered multiple delays, and got pushed back two years later. But someone capitalized on this. Acclaim managed to notice the delays, publishing the N64’s first entry into the sub-genre of “futuristic racing”. Its name: Extreme-G. You can go ahead and let the title fool you — it delivers its promise of Extreme-Gs.

Set several years from now, the XG is a virtual tournament sponsored by some government agency that actually does something right for a change. Motorcycles of different abilities are entered into the tournament. The menacing Grimace and the army-risen Mooga are among the contenders. Once you settle down on a bike that suits your tastes, get your butt adjusted to the cushion, and manage to get comfortable, you’ll soon discover XG is centered around only two things: Unadulterated speed and maniacal destruction. And it’s damn fine at doing both.

Picking up the game is not really gonna be easy. The default controls simply don't feel comfortable — holding Z to accel? Lying within the default control scheme is a problem: Too damn many buttons! The number of possible functions to be used are just too bountiful! Remedy? Adjust the most important functions to the most convenient buttons.

Afterwards, time to let the destruction begin and the vomit fly!

XG incredibly fast-paced. These bikes can reach speed of 300mph. No — 300kph. Damn it! What the heck does that darn speedometer measure? I don’t know if it’s measured in knots, hands, furlongs, or whatever, the easiest thing to say is that they’re damn fast! Saying anything antonymous with fast would be blasphemy.

And there are weapons. Oh, yeah. Just when you add intense speed, you just HAD to include weapons. You not only have to worry about having you skin melt off because of the speed, but you now have to worry about having your skin melt off because of a heat-seeking missile.

Sure, there are functional, straightforward weapons, like rockets and mines, but there are plenty of cool-looking weapons to be found. I am not gonna give too much away, but one of the early ones bears a likeness to a dome-shaped wave of electromagnetic energy. Unfortunate ones who get caught in its wake are forced to give the right of way to the one who unleashed its power. Fun weapon to use, moreso to watch! Even when on the receiving end. It’s one of my favorites. There are others, but your experience will show you how cool some of these weapons can be.

Added emphasis on the weapons is given, thanks in part to an added shoot-’em-up game. Why is it fun? Simple. You get to shoot bikes that don’t shoot back. Fun stuff this is! I was playing the shoot-’em-up game about as much as the circuit mode... if not moreso. In FP perspective, in addition to witnessing their explosions up close, you also fall victim to another case of nausea. If not for the fact it’s a great addition to an already fun game, you can all it a good exercise in target practice on the fly.

You can turn the weapons off, but things are considerably more entertaining when they come into play. Without them, it’s just race. But it’s not all that exciting, unless you prefer pacifism and just want the speed.

I just want to ask, but did I forget to mention that this game is jaw-droppingly fast? Just when you feel you’re going as fast possible, there are hidden ways to inch even closer to the speed of light. Zooming by at an even faster pace is an acquired skill, and is capable of proving your original opinions of “This game ca’t get any faster” wrong within a blink on an eye. Any faster than that, the sheer forces would turn my body into liquid flesh! Then again, the enemies and tracks’ edges are the only thing that can prevent that perfect run.

Physics between the bikes are all right, but imperfect. Sure, you bump into each other, the bikes give the adequate bounce. Never do any of the bikes pass through each other — that’s good. Weapon collisions also break up the speed, and the bikes react accordingly. Riding the rails and bumping the barriers will cause you to slow down. Not bad, I say. One fault does befall the physics, though. Wrong way errors are naught.

The tracks in XG are virtual roller coasters. Mix in a handful of treacherous drops, a couple loop-de-loops, corkscrews, and press LIQUEFY, the tracks come out whipped up in a nice, smooth, milkshake-like consistency. With as much atmosphere crammed into such a contest, it’s amazing how fast this game can go without the frame rate missing a beat. Fun stuff.

The tracks themselves, aside from the aforementioned qualities, look great. Not just one of them, all of them. Apparently, XG’s first track takes inspiration from the 1960 film based on H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine... specifically, when the film set in the year 802,701 AD; Those who’ve seen that film will easily see the similarity.

Beautiful? Yes. Haunting? Certainly. Awe-inspiring? Hell, yeah! Admirable? You better believe it! Hmmm.... Despite the splendor, there is really to time to truly take awe in their presence... unless you like keeping your foot on the brake.

The music works well, as its techno beats have thump to them. Players who get headaches can’t tolerate bass-heavy music may want to tone it down. Not the volume, the bass. XG’s music really intensifies the futuristic feel of the game.

As thrilling a ride as XG is, just like real roller coasters, the ride is over long before you’d want to it to end. Only twelve tracks, which rarely exceeded ninety seconds in length per lap. (Actually, there are thirteen. I cheated, tried out number thirteen, and, comparatively speaking, it must’ve been an experiment with an unsuccessful outcome.)

A dozen tracks can be a good thing, but the ability to open them all up within a few squat hours sells XG short. Being able to bump the number of laps up from just three would have aided the game, because three laps ain’t enough. (And, believe me, I am sick of this “three laps only” quota.) It’s my biggest problem with XG, although it’s not too much of a blow. My gut’s extremely tender as it is. Further impact could make holding food down impossible.

(I’d’ve included comments on the multiplayer game, but I wasn’t able to get anyone else to play with me during the most recent rental period I had this game. But I did not think much of the battle mode. That is all I can say right now.)

Overall, methinks XG is an excellent title for anyone who is deemed a speed demon. It’s fast and exciting for as long as the ride lasts, but it’s much like a good roller coaster — you’ll keep coming back for more, in spite of its imperfections.

Quite easily, Extreme-G the fastest racer available for the N64. “If gravity is a law, this is a felony”, says the box; If that’s the case, officer, lock me up for life and throw away the key. I warn you: The speed contained therein may be too much for some to handle.


Rating:   4.0 - Great

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