Review by GreenFlag

"Strap yourself in and hold on tight!"

Play this game once and you'll be absolutely hooked. Not only is it just plain FAST - no, not fast, UNBELIEVABLY FAST, F-Zero X is just one hell of a fun game! And in all honesty, what could be more fun than sharing the same circuit with twenty-nine 25th century rivals who possess the same goal you do: get to the finish line first! Hold on tight, folks, because this is probably one of the hottest games you'll ever play. The prequel to F-Zero X - F-Zero for the SNES - could never match this...

Well, let's get the inevitable out of the way first - F-Zero X is one unbelievably fast game that will have you breaking the sound barrier, guaranteed. Within five seconds AT THE MOST after the start of the race, you'll be hitting speeds of 700 kilometers per hour and possibly even more. Try doing that with your Honda Civic! It's just the sense of speed of F-Zero X that absolutely makes this game classic. And as you keep on racking up lap after lap, the speeds only get faster, and faster, and faster. I have to warn you now: if you are an individual who suffers from motion sickness easily, I do not recommend playing this game!

Yup, the speed. If you go into any racing mode (Grand Prix or Time Attack), you get three laps to get to the front of the pack, or set the fastest time possible. The trick with F-Zero X is that the first lap must be run all on your own, while trying to stay away from the electric barriers on the sides of the track and the machines all around you. Every hit you take decreases your power meter on the top right of the screen. However, on laps two and three, you can use boost, which sends your speed to much higher levels for a few seconds, but at the cost of a bit of your power meter. It is at this point that you wonder, ''Do I save that energy for later on in case I hit the wall, or go for it and risk running out?'' It's the ultimate question, because if you hit a wall with no energy left, you are gone. But certainly thrusting your speed up to 1200 km/h for a few seconds is an unequaled adrenaline rush.

Modes like Death Race encourage the driver to absolutely floor the gas and knock off the remaining 29 cars. Knocking other vehicles off the track also has its rewards in racing modes. Practice is just a boring mode that allows you to get some experience in a racing situation. No big deal. But ultimately, you've got twenty-four tracks (plus a random track generator, believe it or not) and thirty cars (only six of which are available at the beginning of the game) and you have a whole game in front of you to play.

As you zoom around the courses you'll probably notice, ''Okay, what's with the roadside graphics?'' Yeah, I know, there isn't much, and you may notice a bit of pop-up as you race. Such is a natural consequence of running a game with 30 cars (all with independent intelligence) at 60 frames per second, which, incidentally, is the speed limit of the N64. The graphics are the only weak point of F-Zero X, but it's all in the interests of making the game as fast as possible. The cars aren't that detailed either with few polygons, but they're reasonably smooth and the reflections off the cars are pretty neat.

The soundtrack and audio are both awesome. If you love techno remixes with lots of electric guitar riffs and so on, F-Zero X's sound track is for you. Heck - the soundtrack was even released in Japan (if only it would come out for commercial release here). Definitely gets the adrenaline pumping, which is kind of the whole point of the music. The audio is not great and the jet engines sound all the same on every car, but for the most part it's crystal clear and very futuristic.

The fun with F-Zero X is that anybody can pick it up and play the game, since it's so simple - but it really takes a pro to master it. By the time you work your way up through the four difficulties in the four cups, your playing will probably have stepped up a notch a little. And if that isn't enough, in Time Attack mode, one staff ghost is hidden on each track, and trust me, the ghosts can be a real pain to beat! But such is the challenge of the game - there's so much to uncover, and you can't just drive to win. You will have to master some of the advanced techniques to be successful. It's not very common for a racing game to have lasting appeal of a hundred hours or even more, but it may just be the case with F-Zero X.

In addition, there is a four-player multiplayer mode that is just as fast as the one-player mode. You can have up to four players total on the screen, including computer players if you have two or three humans playing. It's somewhat unfortunate that there weren't more computer players - and I'm sure there was the capability to do something like that - but it's still pretty fun because of the point system in multiplayer. The slot machine mode in multiplayer can mix up the results of races as well (since it takes away power from players remaining in the race once you retire).

F-Zero X might not be the greatest racing game out there, but it definitely sets records as one of the better racing games for Nintendo 64. I think the commercials for F-Zero X really set the record straight: ''NO SPEED LIMIT''. Yup, this is one game that you should DEFINITELY pick up if racing is your thing. And you'll have a hell of a lot of fun with this game from start to finish. Unlike the velocity in this game, it sure won't go back quicker than you can see.

Unfortunately I'd love to see the Expansion Kit addition for 64DD, but since it has never been released in North America, it's kind of a shame that you can't design your own tracks. But that's a whole other review, and doesn't take away anything from F-Zero X itself. Great job.

Final score: 9.3

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/07/00, Updated 11/24/02

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