Review by Brother Reed

""Ah, soon the track will be littered with the smoking hulks of my opponents' wrecked and burning machines. The thought itself is ecstacy! - Pico""

If you feel the need for speed, look no further. Traveling at speeds in excess of 1,500 k.p.h., F-Zero X is the fastest racing game ever for the N64. Take the original F-zero game for Super Nintendo, pump up the graphics, add 26 new machines, beef up the speeds, add 30 completely redesigned tracks, a track generator and three new game modes and you have F-Zero X. Centuries after the original F-Zero Grand Prix, the races have been revived to awe spectators once more. The rules have changed slightly, but the goal is the same: to be the fastest thing in sight. Though this game has many similarities to the original F-Zero, it is much improved.

One great improvement is that the tracks have changed dramatically. No longer are they completely flat; no, no, no, no, NO. Now the tracks have hills and corkscrews, bumps and steps, loops and cylinders, tunnels and half-pipes. That feature makes racing just that much more enjoyable.

F-zero X is different from a lot of other racing games. The F-Zero racers compete in futuristic machines that utilize an opposing gravity system called the “G-Diffuser System”. With these they can drive at high speeds hovering just inches above the ground. This great reduction of friction, combined with their compact plasma engines allows them to go faster than any other land-bound craft. The plot is also more original than most. For instance, every character is different and has his or her own bio, and a personal reason for racing in the Grand Prix. Some are good, and some are very, very bad. Then you have the machines. Or ships, or cars, or whatever you want to call them. In the original game you could choose from only four, and the other 16 machines were more or less identical. Just a bunch of little insignificant, mindless drones that flew around the track. In FZX, however, you have access to thirty different vehicles with customizable colors, and each one with its own strengths and weaknesses. That is of course, if you can unlock them all...

In the main game, the F-Zero X GP, you are pitted against 29 other racers to sprint for the finish line. Choose the difficulty level, Novice, Standard or Expert, select one of the three cups (or circuits), each consisting or six tracks, and start your engines. You win by getting the most points. This is how you gain new machines. Every time you rank first on one circuit for one difficulty level, you get an X. Get three X’s, and you will gain access to the next row of machines to use. Get six, and you open the third row. Get get the idea. The races are a heck of a lot of fun, especially on Novice where you can kick their metallic posteriors with minimum effort.

Like in F-Zero, you have what is called a “Time Attack”. This is another one player mode that allows you to race on any track with any machine to try for best times. You can even race against yourself via a course ghost feature as you attempt to perfect your skills. This can be quite engaging when you have nothing else to do. That’s not to say that it isn’t fun, and it can be much more relaxing than trying to conquer the computer all the time.

One new and interesting feature is the “Death Race”. Set on a special track, you try to decimate all the other machines in the least amount of time. This is all very cool, but it would be much more entertaining if they had made this race for two or more players simultaneously. It also can get rather boring after awhile with only one track which is straight all the way through and a rather annoying sound track that repeats every 15 seconds or so.

The last mode is practice, where you play the GP races just to hone your skills. It doesn’t really count toward anything.

For a first generation Nintendo 64 game, F-Zero X has excellent graphics! The ships, though not extremely detailed, look smooth and clean and solid. They are nice, sharp polygons, round where needed and just generally seem to flow quite well. The graphics are not the best, but as you round a corner with light flashing off your steel hull, trying not to collide with a wall at 600 m.p.h., you won’t notice the graphics much. And there is no slowdown whatsoever; the game runs at a constant 60 fps, even with thirty vehicles on the screen at the same time, all doing different things. You will not find the graphics a disappointment. The scenery is really good on each of the tracks and provides the correct atmosphere. Also the tracks themselves are gloriously arrayed with color and texture and have no notable flaws graphically. There is a little bit of fog, but it is considerably less than most games and does not interfere with the gameplay. The menu screens are a little less than average though. They are just comic-style drawings. The racers themselves are the same way. They are flat, 2 dimensional and slightly unclear images that, when standing beside their craft might as well be little cardboard figurines. Once again, this does not hamper gameplay in the least.

SOUND: 9/10
The sound rocks! From the blaring electric guitars that permeate the soundtracks to the bumps and crashes of colliding machines, the sound is streaming audio that is so fluent and clear you’d think you were listening to a CD instead of playing a cartridge game. The music is some of the coolest on any game. That’s partially because on some tracks, it’s all nostalgia to me. For instance, on Mute City and Big Blue, they have taken the original track music, thrown some crunchy guitars into the mix and created a familiar yet markedly fresh and redefined sound. And on others, such as Silence (what an oxymoron) there are brand new, adrenaline pumping tracks pulsating with the intensity of a race beyond the speed of sound. Sometimes it’s the little things which really put you in the game, like on Devil’s Forest, you can almost hear the devil whispering to you. Spooky. Only a few tracks become monotonous, like the death race song, which repeats all too often. For the most part though, I have no complaints regarding the sound.

The last thing anyone wants is a racing game that they can’t control. This is not that game! The controls are as tight as they can be. Your machines can turn on a dime and speed through tight corners with ease. Just use the weight shifting technique while turning and you have no problem. Some machines have better grip than others, so you could start sliding around depending on the craft you are using. The controls are also very simple to learn, so you shouldn’t have any trouble. Most people can learn the controls in just a few minutes of playing. Yes, F-zero X will have you racing like a pro in no time.

“Okay, how many of you think F-Zero X is an easy game? Raise your hands!”. *Hands go up around the auditorium* “Alright, take a good look around and see who has their hands raised. Everyone holding up a hand either has never played the game, or is a liar.” You will find plenty of challenge as you try to complete all the circuits. After playing Jack Cup on Novice, you might think it’s easy, because Jack Cup on Novice is easy. But Standard is not so easy, and Expert is very hard! If you’re playing Novice and start to think about how talented you are, then jump into King Cup on expert, get completely trashed, and then reevaluate just what a hot shot you are. This game takes a LONG time to run out of challenges.

If you want a great one player adventure game, F-Zero X is for you. However, if you’re looking for an awesome multiplayer experience, pass it up and go get Mario Kart or Super Smash Brothers. F-Zero X does have a multiplayer vs. race for up to four players, and it’s fun for a few minutes until you start to see what a bunch of junk it is. It cheats all the time (but this is the kind of game that would) and is just generally very unreliable. You can engage handicaps to give the slower player an advantage, but it is still kind of boring and frustrating in comparison to other multiplayer games and gets old quickly. Do not by this game for the vs. mode. I wish they had made the Grand Prix and the Death Race multiplayer optional as well, so you’d have something to choose from. So much for that.

First of all, this game is long and it's no walk in the park. Trying to beat all the cups on Expert will keep you occupied for quite some time. There are four modes of difficulty, and many of the features have to be unlocked by your progress in the GP. That’s one of the cool things about the game: so much of it has to be unlocked. This feature will stimulate interest and motivate you to keep playing (as if the speed wasn’t motivation enough!). Vroom! VRRRRROOOOOOOOOOM! Oh, sorry. Secondly, it is just so much fun to fly around the tracks at these speeds! That alone will keep me playing till doomsday, or until my thumb finally falls off from holding the accelerator. And then there is also the multiplayer that you can play with you friends. This is not one of those games that you buy and then turn around and sell at a yard sale two months later. It’s a keeper.

Well, definitely rent it first to see if you like it. It won’t appeal to everyone, (especially those who are prone to motion sickness!), but it is my opinion that the game is worth purchasing as long as you don’t pay more than 20 or 30 bucks for it.



Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 05/20/00, Updated 05/20/00

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