Review by darthjulian

"Revolutionary racing experience"

When Nintendo finally released the Super Nintendo after their glorious years with the 8-Bit super-machine NES, not only did they want to outclass the console´s predecessor in terms of technical aspects, but also their biggest competitor Sega and their 16-Bit machine, the Sega Genesis. And the most notable feature that helped Nintendo to showcase the superiority of their machine was perhaps the mode 7 3D effect, and F-Zero was one of the first and most impressive examples for the use of this feature.

However, more on that later. Let´s start with the gameplay basics. What we have here is a normal racing game at heart, fleshed out with some unique features that made the game outstanding at its time. First and foremost, the game is set in the far future, which means that you´re not treated with the somewhat realistic and usual vehicles most racing games had back then, but with some futuristic and cool looking vehicles. The game also offers some futuristic seeming race tracks - 15 in total - that can be found in the 3 different racing leagues you can participate in, namely the so called "Knight League", "Queen League" and "King League", each of them having their own difficulty level, making the game easy to pick up for beginners and at the same time challenging for experts due to the good balance of these difficulty modes. The great controls of the game also serve their purpose and help to make F-Zero a racing experience as enjoyable as possible: they´re easy to learn and to execute, and all the time, they´re spot on and simply perfect, as we´re used to from Nintendo games. So gameplay-wise, F-Zero is without a doubt one of the best racing games on the Super Nintendo, and only the lack of a 2-player mode is a slight flaw to be found in this otherwise excellent game.

As mentioned earlier, F-Zero was one of the first games on the SNES to use the mode-7 technology, which provided the game with a then revolutionary 3D effect during the races. This means that background layers can be rotated and scaled, and by altering the scaling and positioning of the layer on a scanline-by-scanline basis, which creates the aforementioned 3D effect. And considering that this has been achieved on a console dedicated to 2D games, F-Zero is an awesome early showcase of this pseudo 3D perspective. The 3D environments that are being simulated look terrific for their time, even though they might lack detail nowadays. Even more importantly, there are few to none slowdowns to be found in the entire game, and the framerate remains constantly fluid and smooth throughout the entire game, despite the complex 3D effects. It´s an amazing achievement for such an early SNES game, and Nintendo still deserves praise for this technical revolution, as well as for the really cool sci-fi based art style of the game´s vehicles and characters.

Equally impressive is the game´s soundtrack, featuring futuristic rock-music that perfectly fits the atmosphere of the game, and the variety of different musical tracks is more than satisfying. Surprisingly, the sound quality of the music is truly excellent and crystal clear coming through the TV speakers, showing the advantages of the SNES in the sound department in a remarkable way. The sound effects of your vehicles are very cool, too, and in a certain way helpful as well, since the game´s sound has stereo quality, which means that you can actually hear whether an opponent behind you is approaching from the left or the right. All in all, the sound in F-Zero is a testament to Nintendo´s abilities as a developer, making the game a true technical masterpiece.

So, in the end, F-Zero really does deserve its status as a revolutionary SNES classic. Not only are the graphics and the music simply astounding and impressive, the gameplay also fully delivers in every single way. It´s a must-buy no SNES fan should miss; a game that is worthy of being in every video gamer´s collection.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/17/06

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