Review by JPeeples

"One of the finest racing games in history."

F-Zero was released as a launch title for the Super Nintendo. It’s a racing game, but it’s not your daddy’s racing game. Oh no. Cars have been replaced by machines and the time isn’t in the present, it’s the future. F-Zero is considered by many to be one of the most innovative racing games in history. It was the first racing game to make use of the SNES’ L and R shoulder buttons, using these buttons gave you greater control of your car while turning, it was also the first home racing game to have post-race replays, a feature that is now standard. F-Zero was also the first racing game to make use of a power bar. If you run into the wall, or have other machines running into you, you’re power will drop; be careful though, because if you incur too much damage, you’ll lose the race. F-Zero was also one of the first games to make good use of the SNES’ Mode-7 capabilities, these capabilities allowed the game to have a smoother and more refined look to it, as well as move at a faster rate of speed. F-Zero lets you take control of any one of four machines. Each of these machines has it’s own unique look and feel, and you’ll want to try to master each machine in order to maximize your skills at the game. Now then, without further ado, let’s get onto the review.

F-Zero’s gameplay is some of the most unique of any racing game ever because each and every track has it’s own unique look and feel that actually effects gameplay. F-Zero takes place on some rather unique tracks, each track has multiple tracks dedicated to it. There are three sets of tracks that really show this off. There’s Big Blue (and Big Blue II + III), these tracks take place on a track over a raging river, there are ice patches throughout the tracks that will mess up your steering and will wipe you out if you don’t learn to compensate for the ice, these areas are also littered with sand traps that you must avoid or your machine will be slowed to a crawl. Then there’s the Mute City tracks, these tracks have tons of twists and turns that you must learn to control your way through, or you’ll incur a ton of damage, and fall way behind in the race, there are also tons of sand traps to avoid, these tracks take place over a bustling metropolis. Finally, there’s the Silence series of tracks, these tracks take place over a collection of purple and blue hues that really add to the feel of the game, these tracks have a very squarish look to them because of the many, many sharp 90 degree turns in them, these tracks make liberal use of the shoulder buttons as a result of this, so you’d better know your way around them if you expect to do well. Despite all the track nuances, the game’s frantic speed never hinders the game, on the contrary. The game’s fast speed makes your mind work faster, you’ll have to think quickly if you want to avoid the perils in this game, if you don’t, you’ll end up in the junkyard. Also, the gameplay never gets boring, in part due to the fast nature of the game, but also due to the addictive nature of the game, you’ll always want to keep playing because each time you play, you learn something new about the game.

The graphics in F-Zero are breathtaking. The track design will blow your mind when you first see it, and it will turn your mind to mush when you actually speed down the tracks. I think I rambled enough about the tracks in my gameplay description, suffice to say, they’re very creative and full of nuances. The game moves at a blisteringly-fast rate of speed, it’s unbelievable to see this game in motion, it will knock your socks off. The aformentioned Mode-7 effects gave the game a look that had never been seen before. With Mode-7, you could now see the machines from multiple angles, it also made judging distances a whole hell of a lot easier because of the scaling effect that seemed to bring the machines right into your living room.

The sound in the game is among the finest ever, not just in racing games, but in gaming as a whole. Each and every track (Big Blue, Mute City, Silence, etc.), has it’s own unique music track that fits the track perfectly and really enhances the mood of the game. The Big Blue tracks have a serene tinge to them that fits the look of the calm ocean beneath the track and enhances the feel of that particular track. The Mute City tracks have a bustling techno beat the fits the hustle and bustle of the metropolis below to a tee. The Silence tracks feature fast-moving music that fits the fast-paced nature of those tracks. The sound effects in the game are just as good as the music, the crashing sound effect sounds just like metal crunching, and the explosion sound effect that is used when you run out of power, and blow up is perfect, it really gets across the damage done to your machine.

F-Zero has three different difficulty levels, as well as three different track classes, each one is progressively harder than the last. There's the Knight series, this is the easiest set of tracks, these tracks have very few hazards, and should be a walk in the park for most gamers. Then there's the Queen series, these tracks have more pitfalls than those on the Knight series of tracks. Finally, there's the King series, this series features the toughest tracks in the game, each and every section of a track has a pitfall of some nature, you'll need to be at the top of your game to topple these tracks. The three difficulty levels add a nice bit of action to the game, the higher up in difficulty you go, the more tenacious the other drivers will be. They'll protect their position at all costs. F-Zero is a challenging game for many reasons, yet it never stops being fun.

The replay value in F-Zero is through the roof. The game is always a blast to play, plus, each time you play the game, you’ll learn something new about it every time. There are also some secrets to uncover in F-Zero, so keep playing and you’ll discover them all.

Overall, F-Zero is an amazing racing game. It’s one of the best racing games ever, and it’s the best SNES racing game ever in my opinion. The gameplay is so intricate, you’ll be playing the game for years. I’m on my eighth year of playing this game, and I’m still learning something new when I play the game. The graphics are mind-blowing, and the sound in the game is beyond reproach, it ties in so well to each track, that you need to play the game to appreciate it.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 08/23/01, Updated 08/29/01

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