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Old 01-08-2009, 09:37 PM   #129
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Troy, MI
Posts: 11,005

Nintendo Wii - Virtual Console
1 Player
Developer - Nintendo EAD
Original Publisher - Nintendo

My Bias
-Played it a lot when I was younger but never owned it

My Completion
-All leagues beaten on Standard
-At least 30 hours

Being a racing game, and an old one made in 1990, there isn’t much of a story here. I think there may have been one included in the original instruction manual back when this game was released for the SNES, but I am unaware of any kind of storytelling in-game. That’s perfectly ok though, this is a racing game and racing games don’t need stories.

Like most games for the SNES this is a very colorful game. Everything is very vibrant and the game makes use of a lot of neon colors.

I'm a sucker for gradients

The cars look neat but don’t scale or rotate at all. Meaning as you approach the different cars during a race they just swap sprites at pre-made sizes. Same thing happens when you see the cars at different angles.

Most racing games of before the era of 3D often looked really clunky and choppy when in motion. F-Zero on the other hand is super smooth, the game looks like it runs at a constant 60 FPS with no slowdown or jittering in sight. Watching certain track aspects such as striped tracks and the colored barrier circles on the sides of the tracks quickly fly by at such a smooth at such a smooth frame rate really gives this game a sense of speed.

F-Zero’s soundtrack is amazing. This games soundtrack goes down in my book as one of the best game soundtracks of all time. Just about every course in the game has a memorable tune. In fact there is only one music track in this entire game that I don’t like (Death Wind).

I also love the overall style of the music. A lot of synth trumpets are used in combination with high tempo to give the music an energetic feel without having to resort to rock. Game soundtracks like this are few and far between. Some of my favorite songs include

♪ Mute City

My favorite and probably the most remixed track from this game is Mute City. This track gets my blood pumping and really helps fuel my desire to win.

♪ Big Blue

Another one of my favorites. This is one of the more light songs in F-Zero and fits well with its bright blue stage.

♪ Port Town

This one starts off slow and kind of boring, but at around 20 seconds into it the melody starts and makes it one of the more memorable songs. I love racing to this one.

♪ Select Time Theme

Along with the racing tracks I also like this track. It’s the music that plays whenever you finish a course and you are reviewing the lap times. I know it’s a simple loop but I find it really soothing, like its winding you down from the excitement of the race.

One of the best parts about this game is how tight and responsive the controls are. The game was released well before the invention of the Analog Stick and concequently the gameplay feels very “clicky”, requiring you to make subtle movements with quick directional taps instead. I much prefer controlling racers this way instead of using an analog stick.

Being a SNES game on the virtual console you either have to use the Classic Controller or a Gamecube controller. I found because this game is so demanding on quick precise movements, the Gamecube controllers tiny stiff D-Pad was very hard to use. However since the Classic Controller is almost an exact replica of the SNES controller layout wise so it’s perfect for this game. If you only have a Gamecube controller I don’t recommend getting this game.

There are 4 different cars to choose from. To be honest I can’t tell much of a difference between the 4, and I always just pick the Blue Falcon because it looks the coolest. There are also 3 different circuits with 3 difficulties each. A lot of the circuits feature the same areas but during a different time (like night, sunset) and with a brand new track layout. I’m disappointed that there is no 2 player mode because this game would be really fun with a friend.

Blue Falcon is the only correct choice

One of the things I like most about this game is the sense of speed it has. Not many games on the SNES felt like you were moving very fast at all but this game is a rush. There are a bunch of little things that help with this such as the circles that make up the edge of the tracks. Some of the later levels place you on constant speed boosters making continuous jumps over wide chasms and it gets really intense.

I've never understood why hover cars slip on ice

A big key to winning races in F-Zero is knowing how to take turns. While my general consensus in racing games is to tape the accelerator button down and never stop, in F-Zero you need to ease up on it around turns. Eventually you start to learn it’s better to tap the acceleration button around certain turns and completely hold off on it around really tight turns. You can also lean your from left of right with the L & R buttons which is a good way to turn without losing speed.

I probably should have let go of the accellerator on this turn

My biggest complaint with this game is that you can’t pull very far ahead of your opponents. No matter how fast you race, no matter how many turbo boosts you spam, the other 3 cars are always right behind you. So even if you achieving your best lap time ever, one little screw up at the end and the other racers will be right there ready to steal your victory. I don’t like it because there is no incentive/reward for racing an overall good race but rather not to screw up towards the end.

Perhaps the biggest challenge in this game isn’t the course design but the other racers. Along with the 3 other main cars the track is also filled with slow generic cars that have no other purpose than to get in your way. If you ever touch one of these other cars it will violently rebound your car, usually slamming you into the wall which will fling your car yet again, bouncing you around like a Ping-Pong ball. I think it makes the game more fun because a lot of the time other racers will obstruct your usual shortcuts & you have to react on the fly. It also makes the game very frustrating at times because on higher difficulties one wrong move will put you in last place and cost you the race.

Hit one of these land mines and you will bounce around for hours

Lasting Appeal
Being a racing game you can finish any one of the circuits in under a half hour. With only 3 circuits and 3 difficulty settings you could probably complete the entire game in a few hours if your good. But part of the appeal of racing games, at least to me, is to be played over and over. Remember there is no multiplayer and so it’s up to the single player efforts to keep your appeal. It’s just something to keep in mind when considering this game for yourself.

One of the things that keeps me coming back to F-Zero is its pick up and play style. It’s a shame that SNES games aren’t somewhat compatible with the Wii Remote because this game only needs 3 buttons and not having to get a Classic Controller out to play it would increase it’s pick up and play nature. Still, F-Zero very fast and easy to get into, once you click its channel you can be up and racing in under a minute. Because of this it’s not like most games I put away on the shelf and don’t touch for years, I can just easily click & play whenever I’m in the mood. I’ve probably dumped hours into F-Zero playing it minutes at a time.

Final Thoughts
F-Zero is my favorite 16-bit racer. Not many racing games from that era achieved the greatness that this game provided. Not only is it an excellent racing game, it’s one of my favorite SNES games ever.

For $8 I think F-Zero is worth it, especially to those who have never played it before. It’s an SNES racer that holds up very well even today and its VC format really complements its game design.

Gameplay Video

Last edited by Seraph; 09-01-2009 at 10:53 PM.
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