F-Zero is a fast-paced racing game set in a future where life across the universe is integrated. A racing league featuring machines capable of speeds unheard of and the ability to hover over courses has contestants from all over the galaxy competing at a shot for the Grand Prize. At least, this is what most people would gather from reading the introduction and comic found in the original manual for the game, but really there’s a lot more background story to this series than meets the eye, mostly told through character bio’s and dialogue found in later games.
You begin this famed racing saga in Grand Prix where you choose between 4 machines each with their own performance attributes, i.e., Speed, Power (Machine Vitality) and Weight which affects acceleration. Then you choose from one of three Leagues and three Classes which vary in difficulty based on your experience. Once preparations are set you’ll be thrust into the first race of your chosen circuit.
And thus, the countdown begins and you’re off going up against other top contenders and a host unknown pilots who want to make a name for themselves. Only your reflexes and an S-JET boost which you acquire once per lap completion will help you come out on top. Along the way you’ll come upon useful track mechanisms such as Dash Zones and Jump Plates, not to mention obstacles like land mines, magnetic railing and different types of terrain. Any collision whatsoever will decrease your Power Meter, so be sure to make the most of appointed Pit Runs to restore energy. In the end you want to rank in the top three by the end of the last lap in order to qualify for the next course. It’s a good thing the controls are spot on because some of these races can be pretty demanding.
One of my favorite things about this game is the one of a kind soundtrack. Each theme, perfectly complimenting the visuals of its respective course while amping you up, makes for very exciting game play. Like me you’ll probably find yourself coming back to these unforgettable classics time and time again.
In terms of replay value there really isn’t much besides Practice Mode where you can run through courses; a few of which are exclusive to Grand Prix. There’s also a Records viewer which can be used in order to challenge yourself and friends at best times, but I’m sure that won’t be for everyone. To an even lesser extent try playing some of the less popular machines for an added challenge.
Everything considered, this is a five-star title that still holds the standard for what a racing game should be. People will gripe about its lack of multiplayer, but this is a standalone experience in my opinion and a split-screen would have just made for lackluster gameplay. This is by far, as they say, “the fastest, most punishing race in the history of the galaxy.”
This is the first installment of the F-Zero series originally launched for the Super Nintendo in the early 1990s. Recently relaunched only for the New Nintendo 3DS family of handhelds following the Nintendo Direct on March 3.