Gameplay, Story and Value:
F-Zero is a Mode7 based racing game where you drive futuristic cars on futuristic tracks at 400+ km/h.
The game does a good job and conveying a fun sense of speed while never making you feel out of control. Everything handles really well and racing is generally a pretty great experience. In addition to accelerating, braking and steering F-Zero also allows you to use the shoulder buttons to drift side to side, adding yet another layer of precision control.
You can select from four different vehicles, each with their own weights and handling, and choose to race in three different cups, each with five tracks. Additionally you’re able to select your difficulty. Being as bad at this game as I am I stuck to Beginner…
Courses, despite some visual similarities, all manage to feel different and unique. You’ll fight with jumps, boosts, high wind, magnetic obstacles and more and you try to outrace your opponents. You need to place 3rd or better in each race in order to advance, and you’ll earn some additional continues along the way.
One complaint I had, though some will see this as a good thing, was that you’ll very quickly start to lap racers in the back of the pack. As a result, you’ll never really “feel” your lead, as you’ll constantly be contending with other racers for valuable road real-estate. You’ll also need to worry about your Power, effectively your health, as if you run out your vehicle will explode. Typically, each track will put a patch of recovery platforms down for you to drive over and regain some power.
Presentation, Music and Sound:
Applying the Super Nintendo’s unique Mode7 technology to a racing game was a bit of a no-brainer, and this would not be the last time we’d see it. Everything moves smoothly and quickly and it’s really easy to get a handle on where you are in relation to everything around you, including other racers. Of course the trade off is that all the courses are completely flat, and the visuals can be somewhat bland as a result. Still, the payoff is generally worth it, especially after playing some racing games on the Genesis that, while good, suffer from some major framerate issues, and don’t give you a very good sense of place.
The sound is just okay, which is a bit unfortunate for a racing game. While the sound effects on offer never became distracting or anything, I never really felt like they added to the experience either. The music, on the other hand, is top notch. It’s not often racing games offer a memorable soundtrack, but I STILL have the Mute City theme stuck in my head!
Still not a huge racing game fan, but I had a better time than I remember having with, say, Super Mario Kart for example. Frustration towards the end probably let me to put this game down a little earlier than I otherwise would have, but I still enjoyed the time I did spend with it. Playing through this game has me looking forward to finally trying the N64 and GameCube iterations!