F-Zero is a futuristic racing series well known for its blindingly fast and difficult gameplay. Racing is done in jet-like machines that can reach speeds of up to 1500 km/h. F-Zero X is comprised of four main game modes, with a practice mode thrown in for good measure. Gamers have the choice of playing Grand Prix, Time Attack, Death Battle, or VS. Battle modes. Time Attack mode is no different than any other racing game, with the objective being to complete tracks in the shortest time possible. VS. Battle is standard racing but it pits 2–4 players against each other with the remaining characters being assigned to the computer.
Grand Prix is the main single player mode you will want to be playing. At the beginning there are three cups and three difficulty settings available. Each cup consists of 6 tracks in which you will be competing for the highest total of points at the end of the Grand Prix. Points awarded are dependent on the rank you reach on each track. Another difficulty setting and two additional cups can be unlocked by completing Grand Prix mode. After choosing your difficulty and cup, you will be prompted to choose your machine. Choose carefully as each machine has its own unique characteristics. A good choice for beginners is definitely Captain Falcon and his Blue Falcon machine. There are 29 other drivers in the game so variety is no issue. You can also tweak your vehicle for more acceleration or a higher max speed.
While F-Zero is a racing game, there are some elements unique to the series that are important to know. Every machine has an energy meter and these energy meters have a dual purpose. Machines will lose energy when colliding with objects and If your energy is completely depleted, you destroy your machine. Its other purpose is for the boost technique gained after finishing the first lap. When you press B you activate the boost which then removes energy from your machine. Ultimately you have to weigh the risk of using the boost with the possibility of destroying your machine. This adds a little bit of depth to the races and should always keep you alert. To avoid becoming dust, you can restore your machine’s energy by driving through areas called “Pit Zones.”
F-Zero X has some incredible and challenging tracks consisting of twisting paths, jumps, tunnels, tubes etc. The track design also makes it possible to fly off the track at places with no wall, or when twisting around tubes at ridiculous speeds. F-Zero X does have a steep learning curve and it will take a few tries to master your machine. Novice difficulty is the perfect setting for beginners, because you can get a hang of the track design and controls.
Controlling your vehicle is done by moving the analog stick and pressing A to accelerate. Be careful when racing because if you make a sudden movement that breaks your speed, your machine will lose its grip and begin to drift. A tip to avoid this is to lightly press the analog stick to softly move your machine, and hold the L or R button to shift your machines weight when turning corners. Letting go of the A and hitting it again shortly after will help straighten out your machine as well.
New to the series in F-Zero X is Death Race mode. In this mode the objective is to destroy other machines by depleting their energy, or knocking them off the course. This can be accomplished by spinning or tackling your opponent. Both techniques are simple to learn, but effective once you do, especially for Death Race mode.
Graphics wise F-Zero X is lacking a little bit. While the frame rate is amazing (to my knowledge it has never dropped and if it did I wasn’t able to notice) the tracks and textures are fairly bland and standard. Nintendo 64 is capable of much more, but in the end F-Zero X is a fun racing game and this complaint is only minor in the grand scheme of things. On the other side of the coin, music in this game is awesome. Each track is a rocking metal anthem that fits the action perfectly. Stand out tracks are the Mute City, Devil’s Forest, and Silence themes.
4/5 D-Pads: Overall, F-Zero X is a great, albeit difficult racing game. It has a lot of things to unlock, including 24 characters, a new difficulty setting and 2 additional cups. It can be frustrating to learn, but when you feel the speed and your skill increasing, you just might embrace the challenge. F-Zero X does lack in the graphical department, but it’s a lot of fun to play. If you’re a fan of racers then F-Zero X should be one that you try.