Friday 21 August 2015

F-Zero (SNES review)

Developer: Nintendo EAD
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: 1990

F-Zero is a futuristic racing game and a launch title for the system in all regions.

There's several Leagues to choose from (Knight, Queen and King) that feature 15 tracks and four unique vehicles. Your objective is to finish in the top three to advance and you have access to four speed boosts per race. The shoulder buttons help to shift the weight of your vehicle and without them you'll frequently crash into the side which lowers your Power metre; once this is empty you'll lose a life and have to restart the race. The metre can be topped up by driving over one of the pink strips around the track though. There's a wide range of obstacles in your way including dunes, land mines and pull magnets, as well as severe winds that push you around! The racing action is fast and smooth and the Mode-7 graphics do a fantastic job of giving the tracks depth. Each race is tense and exciting and the tracks are unique and fun to play. The trickiest part of the whole game is your fellow drivers; the opponent A.I. is very aggressive and will frequently swerve to get in your way which can be annoying. My only criticism of the track design is that I wish the lanes were wider as some are extremely narrow and crashes are unavoidable. The controls are good but do feel a bit over-sensitive making it hard to perform precise movements, especially when trying to counteract pull magnets and the wind. The game is challenging right from the outset and you'll need to seriously work on your driving skills and course memorisation if you want to beat the higher classes. There's no two player option which is disappointing but one of the standout features is the music with its adrenaline pumping tunes.

F-Zero is a great early showcase for the Super Nintendo and unlike any other racing game that came before it on any system. Despite it's harsh A.I. and minor track issues it's still definitely worth a try even just to experience the awesome Mode-7 graphics!

Random trivia: A sequel was planned for the Super Nintendo but was ultimately cancelled. However, it was eventually released in an unfinished state on the Satellaview satellite modem as BS F-Zero Grand Prix.

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