Sunday, 11 October 2020

F-Zero X (N64 review)

Developer: Nintendo EAD
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: 1998

F-Zero X is a racing game and the follow-up to the original F-Zero (1990, Super Nintendo).

Modes include GP Race (5 cups with 6 tracks each), Death Race (try to wreck all opponents) and VS. Battle (between 2-4 players). Noticeably, the graphics aren't anything to write home about and the lack of scenic detail across each track results in a rather unappealing experience from a visual standpoint. However, the trade-off in graphical fidelity is buttery-smooth 60 frames-per-second gameplay, blisteringly fast action and a whopping 30 racers competing at the same time. Once you've witnessed the intense action the more you appreciate the developer's choice, as you don't even have time to look at the scenery! The track design shines with its diversity that includes being flipped around in cylinder loops, anti-gravity corkscrews in mid-air, and sections where you catch huge air and have to position yourself for a safe landing as the floor starts to pop back into view. What's more, the unlockable X-Cup features randomised layouts, making for some huge replayability. The gameplay is tough with plenty of trial-and-error, but the inclusion of 30 racers keeps you engaged throughout every second and the constant carnage resembles a destruction derby. Also, the lanes are usually wide enough to where you're not getting annoyed by constantly bashing into opponent vehicles. Learning when to use your boost at the cost of vehicle energy is crucial and it gives the gameplay a strategic edge that co-exists with a fun risk-reward element. Special mention has to go to the amazing hard rock / metal soundtrack, as its wailing guitar solos really set the tone for the exciting racing action.

F-Zero X is a challenging game that makes you work hard for every victory, but the impressive number of simultaneous opponents, ferocious speed and varied track design result in an excellent all-round racer. It successfully translates the series to the 3D space and offers tons of content to keep you occupied for a long time.

Random trivia: An add-on called the F-Zero X Expansion Kit was released in 2000 on the Nintendo 64DD and featured a track creator.

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