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F-Zero X (Nintendo 64) artwork

F-Zero X (Nintendo 64) review


"Though itís tough not to love Mario Kartís frantic multiplayer, thereís one thing it doesnít have over F-Zero: the joy of competing in futuristic thirty-man races at six hundred kilometres an hour. And, because the outcome of all races mostly depends on your skill and not luck, thereís something extra satisfying in battling your way from thirtieth on the grid to victory in three laps. "



Though itís tough not to love Mario Kartís frantic multiplayer, thereís one thing it doesnít have over F-Zero: the joy of competing in futuristic thirty-man races at six hundred kilometres an hour. And, because the outcome of all races mostly depends on your skill and not luck, thereís something extra satisfying in battling your way from thirtieth on the grid to victory in three laps.

To aid you, you are given a boost bar, which doubles as your energy meter. The concept is simple: the more you boost, the more health drained, and whenever you lose all of your health (or plummet off the course), youíre forced to retire and earn zilch points for that race. Considering it is likely that you will get bashed aplenty by rivals in races, there is always an exciting risk factor in boosting excessively.

There are four cups of six tracks to get stuck into, and as youíd expect in any typical racing game, the tracks start off simple in Jack cup, the first of the four. However, by the time you get to the end of King, you will have experienced slippery paths of ice, soaring jumps, narrow barrier-less roads, half-pipes, and swirling loops, all testing your driving skills to the limit. Moreover, you can race against up to three friends in the gameís multiplayer mode - great fun if they are of a similar calibre to yourself. Apart from the traditional Time Attack, thereís also Death Race, a Ďlast man standingí variation where you must smash rivalling ships to pieces to ensure victory. Unfortunately, only one track and difficulty level exists for this unique mode, which makes the fun short-lived, and Nintendo clearly could have done so much more here.

But, they did excel themselves with the gameís audiovisual presentation when compared to its predecessor. At first glance, itís clear that it isnít the prettiest-looking title - ship models are incredibly basic and backgrounds are more often gradients of reds or blues than not - but this is forgivable, since quality was sacrificed to be able to fit that many ships without any slowdown, something that the SNES version failed to achieve. In addition, F-Zero X is backed by a solid synthesized soundtrack with plenty of catchy tunes that give many of the courses colourful personalities; for instance, the Big Blue tracks are accompanied by an upbeat, electronic theme thatíll get your adrenaline pumping throughout. It is a pity, however, that the game does not emulate the sense of speed as well as it should have, and racing down a straight at over six hundred kilometres an hour unfortunately feels more like racing at a hundred.

Really though, the biggest thrill of F-Zero X is undoubtedly the exhilarating experience of racing against such a high number of opponents and fighting your way through the pack. You cannot rely on red shells or lightning bolts this time around to save your chances of winning. You only have your driving ability.

Rating: 8/10

hobunn's avatar
Community review by hobunn (November 21, 2006)

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