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F-Zero GX (GameCube) artwork

F-Zero GX (GameCube) review

"F-Zero GX is an extreme game. Extremely difficult, extremely gorgeous, extremely fast, extremely deep roster, extremely bad voice acting, and extremely fun."

Ernest Hemingway once said, "There are only three true sports; auto racing, bull fighting, and mountain climbing. All the rest are children's games at which men play." In these three sports, and others in extremely rare cases, death could be lying around any corner. F-Zero GX takes that philosophy to the extreme. Not only could death be lying around any corner, it IS lying around EVERY corner, thanks to the ludicrously high speeds that can easily reach 1500 miles per hour, and track designs that can only be described as wacky. But, don't let that description scare you off, because, despite this game being nearly ten years old, it's still the best racing game I've ever played.

Let me start with something I almost never mention in these reviews: graphics. To me, graphics don't matter all that much. Graphics have more to do the era the game is released in, rather than the game itself. Example: you wouldn't compare the graphics of Super Mario Bros. to that of Super Mario Galaxy 2, would you? But, other components like plot, gameplay, combat, etc., are easily comparable. So, if I'm going to mention how the game looks, the graphics must be either really good or really bad. Well, don't worry, I'm happy to report that this game is beautiful. Actually, that doesn't do this game justice. This game is beautiful NOW. Imagine what this game looked like upon release in 2003. People's brains probably exploded. The character models range from realistic to insane. The vehicles, with a few notable exceptions, are very cool looking and solely unique. And the tracks are all unique, and very interesting looking with something always happening like giant lava pools, huge snakes jumping out of quicksand, seizure-inducing mind trips in space, and the occasional Robotic Operating Buddy.

The game is split into two major modes. Grand Prix mode is your typical tournament style race competition. You'll race against 29 other racers through 5 different courses. The races get progressively harder through the five different leagues (Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Diamond, and AX), and through four difficulty levels (Novice, Standard, Expert, and Master). Winning a race will earn you 100 points, 2nd will give you 93, 3rd will give you 87, etc, until the positions are separated by a single point down to 15 points for 30th place (or 0 points for a DNF). This point system puts a premium on winning rather than consistency. If you can get 3 wins, but one 22nd, you'll still have a good shot of winning the tournament. But, if you get four top-sevens, but no wins in the first four races, you'll struggle to win the championship in the final race.

The other major game mode is Story mode. Story mode takes you through Captain Falcon's seemingly never-ending quest to defeat the maniacal tyrant Black Shadow, and his mysterious boss, Deathborn. You'll have to go through 9 missions that will bring your racing skills to the limit. One good thing about story mode is that, for a racing game, the story missions are nicely varied, at least in terms of why you're doing it. All of the missions involve either driving from point A to point B, or point A to point A a few times. But, in any mission, you could be competing in a bet race to win an old man a ton of cash, fighting a street gang, or trying to save a fellow racer from a collapsing building. The biggest problem with this mode, and the biggest one in the game in my opinion, is the hilariously bad voice acting. I don't know what the developers, Amusement Vision, was going for with Falcon's voice actor here, but he sounds like a California surfer dude, not an intergalactic bounty hunter/professional race car driver.

There is a ridiculous number of vehicles to choose from in this game. You start with a measly four vehicles to choose from: Captain Falcon's Blue Falcon, Samurai Goroh's Fire Stingray, Dr. Stewart's Golden Fox, and Pico's Wild Goose (aka, the four characters from the SNES F-Zero game). But, as you win Grand Prix tournaments or Story missions, you'll earn credits. These credits can be used to buy 26 other vehicles (aka, the characters introduced in the N64 game, F-Zero X). By completing missions in Story Mode, you can unlock 11 new vehicles. And you can also use credits to purchase custom vehicle parts. You can build your own custom vehicles, and put three new vehicles on each memory card. So, if you have two memory cards, you can choose from up to 47 different vehicles.

One of the most common criticisms in this game is its insane difficulty. It starts out easy enough, but in the Grand Prix, the game kicks it up a notch at the Expert difficulty, and by the Master difficulty, you will feel like the game physically hates you. As for the Story mode, some of the missions are next to impossible on Very Hard mode without snaking (the process of expertly swerving back and forth that actually improves your speed, but destroys your control). I actually believe that the latter portions of this game reaches levels of difficulty previously reached only by games like Contra, Ninja Gaiden Black, Devil May Cry 3, Battletoads, Mega Man 9, Super Ghouls and Ghosts, and Demon's Souls. I personally love the difficulty, and I think it's the reason I keep coming back to the game over and over. Maybe today will be the day I finally win the Diamond Cup on Master difficulty.

All in all, F-Zero GX is an extreme game. Extremely difficult, extremely gorgeous, extremely fast, extremely deep roster, extremely bad voice acting, and extremely fun.

nickyv917's avatar
Community review by nickyv917 (February 05, 2012)

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honestgamer posted February 05, 2012:

I find that I prefer F-Zero X, which is the first one in the series that I played extensively. After F-Zero X, this one was a disappointment to me. Sure, it looked pretty, but the balance was off and even the most intense moments felt more frustrating than fun. I'd love to see a new F-Zero for Wii U that adds more visual polish and gets the balance right. This game shows how much the franchise has to offer. It's criminal that Nintendo has lately ignored it.
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espiga posted February 05, 2012:

Personally, I'd like to see F-Zero get a new release on the 3DS... Not that a Wii U version wouldn't be pretty awesome in its own right, but the 3D effects used in Mariokart 7 were pretty cool, and I think a blazingly fast series like F-Zero would benefit from something like that.
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zippdementia posted February 05, 2012:

How was Mario Kart 7? I haven't played a really great Mario Kart game since the N64 one. The Wii one was passable but it felt like it lacked the old "grit and challenge" of the N64 version.
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espiga posted February 05, 2012:

It depends on how much (if any) online play you plan on doing.

The online mode is more fleshed out and has more options than the one featured in Mariokart Wii, but Mariokart 7's offline mode is filled with cheating dicks, even for a Mariokart game. Racing on the highest engine class will make you want to throw your recently-price-reduced handheld into a brick wall, unless you like getting fucked in the ass by 3 blue shells simultaneously, like what happened to me.

I, for one, prefer to avoid being sodomized by turtles.
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nickyv917 posted February 05, 2012:

Wow, vivid.
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Suskie posted February 05, 2012:

Good review! Glad to see someone else loves this game as much as I do. And I'm pretty easily frustrated.
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bloomer posted February 13, 2012:

Reading this review made me wanna go get this game off ebay - which I may still well do. I'm just having that sensible moment where I consider whether I should keep expanding my backlog of game.

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