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F-Zero – SNES

F-Zero – SNES

F-ZeroPlatform: Super Nintendo

Developer: Nintendo

Publisher: Nintendo

Release Date (NA): 1991

Genre: Racing

Nerd Rating: 8 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

Considered by many to be one of the pioneers in the futuristic racing genre, F-Zero grabs you by the balls and doesn’t let go until you die (even when you scream like a girl, it won’t let go). And trust me, you will die… a lot. F-Zero is a futuristic racing game that utilizes the Super Nintendo’s famed “Mode 7” graphical capabilities that allow developers to better render a 3D environment in certain games. F-Zero might have a similar look to that of Super Mario Kart, but this ain’t no kiddie game, folks. F-Zero is full of edge, and no I’m not talking about the WWE Wrestler. The futuristic settings of F-Zero beg for your attention but not before raping your ears with some futuristic synthesized techno rock tunes. Perhaps one of the most frustrating racing games of the early 90s, F-Zero is still highly regarded as one of the BEST racing games of the early 90s. In fact, it was so successful that it launched a series of F-Zero games, as well as selling over 1 million copies.

Mute City

Mute City

F-Zero is a futuristic racing game where you duke it out against 14 other racers with speeds in excess of 475 km/h (295 mph). The year is 2560 and multi-billionaires have become bored with their seemingly perfect lives. In order to satiate their endless desires, they have created a dangerous, high-stakes racing game. There are 15 different tracks spread out over three leagues: Knight, Queen, and King. King is not for the faint of heart, as it is exceptionally challenging, tricky, difficult, testing, demanding, and frustratingly hard. How many more ways can I tell you that it’s tough as crap? Altogether, F-Zero is one bad mother. And the more I think about it, being that it’s 2560, I would assume these rich dudes are, at the very least, quadrillionaires. Strangely, a word my computer thinks is spelled wrong…until I become the first quadrillionaire in history.

F-Zero kicks off on the mean streets of Mute City. Mute City would become a mainstay in the series, and actually made its way to the Super Smash Bros. games as a stage for fights. Of the 15 tracks, there really are only 8 to 10 entirely unique tracks and then there are some variations of other tracks such as Mute City II or White Land II. When you first start playing F-Zero, you’ll instantly think, “Wow, this game can’t be THIS easy.” And really, it’s not. One area in which F-Zero excels is the simplicity and ease of the first few tracks in the Knight League. Mute City, Big Blue, and Sand Ocean ascend in difficulty ever so slightly, giving the player an opportunity to learn the system, the controls, their own hovercar, and the hazards of the tracks.

F-Zero Purple Ocean

There are four F-Zero cars to choose from: Blue Falcon, Wild Goose, Golden Fox, and Fire Stingray. Blue Falcon is the hovercar that made Captain Falcon famous. Each car has its own unique performance attributes so that you, as the racer, can choose which one suits your specific style best. No one car is better than the others, but your abilities might cater better to, say, a heavier car with faster acceleration, or a lighter car with slower acceleration but a higher max speed. Instead of just arbitrarily choosing different vehicles, like most racing games of the time, your decision here actually matters.

On the track, each car has a power meter (which is your life meter) which depletes as you make contact with walls, hazards, opponent cars, and more. If your power meter runs completely empty, your hovercar will explode in the most startling display of overamplified sound effects and bright screen flashes. This explosion will scare the piss out of you every… single… time… without fail. It’s like, you know it’s coming soon, because you can see the meter is basically empty, but you never really expect it when it happens.

F-Zero Big Blue

While F-Zero might be considered by some to be an extremely frustrating challenge, shouldn’t those same people also consider that to be F-Zero’s strength? The level of difficulty goes from “Sweet, I’m really good at this game!” to “What the fudge! I suck so hard at this game!” in a mere matter of minutes. One might look at the flat tracks and think F-Zero is monotonous and there’s no variety, but that couldn’t be father from the truth (You just said Father! No I dadn’t!). The variety in track configurations, each with its own unique set of hazards, keeps you on your toes. This is also what keeps F-Zero interesting and fun.

One of the easier hazards to avoid are the landmines, seen here.

One of the easier hazards to avoid are the landmines, seen here.

Some of the hazards a racer might face are magnets that pull you into the walls and drain your power, land mines that explode on contact, large gaps in the track that require precision speed to clear them, intense winds that attempt to blow you off the track, ramps that will force you off the track (leading to certain destruction), and more. If your car explodes, then you will lose a life. Lose enough lives and you will have a fat Game Over on your hands. Fortunately, there is a power-regeneration strip located in each track that replenishes some of your car’s power. The longer you stay on the power-strip, the more power you get back. This power-strip is often extremely short, and when your power is low, it’s sometimes wisest to drop a few positions in the race rather than lose a life. That means literally park your hovercar on the power-strip to get plenty of power to survive another lap.

Power regenerator strip

Power regenerator strip

Even with all of the ingenuity, inventiveness, and variety, F-Zero is far from perfect. The tracks, while plenty-detailed, often have a tendency to mask the perils approaching around a sharp turn. This could have been intentional, but it seems like an unnecessary evil for a game that already provides an abundance of difficult conditions. One of the most challenging, and seemingly impossible, hazards is a large gap in the track in White Land II. This gap is located immediately after a turn, requiring a precision utilization of turning and acceleration in order to clear the gap. In fact, I actually began to wonder if some hovercars are incapable of clearing the gap!

Another weakness in F-Zero is the music. Well, let me rephrase. The music is actually quite remarkable in its composition. Obviously an insane amount of time was spent on this soundtrack, and the composer is apparently a very talented person. But the soundtrack for any ONE track can be all over the place with tempo changes, out-of-the-woodworks synthesizer blasting, and overly repetitive noises! There are many who claim F-Zero’s soundtrack is actually the driving force of the game, and I guess they are right. But I played this game for 2 hours straight (nearly beating it), and it started to rub my fur the wrong way.

Overall, F-Zero is a marvelous game and an even greater achievement in gaming. The technology present provided Nintendo an opportunity to do something unlike anybody before them. Games like Off Road, Race Drivin’, and Rock n’ Roll Racing claimed to have cutting edge 3D graphics during their respective times, but nothing was quite like this game. F-Zero was loaded with some of the most beautiful landscapes and skylines of any game for its time, not just racing games. With a level of difficulty rivaled only by attempting to steal a cub from a silverback gorilla mother, F-Zero begged for someone to try and beat it. While the difficulty might prove to be more than some could handle, it absolutely held your attention, and before you knew it you had been playing F-Zero for well over an hour.

Yup. On my way to certain destruction in this jump in White Land II.

Yup. On my way to certain destruction in this jump in White Land II.

Subsequent releases in the F-Zero series, such as F-Zero X and F-Zero GX, would take the tracks to all-new highs with stunning fully-3D polygonal environments and double the opponent racers. But don’t let that deter you from the ever-hard challenges present in F-Zero on your still-super Super Nintendo. This game is still marvelous in every aspect, and is a beautiful representation of the up-and-coming gaming technologies of the early 90s. It amazes me how well F-Zero has aged over the last 20+ years. One of the best things about F-Zero? Its current going-price for a loose copy is in the $10 range and is well worth your money. In for a challenge? Try your hand at F-Zero.

Nerd Rating: 8 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

Written by Nerdberry

Nerdberry

What’s up yall? David “Nerdberry” here! I am the founder of Nerd Bacon and the current co-owner (and CEO) along with partner David “theWatchman!” I hail from North Carolina, hence my love for all things pork! Oh, you’re not familiar with NC? Well I’m not 100% sure, but I am pretty confident that NC and VA lead the nation in pork production. I could be wrong, but even if I am, I still love bacon!

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6 Comments

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  5. I got this when they were doing that crazy cheap Virtual Console sale on Wii-U, and it murdered me. I really have to sit down and focus on completing it one day.

     

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