An excellent game with a gameplay standard that never get´s old
Back in 1991, the SNES received a game that would not only stun critics and players for it´s addictive gameplay, but also for it´s revolutionary "Mode 7" graphical interphase that created an unparalleled sense of speed and environmental depth that no other game had at it´s time. That game was, of course, the original F-Zero. Asides from F-Zero X and F-Zero GX that used their respective console´s technical power ro reinvent the games once again, not much has changed from the original formula, relying still on an advanced version of "mode 7" that today feels as fresh as ever.
GP Legend is based on the F-Zero: Falcon Densetsu anime, that was aired in North America on the Fox Box between 2003 and 2004. It is then undersrtandable than all character designs and much of the storyline in the game are a direct port from the anime. The game has four main modes: Story, Grand Prix, Time Attack and Zero Test. Unlike the story mode introduced by F-Zero GX, GP Legend features the storylines of eight different characters, with each of them having between five or six different chapters. However, some of this storylines could have used more complexity to get the player more into the action, and most of the chapters end up being "defeat the character X to the finish line" type of challenge. Besides, not all of the storylines are completely original, since most of them entwine with other storylines and end up telling the part of the story from a different point of view. Although the story mode IS challenging and tries to make the chapters varied, the storylines themselves could have used some deeper writing to make them more dense. The story is told by means of character portraits talking and some 3-D renders of F-Zero machines; this method gets the job done and they are in overall well animated.
Grand Prix is the traditional game mode, where you race in five different courses and attempt to have the most points at the end of the cup. A new game mode is the Zero Test, in which you race only split sections of a track with a particular ship and attempt to beat a preset time. The interesnting part of this game mode is that it forces you to use a particular ship within a particular track section, which is not always the easiest task in the world, specially if the challenge is "Clear five consecutive hairpins using an E-Grip machine". There are a lot of racing techniques to be learned in Zero Test.
An advantage that GP Legend has over the previous GBA installment from the series, F-Zero: Maximum Velocity is that it includes 34 different characters, all of which are the "traditional" subjects of the F-Zero franchise and that have appeared in most games in the series. That also means that if youve played another F-Zero gae before, you´ll be already familiar with each machine´s handling; all of them have the same specs and overall "feel" that in the other installments of the series.
n the technical department, the graphics of GP Legend are very good for a GBA game, with backgrounds that rotate around the ship and different layers and textures apllyed to the tracks to give each planet a unique feel. The anime versions of the F-Zero characters are extremely cool, and the ships have enough graphical detail to be distinguished at a distance. However, due to hardware limitations, all of the tracks, much like in the original F-Zero are plain and filled with obstacles, so don´t expect any corkscrews, cylinders or wavy terrain in this game. However, the graphical engine runs the game at a very fast FPS rate, probably higher than any other GBA racing game, which means that the vertiginous sense of speed characteristic of the franchise is as present as ever.
The soundtrack in GP Legend is excellent, having all of the traditional F-Zero themes plus some new ones, that for some reason sound great when translated to the MIDI format that the GBA supports. Most of the soundtrack is fast pased and matches the track styling perfectly, and can even encourage you to use boost powers when the excitement level is pretty high. Even the narrator voice that presents each of the menus sounds crystal clear.
GP Legend´s gameplay is probably it´s forte, mainly because it is difficult to both get used to and master, but enriches the experience and makes the game challenging. Unlike F-Zero X or GX, GP Legend demands much more acceleration control and traditional corenring ability. This is due to the fact that GP Legend doesn´t have the "sideway drift" function that both X and GX incluided that allowed the player to tackle virtually any turn without letting go of the accelerator; just pushing the machine sideways at full speed. However, in this game the main cornering aid is only leaning the ship, which helps to take turns quicker but can´t save you from going aggainst the wall without propper throttle control and even use of bracking. Demanding turns, like hairpins, require the use of both brakes, leaning and acceleration at the proper time to exit the corners. The game also introduces a new aid, known as Blast Turn, that rewards you with a boost at the exit of a corner if you accelerate to exit it at the right time. This is a very helpful technique to regain control quickly. Rocket start´s have also been added to the game, which is something new in the F-Zero franchise. However, both Blast Turn and Rocket Start timings are different for each machine, so mastering each and every character in the game is a long task. Another element that makes this game more difficult is that contact with other ships con make you lose control easily, and going against a wall is something completely undesired since you can easily end up bouncing around the track´s other walls.
Most of the game´s characters are locked, as well as an extra cup and difficulty, which means that the game has a good replay value. Besides, being a portable game, it is easy to pick up and play anywhere thanks to it´s quick racing system that can entertain you even when you´re looking for casual play.
Consensus: F-Zero GP Legend is a game that keeps the player amused for it´s gameplay mechanics, difficulty and overall feel and diversity. The only thing that keeps it from getting a higher score is it´s under-developed storylines, specially considering that it is based upon an anime.
Replay Value 3/5