sirkibble23's F-Zero X (Nintendo 64) review

Fast, fun and dangerous

For years and years people have been talking about flying cars. Take a look at The Jetsons. A cartoon interpretation of how driving would be in the future. Star Wars also presents this sort of world but still keeping cars to the ground--without wheels. And then there's F-Zero X which brings that sort of reality into a much clearer vision. 

F-Zero put this sort of futuristic racing on the map but F-Zero X does everything better. More cars, more tracks, better graphics--you name it, it's better. And if you're using roman numerals, X times better. 

The game has no story that you go through although there is an actual F-Zero universe and to slightly convey that, you are provided with rivals depending on the character you choose. Depending on how they race or if you kill them, you will always find your rival giving you a hard time. Some will try to ram you, push you off the course if there are no guardrails and generally be a pain in your butt. 

You are given a certain amount of energy shown as a colored bar at the beginning of every race which depletes if you take a lot of damage. If your your bar reaches zero... Too bad. You lost your ship. Actually, if you deplete your bar, you can still race but if you touch anything, then you are toast. However, it usually ends up in losing your ship. Depending on the

 difficulty, you will be given a certain number of "lives" which gives you the chance to continue from the race you lost in. This could seemingly make the game easier but it doesn't--especially on the harder difficulties.  Your rivals are not going to make that factor any easier. Oh, and if you restart your race, you lose a ship too. 

Your energy bar has more use than keeping stating your grave status. It also provides the means to use a speed boost. On the second lap of every race, your energy bar goes from red to green and at the press of the B button, you can provide your car with a boost that could put you in front of the pack. It does deplete your energy and it is not separate from your damage so you still have to use caution. 

Imagine doing all that with thirty cars on the track. If you grimaced, then that would be the appropriate reaction. It's actually not that bad once you get in the front of the pack but starting in the back, it's rough. The saving grace are pink strips on the race track that recharge your energy bar so long that you stay in them. If you don't, then you won't get any energy and you will have to wait until your next pass to roll through them.

The tracks are well designed and enhance the racing experience. You have your normal straights and turns but then there are loops, corkscrews, jumps, drops, moments of flying and even a giant hand. There are five cups to choose from initially and you can earn one more but the cups' tracks get progressively more difficult. There are tracks that are worth hating but it's not that they're bad designs, they're just hard courses.

You have up to 30 cars to choose from but you only begin with six. As you complete cups, you access more machines all of which have different attributes based on Body, Boost and Grip and are rated from A to E--A being the best, E being the worst. Machines will have the same ratings but because of weight differences, the machine will not act the same so through some test driving, you will find out what suits you. 

As a driver, your goal is to win and F-Zero X provides all the means necessary. You are equipped with two different kinds of attacks: a side attack and a spin attack.  I found that the spin attack was more effective, however. Both are used to kill players in which you will get a star for every player you kill. Every race they come back but at the end of cup, you will have a total amount of stars next to your placing. It doesn't do anything but it's very satisfying when you've beaten everyone by 400 points because you keep killing your competition. 

To be honest, if the game was simply a measure of keeping yourself alive and killing others, the game would not be much fun. That's why there is a new mode called "Death Race." It's not much of a race as it is a demolition derby. All you do is

 choose your car and try to kill all the other cars as quickly as possible. Your time is recorded and it's up to you or someone else to beat. It's not a deep mode in the lease as it you only get to drive one track but it is more than gratifying. 

Multiplayer is not as intense since can be only four cars on the track at once. This is to keep the framerate high as it runs at 60 fps. That gives the great sense of speed and keeps the multiplayer interesting. More often than not, the AI is never a factor in multiplayer so it's often useless to have them in the race. 

While the graphics are better than F-Zero's, they're not exactly good. Much of the detail on the cars and tracks had to be sacrificed in order to maintain the 60 fps. But since the game is going so fast, there is no time to look at the track detail or the car detail so it's not much of a loss in the first place. 

The music is certainly praiseworthy. All the tracks are some genre of rock and none of them disappoint. They all present a great racing atmosphere and the songs intensify the races at the same time. 

If futuristic racing existed, this is exactly what it would look like. Fast, fun and dangerous is what F-Zero X is. The fun tracks, the array of vehicles, the intense races and the "blow off steam" mode Death Race complete a package that lasts for a long time.


   

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