By LobsterVendetta 0 Comments
I'm a huge F-Zero nut, so it was pretty much mandatory for me to watch F-Zero: Legend of Falcon. Thankfully a couple of fellows in YouTube (Dreadopp and Zedopp) subbed the series.
Legend of Falcon isn't a perfect cartoon, it's a bit of a "slow-burner" and the quality is a bit iffy at the beginning. As a fan there are certain characterizations or changes that I don't particularly care for, however many of them were done to make the overall plot or certain characters work, which is quite an undertaking when you have over 30 of them to use. Compared to similar scenarios, like cartoons based on fighting games, Legend of Falcon did a perfectly fine job.
But I feel there is something worth mentioning about all this. How many other racing games can one say has the setting, characters and story to be able to pull off a 51 episode run? Many of the elements here were only possible thanks to F-Zero having characters with back-stories to work from. To me this is what has always made the series special, setting it apart from other fast and intense racing games. (Be it future or arcade styled ones) At the same time this is what also makes it sad that it's a Nintendo franchise, but that is an other topic.
Filled with tons of F-Zero fan service, Legend of Falcon had plenty of moments and episodes that I enjoyed, so I felt I should make a list of my top 10.
NOTE: There will be lots of blatant Spoilers here, read at your own risk.
Mr. EAD was never one of my favorite characters in the series. His design is weird, I'm not the biggest Mario fan and his machine wasn't very good. Overtime though this version of the character helped make him grow on me. However while he may have been a minor character in this cartoon, EAD got a pretty interesting moment/episode early on. In the 6th episode "Songstress Kate Allen", EAD showed interest in the titular singer's music, and a kindred feeling of being 'used' (Kate by her past managers and EAD being a robot). Kate however still treated EAD like a machine, due to her distrust in others as a whole.
EAD was tasked to protect Kate Allen, doing so in a spectacular fashion by taking Zoda's Death Anchor head on as Zoda attempts to kill Kate. Sadly this ends up destroying his body but a glimmer of hope is shown with EAD's memory cube still intact among the remains of his body. In a cruel twist, upon Kate touching the cube it shatters into pieces, effectively killing Mr. EAD.
A new Mr. EAD was created, but the ending interestingly bittersweet with Kate regaining her passion for singing, Ryu coming to appreciate her music but EAD left with no memory of his past deeds or interactions with others. It was an interesting direction to take the character in, especially so early in the show.
I will keep this brief. This is an episode about "The Ladies Race" for the title of Miss Galaxy...and the brutality that goes along with it. This episode is completely absurd and ridiculous, with references to Sailor Moon and Mr. EAD dressed as Princess Peach. The 'race' at the end is best described by Mr. Zero as 'This isn't racing!', with every racer literally pulling out the 'big guns' on each other. I assume this episode wasn't actually canon...
This take on the StarFox character James McCloud shows him as a man hardened by war. Cynical of others and claiming that 'people will always betray one another'. This is shown by the coffee he drinks, 'black and bitter' as opposed to protagonist Ryu Suzaku's 'cream and two spoons of sugar'.
In this episode, James McCloud is hired to train the Mobile Task Force with his advanced military tactics. (The movement lessons appear similar to 'Snaking') While the rest of the task force are unable to keep up or don't take McCloud's teachings seriously, Ryu does and uses his techniques in the climax of the episode to rescue McCloud (who had just previously betrayed the Task Force as well as the villains) from danger. After a bit of backstory involving his war comrade O'Donnell, McCloud reveals why he distrusts others as he had been betrayed by the military he once served, causing the death of his comrade.
Ultimately, he claims that Ryu would never understand his point of view and walks into the sunset. However, in the end McCloud is shown drinking coffee but this time trying it with cream and enjoying it, showing that perhaps his perspective may have changed a bit. I found this to be a charming way of illustrating this change of heart and as a whole it was nice to see the character handled well.
(Note: The character designer for both F-Zero and StarFox is Takaya Imamura)
The 26th episode, 'Zoda's Ambition' served to not only show how much development Ryu Suzaku had made by this point (getting past vengeance against Zoda), it also kicked off the start of Zoda's own character growth. Before this episode Zoda was more of comic-relief villain. While important to the backstory as the guy who landed Ryu in cold sleep, he spend most of his time getting whipped around by the bigger and badder Black Shadow.
Emotionally unstable, Zoda was shown as someone clinging on to the past and furious to see Ryu getting over it. But aside from that he was also shown to be lonely, since like Ryu he was also someone from the past who was pulled into the future. The theme of 'self discovery' became a constant for Zoda from this point on, and after spending a few episodes in 'Dark Space', he comes back stronger and more clever than before, even using the heroes to his advantage. Overall Zoda was developed quite well in this series, and I hope certain elements of it make it into the official canon.
Poor Mighty Gazelle, this rendition of the character had it rough. A cyborg using the brain of Clank Hughe's father (Clank being a new and secondary character), Gazelle had his memory screwed with all over the place, was thought to be a traitor, spy and as a whole treated like shit for a while. After finally discovering his humanity, the first thing Gazelle does is rush to his son, driving in the opposite direction of the other racers (which is basically suicide) solely to give his son a big, warm hug. Proving to Clank that he is in fact his father and not just a cold machine.
Zoda decides to ruin this touching moment by dropping a bomb on everyone, and while everyone else makes it to safety, Clank and Gazelle fall behind. Gazelle gives his son an other hug, this time to shield him from the explosion. Similar to the EAD scene, Gazelle is thought to have survived only to shut down at the last moment. I guess I'm a sucker for the whole "man and machine" type story, plus Mighty Gazelle has always been one of my favorite X characters.
Series classic Samurai Goroh received good treatment in this story. Instead of Captain Falcon's rival bounty hunter and thief this version focuses more on the latter, turning Goroh into an honorable thief of sorts. Throughout the show he serves as a morally gray and independent mentor to Ryu.
In a later episode Goroh faces off against Hyper Zoda in a short sword duel, but it was enjoyable despite it's length and result. (Goroh 'loses', but only due to Zoda's Reactor Might) Goroh returns later in the episode to hold Zoda and his thugs back, with the help of his wacky band of thieves. While Goroh returned to assist in the final episode, this was a particular high point showcasing Goroh's skill and endurance as well as his loyalty to Ryu.
It is also worth mentioning that I really would love to see Goroh in the next Smash Bros.
It wasn't particularly well hidden, even more so if you are a fan of the series (a very interesting choice to reference the F-Zero X Master difficulty ending for Captain Falcon), but when Captain Falcon finally revealed his secret to Clank, it was pretty wonderful. Especially since they still kept a mysterious vibe to it all.
It was also nice to earlier see a vulnerable, and thus more 'human' side to Captain Falcon. I've always liked the character and wanted to see him shown in a more fleshed out way, but with Sega destroying that hope officially, and Smash Falcon's popularity, this is probably the best I will get. For the most part, I'm pretty happy with this one.
The scene that is popular for all the wrong reasons.
In the final episode, Captain Falcon passes his title on to Ryu Suzaku, and sacrifices himself to give the killing blow to Black Shadow. I'm not a big fan of the whole "Captain Falcon is a title/symbol for good", legacy style thing, but this scene was a wonderful climax to this series regardless. Punctuated even more by Ryu's almost "D'aww" inducing expression afterwards.
In this series Captain Falcon wasn't some ironic thing, meat-head, or Kamen Rider parody. To the other characters he was a mentor, father figure, brother (to Jody) and a hero. He was a pretty cool guy overall, and it was nice to see the writers were actually able to flesh out the Captain, using bits of what the games tell.
Blood Falcon's importance in the overall plot wasn't as important as I would have hoped, but it's understandable. Regardless, the one thing any fan of these characters could want is to see Captain Falcon and Blood Falcon fight it out, and thankfully we got just that. The battle was short but intense and a great deal of fan service.
Blood Falcon would go on to die a bunch of times, get stuck in an alternate dimension, and turn into T-1000.
All of this done with an evil smile on his face. "There is only one true Falcon~!"
I don't really care much for F-Zero GX. Though to be specific, I disliked the way GX handled the characters, especially in it's "Story Mode". In Legend of Falcon, a revelation towards the end felt like a giant middle finger to GX's story, and I loved it.
In this rendition F-Zero GX characters Don Genie and Deathborn are corrupt members of the F-Zero committee, however they are revealed to be none other than Black Shadow's own...shadows! It was an odd twist, but giving Black Shadow this ability didn't seem too far off. The joy I get from this twist comes from the way Black Shadow was treated in GX. From the start of it's Story Mode, Black Shadow was shown answering to an other character, but not only that, he begs and grovels at this new evil fellow's for mercy. This happens again when Black Shadow is killed by this awesome new character, Deathborn.
In GX Nintendo/Sega had the chance to finally develop someone who, since his introduction, was shown to be THE nemesis of Captain Falcon. Though his initial premise was simple, having a grudge so strong he wants to kill Falcon in front of millions, Black Shadow was still menacing and evil figure. The Black Bull also played into that both in design and gameplay. (Note: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNID_uWwQaw)
But instead of developing him, from the very FIRST scene he is shown as being weak and having served someone all along. Even worse, Deathborn was a horrible replacement thanks to the whole staff ghost plot-twist and whatnot.
So basically, seeing the writers shit all over Deathborn was beautiful. There is also something to be said about the fact that while every single character from F-Zero X was featured here in some way, aside from Don Genie and Deathborn none of the other GX/AX characters were used. Of course this is more of a matter of taste, since other than Don Genie and a couple others I disliked the majority of the AX newcomers. Still, the way Black Shadow was handled as a whole was fantastic, making him into a sinister, manipulative, and powerful villain who humorously always had a giant smile on his face.
So that concludes this wank-fest.
F-Zero: Legend of Falcon seems to have been made with a certain amount of reverence for the series, and it shows here as well as in the last game of the series, F-Zero Climax. The vast references to not just F-Zero, but to Mario and StarFox made this a fun show to watch, but even more so the fact that something interesting and exciting was done with characters from a game that belongs to a genre most feel doesn't need story of characters in the first place.
Even if F-Zero never gets a new entry in the series, at least it ended on a high-note with this cartoon and Climax, and ending in a high-note is all I would ask for.