By BigSocrates 4 Comments
My Switch arrived today, March 4th, a victim of the great Amazon Switch delay, which was made much more frustrating by the fact that some units were made available on Friday through Prime Now. Before embarking on the absolutely massive quest that I know Zelda will be I decided to spend a little time getting used to the system by messing around with one of the other launch titles, and given that the pickings were pretty slim I ponied up for a copy of Fast RMX, synched my controller, and prepared to Switch on for the first time.
The game is more or less a cross between F-zero and Wipeout, with a color switching mechanic like that from Ikaruga thrown in, where boost pads speed you up if you match their color but slow you down if you're the wrong color, and you can reverse polarity from blue to orange at the touch of a dedicated button. It's nothing spectacular or very original, but it is very solidly made and pretty well polished for a third-party title. As a mid-generation game it would just be above-average, worthy of some attention but nothing earth shattering, but as a launch title it fills several important niches and acts as a crucial utility player for the lineup of the fledgling Switch.
1) Fast RMX is quick, simple, and familiar.
When people first boot up a console they are excited to get into a game and start playing. While they may be ready to dive right into a 100 hour adventure like Breath of the Wild, they might also want a title that's going to let them check out the system functions, get familiar with the controller, and make sure everything (including online and system storage) is working properly without any issues. Fast RMX is a perfect game for that. It has a control scheme everyone can understand, you can be in a race within 2 minutes of booting up the game, and the familiar twitchy racing action allows you to adjust to button placements and analog stick movement without thinking too much about complicated new game systems or mechanics. If Snipperclips and 1-2 Switch are designed to show off the Joycon functionality then Fast RMX shows the Switch when it's just being a standard video game console with standard controls. That's an important function; I know I don't want to try to experience Zelda while still learning how to use a brand new controller, so Fast RMX is a great way to get comfortable using the Joycon Grip or Pro controller (which, to be fair, is basically an Xbox One controller.)
2) Fast RMX is flashy and polished
One of the cool things about picking up a new console is seeing all the neat graphical tricks it can pull off and get a taste for how good games look playing on it, whetting the palate for what's to come. Fast RMX is a great looking game that showcases that the Switch can do detailed, high resolution graphics that look great on modern displays. While Fast RMX's visuals are nothing spectacular by modern standards, the game does look good, with impressive weather effects, flashy camera moves, and a blistering pace. It has the "cool" factor that should be present at any console launch.
3) Fast RMX has online multiplayer, and is cheap.
Fast RMX is not the only Switch game with online multiplayer (I believe both Bomberman and Skylanders have it) but it is the only cheap game with universal appeal that has it. If you and your buddy both got a Switch and want a game you can play with each other online without spending $100 for two copies of Bomberman...Fast RMX is your answer. Instead of "Well I want to play with you but I don't know about getting Skylanders at that price..." it's "Hey, let's download Fast RMX and race!" Much better. It has 4 player splitscreen too, if your friends are physically over, but the Switch has a bunch of games with in-person multiplayer function.
4) Fast RMX is new.
A lot of the Switch's launch library has been out for awhile on other systems. Shovel Knight has been out since 2014. Even Zelda is available on the Wii U. While Fast RMX is a semi-sequel to Fast Racing Neo, it has enough new content to justify its $20 price tag even for owners of that game.
5) Fast RMX has a good amount of content.
Many launch games are short experiences, more tech demo than lasting campaign. Fast RMX has 3 difficulty levels and 10 circuits per level, with lots of tracks and unlockable vehicles, tons of multiplayer options, and more than enough to keep you racing for a long time if you want it. It's a significant experience for $20 and definitely doesn't feel like a content-poor tech demo.
Fast RMX is not an instant system seller like Zelda, and it doesn't have the jaw -dropping "video gaming is officially moving forward" effect of its inspiration F-Zero, but it's a very solid launch game that fills multiple gaps. It's not the kind of game that will light up the "game of the year" considerations but years from now when someone says "Hey, do you remember Fast RMX?" you're likely to say "Oh yeah, that launched with the Switch, right? I played a bunch of it while waiting for something other than Zelda to drop. It was pretty good."
There are far worse fates for games to suffer than that.
Now Nintendo, give us a proper F-Zero. And the whole series on Virtual Console!