It’s the early 90’s, Sega’s new 16-bit machine is out and making the old NES look bad. Nintendo answers back with the Super Nintendo which comes packed with some sexy features, such as mode 7. At the time racing games pretty much looked like this:
But to show off mode 7, as one of the SNES’s launch titles, Nintendo answers with F-Zero... Well fuck.
While this was not true 3D, this was still pretty damn impressive to our little minds back in the day. What better way to show off Mode 7 back in the day then the most intense racer we had ever played? This game, literally, set the standard for racing games back in the day, and it was pretty much just a tech demo for mode 7. Toshihiro Nagoshi, president of Sega’s Amusement Vision known for titles like Daytona USA, said that F-Zero "actually taught me what a game should be.” Amusement Vision later went on to make F-Zero GX on Gamecube.
For a 16-bit game, this game provides well in the graphics department. F-Zero is one of those gems that hasn’t aged poorly over the years, which is pretty good considering its launch title status. The only thing is… It looks a little flat. I never understood what the graphics outside the track were supposed to be until I found the manual online, it’s a city down below, most of the time. The 4 drivable cars are all interesting to look at and vary in color, but the rest of the racers are boring, mostly brown, palette swaps. This is due to technical limitations. You can’t fault F-Zero too much, it keeps things simple.
The controls follow the simple rule: Gas, break, left, right, boost, all here. The only complexity you’ll find is that the shoulder buttons also lean your ship for more precise turns. The controls are easy to pick up, pretty much. I actually had a harder time learning the controls of Mario Kart 64 than F-Zero. The controls are very responsive, and they better be considering this game’s speed!
Don’t get me wrong, I love Sega, but we all know ‘blast processing’ was a load of bull. F-Zero proved right from the get-go that Nintendo could be as fast as Sega. Keep in mind, this is coming from someone who prefers the Genesis over the SNES! The game knows what it is: A racing game. You, here’s a car from the future, go fast, NOW. Realism isn’t the key to this game, racing is.
This game gets pretty intense, and it will suck you in. The harder difficulties will bust your balls. Basically, you will not win every race. The game has three different cups to race in, all containing 5 tracks: Knight, Queen, and King. This game also has four difficulty levels: Beginner, standard, expert, and master which can only be unlocked for a cup after you finish it in expert. And no, I’ve never won a race in master difficulty. You have four different cars to choose from, all of which appear in later F-Zero games: The Blue Falcon, the Golden Fox, the Green Goose, and the Fire Stingray. Each car has different stats (for example, Golden Fox has the highest acceleration) and can alter the game’s experience. As stated earlier, aside from these cars, all of the other opponents on the track are palette swapped cars, which basically exist just to get in your way.
The music is simply a 16-bit orgy in your ears… In a good way, of course. Each location, since there’s a lot locations that have more than one track assigned to them, have different music, which can go from intense go fast now tracks:
to surprisingly relaxing music:
I feel like I’m on a drive or something. These tunes have stuck with the series, for the most part, the whole time.
“Well now, this sounds like a smorgasbord of fun, Jimmy come play this with me!” Well now hold on, there’s one big, huge, glaring problem: There’s no 2-player mode! “Whaaaat?” There’s been recent hacks to make this game 2-playable, but the damage has been done. The later titles have the option, which is good, but they’re still not the original F-Zero. Overall, it’s a minor complaint, but it’s still a problem none-the-less.
I give F-Zero for SNES a 9/10. I feel the addition of a 2-player mode would’ve made it the perfect SNES racing game.
Now, Nintendo, where’s our F-Zero game for Wii?