Saturday, 30 April 2011


F-Zero GX
[GameCube] [Amusement Vision]
I haven't done a GameCube review for ages. My first one was of the excellent side-scrolling beat 'em up Viewtiful Joe, which was the second review I'd ever written (in other words, it's years old now). The second review I did on the boxy platform was of SSX On Tour, and that was only a quickie anyway. So, I've decided that it's time I revisited the good ol' Cube and did another big review of a game on the underrated platform. What game, you ask? Well, it clearly says in the title that I'm reviewing F-Zero GX, one of the most punishing yet awesome games ever released on the console. This one was really tough to play through, that's for sure, but after somehow managing to complete the insanely difficult Story mode and every Grand-Prix in the game, I'm ready to do a review. So without further delay let's get into it!

F-Zero GX is the fourth installment in a long line of Nintendo-developed futuristic racing games. However, this one wasn't just made by Nintendo. In fact, they got the help from Sega this time round and formed Amusement Vision to create GX and an arcade version known as AX (which I can't say I've played or ever even seen in an arcade) then disappear without a trace. It's a shame really. Nintendo and Sega should pair up once again and create a new F-Zero game for the 3DS, that's what I say. Anyway, back to GX. This game is easily one of my favourite titles on the 'Cube, and not only is it brilliant but it's really, really seriously difficult too. However, one of the greatest things about F-Zero GX is that playing on harder difficulties is never a requirement. Sure, perfectionists will want to get through every cup and every story mission on all the difficulty settings, but after playing through on the easiest difficulty you will have seen everything. This clever design decision makes the game appeal to a much higher percentage of gamers. Sure, F-Zero GX isn't the sort of game you'd want to give to someone who's not familiar with more core gaming and just uses 'the Wii Fit' and not a whole lot else, but it's still nice for the game to appeal to the majority of the gaming community.

F-Zero GX's visuals are extremely impressive considering how fast you're going.
F-Zero GX contains a plethora of game modes, the two main ones being Grand Prix and Story Mode. I think I'll cover Grand Prix first. This mode is very similar to the Mario Kart games in that you select a Cup and pick one of the many F-Zero machines before racing across several tracks, earning yourself a certain amount of points depending on what position you place after each race. When all five races are over, your total points determine what your final position in the cup is, with first place earning you a Gold cup and so on. And that's basically Grand Prix mode in a nutshell! There's four cups to be played through on four different difficulties, the harder of which are extremely difficult. Don't think this is just a futuristic Mario Kart clone though. One major difference with F-Zero GX in comparison to Mario Kart is the amount of other racers you'll be hoping to speed past. F-Zero GX pits you against a massive 29 other machines each with their own different pilot, which is a really impressive feat considering you're driving at extremely high speeds against so many others without any frame-rate issues whatsoever. And no, this doesn't effect the graphics in any way either, as the game is a true beauty visually minus a few bad textures (which doesn't really matter because you won't be stopping to look at any time). Another rather large difference is the option to actually kill off your opponents via a strafe move that can smash other machines off the track. Other machines can also perform this dash move back at you, but a defensive spin reflects their attacks. There's a surprising amount of strategy involved in the Grand Prix mode.
The track design in the game is absolutely mental, as is the music. I particularly love the Fire Field theme!
Now it's time to write about Story mode, which is equally as fun as the main Grand Prix. In Story mode, you play as Captain Falcon, F-Zero's bounty hunter poster-boy that has appeared in every F-Zero game to date, as well as the Smash Bros. titles. After winning yet another F-Zero Cup, he returns to his job as a bounty hunter and sets out to pursue his racing rival Black Shadow, who is up to no good for sure. The story is honestly quite basic, but it makes way for some great set-pieces that end up being the game's nine missions, each of which begins with a hilariously cheesy cutscene complete with ridiculous animations and some fairly shoddy voice acting (which is definitely no bad thing). These cut-scenes are clearly Sega's doing, but unlike the older polygon-based Sonic Games, they're actually very enjoyable and sometimes ridiculously funny. It's impossible to develop an emotional connection with any of the characters because they're so badly animated and scripted that it's funny, but the story is very enjoyable from start to finish. The missions themselves involve you driving Captain Falcon's machine to fill out certain tasks, which can be anything from collecting a number on items on a track and reaching the finish line within a time limit to rescuing an injured pilot from a burning building by boosting your way through obstacles. Each story mission provides a thrilling challenge that variates the standard gameplay in exciting ways. Each and every one is difficult but not impossible, which really adds to the feeling of sheer satisfaction you get when you finally finish one after tons of restarts.

On top of the Grand Prix and Story options, other modes are also available. You can have a pop at beating your best race times in Time Trial mode, you can view profiles of each F-Zero pilot and listen to their surprisingly good theme tune in Pilot Profiles and you can take a look at your best saved races in Replay mode, but the most important option bar the Grand Prix and Story mode on the main menu is the Customisation mode. Here you can spend F-Zero Tokens that you've earned from the main modes on new Story Missions, unlockable pilots and parts for developing your own custom F-Zero Machine. The Machine builder is pretty fun to mess around with, giving you the option to pick from three different types of parts, give them a lick of paint and apply custom emblems to your new machine a-la Mario Kart DS. Sure, the actual pilot machines tend to be much cooler than your own custom machines, but the customisation option is still a cool option to mess around with.

If F1 was anything like F-Zero so much more people would watch it for sure!
Despite the plethora of game modes, the core racing in F-Zero GX is where the game really shines brightest. Once you've tried out a few of the many machines, you will have found one that suits your specifications and handles just how you want it to. Each of the 20 futuristic floating tracks in the game are extremely enjoyable and offer some insane jumps and gravity-defying roads to race along at astonishing speeds. The controls work really well too. A drift mechanic is implemented on top of tighter air-brakes which help you get around pretty much every corner. I've already mentioned the offensive and defensive moves that you can perform which only add more to the insanity of racing. I'll go as far as saying that this is easily the best F-Zero game that may never be topped (get on a 3DS game Nintendo!).

I'll end this review by saying these four words: F-Zero GX is hard! Or is that five words? Regardless, it's a statement that reflects whether you should buy the game or not, because if you're not very good at games in general then you probably won't get the most out of it. Still, if you're not a perfectionist you can still get the most out of GX by playing only on the lowest difficulties - You really won't miss out on anything other than a much bigger challenge. When it comes down to it, the main selling point of the game is the hardcore as hell, super fast futuristic racing. If you think you can handle the insanely fast antics of F-Zero GX, then by all means buy it - It's easily the best game in the series and one of the GameCube's greatest hits. Until next time, this is Noodle out...



Mart2006 said...

Damn you, Noodle. There goes another game onto my wishlist! D:

Anonymous said...

I would even go as far as saying F Zero GX is the best arcade racer of all time, let alone one of GameCube's greatest games.