Tag Archives: 64

Top 100 Games – 91 – F-Zero X

14 Mar

F-Zero X
Year: 1998
Genre: Racing

Driving games are, by their nature, limited. They have little to offer in terms of longevity or variety and often, despite the best efforts of developers, can be disappointing. F-Zero X is different. The original SNES version was a good racer, fun and different and with a reasonably impressive sense of speed for the time. The N64 iteration blows it away in every possible way. There’s a lot of depth to F-Zero X in comparison with other racing games, and it’s not just in the huge amount of unlockables on offer. There’s a learning curve that’s more long than steep, with the game being simple enough for a beginner to enjoy, but mastering each track requires a huge investment of time and effort.

The single player game is where F-Zero X shines brightest. Featuring a similar concept to Mario Kart – three race series of varying degrees of difficulty, on top of a huge roster of racers. The game is customisable based on player preference. While only 6 vehicles are available at the beginning, there are 30 in total, and unlocking them all is quite a challenge. Each vehicle is unique, despite there being only three stats – Body, boost and grip. The acceleration and max speed must be balanced before each race as well, and can be tailored to suit each of the many tracks. It’s quite detailed, and finding the right vehicle for your style takes a bit of time, but once you do, you know – it just feels right. This is a game that wants to give the player an abundance of choice, and a lot of variation in how races are tackled.

The racers are weird and wonderful - from dnosaurs to robots

Variety is the greatest strength of F-Zero X. Each track is unique, with tubes, tunnels, jumps, chicanes and various other hazards to be dealt with. Choosing whether to muscle past opponents, aim for speed or play it safe is critical, but each approach can pay off. This is where the game is tough to master. It’s not too hard to win on easier difficulty levels, but when trying to unlock some of the game’s content, the races become a tremendous challenge. With 30 opponents all vying for victory, a rival seeking to knock you out of the race and constant environmental dangers, races come down to a balance between aggressively battling other racers, boosting and hoping the energy recharge is coming up. It’s very much risk-reward based, as boosting consumes energy and leave you vulnerable, creating an exciting and brilliantly realised racer. The influence on future titles like Burnout is clear in the incredible sense of speed and gameplay mechanics, but F-Zero X is an incredible title in its own right and one of the best racing games ever made.

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