I don’t know about you guys, but F-Zero is for the real “need for speed” freaks out there. A futuristic racing game that makes you fly at speeds faster than the speed of sound. Nintendo brought out one of the best racers on the Super Nintendo on August 23, 1991 (over 20 years ago…damn I’m old). A game that is still remembered to this day, all thanks to the godfather of video games, Shigeru Miyamoto (creator of Mario and Zelda for you ignorant ones).
I loved this game, but for the sheer ridiculousness of speed and simplicity. Set in 2560, Earth made contact with various alien species and humanity began to grow. A racing league called F-Zero grew and became one of the biggest entertainment venues on Earth. Various racers raced in plasma-powered hover cars that were faster than the speed of sound. A dangerous sport, where racers are faced with various obstacles that not only test their vehicle’s speed, but its durability as well.
F-Zero is a simple racing game; nothing more, nothing less. There were no objectives or secret stuff to find. There was no winning money to buy new hovercrafts and whatnot. It was just a simple racer, where you chose four different racers and their hover cars and just raced to get to first place. You just raced to get the best time. You just raced because it was fun as hell. Times were simpler back then, when racers were racers and it was just pure fun. Oh yeah, you had to take care of your vehicle during the race, because if you don’t, you would blow up and lose the race. How cool is that? Very.
You got to choose from 4 racers: Samurai Goroh, Pico, Dr. Stewart (Wow…seriously? They couldn’t come up with a wacky fourth name?), and the famous, Captain Falcon. Each hover car handled differently, but the two best were obviously Samurai Goroh and Captain Falcon. Samurai Goroh’s hover car had the highest top speed. Captain Falcon had the coolest looking hover car and the fastest accelerating one. The other two racers were irrelevant and you’ll never need to use them, unless you’re square or you’re trying to lose on purpose. There were three regular leagues and one hidden league (once you beat all the leagues). Each league had a variation of track from a specific stage. The tougher the league, the harder tracks were to navigate.
Having a cool hover car is one thing, but taking it around a track as fast as you can is another thing. There were 15 different race tracks, but were different reiterations of four stages: Mute City, Death Wind, Port Town, and Red Canyon. Each course is fenced in with electric barriers that damages your vehicles. Some tracks even have landmines to screw you over some more. There are even rough patches of road that effect your hover car to slow down (I don’t know how, since these hover cars float…). There are a few death defying jumps in some of the track layouts, and one wrong move and “BOOM!” goes your futuristic car. There are other random “racers” out on the field, but you really are more worried about the other 3 racers. The random racers are just really obstacles that get in your way or explode (if you hit one of the flashing racers). On each lap you can fly over the pit area to, recharge your shields. And after each lap, you are awarded a temporary speed boost (you can carry up to three).
Each track also has a snazzy jazz, 8-bit tune, which were one of the most memorable things about F-Zero. The music was perfect as you race through each stage. The explosion sounds were loud, just to remind how badly you messed up. The hyper sonic engines buzzed like high-pitched bees were powering the hover cars. The sound effects just fit perfect in this futuristic 8-bit world. It just drew you into the races and you just wanted more.
The graphics is what really brought this game together. The sense of speed was just immense. Back in the day, games never looked as good as F-Zero did. The artistic direction was fabulous as you had the multi-colored vehicles to drive around to the wonderful distinct tracks.
The game was pretty much perfect. There was nothing to really complain about. The graphics were spot on, the sound was perfect, and the gameplay was balanced. The only problem I had was the lack of a two player option. I would never sell my copy of F-Zero. I just want to remember how good the video game era was back in the days. It is part of history, a reminder of how great games were and what they had led us to now.