F-Zero X has recently been released for Nintendo Switch Online, and F-Zero fans from around the world have gone wild, given there has been little said about the franchise from Nintendo for sometime. F-Zero has been featured on the SNES Online package of games for Nintendo Switch Online scubscribers since it’s release and now fans can play aruguably the best iteration of F-Zero out there.
F-Zero X ramps up the speed compared to the original F-Zero, you really feel like you are speeding around the tracks in your futuristic vehicles. As well as the tracks themselves, you have to navigate the other cars and hit the speed boosts for the most optmial time. You fly around the courses at such a velocity, anything you hit is going to send your careering off to the side, so do be careful. The controls are much improved from the original F-Zero, and they translate well to the Nintendo Switch.
The courses are a tricky as ever, sometimes made more difficult knowing you can fall of the tracks completely, in a similar fashion to rainbow road from the original Mario Kart. If you do fall off, that means you will explode, and you have to start again. Even though there are some difficult tracks, in the most part the courses have great design. You can see the cities down below, and it has a decent sense of Sci-fi.
Capton Falcon spawned from the original F-Zero, and probably went on to become more famous in his own right as a decent character in Smash Brothers, being right up there at the top as one of the best characters to play as in the game. I would imagine some Nintendo fans would be surprised to learn Captain Falcon came from F-Zero.
Back to the track design and Nintendo did a lot right here. There are big loops, and F-Zero X has more of a sense of verticality than it’s first iteration on SNES. There are halfpipe zones on the tracks too, which reminded me of speeding through Wipeout on PlayStation all those years ago, or even 1080 Snowboarding, also on N64.
F-Zero has always been about driving, rather than something like Mario Kart where you have a bunch of items and weapons to help you out. This is all about precise driving round tracks. You can try to bump into your opponents if you want to try and veer them off the road, but it’s a risky game as on false move and you’ll end up smashing into a wall too. If you like this type of game though, there is a specific game mode that caters toward this style called “Death Race”, where the objective is to take out 29 other racers as soon as you can.
As well as the main campaign, you have Practice, Time Attack, VS Battle and the previously mentioned Death Race mode. These are all good supporting modes, especially if you want to practice before going for the cups. There are four cups in the game, after you get through those you can reach the “X Cup”, here there’s an elemntal of randomly generated layouts, making it an extra challenge. Much of the fun of F-Zero is learning the courses like the back of your hand and then trying to not only beat your opponents, but also beat your time too in time trials. I remember as a kid playing F-Zero and Mario Kart, playing the same courses over and over trying to beat my times, or times that had been published in magazines.
As you progress through the game you also unlock new vehicles. Initially you start out with six, but win matches and you’ll unlock new ones to take on opponents. Each vehcile has it’s stats including body, boost and grip, plus you can tweak the performance of the vehicle too. There’s an element to customisation, but it’s nothing like we see in todays games like Forza Horizon or Gran Turismo. At the time this level of customisation was impressive, and you have to view it through that retro-lense realistically.
It’s great to have F-Zero X on Nintendo Switch Online. We have 30 vehicles, 24 tracks, and then the X Cup too with the unpredictable nature of the randomly generated tracks. Time attack and Death Modes all add to the fun. The sense of speed is real with this game, and it’s a fun racer to spend your time with. My only hope is that Nintendo pay attention to F-Zero and the (hopefully) popualrity of the releases on the Nintendo Switch Online platform, and put some development time into a new iteration of F-Zero on Nintendo Switch. Nintendo surprised everyone last E3 with a new 2D Metroid game, will they do the same again with F-Zero? I hope they do.
If you want to check out F-Zero X, then you can get it as part of the N64 collection of games for Nintendo Switch Online.