Release Date: 3rd November 2016 (UK Wii U Virtual Console)
This one would have turned nasty quick if I wasn’t so slow at putting together thoughts and feelings. A clunky brain struggled with clunky controls in this Wii U Virtual Console re-release back in November, as stick movements were full of dead zones, only able to deal with the intensities of far right and far left. For a speedy futuristic racer, the inability to carefully manoeuvre through hoops and loops at high speeds was a game breaker, a fond memory killer.
Thankfully a recent update to the game has made the control stick movements as close to how they were back in 1998, as if it was all a vivid dream, leading to us going back to being all nostalgic and sweet to the high-speed racer that was.
F-Zero X is a racer which imagines the future of F-1 racing. Wheels on machines are no more, tracks no longer grounded on our dying planet, and ramming opponents to death is totally okay. 30 racers charge across tracks which twist, loop and spin, suspended above devil’s forests, blue cities and even the moon, though not necessarily our moon… Earth doesn’t seem to be much of a thing in the far future, an accurate prediction if we look at the current direction we’re heading in. In the future aliens mingle with humans, dinosaurs and cyborgs, it’s a progressive world.
The game sacrificed graphics for performance back in 98, making for a particularly crummy looking racer in 2016, yet the speed and high risk gameplay make it feel as fresh as it ever was. And it always was.
Once the first lap has been completed, the racer gains access to boost power, and when you got boost power (!) you can boost as long as your health meter lasts. Of course hitting corners and battling opponents with misjudged shoulder barges and spins reduces the health bar, so it becomes a case of balancing speed and protecting one’s own metallic hide. The fragility on display provides a contrast to the sharp turns, adrenaline pumping metal soundtrack and 2000 A.D styled character designs. The sensation that comes with coming first place, you can’t replicate that if you aren’t risking anything to get there.
I felt this way when my friend used to blast through the streets of Oswaldtwistle in his car, the F-Zero X soundtrack blaring from the in-car speakers. I felt so fragile, the music felt so frightening, Oswaldtwistle went by like lightning, and my friend? Well he was laughing like a maniac, the replication of F-Zero to reality complete.
That’s how you do it, diving head first into insanity with every intent on surviving. That’s F-Zero X. Just make sure there are no dead zones screwing about with the controls. That’s when thinks turn nasty real quick.