The Super Nintendo was released in Europe in about the early 90’s and took the world by storm…until their competitor was the Mega Drive with Sonic The Hedgehog. The game bundled with it was Super Mario World, but one of the launch titles for the system that I’m going to review is the futuristic racing game F-Zero (or エフゼロ Efu Zero), developed by Nintendo EAD and published by Nintendo for the Super Family Computer (Famicom)/SNES. The game was released in Japan in 1990, in North America in 1991, and in Europe in 1992.
It’s 2560 (I’ll probably be dead by then), and since then, we’ve encountered many aliens (and there was nothing Area 51 could do about it) and we traded stuff and were one with all the aliens, all is peaceful and that’s about it, oh and the lowlife scum known as the multi-billionaires who got their money through these trades with the aliens just simply went, “I’M BORED, LET’S MAKE OUR OWN FORMULA ONE STYLE BUSINESS” and that’s how F-Zero was formed with racers driving in plasma-powered hover cars and more plasma-powered hover cars.
You choose one of 4 drivers (Captain Falcon (the star of the show), Dr. Stewart, Pico and Samurai Gorohand) with their signature vehicles, and pick 3 different leagues (Knight, Queen, and King (Beginner, Standard & Expert)), with multiple tracks (like Death Wind, Port Town, Red Canyon, etc.). The object of the game is like any other futuristic racing game, race in cocaine fuelled tracks and racing against opponents and race to the finish with 1st place. Each race had 5 laps instead of the usual 3, which makes the races far too long and can get boring after the 2nd race.
This game can go very fast with vehicles driving at up to 500 Km/h and there’s no frame rate issues, brilliant stuff. Ahh, just imagine a Sonic racing game, something like Sonic R if it didn’t insult us with terrible controls. You also have to avoid the sides of the road, and magnets, and land mines, falling off the track and hitting other cars as this can deplete your energy, at the start line, there is a pit that can re-fuel your energy, we never usually see these kind of pits without slowing you down, proving that this game is fast-paced til the end.
The music was composed by Yumiko Kanki, his futuristic-style music fits perfectly with the game, there are a few that are very memorable and could hum them when I remember them.
Did You Know? Mode 7 is a form of texture mapping available on the SNES which allows a raster graphical plane to be rotated and scaled freely, simulating 3D environments without processing any polygons at all. The Mode 7 rendering that was applied in F-Zero consists of a single-layer which is scaled and rotated around the vehicle. The pseudo-3D capability of the SNES was designed to be represented by both F-Zero and Pilotwings.
The one thing that goes against this game is the fact that it’s a lonely game, only a one player only game, this game would have been more fun with a 2 player, thank goodness Super Mario Kart sorted that out. After playing it for an hour you will gets a little boring just for the fact that no one can play the game with you.
Overall, it’s still holds up as an entertaining game, it’s game play is fast-paced and frantic, it’s a non-stop racing game that will keep you excited until you realise you wish for a 2-player mode. The Mode 7 graphics make the game truly come to life, this graphics-rendering technique was an innovative and technological achievement at the time that made some Super Nintendo games that used it more realistic, and F-Zero was the first game to get the Mode 7 treatment.
F-Zero is a game that set a standard for the racing genre and was responsible for the creation of the futuristic sub-genre. And so it inspired the future creation of numerous racing games, most notably WipeOut. I recommend you take a look but you’ll have to play it on your own or just pass the controller around.
You can get it on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System/Super Famicom and the Virtual Console.