i’d been trying to get motivated to spend time with the original f-zero for SNES for ages. i’d really loved f-zero GX when i’d played it a few years ago, but although i had tried out the SNES version a few times it really hadn’t drawn me in. i finally gave it a fair amount of time recently, and although it’s technically impressive and for the most part i enjoyed the “beginner” and “standard” levels of difficulty (the exception would be the suddenly much more difficult final track of the last cup, called “fire field”), i came away just being frustrated by the difficulty. which is a bit odd, since i thoroughly enjoyed GX, often cited as one of the hardest games of all time.
it’s quite possible the mario kart series is to blame, since with those games it’s not too hard to win even with a few mistakes and if you really screw up there’s still a chance that you can make a comeback with a much-needed item. there’s a high probability that i’ve gotten “softer” and more impatient in my old age, but i think a better explanation is that the difficulty in f-zero just seems unfair in some crucial ways. videogamecritic.net’s review is a bit overly harsh in general, but i have to agree with him that the “pinball physics” is the main thing that makes the game incredibly frustrating. the extreme bounciness of your vehicle is problematic when running into walls just due to careless driving, even when using the heavier machines, but when that’s coupled with the aggressive CPU drivers at the higher levels who will purposely drive into you the entire game becomes annoying. on top of that the slow drivers who just get in the way also drive more erratically at these levels of difficulty and will suddenly swerve into your path so that avoiding them becomes more a matter of luck than skill. ugh. the higher levels also emphasize having to pass rival cars more, which again just leads to random messy pileups more often than not. the key feature that GX includes (and that apparently originated in its predecessor, f-zero X) is the ability to attack other vehicles so that you actually have protection against the other drivers instead of solely having to react to their jostling and hope for the best.
on the plus side, the game, like GX, does give a great sense of speed and the framerate is silky smooth. it features some hazards that GX didn’t have, and the track layouts in general are pretty interesting and have a good amount of variety. the visuals, made possible by the much-touted mode 7 effects, are quite good for the SNES era, and extremely impressive considering it was a launch title, although some of the sound effects, including the acceleration sound, are rather grating. it’s also quite an impressive debut for a series that, although it hasn’t seen a lot of action recently, i’ll be continuing to work my way through. that definitely won’t be for a while, though; even though f-zero X is much more like GX than the original, i’m definitely going to have to take a long break before climbing back into the blue falcon’s driver’s seat.
zoomin’ past some f-zero links:
– review at nintendolife.com
– some maps at vgmaps.com
– PDF of the manual at replacementdocs.com
– entry at wikipedia
– coincidentally, f-zero is also currently an entry in the ongoing series of polls i’m running to highlight some of the greatest games of all time. check it out here.
man, oh man. i finally had to set f-zero GX aside today, b/c after more than two and a half months of playing it pretty much every day i am -wiped out-. seriously, i think playing this game so much has permanently raised my blood pressure. when nintendo says “don’t blink and drive” they’re not kidding. more like “don’t breathe and drive”, ha. i don’t think any game has ever left me feeling so twitchy for such a long period of time during and afterwards. not sure that’s a good thing, but it’s def. a great game.
this morning i beat the diamond cup on master and thus unlocked the last 6 tracks, but at the moment i’m not terribly compelled to finish beating the AX cup or finish the story mode. not to mention tackling the staff ghosts (of which i’ve unlocked a few but haven’t sat down and tried to beat) or seeing all the character FMVs (which you unlock by using the character to beat any of the cups on the master level). this game really takes unlockables to the extreme: it seriously has enough unlockables and events to beat to keep you busy for a year. but as much as i loved playing the majority of it, man, i need a break!
at the time i wrote my first post about playing the game i hadn’t gotten very far into the higher levels, and those did prove to be reasonably challenging. of the four main cups the part that was the hardest (as i supposed you’d expect) was the last one (diamond) on master. i found ranking anywhere near the top 10 of that last course was pretty much impossible for me, but that may partly have had to do w/ the car i was using. i beat the first two cups using the hyper speeder, but for the other two i ended up using roger buster’s mighty hurricane (thus his place of honor at the top of this post) which gets a good top speed but accelerates much more quickly. as i got further into the game i enjoyed taking out other cars with attacks more and more also. haha. i’m not sure if it was just fatigue setting in, but i was def. bored by some of the tracks in the diamond cup, and when i played through the AX tracks i wasn’t so impressed by them either. the longer tracks in general were more boring to me which may be a big part of it.
anyway, i def. need a break, although i’m also def. looking forward to coming back to it and the others in the series at some point. i’ll prob. tackle the orig. SNES game before the N64 game though. amazon also has a listing for a 2-disc import soundtrack that has all the character songs. cool. i also heard about the f-zero anime which had some episodes aired in the US. i don’t think it made it to DVD, but i’ll def. have to track some of those down at some point. my only question is: how in the world is nintendo going to top this??
– i mentioned f-zero world, an awesome fansite at smashboards.com, before, but some other sections worth noting that it has are: a list of arcades with f-zero AX machines (it says there are only 14 in the US but it’s prob. out of date and there are prob. even less) and a succinct list of secrets. the latter page lists the staff ghosts by the times to unlock. the times to beat are 10 seconds less (listed on this FAQ at ign.com).
– the message board FAQ at ign.com has some good info. in particular, it has a listing of the machines ranked by top maximum speed.
– wikipedia has a nice section on all the character of f-zero X (which are the same as in f-zero GX) including wallpapers for all of them (800×600). sweet. according to those bios (presumably from the f-zero X instruction book) roger buster “has 3 red marks on the side of his head as a sign of how many deliveries didn’t make their destination”. awesome.
– a FAQ at ign.com describing all the character FMVs
– a FAQ at ign.com describing how to use a glitch to fly around the course. haven’t tried it, but i’ve read about it elsewhere as well.
i started f-zero GX a few weeks ago. part of my interest, i’ll admit, was b/c i’m still tracking down all the games w/ characters from the excellent game super smash bros. melee, but i’d also read a lot of great reviews and was looking for something new to play this year. i was also interested b/c everything i’d read said how hard it was, and i have to admit after wind waker and kirby’s dream land 2 i was looking for a challenge.
you can laugh, but my previous racing experience up to now had been mario kart 64, so this was pure adrenaline in comparison. i def. wasn’t prepared for how *fast* this game really is, or how addictive it would become. i’m taking my time, and although i still haven’t even attempted the third cup i wouldn’t say it’s “insanely difficult” so far, although i can def. see how perfect you’d have to drive to beat the hardest levels. practice definitely makes perfect, though. my first time through the last track of the second cup was completely pitiful, but after a lot of trials now i can get through it pretty regularly. of course, getting through it and placing in the top 10 is another thing entirely … i was glad though to see in this excellent walkthrough that the writer mentions this course as being one of the most difficult in the game.
this is a game that, like metroid prime, has so much polish everywhere it just gleams. from the visuals to the music to the tight gameplay, everything is so well developed it really makes every moment a purely pleasurable experience, so much so that even if you crash your last racer at the last millisecond of the last race, just a hair away from getting 1st in the whole cup (as i just did tonight), you don’t really mind too much. (although of course i’m sure this will get more and more problematic as i reach higher and higher levels of difficulty.) the game also has enough depth beyond just simple racing that i still haven’t mastered some of the finer points of the game (particularly attacks).
and like metroid prime, i’m looking forward to playing this one for a good long while. in the meantime, links!
– official site: actually looks pretty cool and has some wallpapers
– ign.com: also has a nice guide (as usual)
– incredibly thorough fansite with audio, emblem patterns, and more
– nice review at nintendojo.com