F-Zero GX is the successor to F-Zero X (Nintendo 64) and is a fast-paced, futuristic racing game featuring 3D graphics and challenging gameplay. It was also the first significant video game collaboration between Nintendo and Sega, having been developed by Sega‘s famous Amusement Vision (AV) team (with Shigeru Miyamoto acting as producer) – the same team who made the brilliant Super Monkey Ball series. In fact, F-Zero GX uses an enhanced version of the 3D engine that powered Super Monkey Ball.
The game is known for its dazzlingly-fast graphics, its intensity, its soundtrack, and its steep difficulty curve. Emphasis is placed upon track memorisation, reflexes, and precise (but tricky) control of race craft that are very sensitive to fine controller movement. Anyone who’s played the game will know how difficult F-Zero GX is. If you want to win races you’ve really got to be on top form and know when and where to use your boosters.
Each race takes place on tracks that feature tortuous dips, curves, enclosed cylinders, jumps, and traps (such as dirt patches that slow you down, and mines that do the obvious). Booster pads can also be driven over to give you a speed boost and extra manual boosters are given to you as you complete laps. Up to thirty competitors race together inside plasma-powered vehicles in an intergalactic Grand Prix and each track becomes ever more challenging as you progress.
You can play as a variety of different characters, each of which drive a unique car and have different traits. To begin with, though, you can only choose between four of the playable characters; the remaining 26 must be unlocked as you progress.
Collisions with other vehicles, or the side barriers, will damage your car and it can only take so much punishment before it explodes. There are occasional repair pads positioned on the course that, when driven over, will replenish your car energy levels. If you’re knocked off the course, though, it’s ‘race over’ and retry.
Aside from the aforementioned Grand Prix play mode, there’s a story mode; obviously a practise mode; a versus battle mode; and a time attack mode. There are also vehicle customisation options (including your own garage where you can keep four different cars, add emblems and new parts), plus pilot profiles, and replay facilities.
Winning a Grand Prix, or coming first in any of the ranking competitions, will award you a certain number of tickets which can be spent at the shop on upgrades or used to unlock other cars and drivers. You’ll also be interviewed on “F-Zero TV“.
Overall, F-Zero GX is an excellent game, although I have to say that it can be a frustrating experience until you’re able to master power-sliding with the shoulder buttons, which I struggled with. Courses with 90 degree turns and jumps that take you off the course (to your doom) are a nightmare to begin with. If you’re able to put some time in practising, or have have a natural flair for super-fast racing games, then you’ll probably love F-Zero GX. Presentation-wise it’s pretty stunning and does have a lot of extra features to unlock.
F-Zero GX was published by Nintendo for the GameCube in 2003 and remains a firm favourite among F-Zero fans. An arcade version of the game also exists, called F-Zero AX, and this was published and manufactured by Sega.
See also: F-Zero on the Super Nintendo – the original 2D, mode 7 racing predecessor to this game.
More: F-Zero GX on Wikipedia