Review by UltimaZER0

Reviewed: 07/12/01 | Updated: 07/12/01

An outstanding futuristic racer that will last for hours

Finally on a Hand-held System

The excitement of F-Zero had rocked the gaming world when it was first released for the Super Nintendo and players couldn't be any happier when its sequel was released. Then a few years later, F-Zero 64 once again captured that spirit of racing on the Nintendo 64. After a few years since that last release, Nintendo has finally brought the high-velocity racing to a hand-held system and it holds true to its bloodline.

The Tradition of F-Zero

Taking place in the future, the game traditionally features a set of futuristic high-speed cars that race on a series of tracks divided into different classes. Each course is laced with many different obstacles, including sand tracks and land mines. As a player runs through each lap, he/she gains a nitro booster and the course gains more obstacles such as yellow ''cabbie'' cars and extra mines. However, in addition to that, a few of the racers in last place are removed from the race. This continues for several laps until there are only three racers remaining.

The Ingredients of Replay

This latest installment of F-Zero features plenty of hidden secrets that gives the game a high amount of replayability. As you complete the courses, you obtain new cars and the Master difficulty level for each of the racing classes. Eventually, you'll also unlock the Queen class, which contains some of the best courses in the game. Even if you have unlocked everything, you still have the tough Championship course where you can complete the course with a recorded replay saved. As you can see, this game can take quite a while to finish.

The GBA Brings You Beyond SNES Visuals

F-Zero's graphics resemble those of the original F-Zero on the SNES but the GBA actually goes beyond what the SNES could produce. The tracks and cars are highly detailed and they seem much smoother than their SNES ancestors. Likewise, the game runs very smoothly without a single sign of slowdown. For those who thought that Super Mario Advance's graphics were gorgeous, you'll be impressed by the smooth high-speed action that is displayed.

The Sounds of F-Zero is Glorified

A unique part of F-Zero is the sound effects and music produced by the GBA. Past Game Boy games tended to have low-grade sounds, and neither the stereo nor the headphones could yield anything higher than 8-bit NES sounds. The GBA, on the other hand, has been very kind to the sounds of F-Zero and everything from the engine's rumbling down to the turbo boost is clear coming out of the stereo. Thankfully, for those who often use headphones, you'll get the same clean results.
The soundtrack itself is also well done. Not only are they great to listen to, the tunes are clear and they fit the game's high-speed theme.

The Difficult Skill of Control

Just as in past F-Zero games, the controls will take some time to learn. The cars have a tendency to be difficult to drive mainly because they swerve and constantly bump into the sides of the course. Many players that are new to the game will often be bouncing around the course like a pinball until their vehicles are destroyed.
The main key to controlling the car is to constantly tap on the accelerator as you're making a turn. By doing this, the car won't slide or swerve that much as you're turning and you should be able to maintain a good speed this way. Should a turn call for extra precision, use the L and R buttons to bank to the sides.

Finding a Worthy Challenge

For a game that is supposed to be for a GBA, F-Zero's A. I. could've been better. The computer seems to play smarter than in previous F-Zero games but while a Beginner-level computer racer is naturally slow, a raise in difficulty results only in several slightly-faster vehicles and one exceptionally fast vehicle. While won't bother you too much early on, the leading group of Master-level computer racers will often effortlessly speed past you in a race. Even the fastest cars can't seem to outrun them. So while the game is fun, the computer is an unfair challenge, even for veteran players.
For those who want a truely worthy challenge, players should try the multiplayer option with some friends. With the ability to play a four-way game, races will often be very interesting since you'll be playing with actual thinkers instead of a programmed computers.

The Beauty of Nintendo's Designers

Nintendo's designers did a great job on the courses. Lower-class tracks are designed with very few difficult turns and other hassles while higher-class ones are tougher and require more skill. Whatever the case is, they're all done with obvious professionalism and that is what makes many of Nintendo's games so much fun in the first place.

The Spirit of F-Zero Lives On

With all of the features and challenges that F-Zero has to offer on the GBA, you'll be playing this game for hours, and if you think that you've fully mastered the game, throw in a few friends you'll truely know who's the Master. But no matter which way you play, the torch has been passed from SNES to GBA.

Reviewer's Ratings

Graphics 10/10
Sounds 10/10
Controls 8/10
Gameplay 9/10
Overall 9/10

Final Comments

For those who want to try out the multiplayer option, I recommend that you and your friends use the official GBA Advance Link Cable. Third-party cables are usually not very durable and they've often ruined my data transfers so try not to buy them. That includes the four-way cable.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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