Racing Games – F-Zero X

F-Zero is a series that is unlike any other. There are currently only a few games in the series, the most recent being the highly praised F-Zero GX (2003) on the Nintendo Gamecube, but the game I want to write about exists on the Gamecube’s predecessor, the N64. F-Zero X was released in 1998 making this game 14 years old. This series of unique racers is made exhilarating, fun and incredibly challenging by the incredible speed that the vehicles in the game travel at. The F-Zero games are best described as high speed racers, because that is the main aspect that sets them apart from other racing games.

F-Zero X is a particular noteworthy because it was the first game in the series that entered the realm of 3D. Graphics wise, the game looks good although it hasn’t aged particularly well, although that is true of almost all of the N64’s library due to the polygon style of 3D  that was popular in the late 90s. At the time, the game was in fact criticised for low visual detail but this is for a very important reason. The game sacrifices some detail to maintain a solid 60 frames per second and in a game of the sheer speed of F-Zero X I much prefer a higher FPS over graphical quality. As far as the games overall look,  it is incredibly colourful and bright which again is important to allow distinguishes bewteen different racers and parts of the track etc. If you don’t go into F-Zero X expecting stunning visuals, you will be disappointed. But you’ll barely have time to complain about the shitty draw distance and lack of detail because of how much fun the gameplay is.
F-Zero X’s gameplay is just good. There’s not much to say about it, there’s an accelerate button and a boost button and it even uses the L and Z buttons to kind of strafe left and right which allows you to easily knock your enemy racers off the track and into oblivion. The game is nicely challenging and it may take a while to get used to the speed of the game. Consistently winning races either requires you to know the tracks pretty well or to have fast reaction times as the speed is very fast and the corners are very tight. I don’t really know how much could be improved gameplay wise. It’s all very tight and it just works well, there’s nothing awkward or unintuitive and I can’t really find much bad to say about it.

As far as the rest of the game goes, it’s all good. There are a large number of racers to choose from (30) and they all have different stats and mostly different visuals allowing for easy distinguishing between racers. There’s a good amount of tracks, there could be more but the tracks take long enough to master that they have plenty of replaybility and they vary between short fast tracks to lessons in frustration as you repeatedly slam into walls and die because you weren’t cautious enough. All in all, the game is fantastic. Fun, fast and colourful the game controls well, looks passable and offers a nice challenge. Completing a Cup feels satisfying partly because of some of tracks are difficult and partly because the game is just so damn fun to play. In short, I consider this game an overlooked classic and  I would recommend F-Zero X to anyone looking to play a racing game, or an N64 game or just looking to have fun.

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