Back in the 90s, Nintendo and Sega seemed like water and oil. In the heated battle of the Super Nintendo versus the Sega Genesis, a console war which is still heavily debated by bitter nerds on the Internet to this day, the idea of these two companies working together one day was ludacris. But as the saying goes, two great tastes taste great together. In 2003, Nintendo and Sega collaborated to produce one of the racing genre's finest titles. That title is F-Zero GX for the GameCube.
What is F-Zero and what makes it so special? You pilot an anti-gravity racing machine through a futuristic race course. Sound simple enough? Well it is. Only--said anti gravity racing machine is going at thousands of kilometers an hour and there are 29 other racers who are trying to win, as the prize of the race is a fortune worth more than you can imagine, as well as everlasting fame.
F-Zero got its start on the Super Nintendo back in 1991 with the game of the same name. Despite being obscure, F-Zero pioneered the futuristic racing genre. The game was one of the first to utilize mode 7 graphics which helped provide a much greater sense of speed. Speed is the keyword here, because it would later become the franchise's defining trait. To this day there are no racing games that are faster. Fast forward to 1998 where F-Zero X arrives on the Nintendo 64. F-Zero X revolutionized the franchise much in the same way that Super Smash Bros. Melee revolutionized the Smash Bros. franchise: it was grander, with a new and improved physics engine, a huge roster of characters, and an abundance of new modes and ways to play. In this regard, F-Zero GX could be considered the "Brawl" of the franchise; It takes what the revolutionary second game did, and adds even more improvements onto what it created.
Graphically, GX puts most Wii games to shame, especially for it being an early GameCube title. If you were to walk into a room and see someone playing this without knowing what console it was on, you would likely assume they were playing an HD console. The framerate moves very fluidly considering how detailed the environments are as well. This is one of the biggest differences that separates GX from its predecessor. F-Zero X was fast, but because the environments themselves were very bland, it did not feel as fast as it could have. Without having buildings, structures, and other obstacles constantly zooming past you, the sense of speed just isn't as strong. For a game that is a decade old, its looks have aged very gracefully and are still amazing even by today's standards. It really showed off what the Cube could do.
The game is easy to pick up and play, but hard as the dickens to master. Fortunately, the other greatest improvement from X to GX lies in that beautiful c-word, control. The controls in this game are so responsive and top notch that despite the game's unforgiving difficulty, you really can't blame any factor but yourself when you literally crash and burn. And yes, the game is without a doubt one of the hardest ones I have ever tangled with. Some story missions will literally take over twenty tries, and twenty is probably being generous. So those looking for a gaming challenge, look no further. Will you rage? Yes. Will you throw the controller? Probably. That's the beautiful part. In the same way that the over-the-top tracks resemble roller coasters, this game can be a roller coaster of emotion between unadulterated fury and pure ecstasy when you finally do cross that finish line in 1st place after a brutal race.
There is an abundance of unlockables as incentive to keep you playing though, and it won't be long before you are up late into the night saying to yourself "just one more race" over and over. If none of the game's 40 racing crafts tickle your fancy, you can always build your own to take to the tracks, which brings us to the other beautiful c-word, customization. You have the ability to build your own ship using ship parts you earn throughout playing the game. You can paint it whatever color and shade you like and decorate it with emblems before choosing the pilot who will steer it. This in and of itself can be addicting, as you are constantly experiementing with different parts in order to build a ship just fast enough with good enough handling to dominate the time trials and Grand Prix cups.
I do believe that the icing on the cake is the game's.....Story Mode. For the first time, players embark on a journey with Captain Falcon himself as he takes on the villains of F-Zero for the fate of the universe. Complete with Academy Award worthy voice acting not seen since the original Resident Evil, the story will definately....leave you speechless.
But hey, since when were racing games known for their stories? All in all, you cannot go wrong with F-Zero GX. It's fast, [will at times make you] furious, but an exciting edge-of-your-seat title that will hook you in and keep itself embedded in your console for months and months to come.
+ Incredible visuals
+Beautiful and fun track designs
+Up to four player multiplayer
+Easy to pick up and play
-Soundtrack felt a bit "light" compared to X. Has good songs but X did have a better soundtrack overall
-Pretty extreme "rubber banding" on the AI