First Impressions: FAST - Racing League

Taking Shin'en's latest for a spin

Plenty of Nintendo fan ire has been drawn by the lack of an F-Zero game for the Wii, and with Wipeout exclusive to Sony consoles there's a huge gap in the market for sleek-looking futuristic racers. WiiWare developer Shin'en Multimedia is hoping to fill that with its upcoming WiiWare title FAST – Racing League, due to reach Europe on 27th May.

On the surface, the game shares much in common with Nintendo's renowned high-speed racing franchise: its rollercoaster-style tracks fly by at high speed, though it intentionally stays below the same kind of eye-melting pace that GameCube achieved with F-Zero GX, and with good reason: it has a trick up its sleeve.

Your ship can be "phased" between black and white in a neat nod to Ikaruga. Passing over an energy strip of the same colour as your ship will grant you a huge speed boost, with colour-coded ramps letting you hit big jumps and strips on the ceiling pulling you upward for alternate routes. If you're not in the right phase, you'll slow down if you pass over a strip, and passing over a jump pad or under a ceiling strip of the wrong colour does nothing, so judicious use of phases is the order of the day.

In the demo version we played only four of the 12 tracks were available, varying from a rocky canyon to a metallic raceway, with that trademark Shin'en sheen that made Jett Rocket one of the best-looking games on the service. The frame rate is smooth throughout, and will no doubt earn Shin'en many more well-deserved graphical plaudits.

It's only a week until the finished version of FAST — Racing League hits WiiWare, and from our brief hands-on playtime it's looking like Shin'en will have a considerable hit on its hands. The addition of phasing has plenty of potential for interesting course design, and the full game also includes unlockable content not available in our preview. We'll have a full review not long after FAST — Racing League is released on WiiWare, but in the meantime check out the first video footage of the game in action:

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