Talking Point: F-Zero GX HD Could Boost the Franchise onto Wii U
Posted by Michael Westgarth
While Nintendo makes great efforts to release high quality Mario, Zelda and Kirby games on a regular basis, the development of games in the Metroid, Star Fox and F-Zero franchises, for example, is approached more cautiously. In the case of F-Zero, Nintendo's reluctance to create further sequels seems to stem from fears that the series has simply run its course, as recently explained by Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto last month.
Nintendo's concern over potentially producing a sub-par F-Zero game is commendable, but surely a compromise could be made that would see a modern F-Zero title appearing on the Wii U? In that respect, a HD remake of F-Zero GX would do quite nicely.
Of course, a brand spanking new F-Zero game would be desirable, but with a bit of tender loving care, the GameCube classic F-Zero GX could easily be updated for the much more modern Wii U with minimal risk and cost to Nintendo.
F-Zero GX was an incredibly modern title to begin with, despite it being released a decade ago. With its irresistibly luscious graphics, fluid controls, electric guitar infused techno soundtrack and infamously brutal difficulty level, the ambitious game was hard to put down, let alone forget about. Considering the critical and reasonable commercial success it enjoyed, an expanded remake, if handled properly, is sure to garner a similar level of success among its HD remake brethren, including the upcoming The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD.
A graphical overhaul of F-Zero GX would be a given in our hypothetical HD remake. Online multiplayer would also be an essential addition, even if the dreamed-of frantic 30-player matches aren't technically achievable. Other unessential but nonetheless welcomed additions would be the ability to share custom created craft online with friends as well as easier access to content from the game's arcade counterpart, F-Zero AX.
The entirety of F-Zero AX was found hidden away on F-Zero GX's disc and the individual components of the arcade game were available to play legitimately in the GameCube version, although the process to unlock the various tracks and racers meant beating each grand prix on the “Master” difficulty; a ridiculously nefarious task for even the most hardened of F-Zero GX veterans. Considering the wealth of content that has remained unseen by the majority of players, integrating F-Zero AX into a HD remake would dramatically increase the appeal of the game to fans and newcomers alike. But even if Nintendo could make the game, why should it?
The non-simulation, futuristic racing genre has fallen by the wayside in recent years due, in no small part, to the closure of Sony Computer Entertainment Studio Liverpool and the end of the iconic WipEout series as we know it. Sony's official statement regarding the matter didn't specify as to whether the performance of WipEout's recent instalments where a factor in the studio's closure, but either way, the niche that both WipEout and F-Zero once shared is now wide open for Nintendo to occupy.
Not only would an F-Zero GX HD remake grab the attention of futuristic racing deprived gamers, but it would also offer an inexpensive method for Nintendo to quickly bolster the selection of quality racers on the Wii U and lessen Nintendo's dependence on Mario Kart 8.
The original version of F-Zero GX was produced by Shigeru Miyamoto and Sega's Toshihiro Nagoshi, and developed by Amusement Vision, a second-party Sega developer that has since merged with Sega Japan. With this in mind, Nintendo and Sega's recently formed partnership would make putting the F-Zero GX band back together and getting those anti-gravity gears in motion significantly easier.
Although the aforementioned partnership specifically concerns the release of three Sonic the Hedgehog titles exclusively for the Wii U and 3DS, including Sonic Lost World, those are by no means the only Sega games that'll be appearing on the Wii U. Of particular interest is Yakuza 1 & 2 HD, a Japan-exclusive collection of two PlayStation 2 games “remastered” for modern HD consoles and now on its way to the Wii U. And who's directly involved in the production of Yakuza 1 & 2 HD? None other than Toshihiro Nagoshi himself.
The close proximity of Nagoshi to Nintendo was evident in the Japanese edition of May's Nintendo Direct, in which the famed producer stood alongside Satoru Iwata to promote the collection. With Yakuza 1 & 2 HD on its way to Japan and Wind Waker HD sailing its way to Western shores, F-Zero GX HD would be in good company.
But as Shigeru Miyamoto suggested, Nintendo probably isn't going to announce an F-Zero related project any time soon, regardless of how badly the remaining F-Zero fans yearn for another super-sonic, anti-gravity extravaganza. The only chance of a F-Zero GX HD remake materialising is if Nintendo believes there to be a significantly large and passionate consumer base for it. But does a substantially strong F-Zero fanbase still exist? And is it vocal enough for Nintendo to take notice of its pleas? These are the questions that only you yourself can answer.