Everybody loves Captain Falcon, and it's not hard to see why — he's an interplanetary bounty hunter and racing champion with Judge Dredd's fashion sense and a punch so powerful people know it by name. There's very little not to love. However, if you can tear your eyes away from Falcon's radiant brilliance for a moment, you will see that the F-Zero universe is populated by some of the weirdest and wildest characters Nintendo has ever dreamed up. Here are just a few of them. I hope they become as dear to you as they are to us.
Gomar and Shioh
Super-bros from the ultimate bro planet, Gomar (the short one) and Shioh (the tall one) hail from a world where the inhabitants form a life partnership with someone the moment they emerge from their egg sac; a societal quirk presumably designed to eliminate loneliness and to ensure you've always got someone on-hand for a quick game of Twenty Questions. They do everything together, including piloting an F-Zero racer. It's never explained how this provides them with an advantage — unless Gomar is too short to reach the pedals, of course.
Billy is a monkey. There's no getting around it — he's definitely some species of ape, which must have made for an interesting time at the F-Zero Licensing Bureau; monkeys are not known for their willingness to form orderly queues. According to F-Zero lore, one of Billy's ancestors was the first monkey in space, a fact put forward as some kind of bizarre explanation as to why he's allowed to compete in a futuristic motorsports event. Still, he's evolved enough to wear underpants — even if they are made of metal — so who are we to judge his inclusion on the grid?
After one too many time-travelling adventures, Doc Brown ditches Marty and decides to live in the far future, changing his name to Dr. Clash and letting himself go a bit. Honestly, in this highly-advanced futurescape of cyborgs and hover-cars could you not find a lemon-yellow tracksuit that at least covered your protruding gut? We're sorry, it's just that when we look at Dr. Clash we see ourselves in twenty years. Actually, make that ten years.
The real reason we mention Dr. Clash is that he represents the admirable egalitarianism of the F-Zero universe. With a bit of dedication anyone can enter these races, be they ape, octopus or criminal mastermind who constantly pumps mind-altering drugs into their brain. Dr. Clash may be sixty-nine years old and have the body of a sixty-nine year old who likes cakes a bit too much, but once he'd constructed a mechanical backpack to help him pilot his ship he was living his dreams — and you have to admit, that's kind of beautiful.
Once a man, now an unholy living skeleton, The Skull loved racing so much that he came back from beyond the grave to do more racing...and no-one seems to have an issue with this whatsoever. Even in a world this insane, surely necromancy must raise a lot of questions. Questions like, "does The Skull hang out at the bar with all the other pilots?" and "does his lack of flesh give him an unfair advantage when it comes to his racing weight?" The only question that The Skull's existence answers is whether or not the underworld has a decent motorsports scene. It apparently does not, and Hell's loss and clearly our gain.
Bio Rex is a lizardman created by fiddling with the DNA found in a fossilised dinosaur egg. It's hard to get solid facts on some aspects of the F-Zero universe, but it appears that the scientists who created him did so for the express purpose of having him enter the F-Zero Grand Prix. A dinosaur race-car driver, huh? That seems like a plan with no flaws, right? Not everybody thinks so, however, and fellow F-Zero pilot Beastman — a misleading name given he's just a man wearing crocodile-shaped armour — has joined the competition for the sole reason of keeping an eye on Bio Rex, pledging to take the lizard down if he ever snaps and starts doing something untoward, like eating the crowd. In one of his post-race interviews, Beastman admits his goal is to make a helmet out of Bio Rex. Are we saying that the sport of Formula One would be vastly improved if Lewis Hamilton said he wanted to make a belt and matching bracelets out of Sebastian Vettel's bones? Yes, that is exactly what we're saying.
As a simple mechanic in the Galactic Space Federation and an all-round decent guy, John Tanaka in notable amongst the other F-Zero pilots for his sheer boringness. As an example, when asked what he's going to do with the one billion space-credits he has received in prize money, he says he's going to put it all into savings. That's John Tanaka: sensible, calm, bland...and suspicious. There's no way someone so tedious could last alongside the killers, superheroes and bandits that make up his competition. He's up to something, we're sure of it, and when the long-awaited F-Zero sequel is released and John Tanaka is revealed to be an Intergalactic Lord of Darkness then we will be happy to say that we told you so.
We could tell you all about Octoman's many strengths, about how his multiple tentacles help give him great control over his vehicle, about how his squishy body means he doesn't need much cockpit space, but we won't. Instead we'll tell you that if you complete F-Zero GX on Master difficulty with Octoman, you're treated to a video of him performing a bodybuilding routine. He flexes his tentacles. He's wearing a pair of tiny swimming trunks. It's beautiful.
Thank you, Nintendo, for giving us the wonderful world of F-Zero. We're all praying for another installment soon.