(GBA / Game Boy Advance)

F-Zero Maximum Velocity (GBA / Game Boy Advance)

Game Review

F-Zero Maximum Velocity Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jon Wahlgren

Gotta go fast

F-Zero has always been Nintendo’s way of flaunting how on the cutting-edge of technology it can be when it so chooses. Like a bat out of Hell, the original F-Zero launched alongside the Super NES to draw a clear distinction between where 16-bit Nintendid and SEGagged. Later on N64, F-Zero X boasted 30 on-screen polygonal racers and brought both multiplayer and combat manoeuvres into the fold, and GameCube sequel F-Zero GX (ironically, developed by SEGA) arguably perfected the futuristic racer with its white-knuckle difficulty, beautiful scenery and vehicle creation.

Given the franchise's history of bloodied edges, it’s easy to see why Nintendo chose to launch with F-Zero: Maximum Velocity when the 32-bit Game Boy Advance rolled in to town in 2001. Nintendo’s first stab at portable Formula 0 racing played it pretty close to the SNES mould from which it was crafted but smoothed out the rough edges of what was by then a 10-year-old game, helping to pioneer the GBA’s expanded link cable capabilities like single-cart multiplayer in the process and showing off just what the hardware could do to earn its "Advance" designation.

The 20+ tracks expertly ramp up the difficulty in an almost tutorial way through slow introduction of help and hazards, letting you get comfortable with boost strips and slow-down patches only to throw a curveball by aiming one at the other. Course design of later cups feels almost scientifically designed to give you a heart attack unless you have tamed your chosen new ship. Maximum Velocity is a game with a no-joke name, demanding quick reflexes and intelligent use of boosters as your vehicle careens around bends and over jumps to avoid a euphemistic early retirement. It’s a game unafraid of ridiculous speed and challenge going largely unmatched on Nintendo portables since.

It also requires mastery of control, which can take some getting used to even for F-Zero vets. To avoid slamming into walls and depleting ship energy, leaning into turns using the shoulder buttons and tapping the accelerator become key strategies. Controls are tight and adapt well to the Circle Pad once you clear the sensitivity learning curve. Like the SNES game, boosts are doled out at a rate of one per lap instead of being tied to your ship’s energy meter and there’s no spin attack or other offensive move to take out opponents, leaving you with pure racing ability as your weapon. Sharp reflexes and a cool head are a must if you’re to have any hope of unlocking the hidden tracks and vehicles.

As with all Virtual Console titles on 3DS, link cable support has vanished and along with it some of the game’s best features. Single- and multi-card racing are out as well as rank comparisons, which originally let you swap records with another cart for a cumulative high-score table. However, you can still export times in code form that was once used for national tournaments organised by Nintendo, but with nowhere to send them they're no longer of use. Considering the Synobazz championship track was all but built for time trials, it’s a shame that record sharing is no longer an option.


Even without any of the link cable modes, F-Zero: Maximum Velocity holds up remarkably well as a single-player screamer 10 years on and barely shows any sign of age. It might get a little lonely out in Synobazz after you've conquered the CPU over and over, but the package is substantial enough to keep flying solo thrilling long after you pass the last finish line.

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User Comments (52)



Yrreiht said:

I would have prefered GP legends, but this one is still good.
The GBA list they gave us is really better than i expected it to be.



pntjr said:

I hate this game and series overall. But GP Legends is better.



Geonjaha said:

If i cared for racing games that werent Mario Kart then I'd probably be excited for this one, but as it is it'll be my GBA game of no plays. :3



TheGreenSpiny said:

Wow, I have to say that this is one of the few game reviews on this site that completely I disagree with. I don't think this game holds up well at all. I don't think it very good back when it came out, it was pretty dated then. I'd have to say that Mario Kart is far better than this one for the Ambassador games.



Retro_on_theGo said:

F-zero is a great franchise,great! This feels like the black sheep of the series though. According to this review F-zero's worst is still beter than a lot of other series's best.



Link79 said:

The only one I never got to play was GP Legend on GBA.
Was it better than this one or just more of the same?



Blaze said:

Super Circuit is way better than this. The turning is just plain awful and the course design is unbelievably boring, the only difference between them being one is a slightly duller/bolder shade of grey than the other. I really thought this game was awful, the worst Ambassador game. Then again, I hated F-Zero GX for Gamecube, so maybe there's just something inside me that has an extreme hate for FZero in general.



TromboneGamer said:

I can't seem to get used to the turning in the game it's just too awkward. It's almost like it's not a matter of skill more a matter of trying to learn how to overcome a flaw.



Captain_falcon said:

If you want to turn a corner, hold the trigger button on the side your turning to lean and continuously tap the gas. You will hardly lose any speed. Those who say mario kart is better, Fzero is hardcore and extremely difficult. For me it's way more thrilling then mariokart and the gameplay is 3 times faster.



Pogocoop said:

I can't stand this game :/ The tracks are badly made, they feel rushed. like no time was put into them, but once you get a hold of the weired controls., Game play might beable to be considered "Meh"

2/10 in my book.



Shiryu said:

This was my first true sequel to the SNES original. I do love me some portable F-Zero. So, Nintendo, when will you bring F-Zero X or (dare I utter) GX to the the 3DS?



Palom said:

If this is the worst F-Zero, then F-Zero is the best series ever. Seriously, I played a bit of this game for the first time ever and it's more fun to me than most of the other Ambassador titles. I'm glad it got an 8.



cecesigue said:

imo this is a terrible game! didn´t like it at all...then im pretty happy with the rest of my Ambassador games;



Juampi said:

Most people who think this game is bad probably just suck at it.

By far my most played Ambassador game so far. Simply amazing.



moomoo said:

In what world is the GBA a 32 bit machine? I usually think of Playstation or Saturn when it comes to that. I'd consider it to be more 16-bit.



tripunktoj said:

I love the f-zero series, they are the only games where I could say in all honesty I am unbeatable. But I agree with most people here, this game was pretty dated even by the time it originally came out, and GP legends improves on every aspect, story, game modes, controls, characters... By the way, why is C. Falcon on the banner for this review (one of the reasons I dislike Maximum Velocity is because C. Falcon doesnt appear in the game at all)



BulbasaurusRex said:

This is my least favorite of the ambassador games I've tried so far. The graphics are dull, there's zero characterization, there's not enough content without the multiplayer features, and the turns are still too hard to make even after you get used to the controls and use the accelerator tapping method. I'm having a lot of trouble just beating the first set of courses on easy difficulty. I don't even want to think about what the later courses are like.

By the way, the SNES has better graphics and sound chips, but the Genesis still has the better CPU.
♪♫ Sonic! He can really move. Sonic! He's got an attitude. Sonic! He's the fastest thing alive! He's the fstest thing alive! ♫♪



BulbasaurusRex said:

@28 Maybe it technically is a 32-bit system, but it's actual power is much more similar to the SNES than it is to the Playstation.



jayclayx said:

I think most of those who criticize this game is because they don't know how to play it, is very clear that this game has a difficulty somewhat elevated, but once you master the controls the game is awesome. This is a gem that reminds me the snes era.



TheGreenSpiny said:

@16 Captain_Falcon: Try playing Super Circuit on 150 cc. THAT is hardcore.

@BulbasaurusRex: 32 & 16 bit refer to the amount of colors. They don't have anything to do with horsepower.

@30 jayclayx: I've played the hell out of GX and still own a copy of that game. It was suburb. This one just plain sucks. Ugly Graphics, poor controls, bad track design, the works.



DarkEdi said:

My right tumb aches every time i play this game. I think i press too hard the A button



WaxxyOne said:

@TheDarkness: No, 32- and 16-bit refer to the amount of bits the CPU crunches to perform each operation. While it's true that a more powerful system will tend to support more on-screen colors, there is no direct correlation to the bit rating of a CPU and the resulting colors being displayed. For example, both the SNES and the Genesis were 16-bit systems, but the SNES supported 256 colors while the Gensis supported only 64. Incidentally, 256 is the amount of values that can be represented in an 8-bit (not 16-bit) number, while 64 requires only a 6-bit (still not 16-bit) number.

Your statement that they don't have "anything" to do with horsepower is technically still true, since the number doesn't speak directly to cycles-per-second (MHz), but the amount of bits a given CPU uses is a good indication of its relative horsepower. A 32-bit console will always be more powerful overall than a 16-bit console.

tl;dr: You're wrong.



grumblegrumble said:

I need to give it more of a chance, it's the least played title in my GBA free games lineup. Well, Fire Emblem is my LEAST played, this one is second. But that will change soon! I think I should give this one a fair shot.



Shadow_Chad6982 said:

i hated this game too, but if you follow Captain_falcon's advice #16 then the game can be quite enjoyable once you get a hang of it



ecco6t9 said:

A little practice and skill, you too can become an F-Zero Battle Racer.

Meaning someone who knows how to knock other cars out of the way to score a win.



IronMan28 said:

um...this may sound like a strange question....Has anyone been able to do the post play surveys for the ambassador games yet?



Noire said:

Can we get a 3DS F-Zero up in heeee~yaaaaah!

I will walk through Manhattan naked on a cold winter's day on live TV if this could just happen.

... Okay I wouldn't but yeah. GIVE IT TO ME!



Late said:

Haven't really tried to play this one yet. I don't like playing too many games at the same time. After I've beaten few more GBA games I'll move onto this one and see if it's good or bad. There seems to be people who either think it's really bad or it's really good. Not too many people to say that it's from between.



JimLad said:

Got this at launch with the GBA, loved it to death. When you get used to the cornering you can really fly round the tracks.
Then again I may have just been more impressed at what the GBA was capable of than the actual game.



Captain_falcon said:

I wasn't saying mario kart super circuit isn't hardcore, I'm really good at mario kart and 100% the wii one, but i still think this is much harder. Almost beat master mode on the bishop courses last night. And if you haven't yet, Try Fire Emblem. By far my most played ambassador game. Good storyline and great strategy game.




Good game. I'd prob give it a 7 or 8. Took me a while to get used to it again (hoh boy). Nails imho, but in a good way.



Matti said:

This was my first GBA-game back in 2001.Very fun game and a cool soundtrack too. Too bad I can't get this ambassador version...



BulbasaurusRex said:

@39 I don't think anyone is really saying it's bad. It's a decent game. It's just that many of us don't think it's as good as the other F-Zero games or as good as this review makes it out to be.



EddieEddieEddie said:

This is the weakest game in the series, they should have released GP Legend or even Climax (which was only released in Japan btw). It's pretty good nonetheless, I would give it a 7 star rating.



Geonjaha said:

@24 - "Most people who think this game is bad probably just suck at it."
You can unfortunately come up with that argument about any game, but in reality, the game is just bad. Maybe Most people who think this game is good just want to think so because they're good at it?



gojiguy said:

the game is good, but very difficult. GP Legend is much better but ill get what i can get.

It's leaps and bounds ahead of Mario Kart Super Circuit. That's probably the worst GBA ambassador game on the list... Worst controls in the history of racing games.



alLabouTandroiD said:

Really liked this game on my GBA SP back in 2004 when i got it. Guess even today i'd like it more than X and GX because i always preferred the simplicity of the original over their fighting mechanics. Yes, GP Legends felt more amazing and near-perfect but it came 3 years later so it might not be maximum fair to compare these two. (@Link79(13.))
In general F-Zero terms i really love the cornering as Captain_falcon (16.) described it. The basic design of the vehicles in the SNES original looked the best to me. The more detailed designs in the other games of the series always look a bit too over-the-top for me.

It would be great if GP Legend and the SNES games were made available on the 3DS. Maybe we could even get Climax ? Even with that name each brand new F-Zero could easily turn out more incredible than its predecessor.



Bass_X0 said:

I enjoy Mario Kart than this. I just find this game so difficult and the controls with Mario Kart are easily sorted by choosing a heavy character that wont go all over the track at the slightest press of a button.



Davva said:

Played a couple of hours of this so far and still only completed the first 2 set of 5 races on beginner. Finding the ice tracks really tough going. The only tactic that seems to work for me is to tap the Accelerate button rapidly on corners, braking is too severe and drifing not enough, until you get control of the vehicle. Overall, bland presentation and frustrating gameplay imo.



vertex67 said:

This is by far my favorite non-3d f-zero. GP Legend's AI and difficulty were a total joke compared to MV. The learning curve here is much higher, but in a similar spirit to GX this game rewards you well for your hard work with 6 of the 10 vehicles locked at the start. Each vehicle feels genuinely unique, and there often is a strategic element to the races that you dont find in other f-zeros, especially when using some of the slower vehicles.



Giygas_95 said:

Dare I say most underrated game ever? Yes. I absolutely love the tremendous speed and retro-ish graphics. 9/10.

Doubt I'll ever legitimately unlock Jet Vermillion though.

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