Before WipEout, there was F-Zero. Nintendo's futuristic racer was one of the first SNES releases, but shows very little sign of aging — in fact, it feels just as fresh and fun today as it did all those years ago. Graphically, the Mode 7 effects have obviously lost some of their edge when viewed today but the visuals are colourful and vibrant (if a little flat).
The gameplay is as outstanding as ever, offering up a perfect balance of pick-up-and-play accessibility and sheer depth. Though F-Zero lacks a two player mode, its selection of 15 different tracks and its adjustable difficulty modes still give it a lot of lasting appeal. Like any classic game, F-Zero still plays great all these years later.
F-Zero features four different racing hovercraft to choose from, each of which handles about as differently as it looks. Controls are simple; all you need to do is accelerate, and you can also lean left or right to make tighter turns or to drift slightly to either side. The handling and collision feel just right, and the sense of speed is terrific, as the game runs fast and smooth.
You earn a speed boost after every lap, and you may also drive through an energy field to recover from damage you sustained while racing. You take damage from bumping into walls or other hazards and may even lose the race instantly if you fly off the track.
Overall the presentation is remarkable. The music is uniformally excellent throughout — in fact, this game features some of the most impressive tunes you're likely to experience on a 16-bit machine. F-Zero qualifies as one of the greatest racing games available on the SNES and as a result is a highly recommended Wii download.