(Game Boy Advance)

F-Zero Maximum Velocity (Game Boy Advance)

Game Review

F-Zero Maximum Velocity Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Martin Watts

Back to the future

Ah, F-Zero. The futuristic racing series that’s so fast that even Nintendo appears to have lost track of it. While it’s true that Nintendo hasn't really done anything new with the series since it last released the Japanese exclusive F-Zero Climax way back in 2004 (the last game we got was F-Zero GP Legend during the same year), it has digitally re-released some of the older titles and featured elements of the franchise in other games such as Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Nintendo Land.

While fans have been begging for a new instalment for years now – their demands of which have yet to be answered – the arrival of Game Boy Advance games on Wii U does at least provide us with the opportunity to experience an F-Zero title that hasn't appeared on any of Nintendo’s Virtual Console services to date (with the unusual and exclusive exception of the 3DS Ambassador Program). The only problem with this one is that all of its original multiplayer modes have been lost in the process, and it’s a very noticeable omission.

F-Zero: Maximum Velocity was originally released in 2001 alongside the GBA. Although it followed F-Zero X on the Nintendo 64, this game harks back to the style and design of the original F-Zero on SNES. Much like how its 16-bit predecessor touted the power of the SNES, F-Zero: Maximum Velocity served a similar purpose of highlighting the GBA’s graphical capabilities, and it also uses the classic Mode 7 approach to provide a pseudo-3D visual effect. It may not look particularly impressive when compared against what today’s handheld systems can provide (especially when it’s blown up on an HDTV), but it nevertheless serves as a poignant reminder of Nintendo’s unrivalled ability to always get the most out of its own hardware.

Where F-Zero: Maximum Velocity does differ from its SNES counterpart is in its premise. The original line-up of pilots and vehicles, including the legendary Captain Falcon, are nowhere to be found. Instead, it focuses on the next generation of F-Zero pilots and takes place roughly 25 years after the original.

It’s a brand new contest, but the rules and gameplay format of old very much still apply. The single-player incorporates a standard Grand Prix setup in which you must compete across a number of tracks. Each race consists of five laps, although you must rank above a certain position in each one in order to qualify for the next lap. This particular setup can be quite punishing if you make even just one mistake, meaning that mastering the gameplay mechanics and memorising track layouts are of the utmost importance if you want to win.

This, combined with the surprisingly nuanced control system, means that F-Zero: Maximum Velocity requires a pretty high level of skill. Coming to this game as a complete novice, it might feel like you don’t have much control over your vehicle, and it doesn't take much to for your vehicle to enter an unintentional slide and crash into walls. Thankfully, this isn't down to poor controls, and rather the game demands a certain degree of finesse from you.

Holding either the left or right shoulder button will make your vehicle lean to one side, which makes a huge contribution to tackling some of the tracks’ tighter turns. In addition to this, you need to be mindful of your throttle control; beaming it full speed around a tricky bend is a recipe for disaster, especially because your vehicle can only take so much damage before it explodes. Therefore, you must rely on a technique in which you quickly tap on and off the gas. It sounds simple enough, but attempting it while simultaneously holding down one of the shoulder buttons and steering with the D-Pad feels surprisingly difficult to pull off at first. In addition to this, F-Zero: Maximum Velocity’s track designs are remarkably challenging in places.

There are four cups, each offering five different tracks, although the fourth cup is only available upon completing the first three in expert mode (which is no easy feat). Sudden right-angled bends, narrow strips and hazard-laden gauntlets all put you through your paces, and it can be very hard to come back from a collision on a winding piece of track, mainly because it tends to bounce you around like a pinball. Overall, it’s a tough challenge, but the fact that it demands a lot of skill while you're learning the courses makes it a rewarding one if you invest a good amount of time and master it; it's not as immediately accessible as the Super NES original, however, due to this level of difficulty.

Aside from that though, there isn't a lot else to do; in fact the only other modes are practice and a now-limited time attack challenge. It has already been stated quite clearly by Nintendo that system-link multiplayer modes in digitally released GBA titles on Wii U wouldn't be supported, which in F-Zero: Maximum Velocity’s case means that a considerable portion of the game is missing. It is worth noting that the original version required multiple GBA systems and a link cable – a prerequisite that most could probably never meet in the first place – but it's disappointing that it can’t be experienced in some form.

Also missing is the ability to trade track times with other players (which was also done via the GBA link cable), although posting screenshots of your times to Miiverse is at least a decent alternative. The loss of this, as well as multiplayer, highlights a loss of value in this iteration of F-Zero: Maximum Velocity; given that it costs the same as other GBA titles in Europe ($1 less in North America), we can’t help but feel that you’re getting a little less in comparison to some of its VC contemporaries, though the content you do get delivers a nuanced, high quality racer.

Conclusion

As a strictly single-player experience, F-Zero: Maximum Velocity still holds up today as a result of its smooth, skill-based gameplay. There may only be four cups in which to compete, but the varied difficulty and surprisingly steep learning curve when it comes to mastering the vehicles and tracks make this a game you want to keep coming back to. However, aside from the relatively limited practice and time attack modes, that’s all there is, and this makes the game’s lack of multiplayer functionality as a result of it being on Wii U all the more noticeable.

It’s a shame, because this is undoubtedly well-made and impresses in the technical department. Compared to other single-player GBA titles available on the eShop it just doesn’t offer as much in terms of value for money but, if you’re really keen on the series or don’t care about multiplayer, this is an enjoyable dose of the franchise that also highlights what the last Game Boy could really do.

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User Comments (50)

DashChargedShot

#1

DashChargedShot said:

Seems like a high score to me, but I didn't play it much when I got it from the Ambassador Program. I find F-Zero and F-Zero X ultimately superior to this and I really didn't enjoy this installment at all, from what I played. Regardless, good review.

Lan

#2

Lan said:

Do you think it has as much value if someone already has F Zero on Wii U VC?

XCWarrior

#3

XCWarrior said:

I think it's better than the SNES game, but only margainally. Neither are very fun. Why not bring out the GCN on WiiU VC? That actually looks like a playable game. These are not all that much fun, and difficult to boot. I usually love a hard game, but it needs to be fun.

LavaTwilight

#4

LavaTwilight said:

Thanks for the review Martin. To be honest I was hoping for a "meh it's ok if you like the series" or a "this game is awesome like a thousand hotdogs (Eddie Izzard reference) you must buy it". Instead I got exactly what I thought the game would be like beforehand and I still don't know if I should buy this game or not... I love the series and I have F-Zero on the SNES, with my limited funds and ever-growing list of games-to-buy, I just don't know if this is one I'm going to be parting with my money for just yet...

bofis

#5

bofis said:

I have this on my 3DS already, and feel like the SNES F-Zero I already have on WiiU VC is a better game overall. Though, with a little Dolphin Emulation magic, I was playing the Gamecube F-Zero in HD and it was beautiful to behold and still my favorite F-Zero title.

sinalefa

#6

sinalefa said:

I have never been an F Zero fan and this one definitely did not change my mind.

ULTRA-64

#9

ULTRA-64 said:

"futuristic racing series that’s so fast that even Nintendo appears to have lost track of it".......great work guys!! Made me chuckle =)

JaxonH

#10

JaxonH said:

@sinalefa

F-Zero GX will.

I was always an F-Zero fan. I remember when F-Zero X released on the N64, and I was blown away by the first "real" 3D F-Zero. The tracks twisted and turned, you had inverted cylinders... it was amazing. Then the Gamecube released, and I distinctly remember my first thought: I wonder how great F-Zero will look on the new console. And to my expectations, it was mind-blowing. Even to this day, F-Zero GX holds up as one of the best looking games on Gamecube OR the Wii. I highly recommend you play GX, then judge.

JonWahlgrenAdmin

#11

JonWahlgren said:

Maximum Velocity is fantastic – because it demands focus and practice to get anywhere at all it isn't always the most approachable game. But man, if you stick with it then MV becomes immensely rewarding and fun.

"Put up or shut up" game design at its 2001 finest.

Kid_A

#13

Kid_A said:

Awesome game. The track design is brutal from track 2 onward. F-Zero has always been about the single player for me, the lack of multiplayer isn't such a big deal.

I just love how CONSTANTLY demanding this game is. You can't blink for even a second.

retro_player_22

#15

retro_player_22 said:

I love this game, have a lot of fun unlocking all the hidden vehicles even the hard as hell to mastered Jet Vermilion which I had a tough time to used but now is an expert at using it. Glad it finally came out on digital but still I prefer the cart copy because you can play multiplayer on it with or without multiple copies of the game. Also the secret art endings in the game is awesome, was surprise this is the only game that the great Captain Falcon wasn't in it.

Dr_Corndog

#16

Dr_Corndog said:

GX is great. The original isn't much fun to play today, and Maximum Velocity doesn't look that good, either.

C-Olimar

#17

C-Olimar said:

I don't know why, but I just can't get into this game. I loved the SNES game though.

Xilef

#18

Xilef said:

My first F-Zero game. Great game once i learned you need to tap the gas button on and off in curves.

Kaze_Memaryu

#19

Kaze_Memaryu said:

I can get behind the tricks to mastering Maximum velocity, but to me, it still feels really drawn out.
And that's the whole problem: demanding skill to master a game is one thing, not rewarding the player for proving his skill is the one thing that makes me see this game as boring. You don't really feel the effort you put into a race, since you're either far at the lead, or getting served terribly in last place, and none of the tracks are really that well-made when looking at every other F-Zero game.

fluggy

#20

fluggy said:

Shocking fan service.... Ninty harped on and on bout asymmetrical gameplay ... and don't integrate it when they can..... I'm not even talking about online ... just make it possible for 2 local players to enjoy!!!! But no. Its little things like that, that would give the doubters a reason to still believe in Ninty!!!

suburban_sensei

#22

suburban_sensei said:

Question for all who have played both the original and Maximum Velocity, if I chose just one from the VC, which should it be? I played the original alot as a kid, and was wondering if I should try something newer.

sketchturner

#25

sketchturner said:

This game is okay, but GP Legend is certainly better. I would rank the games as follows: X=GX>GP>F-Zero>Maximum Velocity.

sinalefa

#26

sinalefa said:

@JaxonH

So I have heard, but I don't think I will go through the hassle of hunting down an old copy.

Although after hearing how right you were regarding Tropical Freeze, then I may give it a try. But getting the N64 game would be loads easier for me, as it is on VC.

unrandomsam

#27

unrandomsam said:

@JaxonH GX is basically perfect. Even in 4 player there is never anything at all wrong with it. (Gold standard of what a console racing game should be like). Only problem with it is the only wheel it supports isn't very good.

I wish I could play it like this though : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHkpu7JebdI

Not even sure Nintendo could make another as good. It feels like both a Nintendo game and a Sega game.

Gold

#28

Gold said:

Don't really care for F-Zero. Just wanted to see the score.

Also, installment is spelled wrong in the 2nd paragraph thingy.

Squid

#29

Squid said:

This game is fantastic. I absolutely love playing this and it gives me an adrenaline rush from start to finish, plus it has some very underrated music tracks. However it's probably only enjoyable if you're actually good at it, it definitely took me some time to not be frustrated with it, but after that it was amazing.

@Gold: It's not spelled incorrectly, there are only two L's in American English. This is primarily a UK site. ;)

Giygas_95

#31

Giygas_95 said:

@Jazzer94 Most certainly! I love it, but I just like MV better! MV is much more challenging to me, but I would absolutely buy GP Legends on Wii U.

Gamer83

#33

Gamer83 said:

Remember spending most of my summer break back in 2001 playing the heck out of this game. First game I bought for my brand-new GBA and didn't regret it. It's not the best F-Zero (I actually still put X in first followed closely by GX) but it is a lot of fun. Will probably buy this either today or tomorrow, wish they would make GBA VC for the 3DS though and the long overdue N64 VC for Wii U.

Grumblevolcano

#34

Grumblevolcano said:

Maximum Velocity is the only F-Zero game (apart from the JP exclusive Climax) that I haven't played. Will pick up eventually but what I'd really like is a VC port of F-Zero X with the N64DD expansion pack (includes track creation) especially since the announcement that Mario Kart 8 doesn't have a track creator.

MussakkuLaden

#35

MussakkuLaden said:

As I played this many years ago (even though I can hardly remember it, and I think I wasn't too impressed anyway) I will rather wait for the release of GP Legend. It may not be so much better or very different, but at least it's entirely new to me.
So for the time being, Metroid Fusion is the only GBA title on my VC buy list. But I look forward to whatever May may bring.

2Sang

#37

2Sang said:

Although I still think it's a decent game, I think this is actually the worst F-Zero game in the franchise.

camerica1618

#38

camerica1618 said:

Played this for the first time a while back thanks to the Ambassador Program. It's my first F-Zero game and I've really enjoyed it thus far. This review actually makes me feel like going to play it again right now.

retro_player_22

#39

retro_player_22 said:

@XCWarrior

Just by playing both of them you could tell they aren't that fun because both are basically launch title for their specific system. Those other games like F-Zero X, F-Zero GX, F-Zero: GP Legends, and F-Zero Climax were much better cuz they came out later in their systems life cycle, meaning that by the time of their released gamers expected them to be better than the launch versions. I applaud the SNES and Maximum Velocity versions for being great launch titles even though they were surpassed by better versions after. Had there been a new F-Zero on Wii and Wii U now, it would blow the GameCube and N64 versions out of the water.

BearHunger

#41

BearHunger said:

I played this via the Ambassador Program and did not like tapping A on every turn. This is probably more enjoyable on Wii U thanks to the bigger controllers.

ChoppedLiver

#42

ChoppedLiver said:

This is a very difficult game to complete 100% One of the vehicles you unlock, I forget the name, has awful handling, and it is therefore quite a challenge to achieve everything with every vehicle.

ULTRA-64

#43

ULTRA-64 said:

@Gold it isn't spelled wrong, America has just spelt it wrong for a few hundred years and got used to it that way!! ;)

Mandalore

#44

Mandalore said:

Nice review. I only got to try multiplayer about once back in the day, the single player certainly kept me entertained enough though. I'm looking forward to challenging any times posted to Miiverse.

It's a shame so many dismiss this game without really giving it a chance. They added a lot of depth to the controls compared to the SNES original. Once you understand and get the hang of it, it's a joy to play.

the_truth

#46

the_truth said:

It is disappointing how Nintendo keep shovelling this out and withholding GP Legend, which is a much bigger and better game.

Mandalore

#47

Mandalore said:

@the_truth GP Legend could be blitzed through in about an hour. It was a disappointing sequel to Maximum Velocity on so many levels.

theberrage

#49

theberrage said:

8 out of 10 is very generous. This fzero and the one for snes just have not held up over time imo

Dpishere

#50

Dpishere said:

When I first played this game on my 3ds I thought I was simply terrible at it and began to hate it. After discovering that you have to tap the accelerator while going around corners I started to be able to win expert level races and at that point I started to really enjoy the game and I usually don't play F-Zero games. In my opinion this is a pretty cool game and though I have only played this and F-Zero X I can say this is a pretty good entry in the F-Zero franchise.

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