In 2003 Nintendo’s premier racing series returned in superb style on the GameCube: F-Zero GX came out of the gate lightning fast, brutally hard and, rather oddly, developed by Sega. Made by Sega studio Amusement Vision, it marked the company’s first collaboration with Nintendo after having dropped out of the hardware market and it's a corker.
F-Zero GX places thirty futuristic racers in high-speed hovercars on a variety of mind-boggling tracks, then fires the starting pistol. As with most racing titles, the aim of the game is to be the fastest on the track, but with races playing out at speeds of over 1000 km/h, F-Zero is arguably the fastest game around. Races are not only fast but also furious, players are given the ability to ram and spin attack their opponents in the hopes of dislodging them from the track. Being attacked depletes your vehicle’s energy, run out before you finish your three laps and you’re out.
From the second lap onwards you can also activate a boost, sending your vehicle surging forwards at crazy speeds. However, boosts also deplete your energy, meaning they must be used sparingly as recharging strips on the track are spread out. Juggling all of these factors makes races intense and hectic; a closely won victory will have you leaping out of your chair in celebration.
In the bid to be first across the line choosing your pilot is crucial, and F-Zero doesn’t exactly lack options. There are over thirty different pilots to choose from; the eclectic bunch of drivers ranges from the relatively sane Captain Falcon and Dr. Stewart through to the downright barmy Octoman and Beastman. Each pilot has a unique vehicle with individual statistics, and this plays a massive role in picking a character too. Amusement Vision did an incredible job in balancing the vehicles; no particular type is necessarily better than another and whatever your play style there will almost definitely be a vehicle to suit.
Before a race you are also given the option to tweak the balancing of top speed versus acceleration using a simple sliding scale. This detail proves handy when changing between different types of tracks; for instance, on a track with lots of straights and big banking corners it would be advisable to have a higher top speed that you can reach gradually, rather than accelerating quickly off the line and later finding that you lack the oomph to go the distance.
Learning the tracks is an important part of playing F-Zero GX, although at times this can prove difficult considering that many of them defy logic, physics and sometimes belief. There’s a lot going on, from jumps and loops to the odd smattering of bombs and lasers, and just getting through three laps on some of the harder tracks can be a challenge, as often you’ll find yourself going too fast and careening off course. Starting over never feels like too much of a hassle though, as it gives you an excuse to marvel at the game's excellent track design again.
Great tracks are all well and good, but no racing game would be complete without a varied selection of modes, luckily Amusement Vision saw fit to furnish the player with a full suite of options. You can choose from Grand Prix, Story, Time Trial, VS Battle, Practice and a Customise mode.
The main bulk of the game will be found in Grand Prix mode; here you can challenge three cups (Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald) with another to unlock. Each cup contains five races and you are awarded points depending on which position you finish in; the pilot with the most points at the end is declared the overall winner. A Grand Prix win awards you with tickets that can be used to buy new pilots, custom parts and chapters for the Story mode.
Story mode follows the exploits of Captain Falcon across nine challenging chapters book-ended by animated cutscenes. Each chapter basically takes the form of a driving challenge, often adding a wrinkle to the F-Zero formula; for instance, one chapter has you dodging boulders while drag racing. The new gameplay elements keep things feeling fresh, but it’s a shame the same can’t be said for the cutscenes. While graphically impressive, the nonsensical plot, hammy voice acting and music that seems borrowed from the 1980’s often leaves you feeling like you’re watching a particularly bad episode of Power Rangers (one where they don’t even use the Megazord). In a rather considerate move from Amusement Vision cutscenes can be skipped, and considering the amount of time you’ll spend retrying challenges you’ll be thankful for this feature.
F-Zero GX is not an easy game, not by a long shot. It can be incredibly frustrating and even seems impossible at times, but you’ll always go back for more. You’ll lose, you’ll throw your controller down in frustration, but then creep over and pick it back up like the good little masochist you are. Perseverance is the key to success in F-Zero, and players who put the work into mastering it will be rewarded with the greatest feeling of triumph.
The default control scheme is solid, with steering on the analogue stick, A as the accelerator, Y activating speed boosts and Z performing a spinning attack. With races faster than greased lightning the controls are quite demanding on the old fingers, and longer play sessions may leave your hands feeling as if you’ve tried to grease lightning with them.
The overall presentation of the game is great throughout. The music can only be described as ‘futuristic’; evidently nobody in the future plays a nice bit of piano anymore. A blend of heavy guitar riffs, synth and pulsing bass lines forms the majority of the score, and whilst it’s functional you’ll often find you tune it out whilst concentrating on the race. The standout musical moments would definitely be the hilarious Stan Bush-ish songs scattered throughout Story Mode.
Graphically, the game is pleasing on the eye and everything zips along at a nice pace, but players who slow down and take the time to admire the environments will really see the effort Sega have gone to. Compared to the empty backgrounds of F-Zero X on the N64, the courses in GX are positively brimming with things to see, including oceans, lava plumes and giant sand eels, and the tracks feel integrated into an overall larger planet, rather than strips of tarmac floating in nothingness. The newfound complexity in the environments is welcome, however on some tracks it has made it difficult to distinguish the edges of the track from the background. Not that this is really an issue once you learn the layout, and you’ll most certainly have plenty of time to do just that.
F-Zero’s list of challenges is near endless. With four difficulty settings, a host of custom parts with which to build new machines in Customise mode, addictive four-player split-screen multiplayer and a Time Trial mode that encourages you to keep shaving seconds off your time, it easily takes upwards of 20 hours to see everything there is to see in F-Zero GX. It is difficult to give a solid figure for the quantity of hours it will take, because to put it quite simply, a lot of people won’t finish it.
With an unparalleled sense of speed, rewarding progression and addictive gameplay, F-Zero GX is by far and away the number one racer for the GameCube. Sega’s Amusement Vision studio really pushed the boat out in terms of crafting a finely tuned experience; the brutal difficulty may put off more casual players, but those with the skill and the stones to stick with it will find a deceptively deep game with near endless replay value. F-Zero has come a long way since its Mode 7-powered inception on the SNES and F-Zero GX is the pinnacle of the series. When it was released back in 2003 it was the fastest game around and all these years later other racing games are still playing catch up.
one of the very best future racer ever made. if not the best. period
and diffcult level is the best part about it
Great Reveiw! makes me want to find and play this game! i think the next F-Zero would be perfect for the 3-DS!
Great review, I love GX, though X is my favorite F-Zero game.
I've been considering picking this up lately. Probably will now!
i kinda want this
I own F-Zero GX and, for me, it´s an overrated title. I give a 7/10.
Wipeout HD >>>>>> F-Zero GX.
I love this game, it's a fictional racing masterpiece. It's even better if you have an F-Zero AX arcade machine around! The Story mode is very brutal, though, and I've never beaten it. Great review, but why isn't there an in-depth description of the Customize mode? That boosts the replay value even further and is worth noting.
The best racer i've played, ever. I still haven' beat the story mode in harder difficulty levels, since it's nearly impossible. This has gotta be one of the hardest games ever.
The best future racing ever = Wipeout HD
Wipeout is slow compared to F-Zero
Wow, some people saying it's the best futuristic racer. I thought I was the only one thinking it's that good!
10/10 from me - best Gamecube racer.
Way ahead of its time: still looks stunning and plays perfectly.
The best racing game of all time, bar none.
Wipeout HD came after F Zero GX therefore still counts as playing catch up.
Everybody should play this game. I have played it for almost a year, beating everything on master mode and the entire storyline. I bet I could do it again given a week or 2 of warmup training (yes it's that difficult!)
I would give it a 10/10 with the only point of doubt being that I'm not sure we will be able to play it for an eternity. Nothing short of amazing this game is.
I still can't get into F-Zero GX. The controls feel looser and it's far too easy to pinball around the track. Oh, and the music is terrible. Not something I'd expect out of an F-Zero game.
Wipeout is slow compared to F-Zero
Yes, but the gameplay of Wipeout HD is much better.
Laurie Blake, you didn't metion there was actually 5 cups, 3 at the beginning and 2 to unlock. Also you didn't look at the ship customization mode.
It's absolutely fantastic - if insanely hard. I remember when I bought this (along with Mario Kart Double Dash) I thought gaming had gone back to what it should be. They had the same charm as the old SNES games with a modern look.
Anyway it's still a lot of fun even with such a hard difficulty. I rarely come first outside of the novie tracks but I wouldn't call that a fault - just requires dedication and skill to beat (which I seem to lack).
Ive been meaning to get this game for awhile
my first vc purchase was F-Zero(SNES) and i was addictied to the game.
I really should go and buy this off amazon very soon.
I want this but still need a GC memory card
Great game, glad I still have my copy! I remember when it came out, I had friends who actually felt sick while watching.
This is the best software that you can insert into your WII still. A game made by the sega man that made daytona usa. Sega have a big victory here although they are now friends with nintendo anyway. The developer who masterminded the F zero series has said on record that after this game he doesnt know where to take the series further. Basically sega took the whole franchise to its limit of perfection where its definately apparent that how do you take this further in this generation. Where do we go from here. No wonder a strong F Zero game hasnt come out for the last seven years.
The only game that has come close to this level of hardcore play in the last few years is outrun2. People who own nintendo machines dont really realise how hardcore this game is and what the value of it will be in years to come. They are too transfixed on casual games as Super Smash Bros, the latest mario or zelda.
I've played this games years ago on the Gamecube and thought it was fun... The only problem I had with it that I couldn't beat the 3rd chapter on the easiest dificulty... No matter how many times I've tried. I stopped playing this game and then later sold it.
I bought it again about a month ago thinking "maybe I just sucked at video games back then, so maybe I will be better at it this time", but nope... I still can't get past the 3rd chapter... I'm sorry, but the horribly balanced dificulty is what ruins the game. I've played very hard games that where easier then this game. The game shouldn't be hard on the easiest dufficulty, it should be, oh, I don't know, EASY!? Or at least somewhere around there. I’m not that bad of a gamer, though I’m not that good either, but far from bad. So don’t you dare say “you probably suck at this game”.
I would lower the score to around a point or two because of the unfair diffculty.
That's a slightly troll-ish comment. Best keep that to a minimum.
I remember playing F-Zero GX with my cousins years ago, and I thought it was fun from what I've played.
I used to own this game, and though I acknowledge the greatness of this game...I found it too hardcore and too exclusionalistic a game. F-Zero, I prefered. Being one of the premier games on the gamecube system, it kind of brought the system down a bit in my honest and humble opinion...
Still, it provided me with a certain amount of fun (but painful) memeories
I don't care what one or two of the hardcoreites say on here.
Great review, but it is one of the very few games I'd rate a 10/10.
IMO, it's the pinnacle of the series, the best racing game ever and the best game on the Cube. And I absolutely love the tunes.
The only problem is, when will we see another F-Zero? Motion control on the Wii would be great, but a 3DS version could be killer too.
PS: I annihilated this game... played it for a few months exclusively, beating story mode and grand prix in all difficulties. Mastery of Black Bull was necessary. pats self on back
This... is the only game that's ever made me so frustrated i've broken a controller over it (two actually!). ...* Blush *
It is most definitely one of the more frustrating games I have ever played, it's when you get through to the last race of a Grand Prix in first place and fall off five times in a row. I needed a good hour or so to calm down between attempts. An utterly superb game, but most certainly not for the easily annoyed.
wow, somnds hard (and fun) I think I'lll get this if I can find a good deal for it
@SilverBlacktail: Please leave the moderating to us. I assure you, we're keeping our eye on things. :3
Wipeout series is not even comparable with F-Zero GX!!! It is futuristic racer alright, and fun too, but its easy, casual and slow sunday floating around -game. F-Zero is frustrating, hard and extremely fast. Its really ridiculously fast and its THE hardest core there is!!! So much so, that the "hard core" feels like wuss core next to F-Zero. F-Zero needs its own class. Its Lonsdaleite-core game; its 58% harder than a diamod! But once you start to get along with it, it makes you feel like you just did a base jump. Its the only game to get a near death experience and intoxicating adrenaline rush!!! Also the handling model of the ships is unique and feels good when you learn it. 10/10, but only for those, who has lightning fast reaction times!!! Others go back to your slower games.
@outrun2sp in terms of arcade racers with hidden depths I think you're right there, this and OutRun 2 are two of the best. Also, SEGA Rally - awsome game.
Should add that though I was once great at this game, my own 'hardcore' tolerance has slipped somewhat, these days its 1986 Outrun on the Saturn, time and traffic set to easy and a sedate drive down memory lane.
Still the best racer I ever played, took me months to beat the GP's on all difficulty levels. A 10/10 imo.
this game looks utterly amazing in Progressive scan mode
This is one of the games on my list of games to look for used at Gamestop Hope I find it
Great Review I like this game (its only like because I can get past level 2 )
My God!! I found this game tough.Its true that you go back for more,but damn,it takes some mastering and some foul language!! Awesome game though,I do wish that they would have made the EASY setting a bit easier for noobs like me ,I will never complete this game and thats sad
@tbd: Sorry, just trying to help.
I hope that the next one is still this hard for all the hardcore racers out there, but with an easy mode for wimps like us
This is what they should do if they are making another F-Zero game:
Make three difficulty modes like easy, medium, and hard. Make easy mode so just about anyone can beat it without too much trouble. Make the other two modes for more advanced players, or for people who just want more of a challenge. This will make everybody happy.
I would have been upset if this got less than a 9. I'm so glad other people here appreciate this game!
[bragging]I actually beat the Diamond Cup on Master difficulty. >>>: D[/bragging]
This game is all about boosting through 180° hairpin turns while travelling over 2000km/hour and listening to pulse-pounding music. It's about using your last bit of health to boost through the last corner of the track, and focusing intently to not touch ANYTHING (or you'll blow up), just to keep from getting passed by the brutal AI opponents before the finish line. No other game can replicate that experience.
I would've been okay with the difficulty if it weren't for the loose controls. It just felt too easy for me to skid into a wall or get ping-ponged around the track. It's worse than any other game in the series, and I don't see why there's any need to put up with it. If they do make a sequel, they better tighten the controls or I'm not buying.
Trying to get 100% makes this one of the hardest games ever made, but I somehow managed to do it. Never again!
I still put this disc in. My buddy and I got it the week it came out and it dominated our summer. So much to do and in my opinion THE BEST LOOKING GCN GAME. In a world where games seem dumbed down (especially boss fights) it's nice to see a difficult title. Now, Nintendo, where the hell is the next one!!??
This is what they should do.
Make an easy mode that will still make people frustrated a couple of times throughout the game, but still easy enough that everyone can finish it.
A normal mode that's as hard as this game.
And a hard mode that's even HARDER than this game.
Sega did a amazing job on this game. One of my favourite Gamecube games.10 out of 10. Where's F-Zero Wii?. WipEout is incredible too.
Man this game was awesome as f***. I was able to complete it all the way besides beating it on master with all the characters and getting all their mini videos(I only got half of them and thats just because it got boring, but maybe time has made it a fun challenge again), but yes, I did complete story on the hardest difficulty, and unlock all the arcade modes which was difficult and very fun. I never learned how to snake though.
I guess the F Zero franchise will skip the Wii and go for a new 3DS game.
Arcade Racings much better than F-Zero GX: Outrun 2, Daytona USA, Wipeout XL, Wipeout 3, Wipeout HD, Need for Speed Hot Pursuit 2 (PS2 version), Need for Speed Underground.
F-Zero is an overrated series.
You say F-Zero is overrated.
Are you trying to make The Cap'n angry? You DON'T wanna make him angry. But, if you must...don't say we didn't warn ya...
Captain Falcon, to the rescue!
2003 was a great year for GameCube racers. F-Zero GX was one of them. I still gotta play this, but the high difficulty level is intimidating me. Then again, it has Captain Falcon in it.
Hey, someone had to do it...
@EdEN wait a minute, this'll sound crazy but does ghostfire know something we don't? Or am I thinking of a different Ed?..
This is the kind of game I like, fun as hell to play and readily available for anyone to get for next to nothing. I swear there are about 200 copies of this in my city alone for less than a fiver- it's one of the games I usually point someone to when they are looking for a cheap game for the Wii.
I can't believe it's starting to look like they won't make an f-zero wii. It would have been great, I hope they make it
I hope that the next F-Zero will have similar track editor, like the N64DD F-Zero: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0GNQYeU5I4
That, and Mario Kart Wii-ish online service! It would eat the rest of my life. Its addicting enough in Mario Kart to see that some of your friends have beaten your track record, but in F-Zero it would be ...I don't know, the only word that comes to my mind is HORRIBLE, but in good way.
I can wait, just make it really good!!! I recommend getting Track Mania to ease the pain of waiting, when it arrives.
I found GX too hard, I think it was the controls.
F-Zero X is my favourite in the series, loved the comic book presentation, loved the heavy metal soundtrack. The GBA titles were awesome too.
F-Zero X is slightly more fun to play than GX imo because I think the tracks are designed a little better and don't have as many areas where it's quite hard to read where the track is going and what's going on in the first place. GX had some issues where it was pretty hard to see certain track elements sometimes and this on occasion caused me to unfairly smash into barriers and stuff.
GX's and X's gameplay and track design is similar.
Best racer ever!! Aggression, speed, risk, reward. 10/10 <3
I could never get past the first level.
I really like F-Zero GX for one reason, and one reason only, it's phenomenal sense of speed. The difficulty at first is a bit much, but even after adjusting to the speed, nothing is like the adrenaline rush that is F-Zero GX. One can only hope that Nintendo (or whoever develops it) can deliver a sequel that is at least on par with GX.
QUOTE[The main bulk of the game will be found in Grand Prix mode; here you can challenge three cups (Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald) with another to unlock. Each cup contains five races and you are awarded points depending on which position you finish in;]
Just goes to show how hard this game is that people dont even know about the fact that this game has 26 tracks. Most people including the reviewer believe there to be 20.
Ruby Saphire and Emerald cups are available out of the box. 15 tracks
Diamond is unlockable after completing normal mode for the above 3 cups. 5 more
Then and this is the big one if you complete all four cups above on master diffuculty, then you unlock the AX Cup which are the tracks from the arcade machine (5 tracks). The graphics on these ones are far in advance of the console ones. Another track is available sonic oval which can be used in time attack. The arcade set up had you play all 6 in one go.
An alternative way to unlock them was if you had a memory card and went to the arcade machine you could unlock the AX tracks by coming first in them and taking the saved data back to your gamecube.
The AX cars which were from the arcade are all unlockable on the GC version but get this. You had to finish Story Mode on Very hard.
TALK ABOUT MAKING YOU WORK.
Still a great review notheless..
best. futureracer. ever.
damn hard, damn fast, damn good
makes wipeout (hd) look like a casual game xD
Man... I STILL have my customized car on my gamecube memory card, patiently waiting and wondering if it will get used in a new F-Zero game. I doubt when (if ever) the new F-Zero comes out will it use that old memory... man I miss my custom car
Nice review! Also, congratulations on a record amount of almost immediate comments for a retro review!
Great graphics but I found it too frustrating I might play it some more and practice. I just hated flying off a track or losing races right at the end.
The GC game that was so Good, that I had to go back and Get it a again
I played alot of "Future hover carts games"
but none can't compare to F-Zero GX
Sadly they haven't made a F-Zero game since 2003
I just bought this! And yes, it is awesome.
I've actually beaten this game. And it is absolutely jaw dropping!
a friend of my brother left this in my house and hasnt come back for it ever after, i think its pretty meh, but i dont really like racing games, so...
Hopefully Nintendo will make another F-ZERO for wii or 3ds
The GameCube was a stellar console, I completely adore it and it was games like F-Zero GX which made the console so exciting. Do you remember the buzz when the Triforce arcade system was first announced? My jaw dropped when I heard that Amusement Vision would be collaborating with Nintendo.
I agree with all the shout outs for a 3DS version of this, it is so lovely looking even today, that a 3D version would be yet another big-name 'system seller' to go alongside the N64 ports and ensnare core gamers.
I really enjoyed reading this review, I have loads of time for hearing about this awesome racer! Cheers, @Blakey.
BEST RACER EVER!!!
I picked this up back in 2008 as my first Gamecube game for my Wii for.... $7.99 I think. It was INSANE! Just when I thought I was getting used to the speed, BOOM I learn how to snake! If you thought the game was fast at the regular speed, you'd probably wet yourself after seeing the chaos that is driving on Phantom Road at 2500+ km/h! I've still got two AX characters to get (Pheonix and Digiboy), but other than that I've played the sh*t out of this game. hmmm... I think I'll go play it now.
[gets out of bed to turn on Wii]
7 years later and it's still my favorite game of all time (closely matched with Speedball 2 on the Amiga). I can not believe Nintendo is truly letting this franchise fall to oblivion, namely because this would look amazing on the 3DS.
THis game was amazing I found it immensly difficult, but stuck with it to the end. What did it for me though was getting rid of the other 30 racers when you played multiplayer with another player. I would have played it alot more if it was as fully fleshed out as the normal arcade races.
always wanted to see the extra ax cup
Still the best addition to the series, the graphics, music, everything captured what an F-Zero title is suppose to be.
I played a ton of F-Zero 64 in college, to the point where I would always come in first. I set a new challenge of seeing how many fellow racers I could destroy before crossing the finish line. The best score was coming in first out of one.
Somehow, I have almost no memories of the GameCube sequel. I'll have to revisit it this evening. Thanks for the motivation!
Those are amazing Graphics for Gamecube
God I wish I still had my gamecube! I love F-zero now and really want to get this. We NEED a sequel on the 3DS. Man that would be SO intense.
Still playing it !
Be seeing You...
I am happy i recently purchased this.
Best racer ever. 10/10.
I bought this yesterday, this game is hard took me HOURS to beat level ONE
Nintendo should really look into this series again. They need a racing game to attract those racing people with great online elements. And there is nothing more hardcore than F-Zero. Make the easiest mode something like n00B mode that is funny but not insulting
That game sounds AWESOME. I have not played much F-Zero, but the few I've played of it is super fun and hard. Fast? I like fast games like the modern Sonic games ans Other M is very entertaining, so that means this is entertaining. It was probably predictable how bad the story was gonna be. I didn't expect a good story, but I was expecting good voice actors (Appears I'm wrong). This game looks amazing, and I may look into it when it is available as a downloadable game. It was unexpected to see a Sega company make this, that's probably where the FAST is from (Sonic the Hedgehog ).
This game is not for me but man the execution is flawless. It's so well done, what a spectacle.
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