It’s shameful, I know, but up until I got the SNES Classic, I’d never played a game in the F-Zero series. I didn’t even know what type of game that it was, though the title sounded familiar.
For those in the same boat, F-Zero is a racing game set in the future. It’s the series that introduced everyone to Captain Falcon, though he doesn’t have a clear presence in the first game. If you’re a longtime fan or a newcomer like me, I recommend reading this interview with Kazunobu Shimizu, Yasunari Nishida, and Takaya Imamura, three of the original developers of F-Zero. They share some great stories about the history behind the game and the reasoning behind some of the decisions they made. Some highlights include: Captain Falcon was initially designed to be a mascot for the Super Nintendo system, not F-Zero, and that the game was set in the future to work around different programming issues. They didn’t have the technology yet to create effective tires that turned, so they just took out the tires and designed hover cars for the racers.
The original game allowed you to pick between four different cars and race through three different sets of tracks: Knight, Queen, and King. In a manner similar to Mario Kart, once you pick a set, you have to play through all of the tracks. I wish these games would just let me select a racetrack that I really enjoy and let me play it without going through hoops to get there. That’s something that I appreciate more and more about Diddy Kong Racing. (And yes, F-Zero has a Practice Mode that lets you do this, but only for seven tracks.)
Regardless, I fell in love with the original F-Zero. I couldn’t get over just how fast and smooth it feels, even when using a control pad. It doesn’t have all the extra bells and whistles that you get with racing games like Mario Kart or Diddy-Kong. You can’t pick up items that give you colorful shields or the infamous Blue Shell missiles. But that’s not a bad thing at all. It’s just straight, pure racing and I appreciated the change.
When you start a race, your hovercar has a Power gauge that functions similar to health. If you hit the edge of the track, or your fellow racecars, your power diminishes. If it drops down to zero, your hovercar will explode and it’s game over. You can also fail if your hovercar goes completely off-track or if you fail to complete laps after a certain period of time. It didn’t take long for me to get the hang of things, and it helps having Practice Mode available if one ever needs a quick refresher.
If there’s one thing that holds F-Zero back from being a perfect experience, it’s the lack of a multiplayer mode. While it is fun and challenging, playing against an AI can get boring after a while. Having the option to play with friends would have made it even better and increased the replay value.
Still, I’m so glad that I had the chance to discover the original F-Zero on the Super Nintendo Classic. I’ve had a blast playing it, and if the other games in the series are just as good, I’ll have to check them out too. If you’re a fan of F-Zero and have any recommendations, please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments!
I’m rating this game 9 out of 10 hovercars.