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Game Over Online ~ F-Zero: Maximum Velocity

GameOver Game Reviews - F-Zero: Maximum Velocity (c) Nintendo, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher F-Zero: Maximum Velocity (c) Nintendo
System Requirements Game Boy Advance
Overall Rating 80%
Date Published Wednesday, February 6th, 2002 at 08:26 PM

Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

Re-creations were in vogue during the late 1990s. One only has to look at the re-creation of Hitchcock's Psycho to get an idea of that motif. Likewise, resurrecting dead franchises has been a major trend amongst developers for the GBA. Much of this is due to the architecture's similarities to the SNES console system. So similar are they, that titles like Breath of Fire make a nearly unchanged transition on to the handheld format. Such is the case with this title, F-Zero: Maximum Velocity. Unlike other GBA racers, F-Zero manages to convey a pseudo 3D feel using one of the trademarks of the SNES era: Mode 7. Here, the GBA generates a true adrenaline rush with some impressive implementations of Mode 7. One of the nice things about using sprites on the GBA is the ability to extend the draw-distance of the graphics. If we were to put a true 3D polygonal engine, the effects might have been disastrous because of the limited hardware. We need only to remember the first versions of Turok to know how 'foggy' a gaming environ can be.

F-Zero really started off the futuristic racer trend. Titles like Wipeout or POD are in some ways spiritually inspired by it. The tracks and cars are all futuristic looking. As usual, you have to unlock many tracks and increasingly faster cars. I always think this type of gameplay is suspiciously illogical. For one thing, beginners are the ones who need faster and more able vehicles. Players who have already developed expertise don't need them. F-Zero's main racing motif is for you to beat a brutal process of elimination that is not dissimilar to what cutthroat auto dealers do to their sales staff. Basically, whoever comes in last place, or below a time or position in the race, will be cut. This, supposedly, spurs you to become even more competitive so you don't get the axe prematurely. All the races go on for five laps and take you through varied landscapes for quite some time. Expect the race lengths to be about the same as the longer races in LucasArts' POD Racer than a quick jaunt around the circuit.

With that said, F-Zero's prowess is definitely not in the depth of gameplay but rather in its technical audio-visuals. Along with these achievements, F-Zero also allows you to partner up with up to four other GBAs in multiplayer races. Those without the full version of the game can only play one track and cannot choose cars, so you're pretty much at a disadvantage with your wealthier brethrens. The multiplayer racing is fun and though F-Zero's artificial racers are competitive, in some cases they can be too competitive. At least with human beings, reflexes and eye-hand coordination may fail intermittently. The artificial intelligence at higher levels in this game is brutally efficient. Its main emphasis is not so much on the race but on knocking you out of the race altogether; something you will learn quite quickly once you get into the game.

Ultimately, I thought F-Zero was a delightful racer in the vein of Wipeout, POD and many others. Of course, F-Zero was probably the title that jumpstarted the genre of futuristic arcade racers. I'm being unfair in comparing it with those and I must admit, I never played the original F-Zero title either. However original its predecessor was, I still think there is a lot of room for improvement in both level design and depth of gameplay. An ability to share ghost cars with your fellow GBA players or even design your own tracks would have been great additions to the game notwithstanding the fact that I'm not sure how manageable it is with the GBA's limited storage system. In spite of this, if you are one who knows what the term 'powerslide' means in racers, you'll undoubtedly want to pick this one up. And for those who are nostalgic F-Zero fans, this will rekindle some Mode 7 gaming goodness.


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