Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Top Five F-Zero Games

As regular readers here may have noticed, I’m rather keen on Nintendo’s splendid F-Zero series. It therefore makes me mighty sad that they’ve ignored the series for a worrying eight years now (and counting). Fortunately, unlike fans of some other forgotten series’, we F-Zero fans at least have a decent number of games to flange around with. None of them are bad games in my opinion, and I’ve now covered each of them fairly in-depth here at Red Parsley so I’d like to think I’ve got a good overall impression of the series as a whole. So, as a final evaluation of the series, here’s its Top Five entries:

All the individual F-Zero reviews here at Red Parsley can be found here...

5. F-Zero GX (2003)

Anyone who’s perused my F-Zero reviews here will know that GX received the lowest score of any of them, so why’s it here in this list? Well, as I said at the start of the feature, no F-Zero games are actually bad, just varying degrees of good, and although GX disappointed me considerably, it’s still the most technically advanced entry in the series and therefore offers the kind of hyper audio/visual experience that even the N64 game can’t match. Everything is significantly more detailed, especially the previously-plain backgrounds, and the attention-to-detail is remarkable – you can even see the pilots operating the controls through their cockpit windows! Sadly, the gameplay didn’t see a similar level of improvement – quite the opposite in fact. It’s still an exciting racing game but the precise controls and intricately-paced action has largely been replaced by a fluorescent, adrenaline-surge of an experience. It is quite an experience though!

4. F-Zero Climax (2004)

The last couple of F-Zero releases were found exclusively on the Game Boy Advance and Climax is the most recent of them, and that in itself is a real shame - would the DS not have been an ideal place to continue the series? Boo hoo! Anyway, as the final release, Climax surely had to offer at least something that none of the others had, and it did… if you discount the 64DD expansion pack. Indeed, as well as offering the usual mixture of SNES and N64 features, there was also a course editor. Sadly, Climax features flat courses much like the original game so there’s no option of adding loops and floopy bits like the 64DD release, but pretty much anything else is possible, and it makes a great addition to an otherwise-solid entry in the series.

3. F-Zero GP Legend (2003)

Despite my love of the F-Zero series, I’ve no idea how popular it was. I know most games are well regarded though, and at one point the series was ‘big’ enough to see the creation of an anime based on it - GP Legend. It wasn’t long before this anime then in turn had a game based on it too, and the result is in my opinion the best of the handheld releases (though only marginally so – they’re all good). As well as a great set of Grand Prix events, there’s also a ‘Zero Mode’ as well as a ‘good characters vs bad characters’ story mode to get stuck into, and they even managed to squeeze in some new course themes as well. To me, this feels like the natural continuation of the SNES game and is a spiffing racer in its own right.

2. F-Zero (1990)

Part of the reason I broke my self-imposed aversion to all things Nintendo was the highly tantalising looks of this game in magazines of the day. When I saw it running I could hold out no longer and put a SNES on my Christmas List. Aside from Super Mario World which came with it, I received two games – Super R-Type and… F-Zero! It was worth breaking my allegiance to Sega for as well. In addition to its dazzling visuals and fantastic soundtrack it was a superbly designed and original racer which single-handedly brought about the whole futuristic racing game craze (yes, including the stylish-but-inferior Wipeout). Many of the course themes, characters, and features we’ve come to know and love started right here. This in itself is reason enough to champion F-Zero but remarkably it still plays superbly as well. A genuine classic.

1. F-Zero X (1998)

I’ve burbled on and on about this game over the years and it is of course one of only two games reviewed at Red Parsley to earn a prestigious ‘perfect ten’ score, so it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to see it earn another accolade by topping this list! The advance in gaming technology between the release of the first game and this sequel meant expectations were very high. Some fans were disappointed by the lack of background detail but most felt as I did – jeeeezus! The already-fairly nippy action had been upped to face-melting levels and the previously flat courses had now been contorted into twirly, twisty, loopy, 800kph+ roller-coaster rides complete with all manner of crazy features. It wasn’t all aesthetics either – the races now featured thirty distinct competitors and the action was fine-tuned to perfection, making for some of the fastest, most exciting racing imaginable. Arguably the greatest arcade-style racing game ever…

Final words on the series? Bring it back Nintendo, damn you!


  1. Can't comment on the 2D games as I haven't played any of them (not for the lack of wanting to of course!) but GX blew me away with its face-melting speed and awesome futuristic-ness back when I first got it. Aside from the story mode being insanely hard, I can't pick a single fault in it.

    I also enjoy F-Zero X but the shorter circuits don't grab me as much as the longer ones in GX. I have to say that it still looks quite impressive for an N64 game and plays extremely smoothly. I usually dislike most N64 games but this one is an exception.

  2. The biggest difference between 'X' and 'GX' for me is that the latter requires far less skill to succeed at. You can do whatever you want for the first couple of laps, then boost all the way around the last and you'll win! The N64 game has much tighter and more precise controls and better course design, and is a far superior RACING game in my opinion. Both are a blast to play but 'X' is the one that kept me coming back long after I finished it...

  3. Oh, Simon, I hear you. Why, oh why, has Nintendo given up on this series? It can't be because of the sales, as they've continued pumping out other series' games despite decreasing sales. Maybe no one high up in the company cares for it anymore? Whatever the reason, it's too bad.

    BTW, I agree with you 100 percent when it comes to F-Zero X. Very easily one of my favorite N64 games ever, and also one of my favorite racers. What an exhilarating experience! I have distinct memories of playing the hell out of this game while in college, BTW -- and every multi-hour playthrough ended with me having a sore neck from twisting it to and fro along with the frenetic action :)

  4. Haha, I can imagine why - it's not exactly the most relaxing racing game ever, is it? :P Surely Nintendo will return to the series one day? I just hope they don't mess it up!

  5. F-Zero X is firmly routed in my top 10 games ever since it came out. No other game conveys the sheer thrill of racing as it does - and the speed/health balancing act is a genius addition to the original.

  6. Hi DavyK, thanks for dropping by :) Very well said too, couldn't agree more!

  7. F-Zero X may very well be the best racing game ever made.