Published on March 9th, 2013 | by octaneblue1
Review: F-Zero – Wii U Virtual Console
System(s): SNES, Wii Virtual Console, Wii U Virtual Console
Release Date(s): August 23, 1991 (SNES), November 19, 2006 (Wii VC), February 20, 2013 (Wii U VC)
Racing its way onto the new Wii U Virtual Console service is F-Zero, originally released on the SNES as a launch title for that system. F-Zero is, as of this review, part of Nintendo’s Wii U Virtual Console Trial Campaign, and was released for the amazing price of 30 cents. Is it worth spending that much to get behind the drivers seat of this retro classic? Read the review and find out!
F-Zero on the SNES marked the beginning of the prolific F-Zero series, which spawned iterations on the N64, GameCube, and GBA. There was even an arcade version, F-Zero AX. Captain Falcon, the main protagonist of the series, has gone on to appear as a selectable fighter in the Super Smash Bros. series as well.
The graphics on F-Zero were quite impressive for its time. The game makes use of Mode 7, a graphics mode on the SNES that allowed games to render a 3D-like effect. Because of the capability of the SNES to use Mode 7, it was often touted as a key feature of the console. F-Zero, a launch title for the SNES, definitely showed gamers what the console was capable of. In addition to the nice graphics, the game features a phenomenal soundtrack co-composed by Yumiko Kanki and Naoto Ishida. The background music provides an extremely fitting fast-paced soundtrack to the races. Many of these songs would go on to appear in future F-Zero titles and spin-offs like the Super Smash Bros. games.
F-Zero contains four selectable racers: Captain Falcon, Pico, Samurai Goroh, and Dr. Stewart; each of the F-Zero machines of these racers features different stats and handle differently. The game’s two modes are Grand Prix, which features rival racers, and Practice, where you can race through tracks solo to practice and aim for fast clear times. Unfortunately, F-Zero does not feature any multiplayer – this is strictly a single player title. Upon choosing one of the characters in the Grand Prix mode, you can choose between 3 “Leagues”, with each containing 5 tracks. And then from there, you’ll choose a “Class”, which is the difficulty mode.
Races consist of 5 laps. Each course consists of a combination of twists and turns, obstacles, jumps, etc. — or in some cases all of the above. Rival racers and other vehicles are scattered around the tracks, providing yet another obstacle to get in your way from the top spot. The rival racers in particular can get grating; they play very aggressively and enjoy running into your machine to mess you up. There’s also little room for errors, especially in the higher leagues and classes. If, for instance, you accidentally bump into a wall into a few times, miss a boost pad, etc., you can almost guarantee that your next closest rival will either catch up or simply zoom past you.
During races, you’ll have a “Power” meter that is basically the health of your machine. There’s a strip on the track that can replenish your power, but otherwise, depleting the meter causes your machine to blow up. Falling off the track obviously does this as well. Needless to say, there’s a lot to watch out for during races. Sometimes, especially in the later courses, the game seems more about survival than competition. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but if that’s something that you’re not really looking for, then F-Zero may not fit your bill.
Since this is a Wii U Virtual Console release, F-Zero has its own dedicated Miiverse Community, as well as support for Off TV Play. Both of these are always welcome additions to any Wii U title. The graphics are also slightly upscaled, and they actually look pretty nice even on big screens.
If you’re looking for a good retro racer, you can’t really go wrong with F-Zero. It’s an exciting racing game, albeit one with some rather high difficulty. Because of that, the game may not be for everyone. But, nevertheless, if the difficulty sounds like a challenge you’d like to take on, definitely check out F-Zero.
Unlike the subject of the previous Wii U Virtual Console review, Balloon Fight, F-Zero is still recommended at its regular price of $4.99.
+ Memorable soundtrack
+ Easy controls
+ Off TV Play, Miiverse support
– Very little room for error in races
– Light on content
– Difficulty may be off-putting for some
Final score: 3.75 out of 5