Friday, August 9, 2019

Eric Vs. 365 - Day 40 - F-Zero X

Eric Vs. 365 hits the big 4-0 with F-Zero X for N64. Created at a time when developers didn't usually want to sacrifice pretty graphics for framerate, and most gamers didn't know what framerate was anyway (and certainly no one got all stupid and "console warz-y" about it), F-Zero X was the first 60 FPS racing game thanks to a simple visual style that was harshly criticized at the time for being too plain and boring. Looking back, I think they made the right choice because F-Zero X still rocks and holds up a lot better than most other racing games from the PS1 / N64 era. Read on for more.

Confession: I don't really like the SNES original mode 7 F-Zero. At all. I just never liked it. It always felt stiff and awkward and it never clicked. Thankfully, F-Zero X is basically a totally different game and it sunk its claws into me right away. F-Zero X is fast and smooth and exciting and you always feel like you're totally in control. I love it.

F-Zero X is more than just the first 60 FPS racing game, too. The fact that it had 30 racers onscreen at once was amazing and made the events feel a lot more like real world racing compared to other games that usually topped out at 6-8 vehicles at a time. The soundtrack also deserves praise for being fast paced rock that could actually keep up with the action. 

Put it all together - great controls, 60FPS, 30 cars onscreen, great soundtrack - and F-Zero X was, and still is, amazing. The simple low poly, untextured visuals have aged like a fine wine, too, and while they weren't appreciated much back in '98 they look a heck of a lot better in 2019 than most other PS1 and N64 racers do.

F-Zero X also did something else pretty impressive at the time - procedural generated levels. Once you beat all of the other tracks in the game a new cup opens up called the X Cup. In the X Cup all of the races are procedural generated so you'll always have new tracks to keep playing pretty much forever. It was very hard to actually unlock it, though, so it seems like a feature most folks didn't really know about. 

And don't even get me started on how fun F-Zero X was in multiplayer. So good, ya'll.