F-Zero: A SNES Racing Classic

F-Zero: A SNES Racing Classic

Grand Prix 2560

Alex Legard

Written by for Retrospectives on

F-Zero is an awesome high-speed racer for Super Nintendo so let's see if it feels fun to play nearly 3 decades after its initial release.

F-Zero screenshot 1
The very first track: Mute City!

It's 2560; a time of intergalactic travel and trade. Apparently, humanity has grown bored of all other forms of entertainment so they've resorted to watching dangerous high-speed races. Rich merchants invested in this new enterprise and created tracks 300 feet in the air. The vehicles use super-magnetic technology to hover above the ground and the tracks are littered with dangerous hazards like mines because... why not? Can you, as Captain Falcon, emerge as the winner of this intergalactic grand prix?

You play F-Zero by pressing B to accelerate, Y to brake, the D-pad to steer, and L and R to drift left and right. That's quite simple for a racing game and you can also push A for a huge boost of speed but you only get one boost after completing each lap. You should use your boost on long straight segments or to skip through off-road sections. When you run out of health, you lose a life and each track has a healing pad that you can drive over to restore some health. You also immediately lose if you fall to a certain position during the race.

Considering how many SNES racing games there are, F-Zero isn't a very innovative game but it excels in how fun it is to control. I can easily tell that F-Zero's framerate is higher than the likes of Star Fox which makes a huge difference. The turning speed is slow enough that I can make precise movements but on the other hand, it can be hard to make particularly sharp turns sometimes.

F-Zero screenshot 2
More people remember the Smash Bros. level than the original Big Blue

There are 3 cups, each with 5 courses: Knight League, Queen League, and King League. There are also 4 difficulty levels to choose from and I found the beginner difficulty to be hard enough for a satisfying playthrough. I imagine you must need to be very skilled to take on the other 3. The courses are generally well-designed; well, except for Death Wind. I never want to touch that track ever again!

The 15 courses have a few different themes. For example, Mute City is a city, Big Blue is surrounded with water, and Fire Field is bordered by fire. Most of the cups have simple gimmicks like ramps, boost pads, and land mines and some courses have shortcuts that are either long or merely require a jump out of bounds to skip a corner. It definitely makes you want to plan the fastest route as you play.

F-Zero is one of the easier SNES games that I've played. I often play insanely difficult games so it feels nice to enjoy something simple for a change and it didn't take me too long either. You can also play all 3 cups from the beginning without having to unlock them. Plus, for 1990, it was certainly one of the best-looking racing games and it has some awesome music as well like Big Blue and Death Wind.

F-Zero screenshot 3
The sweet taste of victory!

F-Zero isn't a complicated or innovative game but it can still be great fun if you're a fan of racing games, especially because the high-speed action and well-designed tracks make the races a blast to play.

Gameplay video for F-Zero thumbnail
Gameplay video for F-Zero 9:37
Super NES Classic Edition Trivia

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