F-Zero GX (GameCube)
As someone who loved F-Zero X on the Nintendo 64, or really, any of the first three F-Zero titles, I was very much looking forward to F-Zero GX. While I am not opposed to change, GX changed many things for the worse. Whereas in X boosts lasted a long time, it's all quick bursts in GX, making actual driving skills take a backseat. It also reduces the strategical element of boost usage. The controls in mid-air are terrible. Pushing the control stick only a little bit down already turns your vehicle into a rock that falls straight down, resulting in instant death on tracks where a gap needs to be crossed.
Course design is a mixed bag. Some tracks look cool in the initial overview, but then they are either awkward or boring to play. Many tracks are too long with lap times around one minute. Every time I replay the game I play the tracks in order and first wonder why I dislike F-Zero GX so much, but by the time I get to the first two Port Towns I remember the boredom, and then the second Mute City follows and throws the awful mid-air physics in my face. The third cup's only good track is Green Plant, the rest shouldn't be in the game. Chaos Terminal in the fourth cup is so monotonous in both design and music that I've regularly fallen off because I stopped paying attention. One or two stinkers can be forgiven, but in F-Zero GX it's half the tracks I could have lived without.
The story mode wraps different racing challenges into prerendered cutscenes. It's certainly interesting, but it also has more potential for frustration than the rest of the game because the AI is incredibly cheap. The recipe for success is not to go as fast as you can, but rather to keep pace and save your boosts until the very end. Since the AI gets unreasonable speed boosts as soon as you overtake it, simply don't do it early on. The final chapter of story mode is ironically the easiest one because it's nothing more than a time trial. Granted, the spiral turn on that course requires that you drive by instinct, but no AI to deal with is a huge plus point.
F-Zero GX vs. F-Zero X very much reminds me of Sonic vs. Mario during the 16-bit era. The former looks cool and stylish, the latter not so much. But which one is the better game by far? It's the one made by Nintendo.
|Controls||10||The mechanics are nowhere near as polished as in F-Zero X.
Mid-air controls are even below acceptable standards.
|Gameplay||Futuristic racing on tracks that are about half the time either
too long or poorly designed.
|Story||Wrapping the cheesy character designs into a story mode
wasn't really needed, but it isn't bad either.
|Single-player||A great sense of speed and half the tracks are fun to play.
Story mode provides different challenges, but comes with unfair AI.
|Multiplayer||Lackluster controls and course design have an impact on
races that do not allow for more than four racers.
|Graphics||60 frames per second and decent environments.
Brief slowdowns in certain spots on a couple of tracks.
|Sound||Each of the over 40 characters has their own theme.
Many compositions are decidedly mediocre or worse.
|Value||25 grand prix courses, 9 story mode tracks, time attack,
multiplayer, plus the sixth course from F-Zero AX.
|Replay Value||The game is only fun in short bursts. Can't stress enough
that too many courses aren't any good.
|Score||5||F-Zero GX is style over substance. It looks amazing,
but it doesn't play that way.