F-Zero X (Wii U Virtual Console)
Last fall I reviewed this game and had to criticize a terrible conversion to the Wii U analog stick that missed some of the necessary nuances to properly control F-Zero X. Around Christmas time a software update arrived on my console, so I checked out what it was all about. Already on the settings screen for acceleration and max speed I noticed that the analog stick responded differently than before, so I was hopeful for a notable improvement during the race as well.
As it turned out, it's now possible to push vehicles with high grip ratings (A or B) close to their absolute limits, although a time trial test with the Twin Noritta (C grip) on Mute City 1 proved that the controls still aren't perfect. I was able to comfortably beat my previous best time by several seconds on the first try, but squeezing out the final couple of seconds missing on my N64 time might only be possible with a lot of dedication, if it's possible at all. The takeaway here is that F-Zero X is very much playable if you limit yourself to machines with good grip, but things start to get tough once you choose medium grip or worse.
You can see a lot of blue in the table below because F-Zero X is one of the best racing games ever made. This would normally be a 10, but it isn't with the playability that is offered on Wii U. The software update improved the controls to a point where I can safely recommend F-Zero X, even if this Virtual Console release still doesn't live up to the high standard set in 1998. An added bonus for gamers in the PAL region is that this version runs at 60 fps, unlike the Nintendo 64 original that was limited to 50 fps due to different TV standards.
|Controls||10||Notably inferior to the quality on the Nintendo 64,
but no issues with vehicles that have good grip.
|Gameplay||Futuristic racing with no weapons. The energy bar
doubles as your boost bar, so you have to weigh risks.
|Single-player||Grand Prix races against 29 rivals on short tracks
generate excitement due to the energy/boost tradeoff.
|Multiplayer||Splitscreen for up to four players, CPU drivers can fill open
spots. A simple point system keeps track of the results.
|Graphics||Most 3D games of the fifth generation haven't aged well,
but the priority on 60 fps really paid off in hindsight.
|Sound||A rather small selection of music tracks boasts a few
classics, but not everything is on the same level.
|Value||24 courses plus a random track generator, staff ghosts
in time trial, death race and local multiplayer.
|Replay Value||Varied and good course design and the timeless boost
system are always good for another session.
|Score||8||The hardware-related control issues put a damper on an
otherwise excellent racing game.