F-Zero (Wii U Virtual Console)
The SNES launch title F-Zero impressed with its mode 7 graphics that allowed a 2D plain to be freely rotated around all three axis. Of course, nowadays everybody shrugs with their shoulders. But F-Zero was and is more than a mere tech demo for the SNES hardware, it's actually a great game despite quite a few shortcomings. There are only 15 courses and this already includes variations. Mute City is the first race in every cup and the differences are only marginal. Thankfully, the other course duos offer a bit more while the standalone locations are fine anyway. There's no time trial mode, but your best course and lap times are archived. They can be set in either grand prix or practice mode. Said practice mode is limited to seven courses for whatever reason. There is also no multiplayer, something that Super Mario Kart later on showed that it can be done.
Aside from the above, the lack of 3D graphics must also be noted. Racing games tend to benefit a lot from 3D graphics, and futuristic ones even moreso. But the technology wasn't there yet in 1990, so F-Zero serves racing on flat tracks instead. These tracks are filled with plenty of tricky sections and gimmicks, so the gameplay is interesting enough. The CPU drivers aren't shying away from ruthlessly bumping into you and additional challenge is provided by dummy vehicles that appear from lap 2 onward. Basically, you constantly lap moving obstacles. Completion of a lap (each race has five) earns you a boost that you can activate with a button press and they are usually best used to drive through dirty sections for some obvious shortcutting. At times it isn't a bad idea to save up a boost for when you get bumped around and lose lots of speed.
The goal in grand prix mode is to finish in the top 3 to proceed to the next race. There is no points system, but you aren't allowed to finish outside of the top 3 which can already prove difficult enough on expert and master difficulty. This holds especially true for the final course of the King Cup, Fire Field. It's a great way to conclude a game like this, because it gives winning (or even merely surviving) more meaning. I love this game. I can play it again and again. One hour is enough to play through all three cups, an amount of time that feels just right.
|Controls||10||Very responsive. The four machines handle
different enough to make all of them worth playing.
|Gameplay||Futuristic racing on flat courses with tricky corners
and various gimmicks.
|Single-player||Four difficulty settings provide plenty of challenge.
Opponents are aggressive.
|Graphics||Good sense of speed.
Some background elements flicker.
|Sound||Only a small amount of music tracks,
but all compositions are of high quality.
|Value||Only 15 tracks in three cups and a half-baked practice mode.
It shows that this was a SNES launch title.
|Replay Value||Over 25 years after its original release, the game is
still always good for another round.
|Score||8||Short on content, but very fun and replayable.
Now with 60 fps in PAL regions.