F-Zero X (N64) Review | Nintendo’s life

This review was originally published in 2016, and we’re updating and republishing it to mark the release of F-Zero X on Switch, available as part of the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack N64 library.

the original F-zero on the Super Nintendo has truly blown away gamers with its stunning use of Mode 7 visuals, colorful graphics, infectious music, and a challenging but fair difficulty curve. It was truly the first of its kind and has inspired many imitators over the years – and arguably laid the foundations for the resounding success Super Mario Kart. Considering all of this, Nintendo must have known that expectations were high for the N64 sequel and it duly pulled out all the stops to create a game worthy of its predecessor.

Races are frantic affairs in F-Zero X; There’s a real thrill to be had as you zip around the tracks, find your way through traffic, try to hit boost arrows and avoid crashing into barriers. After the first lap, you get the infamous “Power Boost” where some of your precious energy meter can be traded in for a burst of speed. However, it is important not to overdo it, otherwise the slightest bump will turn your ship into a flaming mess of metal. Fortunately, the controls are incredibly tight and precise, so when you hit the wall it’s almost always your fault and not the game’s.

Another way to ruin your race day is to fall completely off the course, resulting in a long fall, a big explosion, and instant abandonment. Since racetracks are placed above towns, you’re probably also spoiling the garden party with poor grass. Luckily, you seem to have a friend within the sport’s governing body because (assuming you have a spare craft left) the race is then restarted from the start, giving you another shot at success (or maybe -be simply to find a new place to burn in flames).

The tracks are well laid out, with a mix of bends and straights of varying width. Sometimes there’s a smooth line to follow, other times you get stuck in the turns. There are loops and varying degrees of elevation changes, while the halfpipe sections feel like a particularly strenuous bobsleigh ride as you slide from side to side trying not to be thrown off the track, and the tunnels get dizzying as you turn upside down trying to wrest some degree of control. Drives through large pipes suspended high in the sky can be terrifying, with every collision or mistake threatening to end your run.

You can rely solely on your driving skills to claim victory or you can be a little more aggressive as using the drift buttons it is possible to perform a spin attack to try and endanger other racers. Doing this can be a mistake as it can send you clumsily into a corner, slow your run, or even lead to your own destruction, but if your championship rival (helpfully indicated by an on-screen marker) is on your side, it can be hard to resist. If you develop a taste for this extreme road rage, the game also features a “Death Race” track where the goal is to eliminate the other 29 competitors as quickly as possible.

In addition to the main game mode, there is a practice mode, time attack, VS battle, and death race. The Death Race is a lot of fun as you have to eliminate other racers by any means possible (Black Bull ship is highly recommended!). These features are what you would expect from a game like this and greatly extend the life of the game. There are several cups of increasing difficulty to compete in and when all of these are beaten you can try the generator of random tracks for kicks.

Initially, only six of the racing machines are available for player selection, but the others unlock as you progress through the game. Each has a different rating for body, boost, and grip, and once selected, a slider meter is available to adjust the performance of the gear, depending on whether you favor acceleration or speed. Once you’re happy with your choice, you compete in one of the cups – each consists of six three-lap races; Score more points than other competitors to become champion.

There are four main cups in the game, but you can also unlock the “X Cup”. The twist here is that the tracks are randomly generated and the unknown layouts can lead to many disasters as you stumble around the unknown dangers. A random selection of course parts can lead to simple, stress-free rides, but other concoctions can be brutally difficult. For example, one course we came across saw thirty cars entering one corner and only thirteen exiting the other side. On another X-track, Nintendo Life’s villainous machine was the only one to manage to finish the race. Amusingly, he then plummeted to his loss in the lap of honor.

With regular tracks, you’ll be busy trying to find the best line, learning a good way to handle controls, knowing where it’s safe to spin attack and how much boost power you can use before you can do it in completely safe. to a charging strip. The cups get harder and there are (eventually) four difficulty levels to tackle, so there’s plenty here to keep you busy. In addition to Grand Prix mode, you can take on the “Time Attack” where shaving tiny fractions leads to hours of “just one more shot”.

Visually, the game has a simple, stripped-down look that can look very basic at times. Where there are no flat colors, there are low resolution textures and the fogging effect does not always hide the distant trail that appears. What it does, however, is move quickly and smoothly, even at first as the thirty different craft jostle for position.


With 30 racing gear and 24 exciting tracks, there’s plenty of fun to be had with F-Zero X. Enjoyable multiplayer, the crazy and unpredictable nature of the X Cup and trying to improve your times in the Time Attack modes and Death Race all add replayability. The visuals can feel a little basic at times, but the smooth frame rate and speed at which you rush through the tracks helps make up for that. If you are somehow a fan of the racing genre, this game cannot be recommended anymore. It’s one of the best non-Mario games Nintendo has ever made and deserves your attention. Dare we say it? It is the best game in F-Zero series.