F-ZERO / Nintendo / SNES

F-Zero takes place in the year 2560, in hover-cars that ride on a magnetic track, which leaves it free to emphasize simplicity and fun without having to worry about being any kind of a realistic simulation of anything. You pick one of four characters to compete in a straightforward series of races with, all for the entertainment of the wealthy elite of society (according to the instruction manual anyway). Later games in this series would use the magnetic track setting to have you doing loop-de-loops and corkscrews and such, but at this point the hardware was still a little too limited for that sort of thing and the tracks are just a flat plane, sort of a faster and looser Mario Kart. Still, it was one of the first releases for the SNES and the graphics and use of Mode 7 at high speeds were pretty impressive at the time.

There's one set of six tracks, with three selectable difficulties, and an extra fiendish difficulty mode unlocked after placing first on every track in every difficulty setting. You get 4 cars to choose from, which vary in the usual categories of speed and acceleration and handling. There's really no plot to speak of, no bonus modes, no two-player action, it's just straightforward racing. That said, the racing action is pretty decent. The other three selectable cars are you prime opponents in each race, always occupying the top three slots unless you pass them, and the rest of the field is filled out with generic slow-moving cars that do little but get in the way (unless you really suck things up as it is possible to fall behind some of them). This was one of the first racing games to introduce the concept of "power sliding", which Nintendo would go on to refine throughout the Mario Kart series, by holding down either the R or the L shoulder buttons to skid around corners without having to decelerate (and the tracks are filled with sharp turns, on higher difficulty levels it is quite essential to master this ability).

The game engine itself is pretty good, gives you a fun time. There aren't too many tracks however, and there's nothing to unlock or really extend the replay value beyond just sharpening up your skills and improving your times, so for some people tedium could set in pretty quickly on this one.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video