If you ask gamers to name some classic racing games, I’m sure that F-Zero will be at the top of a lot of people’s lists. F-Zero made its debut back in November 1990 on the Super NES and has graced multiple Nintendo systems for the next fourteen years. While elements from the F-Zero series have been seen in other series such as Super Smash Bros, Mario Kart, and Nintendo Land, there hasn’t been a proper F-Zero release since F-Zero GP Legend on the Game Boy Advance in 2004 (though F-Zero Climax was also released in 2004, but was a Japanese exclusive game). With the recent release of FAST Racing Neo on the Wii U, it’s time to see if it can fill the void that the lack of F-Zero games has left.
When you first start up FAST Racing Neo you’ll notice just how much of a resemblance it bears to the F-Zero series. The game handles pretty much like the classic Nintendo series with a few modifications. On each course you’ll see colored stretches of track that will give you a boost as you pass over it, but only if you’re shifted to that particular color, either blue or orange. Sometimes these colored parts of the track come rather quickly while alternating colors and you have to shift your color pretty much on the fly if you want to get that boost. Sometimes you’ll also have to shift to the correct color to jump over a large gap and hopefully land safely on the other side. Don’t be surprised if you miss the landing on a few of these jumps the first times you hit them.
As you go through each course you’ll also see some colored balls throughout the track. Picking these up will fill up your boost meter. At any time you have something in your boost meter you can hit the boost button to give yourself a short burst of speed for a moment for a small part of your meter, or you can hold down the button to just keep boosting until the meter runs dry. If you’re afraid of running out of boost, don’t worry as these orbs are littered throughout the stages, sometimes right in the middle of the road or in areas where you’re almost guaranteed to pick up a couple.
The game has three main single player modes; Championship, Time Trials, and Hero Mode. One thing I underestimated when first playing this game was the difficulty. Granted I’m no racing game expert, usually quite the opposite, but I went into the first cup in Championship Mode thinking I could breeze right through it. Even on the easiest of the three leagues, a couple of mistakes can really set you back with little to no chance of getting a first place finish. Thankfully the game will let you continue no matter where you place as you’ll earn points regardless of position, but to unlock the next cup you have to get at least third place overall after all four races.
Time Trial mode is basically what it is in other racers; pick a track you’ve unlocked and get the best time, simple as that. Hero Mode on the other hand can be pretty brutal. You have to have the Hypersonic League courses unlocked and it basically acts like F-Zero where your boost gauge becomes your car’s barrier so to speak. Too many wrong moves and your car will go sky high. What makes Hero Mode even harder is that you must get first place in a race to continue to the next race. Not only is the difficulty higher than other similar racers, but now you have to win every race on the hardest difficulty. Needless to say that this mode is for experts only.
FAST Racing Neo also has local and online multiplayer, but it’s kind of lackluster in some areas. Local multiplayer lets up to four players race each other on any course and with any vehicle that’s been unlocked. You can have from one to five laps and can enable CPU racers, but that’s about it. After everyone has chosen their cars you can choose your cup, but that’s it. You basically compete through the entire cup and with CPU racers enabled you still have ten racers in total. The good thing though is that with the game being playable on the Game Pad, the Game Pad shows all racers via split screen, though I can just see four people huddling around the Game Pad if someone else wants to watch TV at the same time. By the way, I do not recommend playing this with just the Wii Remote, it’s kind of horrendous.
As for Online Multiplayer, it’s even more lackluster. When you connect you’ll get paired up with three other racers, then you get to vote on one of a few courses, then race on that course. That’s it. Sadly there is very little in the way of customization in online matches. Granted I wasn’t expecting any sort of battle mode like in Mario Kart, but for an F-Zero like game with online capabilities I was expecting quite a bit more. Having ten players racing all at once, rankings and matchmaking, that would have been awesome.
Bottom line, FAST Racing Neo is a great game, but lacking a bit in the multiplayer department. Fans of the F-Zero series should really enjoy this one, especially with the difficulty in the easiest league being a bit harder than one would initially expect. Graphically speaking the game looks great and the music is pretty good as well, fitting the style of the game. If the multiplayer experience was improved this would be darn near perfect for an F-Zero-style racer. Even still this game is getting a lot of praise and deservedly so. If you’re looking for a fast paced racer for a good price ($14.99), this is one you shouldn’t skip out on.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.