[source: http://hw001.gate01.com/otimusya/f-zero.htm]

[translated by: Ragey]



( SFC 1990 November 21 Nintendo )

「A masterpiece of the racing game genre」

This was released alongside Super Mario World as a launch title for the SFC in 1990, but due to the popularity of that other franchise it fell into the shadows and did not garner much attention or discussion. But things changed, and magazines that reviewed F-ZERO were giving it high acclaim. The gameplay was simple enough to draw players in, but complex enough to keep them hooked. As for my first experience with the game, I discovered F-ZERO at a friend's house. My friend (Mr. M) and I spent all our time together, but we had so much free time and our toys had been used so much they were being destroyed; there were only so much 『Butaminton』 we could play. But now video games were getting popular (Mr. M had just bought an SFC). M and I had gotten tired of playing 『Butaminton』, so we went into the other room to play the SFC. However, the other room was joint-owned by Mr. M and his three brothers, and since they were older, they got first dibs on the TV but were just as excited about the SFC as we were. "My brother's normally quiet, but he's really excited about this!" Mr. M said. I watched him insert a game into the SFC, only noticing that it wasn't Mario. "Why didn't you get Mario instead of this inferior game...? " I asked with a sense of doubt. "The Mario game had sold out, so I bought this," Mr. M muttered. I feigned disinterest at first, but slowly it caught my attention and I was surprised. Lightning-fast speed, stimulating sound - I thought that kind of power was impossible in a video game. In an instant, I was lost in its mesmerising appeal... and that is the story of F-ZERO.

An American-style comic was included in the manual,

I was intrigued by the human character's passion in the last scene.

《Introducing the vehicles》

You can choose from one of four unique vehicles, each with a specific trait,

All-around ・ Acceleration ・ Endurance ・ A mix of all, but mostly speed

Let's get a little more in-depth here...


Its maximum speed and acceleration are around average, so it's the middle-of-the-road machine.

It looks like a vehicle fit for a main character; it's easy to use and just plain stylish.

Anyone playing the game for the first time is bound to choose this one.

The pilot of this machine→ is Captain Falcon.

He's not only an F-ZERO pilot, but also a world-famous bounty hunter.

On that subject, a few years later I saw a poster for the Stallone movie 『Judge Dredd』,

He has a similar helmet to Captain Falcon, so my first thought was
「Is this an F-Zero movie?」

Needless to say, I was bitter when it wasn't what I expected (or entertaining in its own right).


It has powerful acceleration, but the maximum speed is slow and unsatisfactory.

It's unfitting for beginners due to its slippery nature on hard turns; this is an advanced machine.

It is distinctly good at clearing Death Wind on Master Class, though.

It's hard to break any records with the speed of this machine, though; it's not exactly the race car equivalent of Ben Johnson.

It's also a little-known fact that the pilot, Dr. Stewart, is quite the narcissist.


The acceleration isn't as good as the Golden Fox, and the top speed doesn't match that of the Fire Stingray,

A lacklustre vehicle with endurance as its only positive quality. It's also the least popular vehicle among players, it seems.

Also, the alien driver looks like a bit like Piccolo.

Like, a mash-up of some generic alien and Piccolo; he's even called Pico.

Weird, huh?


Visually, it looks like the usual slow-and-steady vehicle,

but it's equipped with the 「RS-5025」 engine, a powerful little specimen.

Its acceleration is mediocre, but it has the highest maximum speed of all four vehicles.

Its speed doesn't drop when turning, either.

There's no skidding with this baby!

Seriously, it's like magic. God came down from the heavens just to ask:

"Why is it so stable?"

The answer lies in the gross weight of the Fire Stingray.

Its total weight is...



That must stabilise the shit out of it...

The Fire Stingray kinda resembles Hyoutan-Tsugi's head.

Oink oink.

《Game modes》

The two game modes are Grand Prix and Practise.

Grand Prix is made up of three classes: KNIGHT, QUEEN and KING.

Your goal is to get third place or higher in all five races, meaning there's fifteen courses in total.

The difficulty ranges from BEGINNER, STANDARD and EXPERT.

Once you've cleared EXPERT difficulty, MASTER class becomes available.

From left: Knight, Queen, King.

The different leagues ramp the difficulty of each course, as seen in the images above.

Although Mute City has the same basic layout each time, new paths or obstacles are added in each incarnation.


For instance, in one league you'll find a dash pad, in another you'll encounter a minefield.

It keeps you on your toes, that's for sure.

《Enemy vehicles》

In Grand Prix mode, alongside the four player vehicles

you'll be racing enemy vehicles as well. Let's check them out.

F-ZERO has enemy grunts, believe it or not, and this yellow guy is one of them.

Its sole purpose in life is to get in your way.

They come in crowds, have considerable speed and are obstructive little blighters.

What's more, it's easy to crash into them without warning.

They love to slow down suddenly when they're in front of you, see.


These enemies are expected to simply participate in the race at first,

but it becomes clear that they just aren't as fast as the main characters,

and it's not like they're going to win a prize with their lousy skills, so they dedicate themselves to making your life a misery.

The only prize they'll get is for being insufferable pests.

These kamikaze motherfuckers

will violently explode if you so much as graze them.

It's hard to be angry at them when I'm more concerned about the driver's safety.

"You don't think I'll get the death penalty for this?"

I wonder where they get the explosives from.

They often appear among groups of regular vehicles, making it difficult to bypass them.

You'll always find these two in your way at this part... no matter what.

《If you get bored during the Grand Prix》

Finishing the Grand Prix can be a long haul, so it's only natural you might grow bored at times...

But why turn it off when you can get up to stupid antics instead?

F-ZERO offers some surprising distractions

that once you see someone doing them, you know they've given up on the race...

The pastimes of a fed-up player

@ Surprise! Running In Reverse!

The racing game's raison d'etre

This isn't limited to F-ZERO,

anyone playing a racing game is bound to get bored and turn around sooner or later.

A Jump Plate Bump'n'Jump

Coming to a halt on top of a jump plate

makes the player hop up and down without reason...

I discovered you can change the rhythm of the hop by pressing Up and Down on the D-Pad...

B Head-On Collision & A Fiery Death

This commonly happens while Bump'n'Jumping...

An incoming vehicle makes a head-on collision → my racer is thrown off the track → and explodes in a ball of fire.

That 3-hit combo closes the curtain on that man's life.

God rest his soul.

... so, who's up for a bit of Practise mode?

《Practise Mode》

Don't laugh it off just because it's a training mode.

F-ZERO's true charm lies in Practise mode.

That ain't hyperbole, it's all about the time attacking, baby.

Practise makes perfect, after all.

What car should you use in time attack?

Well, the Fire Stingray, naturally - it's got the best speed.

Choose the Golden Fox as your rival car, because of its top notch acceleration.

「MUTE CITY T」 is a good, simple course to learn the basics with.

There, now you've got a basic time attack challenge to blaze through.

「MUTE CITY T」: The Mecca of Time Attack

F-ZERO's time attack...

it's something you discover you've been playing for hours without even knowing it.

It's intense... no, it's madly intense.

It is so addictive.

Ages ago, my number one goal was to beat the record of 1:58!

I hardly expected time attack to be such a challenge.

I'd play again and again just to cut my record by one thousandth of a second.

Along the way I kept discovering a variety of techniques.

《A variety of techniques》

436 Rocket Start

This jumpstart method is utilised to compensate for the Fire Stingray's slow acceleration.

Just before the race starts, hold the accelerator to rev up.

It requires the right timing, but doing so will give you an explosive boost, launching you ahead of your opponent.

The rival car will quickly catch up, but what you want is to get hit by it from behind.

The Golden Fox's great acceleration means you'll receive a mighty thump, and a big boost.

Rump Bump Jumpstart

After your first collision, serpentine into the Pit Row then back to the track's centre

and line yourself up for a second bump. You'll receive another 436 Rocket Start.

It requires some spot-on manoeuvring, but accomplishing this will really cut down your lap times.

Thread the gap

After the jump there's an S-shaped turn.

The shortcut here requires you to drive through the narrow gap between the dirt and the guard beam.

This trick is especially handy during the first lap when you haven't got your Super Jet yet.

It's difficult to accomplish, but if you want to aim for a time of 1:58, it's essential.

Incidentally, this trick can also be applied to the Pit Row, often dubbed 「thread the Pit」

But doing this doesn't recover any energy, so it's totally useless. (you can thank Mr. M's brother for this trick)

But the gap-threading technology does not end there,

when there is so much more to master...

Double Gap Thread

This super bold move requires you run through both gaps on the S-turn.

There's no room for mistakes; you have to thread the two of them perfectly or else it's ruined.

You should probably give it a miss if you're prone to high blood pressure, though.

But it doesn't end there...

There are techniques that transcend even those feats!!

Super Gap Thread

Check this out! This outstanding technique is known as the 「Super Gap Thread」

By manoeuvring your vehicle so it is perpendicular to the track,

the friction is lessened on the machine's extremities, making gap-threading an absolute cinch!

478 Rocket Gap Thread

For this you've gotta time your Rocket Start to occur right on the S-turn's gap;

it's a one-in-a-hundred shot, but if you can pull it off you're a true pro.

Don't try this at home!

Suicide Boost Gap Thread

You have to reach the gap with a kamikaze racer on your tail and utilise their explosion.

This trick is only available in Grand Prix, though!

Force Gap Thread

When all four vehicles have entered the gap, you know the stars have aligned and now's your chance for this surprising ultra bold technique. This trick requires three other racers in the gap and for them all to make simultaneous collisions; this requires daily training to accomplish, and to understand your machine more than you thought was humanly possible. Because of the intense training regimen it requires, this is a sacred technique that you must treasure always, and only share to your children while on your deathbed...

... but those are only low-tier tricks; there's stuff you'd never even believe is real!

There are techniques revealed only in the legendary Famicom comic,

the strategy guide tales of Famicom Rocky!!

I was able to miraculously obtain some photographic evidence for this,

and have been granted special permission to publish them here...

Photographic evidence

"Now's my chance!! Let's go, Stingray〜!! Whoa!!"
What strength - he's spinning his machine like a tornado!!

The Stingray Slalom

"No way, he can't be aiming for the city, can he?!"

「That's impossible...」

"I can't believe what I'm seeing - is he really...?!"

Are we witnessing a miracle?

"The legendary Highway Shortcut?!"

Even David is blown away!!

『The Highway Shortcut』

a.k.a. 『Thread The Highway』

Mute City is home to the largest traffic network in the universe,

so it's only natural to take advantage of its highways with this wild trick.

「There's more than one road to this course!」

The developers must've been blind to have missed this,

but we would never have known had one man not discovered it...

Who would've thought such crazy, common sense-shattering tricks even existed!!


... sorry.

Try and beat your record every time you try!

It's important that you get used to each vehicle, to know all their ins and outs.

This is my record in 「MUTE CITY T」 .

I always wanted to beat 1:58, but that was as good as my skills got in those days.

return to →→ game review

(return to Random Hoo Haas)

「This content is the property of Otimusya. I have merely translated them for an English audience. For details, see the disclaimer.」