Logo as used with the first F-Zero.
|Developers||Nintendo EAD, Amusement Vision, Nd Cube, Suzak Inc.|
|Platforms||Arcade, Game Boy Advance, iQue, Nintendo 64, Nintendo 64DD, Nintendo GameCube, Satellaview, Super Nintendo Entertainment System|
|Platform of origin||Super Nintendo Entertainment System|
November 21, 1990
|Latest release||F-Zero Climax
October 21, 2004
F-Zero (エフゼロ Efu Zero?) is a series of futuristic racing video games originally created by Nintendo EAD with multiple games developed by outside companies. The first game was released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1990 and prompted Nintendo to create multiple sequels on succeeding gaming consoles.
The series has been known for its high-speed racing, unique characters and settings, difficult gameplay, original music, and pushing the limits of its technology to be one of the fastest racing games ever. The first game inspired the creation of games such as Daytona USA and the Wipeout series.
The series has been largely dormant since 2004, with the last title being F-Zero Climax. It has however made several appearances in other franchises.
The first game in the series and a launch game for the SNES, F-Zero was also the first Super Nintendo game to use a technique that Nintendo called "Mode 7 Scrolling". When Mode 7 was combined with scaling and positioning of the layer on a scanline-by-scanline basis it could simulate 3D environments. Such techniques in games were considered to be revolutionary in a time when most console games were restricted to static/flat backgrounds and 2-dimensional (2D) objects. The result was developer Nintendo EAD creating a game that IGN reviewer Craig Harris called the fastest and smoothest pseudo-3D console racer of its time.
|1990 –||– F-Zero|
|1996 –||– BS F-Zero Grand Prix|
|1997 –||– BS F-Zero Grand Prix 2|
|1998 –||– F-Zero X|
|2000 –||– F-Zero X Expansion Kit|
|2001 –||– Maximum Velocity|
|2003 –||– F-Zero GX
– F-Zero AX
– GP Legend
|2004 –||– Climax|
Years later, BS F-Zero Grand Prix was released for the Super Famicom's satellite-based expansion, Satellaview. It was released in separate parts, and featured an update of the first game. It was followed up by BS F-Zero Grand Prix 2, an expansion which featured brand new courses.
Zero Racers (G-Zero), was a canceled game for the Virtual Boy. The game was previewed by Nintendo Power. Gameplay differs in one important point from its predecessor and all F-Zero games released afterwards. In Zero Racers, unlike other F-Zero games, the vehicles race in all three spatial dimensions in tunnels.
After a seven-year hiatus outside Japan, the series made the transition to 3D with the third installment, F-Zero X on the Nintendo 64. The game introduces 26 new vehicles, while also including the four from the original F-Zero game. In addition to a Grand Prix mode, the game introduces a "death race" mode and a random track generator called the "X Cup". In the death race, the player's objective is to annihilate the 29 other racers as speedily as possible, while the X-Cup generates a different set of tracks each time played. The hardware limitations of the N64 resulted in the game running at 60 frames per second with thirty machines on screen at the same time, but with little processor power left for graphical detail and music.
A Nintendo 64DD expansion, F-Zero X Expansion Kit, was released in Japan as the last add-on disk for the system. The Expansion Kit added a course editor, a vehicle editor, two new cups, three new machines and new music. The course editor was the main attraction of this expansion, and was praised for its depth, as it was virtually the same program the game's designers used to make the courses.
F-Zero: Maximum Velocity was the series' fourth released installment, but the first incarnation of the franchise for Nintendo's Game Boy handheld. It was the first title developed by first party subsidiary Nd Cube. This Game Boy Advance (GBA) launch title returned to the SNES F-Zero's gameplay with a Mode 7-styled game engine.
F-Zero GX was released for the Nintendo GameCube and developed by Sega's Amusement Vision team, and is the first F-Zero game to feature a story mode. The game was initially titled "F-Zero GC". The arcade counterpart of GX was called F-Zero AX, which was released alongside of its Nintendo GameCube counterpart in mid-2003. The game had three types of arcade cabinets; standard, the "Monster Ride" and the deluxe which resembled an F-Zero vehicle. F-Zero AX had six original courses and ten original characters. However, by certain difficult means, the six courses and ten characters could be unlocked in F-Zero GX.
F-Zero: GP Legend is the second handheld game released for the Game Boy Advance and the second installment featuring a story mode; however, this one is based on the anime series of the same name, introducing a new character named Rick Wheeler. Unlike the games before it, GP Legend takes place in a different period of time, the 22nd century, rather than the 26th.
F-Zero Climax was released exclusively in Japan for the Game Boy Advance on October 21, 2004. Like its handheld predecessor, F-Zero GP Legend, Climax was published by Nintendo and developed by both them and Suzak. This is the first F-Zero game to have a built-in track editor without the need for an expansion or add-on. Custom tracks can be saved to one of thirty slots for future use and they can be exchanged with other players via link cable. If memory becomes full or link cable connection cannot be done, the game can generate a password for the track; when it is input on any Climax cartridge, the password will generate the track.
Each of the games in F-Zero series requires the player to beat opponents to the finish line while avoiding obstacles such as land mines and slip zones. The games usually require a mixture of memorization of the tracks and quick reflexes for its fast-paced racing gameplay. In F-Zero and F-Zero: Maximum Velocity, a speed boost is given to the player for each lap completed. Starting with F-Zero X, players may execute speed boosts if they have finished at least one lap, but now in exchange for losing energy when boosting. It is therefore necessary to use recharge strips around courses to replenish this energy, or risk exploding when it drops to zero. Strategically situated dash plates allow boosts without energy loss. In combination with course obstacles, drivers are allowed to attack each other with their vehicle bodies.
The games' fantasy worlds includes different climates and terrains, and are home to many different races and tribes of aliens. There are geographical differences from game to game, but distinctive locations recur, such as Big Blue, Mute City and Port Town. Circuits are usually set on the outskirts of cities or above them situated high in planet atmospheres at an elevation as much as 300 feet (91 m) above ground. They contain anti-gravitational guide beams on both sides of the course that keep them in place. Rich merchants from cities in the clouds or asteroids with almost uninhabitable environments invested their wealth in the construction of racing circuits. Some cities have multiple circuits—circuits not used for the Grand Prix are open to pilots for practice. The dynamic structure of the courses are colossal in scale, as most circuits feature a single lap that spans over six miles (10 km).
The vehicles used to race in these video games are known as "F-Zero machines", which are designed to hover, rather than travel on wheels. An anti-gravity unit, known as the "G-Diffuser System", allows them to drive at high speeds, while retaining a hold of the track, located from a few inches to a foot below it. However, the slip zones, also referred to as the "magnetic field block coat" in the first F-Zero game, blocks the vehicle from retaining a hold on the track. The racing machines developed for these tracks used the latest in this magnetic technology, and are able to perform tune-ups. Out of the over forty-four known machines, only five do not weigh over a short ton. F-Zero machines have a maximum speed exceeding that of sound. This is possible due to the ultra-compact micro-plasma engines used by the machines.
Each machine has four basic performance attributes: body, boost, grip and weight. Body, boost, and grip are rated on a scale from A to E (A being the best, E, the worst). The higher a machine's Body rating, the more durable it is and the less damage it will sustain in a collision. Machines with a good Body rating are, therefore, able to withstand more attacks before exploding. The Boost rating takes into account the duration of a vehicle's boost, and how great a speed increase it provides. A machine with a high rating can travel at higher than normal speeds for a longer period of time. Grip determines how well a machine negotiates turns. A higher Grip rating means that the player's vehicle will execute steadier turns, while a low one will cause the vehicle to drift more, especially when turning tightly. Weight affects a vehicle's acceleration, grip, cornering ability, maximum speed, and the amount of damage it sustains in a collision. A lighter vehicle is superior in the first three categories, while a heavier vehicle has the advantage in the latter two.
While there were originally four F-Zero pilots in the first game, this has grown with each title to over forty characters in the later games of the series. Each character has their own unique vehicle, story and reason for entering the F-Zero Grand Prix. The winner of the Grand Prix receives a huge sum of prize money, but many pilots have been lost pursuing it.
The F-Zero games derives from the 20th and 21st century Formula One races and the fictitious F-Max Grand Prix races from the 24th century. The games portrays races in the future as having come under the influence of wealthy ex-space merchants. They thought that a fast and violent race would be an effective way to get people to gamble, so the ex-merchants established the F-Zero Execution Project. The F-Zero Grand Prix dates to the 26th century, and is still sponsored by the wealthy elite who originally organized the Execution Project for those events. These races feature the most technologically advanced racing machines, competing in numerous circuits of fast-paced action. It is known for its wild fans, and usually eccentric competitors. Winners of the Grand Prix receive large sums of money, as well as a great deal of prestige throughout the universe.
The F-Zero games are primarily set on a futuristic Earth in the 26th century, although some games take place much earlier and some circuits have been set on different planets. F-Zero X defined the F-Max Grand Prix as the precursor to the F-Zero races which took place during the 24th century. According to the American version of F-Zero GX, the greatest driver in the F-Max Grand Prix was Sterling LaVaughn; a statement that would lead to inconsistencies in the sequence of events of F-Zero's storyline.
F-Zero begins in the year 2560 where human race's countless encounters with alien life forms throughout the universe greatly expanded Earth's social framework resulting in trade, technology transfer, and cultural interchange are carried out on an interplanetary basis. An association of wealthy space merchants created the "F-Zero Grand Prix", in an attempt to add some excitement to their opulent lifestyles. When the first race was held, people were angered at the brutality of the competition, due to the various obstacles and traps along the raceway. As time passed, however, they became accustomed to these dangers, and even began to demand more excitement and danger in the races. Winning the F-Zero championship soon became the highest claim to fame in the universe. This period of time is called the "old-school" F-Zero days where the rules seemed non-existent in F-Zero X.
F-Zero X's storyline starts after the seven-year suspension of Grand Prix races due to the Horrific Grand Finale. The game explains the "Horrific Grand Finale" was a violent and fiery accident that burnt fourteen drivers to death, including Sterling LaVaughn during the old days of F-Zero. A racer named Super Arrow escaped unscathed as the only survivor. No racing was allowed by the Federation after the crash; despite the F-Zero racing prohibition, the sport went underground where many racers went to hone their skills in secret. The crash ushered in the establishment of the "F-Zero Racing Academy", after a speech, by Super Arrow to the Federation Congress, which helped to lift the ban. The fictional competition was brought back with the rules and regulations revised.
F-Zero GX does not mention the Grand Finale event, but instead the game states Sterling LaVaughn was racing during the F-Max era and the F-Zero Grand Prix was suspended four years ago. This game states the character Mighty Gazelle was injured in the huge accident four years ago. However, the Nintendo 64 game mentions that Mighty Gazelle's accident and the accident that suspended the Grand Prix were two separate events.
F-Zero: Maximum Velocity takes place twenty-five years after the SNES title in the year 2585. Players race against the descendants of the original F-Zero racers. Maximum Velocity is considered a reboot continuity to the rest of the home console titles since the game has made no indication of the safety revisions carried forth after the huge accident, in fact it states just like the original F-Zero game, the extreme danger involved when participating in those races.
F-Zero: GP Legend is set in a different continuity and begins in the year 2201. It was continued with F-Zero Climax. These games feature some different incarnations of Captain Falcon, Zoda, and other characters.
F-Zero was one of the launch titles for the SNES that Nintendo Entertainment Analysis and Development had approximately fifteen months to develop completely. In Japan, only it and Super Mario World were initially available for launch. In North America and Europe, Super Mario World shipped with the console, and other initial titles included F-Zero, Pilotwings (which also demonstrated the console's "Mode 7" pseudo-3D rendering capability), SimCity, and Gradius III. F-Zero later had a sequel for the SNES that was canceled, but was released unfinished through the Satellaview peripheral under the name "BS F-Zero Grand Prix".
Takaya Imamura, who worked directly on F-Zero throughout its different incarnations, said in 2003 "hav[ing] worked on the F-Zero series, and seeing the results of the collaboration with Sega, I found myself at something of a loss as to how we can take the franchise further past F-Zero GX and AX." Edge magazine asked Shigeru Miyamoto in April 2012 regarding a future F-Zero installment. Miyamoto stated "I think at the time [F-Zero] was a really big surprise, a new thing, a product that made sense" and the Wii and DS lacks to create a similar impact.
In other media
F-Zero has appeared in other franchises, most notably in Nintendo's series of fighting games, Super Smash Bros., where players can compete as Captain Falcon in matches against other Nintendo characters. His moveset is based on the original manual's comic. Super Smash Bros. also features a few stages directly derived from the games, such as "Mute City" or "Big Blue", and includes many other F-Zero characters as virtual trophies and stickers. A mini-game based on the F-Zero series titled Captain Falcon's Twister Race is in the Wii U ensemble game Nintendo Land. Several playable characters can dress as Nintendo characters in the Wii U version of Tekken Tag Tournament 2, where Bryan Fury can take on Captain Falcon's appearance.
|F-Zero: GP Legend|
(Efu Zero Farukon Densetsu)
|Genre||Adventure, Science Fiction, sports|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Ayumi Tomobuki|
|Written by||Akiyoshi Sakai|
|Music by||Takayuki Negishi|
|Original run||October 7, 2003 – September 28, 2004|
F-Zero: GP Legend (F-ZERO ファルコン伝説 Efu Zero Farukon Densetsu, literally "F-Zero: Legend of Falcon /-Falcon Legend"?) is a 51 episode anime series by Ashi Productions based on the video game series. It debuted in Japan on October 7, 2003, on TV Tokyo; the final episode aired on September 28, 2004. 4Kids Entertainment licensed the anime series for North American broadcast. According to Kombo, in North America, the show was modified by 4Kids. Thirteen episodes of GP Legend aired on the FoxBox channel in the United States before its cancellation. It is now being re-aired on Tokyo Metropolitan Television (Tokyo MX) from 7:30 to 8:00 every Thursday in Japan. It is a reboot of the franchise taking place in the year 2201. Lifeforms from all across the galaxy come to compete in the new racing tournament called "F-Zero".
Police detective Rick Wheeler (Ryu Suzaku in Japan) is one of the protagonists. He suffers a near-fatal car accident while in pursuit of an escaped criminal named Zoda. Rick nearly dies, but is revived in the year 2201 by Mobile Task Force members Jody Summer and Dr. Stewart. The Task Force tries to keep prize money out of the hands of unsavory people like the Dark Million Organization run by Black Shadow and Deathborn. That organization is responsible for cryogenically evolving Rick's old enemy Zoda. Now Rick joins the Task Force to help take down Zoda and the rest of Dark Million. While pursuing his objectives, Rick will unexpectedly meet up with the legendary racer and bounty hunter named Captain Falcon.
Captain Falcon is one of the protagonists, and is shrouded in mystery. When not racing, he works at a bar that he owns under the name Burt Lemming. Also, he's actually Andy Summer, Jody's brother, who apparently died in the accident that revolved around Zoda. He fights constantly against Black Shadow and the Dark Million Organization, and often lends a hand to the Task Force. In the middle of the series, "The Legend of Falcon" is told to Rick Wheeler by Dr. Stewart. According to the legend, Captain Falcon and Black Shadow are incarnations of light and dark, and in the manner of Yin and Yang, they can't defeat each other on their own. Also, in the beginning of the Universe, after the Big Bang, six powerful objects called "Reactor Mights" were created, and the one who controls them all gains unimaginable power. It is also revealed that Rick Wheeler is "The Savior" of the Universe and is destined to finally tip the scales in Falcon's favor. During the final battle, Falcon and Rick team up to destroy Black Shadow's Dark Reactor with their collected Reactor Mights, and Captain Falcon finishes off Black Shadow with his signature move, the Falcon Punch. Captain Falcon tells Rick that the name of "Captain Falcon" is a title given only to the best, that "only the one who can exceed Falcon can become Falcon". After Black Shadow's defeat and Captain Falcon's sacrifice shortly after, Rick becomes the new Captain Falcon.
The anime uses two pieces of theme music in the series; one opening theme and one ending theme. The opening theme is called "The Meaning of Truth" and is sung by Hiro-x. The ending theme is called "Resolution" and is sung by Ai Maeda. The video animation for each changes after the first thirty-nine episodes. The final episode did not air with an opening.
|F-Zero||83% (2 reviews)||—|
|F-Zero X||86.93% (15 reviews)||85 (13 reviews)|
|F-Zero: Maximum Velocity||84.04% (36 reviews)||86 (19 reviews)|
|F-Zero GX||89.26% (73 reviews)||89 (50 reviews)|
|F-Zero GP Legend||76.92% (25 reviews)||77 (31 reviews)|
IGN's Lucas Thomas called the design and style of Mach Rider as an influence to the F-Zero series noting its sense of speed where players have "only a split second to react before you crash into a rock or enemy road warrior". Matt Casamassina of IGN said in 2003 that the F-Zero franchise has remained regarded one of the best video game series in the racing genre.
Nintendo World Report gave Climax a 7.5 out of 10. Siliconera praised the game fast gameplay and track editor features, but criticized it for feeling more like an expansion pack than a sequel.
Shigeru Miyamoto commented in 2007 that past F-Zero and Star Fox collaborations with outside development houses turned out to be a disappointment for Nintendo. He stated "consumers got very excited about the idea of those games, but the games themselves did not deliver".
F-Zero was one of the first in its kind as a futuristic arcade racing game. It inspired many franchises that came after it, including Daytona USA and the WipeOut series.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to F-Zero.|
- History of F-Zero at IGN
- F-Zero games at DMOZ