F-Zero GX (エフゼロ ジーエックス) is a futuristic racing video game for the Nintendo GameCube console. Developed by Sega's Amusement Vision department and supervised and published by Nintendo, it was released in Japan, North America and Europe in 2003. F-Zero AX, the arcade counterpart of GX, uses hardware conceived from a business alliance between Nintendo, Namco and Sega. F-Zero GX runs on an enhanced version of the engine that powered Super Monkey Ball.
F-Zero GX is the fifth released installment in the F-Zero series and the successor to F-Zero X. The game continues the series' difficult, high-speed racing style, retaining the basic gameplay and control system from the Nintendo 64 game. A heavy emphasis is placed on track memorization and reflexes, which aids in completing the game. GX introduces a "story mode" element, where the player assumes the role of F-Zero pilot Captain Falcon through nine chapters while completing various missions.
F-Zero GX and AX was the first video game collaboration between Nintendo and Sega. The game received critical acclaim as one of the best racers of its time and the greatest racer on the GameCube platform. Overall, the game was well received by critics for its visuals, intense action, high sense of speed and track design. Complaints centered on its sharp increase in difficulty that may alienate players.
F-Zero GX is a futuristic racing game where up to thirty characters race on massive circuits inside plasma-powered machines in an intergalactic Grand Prix. Tracks include enclosed tubes, cylinders, tricky jumps, and rollercoaster-esque paths. Some courses are littered with innate obstacles like dirt patches and mines. Before a race, the player is able to adjust a vehicle's balance between maximum acceleration and maximum top speed. Each machine has an energy meter, which serves two purposes. First, it is a measurement of the machine's health and is decreased, for example, when the machine hits another racer or the side of the track. Second, the player is usually given the ability to boost after the first lap. Boosting greatly increases the racer's speed for a few seconds, but also drains their energy. Pit areas and dash plates are located at various points around the track for vehicles to drive over. The former replenishes energy, while the latter gives a speed boost without using up any energy. Courses may also have jump plates, which launch vehicles into the air enabling them to cut corners.
After properly navigating into turns using the control stick and shoulder buttons, the game's physics modeling give vehicles setup with high acceleration a boost of acceleration. Players can easily exploit this on a wide straight stretch of a circuit to generate serpentinous movements. This technique called "snaking" has been known to deliver a massive increase in speed, but it is best used on the easier tracks, when racing alone in Time Trial, and with heavy vehicles with a high grip rating and given high acceleration. According to Nintendo, the snaking technique was an intentional addition to F-Zero GX's gameplay.
F-Zero GX feature numerous gameplay modes and options. In the Grand Prix mode, the player races against twenty-nine opponents through three laps of each track in a cup. There are four cups available (Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, and Diamond) with five tracks in each. Unlocking the AX cup gives the player all six tracks from the arcade game, F-Zero AX. Each cup has four selectable difficulty levels: Novice, Standard, Expert, and Master. Players get a certain amount of points for finishing a track depending on where they placed, and the winner of the circuit is the character who receives the most total points. If the player has a "spare machine"—the equivalent of an extra life—then falls off a track or runs out of energy, the race can be restarted. A predetermined amount of spare machines based on the difficulty level chosen are given to players before starting a cup. Players get an additional spare machine for every five contenders he or she eliminates, and each eliminated contender recovers a portion of the player's energy meter. Competitors can be damaged and eliminated by means of a spin or side attack.
The Vs. Battle is the multiplayer mode where two to four players can compete simultaneously. Time Attack lets the player choose any track and complete it in the shortest time possible. An Internet ranking system was established where players enter a password on the official F-Zero website and get ranked based on their position in the database. Players received a password after completing a Time Attack race, which records their time and machine used. Ghost data, transparent re-enactments of the player's Time Attack performances, can be saved on memory cards to later race against. Up to five ghosts can be raced against simultaneously. The Replay mode allows saved Grand Prix and Time Attack gameplay to be replayed with different camera angles and in-game music. The Pilot Profile mode has each character's biography, theme music, information on their machine, and a short full motion video sequence.
Customize mode is divided between the F-Zero Shop, Garage, and Emblem Editor. The shop is where opponent machines, custom parts for vehicle creation, and miscellaneous items such as story mode chapters and staff ghost data can be purchased with tickets. Tickets are acquired as the player progresses through the Grand Prix, Time Attack, and Story mode. In the Garage section, players can create a machine with three custom parts and print emblems on it. The parts are divided into body, cockpit, and booster categories, and affect the vehicle's overall durability, maximum speed, cornering, and acceleration. The Emblem Editor is a tool-set for decal creation.
F-Zero GX is the first F-Zero game to feature a Story mode. Its story has the player assume the role of F-Zero pilot Captain Falcon in nine chapters of various racing scenarios; such as Falcon's training regiment, a race against a rival through a canyon with falling boulders, attack and eliminate a rival's gang, and escape from a collapsing building through closing blast doors. Each chapter can be completed on an normal, hard, and very hard difficulty setting. Toshihiro Nagoshi, one of the game's co-producers, stated that this mode was included because the development team felt that the F-Zero universe was unique and they wanted to explain some of the characters' motivations and flesh out the game world.
Arcade counterpart 
|Cabinet||Standard (sit-down model), Deluxe (tilting seat), Monster Ride (Cycraft system)|
|Display||Raster, horizontal orientation|
F-Zero AX is a futuristic racing arcade game developed by Amusement Vision and published by Sega for the Triforce arcade system board. It is the second game by Sega to use Triforce, which was conceived from a business alliance between them, Nintendo and Namco. This hardware allows for connectivity between the GameCube and arcade games. F-Zero AX's arcade cabinet is available for purchase in standard, and deluxe. The standard version is a regular sit-down model, while the deluxe version is shaped like Captain Falcon's vehicle and has a tilting seat simulating the craft's cockpit. IGN demoed the Cycraft version dubbed "F-Zero Monster Ride" at the 2003 JAMMA arcade show. The Cycraft machine, co-developed between Sega and Simuline, is a cabin suspended in midair controlled by three servo motors for a motion-based simulation.
The game introduces ten new selectable vehicles with their pilots, and brings back four from F-Zero GX. It includes six new selectable courses and two game modes. Each track must be completed before time runs out. Time extensions are awarded for reaching multiple checkpoints on a course, however the player will receive time penalties for falling off-course or depleting their energy meter. Race mode allows the player to select a track and race against twenty-nine opponents. Connecting multiple cabinets opens up "Versus Play" in the race mode, thus enabling up to three other people to compete simultaneously. In Time Attack, the player chooses any track and complete it in the shortest time possible.
Using a cardboard "F-Zero License Card", the game builds a custom vehicle which can later be upgraded using pilot points earned for winning races. The card also saves the players' user ID, custom machine data, race data and pilot points, and gives a password for the F-Zero AX Internet Rankings. This Internet ranking system is where the player can enter a password on the Internet and be ranked based on their position in the database. When using the F-Zero License Card, the player receives a password after racing in Time Attack which can be entered into the F-Zero Internet Rankings. It saves their time with the machine they used on the database and ranks it against other peoples scores.
GameCube connectivity 
Nintendo GameCube memory cards, on which saved games are kept, can be taken to an arcade with F-Zero AX, the game's arcade counterpart, to download special data. Players are meant to use the AX arcade cabinets to unlock permanent access to the fifth and last cup, the AX Cup; a number of new custom machine parts and ten new vehicles. AX cabinets are quite rare; according to a fan-compiled F-Zero AX Locations database, fewer than twenty are available in the North America region. However, more can be located and its content can instead be unlocked in F-Zero GX by going through the game normally or by the use of a cheating device. In GX, the AX Cup can be unlocked by completing all other cups on the Master difficulty, the vehicles by completing Story Mode missions on Very Hard difficulty and all the custom parts by completing Story Mode on Hard difficulty and the Grand Prix on expert in the Diamond cup. The arcade version is fully playable within GX by the use of a cheat cartridge.
Development and audio 
At the All Nippon Amusement Machine Operators' Union event in mid-February 2002, Nintendo announced that an arcade system board under the name of "Triforce" was being developed in conjunction between Nintendo, Namco, and Sega. The idea for the arcade board originated after discussions between Sega and Namco about the capabilities and cost effectiveness of the GameCube architecture to make arcade games. A month later, an announcement from Sega and Nintendo revealed Sega's subsidiary Amusement Vision and Nintendo will collaborate to release F-Zero video game titles for the Triforce arcade board and the Nintendo GameCube. Nintendo revealed the first footage of F-Zero GX at the Pre-Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) press conference on May 21, 2002. While the game was known to exist several months prior, it had remained behind closed doors until that conference.
In early March 2003, according to the official Nintendo website, F-Zero was delayed by two months. Via a live video conference call from Japan on July 7, 2003, co-producers Shigeru Miyamoto and Toshihiro Nagoshi, and supervisor Takaya Imamura answered questions about the two F-Zero games. There, Miyamoto announced the Japanese version of the game was finished and would soon be available to the public. Nagoshi mentioned that back at E3 2003, he was hoping that they would have that time to include a local area network (LAN) multiplayer mode, however they chose not to support this mode. The development team focused more on the game's single-player aspects, and a LAN multiplayer mode would distract greatly from it. Imamura commented that even though he worked directly on F-Zero throughout its different incarnations, this time he took a "step back and was involved at kind of a producer level at looking over the game." Imamura added "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."
F-Zero GX/AX Original Soundtracks, a two-CD set composed of BGM soundtracks to the video games GX and its arcade counterpart, was released on July 22, 2004 in Japan under the Scitron Digital Content record label. The soundtracks features an array of songs from rock and techno musical styles composed by Hidenori Shoji and Daiki Kasho. The first disc consists of forty-one tracks composed by Kasho and the second has forty composed by Shoji with an additional track rearranged by Supersweep's AYA (Ayako Sasō) of "Big Blue". Kasho composed the character themes with lyrics by Alan Brey and both Shoji and Kasho were supervisors of its audio mastering.
Collaboration and relationship 
F-Zero GX and AX was the first video game collaboration between Nintendo and Sega. After Sega transited from first to third-party development in 2001, the two companies worked together on F-Zero GX and AX and developed a close relationship. Amusement Vision president, Toshihiro Nagoshi, was working on Super Monkey Ball for GameCube which opened up the opportunity for a collaboration between the two companies. Since Sega helped to develop Nintendo's Triforce arcade system, the company wanted to support it with software that would "stand out and draw attention to Nintendo's platform." Nagoshi was suggested to develop a driving game and agreed under the stipulation he could come up with something unique—which was working on the next installment in Nintendo's F-Zero series. During its development, Nagoshi focused on what he called the self-explanatory "Interface" of the game, and "Rhythm"—to give the way the tracks are laid out a rhythmic feel. Miyamoto stated "[Nintendo] have gained a lot of fans among current game developers, including famous producers like Mr. Nagoshi who grew up playing Nintendo games and are big fans of some of our titles." In 2002, Nagoshi claimed that 1991's F-Zero "actually taught me what a game should be" and that it served as an influence for him to create Daytona USA and other racing games. Before development started on F-Zero GX and AX, he mentioned abandoning the project due to personal pressures he faced to make a great impression on Nintendo and personal admiration of an established franchise.
While Amusement Vision was responsible for most of the game's development, Nintendo EAD employees Shigeru Miyamoto and Takaya Imamura took on the role of producer and supervisor, respectively. Sega handled planning and execution and Nintendo was responsible for supervision of their product. Nagoshi was initially concerned about differences in opinion between the two companies, and mentioned "If Nintendo planned to hold our hands through development, I would have suggested they develop the game themselves. That way we could focus on a project which would reflect our studio's abilities. I figured that would cause a war, but I was told most of the responsibility would be left to us." Miyamoto thought the collaboration resulted in a "true evolution of the F-Zero series", enhancing the simulation of racing at high speeds and expanding the "F-Zero world on a grand scale."
|Electronic Gaming Monthly||B+|
Nintendo's announcement that the next installment of their F-Zero franchise will be developed by Sega's Amusement Vision development studio came as a surprise to some critics. When F-Zero GX was released, the game was well-received overall by reviewers; the title has an 89% average on aggregate web sites Metacritic and Game Rankings with some considering it as one of the best racers of its time and the greatest racer on the GameCube platform. It was listed "Best GameCube Racing Game" in the E3 2003 IGN Awards and "Best Racing Game of 2003" by IGN. F-Zero GX was awarded "Best GameCube Driving Game" in GameSpot's "Best and Worst of 2003" feature and was nominated for "Console Racing Game of the Year" in the 7th Annual Interactive Achievements Awards held by the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences.
The game has been credited for its visuals; arcade/home connectivity; plenty of longevity; sharp controls; tough challenge; fleshed-out single-player modes. The game's most common criticism is its difficulty, specifically in the game's story mode. It earned fourth place in IGN's and GameTrailers' toughest games to beat. GameTrailers mentioned F-Zero GX demanded players to master the "rollercoaster-style tracks [which] required hairline precision" to avoid falling off-course. Electronic Gaming Monthly criticized GX's sharp increase in difficulty and GameSpot's Jeff Gerstmann agreed stating it "will surely turn some people away before they've seen the 20 tracks and unlocked all the story mode chapters". Bryn Williams of GameSpy mentioned that "purists may find it too similar to [sic] N64 version" and criticizes the lack of LAN play.
1UP.com stated that the F-Zero series is "finally running on hardware that can do it proper justice". Eurogamer's Kristan Reed pointed out that, graphically, "it's hard to imagine how Amusement Vision could have done a better job". Matt Casamassina of IGN praised the developers' work commenting they have "done a fine job of taking Nintendo's dated franchise and updating it for the new generation" and summed up the general opinion by stating that "For some, GX will be the ultimate racer. For others, it will be flat out too difficult." In Japan, F-Zero GX sold 100,981 units and became qualified for the Player's Choice line in both Europe and North America by selling at least 250,000 copies.
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