Written: 11.21.07 Acquired: 1.20.06 Status: Cart only Price: $3
Dev: Nintendo EAD
It was seventeen years ago today, on the morning of November 21, 1990, in which the Super Famicom made its debut in Japan. Two titles were available: Super Mario World was one. The other, F-ZERO, was a futuristic high speed racing game. It blew away gamers with its Mode-7 graphics; showcasing the system's capability to show an object and turn it around, or even flip it over, as though it existed in the real world. Tonight, we toast and remember the times of F-ZERO Happy 17 big boy!
And while the graphics were amazing for its time, perhaps it was the incredible sense of top speed that really left us all speechless. I don't think there was anything like F-ZERO on the home consoles back in August of '91. You had to experience the game back then to truly appreciate it. This is one of those games you play for the first time and never forget. Ask anyone who played it back in '91 and they'll probably have a strong memory to share with you. And since you asked so nicely, here is mine...
The spot: Beautiful Lake Tahoe, located along the border between California and Nevada, west of Carson City
I was but a wee 8-years-old, on vacation with family and friends. You know, back in the good old days when folk had time, my family developed a strong friendship with four families. Together, between the five of us, 10 parents and 16 kids, we had some of the most legendary sleepovers in the history of such. 11 boys and 5 girls, ranging from birthdates of 1977 to 1987. Growing up, those were my brothers and sisters
In December '91 the parents wanted to go skiing at beautiful Lake Tahoe. We rented out a HUGE cabin where all twenty-six of us stayed. It was INSANE, needless to say! One of the guys, Tommy, brought along his newly acquired Super Nintendo. He lugged 3 games with him: Super Mario World, Final Fight and... yes, F-ZERO
One Sunday morning I woke up to an empty cabin, with weird noises coming from the house in every which direction. I tip-toed downstairs timidly and yelled out the names of my family and friends
No answer... except for the hissing of the house. I felt a chill creep up and down my spine. Some thing was not right
As I made my way to the kitchen, I found a note on the fridge
Steve, We all went out for breakfast. We'll be back soon. You had a long night last night, and I wanted you to get the extra rest. Make yourself some Honey Nut Cheerios, and don't watch too much TV
How could they? Without me?THE HEATHENS!
The cabin continued to groan and creak. It was freezing too! And I couldn't help but feel... a presence in the house
It was the uneasiest feeling I ever had up to that point in my young eight-year-old life. I sat there in the kitchen/living room section of the house, petrified to go down the hall to use the restroom, much less head back upstairs. ... Hell, I passed up drinking that ice cold can of 7-UP I spotted in the fridge, out of fear of having to use the restroom. Hey, if you saw that demonic hallway, you wouldn't either...
Have you ever walked into a room and suddenly feel a cold chill? Ever get goosebumps all over your arms? Ever sensed that you weren't alone? That... you were being watched? By someone, or... SOME THING? That's exactly how I felt on that cold December morning of '91
But I was a resourceful kid. Whenever I was alone and felt apprehensive, I'd turn on the radio or TV. My theory: the spirits would hear that I am not alone, and therefore, they'd find someone else to muck with. So I turned on the TV and one of the WWF shows came up. It made me think of home sweet home, and for the next half hour, all was good
Then the show ended
And the haunted house was back
Not able to locate any cartoons, I glanced down and saw Tommy's Super Nintendo. F-ZERO was sitting pretty in the cartridge slot. I hit POWER and was immediately engrossed by its high-end futuristic world. It took my mind from thinking about ghosts to intergalactic racing warfare. I played F-ZERO and Final Fight until the gang came home. For all intents and purposes, F-ZERO was the first Super Nintendo game I ever played
And I never looked back
As one might say.... the rest is history
F-ZERO holds claim to a pretty decent one. As far as racing games go, anyhow
In the latter half of the 20th century, Mankind was gripped by the fear of being invaded by extraterrestrials. They referred to such space crafts as UFOs. Now, to those of us in this day and age, this sounds like a fairy tale
Just what exactly did Ezekiel see?
Basel, Switzerland. August 7, 1566. These men saw SOMETHING...
It is now the year 2560, and due to the human race's countless encounters with alien life forms throughout the Universe, Earth's social framework has expanded to cosmic proportions. Now, trade, technology transfer and cultural interchange are carried out on an interplanetary basis
The multibillionaires who earned their enormous wealth through intergalactic trade, while satisfied with their rich lifestyles, also yearned for new entertainment to stimulate their lazy lives. Their wishes were met by a call for a new project based upon a seemingly simple premise: "Why not hold, on a galactic scale, some competition like the F-1 races once held on Earth centuries ago?"
All at once, everyone jumped at this idea. Rich merchants from cities in the clouds or asteroids with almost uninhabitable environments invested their wealth in the construction of racing circuits
These racing circuits were located as high up as 300 feet above ground and held in place by sturdy anti-gravitational guide beams on both sides of the course. The racing machines developed for these tracks used the very latest in super-magnetic technology and were designed to travel without wheels, hovering one foot above the course track
When the first Grand Prix race was held, people were angered at the brutality of the competition. The organizers had, during construction, placed various obstacles and traps along the raceway. But as time passed, and people grew used to these dangers, they soon demanded even more excitement in the race. In time, winning this race meant earning the highest honor that could be bestowed on anyone in the Universe
In a very short time, people came to call this Grand Prix simply,"F-ZERO"
LET THE RACES BEGIN!
LET'S MEET THE DRIVERS AND THEIR VEHICLES...
Professor Kevin Stuart, you guessed it, built the Golden Fox
PRACTICE (MODE) MAKES PERFECT
Jump plates make for some major hang time, but sloppy handling here could be fatal
Take care of that power bar, or else... KA-BOOM! What a way to go, eh?
These rough spots will deprive your machine of its speed if contact is made
Careful not to slide out here -- the special coating blocks your magnetic field
Talk about cutting it close! Like racing through yellow lights, this sensation can't be beat
Not all power pit zones are found in the beginning
Some of those right angles are downright BRUTAL! Skilled players love showing off here
Ahhhh, GODZILLA VS. GIGAN. How I remember thee. Back in the late '80s my crazy uncle took me to a mom and pop video shop called Video Mart often. (Memories of Renting). Next to the good ole horror section was the Sci-Fi stuff. I rented this film one time and the cover would forever burn itself into my retina [Oh Lord not there! Of all places please not there! -Ed.] G-Fans have long debated Gigan's forehead laser, thanks to this cover you see here. It never did appear in the movies, that is, until 2004's Godzilla: Final Wars. Curiously, it also appeared in Toho's 1994 Super Famicom brawler Godzilla: Kaijuu Daikessen.
At any rate, NEW WORLD [Order! For life for life! -Ed.] VIDEO's logo graced the bottom of the VHS cover, and for whatever reasons it was an image that stuck. When I played F-ZERO's Silence track, I could not believe the similarity! Take a look for yourself...
Tell me I'm not crazy! TELL ME! [Nah, too easy -Ed.]
One's a deadly explosive mine field.... yikes...
... The other is clear. Make sure you hit that jump plate. Otherwise it's Molasses City!
Key thing to remember here is: ease off the pedal and let your momentum do the work
Lots of jump plates are strewn about the course, but beware of the down-pull magnets
"Roads? Where we're going....
.... we don't need roads." [Oh yes we do -Ed.]
"No matter how bad you got it, someone elsewhere has it worse." Don't tell him that
Pretty gnarly and dramatic effect back in '91. When your car crashes the camera moves forward briefly, then rotates 180 degrees to show the burning wreckage. Nice
At the end of a practice run, you're given your time results and this nifty option screen
Check the records menu for... er... records. Brilliant! And so forth
THE GRAND PRIX
Alright Mr. (or Mrs.) Hotshot. You've mastered the seven courses in the practice mode. You've crushed the rival car more times than you can count. Now it's off to the real deal: the Grand Prix. Choose from three leagues and difficulty levels
Since we've seen the Knight League (first five practice tracks) let us then jump on the Queen [Freudian slip FTW! -Ed.]
Rendering Ranger: R2 is one of the rarest games around on the Super Nintendo. A Super Famicom japanese import exclusive, copies are elusive to say the least and cart only can reach, and often does, that magical $100+ barrier. See the link for more on this technically brilliant SNES effort
Then I think about,
All the years we put in this relationship
Who knew we'd make it this far
Then I think about,
Where would I be if we were to just fall apart
And I can't stand the thought of losing you....
TIPS AND NOTES
If you start the race with the throttle (B Button) held down, you will start off with a powerful dash. However, after the initial boost there will be a momentary stall from which it takes time to begin to accelerate again
During a jump, your machine will accelerate as it travels above the course. So, to get the best speed, do not avoid the jump plates. Take care, however, to prevent your machine from leaving the side of the course and falling to a crash landing far below!
When landing after a jump, press Down on the control pad to tilt the nose of your machine upward. This prevents the impact shock of landing from decelerating your machine. You get more lift this way and it'll help propel you over that extra long and nasty jump on White Land II
If a rival machine approaches you from behind you will be alerted by the CHECK mark. Watch for your opportunity to block it from overtaking you
If your machine loses its stability and begins to slip or slide you should momentarily release the throttle to restore the machine's grip. Also keep in mind, for those "icy" patches let your vehicle's momentum do all the heavy lifting
Beat all three leagues on EXPERT and you'll unlock MASTER. Beat all three leagues on MASTER and a different ending will be revealed...
Astro GO! GO! is a blatant (and rather poor) F-ZERO ripoff. It was slated for a US release under the terrible name of Freeway Flyboys. Having played the game, I can see why it never happened...
In their 100th issue (November 1997) EGM ranked F-ZERO as the 18th best game of all time
Alright, maybe I'm the only one in the galaxy who ever thought this, but do you know what this has always reminded me of?
You see the resemblance, don't cha?! How dare they call me crazy!
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
EGM:8, 8, 9, 9
For as long as I live, I'll always remember seeing the SNES in action for the first time, playing F-ZERO on that cold dreary December morning 17 years ago. It was mind-blowing, and although current gen games have long redefined our idea of amazing, nothing will ever strip F-ZERO of its simple magic and intense high speed. OK, maybe some of the magic is gone, but that is to be expected of almost any game nearly two decades young. Firing up F-ZERO recently for the first time in nearly 16 years probably -- much I'd remembered being just as it was. Yeah, the scenery is flat like an Asian girl's chest [*rimshot* -Ed.] and some may find the rather straight-laced racing a bit outdated, but for my money, there's nothing like making the long jump by just barely clearing the strip line. Or using the speed boost to barrel ahead at 900 km/h only to hit a jump plate that flings you across the track like a man possessed. Sure it's lacking the all-important two-player mode, but for various reasons and to a certain extent, I'll give the game a bit of a pass in that regard
I think we all play games to be awed in some way; to take us far away from the daily grind of our lives, and to play games that are simply fun and evoke a sense of wonder
After all these years, F-ZERO still has got it. Though not the perennial classic of a Super Mario World, it is one in its own right, especially for its time
I'll always have a special place in my gaming heart for F-ZERO, the first SNES game I ever played. No Super Nintendo library is complete without a copy, if for nothing else, historical value. A great showcase launch title that won the hearts of many,F-ZERO -- we salute ya!
On a final note, some people still wonder what the F in F-ZERO stands for
Well, it stands for Fu --
[Aaaaand that's all the time we have for tonight! See you next time! -Ed.]