F-Zero X (エフゼロ エックス Efu Zero Ekkusu?, F-ZERO X) is a futuristic racing video game for the Nintendo 64 console. Developed by Nintendo's EAD division, it was released in Japan, Europe and North America, in 1998. F-Zero X has been re-released on the Wii Virtual Console in Japan, in Europe as the 100th VC title, and in North America, in 2007. When the game was later developed and released for the iQue Player in China in 2004, it became the first and only title of the series to feature online multiplayer, as well as being Nintendo's first racing title with online multiplayer. In 2000, an expansion of the game was exclusively released in Japan providing numerous extra features not in the original game.
F-Zero X is the third released installment in the F-Zero series and the first released video game in the franchise to feature 3D graphics. The game has a steep learning curve and its gameplay experience is similar to that of the original F-Zero title. However, the title does introduce 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 "creates" a different set of tracks each time played.
At first, only six machines are available for play, extra ones are unlocked by beating the Grand Prixs on the various difficulty levels. These are : Novice, Standard, Expert, and Master (unlockable).
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Death race is a mode where the player tries to eliminate 29 other racers on the track as fast as possible. There are no points awarded for being in first, only for destroying the other racers machines.
In Time Attack, the player can run a course as many times as they like. The player's best lap can be used as a ghost to race against.
- Only playable with the Expansion Kit or a cheat device.
Development and audio
Initially titled F-Zero 64, Famitsu magazine revealed the project in mid-1997. The game, which was produced alongside Zero Racers, was renamed late in its development. Several key Wave Race 64 programmers including the lead programmer made up the in-house F-Zero X development team. The game made its debut at the Nintendo Space World event in late November 1997 where the public was able to play it for the first time. F-Zero X became the first racing game to run at 60 frames per second with up to 30 vehicles on screen at the same time, but in order to keep the frame rate, polygon counts on the vehicles, textures and track detail are sacrificed. The North American release of F-Zero X suffered from a three month delay due to Nintendo of America's policy of spacing the release of first-party games out evenly. Features from the Nintendo 64DD are included in F-Zero X which allow for the cartridge to be compatible with add-on disks such as track editors or course updates, however none of these were utilized outside of Japan, due to the 64DD's commercial failure.
F-Zero X features remixed music from its predecessor. Besides the games' visual detail, another setback in order for the title to run well at its frame rate is the quality of its audio. Due to compression, the game only features monaural sound. Two soundtracks were released featuring music from this game. The F-Zero X Original Soundtrack was released on September 18, 1998. The F-Zero X Guitar Arrange Edition, which was released on January 27, 1999, contains ten guitar arranged musical tracks from the game. Both the original soundtrack and the guitar arrangement are composed by Taro Bando and Hajime Wakai.
Critics generally praised F-Zero X for its fast gameplay, abundance of courses and vehicles, keeping a high framerate even though there can be up to thirty racers on screen at the same time, and track design. However, the game has been widely criticized for its lack of graphical detail. The title received Game of the Month for the month of November from Electronic Gaming Monthly. An editor stated "the graphics may be simple, but they're smooth and the action is fast". IGN described F-Zero X as an exceptional update to the original game that "only suffers under its generic look". They believed that unlike the first game, F-Zero X "is not about showing off graphics or sound capabilities -- it's all about gameplay". They considered the game to rival Wave Race with its "perfectly fine-tuned controls and a fresh approach to racing".
Allgame called F-Zero X as "certainly not up to Nintendo's usual standards" in terms of detail and texture quality. GameSpot also criticized the games' graphical detail, calling the low polygon count on the vehicles as "particularly uninspiring" and that the "track detail is also very limited, giving the track a spartan feel to it". In GameSpot's re-review of the Virtual Console release, they gave it a 6.5/10 calling it "the black sheep of the series" when compared with the other F-Zero games in "visual style and technical flair".
Despite its visual setbacks, critics exalted the game for managing to keep a steady 60 frame/s, which some felt made up for the lack of graphical detail. The Electric Playground found the framerate to give "the game a major boost in the feel department" making it "seem like your vehicle is bursting through the sound barrier". In regard to the music, EGM considered it "really good with some excellent remixes of the old F-Zero tunes", while CVG called the music dreadful. The Electric Playground thought it goes hand-in-hand to the feeling of speed in the game, but not much else.
F-Zero X sold 383,642 units in America and 77,154 units in Japan, making it the 49th best-selling Nintendo 64 game. The game sold 56,457 copies during its first week of sale in Japan, but sold nearly five times less the following week.
Disk Drive Expansion
The F-Zero X Expansion Kit, released in Japan on April 21, 2000, was the first add-on disk for the Nintendo 64DD. The Kit will only operate in conjunction with the cartridge of the original game, however all of F-Zero X's regular features are accessible plus twelve new tracks, a car editor and a track creator. The Expansion Kit includes new soundtracks in stereo as well as the entire collection of monaural audio tracks from the original game. In addition to the two new cups, it is also possible to create custom cups. The disk can save up to a hundred tracks and up to three ghost racers per course. The track creator was singled out as the Expansion Kit's strongest feature since it is virtually the same tool the designers of F-Zero X used for themselves to create the original circuits.
The Car Editor offers a variety of options when creating a vehicle. Using a set of pre-existing parts, the player must balance their creations' settings and performance abilities before the machine is finished and named. The Track Editor is a detailed track creator that allows the player design their own racing circuits. Using a cursor, the player can determine the basic layout of the track and also add points to it to create track elements such as curves and hills. Furthermore, numerous different properties like half pipes and cylinders, as well as numerous road surfaces, such as slip zones, can be added. The player also can test their creation at any time and run practice laps.
Lastly, Captain Falcon, Samurai Goroh and Jody Summer receive updates in the form of unlockable 'Super vehicles' which boasts perfect stats (Body, Boost and Grip at A), slightly altered design and a new color scheme as well as the pilots themselves wearing new clothes.
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- White, Nick (2007-06-25). Nintendo's Eight Famous Franchises #5 - F-Zero. Aussie-Nintendo. Retrieved on 2007-08-14.
- F-ZERO X Original Soundtrack. Square Enix Music Online. Retrieved on 2008-02-18.
- F-ZERO X Guitar Arrange Edition. Square Enix Music Online. Retrieved on 2008-02-18.