Title :F-Zero Maximum Velocity
Platforms :Game Boy Advance
Publisher :Nintendo
ESRB Rating :Everyone
Game Rating :9.1
Review by :Dain Neater

The original F-Zero hit the streets in 1991, and quickly became one of the best console racers ever, featuring incredible speed coupled with great game play. Now, almost ten years later, Nintendo has unleashed a new version, subtitled Maximum Velocity, for their new 32-bit Game Boy Advance. 

In the original F-Zero, Captain Falcon battled for racing supremacy. It is now 25 years later; the racing greats of the past have long since retired, and it is now up to a new crop of F-Zero pilots to create their own legends. 

At first glance, Maximum Velocity looks to be nearly a carbon copy of the original SNES title. But if you look more closely, you will notice that F-Zero has been tweaked and improved in almost every way. It isn't a revolutionary upgrade, but it has evolved to become an even better gaming experience. 

The gameplay element received the most changes. Now, not only are you responsible for keeping your thumb on the gas, but you need to make use of the blast turn technique. This cornering method consists of tapping the gas button repeatedly while moving into and coming out of turns. Your F-Zero racer will gain traction, although you will lose some speed in the process. The only complaint that can be laid on the control scheme is the default button setup, as using it for a prolonged periods of time is tough on the hands and makes it difficult to use the shoulder buttons, which are used in turning. Fortunately, this setup can be easily reconfigured to a more comfortable setting. 

Besides great game play, every great racer also needs challenging set of well laid-out courses to race. F-Zero more than hits this mark. It has several race classes — Pawn, Knight and Bishop — available at the start of the game, with more to unlock after you have proved your worth. Each class consists of five courses that are filled with unique obstacles, including dash and jump plates, exploding mines that leave a mess of hot liquid metal on the course, magnetic fields that wreak havoc with your vehicle, and spin holes that send your F-Zero racer into a 180 degree turn. In other words, this game isn't a walk in the park. 

The graphics have been improved upon from the SNES title, though at first they seem almost identical. The scaling modes used in the Game Boy Advance hardware are smoother and clearer than we saw in the Super Nintendo, and F-Zero looks better because of it. The vehicles have been replaced with rendered models that smoothly animate in and out of the turns. 

Maximum Velocity's music tracks are decent, but they really aren't great. They have a nice racing tempo, but there aren't enough of them, and after a while they get old. But the sound effects are perfect and have made the translation from the SNES version perfectly. 

Like many Game Boy Advance games, F-Zero supports linking for 2-4 player games, with two different forms of linked action. You can play multiplayer if every player has their own cart, and you can even play a limited version of the game on only one cartridge with four players. The single cartridge multiplayer game, while novel, gets old quickly as you are limited to only one track and one car. The multi-cart linked game however lets you play on all the tracks and choose any car available, and is a much deeper and less repetitive experience. 

The results are in: Nintendo has yet another winner in their F-Zero line of racing games. They have again put together another title that is easy to pick up and play, but difficult to master. It's a fast, furious, and, most important, fun game that will be a welcome addition to anyone's Game Boy Advance library.

This article is copyright (c) 2001, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Gamebits, 06-Aug-01