Retro Paradiso 02: F-Zero

I played this on SNES Classic.

I played this on SNES Classic.

Hello and welcome back to part two of my relatively new ‘Retro Paradiso’ series. If you want an explanation as to how this series works, you can check that out at the FAQ section. Also, I did say I may be tweaking some things about this series, but this part will not be subjected to any possible changes because when I originally started this series I was planning on two games, which means I played this game around the same time as the previous one. Not only that, this part will also have a wonky first part just like the last one. So, let’s jump right into F-Zero.

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Part One

F-Zero is a fast-pacing racing that takes in the future where surviving is just as important as winning. The game consists of three Prix with five courses in each Prix and each course takes five laps to complete. Complete each course within the top few spots and without dying too much and you move onto the next course. Complete all five courses and you move onto the next Prix. The game also offers four different vehicles with their own stats on speed, a few different difficulty modes to choose from, and a practice mode where you can try out specific tracks with or without AI. I didn’t really play with the practice mode that much, so I won’t really be talking about that other than in saying I am glad that it’s there.

When I first started playing this game, I quite enjoyed the game in both its structure and gameplay. I am not the biggest fan of racing games in the formal racing form of going around a track and trying to get first unless it is in an open world setting. And while this game does have that structure, it also has changes to it that makes it different. I find that this is more of a survival racing than anything else. Watching your health meter is just as important as watching your position, and as each lap goes by the position you have to be in decreases. Instead of trying to finish first, I found with F-Zero the goal is to finish. It’s a refreshing take on racing I quite enjoyed. Also, I really enjoyed its fast-paced nature as for it made the races quite exciting, and mixing that with its survival nature made the game a good level of challenging. And what is a good racing game without good racing controls? Luckily, I found that the controls worked quite well. It took some time to get good at the game, but it didn’t take long for me to understand the controls and it wasn’t long before I was drifting sharp turns and not dying. Finally, one smaller detail I liked are the colors. Neon colors that almost look like vaporwave are splashed all over the screen. Bright pinks, purples that fade into blue, and more gives off the sense that whoever made the color palette for this game was tripping off of something I want to have, and I loved it. The highs of this game are high, so how are the lows?

While the starting of the game was strong, I did notice a few hiccups along the way. Maybe I’m just dumb or something, but I didn’t really notice any significant changes between vehicles. It made the choice feel pointless, and it often left me picking the yellow car because it has the fastest speed even though I didn’t feel any faster or slower in any of the other vehicles. Also, I think the Prix are too long. I think the lap count for each course is fine considering your speed, but I would rather had five Prix of three courses instead of three Prix of five courses. Finally, a track in the final Prix is a track worth talking about. All of the other tracks up to this point are fine, but the second track in the final Prix is where I am hitting issues. But I will get into this in the next parts because this map plagues me for the next two. Some slight bumps along the road, but overall I am having a good time.

Progress: Completing the first two Prix in beginner.

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Part Two

I don’t really have a lot of new positives to say in part two. My fondness of its survival aspect has increased, and I have started to appreciate its music more. But at this point I am finding more and more negative aspects to the game. I found that the game doesn’t offer multiplayer, which for a racing game seems rather strange. Also, the mini map in the bottom corner doesn’t show where other racers are, making it feel useless. It would have been nice to see where other cars are considering that the final parts of the race really clamp down on what place you have to be in. But all of that pales in comparison to the issue I brought up in the previous part. An issue that plagues my memories of this game. That plague is a little track called Death Wind 2.

Death Wind 2 (the track I was talking about earlier) is the devil. Not even that, I think even the devil thought of this level as too extreme. It is a map with tight turns, even tighter track width, walls that pull your car in, and a healing zone that isn’t put to the side like the rest. Mix that with its fast pace and how your cars feel like bumper boats and you have a recipe for disaster. Maybe it’s just me (it’s probably just me), but I can’t stand Death Wind 2.

Progress: Nothing. No really, I couldn’t get past Death Wind 2.

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Part Three

I thought that by part three I would have nothing, but I stand corrected. I somehow got past Death Wind 2, but then I found that it isn’t the only frustrating map in the final Prix. I found two other maps to be also frustrating, though not as frustrating as Death Wind 2. Still, it made the final Prix feel like a sudden spike in difficulty whereas the other two felt like a nice level of challenging. To add fuel to my frustration fire, the bumping of other vehicles became more noticeable to me unfortunately and I can’t find a back button in the menu. My whole time in this final part was spent trying to complete the final Prix. I probably should’ve used the practice mode at that point, but I felt if I brute-forced the Prix I would eventually finish. And in a sense, I almost did. Overall, I would say that the game has a strong start, but by the end I can’t help but notice its flaws.

Progress: Up to the final map in the last Prix on beginner (something I complete right after my time expires of course).

That is a wrap on F-Zero. Despite my later hours being frustrating, I still had a good time with the game and I wouldn’t be opposed to going back if I am in the mood to play an old racing game. Going back, I should’ve spent more time in its practice mode even though it wouldn’t fully equip me with handling all AI opponents and the bumping. I’m still surprised that a game this old would have a new take on racing games I haven’t really played before, which leads to another place where I am shocked in how I haven’t experienced any new racing games with a survival structure to its racing. I wish I could see that more, and maybe it’s there in the other F-Zero games. But for now, I only have this one.

What are your thoughts on F-Zero? How wrong am I on Death Wind 2? Do tell in the comments. Also, if there are any games like F-Zero, I would love to hear them. And as always, thank you for reading.