Back (way back) in 1991, Nintendo released F-Zero as one of the Super NES's launch
titles. At the time, there was no other game like it. It was fast, futuristic
racing that featured some pretty impressive graphics (at the time), but best of
all, it was a blast to play. Then seven years later, Nintendo releases F-Zero X
for the N64. While not sporting the most detailed environments, it had some pretty
fierce course design, but most importantly, a great sense of speed without ever
slowing down in terms of framerate. The released stayed pretty true to the SNES
desing, but with more technology, course design took on a whole new dynamic. Now,
we go back to the SNES design with F-Zero Maximum Velocity, which was one of the
GBA's launch titles (odd how this game was used as a launch title 10 years apart).
Recapturing the feel of the classic, F-Zero MV plays a lot like F-Zero played
10 years ago, but now you can take it with you.
The gameplay is pretty damn simple. You race, you win. Of course putting that
plan into action is not an easy task. In my opinion, this is by far the hardest
F-Zero game to date. Progression seems a bit more difficult this time around than
it has been before. I'm not sure if it's because of the GBA-specific control design
or if it's just the difficulty. The AI is tougher, but so are the courses. In the
original F-Zero, there were not as many courses that had open gaps or obstacles
as found here. At least a good third of this game's courses withh have a gap of
some sort to jump over. Then there's a handful that throw out obstacles that will
slow you down, or to a certain point, make you explode. Perhaps challenge is a good
thing, and not only extends replay value on the go, but is quite challenging when
you spend some time with it. As far as modes go, it's pretty much straight up racing,
either in a championship or in a time trial. There's also a multiplayer mode available.
The controls of the game may take a few minutes to grasp. There's a difference
between the SNES controller and the GBA layout. For me, it's hard to use both L
and R buttons to turn tightly, since I can't really get my fingers to use them
properly (it's the size of the system that's at fault), but you can get around this
problem by tapping the accelerator when you go into turns. In fact, tapping the
accelerator is better than using L or R because it feels a little more precise.
The handling desing has been modified a little, and the end result is a vehicle
that feels a little more "heavier" than it did before. It's in no way a problem,
it's just different. But then there's the boost. On the SNES controller, you
have 6 function buttons, and the boost was easily placed on an unused button.
Here, we only have 4 buttons, and all get used. The default set up for the
boost was L and R together. I have a problem with that. You can change the set up,
however, and if I were you, I would place the boost on the UP direction on your
d-pad. It never gets used, and is easily more available than L and R together.
The graphics are fairly reminicent of the SNES release. What do you really expect,
though? Polygons? F-Zero MV uses the Mode 7 scaling to it's advantage, and even
improves on some of the rather ancient visuals. Now, the bottom layer and course
scroll independently, giving a little more illusion that the track is elevated.
Some texture has been added to the tracks for some visual flair. The overall look
is a lot sharper that it did 10 years ago. The racer's vehicle is now a 3-D like
model, rather than a drawn sprite image. But more importantly, the game runs fast
and smooth. It's certainly a lot more simple looking compared to newer GBA racers,
but sometimes less is more.
The sound is a decent package. Not overwhelming, but not poor. The music is
not nearly as memorable here as the classic F-Zero was, and seems to be sampled
at a low rate. It seems a tad fuzzy to me. After hearing what some GBA games are
capable of, F-Zero MV could have done a lot better. But hey, it's not nearly as
annoying as GT Advance's music.
F-Zero Maximum Velocity is a solid GBA title. It won't blow you away with visuals
or audio, but the classic gameplay is a very big draw. It would have been nice to
see some classic courses thrown in the mix, but new content is always welcome.
This F-Zero is a lot tougher than the series has ever been, and the multiplayer
mode is certainly going to add more replay value. There may be a couple of things
this game can improve on if there was ever to be a GBA sequel, but for now, this
is a classic done well.