Well guys, it's time to speak about a serious matter in the videogames... yes, out there exist a lot of serious things from videogames to talk about. What will it be this time... the graphics overcoming the gameplay? No. The expiration of the Squaresoft's Satanic pact? Again, no. This time the topic is the speed. I like the speed, I love the speed.
Since my earliest childhood, when my young brain was bombed with images of F-1 and other things like that, to when I grew up, my hunger for speed was never left behind me. Of course it decreased a little when I broke my right leg (twice) in bike races.
Like all my other interests (anime, UFOs, comics, samurais, dragons, dinosaur, TCG etc.) I tried to find a connection between it and the videogames. Luckily this connection came quickly. Thanks to my sister, I discovered the magic of racing games basically by just playing F-Zero and Super Mario kart That magic lasted for a few years until I discovered the crudest revelation of the modern videogame culture: THE REAL RACING GAMES.
I'm going to make this clear: I HATE the real racing games. Why? Simply, videogames aren't good at emulating the magic of speed. Even if you are riding a bike you can feel the wind, listen the sound of the wheels on the road, and experiment a beautiful feeling of freedom. Even if you are riding a well-tuned hot rod in the latest "Need for Speed" game, it certainly isn't nearly the same. That's the reason why many racing games take a fantastical approach, like a bonus to compensate the lack of speed for charm. That's the reason why you can drive an airplane in "Diddy Kong Racing", that's the reason why you can use a panda riding on a penguin in "1080 snowboarding", that's the reason why you drive futuristic machines in "F-Zero"... Oh crap I forgot I'm doing a review, I better begin reviewing things.
Why did I take the time writing that previous batch of words you ask? Well, smart people might call that an "introduction", but that doesn't answer the question. I wrote that because I want the next sentence have more of an impact. F-Zero (and its sequels) is (are) the only racing game (s) that really make you feel the speed and that's what makes it the best racing game without items. Again, I know what you are thinking. You are thinking that I'm a noob because I don't think that famous racing games "The Fast and the Furious" wannabe games are better......... well, if that's your definition, yes I am.
, let's begin.
F-Zero GP Legend is a game released in 2003 by Nintendo for the GBA console. Like any other F- zero game this is a racing game where the main objective of the game is to have fun while you play with friends or in a solo Grand Prix. Don't forget that just like any other F-Zero game here the races are a blazing Hell of speed and aggressive gameplay.
The gameplay is (like in the old days) easy to learn but difficult to master. You have your standard acceleration button (A), brakes (B), killer action AKA side attack (R & L), killer action deluxe IE spin attack (R & L twice), and pause (START). But learning the simple controls isn't enough. No sir, you have to learn and sometimes create different and effective ways to mix them up to get a better result. An interesting fact about the mobility in this game is that you really feel like you are driving a machine that can lose the control if you let your guard down for one second.
It's time to talk about the game modes. At the very beginning you just have the Story Mode, the Grand Prix, the link mode. After you finish Rick Wheeler's story, you'll have unlocked the Training, the Zero Test and the time attack. More information follows.
The Training and Time Attack are exactly what you'd imagine them to be. The first one is the average mode where you can run the same track over, and over, and over, an over, and over...... anyway, your ability in a specific track is directly proportional to how much time you spend training in that track. Amazing, isn't it. The second one is actually a race, the catch is... well you are running the track alone. You can use this chance to try to finish the race in a record time. If you manage to record a great time you can go to the weapon of the devil, I mean internet, and show it to other players around the world.
The Zero Test and the link mode are a bit more interesting. The Zero Test consists of tests that test your racing ability. Despite how repetitive it may sound, the tests are quite fun and help you to be a better racer. They generally are things like beating a circuit before running out of time or doing a (hellish) turn without falling from the track. The link mode is only to connect to other GBAs and playing multiplayer. If only one player has the game everyone must use the same car and you play in a really simple boring track. If all the stars of the sky are aligned you may find another 3 people with the game, and then you'll be able to experience one of the finest multiplayer portable experiences: Being able to use all the tracks and characters unlocked. Actually, I just played this mode once 2 years ago in a videogame/anime convention. The players? Myself (dressed like a bad guy from shaman king), a Zoda, a Cloud wannabe as Rick Wheeler, a Sephiroth fanboy as mighty Gazelle, and finally a girl dressed like Sniper Wolf as James McCloud. The races where good and if any of you (Allan, Jhon or Frida) by some miracle are reading this, my greetings to you.
Here we are, people, in the great Grand Prix. Do I need to explain this? Well, this is internet and just because you can't measure the ignorance of the readers, I'll do it. The Grand Prix is a game mode where you race trough five different circuits. You earn points depending of your position. At the end of the races, the one with the most points is the winner. Of course there are some different cups with different tracks and a good level of difficulty. This is the main game mode, even if the Story Mode pushes it aside a little, it still is really fun.
And now, the Story Mode. This Story Mode is a bit different from the others. Here you have to accomplish five missions (except for Rick Wheeler and Captain Falcon, who both have a secret mission). Generally between missions you can learn a little about each character. After some time you will see how all the stories transform into one big story.
There are 8 stories in all.
: The story of Rick Wheeler is mainly about his experience as a cop frozen 150 years ago. Jody Summers makes the decision of defrost him and bestows him the task of chasing Zoda and bringing him to the justice. Rick accepted the job because of a personal vendetta.
: I don't like the Dragonbird. Around the 40% of my experience in Rick's story was spent bumping in the wall like a game of Pong. These are the opening missions, so they don't present much difficulty.
: Being a mysterious mercenary, the story of Captain Falcon is about him facing his most hated rivals in races, such as Dr Clash, Zoda, Samurai Goroh, Blood Falcon and (of course) Black Shadow. There is also something to his relationship with Jody and Rick.
: His story is a bit flat, but still the reliable Blue Falcon is always good.
: Jody is in the middle of an investigation concerning who killed her brother. After obtaining some info from the local criminals, she decides to fight Blood Falcon with mixed results. Expect some talks and races between her and her police partners.
: Maybe this story has a damn low difficulty or maybe I'm too good with the White Cat. Either way, too easy.
: Jack's self-esteem may as well be buried undergroundground since the arrival of Rick. You must beat other racers in order to gain confidence. Curiously, even if Jack is a police officer, a considerable portion of his missions involve beating others cops in races.
: Here things begin to get harder, but don't be afraid. With some training, the Astro Robin will be your best friend.
: Someone poisoned our favorite samurai and he is ready to discover the perpetrator behind this cowardly act. His search finds him crossing paths with some shady characters like Black Shadow, his wife Lisa, and his former companion Antonio Guster.
: A piece of cake......... With a brick inside of course. I never was really used to the Fire Stingray and its steering, so this story really brought out the worst in myself.
: The Goroh's sweetheart and a infamous galactic ruffian, she and Goroh are a fitting couple. Goroh is poisoned and she has had her memories stolen. She spends her story looking for the one who stole her memory.
: A lot like Goroh's, but the Panzer Emerald is a bit better in steering, and that is a big difference.
: Black Shadow is the biggest bad dude in the galaxy. His main missions involve wreaking havoc, killing helpless racers, and of course kicking the ass of the good guys. In this story you are able to see that Black Shadow is bad to the bone without a doubt before............... well putting the good racers to sleep.
: I HATE THE BLACK BULL WITH MY ENDLESS SOUL 100000000.
: As the right hand of Black Shadow, you have to do some dirty jobs. You know, kidnap some guys, beating your boss, beating helpless damsels, killing some nobodies and fighting for the Grand Prix.
: I'm far more experienced with the Death Anchor than with any other machine, so I didn't have that much trouble.
The presentation of the game is good. The graphics receive a new feature, thanks to the magic of the anime styled character designs. Some characters look better (James McCloud, Dr Clash and Silver Neelsen), some of them manage to keep their charm (Super Arrow, Captain Falcon and Samurai Goroh), and of course those that don't look good (Zoda, Octoman, Gomar & Shion and Pico). The tracks and cars look really good, but the game can't show all the racers at the same time...... that's not good. To compensate this we have the incredible music of the saga.
F-zero GP Legend (like any other videogame) have some flaws, with the biggest of them, in my opinion, being the lack of 3D in the design of the tracks. (I think they could have done some cylinders and half pipes with the hardware of the GBA), The lack of difficulty even in the highest levels doesn't require anymore than a normal amount of practice. Oh, and don't forget that everyone needs their own cartridge to play a good multiplayer.
Still, I believe that this game is one of the better portable racing experiences. If you really like the speed, and if you have the chance, sell all that Need for Speed crap and use the money to buy a GBA with this game or even better "F-Zero Climax"
As a parting gift, I will leave you with the immortal words of Blood Falcon...