Remembering classic games: F-Zero (1990) | Top Gear
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Remembering classic games: F-Zero (1990)

Come on Nintendo, do the right thing and revive this stone-cold Nineties classic

Published: 13 Oct 2023

If you’re unfamiliar with the naming convention in formula racing, the lower the number, the faster the racing, with Formula One the fastest of all. So what happens when you invent a futuristic motorsport that’s so fast it makes F1 look like competitive glacier racing? You call it F-Zero, of course.

F-Zero was one of the launch titles for the Super Nintendo and, much like Super Mario Kart two years later, it used a technology called Mode 7 to move and spin a flat circuit beneath your hovering racer like it was being tossed around by a pizza chef. The result was a blisteringly fast pseudo-3D racing game that positively melted minds when it arrived alongside Nintendo’s brand new 16-bit console.

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In a genius move we’ve yet to see since, the paper manual that usually accompanied games at the time was swapped out for a comic book that introduced the story and characters. The game was set in the far-flung year of 2560, where bored multibillionaires have set up the jet-powered F-Zero racing series to amuse themselves. Given that our current multibillionaires are busy firing themselves into space for kicks, that’s starting to look remarkably plausible.

F-Zero spawned several sequels, including X on the Nintendo 64 and GX on the GameCube, but, criminally, there hasn’t been a new title in the series since 2004. In spite of nearly two decades dormant, there’s still a huge fanbase waiting for the moment when Nintendo finally revives this beloved franchise.

While these days the original Wipeout on PlayStation might be considered the pre-eminent futuristic racer, thanks to a similarly revolutionary leap to true 3D graphics, it’s important to remember that F-Zero walked so that Wipeout could run. Or at the very least hovered so Wipeout could hover a bit faster.

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