F-Zero’s spiritual successor has arrived
While looking through the severally anemic launch line-up for the Switch on its eStore front (no, seriously there are a total of 17 games to choose from and you’ve probably bought 2 of those already and own a couple more of the re-releases.) I came across a new game called FAST rmx. Not the most interesting name, but the game itself was VERY reminiscent of a couple of future racing titles I loved as a youngster…
Does this live up to those pedigree?
You guys remember F-Zero? WipeOut? SlipStream 5000? Any of you wish one of those would get another version? Same here. I loved the F-Zero series, especially F-Zero GX on the Gamecube, yet we haven’t had a sequel. Well, this game is here to fill that gaping, dry hole of yours for at least the time being.
The game starts out by dumping you into a menu to select your play option. No lead up or anything, no story what. so. ever. literally no story that I can find, it’s just the future… and.. and things are moving fast and stuff. I’ll just explain the game a bit:. So, it’s the future, see? And things are moving REALLY fast. Hope that clears it up because that is all you get.
Joking aside, the game is listed out in a couple different ways. Championship, which has 3 difficulties, 10 cups in each, and each cup contains 3 different tracks for a total of 30 tracks, which isn’t a bad selection at all. Each cup in unlockable by completing the previous one and you’ll unlock a new racer in the process.
Along with unlocking new tracks and racers you’ll also get access to “Hero Mode,” essentially this games version of hardcore mode in Diablo. If you run out of shields the race is over, no car resetting or anything. Boom. Done. If you decide to boost too much and deplete your own shield completely, which is the same gauge as your boost, that’s it. You just committed suicide. Was it worth it? What would your father think? This is a very tense addition to the game which results in more things to unlock so #gitgud.
Finally we have Multiplayer which supports both online and splitscreen. I haven’t had the chance to try any online multiplayer yet, but I can say that the splitscreen is impressive on the go. I was worried the games fast paced blistering speed would be impossible to track on the small screen but it isn’t too bad and was still fun to play. The only issue is the Joycon controls while playing with a friend. Since you are losing buttons the layout is different and a bit cramped. As long as you aren’t playing for hours I don’t see a long term issue, but it is a bit odd feeling. Thank goodness the wrist strap extension things were included as they help make the controllers more comfortable to use over extended use, but this is where I insert the same recommendation as every other review and go “Get a pro controller.”
By now we all know the Switch, like every other Nintendo system for the past 10 years, is under-powered when compared to the competition. Even by mobile phone standards it’s barely better than the next crop of phones that are just around the corner, but I talked about that already in my Switch review here. Won’t beat around the bush; This game looks pretty damn good and is VERY reminiscent of WipeOut in terms of ship design while taking a lot of queues from F-Zero GX on the GameCube when it comes to the track style and layout. Tracks are diverse and interesting, none really feel too similar in layout or design and each ship has a unique look to them which can sometimes be differentiated while blasting passed them on the course if the resolution was sharper.
Resolution and texture quality could be more crisp, it’s designed in such a way that it isn’t distracting when put under a magnifying glass and really, once you are flying around the course at insane speeds the less-than-super UHD textures are a distant memory. The resolution, on the other hand, is… interesting and I feel it uses some sort of on the fly resolution scaling. The opening transitions before the race starts seem lower resolution than the actual race, which are clear enough to not be frustrating when you are moving too fast, though this game seems it would be better suited on higher power systems.
Speaking of fast, this game is fast. Like, really fast. you remember F-Zero GX? Yeah that fast and it’s great. The game while playing in handheld mode is locked at 60fps and looks great doing it, but while in docked mode it does stumble just a little in some spots. I thought the Switch was suppose to boost in speed when docked to accommodate the upscaled resolution. If it is boosting than it’s inability to handle a bump in resolution from 720p to 900p is worrying. Anyway. It’s a very well designed and coherent experience graphically.
It’s really nothing special. If there is surround separation it’s hard to pinpoint. Sometimes I thought I was hearing a racer coming from behind in my rear speakers but the game could have been stereo while my surround was forcing a faux 5.1 experience. Besides that the sound design fits the theme, but I can’t say it’s remarkable or memorable in any way. There is a slider for music in the options menu and honestly I can’t think of ANY music playing during the race, it’s that forgettable. That’s kind of a shame given how amazing the audio is similar games have been in the past have been or even other games on the Switch. Not to go completely off the rails but Zelda’s surround mixing is amazing and some of the best I’ve heard in a game. But back to FAST rmx… it’s fine.
I honestly feel this is a no-brainer for anyone who loved F-Zero and Wipeout and have been waiting feverishly for new versions of either of those games. You should give this a shot especially for the price at $20, sure it doesn’t have a lot of features and no interesting story or even backstories for the many tracks or ships like the classics, but for $20 it absolutely nails the feeling of speed, tension and replayability to master the many tracks and vehicles that those were actually memorable for.