F-Zero: Nintendo’s Mode 7 Sporting Futuristic Wonder

F-Zero
Eff off.

F-Zero has remained unmentioned on our site over the years. It remains one of Nintendo’s lesser known series. One that hasn’t had an entry in a long time. But today we’re honouring the original, which was a launch title on the SNES back in 1990.

F-Zero

Industry legend Shigeru Miyamoto (the man responsible for Mario, Donkey Kong, Zelda, Metroid etc.) created the series.

It utilised what Nintendo called Mode 7 graphics, which allowed for a “raster graphical plane” perspective effect on a background layer. It’s a mixture of scaling and rotating that plays around with height and depth.

The result is a kind of pseudo-3D effect the likes of Pilotwings and Super Mario Kart took advantage of in 1992.

So with F-Zero’s launch, this thing got a lot of attention. It’s vibrant colours and futuristic concept allowed for high-speeds. And the series became famous for that blistering pace.

Only nine people worked on its development at Nintendo, all whilst juggling various other projects.

Miyamoto produced, whilst art designer Takaya Imamura came up with iconic characters such as Captain Falcon.

And the result was an impeccable launch title for the SNES. It met with excellent reviews and, to this day, is held with a great deal of respect.

It reappeared on the SNES Classic Mini and we happily strapped ourselves back in to take on this SOB.

Whilst short by modern standards and suffering drawn distance issues – as well as a lack of multiplayer – it’s still good fun to play. Those sleek graphics pelting along to iconic music. What’s not to love?

Hero to Zero

In total, five F-Zero games have hit various consoles. F-Zero GP Legend was the last and it launched on the Game Boy Advance back in 2004.

2003’s F-Zero GX on the GameCube is held with particular reverence by fans of the series. It built on the furious speeds of F-Zero X (1998) on the Nintendo 64, but produced a much higher graphical performance.

For the latter, Nintendo actually sacrificed graphical spectacle in favour of maintaining the pelting speeds demonstrated.

It’s since transpired Nintendo approached third-party developers about a potential game on the Wii U. But nothing came of that.

Since then, rumours persist that something might be in the works. Miyamoto has said F-Zero made sense in 1990. It did indeed influence titles such as Wipeout.

But now, in 2019, fast paced futuristic racers are hardly anything new. So it’s unclear if Nintendo will ever commit its resources to another title again.

8 comments

  1. I have to admit that F-Zero is one of those series I never really got into despite my best efforts. I could never figure out how to race effectively in this game. I do like that it’s there, but I’ve generally leaned more toward Mario Kart.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve always been more about Mario Kart, but F-Zero is proper belting when you get into it. Although it is quite a bit different as a racing game – it’s all about blinding speeds. Not everyone’s cup of tea.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s really disappointing Nintendo seems to have dropped F-Zero completely. And Miyamoto’s comment about the franchise really overlooks the fact that Nintendo has nothing quite like F-Zero under its belt, and that attempts by other companies to produce futuristic racers tend to feel like copies of the original material and lesser versions of the F-Zero goodness, especially of what was achieved in GX, which is among my favorite games of all time.

    Liked by 1 person

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