It has been a staggering 13 years since any dedicated racing lover has felt the surge of boost power offered only by F-Zero, Nintendo’s iconic yet mostly lapsed franchise. It’s the same franchise that brought us such unforgivingly fast races, largely iconic and futuristic courses, banging techno tunes and, of course, the man himself, Captain Falcon.
Sure we have had more than our share of the famous falcon in the Smash Bros. series but Falcon Punching and kneeing everyone in sight can only satisfy our F-Zero cravings for so long. But we needed something from Nintendo that didn’t just cater to symbols of the franchise. We needed an announcement, a preview, a rumor, anything from Nintendo, but years passed and nothing came. And as time passed it became more evident that Nintendo had no interest in reviving the series. Even Nintendo’s mastermind, Shigeru Miyamoto, stated that he doesn’t “really have a good idea for what’s new that we could bring to F-Zero that would really turn it into a great game again.”
While fans should admire his will to not keep a series stagnate by just creating the same game over and over, Miyamoto should maybe consider other franchises that act to the contrary to this notion like New Super Mario Bros. Sure, New Super Mario Bros. can be dwindled down to just a copy and pasted series with very little being added to each iteration, but the bottom line is that those games are a joy to play. The same should be considered for the F-Zero series. When a series hasn’t been visited for almost 15 years, there comes a new found satisfaction in revisiting such a fondly remembered game series.
And of course, Nintendo has capitalized on people’s nostalgia for the old games. Mario Kart 8‘s 200cc addition blew us away when the new mode first launch giving the game a never before experienced sense of speed. But it was all too good to be true as it became obvious that the game wasn’t designed with 200cc in mind as players and even CPU racers constantly crashed into walls. Although it added a ton to the Mario Kart metagame as well as extending the game’s overall replayability, it just came as a reminder of the franchise that had been long forgotten. And yes, the Mute City and Big Blue courses with the jazztastic saxophone solos only added fuel to the hype train.
Then, like a shining beacon of light cast down from indie game heaven, Fast Racing Neo debuted during the an end-year Nintendo Direct. The showcase only lasted less than a minute but people were instantly engaged with its display of high thrusting speeding vehicles storming through a wide array of futuristic courses; twisting and swerving and even defying the laws of gravity. And when the game eventually released people felt for themselves the blazing fast fury and the anxiety free-falls by jumping from ramp to ramp maneuvering the vehicle precisely while still considering how quickly the track course progresses underneath them.
Now, that was boost power.
While the closest thing we can call Fast Racing Neo is the spiritual successor to F-Zero, it ultimately lacked the personality and charm that made the entire experience complete. The game or rather the idea was half way there. Being mechanically sound, all it needed were memorable characters like Dr. Stewart, Pico, and Jody Summers as well as the undeniably anxious and elegant compositions.
It all felt like a carefully crafted audition tape by Shin’nen Multimedia in an attempt to prove to Nintendo they are more than capable of handling the beloved franchise. It’s as if the small developer sent Nintendo a copy with a letter attached saying, “Hey, Nintendo, we know you have no plans on expanding the F-Zero franchise, so why not give us the reigns. We won’t let you down.”
Fast Racing Neo isn’t just a throwback to a long-lost franchise, it’s a key to its revival. F-Zero fans who crave a new iteration should use Fast Racing Neo as the catalyst to F-Zero‘s revival. Making the game as successful as it can be can prove to Nintendo that F-Zero is a viable and lucrative project on which to take. Fans are closest to a revival than they have been in 13 years and with more vocal support, the Blue Falcon could quite possibly be dusted off and taken for yet another spin around Mute City.