I’ve seen the term Dark Souls of X used as the phrase for (this is the hard game) a little too often these days (in fact I think I used this very statement before on the Ghosts and Goblins Resurrection review. But anyway time to go to one of the games listed amongst the hardest of all time, F Zero GX.
For those in the Mario Kart fandom. F Zero is Nintendo’s other racer that hasn’t seen any love since the GameCube days… in fact this is the last entry in the series. Its Cameo plenty of times. Iconic lead character Captain Falcon is from this franchise (though Smash Bros introduced the FALCON PUNCH!) as well as his Vehicle the blue falcon being used as a Kart in 8.
Basically F Zero is a super-fast Sci Fi racer that Sony’s Wipeout is very much inspired by. Race tracks can range from the insane to the mad, going from super-fast bendy tracks with sudden 90 degree turns upwards, to racing on a tube, both outside and inside. With tracks of jungles, cyber deserts, ocean worlds and magma planes.
While in games like Mario Kart you could get weapons to slow down or hold back your foes, no such things exist in F Zero. If you want to take an opponent out, you do so with brutal melee attacks, smashing your Racer into theirs until they are destroyed. Of course, you also have shields and if you’re not careful you too will be getting smashed.
The main game is split into 4 cups each more difficult than the last (if you’re imagining me stroking a small animal while on a rotating chair, get ready it gets even more difficult later) each that have 5 tracks. These cups also have several different difficulty settings: Novice, Standard, Expert, and Master. While coming first in each cup your character is interviewed. An interviewer, depending on if your character is evil, he may be terrified of them. The difficulty you beat the cup on decides what questions he asks. BUT beat a cup on Master difficulty and you also get a special animation unlocked for that character.
Beating a cup on Master however is a very challenging thing to do. In fact the best way is to MURDER YOUR CLOSEST RIVAL, and when they are down, MURDER THE NEXT ONE. The game is helpful in that it will show you which character has a score highest to yours with an arrow pointing at them saying RIVAL. You may not come first, BUT if those closest to catching you are destroyed in the race, that’s no points for them while you still get some even if you come very low in the rankings (no lie, It’s the only way I beat Master Diamond, that last track I was so low down, but I made sure to wipe out so many of my foes I still came first in overall ranking).
Of course this difficulty is nothing to STORY MODE… even writing that was giving me PTSD. Split into 9 chapters (prolog doesn’t count). These tell a story that starts with Black Shadow getting beat up for failing in the N64 game by the Villain Deathbron (who has an equally edgelord main theme to his name, go on look it up on YouTube) Then a series of VERY QUICKLY INSANELY HARD LEVELS… yeah first it’s just you doing a training race, then suddenly you have to beat an opponent with no way to recover, then a race where you have to win by taking out EVERY opponent to regain your health. And chapter 7… I have no idea how I successfully completed that bit. By contrast the last chapters were much easier.
There is a reason for completing story mode of course. For one. completing it normally unlocks Deathborn to play as… and then there’s all the arcade characters and tracks you unlock by completing it on harder settings. Oh yes let’s take the insanely hard story mode, and make it even harder to unlock characters and content you can only get otherwise if you were near an arcade machine (yes there was an arcade version good luck finding it). I suppose I should be happy they did include an alternative way to unlock that content. Of note the AX cup as it’s known (that’s the arcade tracks) has 6 tracks that also come in the 4 difficulties.
If you can’t tell, yes this game lives up to its legend of being insanely hard. While the regular cups are fine enough even on master rank. Those ones the difficulty was more fun and engaging, with some amusing bonuses for completing it. BUT STORY MODE…. sorry flashbacks again… I don’t normally say this.. but if you want to unlock the Arcade content in this… maybe find a way to cheat them. Story mode evil enough on its regular difficulty.
Still the main modes are plenty of fun, that Diamond cup master rank run I talked about, it was so fun for me having to wipe out multiple rivals just so I could come first, and hey if I want to see the animations unlocked I could always beat the easiest Ruby Cup on master with the character I want to see. And with 30 Characters all with their own Super speedy hover racer (31 with Deathborn and 41 with the arcade ones unlocked) that’s a lot to see, and some of the answers you give to the interviewer are also pretty amusing.
One to check out for racing fans: See why F Zero fans are getting annoyed at Mario Kart 8 stealing a bunch of their stuff and maybe you can unlock those arcade racers without cheating… or like so many before wind up crying in the corner at chapter 7.