F-Zero has always been an enigma in the expansive list of Nintendo franchises. Hailed for its unrivaled speed, piloting an F-Zero machine required mastery of hairpin turns and weaving between hoards of other vehicles. In hindsight, F-Zero is the perfect game to make into a battle royale considering that, at its core, that’s what it always was.
When Nintendo announced F-Zero 99 on Sept. 14, the reception among fans was mixed. Many were hoping for a new title closer to the 3D installments, but they gave it a chance and witnessed something amazing. Players have been raving about how seamlessly F-Zero lends itself to a battle royale format, from the new super boost mechanic that allows you to drive over the track to the classic risk-reward of boosting at the expense of your health. One Reddit user went in-depth about their personal experience with the game, giving accolades to the tension that comes from qualifying for the next race in grand prix and the variety of formats in which you can enjoy the races.
Additionally, F-Zero 99 offers a myriad of moves to keep the gameplay from being stale. There are grand prix and mini prix where you move on from one track to the next as long as you survive and place within a certain threshold. As opposed to 99-person races on a singular track, the grand prix format does a great job of allowing skilled players to strut their stuff the further they advance. And if you’re tired of the pressure being put all on you, there’s even a team mode where you earn points for your side by placing well and damaging vehicles on the other team.
Compared to the other battle royale games produced by Nintendo, F-Zero 99 is already demonstrating a lot of promise, with a strong likelihood of outmatching Tetris 99 due to the puzzle game’s niche demographic. And of course, who could forget Super Mario Bros. 35, especially when Nintendo made the questionable decision of making it a limited-time-only game with no word of coming back?
It’s safe to say that Nintendo did a great job modernizing this classic title while staying true to the thrill of F-Zero, where falling off the track or getting trampled would lead to your machine exploding. The rush that comes from nailing an inside drift, weaving yourself gracefully between the edge of the track and the vehicle next to you provides incredible satisfaction, especially once you consider that any mistake could cause you to get lost in the mess of machines behind you, knocking you around and perhaps even destroying you completely.
This is the first new title in the F-Zero series in nearly two decades. The last release was F-Zero Climax in October 2004, but even that was a Japanese exclusive. Part of the beauty of F-Zero 99 is that, for the first time in a long while, F-Zero is actually relevant. And no, not in the “that guy from Smash Bros.” kind of way.
Many fans agree that F-Zero 99 could be seen as a test trial of sorts by Nintendo to see if the series can still attract a fan base. It’s certainly possible that we’ll be seeing more of the Blue Falcon, and I couldn’t be more excited.