And so it has come to this, the most recent F-Zero game to hit western shores. F-Zero: GP Legend is the second outing that the series saw on Game Boy Advance, and so follows in the footsteps of Maximum Velocity. But it does, even more, tying in with the short-lived F-Zero anime that existed, and thus creates its own continuity away from the futuristic racer’s other titles.
As it is based on the anime, the main mode for F-Zero: GP Legend isn’t Grand Prix as you’d have come to expect, but rather the Story mode. This has you follow the stories of the F-Zero racers as they travel across numerous worlds to achieve missions, which range from standard races to having to reach a target before another player. Many of these stories intertwine with other characters and are certainly worth a play as they really add to the value of the package. Unfortunately, the cutscenes giving the story just use images of the characters accompanied by text boxes, which is somewhat disappointing.
Another mode introduced in F-Zero: GP Legend is the Zero Test mode. This gives you a variety of missions to accomplish, typically going through a certain path in a specific time. The faster the time, the better the trophy you receive. There are 48 of these to complete, although they can soon become repetitive.
The standard modes of Grand Prix, Training and Time Attack make a return with over 30 tracks to race on, with the tracks unlocking in the latter two when you beat them in Grand Prix. In addition to this, rather than just a handful of characters which its predecessor had, F-Zero: GP Legend has more than 30 characters for you to choose from and unlock. This means that you will definitely feel encouraged to take time to unlock everything, if that’s what you wish to do, resulting in the game extending its longevity.
The gameplay itself is classic 2D F-Zero fare, and it is remarkably fine-tuned here. You have the ability to manipulate your car’s Top Speed and Acceleration, with each character and their vehicle being different so that you can find one to suit you. Fast, fun and requiring quick reflexes, you may sometimes be knocked about and feel that you have lost control, but it’s all part of the fun. Especially when the controls are tight and very responsive.
In the visual department, F-Zero: GP Legend is a notable step up from Maximum Velocity but it still suffers from the same issues. While it does look nice, the ground is often a pixel-laden mess with it near impossible to even tell what it’s meant to be. The imagery for the Story mode and the cars are all good, and there are added effects in the stages now such as fog which allows them to feel more varied. Although, this is another game that doesn’t really benefit from the screen smoothing. While HUD elements and the large sprites in Story Mode do see an improvement, the actual gameplay barely changes so it’s not something that I’d recommend.
The sound remains relatively unchanged. You’ll have your engine sounds and crashing sounds in gameplay, while the tracks each have their unique music based on their location. These tracks are mostly catchy and some are, of course, classic F-Zero tracks.
Unfortunately a big part of F-Zero: GP Legend, as with many other Game Boy Advance titles, is missing. The multiplayer mode, which made the game a lot more fun when it originally came out, cannot be played on Wii U’s Virtual Console. It’s understandable but this does take a bit of a chunk of the game out, and we all know that racing games are most fun when you’re playing against other people.
F-Zero: GP Legend remains an enjoyable title for F-Zero and racing fans alike. It’s good fun to speed your way through all of the stages, with the story and mission modes adding plenty of depth. It’s quick, sharp and colourful with a lot of variety, even though it is a shame that this is still the latest F-Zero game to have seen release, as it shows that the series still has plenty of potential.