It has been a long time since F-Zero has graced us, and boy howdy, are we glad the series is finally back in the spotlight. F-Zero 99 is Nintendo’s latest foray into the Battle Royale genre, and if we are being totally straight with you – it’s easily their best. F-Zero is back, and it could herald a bright future for fans.
But all of that gushing aside, F-Zero 99 is hard as nails – which is par for the course when you consider previous entries. When there is only one winner in a sea of racers, it can be hard to steel yourself against the weight of self-expectation. Worry not, because in this guide we are going to try and refine your racing skills so you can plonk your loafers on the podium.
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Spin To Win
F-Zero 99 is brutal. When 99 players are desperately trying to climb the pack and break free from the herd, you are going to get a few knocks on the chin. Thankfully, there are ways to defend yourself, with the best being your Spin Attack. This powerful tool comes with a fairly short cooldown and opens up a lot of play potential.
Firstly, whilst you are spinning you are immune to damage. This keeps your health up, your ship healthy, and you in the race. When things get rough, you pop the Spin Attack, and you are safe for a few seconds. On top of that, the Spin Attack is, well, an attack. If you clobber someone with it, you will deal heavy damage and send them flying.
If you want to maximise your damage with your spin, aim to knock people into walls or the sharp edge of a corner. This can launch them all over the shop when timed correctly, making it much harder for them to recover. Sure, you’ve royally messed up a fellow racer, but that’s one less threat you have to deal with.
It’s Not Always About Going Fast
One of the most common mistakes new players make is never slowing down. They take every corner at full speed, and they are punished for it every time. Every track in F-Zero 99 has corners that are designed to be too tight to feasibly navigate at full tilt. To get around them, you need to use your brain.
Luckily, you don’t need to use much of it. Simply let go of the accelerator and you can take corners far tighter. If you use LB and RB you can even tilt your machine, allowing you to go even tighter. Going slow to go fast – trust it, it works.
Boost With Purpose
One of the F-Zero’s most interesting features is its boost system. In short, you can boost at any time. This gives you a huge burst of speed and lets you cut corners and find shortcuts. The downside to this ‘on-demand’ boost? It’s directly tied to your HP.
Every boost you trigger drains a substantial chunk of your HP. Once your HP is gone, you are out. It’s that simple. Abuse your boost and you will end up a smoking wreck in no time. Sure, you can hit up the recovery lane on each lap, but you probably aren’t healing to full. Boost too much too early and you won’t have options later in the race.
The trick is to plan your boosts for key points on a track. Mute City 1 is great for this as you can boost over all the gravel that litters the track to cut several corners. Look for these kinds of shortcuts on other maps and plan your boost accordingly.
If you want to get more boost, then you want to play aggressively. Players wreck all the time in F-Zero 99, but if you are the one to wreck them, then you get a bonus. KOing another player maxes out your HP, which is massive. You can go from near death to HP instantly, which of course, allows you to be more aggressive with your boost.
The best way to KO a player is to look for flashing machines to boost into or hit with a Spin Attack. You will get a nice chunk of EXP at the end of the race in addition to a huge advantage over the competition. Aggressive play is heavily rewarded in F-Zero’s aptly named ‘Death Race’.
Learn Each Track’s Gimmicks
There are a handful of tracks in F-Zero 99 and they are all a blast to play. Here’s the thing though, they all have some kind of gimmick. Some are less impactful than others, with more difficult tracks having far more debilitating tricks. Mute City 1 comes with a lot of gravel to slow you down. Big Blue has ice physics, Death Wind will blow you around the track. You get the idea.
If you want to master F-Zero 99 you need to not only learn each gimmick but also find ways to alter your play to account for them. This will, in turn, improve your performance across the board. You can’t just blitz every track – use that nogging and race smarter, not harder.
Your Machine Matters
Whilst F-Zero 99 doesn’t have a huge selection of machines to pick from, the ones it offers are all very different. Picking the right machine for your playstyle is very important. Wild Goose is great for new players as it comes with the highest durability. This means it can survive far more punishment before getting wrecked. The downside? It struggles to recover its HP when visiting the recovery lane.
On the flip side, Golden Fox has incredible recovery, able to go from near-death to full HP every single lap. It’s also rather squishy and isn’t as naturally fast as other machines. This encourages a ‘risk vs. reward’ play style that focuses on the liberal use of your boost. Experiment with each machine and mould your play around it.
Mini-Prix And Grand Prix
As you progress through F-Zero 99 you will unlock Tickets. These can be used to buy entry into Mini-Prix (one Ticket) or Grand Prix (three Tickets) events. These are the ultimate tests of skill as you are thrust into 3-5 back-to-back races. Scores are tallied over each race, and the goal is to finish at number one.
Here’s the kicker though, if you ever Crash Out, you are removed from the Mini/Grand Prix. This adds far more tension than your standard race and encourages players to play the long game and not get too risky on any given race. Don’t go too slow, however, as the players at the back of the pack are eliminated each lap.
Don’t Fret About Losing
Losing in any Battle Royale is all part of the fun. When 99 players are gunning for the top spot, it’s natural that you are not always going to come out the victor. Heck, you might never win. But that’s not something you should be concerned about.
F-Zero 99 is lightning fast, both in terms of gameplay and race length. You can easily fit five races into a 10-minute session, so don’t get hung up on coming 63rd or crashing out. You will be back racing in no time at all, especially when you consider how quickly lobbies full up. Just have fun racing, chasing, slamming, and crashing.
That’s all we have on F-Zero 99. Be sure to check out our other lists and guides for more F-Zero content.