Nintendo is well known for its vast IP vault that has mostly been untouched for decades. F-Zero is one of those IPs, and it has not seen a release since the GameCube. Sure, the Wii U had an F-Zero minigame, and Mario Kart 8 has an F-Zero DLC, but it’s not the same. They were hope-filled crumbs that have led to nothing but pain and misery.
Fans of the series, myself included, have been clamouring for a new entry for years now; generations even. These trickled-out tidbits in other games give hope, but that hope has failed to yield any tangible results. Well, that was until Nintendo stealth-dropped F-Zero 99.
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F-Zero 99 is a throwback to the classic F-Zero in a way that is truly exceptional. It is fast, chaotic, fast, and, well, fast. Lobbies fill up fast, races are fast, and you crash out faster than a joy-riding teen swigging their first alcopop. It’s the most unabashed fun we’ve had all year, which is high praise when you consider how packed 2023 has been for new releases.
I can finally hop back in the Golden Fox and blitz around Mute City at a crisp 60FPS. I can cut myself on the razor-sharp pixels. I can bob along to the banging soundtrack whilst smashing people into electrified bumpers. It’s here, and it’s bigger than ever whilst paradoxically being a bite-sized – yet scrumptious – morsel. It has a hectic crunch that few racing games try to pull off nowadays, and I am all for it.
Putting all of my hyperbole on the shelf for a moment, not everyone is as enamoured with Nintendo’s new racer or the direction the series has gone. Sure, F-Zero pioneered the concept of the ‘Death Race’ (citation is probably needed here), but fans probably weren’t expecting this. I mean, it is a multiplayer-only, 99-person Battle Royale with more chaos injected into it than your average Final Fantasy 1 remake.
Not only that, while I adore retro-inspired graphics, not everyone shares that love. But for me, all of these are simply niggles at best even if they come across as insurmountable to some fans. Here’s the chilli meat rub on the tough love rump steak – none of it matters. Everyone, their kids, their dog, and even their Nan needs to play F-Zero 99. Why? Because it is the most important game Nintendo has released all year. By far.
Put it this way, if Mario, Zelda, or even Kirby had a bad day and launched to middling sales, those series would continue to exist. They are so ingrained in the greater gaming psyche that they will always have representation. They will always exist tangibly; they will never be relegated to Nintendo’s overflowing calaboose. A dead franchise that has lingered in the oubliette for decades? If they revive that franchise and it flops, that’s it. That’s the end of F-Zero. I for one do not want to live in a timeline where F-Zero 99 fails and the series is taken out back and domed by Miyamoto himself.
F-Zero 99 needs to do well because it only exists as a way to gauge reception and retention. They aren’t deaf. They’ve heard fans cry out for F-Zero every Direct. Now they want to test the waters and see if the series is worth their time. The last thing they want is another massive flop like Star Fox Zero or Kid Icarus Uprising. They want their dormant IP to make waves and be successful. We, as fans, want F-Zero to make waves and be successful.
It boils down to this, if F-Zero 99 fails they are not going to be confident in the IP and they are far less likely to release a full-fledged sequel to F-Zero GX. That being said, I am not saying you should play F-Zero 99 purely because of this. The game is fantastic on its own merits and it should be played because it is all kinds of fun. It stood up to the plate and knocked it out of the park. It’s a great game first – supporting it purely leads to more great games in the future.
Or It won’t. Nobody can predict what Nintendo will or won’t do. Their designs are as labyrinthian as they are enigmatic. Maybe all of this nonsense was spewed from an ageing fan desperate to see F-Zero slapped onto a snazzy Switch case. Maybe Nintendo has no intentions of releasing anything F-Zero-related ever again and this was just the series’ death rattle. Whilst the nebulousness of Nintendo’s scheming unfurls, I am going to hop into another game of F-Zero 99.
That’s all we have on F-Zero 99. Be sure to check out our other lists and guides for more F-Zero content.