The original F-Zero, first released in Japan in 1990, was a technical standout for the Super Famicom/SNES. Utilizing Nintendo’s homegrown Mode 7, Nintendo’s futuristic hovercar racer was able to create wide, sprawling race tracks, that gamers really had to navigate through to win.
However, the extensive use of this technology hit the limits of what the SNES and its cartridges were capable of. And so, Nintendo was never able to make any multiplayer mode.
In 1992, Nintendo released Super Mario Kart on the same platform. While ostensibly a more casual kart racer, it demonstrated several improvements over what Nintendo was able to accomplish with F-Zero.
It established the conventions of the series, including power sliding and hopping mechanics, battle mode, and power-ups. It also introduced two player multiplayer modes. F-Zero would go on to also get multiplayer in future games, but not on the SNES.
And that brings all the way up to 2023. F-Zero 99, already a successful revival for the franchise, is getting a new Classic Race Mode. This mode deliberately changes up the rules to answer the question, what if the original SNES F-Zero had multiplayer.
Of course, F-Zero already uses sprite graphics to make it look like the SNES original. But the frenetic pace and intricate rulesets of F-Zero 99 races does make it feel like a completely different experience.
In Classic Race Mode, the number of racers is dropped from 99 to 20. Several features on F-Zero 99 have also been removed, to bring it back to the feel, and game design, of 1990s racing games.
So, there is no more Spin Attack, and no Skyway tracks. More importantly, racers can’t earn Power Meters by scoring KOs. There is now also only one turbo boost to use, which seems to imply that players are also going back to the original race tracks. Corroborating this idea further, Classic Mode also goes back from 16:9 resolution to 4:3.
As reported by Video Games Chronicle, there will also be a new randomization feature called Lucky Cards. Every five races, the game records the player’s finishing position, and the car that they chose. Players then get a corresponding Lucky Card.
Truthfully, this sounds like Nintendo’s way of adding in the randomization from Super Mario Kart. They may add a Lucky Card that acts like a blue shell to limit better players and give them more challenge. More importantly, it can rebalance the game for less experienced players, so that everyone can enjoy.