F-Zero GX’s turning 20 today but it certainly doesn’t look like it

f-zero gx

Out of all of Nintendo’s franchises, F-Zero stands as probably the one that’s most desperately in need of attention. Case in point, F-Zero GX, the last game in the series to be released and the 20th anniversary of its North American debut, which happens to be today, August 25th, 2023.

F-Zero GX was the GameCube follow-up to F-Zero X, released on the Nintendo 64 in 1998, itself a continuation to the revolutionary Mode7-powered Super Nintendo original. Each iteration of the series brought along significant improvements, and F-Zero GX was no different; in fact, it was easily the fastest and best looking out of the bunch.

f-zero gx
Hold on to your butts! We’re going for a ride!

And that’s no surprise, given its pedigree. It’s been developed by Amusement Vision, a subdivision of Sega which eventually evolved into what we know today as Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, the team behind the excellent Like a Dragon series.

F-Zero GX is as sharp of a game today as it was 20 years ago thanks to the incredible work of its designers and the fact that it was co-developed with the arcade release, F-Zero AX, which was also worked on by Namco, at the time before the Bandai merger.

This game was quite a departure from the previous one due to its inclusion of a story mode. In it, you play as Captain Falcon, and it puts you through nine chapters with continuously more difficult challenges, such as racing in a canyon with falling boulders. Don’t worry, though, arcade mode is also present. 

And speaking of difficulty, this is where F-Zero GX has gotten most of its infamy from.That’s because the game’s based on pure rote memorization of its tracks if you have any hope of doing well in it. The opponent A.I is merciless in this, and unless you know your way around, you’ll get smoked early on. Then again, a similar approach is usually taken with your usual arcade racer, but F-Zero GX took that a notch or ten higher than its brethren. 

Taking a ride through Ruby Cup. (Gameplay cortesy of N64Brasil)

For that reason alone, the game’s become known for its high difficulty curve, but the rewards make it worth your while, since F-Zero GX is quite easily one of the best playing games on the GameCube, as well as one of the prettiest. The sense of speed is amazing and to this day there hasn’t really been a game that’s managed to capture this feeling as well as F-Zero GX.

That’s a tough feat especially considering that it’s been 20 years since its release. We’re talking about three videogame console generations ago here. Impressively, F-Zero GX is still to this day one of the top Twitch stream games that’s constantly being broadcast by players all over the world.

And that’s not even mentioning its captive place on speedrunning channels as well. Every couple of years, even Awesome Games Done Quick, the charity event that has speedrunners taking a crack at their favorite games, has a go at F-Zero GX, and it’s one of its most popular inclusions to be sure due to how fun it is to watch a pro player running it perfectly.

With all of this in mind, why would Nintendo leave the series behind? While this question remains unanswered, we can look at what we do have to play and how great they are. Whether we’re talking about the games that came before it or F-Zero GX itself, there’s no doubt that an excellent time is sure to be had. It’s positively bonkers that it’s been 20 freaking years since the NA release of this game, let me tell you.

Here’s to many, many more. Happy birthday, F-Zero GX

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