F-Zero: Falcon Legend

The most high paced racing action you can get on your Game Boy Advance


The Lowdown

Pros: Fast paced racing, anime styled graphics, story based first player mode

Cons: Control not as responsive as other F-Zero games, nothing new

Purchase at Play-Asia
F-Zero: Falcon Legend is based around the anime series F-Zero Falcon Tradition done by TV Tokyo, but that doesn't mean that you wont see some familiar faces. If you've played F-Zero GX you'll see a bunch of characters like Samurai Goroh, Zoda, Ryu Suzaku and of course Captain Falcon. Even though F-Zero: Falcon Legend does have a story, and a good one that's probably not why you're playing this game. Thankfully, the gameplay, graphics and sound all hold their ground.

If you've played F-Zero: Maximum Velocity or the SNES F-Zero you know what to expect. It's kind of funny that Nintendo built F-Zero FL on the old SNES mode 7 game engine instead of an entirely new engine. Luckily, the F-Zero engine still looks good and feel as cool as it did almost ten years ago. In the game you'll be racing through tracks with tight corners, random traps, jumps and boost arrows. It doesn't matter if you play the story mode or the grand prix mode, the game is essentially the same. The goal of this game, like all other racing games, is to get to the finish as fast as possible. You have to get to the finish without hitting too many obstacles because if your life bar goes to zero your car explodes. Besides pressing A to accelerate and B to brake you can drift by pressing L or R and press both L and R to get a handy speed boost. One thing to note is the controls aren't as responsive as F-Zero Maximum Velocity or the SNES F-Zero. This wouldn't be too much of a problem, if the levels didn't have tight corners. You'll almost have to predict when you're going to turn if you have to make two tight corners in a row. This can get a little frustrating if you're playing the story mode because if you don't get first place you lose.

The story mode gives the game more depth for single players. You'll get the chance to play through the anime series and learn how to play F-Zero. The first few levels are pretty easy, but are good tutorials if you've never played an F-Zero game before. If you win a race you'll receive some cash, which can be used to upgrade your vehicle. Half of the game is ensuring that your vehicle is the better than the other cars you're racing against. To get easy money you can race tracks that you've already completed for a quick cash boost. As a bonus, the story mode has cut scenes at the start and end of the races. The graphics during the cut scenes are well done. All of the characters are pre rendered and have a hand drawn look to them. Behind the characters is a very anime styled background of flashing colors and moving lines. For the GBA the graphical quality of the cut scenes rivals some early Playstation games. The in game graphics aren't nearly as amazing. The game looks just like F-Zero from the SNES. The cars are kind of blocky and pixelated and the racing background is flat and full of random squares (which supposedly are buildings... or random squares). One thing that is good about the low amount of graphical detail is that it leads to no flicker throughout the game. It's a trade off because better graphics means less speed and F-Zero is a game based on high speed racing.

F-Zero: Falcon Legend captures the speed of its predecessors. Everything in the game feels fast paced. When your car is moving at 1000 km/hr you feel like you're going to lose control of your vehicle. You're forced to learn how to drift, it's an essential to win the matches. The races are also rather short and have a lot of turns, which keeps the intensity of gameplay rather high. Even though the levels may be 30 to 60 seconds long expect to play them a couple of times to learn the track before you beat them. Due to the incredible speed of F-Zero: Falcon Legend you almost have to memorize all of the turns to win a match. There is a handy mini map of the level at the bottom of the screen, which is helpful in the Grand Prix mode. However, in the story mode the map is almost worthless since you're driving in a city with many obstacles and you don't know the path to the finish. The music is keeps with the pace, too. If you remember the classic F-Zero Big Blue tune you'll hear it in this game, remixed many, many times. Other songs besides Big Blue are also faced pace techno beat songs, which add to the intensity of the racing. All of this makes the game a fun experience overall.

The game does have some secrets to keep single players interested. After you beat the story mode and the grand prix mode you can unlock cars, upgrade your cars and even race against a second player. Racing against a second player is one of the core components of the game, but this requires to copies of the game. This game also does feature e-reader support, but we did not have a chance to see what extra bonuses the e-reader support would give. It is believed that the e-reader would be used to add in extra race tracks. In F-Zero there's always the ultimate challenge, which is beating your own top times, a challenge that all racing fans aspire.

Import Friendly?

All of the voices when you select items in the menu are in English. However all of the text, which includes menus and the story are in Japanese. Luckily, you won't need to understand any Japanese to enjoy the core part of the game, the racing action.

US Bound?

The game has no slated release date except a vague 2004 release. This game is likely to be released in the US due to the popularity of the series,

Overall

If you liked any of the F-Zero games you'll enjoy this. If you have a Game Boy Advance and are looking for a fast paced game you can play casually, you'll enjoy this, too. This game has enough content for die hard gamers and an easy learning curve for casual gamers.