F-Zero – Definitive 50 SNES Game #16

Click here to view our list of the Definitive 50 SNES games. Links to each video and write-up are included.

The futuristic racing game sub-genre was born on the Super Nintendo’s Japanese launch, dated November 21, 1990 with F-Zero. This now classic racer came to North America for the corresponding system launch here in August of 1991. It is now available on Wii’s Virtual Console download service.

F-Zero takes 16th place on the list of Definitive 50 SNES games.

This game takes place in the grizzly future of 2560, where billionaires with nothing better to do have launched the wildly dangerous F-Zero race circuit. Players zip around treacherous alien worlds in small, nimble, but also vary fragile hover cars in the quest for victory.

F-Zero was made possible by the Super Nintendo’s famous Mode 7 sprite-rotation technology. Essentially, the circuits of F-Zero are large sprites stretched and moved around vehicles to create the illusion of forward movement. It’s a brilliant graphical trick that worked wonders for the racing genre in the 16-bit era. The same strategy was later perfected in Super Mario Kart.

Being a launch game, F-Zero is an unfortunately rather bare-bones affair. The game has its share of tracks for its Grand Prix Mode, which can also be enjoyed in Practice (and perfected to achieve Records), but there is a stunning lack of a multi-player.

Never the less, F-Zero‘s solo gameplay is a real treasure from the SNES’s vast archives. Here, you’ll hover over vast, stretching cities, desolate alien worlds, and all the harshest realms the dystopic future has to offer. There’s real challenge to be found in the game’s difficulty levels, especially after unlocking Master Class. The four selectable vehicles also mix up gameplay by offering variable speed, weight, and power.

F-Zero is fun to this day. The fact that gamers had a blast playing F-Zero titles very similar to the original on the Gameboy Advance just a few years ago only proves that the formula still works. If you’ve enjoyed other titles in the series, or any other SNES racers that take advantage of the system’s Mode 7 technology, remember, you owe a debt of gratitude to this ground breaking title.