The Definitive 50 GameCube Games: #13 F-Zero GX

The series so far: The Definitive 50 GameCube Games.

Nintendo tried farming out some of its mid-tier franchises during the GameCube era to encourage third party development. While Namco struggled with Star Fox, Sega excelled with F-Zero, giving gamers one of the fastest, hardest, and most engaging racers ever constructed.

F-Zero GX is comprised of numerous modes, each robustly filled with content, options, and unlockables. The game’s Grand Prix mode includes 26 tracks (theoretically), while its deliriously tough Story mode is made up of 9 missions, each playable at three difficulty settings. There are also many extra racers and staff ghosts to open up. Beyond that, vehicle parts can be unlocked, put together, and even decorated with custom decals.

Grand Prix mode’s tracks are truly something to behold: comprised of massive, looping tubes, half-pipes, jumps, and wild turns decorated with the most exotic terrain the universe has to offer. A chaotic 30 competitors gunning for glory ensures every race is a battle.

Story mode, meanwhile, is made up of 9 less traditional levels, that require hero Captain Falcon to take a more calculated approach: dodging falling boulders in a canyon in one stage, taking out swarms of speedy gang members in another. This is serious stuff, after all, the Captain is racing to save the universe.

The game takes a kitschy tongue-in-cheek approach to its futuristic world of aliens, robots, and skin tight body suits. Throughout the story mode of F-Zero GX there are several ridiculous cut scenes of muscle-bound racers getting dramatic with one another, and the dialogue and voice acting are always perfectly over the top. There’s also a hilariously histrionic song, dedicated to Captain Falcon and all his heroic glory.

F-Zero GX is best known for its extreme difficulty, and rightfully so. I once managed to hammer through the game’s Story mode at the Normal difficulty setting, and consider that one of my greatest gaming accomplishments, even though I can’t even beat the first level on Hard. Additionally, the cup mode contains four easily accessed cups, for a total of 20 tracks, but also contains a virtually unreachable fifth cup, containing another six tracks which I may also never see.

GX‘s difficulty may be both its greatest strength and most frustrating failing. The challenge it provides is nearly unmatched, especially for a title of such high caliber gameplay, but much of the game is simply out of reach for many players.

Some of GX‘s most difficult-to-reach content is actually taken from the game’s arcade counterpart, F-Zero AX. This game was also made by Sega, and allows you to ride right inside Captain Falcon’s cockpit. AX enables gamers to plug in their GameCube memory cards, and unlock the same content more easily. Good luck finding a machine, however.

AX was built for the Triforce arcade system board, another piece of Nintendo’s strategy to reach out to third parties in the GameCube era. The board was a collaboration between Namco, Sega, and Nintendo based on the GameCube’s hardware.