The series has been known for its high-speed racing, unique characters and settings, difficult gameplay, stirring original music and pushing the limits of its technology to be one of the fastest racing games ever. The franchise has been recognized for having the first racing game to be developed this realistically which also offered an original scenario and style of gameplay. It is regarded as an influential video game franchise for its genre inspiring the creation of titles such as Daytona USA and the Wipeout series.
The games' fantasy worlds includes different climates and terrains, and are home to many different races and tribes of aliens. There are geographical differences from game to game, but distinctive locations recur, such as Big Blue, Mute City, and Port Town.
The vehicles used to race in these video games are called "F-Zero machines", which are designed to hover, rather than travel on wheels. An anti-gravity unit, known as the "G-Diffuser System", allows them to drive at high speeds, while retaining a hold of the magnetic track, located from a few inches to a foot below it. However, the slip zones, also referred to as the "magnetic field block coat" in the first F-Zero game, blocks the vehicle from retaining a hold on the track. The racing machines developed for these tracks used the latest in this magnetic technology, and are able to perform tune-ups. Out of the over forty-four known machines, only about five do not weigh over a ton. F-Zero machines have a maximum speed exceeding that of sound. This is possible due to the ultra-compact micro-plasma engines used by the machines.
Each machine has four basic performance attributes: body, boost, grip and weight. Body, boost, and grip are rated on a scale from A to E (A being the best, E, the worst). The higher a machine's Body rating, the more durable it is and the less damage it will sustain in a collision. Machines with a good Body rating are, therefore, able to withstand more attacks before exploding. The Boost rating takes into account the duration of a vehicle's boost, and how great a speed increase it provides. A machine with a high rating can travel at higher than normal speeds for a longer period of time. Grip determines how well a machine negotiates turns. A higher Grip rating means that the player's vehicle will execute steadier turns, while a low one will cause the vehicle to drift more, especially when turning tightly. Weight affects a vehicle's acceleration, grip, cornering ability, maximum speed, and the amount of damage it sustains in a collision. A lighter vehicle is superior in the first three categories, while a heavier vehicle has the advantage in the latter two.
DateFormat = yyyy Period = from:1990 till:2005 TimeAxis = orientation:vertical order:reverse ScaleMajor = unit:year increment:1 start:1990 ScaleMinor = unit:year increment:1 start:1990
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at:1996 text:"BS F-Zero"
at:1997 text:"BS F-Zero 2"
at:1998 text:"F-Zero X"
at:2001 text:"Maximum Velocity"
at:2003 text:"F-Zero GX"
at:2003 shift:($dx,-14) text:"F-Zero AX"
at:2003 shift:($dx,-21) text:"GP Legend"
The premiere game in the series and a launch title for the SNES, F-Zero was also the first Super Nintendo title to use a technique that Nintendo called "Mode 7 Scrolling". When Mode 7 was combined with scaling and positioning of the layer on a scanline-by-scanline basis it could simulate 3D environments. Such techniques in games were considered to be revolutionary in a time when most console games were restricted to static/flat backgrounds and 2 dimensional (2D) objects. The result was developer Nintendo EAD creating the fastest and smoothest pseudo-3D racer ever on a console at that time.
A sequel of the first F-Zero game was canceled, but was still released under the names of BS F-Zero Grand Prix and a year later by BS F-Zero 2 Grand Prix. This unfinished sequel was instead released for the Super Famicom's satellite-based expansion, Satellaview, during the mid-1990s in Japan. Zero Racers ("G-Zero"), was a canceled game for the Virtual Boy. The game was previewed by Nintendo Power. Gameplay differs in one important point from its predecessor and all F-Zero games released afterwards. In Zero Racers, the hovercrafts speed through the three physical dimensions of space in the turning tunnels.
After a roughly seven-year hiatus outside Japan, the series made the transition to 3D with the third installment, F-Zero X on the Nintendo 64. The game introduces 26 new vehicles, and brings back the four from the original F-Zero game. In addition to a Grand Prix mode, the title does introduce a "death race" mode and a random track generator called the "X Cup". In the death race, the player's objective is to annihilate the 29 other racers as speedily as possible, while the X-Cup "creates" a different set of tracks each time played. Despite the hardware limitations of the gaming console, F-Zero X used the N64's power to its full extent. This resulted in the game running at 60 frames per second with thirty machines on screen at the same time, however this left little processor power for graphical detail and music.
A Nintendo 64DD expansion known as F-Zero X Expansion Kit was released only in Japan as the last add-on disk for the system. The Expansion Kit added a course editor, a vehicle editor, two new cups for advanced players, three new machines, and some new background tracks. The course editor was the main attraction of this expansion, and was praised for its amazing amount of depth, as it was virtually the same program the game's designers used to make the courses.
F-Zero: GP Legend is the second game featuring a story mode, however this one is based on the anime series of the same name. This results in Captain Falcon sharing the spotlight with a new character named Rick Wheeler. Unlike the rest of the titles before it, GP Legend takes place in a different period of time happening in the twenty-second century rather than the twenty-sixth.
The third GBA incarnation was released only in Japan. F-Zero Climax was the first title in the series to feature a built-in track editor without the need for an expansion or add-on. Custom tracks can be saved to the cartridge for future use and they can be exchanged with other players via link cable. If memory becomes full or link cable connection cannot be done, the game can generate a password for the track; when it is inputted on any F-Zero Climax cartridge, the password will generate the track instantly.
F-Zero begins in the year 2560 where human race's countless encounters with alien life forms throughout the universe greatly expanded Earth's social framework resulting in trade, technology transfer, and cultural interchange are carried out on an interplanetary basis. An association of wealthy space merchants created the "F-Zero Grand Prix", in an attempt to add some excitement to their opulent lifestyles. When the first race was held, people were angered at the brutality of the competition, due to the various obstacles and traps along the raceway. As time passed, however, they became accustomed to these dangers, and even began to demand more excitement and danger in the races. Winning the F-Zero championship soon became the highest claim to fame in the universe. This period of time is called the "old-school" F-Zero days where the rules seemed non-existent in F-Zero X.
F-Zero X's storyline starts after the seven-year suspension of Grand Prix races due to the Horrific Grand Finale. The game explains the "Horrific Grand Finale" was a violent and fiery accident that burnt fourteen drivers to death, including Sterling LaVaughn during the old days of F-Zero. A racer named Super Arrow escaped unscathed as the only survivor. No racing was allowed by the Federation after the crash; despite the F-Zero racing prohibition, the sport went underground where many racers went to hone their skills in secret. The crash ushered in the establishment of the "F-Zero Racing Academy", after a speech, by Super Arrow to the Federation Congress, which helped to lift the ban. The fictional competition was brought back with the rules and regulations revised.
F-Zero GX does not mention the Grand Finale event, but instead the game states Sterling LaVaughn was racing during the F-Max era and the F-Zero Grand Prix was suspended four years ago. This game states the character Mighty Gazelle was injured in the huge accident four years ago. However, the Nintendo 64 game mentions that Mighty Gazelle's accident and the accident that suspended the Grand Prix were two separate events.
F-Zero: Maximum Velocity takes place twenty-five years after the SNES title in the year 2585. Players race against the descendants of the original F-Zero racers. Maximum Velocity is considered a reboot continuity to the rest of the home console titles since the game has made no indication of the safety revisions carried forth after the huge accident, in fact it states just like the original F-Zero game, the extreme danger involved when participating in those races.
Another reboot continuity of the series has F-Zero started with F-Zero: GP Legend in the year 2201. and continued with F-Zero Climax. These games feature some different incarnations of Captain Falcon, Zoda, and other characters.
An editor from Pro-G stated F-Zero GX "still ranks as one of the best high-speed racers ever made".
The editors of GameRankings.com have declared F-Zero GX, the latest Nintendo home console game in the series, the second highest-ranking futuristic racing game of all time by compiling every major numeric review given to the game upon its release. The highest-ranking futuristic game of all time as determined by GameRankings.com is Wipeout XL.
Shigeru Miyamoto commented that past F-Zero and Star Fox collaborations with outside development houses turned out to be a disappointment for Nintendo. He stated "consumers got very excited about the idea of those games, but the games themselves did not deliver".
WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$! and Mega Party Game$, features a simplified "microgame" based on F-Zero. The F-Zero vehicles named Blue Falcon, and Fire Stingray cameos in Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. At the back of Hinopio's Inn, deep within Barrel Vocano, these vehicles, along with an Arwing, are displayed as models sitting on top of boxes. The Blue Falcon is also a lightweight kart in Mario Kart Wii.
F-Zero and the Star Fox series of video games share some similarities inside of their fictional worlds. The F-Zero character James McCloud, shares the same name as Fox McCloud's father. James also has a similar resemblance to Fox's father and his vehicle shares some the Arwing's attributes. His F-Zero machine and the Arwings, which are piloted by the Star Fox main characters, use G-Diffuser systems developed by Space Dynamics. This is the same system F-Zero machines use to travel at high speeds. In the game Star Fox: Command, one of the obtainable endings has Fox and Falco becoming racers in the "G-Zero Grand Prix" which is also a former name to the canceled F-Zero game, Zero Racers. The F-Zero character Octoman also appears as a character.