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F-Zero Advance
Game Boy Advance
A great port of a great SNES game equals a rather lackluster GBA launch title.
Overall Rating:

Animefringe Reviews:
F-Zero Advance
By Jake Forbes

When F-Zero first appeared on the Super Nintendo system 10 years ago, it was light-years ahead of other racing games at the time. The factor 5 scaling enabled a level of speed that was unheard of at the time. The Game Boy Advance version that launched in Japan last month is not a direct port, but is rather a optimized recreation with new tracks and racers. While the new game is slightly more impressive than the SNES original, the F-Zero formula has been done so many times since then to much better effect, making F-Zero for the GBA something of a disappointment.

Make no mistake, this game is fast. The levels zip by at speeds as fast as anything you'll see on the Dreamcast or PS2. Unfortunately, F-Zero Advance suffers from the same problem that the N-64 version does: the levels are incredibly ugly. The color palate is bland, the backgrounds are static and boring, and the racetracks have almost no variety in their appearance. The ultra flat racetracks will also remind gamers of just how far racing games have advanced since the 16 bit days. I don't expect the GBA to support amazing 3-D courses, but I expect Nintendo to be able to pull more out of their system. GBA games should look like the best games on the SNES, not the first games.

Nintendo can't be faulted for the controls on F-Zero; they are quite deep. In addition to the standard gas, brake and turn buttons, the shoulder buttons are used, as they were on the SNES, to make your ship bank, allowing sharper turns. Pressing both L and R gives you a turbo boost. It takes a while to get used to the controls, but once mastered, they are quite satisfying.

Multiplayer is wonderfully executed, with the game allowing 4 players to play with just one cartridge. This is good, because race games are best when you can play against other people. Unfortunately, handheld systems are not the ideal platform for 4 player games. Imagine 4 people sitting or standing in a circle connected by 3 foot wires and tilting their Game Boys in different angles to get the best amount of light. Now, the only times where this setup can work is if you're indoors, with a good amount of space, and artificial light. If you're going to be sitting inside, you might as well play on your TV and save the trouble of the wires. The only time I imagine a good 4 player game working is with 4 10-year-olds at summer camp. 2-players, OK. You can do that on the bus to school or in the car. 4-Players: not very practical.

And this is perhaps the biggest flaw in F-Zero for the GBA. It's a fun game to play, but it's a boring one player game. Like Quake on the computer, it pushes the envelope of technology, has a wonderful multiplayer game and great controls, but is LAME if you don't have a network. Buy or pass on this game accordingly.

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