Release Date: August 23, 1991 (NA)
Platform Played On: SNES
2018 Placement: #85 (+2)
What It Is:
F-Zero is/was Nintendo’s arcade racer franchise. It had its humble start on the SNES and was pretty simple. You stayed away from the outside of the track because it hurts you, there’s other obstacles scattered around to damage or wreck your car if you’re not careful, and you’re racing against a bunch of other AI cars. It’s single-player only, with the objective to be above a certain place in the standings at the end of each lap.
Also it has a fantastic soundtrack (you better not be getting tired of me beating the soundtrack drum because it’s only gonna get more frequent the further into this list we go). Just listen to Death Wind. Or Mute City. Or Red Canyon. Or the GOAT, Big Blue. I will die on the hill that any racing game is only as good as its soundtrack because you HAVE to have good tunes pumping you up while you’re racing at high speeds. F-Zero hits that mark ten times over.
Why It’s Important To Me:
While Super Mario Kart brought the fun in a party aspect, F-Zero was the game that really got me into and made me love arcade racers. The thrill of trying to outmanuever AI never got old for me, especially while taking crazy hairpin turns at top speed like an idiot. The futuristic setting was just a bonus honestly.
Also, again, the music. I cannot stress this enough: good music is the quickest way to make a game important to me. I’m jamming along to the F-Zero soundtrack as I’m writing up this entry and I’m dancing in my chair and playing the air drums instead of typing. The thrill of high speed action with a jamming soundtrack behind it never gets old.
My Strongest Memory:
Funny enough, I never actually owned a copy of F-Zero as a kid. My parents would often go over to their friend’s house for a group gathering – usually to watch the Washington Football Team play against whoever their opponent was that weekend. I, a young child with no interest in football or nachos (yet, at any rate) would always look forward to these particular outings because I got to go down into their basement and play on their kids’ Super Nintendo. The children of my parents’ friends were just old enough (and just not into video games enough) to usually not care about me playing whatever I wanted on the SNES for three hours while socializing was happening. And as I got older, they got old enough to not even be around during these get-togethers so I was completely free.
I can remember the entire layout of that basement because I spent a good deal of time there playing two games: Street Fighter II and F-Zero. And while I sucked at SFII (I beat it once as Chun-Li! yay!) I loved F-Zero to death. I probably wasn’t much better at it, to be fair, but I got way less frustrated with it. Later in life I finally had the chance to buy it myself on Virtual Console and let me tell you, it still holds up. But I’ll never forget the place I originally played it as a child.
Why It’s #83:
It’s a fantastic game hampered pretty much only by the limits of the Super Nintendo system. It would absolutely be higher except there’s a later F-Zero game that’s even better and just takes everything I loved from this game and dialed it up to 11. We’ll get to it later. Just know the only reason F-Zero isn’t higher isn’t really its fault – you have to start somewhere and this was an excellent starting point for the franchise.