FAST Racing League (Wii) Review

By Adam Riley 27.06.2011 13

Review for FAST Racing League on Wii

What can be said about Shin’en Multimedia that has not already been said a million times before? The development outfit from Germany may only be small, but the output over the years has been exemplary, be they original creations or licensed work. The Cubed3-Shin’en love affair has been in full swing for a long time now, and recently the latest WiiWare title, FAST Racing League has been the centre of attention, with an exclusive early hands-on with the futuristic racing game, as well as an interview with the main developer. Now it is time to deliver the final verdict, to see whether those clamouring for an F-Zero or WipEout will be satisfied.

Many may have given up on WiiWare, with big-name releases such as Swords & Soldiers being moved across to smartphones and Puzzle Agent from Telltale Games simply announced and, after a year of silence despite a sequel on PC being lined up, eventually confirmed as cancelled upon Cubed3’s questioning. However, this has left the market open for developers that know how to properly reach out to their target demographic in order to achieve strong sales, such as German outfit Shin’en Multimedia. First of all it brought a family-favourite to the fold with Fun! Fun! Minigolf, then followed it up with a brilliantly addictive block-based puzzler Art of Balance, and finally hit home last year with Jett Rocket, which tapped into the fan-base that had been enjoying Super Mario Galaxy 2 so much and wanted a little extra for dessert.

Even taking an early glance at FAST Racing League when someone else is playing, or just watching a movie clip of it in action, goes to show that Shin’en has technically out-done itself once more in every possible way. Wii owners have been thirsty for something similar to WipEout and F-Zero, yet have had neither, nor even a return for the Extreme-G series. Therefore, up steps Shin’en again to fill the void with what gamers want; a high octane thrill ride full of gorgeous visuals, hypnotic techno beats and cheek-flapping speed.

Screenshot for FAST Racing League on Wii

Each stage starts with a sweeping overview of the level, showing off FAST’s extremely strong graphics engine, with beautifully detailed landscapes that very soon become a complete blur as your racing craft zips around each lap at break-neck speed. Dotted around the race track are lots of shiny globes with a green hue; these are energy items and up to ten can be held at any one time, with the running total show by a glistening metallic bar broken into ten segments in the bottom-left of the screen, underneath the speed indicator. Energy items are of paramount importance throughout each and every race as they are the life-blood of a vehicle’s boosting capabilities and their phase-switching functionality.

Phase changing is the heart and soul of FAST: Racing League, with Shin’en working through various ideas that could be implemented before finally settling on this particular one during development. The idea is simple; just tap the appropriate button when using any of the three control settings (Classic Controller, Wii Remote held on its side for motion movements, or Wii Remote and Nunchuk combined) and the vehicle will alter its appearance for the cost of one energy chunk. The reason behind this is, first of all, to be able to gain a massive boost when hovering over an on-track strip of the same shade (and, conversely, slowing movement down considerably on an opposite colour), but, more importantly, also lets players use black or white coloured pads to launch the craft up and over gaps that would otherwise be driven into, resulting in oblivion’s figurative mouth hungrily opening wide, ready to devour the vehicle. There are sections where driving along the ceiling of a tunnel is imperative, for the same crash aversion explanation, and these also come in polar-opposite colour forms.

Screenshot for FAST Racing League on Wii

A lot of tactics come into play during FAST Racing League’s main modes, between the one-chunk-per-phase-switch aspect and how the general boost mechanic installed on the vehicles takes up five pieces of the energy bar. Gamers must carefully plan out whether or not to boost twice in a row and hope they get the chance to grab more energy items before opponents snatch them and in time for the next coloured boost strip, ceiling-riding section or launch pad, or play it safe to ensure there is enough energy for quick-fire phase changes in order to stay ahead of the competition.

FAST Racing League starts off with a ‘Qualification’ stage, which takes players through the gameplay features step-by-step to help them grow accustomed to what is about to be unleashed, and upon completing the mandatory mode, other options open up. There is a multiplayer split-screen race mode for up to four players, fifteen different elements to unlock as more of the game is played, as well as a Jukebox. The meat of FAST definitely lies in the single-player mode where you can choose to race to the top of the leagues on offer, selecting one of the initial vehicles on offer and using your preferred control method. Some of the courses are devilishly tough, with tight corners covered in ice and numerous obstacles littering the main route, yet with plenty of practice gamers will be zooming around each stage like professionals, switching phase at the perfect time to take full advantage of the speed strips, as well as using general boost and collecting energy orbs galore. Thankfully there are ‘FAST Records’ that open up after the first part of the rookie league has been completed, where previously played tracks are available for replay time and time again until racing perfection is achieved.

Screenshot for FAST Racing League on Wii

However, rather than resting on its laurels, Shin’en has deemed it fit to include a whole slew of challenges on top of the standard racing fare. Reaching the goal within ten seconds, collecting items within an arena in the time given, beating three laps in the quickest time possible, and many more - the range of objectives that must be completed is fantastic. Anyone wanting a break from pure racing fun will get great enjoyment from this inclusion and it certainly extends the life of FAST considerably and goes to show how much care and attention the small German developer puts into trying to deliver the best possible end product for its fans.

It has already been highlighted how visually impressive FAST Racing League is, even surpassing Jett Rocket in the visual stakes due to its locked 60 frames per second in single-player (this can become variable in the multiplayer mode, though not dipping lower than 30 frames per second), but special attention must be given to the audio elements. In terms of soundtrack composition, Shin’en is known for its extremely futuristic tones and beats, and whilst the music in FAST is indeed futuristic, it takes on a more jungle, techno, hard-hitting industrial edge at times that sounds absolutely amazing and could easily be re-worked for a full CD release at a later date (as Shin’en did with the Iridion soundtrack earlier this year). Clearly the team knew just how special its soundtrack was, which is why it kindly added the bonus Jukebox option for those that persevere through all the leagues. In fact, FAST Racing League is special in its own right and could well be one of the last great WiiWare releases.

Screenshot for FAST Racing League on Wii

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Fun! Fun! Minigolf was high in the enjoyment stakes, Art of Balance was devilishly tough and highly addictive, Jett Rocket filled the hole left after Super Mario Galaxy 2 had been completed, and now F-Zero and WipEout fans can get their fill of racing goodness with this superb futuristic racer. Shin’en has truly outclassed not only all other WiiWare developers, but also itself with FAST Racing League; a quintessential download title and an essential purchase for all Wii owners.

Developer

Shin'en Multimedia

Publisher

Shin'en

Genre

Driving

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

This game looks great in higher resolutions on an emulator.

It's going to be shit and you jolly well know it.

It looks stunning through my HD upscaler on Wii Smilie

In terms of controls, I definitely prefer playing with the Classic Controller PRO, although Wii Remote + Nunchuk works nicely. Wii Remote alone feels a little 'floaty' at times, though.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

^ Not to go off topic from the review, but where did you get your HD upscaler from and how much? Pretty curious.

Check this out Smilie

I got bored with this game to start with, mainly because I was terrible in the league racing section, coming in the bottom four constantly. However, I tried the challenges and it really saved the game, helping to hone my skills considerably because of its addictive and intense nature. Definitely helped me when going back to the standard race setting!

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]
Our member of the week

I just got to the third level in the challenges, and beat the neutron league, coming in first on almost every race. The next difficulty level, however, is almost too challenging for me Smilie.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

I think I'll actually download this tomorrow, I thought it was going to be good, and now I know. Great review Adam.

( Edited 27.06.2011 23:26 by Stulaw )

Follow Me on twitter :: @Stulaw90 || My Youtube || Backloggery
NNID: Stulaw

The wii in my opinion wasnt the place for racing games. High fidelity and HD resolution is important for racing games.

I really hope for f zero on wii U. It should be awesome. If mario kart come to wii U hopefully they can make the offline more competitive without cheap tricks like the blue shell. Better level design would be welcomed

Game looks great and we couldn't expect less from them after the graphical wonder that was Jett Rocket (and a fun game as well!).

Kafei2006 said:
I just got to the third level in the challenges, and beat the neutron league, coming in first on almost every race. The next difficulty level, however, is almost too challenging for me Smilie.

You're a better man than I! This game is rock solid and definitely keeps on proving to be fantastic value for money.

Stulaw said:
I think I'll actually download this tomorrow, I thought it was going to be good, and now I know. Great review Adam.

Thanks a lot, Stu! Please let us know what you think - especially the two-four player splitscreen mode, since I didn't get chance to play that very much Smilie

meeto_0 said:
The wii in my opinion wasnt the place for racing games. High fidelity and HD resolution is important for racing games.

Surely you can't say this doesn't look amazing, though. I'd have been disappointed if FAST hadn't been released. It was delayed a lot, so I was worried it may be cancelled.

I really hope for f zero on wii U. It should be awesome. If mario kart come to wii U hopefully they can make the offline more competitive without cheap tricks like the blue shell. Better level design would be welcomed

Firebrand Games has expressed interest in doing F-Zero, but I also think Shin'en would do an even better job than SEGA did for F-Zero GX!

EdEN said:
Game looks great and we couldn't expect less from them after the graphical wonder that was Jett Rocket (and a fun game as well!).

I enjoyed Jett Rocket, but found that the whole thing ended a bit quicker than expected. I'm definitely keeping my fingers crossed that the rumours of a 3DS/eShop sequel are true.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

Online for this game?

No online, unfortunately, but it costs the developer a considerable amount more to add such a feature and the returns on WiiWare are tight enough, so increases the risk too much.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]
Jimmy D (guest) 07.07.2011#12

Just got this and keep crashing BADLY!! Not too sure about Wii Wheel controls, tbh. Damn fun game, though!!

Charlee (guest) 09.08.2011#13

Kudos to you! I hadn't thuoght of that!

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
Azuardo, Flynnie, Ofisil

There are 3 members online at the moment.