FAST RMX (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Tomas Barry 04.03.2017 2

Review for FAST RMX on Nintendo Switch

With such an extended break since the last F-Zero or WipEout, plenty of futuristic arcade racers have tried to add themselves to the canon, but few stick to their guns quite like FAST RMX. In the absence of these classic series, a new modern and worthy competitor is born. After producing one of the best Wii U exclusives around in FAST Racing Neo, Shin'en Multimedia's futuristic anti-gravity arcade racer returns with this exclusive sequel, which launches alongside the Nintendo Switch on the eShop. After an early hands-on, Cubed3 now delivers the final verdict.

The gold standards of futuristic sci-fi racers are long established. The most vintage is, of course, F-Zero, which started out on the SNES before incarnations on the Nintendo 64, GBA and GameCube. Then there was WipEout, made by a small team in Liverpool, which went on to propel the PlayStation brand towards worldwide success. It's a shame, then, that FAST RMX's arrival (like the previous title on Wii U) is so subdued, comparatively speaking. It's an obvious spiritual successor to both series, yet it hasn't been situated to be a system-seller in the same way.

This is partly down to the plethora of titles that have tried to carry the flame, with most ending up being terribly generic, consequently dampening the reception for cool-looking, futuristic anti-gravity vehicles that zoom around at 200mph, which, let's be honest, is a real crime. FAST RMX is the type of game that would have flown off the shelves back in the glory days, when practically all sci-fi gaming outings were popular, and before the futuristic racing genre became so incredibly saturated.

Instead, despite being a launch day release, it's a fairly discrete launch title, which is only currently available on the eShop for a very reasonable £16.99 - but, behind the obvious candidate, it's tempting to call FAST RMX the next best gaming experience available on the Nintendo Switch on day one. This arcade racer is a modernised, processed reflection of the older aforementioned future-based racing series and others of the day, like Extreme-G or MegaRace. It delivers intense bursts of speed, adrenaline and action on demand, and certainly carves out its own unique tactical presence to distinguish itself, but while the vision of F-Zero and WipEout was often hindered by the technical limits of their time, FAST RMX feels incredibly comfortable, hitting the sweet spot with its time and place on the Switch.

From a technical standpoint, it's absolutely gorgeous, with a silky-smooth sixty frames per second maintained whether playing in handheld mode at 720p or docked in TV mode at 1080p. When playing with the grip connected or via the Pro Controller, the HD Rumble really does imply a nice impression of the vehicle's weight and speed on the track. Boosting produces a satisfying surge of feedback from the Joy-Con that really heightens the intensity, and the various track hazards are also aptly reflected through the finer details felt in the feedback. Perhaps it's just that the platform is a bit bizarre and futuristic too, but FAST RMX feels inherently at home on the Nintendo Switch. It's distinctly modern, yet something about it harks back to those late older series of some significantly greater fame.

Screenshot for FAST RMX on Nintendo Switch

The short-burst nature of the experience, with three-race cups each taking about eight minutes to complete, suits the Switch's flexibility of access down to the ground and seems an obvious game to show off to friends. That's particularly true since the game supports two-player split screen with the Joy-Con in handheld mode, which, while a bit fiddly and twitchy, is an absolutely great inclusion for spontaneous bouts of local multiplayer. Once hooked, however, especially considering the intense and eye-watering speeds the experience can reach, players will likely prefer a full screen to themselves for long sessions. In handheld mode, the game looks its sharpest and the colours seem to pop the most, but the TV mode, albeit a little blurrier and less defined, provides a better view up ahead, giving the player the best chance of dodging the game's many hazards.

Getting to know the courses intimately is vital for surviving the in the higher difficulty levels, since even on the lowest of three, it can be a punishing experience, with one error often throwing you to the back of the pack. It's suitably old school in this sense, and the practicality of its challenge is best compared to F-Zero GX. Courses wind and bend, often so abruptly that flying off-track can be a regular occurrence if the player isn't composed. Some of the jumps, if not carefully adjusted, easily lead to the player's vehicle soaring into the abyss or exploding. The speed of the racing is very intense, especially when hazards still fly up with just a moment's notice. The AIs are no pushovers either, meaning each course really has to be maximised in order to hold down pole. If you miss a boosting strip or a particularly important boost jump, positions are easily lost too.

What distinguishes FAST RMX from the rest is its coloured phase switching system, which works in tandem with boosting earned from collecting refill orbs placed around each track. Tapping X switches the vehicle's phase colours between orange and blue. When the player drives over a boost strip or passes through a portal with the corresponding colour, they receive a boost.

Screenshot for FAST RMX on Nintendo Switch

This may sound like quite a simple quirk, but especially as the intricacy of boosting opportunities ramp up in later stages, this system adds a really interesting strategic element to a racer that's otherwise fairly typical of an arcade race experience. It takes time to learn to cotton on, but the boost structure of a course is just as important as its tightest corners and most difficult jumps. This also adds another layer of tension to the experience, since it can lead to drivers making big gains or sudden losses when they get things wrong or mistime a switch.

The game offers thirty tracks, set in a range of beautiful futuristic cities, alpine peaks and canyons, and even space. Though not every course has a defining aesthetic, with several based on the same regions, each does have something that the other tracks don't, which is a sign of a true arcade soul. These courses also tend to include environmental hazards, such as falling rocks and frozen ice blocking parts of the track. There's almost always a punishing track element to be wary of.

It also has to be said that these courses look utterly amazing in motion, particularly with the full set of environmental effects. One highlight, Storm Coast, is a course that is undergoing a thunderstorm. It features a glorious array of rain, lightning and particle effects that really shows off the beautiful art style and general aesthetic. This has to be one of the prettiest games available on the Switch.


 
There are fifteen vehicles to unlock, which all vary in handling and have different trade-offs that toe the line between speed, acceleration and mobility. The default controls set the A button as accelerate, but because this face button is just a click button rather than pressure sensitive, there is the potential for players to stop accelerating unintentionally. Thankfully, the controls can be fully re-mapped, and personally, swapping the boost button with the accelerator made more intuitive sense when using the grip.

Beside the Championship mode, which features an extensive range of cups and three difficulty settings, there's also Hero mode, a nod to F-Zero. This tasks the player with two objectives: to finish the race in first position, whilst also maintaining their boost and shield energy, which is combined. This provides a further extended challenge, which requires a more measured approach to surviving the race and a lot of patience.

Multiplayer features various options. The online mode featured busy lobbies, but there was a notable element of lag, with some vehicles suddenly flying ahead as it keeps up. Local multiplayer seems to be where the game really shines, though, with two-player split screen holding up very well in handheld mode or TV mode, maintaining sixty frames per second.

Screenshot for FAST RMX on Nintendo Switch

Another excellent aspect of the game is its music and audio. The announcer is suitably intense and can be quite comical, depending on what's happening, his loud and emphatic style fitting the arcade setting well. The music itself tends to be drowned out by the boost and anti-gravity engines on the Switch's handheld mode, but its pulsing electronic vibe is excellent and well worth pushing up in the settings menu.

Overall, it seems that Shin'en Multimedia has produced an extremely stellar arcade experience. FAST RMX doesn't build much upon the formula laid out by FAST Racing Neo (and even the original, FAST Racing League on WiiWare), but it definitely polishes the overall presentation by some margin, with lush and glossy visuals, as well as impressive use of the Switch's HD Rumble and multiplayer options, including two-player Joy-Con support. While online was a little disappointing, this is one game where local multiplayer really does outshine it, thanks to the options of the hardware, in part, but also, the accessibility of the game experience.

FAST RMX is simple enough to get into, but to master it is a tough, resilient challenge. Its unforgiving arcade edge actually helps elevate it toward the bracket of the classic anti-gravity racers. So many franchises of this genre, in recent years, create something altogether too easy and forgiving, leading to a shallow, numb experience. This is the opposite, and while it may be easy to jump into, it's a visceral, demanding challenge that keeps players skimming the fine line between success and failure at all times. This, at its core, is what makes it so intense and addictive, despite its hard edge.

Screenshot for FAST RMX on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

If one thing is certain, it's that the F-Zero brand would be in good hands should Nintendo ever choose to take this fruitful relationship with Shin'en Multimedia to a new level and entrust the property to them. Since there hasn't been a new title from Nintendo in so long, it seems like a logical thing to do. In the meantime, FAST RMX is an excellent arcade racer that will satisfy anyone's craving for speed and intensity, as well as gorgeous graphics that really show off the Switch's capability. As a full priced game, it would still stand out, but as a £16.99 download on the eShop, this really is a no-brainer for any fans of arcade racing. One of the best launch day games available.

Developer

Shin'en Multimedia

Publisher

Shin'en

Genre

Driving

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

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

need this game... Smilie

Shane - you've been playing, as well, right? How do you think it holds up compared to the past entries?

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]
Guest 06.03.2017#2

Couple of quick questions does the online allow for 2 on one console vs 2 on another. As me and my wife play mario kart with my brother and sister all the time. We like fast racing neo but don't play it anywhere near as much because we can't play together online. So i wondered if they added that for the remix My other question is in local multiplayer can you select individual tracks to race on or do you have to play through an entire cup?

Sadly, it doesn't look like two-player split screen online is available. Based on the twitchiness of other drivers during online races that I mentioned (they dart up and down the track unrealistically if on poor connections presumably) - which I am still seeing in online races from time to time, its possible they didn't add two player on one screen because the added stress would be extra annoying when two users where playing on an awful wi-fi connection. That is just a guess.
 
For splitscreen multiplayer, in the multiplayer settings you can switch the mode from cup to single tracks, it can also be toggled to random cups or random tracks. CPU drivers can also be added or removed - not individually though, you can't choose how many fellow drivers there'll be. You can also set laps from 1/5.
 
Lastly, Shin'en Multimedia have since announced that Time Attack mode will be coming to Fast RMX in a future update. Looks like various things could be added in time! I am still having a load of fun with this gem. I wonder if DLC tracks may be a possibility in the future..

Edit: I also forgot to mention in the review (I only discovered this yesterday but should have noticed prior) - the announcer from Fast RMX is the same dude that did F-Zero GX! They should have made more use of him. Smilie
 

( Edited 13.03.2017 18:14 by The Strat Man )

Tom Barry [ Reviewer - Editor - Resident Sim-Racer @ Cubed3.com ]
RufDog Racing: Team Cubed3 | Current C3 Sim-Spotlight Feature | Follow RDR on Twitter |     

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