F-Zero 99 (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Albert Lichi 20.02.2024

Review for F-Zero 99 on Nintendo Switch

Super Mario Bros. 35 took a classic video game and incorporated "battle royale" elements to put a new spin on something everyone was familiar with. Other examples like Tetris 99 proved the concept was fertile and was flexible enough to be applied to all kinds of classic titles. F-Zero 99 is the next attempt at combining battle royale gameplay elements to a classic video game. How does this high speed sci-fi mode 7 racer hold up when there are 98 other players mauling each other for first place? Find out in this F-Zero 99!

Captain Falcon, a man with a past as checkered as the finishing line, haunted by the ghosts of races past. Pico, the pint-sized terror, fuelled by a chip on his shoulder the size of a hovercraft engine. Zoda, the cyborg with a heart colder than the liquid nitrogen powering his machine. They're all chasing the same thing - the checkered flag, a fleeting symbol of glory in a world where tomorrow's as uncertain as the next corner.

What drives these fools to risk their necks for fame? Is it the thrill of the near-death experience, the adrenaline rush that masks the existential void? Or is it something deeper, something primal that screams within their circuits, urging them to push the limits, to stare into the abyss and scream defiance?

F-Zero 99 doesn't offer answers, just a neon-soaked grin and a guttural scream of engines. It's a hall of mirrors where reality shatters and time stretches like taffy. There is no narrative this time, only the races with 98 other players and every single one of them is vying for the number one spot.

Screenshot for F-Zero 99 on Nintendo Switch

Traditionally, F-Zero is an unwieldy racing game where players control jet-power hover vehicles. The lack of friction was always palpable as these machines glide, hitting multiple g-forces at a rock solid 60 frames per second. The mode-7 effect gave an illusion of 3D space that was never seen before and compounded with the intense speeds, the original game made an indelible impression in the early 90s.

It was enjoyable to play with another person, but to expand the multiplayer roster to 99 players may seem like overkill, yet the execution is way better than expected. A reason why it works is largely due to the reworking of the mechanics and gameplay and some slight modification of the race tracks. The visuals are very faithful to the original 1991 game, but with improved sprite scaling, and more of them.

F-Zero 99 feels tighter than it did on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and the boosting now consumes the HP of the vehicles. Every brush with a guardrail, every bump against a rival, becomes a heart-stopping moment that could spell disaster. This makes it so players must be mindful of when to boost and also fosters safer driving since bumping into guardrails or other racers can deplete HP fast enough to earn a racer a quick meeting with their maker.

Screenshot for F-Zero 99 on Nintendo Switch

One addition is the yellow orb pick-ups that are randomly peppered through the race tracks and earned by bumping into other players or large vehicles. This added element further exacerbates the scrambling during the race because getting enough of these orbs to fill up the meter means an easy ride through the skyway which bypasses obstacles and other races for a few seconds.

When everyone is trying to maintain a delicate balancing act while also desperately trying to get to first, the experience becomes unbearably thrilling and tense. While racers still battle for the checkered flag, they also share a mutual understanding of the fragile equilibrium they all face. A well-timed draft or a last-minute nudge out of danger can forge temporary alliances, adding a unique dynamic to the competition.

Screenshot for F-Zero 99 on Nintendo Switch

F-Zero 99 may be free-to-play, but it is devoid of any monetization which is refreshing. There are never any obnoxious ads or pestering to buy some currency. The only thing F-Zero 99 expects from gamers is to have fun at what it throws at them. Usually this comes in the form of the game limiting their options at the whims of some arbitrary schedule. This was likely done as a measure to ensure everyone playing will see little to no downtime between races. The trade-off is ultimately worth it since there is no waiting and the worst aspects of online gaming are completely sidestepped.

It is hard to complain about the lack of content in F-Zero 99 since it is effectively a free game, but it is very light and casual. Apart from the races, the only other content in it is the very limited customization where players can tweak the sprites of the vehicles and choose banners. It isn't much, and it is easy to completely overlook and forget it is there at all.

Screenshot for F-Zero 99 on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

F-Zero 99 scratches a very specific itch where gamers can get an intense and thrilling rush for a bit before moving on to something else. It will be very disappointing when Nintendo inevitably terminates the service for it because it is some of the best F-Zero content since F-Zero GX.

Developer

Publisher

Cygames, Inc.

Genre

Other

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   

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