How long has it been since Nintendo has made an F-Zero game? Far too long. It’s no surprise then that it’s up to other developers to pick up the slack with futuristic, preposterously fast racers. Enter Shin’en Multimedia, and their Fast Racing franchise. Fast RMX is an enhanced version of 2015’s Fast Racing Neo on the Wii U, containing all of the game’s original tracks, as well as all of the DLC and 6 brand new courses, for a whopping 30 race tracks. For $20, this game seemed like a steal, so I dipped right in and checked it out.
This series originally began way back on Nintendo’s WiiWare service with Fast Racing League, which definitely got its beats from Nintendo’s F-Zero series, but threw in a neat twist with its phase-shifting mechanic, which is carried over to Fast RMX. The basic gimmick is this: you can switch between two phases, orange and blue. There are boost pads and jump pads scattered throughout the stages, and all you have to do is match your color to them in order to be able to use them. Simple, right?
Color Me Surprised
I found that I actually really enjoyed this gimmick, which is used mostly well in the game’s varied stages. Hitting boost pads in most stages becomes an exercise in making well-timed, rhythmic switches, while jump pads can make it possible to reach shortcuts, or to wipe out spectacularly when you boost at the wrong time.
Speaking of wiping out, you will do that in this game. A lot. My biggest annoyance with this title is the huge learning curve required to stand a chance. Even in the first stages of the game’s easiest mode, the game demands that you learn the layout of each one of its tracks. This is because, as the name of the game would imply, you have to go extremely fast to beat the formidable computer opponents.
Without knowing the track layouts, you will fall prey to the numerous ridiculous stage hazards that can make you crash without warning. Not all tracks in the game have them, but I found that stages with these elements could sometimes completely sap all of the fun out of this game. In something like Mario Kart, stage hazards work to keep things interesting, since you generally move at a pretty slow pace and can see things coming. However, in Fast RMX, it’s nearly impossible to see some hazards coming, meaning the game effectively punishes you for going fast in a game about going fast. When you already have things like jumps, boost orbs and pads in the matches, stage hazards that bring things to a complete halt just aren’t necessary.
The Training Wheels Are Off
That said, you can overcome this on most stages by simply becoming familiar with the stage layouts. You quickly learn when boosting will push you ahead, and when it will send you flying to your doom. The biggest plus to this game is the sheer amount of content. Aside from the 30 tracks, you have 15 different hovercrafts to race with, and three different difficulty modes. On top of this, there’s the ridiculous Hero Mode, in which your boost meter doubles as a health gauge, making the game more difficult and adding an additional layer of complexity.
The multiplayer is barebones, but enjoyable. Of course, you can play locally with friends, or you can play with strangers online and build up your rank. Multiplayer feels more fun than the single player mode due to the fact that it seems to be a more level playing field. Other racers will struggle just as badly as you on the game’s worst stages, at least adding a bit of hilarity to the mix.
Visually, the game is actually pretty impressive, but it’s hard to make out much detail due to how quickly you move. That said, it retains a silky smooth 60fps at a 1080p resolution, and doesn’t seem to falter much in split screen multiplayer. The music, on the other hand, is acceptable, but not remarkable. It’s a pretty generic electronic music here, and I can’t say any specific track from the game is memorable.
This is the first game I tried that prominently features HD Rumble (Zelda does not make use of this feature). I have to say, while I don’t think it’s game changing, I really enjoyed feeling my car chugging along in my hands, as though I was really holding on to the wheel of a big, beefy machine. I’m really interested to see what developers make of this feature, and Fast RMX makes a good case for it.
Gotta Go Fast
Developer Shin’en Multimedia is up to something here, and while they haven’t necessarily nailed it right yet, Fast RMX can be exhilarating at its best moments. If you’re tired of Zelda, and you’re looking for a good distraction, Fast RMX might be a good game to try. For $20, you get a ton of racing content. Don’t expect a highly polished, all-fun-all-the-time racer, though. There can definitely be frustration, especially at first while you’re getting a hang of the stages. Multiplayer options are woefully barebones, but are enough to make a case for the Switch’s wonderful portable multiplayer factor.
- Stable performance and pretty visuals.
- Tons of content for a small price.
- HD Rumble is used pretty well.
- The feeling of driving at max speed, unable to make out your surroundings, can give you an amazing adrenaline rush that a lot of games don’t achieve.
- High barrier of entry in its difficulty. It requires knowledge of the stages for you to really stand a chance.
- Some of the stages have horrible stage hazards that sap the fun right out of the game.
- Multiplayer is very barebones, with only a few available options.