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F-Zero GP Legend Review for Game Boy Advance (GBA)
Posted on Sunday, September 12, 2004 @ 11:56:45 pm E.S.T

Many of us have a need: a need for speed. And since the majority of us canít go 150 miles per hour on a highway whenever we want, video games have taken on the burden of satiating the speed-demon inside. One franchise that has particularly served as a loyal source of supreme neck-breaking velocity is the F-Zero series. Nintendoís latest release for the franchise, F-Zero: GP Legend for the GBA, does a great job of bringing to life the concept of going 900 KPM on your local neighborhood street. Well-rounded in nearly every way, gamers looking for a handheld racing dreamland may just find one in this cartridge.

GP Legend, which is based on a new anime from the Land of the Rising Sun, puts you behind the eyes of eight different characters in an overlapping story mode. Each of the eight characters has five or six stages to complete, with only Rick Wheeler unlocked from the start. As you meet new characters, the other seven stories will be revealed, each of which display their motivations and develop the characters. In addition to the story mode, four Grand Prix are included, each with five tracks (with exception to the Platinum Cup, which contains seven.) All feeling like complete sets, these circuits are an excellent source of ten to fifteen minutes of fun and this makes it the backbone of the game.

Time Trials are also included in GP Legend, along with a mode called Zero Test. Essentially, Zero Test consists of four classes of twelve challenges. Each of the challenges range from either doing a section of a track with sharp turns with a craft (which often have the turning capacity of a fat man rolling down a hill) or simply completing a lap of a track in a certain time. Zero Test really serves little to no purpose. First off, it is rarely fun. Maybe this is just me, but driving on a tricky track with a craft I just plain hate has little entertainment value. Additionally, they are excruciatingly hard. It may take tries in the double digits just to pass a stage with the lowest score. Zero Test doesnít sound like a bad idea in and of itself but the execution just didnít work out in the least. Luckily however, the only thing to gain from this mode is three crafts, so it can be ignored if one wishes to.

A glaring positive of GP Legend is its tight and simple controls. They complement the experience quite well and are easy to learn; A for acceleration, B for brake. BAM! Now you can play this title. Needless to say, the control scheme wonít cause you any problems on the twenty or more tracks. From tight U-turns to jumps, mines to rough spots, success in GP Legend will require excellent reaction time on your part. As history tells us, F-Zero games are notorious for being on the more tricky side of the difficulty spectrum and this title is no exception. Some players may feel like a pinball rather than a hovercraft sometimes but persistence will lead to fun, guaranteed.

Graphically, the game does quality work with the GBAís hardware. Every nook and cranny of the game has much work invested in it. The crafts have the aura of three dimensions and are distinctive while the tracks look very atmospheric and are easy on the eyes. Unfortunately though, sometimes the excellent graphics can get you in trouble. One track in particular has a chain-mail look and it overlaps itself, making specific turns confusing and sometimes hard to maneuver around. Moreover, the display while in the middle of races is, for the most part, unobtrusive. There will be instances, however, when you would love to know just how far away someone ahead of you is, but won't be able to tell since only your own vehicle is shown on the map. On another subject, cutscenes, which are all over the story mode, are well made and get the job of conveying the charactersí emotions well. In general, the most important thing to this game is the fact that the graphics give the illusion of high speed. GP Legend does an above average job with this and is a key to its high entertainment value. Small beefs aside, the graphics earn a thumb pointing skyward.

On another note, it is safe to say that you can not have an F-Zero game without two specific music backgrounds included: Mute Cityís and Big Blueís. GP Legend doesnít disappoint as both are featured prominently in the title. Other than those two awesome songs, GP Legendís ear food is nothing to be excited about. Better than elevator music but less grand than Aerosmith, the F-Zero titleís music is satisfactory. Sound effects wise, this title does a passable job. Explosions sound like explosions and the rough spots sound, to be quite frank, rough. When all the parts are considered, GP Legendís sound scheme feels whole and adequate.

Being a racing game, GP Legend has practically instant replay value. Excellent track designs give this title a wide and varied assortment of tracks, each with their own amusing quality. Whether it is littered with mines or riddled with jumps, an excellent track is not hard to come by. Also, unlocking each of the 34 crafts will take some time to do, so there is definitely something to come back and do every time you play GP Legend. It is hard to imagine getting tired of rapidly turning the corners or wrecking other crafts but since the difficulty level is higher, some may just be annoyed by it. Bottomline: if you like one track in this game, you will want to play it again.

In the grand scheme of things, F-Zero GP Legend is a pleasant surprise. The thought of a handheld racing title may seem risky for some but this is a case where it can be done, and quite well! With highly detailed courses, crafts, and varied gameplay, GP Legend will satisfy any speed demon with a GBA. This is, of course, assuming you donít have the money to build a race track in your back yard (Iím talking to you, Gates!). Seekers of a worthwhile handheld racing title should pick this up right away, and for the eccentric bunch, please buy a helmet.

Review By: Flamecuber - 1436 Reads

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