F-Zero Gets Back Into Gear As a Battle Royale Racer

Last week’s Nintendo Direct had the internet speculating what new games might be announced such as the much-hyped but yet-to-materialize Metroid Prime 4. Now the norm, fans took to social media to share their hopes and dreams for revived Nintendo franchises seemingly forgotten in a sea of new Mario games. Well, this time we got one—and it’s a racing game! 

Originally released as a launch title for the Super NES all the way back in 1991, Nintendo’s futuristic racing game, F-Zero, returned just after Nintendo’s Direct as the free-to-play F-Zero 99.  Players who remember the days of blowing into cartridges will be right at home with the game’s graphics and audio, which are ripped straight from the SNES original. But while the original game was a single-player racing experience, this new take is a frenzied, battle royale that places you against 98 other racers to see who can cross the finish line and who will end the race as a smoldering pile of rubble. 

At the start of each race, a camera pans across a massive track with all 99 racing machines warming up for the competition ahead. All hell breaks loose as all 99 racers jockey for position from this initial area to the actual track. A newly added spin attack adds a combative element allowing players to keep opponents at bay while also damaging their machines and, crucially, producing super sparks. Collect enough super sparks and you can blaze past the competition via an elevated skyway. 

Smashing your opponents is only half the battle, however, as F-Zero 99 asks players to also keep an eye on their energy meter. Players can boost at any time at the cost of some of their precious energy. Hazards including track boundaries, other racers, and obstacle machines can also sap your energy. Lose all your energy and your machine will explode! Like previous games, energy can be restored by driving over certain areas of the track, but opportunities to do this are few and far between. 

In addition to the standard battle royale mode, F-Zero 99 features various other gameplay modes such as a five-race grand prix where players can earn points and rank on a global leaderboard. Playing the game enough will allow you to level up, unlocking new upgrades for the various racing machines, as well as special badges and cosmetic changes for your “pilot card” so you can let the competition know who they’re messing with. 

F-Zero 99 is the latest in Nintendo’s experiments with battle royale titles. The Switch received Tetris 99 back in 2019. And the now defunct Super Mario Bros. 35 jumped onto the Switch in October 2021 (for a limited time) to celebrate 35 goomba-stomping years of the original Super Mario Bros. released for the Nintendo Famicom and Nintendo Entertainment System in 1985.