F-Zero GP Legend marks the second time Nintendo's premier future-racing franchise has hovered over to the Game Boy Advance, the first being F-Zero: Maximum Velocity. Once again, Nintendo's 13-year-old formula hasn't received any major shake ups. The few graphical improvements that were made to Maximum Velocity from the original F-Zero have been reiterated here. You'll be treated to the same sort of MIDI, rock-and-roll soundtrack. Gameplay and hovercraft control remain unchanged. Fortunately, time has been kind to this old gameplay standard, and it is as much fun to play today as it ever was.
F-Zero GP Legend takes its story from the currently-running Saturday morning cartoon.
You still accelerate with A, brake with B, use the shoulder buttons to assist in making sharp turns, and use both shoulder buttons together for a speed boost. Using a boost depletes your health meter, as does crashing into the track boundaries. Although most tracks feature strips of hovercraft-healing green (which recharge this meter when raced upon), players must learn to budget their health, avoiding using so much for boosts that they go up in smoke upon hitting a wall. All of the game's included tracks are based on ones found in the original F-Zero. Fans will be delighted to once again race on the bustling trade planet Port Town or on the uninhabited Silence.
In fact, the only major difference between this game and previous entries in the series is that F-Zero GP Legend is based on the eponymous cartoon, which is now playing on Saturday mornings, and therefore features the same storylines and characters. As in the show on which it's based, GP Legend takes place in the year 2201, when F-Zero is the galactic sport of choice. In story mode, the game lets you play as one of several characters from the show, either you are affiliated with the noble Elite Mobile Task Force or you are in cahoots with the dark forces of the malevolent Black Shadow. The plot is told through hokey cutscenes that frame each race. These reveal, through poorly translated dialogue, the interconnected storylines of the racers, with Rick Wheeler and his 150-year-old battle with the evil Zoda at its center. F-Zero veterans needn't worry, though--Captain Falcon, with his Blue Falcon hovercraft, plays a significant role, and perhaps more importantly, this entry in the series has a great look with a solid sense of speed.
For each race you complete, your character will win a particular amount of prize money, depending on where you placed. Your goal for a race usually isn't to simply take the pole position. More often, you'll just have to place higher than a rival racer, who is most likely to nab third or fourth place. Beating the game with a racer will cue the credit scroll, and it takes about as much time as beating a fighting game. You'll unlock a new character each time you beat the game. Some of the campaigns are harder than others. For example, Zoda's missions require much more skilled play than Jody Summer's.