The gameplay in F-Zero GX is simple in design, but it gives you a lot of control over your craft. Aside from the obvious ability to turn left and right, you can use the shoulders to bank your craft for sharper turns. Hitting both triggers will enable you to drift around corners, which is key for cornering without losing speed. You can also make your machine jerk over to the side quickly, which is a good attack move for knocking unsuspecting foes off the edge of the track or into the barriers on the sides of most tracks. You also have a spin attack, which is a good option as you approach your foes. Additionally, the game lets you activate turbo boosts once you've cleared the first lap, but you have to use these with caution, as they deplete your energy. This same energy reservoir is used for your shields, but you can replenish your energy reserves at various energy strips found on each track.
With a maximum of 30 racers in each race (except for four-player races, which are limited to the four players), there's a lot going on in F-Zero GX. The game does a fantastic job of showing a lot of action while maintaining its sense of speed and its smooth frame rate. Of course, the trade-off is that the machines and tracks aren't as detailed as they probably could have been, but since you never really have time to see things at a standstill, this isn't a problem. The trackside decor is done well, and you'll notice cool little details in the prerace track intro, such as a large version of ROB, Nintendo's NES robot accessory. Though multiple races take place in each environment, each track has a noticeably different feel. Some of them even let you race inside enclosed tubes or on the outside of a large, twisting cylinder. Owners of upscale television sets will be pleased with the game's widescreen and progressive-scan support.
With a maximum of 30 racers in each race, there's a lot going on in F-Zero GX.
In the sound department, F-Zero GX delivers what you'd expect from a futuristic racing game. You'll hear the whine of your jet propulsion system, the smashes and crashes of the racers bumping around the course, and the whoosh of your turbo boosts kicking in. The soundtrack also does a really great job of enhancing the onscreen action. It brings a fast-paced, upbeat set of tracks to the races, most of them mixing electronic sounds with guitar riffs and solos. On top of all that, the music in the story mode cutscenes and on the racer profile screen is a random mix of theme songs for the different racers. It's not all that noticeable, but it's a great little addition.
Speaking of additions, F-Zero GX ties in with F-Zero AX, the arcade version of the game. There are racers and tracks that are, at first, available only in AX. But by bringing your memory card to the arcade and playing, you can then unlock these additions for purchase in the F-Zero shop. F-Zero AX isn't due to hit wide distribution until next month, and with the sad state of arcades these days, it may be hard to find an AX machine. Thankfully, there appears to be a way to unlock the AX items without going to the arcade, but the barrier for entry looks pretty steep, so only the best of the best will unlock everything GX has to offer.
Bottom line, the extreme increase in difficulty will surely turn some people away before they've seen the 20 tracks and unlocked all the story mode chapters. But if you want a light-speed racer that looks and plays sharply while simultaneously offering some dramatic challenges, F-Zero GX is exactly what you're looking for.