Some games pull it all together: graphics, music, gameplay and presentation. F-Zero GX is one of those games. It's a lightning-quick testament to hardcore racers, and a permanent fixture in the grand hallway of Nintendo's premier franchises. It's damn near impossible to bat an eye or take a breath while clinging to the winding, twisting courses that float miles above the alien landscape. Few of us have rocketed down a spiraling race track at 2,000 kilometers per hour, but after spending some time with this game you'll have a spot-on sensation of absolute piloting mayhem.
For those of us who can process what's happening on the screen, this is the fastest ride throughout the galaxy money can buy. After the first lap your ship's boost power is free to use, giving you even more opportunities to blast ahead of the pack. The catch is that boosting chews up your ship's hull and can cause it to explode. This breeds boost-abusing players who don't care about their shields and will sacrifice them just to carve out a photo-finish victory. In the final seconds of a race, you can either jump ahead from 10th place or make one mistake and watch in agony as seven cars go soaring past.
There are no missiles or mega vulcan cannons to fire at competitors; you've got to navigate the labyrinthine course with pure skill and razor sharp reactions. The only obstacles are the other drivers and of course, the vomit-inducing tracks. Still images simply cannot capture the total majesty of this game in motion.
You know what else can't be accurately explained? The pilots. There're about 40 of these maniacal aliens, superheroes and time traveling robots, each puffed up and exaggerated to high hell. Their over-the-top caricatures add more insanity to the overall madness that's zapping out of your television. The exhaustive soundtrack rounds it all out, offering any type of music you can think of. From slamming guitars to pounding bass beats to string-pluckin' country, there's a tune for everyone.
It's too bad not everyone will be able to appreciate the hair-shearing speed. Casual racers who like to putt around in meager sports cars will be slamming into the walls or plummeting to their doom in no time flat. It's that fast. You can either keep up with the traffic or you can't, and even nonstop practice may not be enough.
But for those who can take it, wow. When you're done streaking through arid deserts and corkscrewing slot machine courses, you can tackle a near impossible story mode, a create-a-car garage and the obligatory Time Attack and multiplayer races. Other than the four-player zoom fest, however, none of the extras will blow your mind quite like the main game.
So-so bonuses notwithstanding, there's just nothing else like this on the GameCube. There are a few notable pretenders out there, littered across many different platforms, but the fact is every futuristic racer wishes it could peel the flesh off your face quite like F-Zero GX.