The F-Zero series has always had one dominant attribute that has set it apart from other ‘racing’ titles – Speed. Over the years there have been many racing sims that have, in their own right, held their own and made a significant stamp on the genre but none have managed to capture the sense of utter pace that F-Zero has. The Game Boy Advance entry, Maximum Velocity, is no exception.
While Maximum Velocity is pretty much a tweaked port of the original F-Zero on the Super Nintendo its story is set 25 years after the original. This may explain the lack of the series’ flagship character Captain Falcon. Let’s be honest though, who plays a F-Zero title for its storyline right? Maximum Velocity has kept to the absolute basics. The shoulder buttons allow your craft to hug tight turns and each completed lap allows you to boost by pressing the L and R shoulder buttons at the same time. That’s the most complicating aspect of the game in a nut shell.
When starting you can choose from four racing crafts each with their own pros and cons based on the vehicle weight, boost, speed and turning. An additional six crafts are unlockable as you work your way through the single-player campaign.
Maximum Velocity’s visuals are a big step up from the Super Nintendo F-Zero game. Each vehicle is now animated rather than a stagnant mass. The environmental backgrounds also have minor animations and changing lighting. While the visuals are an improvement from the original SNES version, the Game Boy Advance hardware at the time wasn’t fully utilized and due to the pace of the racing some aspects of the track can, at times, appear jagged and uneven.
The standout feature in the Wii U Virtual Console version of the game is the audio. The original Game Boy Advance hardware by all accounts didn’t have the best speakers and the soundtrack was mostly lost due to this. When playing Maximum Velocity through a full speaker system the audio, while dated, feels more gratifying than ever. On the other hand the game now lacks multiplayer due to the system specific cable linking system.
F-Zero: Maximum Velocity is by no means the pinnacle of the series. While it can be seen as good upgrade to the original version, it lacks… originality. With plenty of tracks, vehicles as well as skill levels Maximum Velocity is worth every cent of your hard-earned buck. The gameplay mechanics have aged well and fans of the series will pick up the controls in an instant, the same can’t be said for newcomers however. Playing the game on a home console feels, well, more at ‘home’ for the high speed racer as you get a full sense of how well the racing speed works around those tight corners. If you have yet to play a F-Zero title you might want to rather consider the Gamecube’s F-Zero GX or even Wipeout HD Fury (or 2048) on their respective platforms for a more recent, fulfilling racing experience.