– Stefan Bradley
Reviewed on: Wii U
Cue the comparisons to Nintendo’s F-Zero franchise, as well as Sony’s WipEout. Like those two series, Fast Racing Neo is all about futuristic vehicles racing at extreme speeds to a soundtrack fusing rock and electronic music.
F-Zero hasn’t seen a new game since F-Zero Climax on the GBA, but most of us fondly remember F-Zero GX as the peak of the series in terms of both quality and extreme difficulty. Does FRN fill that void for the Wii U? It’s no F-Zero, but it’s still a great rush.
This downloadable title nails all the fundamentals of what it set out to do. The gameplay and the controls are polished and the basic single player and multiplayer modes you’d expect are featured.
But the main thing that sets FRN apart is its phase-switching concept, something that’s very simple but is the key between winning or losing a race. At all times, each vehicle is surrounded by either an orange or blue glow that the player can switch between at any time at the press of a button. If the player was to drive over a blue boost pad while glowing blue, the boost pad will work its magic. If the player drives on it when coloured orange, it will slow them down significantly. Likewise, an orange jump pad will not launch the player if they are glowing blue, you get the idea.
This phase switching is important to get ahead of the other players in between boosting with boost orbs.
The visuals are amazing – all the tracks look polished with vibrant colours. The soundtrack is also exhilarating and fits the futuristic theme.
There are 16 varied tracks spread across four cups playable on three progressively harder and faster difficulties, just like in Mario Kart.
This game has a pretty big difficulty curve, I would recommend all players to not obsess over getting gold, but to just get in at least third place and win the cup, because you can still unlock everything that way. While it is a little disappointing to have lowered the standards to get 100% unlockables, it is a welcome addition given the AI opponents occasionally glitched their way to victory.
After winning all the cups you can try Hero Mode. In Hero Mode, you play one track at a time at the fastest speed, with limited vehicle energy (crash and consider yourself retired!) and you must come in first place. This mode is really fun because you can experience the tough difficulty without getting too frustrated because it’s just one race at a time.
The split-screen multiplayer (up to four players) and time attack modes are there, just like classic racers during the N64 era, which is welcome.
The online mode with up to 8 players is fun but I never played a game with more than 4 players, and it’s on the slowest cup speed, which feels like driving in the 60km/h zone after going 110km/h on the freeway for several hours straight.
The game is fast, it’s exciting, it’s difficult, it’s polished and there’s no extraneous extras like vehicle customisation, RPG elements, characters or a story mode. Just pure fast racing.
I admit the whole time I was playing I was imaging a new F-Zero game on the Nintendo NX at 60fps in full 1080p resolution with 30 players online, but for now, Fast Racing Neo is a fantastic racer for the Wii U.
Pros: Fast paced, beautiful to look at, split screen multiplayer.
Cons: Online modes devoid of players and reduced to slower cup speeds.