At PAX Australia, Nintendo was showcasing FAST Racing NEO, an upcoming racing game by Shin’en. The game is heavily inspired by one of Nintendo’s well-known franchises – F-Zero, featuring similar setting and overtones. Set in the far future, racing has evolved into something completely different, from cars on a track to high-speed anti-gravity ships, where racing has included death defining jumps with deadly obstructions along the track, and racers aiming for the coveted first place. The playable demo a few select tracks for the upcoming game and I was fortunate to play a few of the tracks ahead of its launch.
Each race consist of two laps and ten racers, with each race featuring something different – such as turbine blades or moving walls. The controls were simple to learn, only using four buttons and the control stick to maneuver. While racing various objects placed through the track, such as boost meter balls, which slowly replenish your meter, and blue and orange boost pads.
One of the four buttons was for ‘switching’ modes where your vehicle will change from blue to orange, and via versa. If the colour of your vehicle was the same as the boost pad, you receive a speed boost, allowing to either catch up with the other racers or pull ahead furthering your lead. However, if your vehicle was the opposite colour to the boost pad, you would significantly lose speed until you change to the correct colour. Therefore, situational awareness is important while playing the game.
For a Nintendo game, this game is really punishing if you make a mistake while racing. One main issue I had with the controls was the handling of the cars. Some on the tracks featured sharp corners, which at high-speed makes hitting the side railing more likely, furthering slowing you down. In some cases, the highly sensitive turning can inadvertently cause you to either fly off the track or ramming into an impenetrable wall.
Another issue I had been the various obstructions throughout the levels. Not only did I ram into the turbine blade not once but three times really tested my patience. I understand that if you ram into something and you exploded, you reset at a checkpoint which was located at the start of the section. However, seeing the death screen and the respawn animation something dawned on me, it was impossible to catch up with the other racers unless you drove perfectly. Every second I was trapped in this endless loop, it was widening the gap between me and the other racers.
FAST Neo RACING is a fun racing game for either fans of the F-Zero franchise or gamers who never had the opportunity to play a futuristic racer before. It brings a fresh breath of life into the limited genre, and might force Nintendo to reboot or continue the F-Zero series. The game will be available for the Nintendo Wii U later this year via the eShop.