I’d never heard of FAST Racing NEO before PAX Australia 2015, and that’s a very sad thing. Mainly because it’s amazing.
While behemoths Sony and Nintendo have kept classic sci-fi racers like WipEout and F-Zero in the backburner, or as I like to call it, ‘the farm’, FAST Racing NEO comes with a modern look, tight controls, and a buttery-feel, despite running on the limited Wii U hardware.
The title comes from a German third-party, Shin’en Multimedia, who have been working on Nintendo platforms since 1999, and their experience shows. Tracks in the game feel far more open than levels in WipEout, with a wider, less forgiving horizon, and an expert feeling of speed and control.
As you blaze through each course you’ll occasionally find little obstacles, like a propellor spinning around on the middle of the track, or a pit. As with similar arcade-racers this means a potential setback, however in FAST Racing NEO these challenges often feel rather cheap. Rather than focusing on the race you suddenly are flown back in the pack because of a silly little accident, which can often feel like basic chance. It’s almost like the crashes in Burnout games, although it’s far less entertaining, and a lot more frustrating.
Otherwise my only other complaint would be the linear path of each track. While I only sampled a few it felt more like a Gran Turismo-style layout than the insane level design of other arcade-racers, which was a little disappointing. Hopefully that changes before release.
And yet, despite some minor flaws, the core gameplay of FAST Racing NEO is exceptional. There’s a beautiful sense of speed, and it really does feel like a classic arcade racer, which is a rare trait for a 2015 title.
FAST Racing NEO races onto Wii U soon, maybe even before the end of the year according to their website, and it’s almost enough for me to buy the console. In fact, when the Wii U goes down in price, this game alone will likely be a serious part of my buying decision.