4CR Opines: F-Zer0 Should be Criterion’s Next Project

by Dave Beaudoin

4CR guest columnist Graham Elliot stopped by to share his opinions on the current state of racing games, why Nintendo should re-launch the F-Zero franchise, and why Criterion are the perfect studio for the job. When he’s not arguing with Edgar about stupid mobile games, you can usually find Graham playing Guild Wars 2. Currently, he resides in Denver where the beer flows like wine (A trick Aspen later stole). You can pick up his latest novel here, and you can email him at Graham.Elliot@grayshirtpress.com 

Next year will mark the tenth year anniversary of the stateside release of F-Zero GX. At the time, it was met with critical acclaim and modest sales, and since then it’s seemed like the popularity of the franchise has grown every year. Maybe it’s just the strange quirk of the internet that allows a minority to have a loud voice (I’m talking about you Banjo Kazooie, Killer Instinct, and Timesplitters fans), but F-Zero has somehow become a universally loved series. The great injustice being that Nintendo never releasing a version on the Wii.

The F-Zero franchise has always reminded me of the Metroid series. Both require extensive practice and memorization to tackle the hardest challenges in their games such as story mission #9 on very hard in F-Zero GX and Super Metroid’s reverse boss speed run. Also, both franchises went through a long period of inactivity that spanned an entire console generation. Finally, both are better received in the West than in Japan. It’s this Western appeal that had a hand in persuading Nintendo in handing the Metroid reigns over to Retro. They knew a western developer would appreciate and understand what makes the franchise great and use this appreciation in developing an ideal game.I propose that is exactly what Nintendo needs to do with F-Zero; give a western developer the chance to bring the series to the next generation of consoles. Specifically, give it to the masters of speed and aggressive racing games at Criterion.

Why Criterion? Because this is the internet, one of the best ways to get your view across is by creating lists, but a site as fine as 4CR has way too much integrity for such a cheap gimmick. So instead, I hope you all enjoy these pictures of cats!

Just kidding.

Here’s the thing, Criterion has all the skills to make an excellent F-Zero. While they have been the leaders of the racing genre since the PS2/Xbox/GC days, that’s not the main reason why they’d be a good fit for developing F-Zero. The real reason is speed. Criterion gets speed. Ignoring the work they’ve done on the Need For Speed series, Burnout was a 60 FPS beast that really conveys the feeling of going really, really, really, fast. Conveniently enough, the essence of F- Zero is speed. It’s speed so fast you barely notice the surroundings, yet those short glimpses of the scenery are gorgeous. Hell, F-Zero GX still looks better than almost everything that came out on the Wii. The same could be said for Burnout 3.

Furthermore, Criterion can bring its vehicular damage mechanics to the F-Zero universe. Pieces of machines could be chipped off or destroyed by other competitors. Imagine the health strips on each track not only restoring the health/boost bar, but repairing the cosmetic damage to the vehicle at the same time. Plus, if Nintendo wants to find a use for ROB, the classic robot could be in charge of this repair function.

And that’s F-Zero in a nutshell. Speed is #1. Battling is #2. Story is #5,998. Looking past the whole EA thing, the only limitation I can imagine with Criterion developing the game is the track design. It takes a creative mind to utilize the corkscrews, half-pipes, jumps, and loops associated with an F-Zero track. Although their games haven’t been too realistic, their locations and track design have always been grounded in reality. Then again, as one of the top studios out there, wouldn’t they welcome the opportunity to branch out into new territory with a well respected and established franchise? Plus, all they have to do is make a B+ game, and they would attain eternal internet deity-hood.

Eventually, a new F-Zero game will be made, but it’s in Nintendo’s hands for how they’ll handle it. My biggest fear is they choose the route they took with Mario Kart 64 and Double Dash. Blue shells and insane rubberbanding left those two games as the participant ribbon equivalent of the Mario Kart franchise. Hopefully when the time comes for production, Nintendo will follow what they did with Metroid and give the reigns to Criterion.

Thanks Graham! If you have an opinion that you’d like published here at 4cr contact us