Shades of F-Zero GX and Ikaruga combine to form this impressive WiiWare title.
There hasn't been a F-Zero game recently, but Shin'en comes to fill the void with their own rendition of the futuristic racing subgenre. A WiiWare title, FAST brings an interesting gameplay mechanic, shiny visuals, and an intense racing focus.
In the game, players can switch their cars' phase between black and white. Driving over regions of track matching your vehicle's color allows players to zoom forward at extreme speed, while passing over in the opposite color slows you down. There are also colored ceilings, which magnetically grab players, letting them drive upside-down, and colored jumps, which much be carefully matched to avoid driving off the track to destruction.To power the phase switch, orbs must be collected on the track. With enough orbs, you can also employ a turbo boost. However, power must be conserved carefully to ensure that polarity can be switched when necessary.
FAST can be played with the Wii Wheel, Remote and Nunchuk, or Classic Controller. While the quick reaction time needed in the game will probably send players to the classic control options, it contains possibly the most responsive motion racing controls available on Wii. They're even better than Mario Kart Wii's.
From a design perspective, FAST is highly reminiscent of F-Zero, as well as Shin'en's own Nanostray series. The graphics push the system, featuring lighting, texture, and other special effects seen too infrequently on retail Wii titles, let alone downloadable ones. While there isn't as much stuff going on off-track as F-Zero GX, it's frankly amazing what the developers managed to pull off given the WiiWare size restrictions. FAST's graphics are complemented by a driving Euro beat soundtrack.
Unlike F-Zero, there are no drivers or other characters to speak of; you're driving cars for corporations with Japanese-sounding names. As a result, the game can feel a bit generic and impersonal, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, as it keeps a solid focus on what matters -- the racing. The game ramps up quickly, throwing in loops, water-filled pits, tornadoes, flame guns, rotating walls, and other environmental hazards.
FAST includes six vehicles, 36 tracks across three leagues, and lots of unlockables. It also features 24 specific racing challenges in addition to the regular Grand Prix-style racing, as well as split-screen offline multiplayer with support of up to four players.
"FAST" describes the game well. The game runs buttery smooth and the cars do fly very fast. There's actually an option to run the graphics at a maximum of 60 fps, or to lock them to 30 fps. I rarely saw a drop using the variable setting in single player mode, though it happens on two-player mode. With more than two players, the game is automatically locked to 30 fps.
FAST somehow manages to pack a full retail experience onto the limited WiiWare platform. The game is very similar to the sorely missed F-Zero, but adds a challenging polarity mechanic a la Ikaruga. It packs an incredible amount of content, as well as impressive graphics into a tiny package, making what looks to be one of the best WiiWare games to date. FAST races onto WiiWare on May 27 in Europe and May 30 in North America.