An old-school F-Zero fan gets his grubby hands on this new-school GBA title.
F-Zero: Maximum Velocity is definitely one GBA game that I heard a LOT about before finally getting to play it. The two things everyone said: make sure you tap the gas, and expect it to be hard. Both are 100% true.
In fact, F-Zero is so hard that I blew up on my very first race...not just lost, but BLEW UP. It turns out that blowing up isn't unusual at all in this game, because that power bar goes down fast, and because of the "pinball effect". Those of you who've played Maximum Velocity know exactly what I'm referring to. You misjudge a turn and slide into the wall, which makes you ricochet into the opposite wall, then back and forth, back and forth, until you're almost dead and totally ready to knock a hole in the GBA for robbing you of 1st place. It's entirely your fault for not making the turn well, but at the same time, the bouncing to and fro looks a tad ridiculous, and it's very, VERY frustrating.
After a couple hours of playing though, it rarely happens anymore. I've now played through the Pawn, Knight, and Bishop cups on Beginner, and the Pawn cup on Normal difficulty. ("Normal" seems like it should really be called "Hard"...can't wait to try "Expert"!) At first, the tracks all look the same, but as I went they started to add more features and more varied backgrounds. The Double-Mode-7 effect you may have heard about is indeed cool, although it's very subtle. The music is definitely rockin'...maybe not as phat as the original's awesome soundtrack, but it's highly appropriate for this kind of racing, and it's a far cry from the handheld bleeps and bloops of yesteryear.
I don't know what to think of gas-tapping on turns. It hardly decreases your speed at all, and it seems like the only thing that will keep you from sliding wildly all over the track surface. The shoulder-button gripping seems only effective when used alongside gas-tapping, and so far I really haven't needed the shoulder buttons at all, even for hairpin turns. Surely that will change though...
So far I'm really enjoying Maximum Velocity. It's much closer to the original F-Zero than it is to F-Zero X on N64, so what it loses in new features, it makes up for with classic, nostalgic appeal and a blazing game engine for the GBA. Without Big Blue though, will it all be for naught?