Perhaps one day Nintendo will decide to release a new F-Zero game. By the time that day comes, who knows what the industry will look like, or if Nintendo will even be in the hardware business anymore. It’s been so long since we’ve seen a new, mainline entry in the adrenaline-bumping sci-fi racer that most people have all but forgotten that Captain Falcon originated from something other than Super Smash Bros.
Luckily, indie developer Shin'en Multimedia is here to save the day. Fast RMX on the Nintendo Switch is an improved, expanded, and revamped iteration of the franchise the company started on Nintendo’s Wii U with its previous release, Fast Racing Neo.
The Blood of F-Zero and WipeOut
Interestingly, it’s not just F-Zero that’s been going through a bit of a drought lately. Sony’s own premiere sci-fi racer WipeOut hasn’t seen a murmur of a new entry in several years either, outside of re-releases and repackaging older games for new systems. The indie scene is leading a resurgence in this regard, with other recent titles like RedOut showing that the genre still has a lot to offer racing fans.
Stylistically and in terms of gameplay, Fast RMX has more in common with F-Zero than it does WipeOut. For starters, the speeds are absolutely blistering. The first time you race on a track you should fully expect to bounce off of walls like a pinball and spend more time trying to keep up your pace than tactfully cruising around curves.
Since this is really just an expanded, enhanced, and fully complete edition of Fast Racing Neo, there is a lot of content here – especially if you never played the previous game. With over 30 tracks, almost as many ships, several cups, various difficulties, and a fully detailed online multiplayer mode, this is about as robust of a sci-fi racer you’ll find.
Switching Things Up
The real kicker that makes Fast RMX stand out from any other game in the genre is a little feature that may have very well been designed with the name of Nintendo’s latest console in mind. While racing, you can switch the jet trail of your ship from blue to orange at-will. Press a button and it switches back and forth.
This little maneuver is a fundamental part of gameplay in Fast RMX. During races, you’ll find boost pads that are either blue or orange and you can only use them if your color matches. If it doesn’t, it could slow you down significantly. On top of the colored boosting, you’ll also find orbs scattered across the track that you can pick up and expend as a standard boost, like you’d find in most other sci-fi racers.
Similar to F-Zero, there are no weapon power-ups here. You won’t be shooting rockets, laying mines, or using any special powers. Instead, it’s all about your speed and reaction timing. The shoulder buttons on the Switch allow you to shift the ship from side to side, which is crucial for taking on hard curves.
Putting it All Together
It’s a shame that Nintendo won’t make a new F-Zero game because, if Fast RMX is any indication, it could be great. The Switch’s pick-up-and-play mentality, combined with the flexibility of portable and docked mode, make it a great platform for the quick and digestible format of racing games. The hardware isn’t going to blow any minds, but it’s a step up from the Wii U. Fast RMX runs at a smooth 60fps and stays at 1080p when docked, but drops to 720p in portable mode due to the decreased screen resolution.
Online multiplayer is wonderful and I didn’t notice any lag issues at all. Playing split screen is nice when docked, but the tiny Switch screen feels a bit cramped. There is so much going on, and the speeds are so fast, that it was tough to keep up with everything when the small Switch unit’s screen is halved entirely for each player. Playing docked with a Pro controller felt best to me, but the Joycons + Grip are far from a bad choice.