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here's my attempt an an encyclopedia to help newcomers get into the game. the articles section lacks this kind of guide and i feel this stops a lot of people from getting into the game since some of the basics we use are not too easy to see for someone who has never played the game.
i made one for the GX section and detailed several things already. i plan to add more later but for now i'll start the X section one.
game name: F-Zero X
developer: Nintendo (the team is formed by key staff members from the old Mario Kart and Star Fox teams)
release info: came out in 1998 for N64 in all territories. was re-released for Virtual Console on Wii in 2007 in all territories.
extras: the game had no limited editions or bonuses.
resolution: below 320x240. the game uses black bars to display less image per frame and increase the effects on screen. runs at 60fps 99% of the time (only drops for fractions of a second in very busy GP races and big custom tracks)
peripehals: doesn't support memory paks. supports rumble pak (base version). requires an expansion pak and 64DD to work with the Expansion Kit disk (the extra RAM helps with the music).
the game is the only one which received an actual expansion pack in a time when such things were unheard of in console enviorments (there were expansion disks planned for Zelda OoT and Mario Party 1 but those were never released). the cart posseses connectivity with the Expansion Kit disc that provides new tracks, new music and track and car editors to expand greatly the functions of the game and the replay value. the bad thing is that you need a 64DD for this.
|"Patience is useful in any moment"|
i suppose i'll start this guide with the one part that isn't detailed in the articles section.
Physics engine details
FZX was the first F-Zero game that was fully 3D and didn't rely on Mode 7 to do 3D-like effects. because of this, it comes with a physics engine that has several quirks and oddities that impact the way the game is played.
there'll be also information in the general way the ships handle and how they react to the tracks and specific moves.
i'll use the controls as a guide to explain each move. all the controls work the same for GP Mode, Time Attack, Practice, Death Race, VS mode and Course Edit preview.
Control Stick: steers the ship. hidden effect: the ability to point the nose up or down works even while you're on ground. this helps to lift off in places where you wouldn't be able to lift off normally or to keep you from flying off in certain tracks like Silence 1 where you'd die if you go really fast in the section after the zippers.
A Button: Accelerator. unlike GX, you should never release the A button in this game since you just lose speed, no matter how fast you're going. the only moment it does something is regaining grip when you're coming out of a slide and aren't in an optimal position to keep going without spinning out. this effect isn't very strong so you can't use it inmany situations.
B Button: Boost. uses your boost once you enter lap 2. boosts consume the same amount of energy with every ship regardless of boost rating, this makes higher Boost-rating ships better by default always.
C-Down: Brake. this stops the ship fast. not much use normally but there's a few places where it can be useful like not flying off at the second loop in Sector Beta since your speed there would be too high if you're doing good or avoiding a crash at very high speeds since the amount of energy you lose when you crash depends on your speed.
C-Left: no function
C-Right: changes camera angle. the default camera is the best one so don't change it. this has some uses if you want to see the track more clearly.
C-Up: reverse camera. this makes the camera look in the opposite direction you're going to see what's directly behind you. not very useful since there's the minimap and the "check" indicator to tell you when someone is right behind you.
Z and R Buttons: Side Attacks. Z is left side and R is right side and you activate them by double tapping the button. these let you kill your opponents by ramming on them suddendly. you can kill most opponents in 1 hit since ships aren't very resistant to it even with A body rating. hidden effects: these moves have a lot of hidden effects that aren't obvious and, unlike GX, driving properly requires the use of them. when you use a Side Attack, the ship is shoved to the side. if you do this along with the control stick while going around a corner (example: going left, you would hold left and tap Z while doing the turn), you can clear the corner without losing your grip and keeping a lot of speed compared to taking it by just steering. this is especially useful at high speeds where sliding would be slower and any other maneuver would make you lose your speed. keep in mind you must be side attacking continually and fast while taking the corner since just 1 isn't enough most of the time. some turns that are much smaller can be cleared with just or 2 of them. driving like this makes the grip stat somewhat irrelevant since you can keep your ship under control easily even if it has poor grip.
you can also do the spin attack if you hold one button and double tap the other one. the button you double tap determines the side to which the ship spins. (i'll have to check this one). spin attacks are useful to eliminate a ton of enemies in cramped spaces like the RC2 thin areas and Death Race.
L Button: displays the time difference between you and 2nd place in GP/Practice or the best ghost in TA.
D-Pad: only works in menus. does the same as the control stick but is more precise in the engine settings screen.
Start Button: pauses the game.
each car has a weight rating and 3 grades. these grades are Body, Boost and Grip. since there's no hidden stats in this game such as max unboosted speed and cornering, you can determine how a ship will perform by just looking at their stats.
the way weight works in this game makes lighter ships better overall. the reasons for this are the following:
Low Weight makes acceleration better: this means ships with the same engine setting will have different acceleration due to their weight. the fastest possible acceleration in the regular game is possible only for Twin Noritta since it has the lowest weight of all machines around. in the EK, the lowest weight custom ship ties with Twin Noritta at 780kg.
Low Weight makes max speed better: the highest possible speeds are reachable only if you have the lowest weight. this happens because weight holds down the ship and the gravity will have a stronger effect on heavy ships. same applies to max boosted speed since boost power can't push heavier ships as fast as lighter ones and gravity weakens the boost.
Low Weight improves cornering: ships with lower weights can take sharper corners easier. this one is simple since more weight is harder to move around.
Low Weight improves Side Attacks: side attacks also get affected by weight and are stronger on ligher ships. note that this only applies to the turning and shove abilities. ships with low weight have a harder time killing heavier opponents since their weight won't be able to push around heavier opponents as easily.
Low Weight makes the Boost stronger: at identical boost ratings, lighter ships can pick up speed faster and reach slightly higher speeds.
Low Weight makes the Grip more effective: due to the lower weight, a ship can turn sharper before it loses grip. (i need to check this one since i don't remember too clearly)
Low Weight lets a ship float in the air much easier. you can use more elaborate air setups since the ship won't fall as quick as a heavy ship.
not everything is bad for the heavy ships though. some things are better if they posses higher weight:
High Weight makes the ship's Body stronger: a ship with the same body rating and lower weight will take less beatings than an equivalent ship with higher weight. this means that if your objective is to ram opponents to secure your victory, a heavier ship can suit you better. the best ship for this is Black Bull since it has the highest weight at 2340kg. not even the heaviest custom car can match it since the heaviest custom maxes out at 2220kg.
High Weight makes side attack air dives better: side attack dives (better known as DTD) improve when the ship's weight is higher. the reason is that the speed gained in the air with a side attack is higher with each one and you can get massive speeds sooner compared to light ships. since the setup time is slow, you want to gain speed as fast as possible. this is why the Sector Alpha WR uses CB despite that ship not being as fast as NT or BH normally. the advantage of fast DTDs isn't enough to outweight the advantages of light weight so this requires very specific situations.
High Weight lets the ship hold more speed while it decreases: this is the momentum. when your ship loses speed, the rate is lower with heavier ships. this helps a bit to compensate their inability to reach higher speeds but boost laps make this quite useless in most tracks. long tracks with few boosts and many DTDs benefit more from this. Black Bull can't really abuse this since it has the worst boost around but an AAE 2220kg custom car can do it. Crazy Bear is almost there and proof of this is the SA WR.
the engine settings affect several aspects of the way the cars handle.
going max acceleration does this:
improves: cornering, sliding, floating
reduces: max speed, grip, DTD speed, momentum
going max speed does this:
improves: max speed, grip, DTD speed, momentum
reduces: acceleration, cornering, floating
you might think "max speed helps in more things" but you have to keep in mind that, unlike GX, acceleration with max speed here is absolutely bad and acceleration plays a role when you pick up speed all the way so you'll gain speed slow even if you're already at high speed and your speed will pick up slow at all times. that's why max speed-focused settings don't go past the 6th bar going from the middle to the right.
also, even though you have better momentum with max speed, the difference between both of them is not too big and DTD speed falls in the same situation. the fact that speed is capped at 3000 km/h takes away a lot of the speed advantages provided by max speed settings and heavy weight.
on the other hand, the ability to slide around corners provided by max acceleration helps greatly since, if you combine a slide with a boost, you can gain a lot of speed very quickly around a corner (sometimes, that speed is higher than the max boosted speed on a straight without DTDs) and can use that speed to clear the incoming straight and then you repeat the same with the next corner and so on. in max speed, you'd use side attacks to clear the corner and then boost on the straight but your speed won't be nearly as high. compare driving in Big Hand with max acceleration and max speed to see this difference.
having reduced grip is actually good since you can initiate a slide much more easily compared to higher settings. max acceleration to the far left is the only setting usable if you want to slide since you get the best possible sliding with it. anything higher is useless and max speed settings hover from the 2nd-3rd bar from the middle to the right to the 5th-6th bars.
car ratings are the ratings that determine each car's strength in 3 categories. these are body, boost and grip. there's no hidden stats to keep track of so you can determine if a ship is good just by looking at its stats.
Body: determines how much damage a car takes from side attacks and crashes. overall, cars trend to take a lot of damage from crashes and side attacks so you'll be sustaining a lot of damage even with A-rated bodies. the good thing is that you don't die in 1-2 hits like E-rated body cars. Body is especially useful for railsliding since you're damaging yourself in a railslide and the body makes a massive difference so you should choose cars with high body ratings for this. that's the reason why a perfect vehicle should choose A rating for body since weight and body isn't directly tied to each other like in GX (the lightest car can have A body)
Boost: determines how much speed you pick up when you boost. since boosts always last the same time regardless of rating and take the same amount of energy, A-rating is the best without a doubt. there's no reason to use anything lower than this.
Grip: determines how much a car can turn before it spins out and loses speed. this is where things get interesting. normally, a high grip is good since it keeps you in control of the car and you can take corners without slamming on the incoming wall but, due to the way the FZX engine works when you adjust engine settings and the presence of side attacks, grip becomes a liability when it is high. the reason is that, at max acceleration, a ship will pick up more speed the lower its grip rating is while sliding. that's right, when your grip gets worse, it is actually getting better. for this reason, the fastest cars need to have the lowest grip rating possible. a perfect ship should always choose E as grip unless you're playing a track where sliding isn't the fastest (for max speed, grip still acts as normal and you need higher ones to do well).
you might ask "how do i control the ship then?" and that's where side attacks come in. each and every time you need to take a turn, you use a side attack to make the ship turn reliably and keep it in control. the amount of side attacks depends on how sharp and long the turn is. another thing is that, by holding the opposite shoulder button of the direction you're sliding to (example: holding Z while sliding right) keeps you in control of the machine to a bigger degree than just turning. you can also reliably start the slide without worrying that the few grip the ship has makes you slide late. these moves require a great deal of practice to be used reliably since sliding optimally requires specific angles. 45-55 degrees is the range to get the best slides and you need to adjust how much you push the stick when you do a boost-slide.
after the above explanation, you can see why ships like Blood Hawk and Night Thunder are the fastest ships around and not Twin Noritta, despite TN having most of the weight advantages. BH and NT posses the lowest grip and highest boost combo available to take full advantage of sliding with what the base FZX game provides. EK users can go even farther since it is possible to make a Perfect ship by using the lowest weight possible and setting its stats to "AAE", making it the absolute best slider possible. there's also situations where using other ships like Wonder Wasp for maximum top speed is better due to how its stats are laid out.
|"Patience is useful in any moment"|
videos are on the cards too. i'll get around making them when i have everything organized.
here's more game information:
in this section, i'll explain how the track elements work and how they interact with the ships.
the track: FZX's engine uses an unique system that builds tracks using a set of control points and properties to determine all the details you see on the road. the game has no tracks modeled and they're generated on real time every time you load a track. this is what makes the x cup possible since the game can randomly generate a track sheet for it instead of loading the track sheets of a given track and this was also the reason why the track editor was so easy to implement in the game. you can see track sheets in the course editor threads.
this system brings a few limitations with it, like the inability to have split roads and limiting the background objects since you can't add big scenery around the track (this is covered up by the game claiming all tracks are high above the sky and the reduction of objects was necessary to keep 60 fps at all times). there's also limitations in how you connect certain track segments like high walls, tunnels, cylinders, pipes, no road and half pipes (you need a normal segment between any of these).
special mention goes to the rails. unlike most games, scrapping the rails doesn't cut your speed dramatically because they lack friction. most of the time, you lose speed when you crash on them because you get sent in a direction that completely kills your momentum, but if you use max acceleration settings and scrap the rails on purpose at an angle (sliding angles of 45-55 degrees), you'll gain speed since the rail doesn't stop you and the ship gains speed though max acceleration because the game thinks you're taking a turn. this can be combined with boost power to increase your speed very fast in places where it wouldn't be possible otherwise (example: the stretch before the very first turn on boost laps in MC1)
elements found in a track include the following:
Refiller: refills your health. the rate is a bit slow, making most strategies rely on passing though it while not boosting or covering them completely to maximize the health gain.
Zippers: gives you a boost equal to regular boost power (actually, it is very slightly better but that difference is very small). the zippers in this game override your normal boost when you hit them so they are really useful since you can conserve health for a extra boost later or extra railslides. they don't stack on each other so, if you have 3 zippers but the boost from the 1st one lasts enough to hit the 3rd before it runs out, you can skip the 2nd one and your speed will be the same (sometimes even better since you wouldn't steer the ship as much and steering loses speed). the zippers themselves are equal in whichever spot you touch them.
Dirt Zones: these slow you down a lot. using boost power overrides their effect while passing through them.
Ice Zones: these make you lose your grip and go straight until you exit them or steer using side attacks. boost power doesn't override them so try to avoid them as much as possible. you can pass fine if you go straight and don't move if you can't avoid them.
Mines: they make you jump. unlike later games, they have no use here since you don't gain speed and they take away plenty of health. you could use them to set up a float but there's very few of them in the game and in bad spots to take advantage of this.
Jump Plates: these make you jump high. this is one of the few ways to go into the air from the road since bouncing on the rails doesn't produce enough recoil you make you lift and other situations rely on the road layout itself. there's one thing about the jump plates and high speeds. if you touch them at really high speeds, you'll go though them randomly because they weren't tested properly. this makes pulling off the better strats in MC3 a pain in the rear end due to the jumps failing at the worst possible moment.
Cylinders: these deserve a section since they can be tricky at times. it is easy to fall out of them if you lift off too much so you should be careful when going at high speeds on them. the most dangerous spots are the undersides since you die almost instantly if you fall upside down.
Pipes: much more safer than Cylinders but you need to come out of them properly since coming out from the top can send you in unpredictable directions which result in retire 75% of the time. there's a trick involving exiting the pipe on a side and using a DT to gain a ton of speed (best illustrated in SO1 where the Pipe DT is the key to getting a good time). this works because exiting from a side lined up properly sets up the ship to get the most out of a DT in the air
Half Pipes: these are, as you guessed, just the half of a pipe. unlike pipes, they behave in a weird way. if you use a DT in their edges, you gain a ton of speed. using DTs repeatedly on the half pipe edge lets you reach really high speed without even boosting. that's why the WL2 track is so unique due to being the only track in the game with half pipes (it also has the perfect layout and road size for this technique. the EK's MC4 is not nearly as fast despite being mostly half pipes too)
Checkpoints: FZX uses a checkpoint system to keep track of the machines and determine what part of the track is coming up since the whole track isn't loaded at the same time (you can see the graphics distort badly on the distance). this system, unlike in GX, is pretty solid and doesn't allow you to skip the whole track by floating. it can be inconsistent at times because sometimes it gives you a big leeway while other times it is very strict (the reason is that track width controls checkpoint size partially. they become big in wide roads. they're also easier to hit when you have a lot of height). sometimes, if they're placed in specific ways, you can trick them to skip bits of the track like the SB loop.
when you go into the air, the game's physics can be manipulated in some interesting ways using certain moves.
normal dives: a regular dive consists on just going forward when you get in the air, be it due to a high drop or a jump plate. the best way to take a dive is to line up the nose with the back of the ship by tilting forward on the stick a bit. you can tell you lined up well if the nose isn't visible due to the ship's rear. this angle is the angle that gives you the best speed for the duration of the dive. when you land, try to line up the ship slightly so that it lands flat with the track. this minimizes speed loss on contact on the landing. you can use side attacks to help yourself take an aerial turn or line up with the road properly if you aren't going the correct way. just be sure to turn and side attack at the same time.
side attack dives: due to a flaw in the game's programming, if you use a side attack in the air at an angle and the car is pointing downwards (the nose is below the rear), the car will gain a lot of speed from that side attack. if you do multiple ones, you can hit the maximum speed cap easily with the appropiate height and position. these moves were named Double Tap Dives (DTD) by Jimmy Thai when he discovered them back in 1999. they expand greatly on what is possible in the air in tracks that allow you to get a good jump. DTDs are possible with either max acceleration or max speed settings (they're easier to do with Max accel but the max speed ones trend to be stronger)
slide dives: another related move is the TDD (true diagonal dive) which consists on sliding off the track at an angle which then increases your speed greatly when you're in the air (an example of TDD is the one used in Silence 1 at the refiller on boost laps). this move is only possible with max acceleration and it has a 2000km/h speed cap in both NTSC and PAL (yeah, same numerical cap despite both numbers being actual different speeds when converted. this is the only real difference between NTSC and PAL in FZX but it is irrelevant since DTDs are faster in the spots where you could reach this cap with TDD)
Floating: there's also a trick known as floating. this is used to gain a lot of height in the air to then use a DTD and obtain high max speeds or make a fastlap by entering the lap at speeds much higher than what is normally possible. this is usable with light ships mostly since heavier ships can barely keep themselves from sinking. the fact that ships are highly maneuverable in the air enhance the use of this trick greatly since you can turn around and keep going to get more height without landing.
AGG: the infamous Air-Ground Glitch. this is a glitch that was found in 2010. this glitch occurs if you land on a rail but immediately go into the air and float instead of returning to the road. the glitch is that the game thinks you're on the ground while you float and it applies the effects of the elements found in the segment you're in while in the air. this means you get the effects of refillers, zippers, ice and dirt zones in the air. the big thing is that, if you combine this with the floating strats, you can float indefinitely as long as you have a refiller close and can reach the maximum speed possible while entering a lap. due to the height, you can also cut big parts at the start of a lap. this glitch made possible to hit the maximum combined speed possible that the game tracks and in turn made the speed records useless since everything can be maxed out this way easily. the glitch has limited use in 3-lap records since floating is a pretty slow method of getting around the track and checkpoints can't be skipped like in GX. you need to hit them all to make a lap count (but some of them are placed in ways that can be tricked, like the Loop skip in Sector Beta)
|"Patience is useful in any moment"|
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