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As soon as the second F-Zero game was announced and released in japan (GP Legend), many thought that F-Zero was done on the GBA seeing that it was the second installment of the franchise on the console and almost all of Nintendo's major franchises have seen only 2 big installments on GBA (well, except the Mario and Pokemon franchises)
Then, by the month of July, news about a new F-Zero game appeared. Some suspected it was a new GC or DS game but the news quickly denied that stating that the game was for GBA. many thought it was a typo because there were 2 F-Zero games for GBA already and it would make sense to make the new game for the upcoming DS system. Also, since some F-Zero games were launch titles for certain consoles, many assumed Nintendo would repeat this by making the new game for DS, others thought that GPL was too new to have a sequel so soon (MV has been out for quite a while).
Well, Nintendo did what many thought was insane. They showed pics of the game a bit later proving that it was a GBA product indeed and then provided a japanese launch date (21st October). Apparently the game was released to boost hype for the second season of the Falcon Densetsu (GP Legend) anime. Still no word of a US or European launch date (as of 1/5/2005) but, like GPL, we expect Nintendo to make announcements soon for releases that might occur between June and September.
The thing that worried most F-Zero fans is that this new game looked a lot like GPL. So much so that many thought the pics were photoshopped from old GPL pics at first. Then more info about new modes and artwork emerged, thus making clear that this was a new game. Among the new modes that are included in this game, there's Survival mode and a Track Editor. Gone was the old Story mode from GPL and many thought Zero Tests were gone too...
Then, October 21st came and F-Zero Climax was unleashed in Japan. Apparently very few people cared about the release but there were a few that bought it (like me).
The game is laid out a lot like other F-Zero games, so any veteran playing this game won't have problems figuring out what to do. There's the classic Grand Prix mode, Time Attack mode and VS mode seen in all the previous GBA F-Zero games. New to this game are the Survival mode and Edit mode.
We've seen the basic aesthetical changes now, but what about the most important part of any F-Zero game? I'm talking about the thing that mostly makes or breaks a game and keeps players going back to it despite racing for days, months or years to set the best times. No, I'm not talking about the announcer, I'm talking about the gameplay. Is it any different than GPL? Is it like the Original? Does it play like X? or does it use GX techs? Well, most of those are false except the first one.
The game is noticeably different from GPL and MV, in fact, it is drastically different than both of them and any other F-Zero game in most of the ways it handles. The only things that remain constant are that you accelerate with A, turn with the control pad, and use the shoulder buttons to lean the ship to one side. The settings bar from GPL and the 3D F-Zero games is gone too so no more debates about which settings to use on a race. Side attacks also make an appearance in this game. (interesting note: I don't know how to brake in this game [You need to change the default control settings -Ed])
More strategy is needed to use this kind of boosting efficiently. You might want to save your super boosts for long jumps and cut big corners or use them in long straightways without tough turns ahead or use both on the same lap to get better fastlaps. Using them is easy since they require the same button to be used. The super boosts can be activated after you use the standard boost and it's recommendable to use them when your boost is about to end since it won't affect the super boost's performance. You can use both Super Boosts at the same time.
Overall, this game promises to be very different from it's predecesors by introducing fundamental gameplay changes instead of new settings or characters (there are no new worlds in this game but there are some new characters and ships). People might feel that this game is just GPL with new tracks and a track editor but it isn't. The game is so much different from it's portable predecessors that MV and GPL are the ones that seem similar to each othe after playing all of them. But only time will tell if this new style is accepted or rejected by the fans. Japanese fans can make a judgement but the game is still very new and potential new techniques have not been found yet (even MV, being almost 4 years old, had some new moves discovered last year)
By the way, this game doesn't have text in most of the main events (or has english text) so you won't have problems navigating through menus but there are some rewards like character profiles and episode summaries (obtained by clearing Survival mode on challenge settings) that are all in japanese. If you don't care about this stuff and want to play now, import it. If you care about every F-Zero detail such as story (even if it isn't the main F-Zero story) and want to have access to all of them, wait for an international release (or import it and then purchase it again if you have the money)
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