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General Information and Course Guides
By David van Moer & Edward
The Right Car
The Fire Stingray is your only option. It has the best grip, best boost and highest top speed of the four available vehicles. The three other cars don't even come close to the Stingray's performance. The only downside to the Stingray is the slow acceleration so you'll have to get it at its 478 kph max speed as quickly as possible and make it stay there. This entire strategy is written with the Fire Stingray in mind.
This is THE most important technique in F-Zero and one that any F-Zero MV veteran will be familiar with. Blast turning simply means tapping the accelerator very quickly while steering through a corner. Without it, the Stingray will have a nasty tendency to under steer and continue going straight, certainly at top speed. Use blast turns constantly; it's the best way to get around the track and speed through those corners like a pro.
Using the shoulder buttons will make your car lean over and enable it to get through much sharper corners. Unlike later F-Zero games, drift turning (steering into a corner while holding the opposite shoulder buttons) isn't possible so you'll have to do with a combination of leaning and tapping the accelerator to get through the corners. Try and limit leaning as much as you can though as it will slightly decrease your speed when used in a blast turn.
Hugging the corners + rail-cutting
Sticking close to the inside rail and hugging the corners is always important. If you swerve wide you'll lose quite a lot of time when you add the five laps together. While your boost is active you can gain a few hundredths by taking the corners extra sharp and cut through the rails. But watch out that you don't cut too much or you'll bounce back.
The brakes have little use: tapping the accelerator is a far more efficient way to get through the corners. However, there are a few tracks where you WILL have to brake when boosting through a twisty section to avoid an unfriendly collision with the rails. See the track-strats for more details.
Brake tapping is about keeping your average speed higher than normal when using an S-Jet. When an S-Jet is activated, your speed is boosted to 562 km/h and then it slowly decelerates to 478 km/h. When your speed reaches 478 km/h, it immediately (within the next frame) spikes back to 562 km/h, and then slowly decelerates to 478 km/h again. This cycle repeats until the S-Jet burns out. When you brake tap, you are speeding up the rate of deceleration from the 52x-478 part of the S-Jet cycle. When done correctly, brake tapping means you spend more time going 52x-562 km/h, and less time going slow. This technique only saves about 0"01-0"02 per S-Jet and thus makes it one of the last techniques an F-Zero racer should learn when trying to squeeze every last drop of time from from their PR's.
How to do it:
You want to brake when your speed hits about 520-523km/h, when you do this, it brings your speed back up to 55x-562. 6 brake taps/ S-Jet is how many brake taps should be done. Now normally your speed starts at 562 when the S-Jet is activated and it takes about 13-15 frames before the first brake tap can be executed. But if your speed happens to be in the 520-529 range when you activate your S-Jet, it is possible to do 7 brake taps/ S-jet. An example of this can be seen in my MCII 2'00"90. I only do it successfully on the end of the second lap. I try for the 7th brake tap on the end of the 3rd lap, but do not have enough S-Jet to get it. This shows how much of a stretch it is to try and go for 7 brake taps/ S-Jet, and why 6 is a good maximum.
These are pretty handy in the opening lap as they give a quick 40 kph boost. Avoid them when you're boosted as they seem to bring your speed back down to 478 kph. Always hold 'down' on the D-pad when landing or you'll lose lots of speed!
Use your boost just after the slowest point of the track or use it to travel over dirt patches or other speed-eating obstacles. See the track-stats for more details. When going for a lap record, stock up on boosts until the last lap. Boost just in front of the starting line of the final lap because you can only carry three boosts at the same time.
A more advanced technique when leaning + blast turns just aren't enough. The rails in F-zero have a 'bouncy' quality and on some tracks this can be used to your advantage. Crash into the rail at full speed when the corner is just too tight to clear normally and you'll bounce right back at the same angle. You'll lose less speed this way when compared to braking and trying to avoid the rails.
Turbo start + getting bumped = fast openers
The opening lap is the most important of all. Lots of time can be gained (or lost) by overcoming the Stingray's slow acceleration and getting to the 478 kph top speed as soon as possible. At the start, hold down the accelerator as soon as the countdown for the race begins to make a small boost forward. Take advantage of the small lead and maneuver in front of the other vehicles to get bumped in the back and win valuable time. In Grand Prix mode, first steer in front of the Blue Falcon and have it hit you on your left back side. If you've done it correctly the Stingray will be pushed forward again. Now steer in front of the Wild Goose to get a second bump. Again, have it hit you on the left back side for the best speed gain. In Practice mode, choose the Golden Fox as your rival and have it bump you twice. Depending on where it hits you the first time, it will catch up more quickly to give you a second bump. Just experiment to see what gives the best result on each particular track. The difference between a normal and a 'double-bump' opener can be more than two seconds!
Some last words of wisdom on the most frustrating part of F-Zero time trialing. Since there are only seven tracks available in Practice mode, you have no choice but to go for the other records in Grand Prix mode where you have to endure the most annoying and infuriating opposition ever programmed in a racing game. I'm of course talking about those brown anonymous cars that you'll be overtaking right from lap 2 till the finish line. They're extremely slow, always show up in the wrong place and have a nasty habit of getting in your way or blocking the ideal line in a tight corner. Always try to avoid a collision as bumping into the back of one will ruin your speed and your time. Hate these things with all your heart.
NTSC Timer - How to convert times to number of frames
1) First, if necessary, convert the time to seconds (i.e. a 1'54"37 = 114.37 seconds)
2) Multiply by 100
3) Multiply by (2/3)
4) If there is a decimal, round to the nearest whole number
The resulting number is the frame count for the time entered into the formula.
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