Throughout the lifespans of the Wii and Wii U many Nintendo fans were disappointed by the lack of any new F-Zero games. It didn’t help matters that Nintendo Land featured an attraction based on the franchise and Mario Kart 8 introduced a new anti-gravity mechanic, further adding to the frustration. Over the years however, Shin’en Multimedia’s Fast Racing series has slowly gained recognition for its similarities and has proven to be a worthy alternative. The latest entry, Fast RMX, can be regarded as an expanded version of the Wii U’s Fast Racing Neo, but achieves an overall better experience and is one of the better Nintendo Switch launch titles available.
Like Nintendo’s own F-Zero series, Fast RMX focuses on high-speed with anti-gravity vehicles. One of the main differences between the franchises is that the vehicles in Fast RMX feature a phase system, allowing them to gain speed boosts when driving over speed pads and jump over virtual ramps. The system is simple enough – at the press of a button your engine changes between blue and orange colours, and you have to match these with the colour of the speed pads and ramps. Using the wrong colour will penalise players by slowing them down or, in the case of ramps, send them crashing to their fiery doom. If you’re new to the series it may take a few races to fully grasp the concept, but before too long it becomes second nature and adds to the high speed intensity.
Tracks are often designed to have short segments where you’re focused on switching between phases constantly, but there are also plenty of other obstacles to keep you on your toes. To name a few there are moving crates, lasers, turbines and robots to dodge, as well as sharp turns which you will need to master. Players control their vehicle by moving the control stick left or right, and use the bumper buttons to drift. Drifting can take some time to master, but as a whole the controls are responsive and comfortable.
Fast RMX features an impressive 30 race courses; 24 returning from the Wii U’s Fast Racing Neo (including DLC) and 6 all-new tracks. The courses are played and unlocked via ten three-race cups. Winning the cups will unlock more vehicles to drive (a grand total of 15), as well as Hero mode versions of the cups which set specific race requirements. The requirements range from placing first only to carefully managing your speed boost meter which double acts as your vehicle’s health – if you deplete it fully your vehicle will explode! There’s definitely a lot of single-player content on offer, though since much of it comes from Fast Racing Neo some returning players may be deterred.
Opponent AI is challenging but also reasonable. The game strikes an important balance where players can still win a race even if they make a handful of mistakes, but those who are constantly crashing will find it tricky to catch up to the leaders. You never feel cheated out of a win, and instead are encouraged to learn the layout of the track and master the controls. For those that prefer playing against humans there are local four player splitscreen and online multiplayer options available. Splitscreen action runs just as smooth as the single-player experience, though in the Switch’s tabletop mode anything over two players can be difficult to see clearly. Online multiplayer is also fairly consistent and it’s easy to get into matches, however, there are some lag issues. During close races sometimes when it looks like you’ve won the race the scoreboard will indicate another player beat you by microseconds. These moments are thankfully not too wide spread and do not detract from the experience; it’s difficult to determine if this is related to server issues or the other player’s internet connection. At the time of writing Fast RMX did not feature any matchmaking options to race with friends, but Shin’en Multimedia has confirmed they will be adding the feature in a future update along with a Time Trials mode.
Fast RMX is an incredibly gorgeous game for the eyes to behold. It runs at a dazzling 1080p and a smooth 60 frames per second, with no noticeable slowdown in both TV and handheld modes. Impressively, four-player split screen features the same specs providing a consistent experience throughout. Blur effects are naturally used to create a sense of speed, and when combined with the high energy soundtrack you are guaranteed to feel a buzz after each race. Of particular note, I found it an immersive experience to play the game in handheld mode while on public transport. The motions of the real life vehicle turning and braking unexpectedly add to the excitement and bring Fast RMX one step closer to reality.
If you didn’t get around to playing Fast Racing Neo on the Wii U then Fast RMX is a no brainer. The game captures the feeling of intense high speed racing, features a lot of single-player content, and makes great use of the Nintendo Switch hardware to offer dazzling visuals. Don’t let Zelda and Mario Kart 8 steal the limelight from this gem.
- Great sense of intense high speed racing - Lots of single-player content - Dazzling blur effects
- Minor lag issues online