F-Zero GP Legend E3 2004 Preshow Hands-On Impressions

Nintendo's newest handheld F-Zero will add a new story mode and other features.

F-Zero's a series that's been getting some much-deserved affection from Nintendo lately, with the gala release of F-Zero GX for the GameCube last fall and now an upcoming iteration of the classic racer on the Game Boy Advance, titled F-Zero GP Legend. We got just a few minutes with a work-in-progress version of the new game recently, and from what we could tell, it looks like Nintendo is keeping the core race mechanics intact and layering on a whole lot more depth than you'd expect if you've played older F-Zero games.

Let's get the basics out of the way first. F-Zero GP Legend plays fundamentally like the previous F-Zero game on the GBA, Maximum Velocity, which in turn looked and played more or less just like the Super NES classic that started the series way back when. GP Legend has the same flat, Mode 7-style tracks that its predecessors had, so you pretty much know what to expect in the visual department. Controlwise, the game seems almost identical to the previous GBA F-Zero in that the cornering is pretty loose and requires you to feather the accelerator a lot, compared to the stiffer and less-forgiving handling of the old SNES game.

The real meat in F-Zero GP Legend kicked in when we tried out the game's story mode. Here, we took control of notable characters from the series such as Captain Falcon and engaged in races with contextual, story-related settings. Each race had a fairly extensive dialogue sequence before and after it, and occasionally we'd even switch to another character (and of course another car) as the story dictated. We also noticed that we received cash rewards when we finished a race, though to what end we cannot say (but we wanted to keep playing and find out!). Perhaps as you delve further into the story mode, you'll be able to upgrade your cars with your winnings.

Though our time with F-Zero GP Legend was very brief, we enjoyed the combination of classic hovercar racing action with the new story elements that helped propel the game along. We're looking forward to trying more of the game out to see exactly how many new elements Nintendo has added to its venerable racer, and we'll let you know the details when we find out. Look for more on F-Zero GP Legend soon.

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