Nintendo Consoles

Nintendo Consoles

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Fast Racing NEO - A Neon Blitzkrieg

Fast Racing NEO - Wii U

Fast Racing NEO is a futuristic racing game attempting to scratch the itch left by Nintendo's abstaining from developing a new entry in their F-Zero franchise. Trailers and promotional material suggested that Fast Racing NEO would have everything a hardcore racing fan would want, but skepticism is inevitable when an impressive-looking title bears a $15 price tag. HD graphics and lightening-fast races while playing are considerably awesome, but a slightly underwhelming lack of content in addition to unstable online servers (at time of writing), make a strong case to justify Fast Racing NEO's extremely reasonable cost. 

Fast Racing NEO offers absolutely stunning graphics, extremely responsive controls, 10 racers, 16 different tracks split across 4 cups, 3 difficulty settings and 5 game modes. Of course what matters most are the tracks, which are exceedingly beautiful and masterfully designed. While many tracks have themes and environments shared between them, such as airborne rain forests, stormy oceans, and port-side bays, the tracks themselves are entirely unique and seldom bore, especially since the short races coming as the result of high speeds don't last long enough for you to get tired of any track. Moreover, an inspired color-based mechanic allows you to gain an advantage over your opponents while you race. At all times, each car glows either orange or cyan; certain boost-pads and ramps can only be utilized if your car's color matches that of the boost-pad and ramps. It is up to you to toggle the color of your car while you race in order to take advantage of each of the color boosts, resulting not only in beautiful displays of the game's visual style, but rapid inputs and easily punishable errors in timing. Mastering the toggling of your car's color and the layout of the tracks themselves is no easy task, but doing so will be necessary for victory rewarded by unlocking additional racers or circuits.

Even the most conditioned futuristic racing fanatic may want to begin their Fast Racing NEO career on Subsonic speed, before working their way through Supersonic and Hypersonic. Fast Racing NEO offers a challenging experience but much like F-Zero, is rarely unfair. This is said not to discourage those curious about NEO, but to make clear the fact that Fast Racing NEO is not a casual, fun-for-the-whole-family kind of game. While Fast Racing NEO is perfect for those seeking a challenge, it certainly occupies an area of the racing-game spectrum opposite of more casual racers, such as Mario Kart 8 or Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, both also found on the Wii U.

Though Fast Racing NEO contains both single player circuits, online multiplayer, and 4-way local multiplayer (with the multiplayer modes running acceptably well, albeit not perfectly), the real criticism comes from the dearth of content. F-Zero GX, released 13 years ago featured both single player circuits and an entirely separate story mode containing exclusive tracks and missions. This story mode in F-Zero GX made the game feel complete, instead of just a collection of tracks to play with. Fast Racing NEO feels incomplete with only its 16 tracks to be played at least 3 times each (once on each difficulty). Repetition plagues Fast Racing NEO, and those looking for an endless stream of new courses and content will be disappointed. Unstable servers also result in an inconsistent online multiplayer experience,  essentially eliminating the easiest way to extend Fast Racing NEO's life. 

The most important elements of a wonderful racing title are easily found in Fast Racing NEO. Spellbinding graphics, thrilling track design, and both local and online multiplayer definitely make this game worth $15, even $25, but not any more than that. Fast Racing NEO is sincerely excellent, but not quite perfect. That which is offered in F.R.N. is crafted with originality and inspiration, but it's small size leaves more to be desired. While Fast Racing NEO does very little badly, compared to F-Zero GX, it feels more like a large appetizer- not quite a full meal.  

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