Jeremy enjoys gaming when not helping manage the college he graduated from.
What Is F-Zero GX?
F-Zero GX is the latest console F-Zero racing game released, albeit back in the GameCube era. This futuristic franchise features a sci-fi world teeming with high-speed F-Zero races, and you'll likely recognize protagonist Captain Falcon from the popular Super Smash Brothers games.
Despite Nintendo's generally-accessible lineup, this definitely ain't Mario Kart. GX features a challenging (but fair) racing system with unique mechanics that cement it as one of the best racing games available, like speed boosts that drain your health, the ability to attack and destroy other vehicles mid-race, and the option of tweaking your acceleration/max speed before each course. But with dozens of diverse characters from throughout the galaxy, which pilots and machines reign supreme? These are the ten best characters in F-Zero GX!
Stats in F-Zero GX
Here's a quick rundown of the four main attributes used to gauge vehicles. The first three are ranked from E (worst) to A (best).
- Body: Measures ability to take damage in collisions. Useful when attacking other vehicles.
- Boost: Measures the strength of your boost, which drains your vehicle's life, but can be recovered on special sections of each track.
- Grip: Measures a vehicle's ability to navigate corners.
- Weight: Lower weights provide better acceleration and grip, while higher weights offer superior max speed and damage reduction.
However, note that machines are more than the sum of their stats; in fact, often the listed traits are misleading (which I'll note). For instance, on paper, Pico and his Wild Goose sound like the best combo, bearing an A, B, and C in stats, but behind-the-scenes his vehicle suffers from poor acceleration, a surprisingly stagnant boost, and other hidden issues.
Vehicle: Rainbow Phoenix
Weight: 1080 kg
First introduced in the F-Zero AX (whose unique gaming chairs you may remember from arcades and restaurants), Phoenix triumphantly returns to GX, at least if you can unlock him with using pure skill or a cheat. To access the AX racers, you'll need to beat a corresponding chapter (in this case, chapter 1) of story mode on very hard difficulty, not an easy challenge. Phoenix stems from the 29th century, having traveled back in time alongside his robot partner QQQ on a secret mission. To limit the unfair advantage his advanced technology gives, he's placed a limiter on his Rainbow Phoenix vehicle, allowing it to run at only 80% of its full power.
Even so, the Rainbow Phoenix is a solid racer. It leans towards the lighter weight capacities, good for turn-heavy tracks, and it's a well-balanced craft with neither any incredible strengths nor glaring weaknesses, a solid choice for any track. Like almost every vehicle in the game, its body stat isn't quite as hefty as listed, so do your best to avoid collisions.
Vehicle: Dark Schneider
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Weight: 2080 kg
The champion of the underground F-Zero tournaments, Deathborn has thrice died but keeps resurrecting by replacing his organs with mechanical parts, effectively becoming immortal. He's also the mastermind behind Black Shadow's nefarious schemes.
On paper, the Dark Schneider vehicle looks amazing, and it's a good machine, but its stats are deceptive. Schneider actually has a poor body, only a decent boost, but good handling. An unlisted acceleration stat is terrible, but it also wields a strong max speed, and while his high weight can be clunky, it's useful when attacking nearby racers.
8. Samurai Goroh
Vehicle: Fire Stingray
Weight: 1960 kg
Captain Falcon's self-proclaimed rival drives a hot pink machine that (as you'll come to expect) bears a lower body ranking than listed, actually falling around the C-level. Still, that's an acceptable value, and the Stingray's poor boost is counteracted by an impressive default top speed as well as strong handling, making it a favorite among beginners.
That said, the Stingray bears one of the worst acceleration scores in the game (partially due to its bulky weight), so any mistake will cost you dearly, but its decent plating, strong speed, and impressive grip more than compensate.
Vehicle: Death Anchor
Weight: 1620 kg
Homicidal Zoda pilots a machine you can tell was designed for a maniac. With terrible armor, bad handling, and poor acceleration, this is one of the trickiest hovercrafts to master. However, Death Anchor offers an incredible boost and formidable top speed, meaning anyone who takes the time to learn its quirks can zip through competition with ease.
I appreciate that the Death Anchor actually handles pretty close to its stated specs, and I enjoy its weight class, high enough to knock most rivals around without becoming too bulky.
6. Captain Falcon
Vehicle: Blue Falcon
Weight: 1260 kg
Captain Falcon's the F-Zero poster boy for a reason, and you might as well practice with him since you'll be forced to use the bounty hunter in all nine chapters of the story levels (yep, this game has a surprisingly strong story mode). Falcon's royal blue ride bears a slightly worse body than listed, but a stronger boost, good handling, and decent top speed and acceleration.
A well-rounded machine, the Blue Falcon is easy to pilot and recommended for rookies and experts alike. During an interview with race commentator Mr. Zero, Falcon states he plans to use his prize money to build an ever better Neo Blue Falcon, something I hope we'll one day be able to pilot ourselves.
5. Jack Levin
Vehicle: Astro Robin
Weight: 1050 kg
If you're in a turn-heavy course or simply favor acceleration, give celebrity Jack Levin a try. While both his body and grip function worse than his deceptive stats would indicate, Levin's racer offers a strong boost (ignore that D-rank) and the best acceleration in the game!
Even the Astro Robin's lackluster areas (body and top speed) are more D-class than E, so they could be worse, and both are overshadowed by his boost and phenomenal acceleration. Levin may play the part of lavish pop star (his craft even has cameras installed to let his many female fans watch him), but he proves his skills as a prime contender.
4. Black Shadow
Vehicle: Black Bull
Weight: 2340 kg
Falcon's nefarious foil drives the only machine to possess two A stats, although like many specs, these values are skewed. In reality, the Black Bull bears only average body and grip, but fortunately its boost is a bit stronger than an E. Bull's biggest issue is its terrible acceleration, largely due to its bulky weight.
However, that dense mass lets it knock other craft around, and the Bull wields the best default top speed in the game! That's right, boosts discounted, this dark ride can eclipse any other in raw speed, and while it takes some practice, it's a worthy choice for any course.
Vehicle: Hyper Speeder
Weight: 1460 kg
Beastman's green machine actually performs pretty close to its listed specs, and it bears a nice mid-line weight value. The Hyper Speeder's worst stats are a poor body and terrible acceleration; any crashes suffered will sap your energy and slow you to a crawl.
However, with a solid boost, great handling, and superb top speed, you've got the cornering you need to make turns with the speed necessary to win races. Beastman's an eccentric but potent character well-suited to non-aggressive pilots focusing more on pure speed than eliminating competitors.
2. The Skull
Vehicle: Sonic Phantom
Weight: 1010 kg
200 years in the past, the Skull was Sterling LaVaughn, the greatest driver in the F-Max Grand Prix. Through a fusion of scientific advancements and black magic, Sterling has come back from death to race once more. It's rumored that the Skull siphons energy from onlooking racing fans with black magic to fuel the Sonic Phantom, and considering its terrific stats, I wouldn't be surprised.
Other than its atrocious body (which is really E-rank), the Phantom excels in several categories. An exceptional boost, strong top speed, good handling, and decent acceleration let you maintain your momentum while still being able to take corners well. With its lower weight and terrible body, this isn't a machine for rammers, but the Skull offers one of the fastest units in the game.
1. Don Genie
Vehicle: Fat Shark
Weight: 2490 kg
Don Genie may be an elderly, overweight crime lord, but he pilots by far the best machine available. In a welcome deviation from the norm, the Fat Shark's stats are all better than listed. The Shark bears the best body and the best boost in the entire game; on top of that, it's got the second-best top speed (topped only by the Black Bull).
That E grip is actually more around a C level, and the Shark has astoundingly fierce acceleration for such a heavy machine; it's not nearly as clunky as you'd think. Finally, as the heaviest racer available (and the sturdiest), Fat Shark's an excellent choice for violent pilots, smashing rivals off-track and into each other. With its impressive specs and dominating structure, it's easy to see why most competitive GX fans typically favor the Shark.
How to Pick An F-Zero Machine
Even if you favorite racer's not found on this list, go with what works for you. Almost every player I know prefers a separate vehicle to complement their own style, and different machines will function better on different tracks. Rick Wheeler and his Dragon Bird are also a fierce force (with a B in every stat), but sadly he's only available in F-Zero: GP Legend.
It's been years since we've seen a console release of F-Zero, and fans still eagerly await a sequel. GX remains both the most challenging and beloved entry in the franchise, offering incredible customization, diversity, music, graphics, and of course gameplay in one potent package. But for now, as we await the uncertain future of F-Zero racing, vote for your favorite pilot and I'll see you at our next gaming countdown!
© 2018 Jeremy Gill