Monday, December 21, 2015

FAST Racing Neo (Wii U eShop) Review

Christmas is this Friday, and if you're looking for a gift for yourself (and you own a Wii U), why not treat yourself to the gift of gaming? In particular, how about a blazing fast racer with plenty of challenge to it? Then, you'll want to look into FAST Racing Neo for the Wii U eShop. Here's my review.

If speed is your thing, then go FAST.


If you're going to release a futuristic racer on a Nintendo system, then you probably already know that you're going to be compared to Nintendo's own F-Zero franchise. There is just no getting around that. While Shin'en Multimedia's FAST Racing Neo does have similarities to Nintendo's fantastic futuristic racing franchise, it does enough to distinguish itself from the competition, letting itself be favorably compared to F-Zero in the process.

FAST Racing Neo has multiple modes to keep players racing for a long time, far more than you'd expect for the $15 price tag. The main mode, Championship, pits players in four different cups consisting of four different circuits. When one cup has been completed, the next one unlocks. When all four cups are finished off, the next difficulty opens up, giving a major increase of speed in comparison. Completing cups not only unlocks new races, but it also unlocks one of ten vehicles with its own set of stats in acceleration and top speed, as well as weight type.

Papa's got a brand-new bag with this new, unlocked vehicle.
Alongside Championship Mode are time trials to beat the developer's times on all sixteen circuits in all three speed classes, as well as a Hero Mode that is more akin to F-Zero, where you have a set amount of health and crashing means failure. Local multiplayer for up to four players is available, as is online play for up to eight players, allowing friends to join one another's games or just play against randoms.

Outrace your friends and family members locally,
or hop online and race against the world.
If you're looking for a difficult game, you'll find one with FAST Racing Neo. Making a mistake while racing usually has you ending up crashing. However, unlike an F-Zero game, you don't lose a life. Instead, you're put back on the track with precious seconds lost. This is both a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing because there are plenty of obstacles and methods to crash and burn, which would otherwise end a race. However, it's also a curse because you can race perfectly for the first two laps, only to crash at the final lap. This will most likely result in you coming in a low finishing place, something that can completely cost you a cup. Seeing as cups take around ten minutes to finish, losing the cup because of one unfortunate mistake can be a real pain. 

Two rivals jockey for position in this space station-themed track.
That said, practice makes perfect. Crashing is something that will happen a lot to racers on their first go-around on FAST Racing Neo's sixteen tracks. Whether it's because you fall off the track, crash into a wall, or slam into an obstacle like the rotating blade of a fan or smash into a hole spewing fire, you will watch your piloted vehicle burst into flames and get obliterated on multiple occasions. Thus, on higher speeds you'll need to learn the tracks themselves instead of just reacting to curves, turns, and obstacles when you see them. Initiating a turn long before you hit it is recommended in later speeds and difficulties.

Not to make things easy, the creator of this course
made these upcoming strips of track swing from side to side.
FAST Racing Neo separates itself further from F-Zero in its gameplay and how machines handle. Each vehicle has two phases to it, an orange and a blue. Through passing over stretches of colored panels on each track while the same phase, you get an increase in speed. For straightaways and sections without colored portions of track, you can collect shining orbs that add energy to your boost gauge. With a press of the R button you can then power through straightaways and break through certain environmental objects that would otherwise slow you down. 

If you're approaching an orange sliver of track, switch to
your orange phase with a press of a button to take advantage.
It is mind-blowing the technical prowess that the small team at Shin'en has with its games, and this is no better shown than with FAST Racing Neo. The game is simply gorgeous, offering a blisteringly fast package, highly detailed tracks, and glorious visual effects like water running down along the screen when you drive through a waterfall. My only real gripe with the presentation of FAST is how lacking the game's personality feels. There isn't much character to the game outside of some token track environments. The vehicles and track names don't do much to mitigate this. 

FAST Racing NEO is beautiful in still screenshots,
but it's absolutely stunning in motion.
A hole that was missing in the Wii U lineup has been filled with Shin'en's answer to F-Zero, FAST Racing Neo. While its game doesn't have the same amount of character or personality compared to Nintendo's hallmark futuristic racer, FAST Racing Neo does deliver plenty of skillful, turbo-charged, lightning fast, challenging, and magnificent racing action. For $15, FAST Racing Neo is more than worth it for anyone hankering for a deviously difficult but fair futuristic racer.

[SPC Says: A-]

Review copy provided by Shin'en Multimedia.

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