A version of F-Zero for the Game Boy Advance, which is quite possibly the most entertaining racing game ever released for a handheld platform. (S.T.U.N. Runner for the Lynx is not without its charm.) Much like the original F-Zero showed off the Mode 7 capability of the SNES, F-Zero: Maximum Velocity makes extensive use of hardware scaling. Result: the graphics are impossibly smooth. Even with several vehicles on screen, there is absolutely no slowdown.

The premise is the same as in most F-Zero versions: race around a track five times, and try to win. After the first lap, you must be in 15th place or better to continue. After the second, the limit drops to 10th place; the third, 7th place; the fourth, 5th place; and you must finish the race in third place or better to move on to the next track. Each circuit (Pawn, Knight, and Bishop, for starters) has five tracks. If you crash, rank out, or give up, you lose a spare machine. Lose all (one|three|five) of your machines, and it's Game Over. Prevent crashing by powering up every lap.

Tracks are very imaginatively done, although they are entirely different from the ones in the SNES and Nintendo 64 game. There is no remix of the famous Mute City BGM, but the music is generally decent. The engine noise sounds about as realistic as you can get for a fictional car, and various bleeps and bloops signal warnings and events in-race. The Game Boy Advance's wider screen is put to its fullest use.

F-Zero X had excellent replay value because additional cars and tracks could be unlocked after completing certain tasks. While the Game Boy Advance game does not have the enormous array of cars that F-Zero X did, there are a few hidden cars that can be unlocked. After beating a circuit on Beginner, Standard, and Expert levels, the Master level becomes available. After beating the Pawn, Knight and Bishop circuits, the Championship track and the Queen circuit become available. The factory default best time for the Championship track is ridiculously low, so you will need to use expert maneuvers to navigate it. (I have only had this game for less than a week, so I have not yet unlocked everything.)

Lastly, F-Zero: Maximum Velocity has multiplayer mode. If you're the only one who owns the cartridge but all your buddies have link cables, you can play the single-pak multiplayer version. This is limited to just one track with one car. If your buddies all have link cables and game cartridges, you can play in multi-pak multiplayer. This allows the use of all available tracks and vehicles. Up to four Game Boy Advances can be linked. The link cable may also be used to synchronize personal records between cartridges.

If you loved the SNES version of F-Zero, and are considering getting a Game Boy Advance, this is your killer app. Enjoy, and happy racing!

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