It’s been almost 17 years since the last F-Zero game and its absence has been weighing heavily on the hearts of fellow speed demons who have had to make do with the countless F-Zero inspired games coming from indie developers. Regardless of the quality of these games, they tend to fail to reach the heights of F-Zero due to the sheer quality behind the franchise. FAR S Ultra is yet another F-Zero style racer trying to reach for the stars but only having a backyard trampoline to help them get there.

Gameplay

FAR S Ultra is an F-Zero style racing game (here’s a fun drinking game, take a shot whenever I mention F-Zero) where your only concern is to drive as fast as possible in vehicles that can easily break the sound barrier. The game’s controls are very simple, you have accelerate, turn, drift and boost but just because it’s simple, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Like F-Zero, the game's difficulty comes in the immense speed that you’re racing at, requiring you to make split second decisions that could make or break the race.

FAR S Ultra has 15 tracks to choose from made from a handful of different locales which is a great way to reuse assets and increase the amount of playable tracks. However, some track locales are a bit too over reliant on specific sections of that map which makes it pretty easy to mistake one track for another.

Each track is littered with boost pads to help give you an extra burst of speed. Driving on these pads also charges a meter at the bottom of the screen which, when full, can be used as a boost that you can trigger whenever you want. This boost also doubles as an offensive dash that’ll knock out opponents if you touch them and as a shield to protect yourself from other racers trying to do the same to you. Most of these boost pads are set up in long straight sections of the track so you can constantly chain these boosts together to either leave your opponents in the dust or catch up and eliminate the competition if you are behind. Annoyingly though, most of these sections are immediately followed by a ninety degree turn that thins out the track which means if you aren’t pixel perfect with your positioning and drifting, you’re either going to be scrapping your vehicle up against the wall and losing a lot of your vehicles shield, making you more vulnerable or downright crashing and losing all the advantage you just gained. It’s brutal and not in a fun way.

FAR S Ultra’s main progression system is tied to your “profile level”. At the end of each race, your Switch profile will gain experience and you will unlock something new every time you reach a new level. This profile level system is implemented in the most annoying way possible; at level one, you only have access to one character, cup races and time trials. Imagine my surprise when a friend of mine came over the day I got this to help me review the multiplayer, only for the multiplayer to be locked behind an experience grind. Granted, I only needed to reach level two to unlock it but the fact that I had to unlock multiplayer in the first place is baffling. People hate it when things like fighting games have locked characters because it locks them out of basic gameplay elements that should be there from the start. Well, FAR S Ultra kicks that up a notch by making you unlock multiplayer alongside new characters.

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Speaking of unlocking characters, I managed to get my profile to level 15 which is enough to gain a majority of the unlockable characters. Now we get into my biggest complaint with FAR S Ultra which is that every character I unlocked (except for one) was just a straight upgrade from the last. Racing games typically have characters excel at different things like max speed, acceleration, handling, etc, to let people try out different play styles and find which style suits them best, however FAR S Ultra just has every character you unlock be better than the last character in every stat. Only one of these characters was different and had more speed and acceleration at the cost of less shielding but considering your vehicle gets knocked out in a single hit anyway, there was no reason for me to use anything other than the newest character I had unlocked.

World / Level Design

FAR S Ultra’s track design is a mixed bag. Some tracks are competently designed where you have some decent straights to build speed and turns that are satisfying to master but other times, you get very basic oval shaped tracks which are fine, it’s just I wasn’t expecting a game with so little tracks to have so many and some tracks are designed to just be annoying. Expect to run into turns so tight you have to be pixel perfect to not mess up in any way - straights too short to build your speed efficiently; columns of light that cause instant crashes if you hit that have hitboxes so large that I’m convinced are bugged; weather effects so aggressive that you have to rely entirely on the minimap because you can’t see three feet in front of you and spiral turns that are angled in such a way that you have to mash the drift button to get through it reliably. No joke, that last one made me go get my hand checked by my doctor, this game gave me RSI in my right hand, FAR S Ultra physically hurt me.

Story / Personality

FAR S Ultra doesn’t have a story so I can’t really talk about that but the question is, does this game even have a personality? With the game’s menus being hyper simplified and what little voice work the game has seemingly done by a text to speech program, this game just feels like it was made in a factory - a product to be mass produced rather than a game to be played for entertainment. Some of the daytime city tracks kinda remind me of Outrun though, so that’s kinda cool, I’ll give it that.

Graphics / Art Direction

FAR S Ultra’s graphical fidelity isn’t much to write home about; this game could easily be seen running on a Gamecube. Heck, downgrade the textures a bit and it could probably run on a Nintendo 64. But that's fine, graphics aren’t everything, it serves its purpose. With more and more games coming out looking like they were made for the Atari 2600 or any kind of 8-bit system, a game’s graphical fidelity becomes less and less important by the day.

I would comment on character design here but outside of portraits in the character select screen, you don’t really get to see the characters you’re playing as. The vehicles that you race in are all pretty similar outside of some slight changes that most players won't really pick up on unless they’re really looking for them. Each vehicle’s colour scheme, which is more realistic than a lot of other F-Zero style racers I’ve played, gives off a Formula-1 feel to the game’s aesthetic but in the end, all it does is make unlocking more characters to race as less interesting. Oh, I can’t wait until I unlock the purple car!

Music / Sound Design

FAR S Ultra’s soundtrack is filled with nothing but five second loops of very generic electronic music; it sounds like the music was taken from a royalty-free sound library. What exemplifies this further is some of these songs will have vocals in them. In some cases, these vocals sound like they were added in as an afterthought and don’t match the song’s melody at all; in other cases, they sound creepily robotic and lifeless. It sounds like it was recorded by Tara the Android from that creepy I Feel Fantastic video on Youtube.

Final Score: 23%

Racing games are my specialty so I was actually pretty excited to finally review a racer for the site but all I was left with was mental fatigue and a busted hand. If you are dead set on this specific style of racer, then just pick up Fast Racing RMX by Shin’en or Warp Drive by Supergonk Games, the latter may not have multiplayer but it is infinitely better in every way.

Thank you for checking out our FAR S Ultra Switch review, thank you to Serenity Forge (via Terminals.io) for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: