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.
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.