Let’s just go ahead and get this out of the way; Fast Racing Neo is good. Okay, it’s really good. Okay! It’s really, really good. There, I’ve said it. We’ve gotten the hard part of this review out of the way.
When it comes to racing games on a Nintendo system you really have Mario Kart and then everything else. Nintendo’s premier racing title is generally head and shoulders above everything else out there. In terms of quality, visuals, fun, features Mario Kart has been the king of racers on Nintendo platforms. Not much else could compete with it. Fast Racing Neo may just be that title.
This game is, as the title implies, all about racing fast. That’s it. There are no fancy power ups, no crazy characters, no insane rubber banding. It’s just about pure speed and in that respect it works absolutely beautifully. So many times you feel just on the verge of out of control. It walks that fine line between perfectly responsive and too floaty. When you push the analog stick left you expect your vehicle to do just that, and in this game it does. The speed you’re going at means you have to learn how to compensate and possibly use the edge of the track to bounce you back in the right direction. Your vehicle is as responsive as you’d want it to be.
This is an arcade racer in every aspect of the word. You get four cups with four tracks each, for a total of 16 tracks overall. You, and nine other racers go head to head to score points. If you score enough points after the four races to place in the top three you unlock the next set of tracks. Finish fourth or lower and you’ve got to try again. That’s it, but really that’s all it needs.
Visually there’s not much that looks this good on this system. The cars have a wonderful sheen to them. You see reflections shining off the paint jobs. You see the lights glowing and reflecting off surfaces as you’d expect them to. All of the tracks have a really great level of detail. Rocks look and feel like they take up space. There are no flat looking textures. The best part is that you’ll remember lots of things about these tracks. In one track you’ll be racing through space, dodging meteors and driving through what could only be the Death Star trenches. In another you’ll be racing through Mayan inspired jungles with branches and overhanging leaves everywhere and building and canyon walls that are as treacherous as they are beautiful.
Even at the speed you’re going you always feel like you’re in control. You can see everything coming. Turns don’t jump out at you. Asteroids while they’re falling randomly are clearly defined and easy to dodge if you’re paying attention. You never feel like a crash or a missed turn was the fault of the game, but your own fault for not paying attention.
The big “hook” of this title is the speed strips. Much like in games such as Ikaruga you have two different polarities that you can switch between. In this game they’re orange and blue. If the color of your vehicle matches the color of the strip on the ground you get a speed boost. If it doesn’t then you get slowed down by a large amount. It’s best to pay attention ahead of you as these boost strips can be the difference from a first place finish or coming in dead last.
Last but not least in the list of features available is full online play, and it works great. Races were lag free and I very rarely dropped connection. Local multi-player takes a little bit of a hit when it comes to the resolution, but it doesn’t lack in the speed department.
If you’re looking for a racing game to fill the void left by titles like F-Zero or you’ve gotten tired of racing in the Mushroom Kingdom you owe it to yourself to check this one out. You get 16 tracks, local and online multi-player, a full 60 frames per second in the visual department all for the price of $15. It’s good. It’s really, really good.