Launching day and date with a console is always an achievement and a fast-track for sales success, but it does not guarantee critical acclaim. Oftentimes a console comes bogged down with shovelware pushed out the door just to meet a strict deadline. How does FAST RMX fare?
No console launch would be complete without a racing game, and some of those racing games have been hallmarks of their respective console. FAST RMX is no exception. Shin’en avoided the classic pitfalls of a rushed launch title by basing this game upon Fast Racing Neo, the critically acclaimed futuristic racer on the Wii U. Featuring all of the content from Neo, and adding brand new tracks and racers, FAST RMX provides hours of futuristic racing joy!
Immediately upon loading up a race in FAST RMX, a player is reminded of racing greats such as F-Zero and WipEout – these comparisons cannot be avoided. With this third entry in the series, it is time to lay these comparisons to rest; Fast is its own racer. While aesthetically similar to F-Zero and racers appear similar to WipEout, the manic anti-grav racing gameplay and fast-paced boosts are unique to this franchise alone.
The signature of this series is the ability to phase-shift between Orange and Blue modes. These colors correlate to boost pads and launches on the track. If you happen to try to take a blue boost past in an orange phase, not only do you not get the boost, it actually slows you down. So while traversing the course at 700 kmh, you need to ensure you are actively managing your phase. This level of multitasking may not be for everyone, but if you want to challenge your gaming skills, it adds a unique flair to an otherwise tried and true formula.
Out of the gate, you are locked to Subsonic racing and Multiplayer racing modes. While ‘Subsonic’ is dubbed as novice mode, it is essential to your ability to master the controls and develop an affinity to a racer that suits your play style. Do you want high boost but low acceleration? High acceleration or low speed? Etc. These are all choices that demand attention when deciding upon your racer, not just which one looks the coolest – though that answer is clearly Guang Zhou. Supersonic and Hypersonic are not the gigantic leaps in terms of difficulty that other games provide, but do increase difficulty in a manageable increment.
FAST RMX provides hours of futuristic racing joy!
When it comes to unlockable content, this game has it in spades. Like previously mentioned, the game only comes with the ‘Novice’ mode available, both higher speed modes must be unlocked. Most racers and tracks are also unlocked throughout gameplay, too. The player is forced to place in a championship, a set of 3 tracks, in order to unlock the next championship and new racers. This is a natural progression found in most other arcade racers and lends to a sense of accomplishment when you successfully unlock the next set. HERO Mode allows you to test your skills through various challenges.
This game is not meant to just be played alone, however. Offering every type of multiplayer the Switch has to offer, you can play with up to 7 friends. You can network multiple Nintendo Switch consoles for a traditional handheld-style multiplayer, hand off a Joy-Con to the person to your right, use multiple controllers, or play online – support for inviting friends is coming in its next update. Online runs buttery smooth with no issues of lag to be found. While there are no items to interface with your friends, a carefully timed boost can take down your friends or knock them off the course and lead to bouts of anger and humility. In this regard, it acts as more of a traditional racer than its arcade racing brethren.
FAST RMX was developed by Shin’en. For those unfamiliar with Shin’en, they are unparalleled technological wizards. Whether it be developing a 3D rails-shooter on the Game Boy Advance, or cramming one of the most technologically impressive games Wii games into the 40MB WiiWare file size limit, excellence is to be expected. FAST RMX does not deviate from the trend. Running at a smooth 1080p and 60fps no matter the environment, the game looks gorgeous. Even online, there is no jarring drop in framerate or lag issues that are present in the other Nintendo Switch online launch title. This type of technological excellence is not seen in large developers, so to see this continued strength is vastly impressive.
Time Trial mode joins online support for friends in an upcoming update, but was sorely missed in the main game. As someone who skipped Fast Racing Neo, I was unfamiliar with the tracks and had to continuously replay certain Championship in order to become accustomed to specific tracks. Controls can be janky to learn due to the floaty nature of this anti-grav racers, but feel satisfying once mastered.
Overall, FAST RMX establishes that the Fast Racing franchise is its own beast and demands respect in its own right, not just as an F-Zero knockoff. If you are looking for a game that shows off the ability to pull out a Joy-Con and hand it to a friend, this is your game. If you are looking for a game that shows off the online multiplayer of the Switch, this is your game. If you are looking for a fast-paced, frantic racing game that punishes you for mistakes and rewards you for mastering the controls and intimate knowledge of the course, buy this game immediately. At only $19.99, this game is a bargain and one of the first must-own titles of the Nintendo Switch.
A video review will be available this Saturday.